Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,081
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,081
... it's increasingly threatened.
Just spitballing, but I think, first of all, these things are cyclical.
Secondly, crazy talk has fewer and fewer places to hide. Sure, there's more of it in terms of sheer volume, but there's also more avenues for the truth to be revealed.
The rise of worldwide digital communication has been a many-edged sword, culturally. One big change has been that information is now a) ubiquitous and b) less filtered.
But notice how people -- not all, mind you, but maybe enough -- grow a little wiser, a little at a time?
Remember when you'd get at least one e-mail per week from an acquaintance or co-worker, warning of giant Toilet Spiders or HIV- tainted needles in gas pumps?
How long can sheer mythology or big lies hold out, in the long run?
And every time we get something right, it sticks, at least a little. Going to be hard to say gay marriage is an existential threat to civilization anymore. Now it's going to be a little harder to say we can do without government, or that healthcare reform is Devil worship.
Maybe I'm just optimistic tonight.
But I think we are staggering toward sanity. Insanity doesn't like that, so we'll be hearing its noisy complaints louder than ever for a while.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Oct 20, 2013, 02:04 AM (0 replies)
like no other.
Despite promises to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press.
With charges filed against NSA leaker Edward Snowden this June, the administration has brought a total of seven cases under the Espionage Act, which dates from World War I and criminalizes disclosing information “relating to the national defense.” Prior to the current administration, there had been only three known casesresulting in indictments in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute government officials for leaks.
It's indefensibly wrong, and directly counter to Obama's talk about transparency.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Oct 5, 2013, 06:40 PM (1 replies)
"Government is bad / can't do anything" is a marketing trope conservatives use when they want to get rid of things like regulation or environmental protection, or government services that compete with some business like mail delivery or retirement savings. Or when government is preventing them from doing something horrible they want to do to people, like enslave them or keep them from voting.
But these new guys, and the people voting them into office, just take "Bad Old Government" at face value. They actually think we should get rid of it. They're talking up just trying things with no federal government for a while.
Reminds me of creepy kid in my junior high school, who used to carry a knife. I heard him telling his friends once that you can "just stab someone in the stomach," and it wouldn't hurt them that badly. I wondered if any of them ever tried that theory out; ended up murdering someone in a playground fight.
Maybe they went to Congress instead.
Posted by DirkGently | Wed Oct 2, 2013, 10:22 AM (1 replies)
Part of the box Republicans have constructed for themselves is that they're selling the total worthlessness and inefficacy of "government." As if we could, what, get rid of it?
What they mean is that government is bad when it limits the powers of wealth or endeavors to work for the common good. They want defense spending and big contracts for industry, but nothing that levels any playing field or protects the environment or anyone not plugged into power already.
It's a lie, of course. The wealthy interests wouldn't have any of the things that make wealth fun, or even possible, without things like roads and schools and health care and education and ... workers. But it's a nice fantasy that rationalizes not cooperating in the short term.
In the past, they've been able to reel in their half-logic when necessary, but now they have the Tea Party, which believes its own bullshit up to a point.
They think that can partially destroy the country and not pay for that.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Sep 29, 2013, 12:37 PM (0 replies)
I saw T-shirt once, in a TSA security line no less, that said something like "An armed man is a CITIZEN. An unarmed man is a SUBJECT."
What a profound fantasy that is. That someone having a pistol or a rifle is the difference between an empowered "citizen" and a subservient "subject." Not the vote. Not equal rights. Not public activism. FIREPOWER.
It's utter bullshit, of course. But it's a powerful fantasy for the disempowered. Don't have money? Don't have influence? Don't have options? Well, at least you can imagine that you can, as an individual, hold off government overreach with a bullet.
It's a marketing ploy. Even if you're a hunter, even if you want to defend against home invasions, you only need so many guns and so many "gun rights."
But if you're defending the homeland from tyranny -- my gosh -- how can you ever have enough? Enough magazines, enough bullets, enough dickish T-shirts?
And it's worked. There are now people who fervently believe that not just the right to own weapons, but the right to be prepared to kill anyone, anywhere, any time, is intrinsic to their core philosophy of personal freedom. If you can't walk around a school or a park holding a weapon capable of killing 10 or 20 people in a few seconds, you might as well live in North Nazi Russia, amirite?
So the true believers now want to "normalize" the idea they're going to walk around with long guns on their backs, prepared to unleash their idea of freedom on a moment's notice. They make sure to be clear, too, that they have some special ideas about what "self-defense" means while they're at it. Their discomfort might mean your death. Better not get too testy if they want to stop you and demand to know why you're walking around their neighborhood at night -- "Get used to it, buddy!"
No one's going to get used to AR-15s in the shopping mall, guys. Not going to happen. Maybe we'll need another tragedy to underline the point. A misunderstanding over an undercooked S'barro pizza that leaves the food court drenched in blood. Bad timing between two estranged Milita Groups both trying to enjoy an art festival and the Second Amendment at the same time.
Or maybe a quick re-think when the Muslim Gun Rights Initiative or the Armed Latinos for Immigration Reform start strolling around equally strapped under the same premise?
We may find the "guns for everyone, all the time, because freedom." isn't really an honest sentiment after all.
Nobody thinks that.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Sep 28, 2013, 02:39 PM (2 replies)
It's too simple to cast the question in a sexist framework of Bill dominating Hillary (as if). Nobody thinks Hillary answers to Bill.
But whether or not she ever used the phrase "We are the President" as claimed in whatever book that was, it's clear both are fully formed power players on their own terms who have worked together to extend and enhance each other's influence.
They are a team of equals.
And thus there is a legitimate question as to whether that political / financial Clinton "unit," would effectively be put into power for a third term should Hillary Clinton become the next President.
With Hillary and Chelsea now both ensconced in the Clinton Foundation, which embraces a questionable amalgam of elite monied influence and politics, there will be a discussion as to whether America wants the Clinton *family* back running the Executive.
I am bothered by it. I liked Bill as President up to a point, and think Hillary has been a good Secretary of State.
But I think their first allegiance is to power, money, and influence, and all of them working in the same quasi-political "Foundation" with their billionaire friends like Pete "Let's Kill Social Security" Peterson does nothing to assuage that concern in the slightest.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Sep 28, 2013, 02:00 PM (0 replies)
It can and will be moved, by the people in it, the facts at hand, and the effectiveness of the respective arguments and power struggles, on an ongoing basis.
The rest comes off as big pretentious straw man argument and a big dose of projection. Who is arguing by hyperbole? Who is telling moderates they don't count? On the contrary, there is plenty of rhetoric from the Third Way that the "professional left," etc. needs to butt out.
We're supposed to swallow that just the lefties are intolerant? "F*cking (intellectually challenged])?"
That's just specious. No one thinks that.
Of course moderates count. Centrists count. More liberal and progressive Democrats count.
Everyone gets to be in the party. Everyone gets to argue. Some days Democrats will claim Social Security is driving "the deficit" and must be drastically changed. On other days, Democrats will push back against another needless war, or a Wall Street elitist who'd like to run the Fed.
One thing, though. These swings are like a pendulum. And up until recently, the Democratic Party has been to its own extreme right.
When it hits the apex, the pendulum will return, sure as gravity.
Accepting THAT would be a lot more productive than trying to convince everyone lefties and progressives are too pushy and should simmer down.
Posted by DirkGently | Tue Sep 24, 2013, 10:03 PM (1 replies)
Sociopaths all look like they're hiding a murdered kitten in their pocket, all the time, and expect you to never catch on.
Romney's got it.
Santorum's got it.
Paul Ryan has it.
McCarthy had it.
Cruz has it BAD.
Posted by DirkGently | Tue Sep 24, 2013, 09:00 PM (0 replies)
... always seem to devolve into absolutist positions about freedom of expression vs. a call for bans. On one side, it is pointed out that we are free to discuss and depict the unlikeable, the unsavory, and the unethical. We are permitted to pretend things we shouldn't actually do.
So we don't generally silence people for discussing or simulating things that are abhorrent. Sometimes those depictions and discussions are for the good. No criticism or satire can exist without acknowledging the things we despise. Prohibition of bad ideas has never proven to be the path to better ones.
The truth, as usual, probably lurks in the middle somewhere.
Misogyny or racism in a video game is open to criticism as misogyny or racism. It's bad art for starters, unless it really is some kind of intelligent comment on those subjects.
But then come the discussions as to whether we are creating the things we imagine, just by swimming in that cultural soup. Normalizing them. Suggesting that our worst impulses are something everyone would indulge if they could. We don't believe that, do we?
God knows, I am not bringing up p_rn, but those threads always seem crippled by this same issue. Who gets to decide which expressions are worthless, exploitive, or harmful? A lot of us pretended to shoot our friends or innocent Native Americans as kids, and grew up with not the slightest thought really doing those things would be okay.
One thing -- I have noticed we're now using "porn" to describe any depiction in art that appeals to an unsavory human impulse. "Torture porn" films spring to mind. We're talking about exploitation vs. observation in a slightly new way.
At what point are we being asked not to observe and comment on something loathsome, but to enjoy it, normalize it, or participate in it? I watched a film called "Hostel," supposedly based on truth bizarrely enough, and it lingered so long on depictions of humans abasing and mutilating others for sport that I felt unclean. It felt less like storytelling and more like an invitation to malicious fantasy. I wouldn't arrest the filmmakers, but I would suggest they did something wrong in creating "art" like that.
Complicating all of that is the question of children -- so often used disingenuously to try to limit adult freedoms on the basis of how something might impact a person not yet fully formed. But there are things that impact children differently. Without the context of experience and knowledge, how is a child going to receive "playing" at murder or abuse? Do we risk stimulating a response adults understand has no place in civilization?
Maybe the answer lies in discussion itself. *Is* GTA 5 using a tasteless appeal to immoral / amoral fantasy as a selling point? Is it not whatever else it claims to be -- escapism, irony, satire, mindless amusement? I don't know. I played games shooting space invaders as a child and games shooting Nazis and zombies as a young adult. None of them made me feel I was being encouraged to revel in cruelty or feed any kind of desire to do real harm in the real world. Playing at killing prostitutes or children sounds different to me, but I haven't actually seen these games. I've yet to see any fans suggest they like doing horrific things in a game because they'd like to actually do horrific things.
If it is bad art, it should at least be called out on that. Regardless of whether someone wants to argue whether a game can actually warp a child's perception or any of that, tastelessness or glorification of cruelty ought to be identified. Something can be legal, and a "game," and still reprehensibly awful.
People should talk about it, *without* getting backed into corners with prohibition on one side and no one having the right to question appeals to worst human impulses on the other.
Bad ideas need daylight to give way to better ones.
Posted by DirkGently | Thu Sep 19, 2013, 01:53 PM (2 replies)
Whenever something horrible happens -- like a kid getting hurt at school -- in the following attempts to ensure "never again," one simplistic but popular suggestion is "zero tolerance."
At its heart I think it's just magical thinking. Punish Tylenol and immunize yourself from heroin overdoses. Come down like a ton of bricks on a plastic cake knife, and somehow it's less likely a knife or a gun will appear.
It's irrational, of course. The kid with a cake knife is not the same kid who's going to bring a pistol or a switchblade, and that kid's not going to get caught by the homeroom teacher anyway if they're really intent on doing harm.
It's the same logic as banning nail files or tiny knives on airplanes. Someone determined to do harm could do worse with a sharpened pencil, but somehow it's imagined that if you block anything remotely resembling a weapon, you're more protected from ... actual weapons.
So we get stupid rules, and punish the wrong kids for the wrong things.
You may be right that there's an element of misguided legal butt covering involved as well. People love to sue a school, and because "zero tolerance" sounds good to people, and requires no critical thinking to apply, a school or county could argue it's "doing everything it can." "Look, we ruined a kid's reputation for giving her friend a Midol, so how can it be our fault if someone else brought a crack pipe?"
Any way we slice it though, it's bad thinking. We DO know the difference between guns and cake knives and aspirin and crystal meth. We CAN differentiate between kids hugging in the hallway and committing rape under the bleachers.
And if we can't, we're in a lot more trouble than that posed by the actual threats we're considering.
Posted by DirkGently | Thu Sep 19, 2013, 09:45 AM (0 replies)