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Archive for April, 2012

Oh, Santorum. The liberal media never seem to cut you a break, do they?

Maybe because of shit like this.

Well, I’m not going to whole-heartedly leap on him for this one. I don’t know what he was trying to say about Obama. It wasn’t necessarily racist. Santorum’s not a flawless public speaker. Maybe he was going for something else and flubbed it. It’s not like “government nigger” is a common phrase, that I’m aware of, so I can’t think why he’d have had any inclination to use it here.

Maybe he did that thing where his brain prepared two different ways to go with the sentence, and hadn’t decided which one to use by the time his mouth got there, so he uttered a weird amalgam of both. I’ve done that. Like, telling someone “I’m doing gate”, when you meant to say either “good” or “great” and fumble it. It happens.

Here’s what pisses me off though:

Give me a break. That’s unbelievable. What does it say about those that are running with this story that that’s where their mind goes. You know, I’m not going to dignify that with [a response].

That is absolutely ridiculous.

That’s a quote from Santorum’s spokesman. It’s pretty desperate.

You think the problem is with the people running the story and “where their mind goes” when they hear your guy talking? He calls Obama a “government nig”, then says “uh” immediately after as he hesitates and mumbles his way out of the sentence. Even if he didn’t barely avoid using a racial slur, don’t act like people are getting crazy over nothing. It may well not be the case that Santorum only just caught himself before being seriously racist in public, but it’s not comically ridiculous to suggest that might be what happened.

Whatever it was he meant, and whatever he personally feels and believes about Barack Obama or black people in general, what he actually said sounded really bad. And you sound pitiful trying to pretend otherwise. Attribute it to an unfortunate slip of the tongue, and fucking apologise for how it came out.

(Yes, I’m back right after saying I’m going to be posting less often. Sue me. The point is, I’m working to my own schedule now.)

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Unimportant admin

My posting schedule was interrupted last week: I was away for a couple of days, visiting family and socialising with nice people, then I was recovering from all that, then I just didn’t have anything pre-written to put up here and wasn’t in the mood to come up with anything new.

I’ve been trying, for a while, to maintain some degree of discipline with this blogging lark, and have been fairly consistent in posting every day for some time, often twice a day with a Linksplat or a quickie. And I think I’m kinda done with that now. It’s started to feel like an obligation, it’s not as personally rewarding as it could be, and it’s a distraction from other things I want to be achieving.

I’m still going to engage with the interwebs on matters skeptical, political, and otherwise of interest. I’m just going to stop trying so hard. I’ll keep blogging, but only when I have something that I’m just itching to say, and the act of getting the words out of my brain and into a text file is a sufficient reward in itself. I’m not going to let myself feel obliged to be a good blogger for anyone else any more. I wanted to for a while, but I’m studying for a professional qualification, I’ve got a novel to redraft and a bunch of short stories to sell, and one of these days I might even have a job again.

My priorities could do with a bit of shifting around, is my point.

With luck, it’ll mean that on the selective occasions when I do post something, it’ll be more worth reading and less hurriedly dashed off (though don’t hold your breath). I’m hoping to engage in more depth with things on Twitter and Facebook too; subjects that would previously have gotten a brief write-up or a Linksplat mention you’ll now find me wittering about on there. Feel free to follow/friend me if you want to keep up with that.

(I’m feeling a bit disheartened with YouTube after the reactions to my last video – despite a lot of kind people telling me they liked it, the comments are full of oblivious idiots accusing me of being a religious lunatic – but maybe I’ll reappear there eventually too, if I can think of anything worth doing.)

Thanks to everyone who reads and comments and whatnot here. Hmm, it seems to add an unavoidably maudlin and melodramatic tone to start thanking people, as if I were retiring after twenty years, or straightening my affairs before heading off to Dignitas. I’m aware that I’m not announcing a dramatic lifestyle change for anyone, especially not you, but still.

I’ll probably be back with a rant about something that’s annoyed me before too long. But it’s going to have to wait its turn, behind learning how to bookkeeperise things and telling stories about zombie detectives.

(Ha – I didn’t notice until after writing all the above, but this decision happens to immediately follow my 1000th post here. IT’S A SIGN!!)

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I haven’t written at length about the ultrasound probes that legislators in certain states are requiring that women be forcibly penetrated with before they’re permitted certain medical procedures. But given the implicit rationale behind the law (that those shameful sluts must be made to understand the full consequences of their actions), I like this as a complementary idea:

I have a modest proposal that would resolve the issue. In Virginia, Texas, and the six other states that now mandate this procedure, let Army and other military recruiters be veterans who have lost an arm or a leg or been otherwise traumatized in combat. Let every recruiting station show continuous images of innocent noncombatants who died, including under attacks by American drones. Let the recruiting centers display that Russian proverb, “Every bullet finds its target in a mother’s heart.” And above all, let each prospective recruit and his or her mother be advised that he or she is not at all unlikely to commit suicide after undergoing the dehumanization of basic training (“basic” to all violent systems) and coming to realize the horrible hypocrisy of what they have been brought to do by a heartless state.

And especially in Texas, the execution capital of the country, let every warden who’s about to order the execution of a death-row inmate talk the matter over with the inmate’s mother. Let the executioners themselves listen to the heartbeat of the prisoner and hear his (or her) own story of how they were led by a violence-prone society, with its mass-media culture, to commit the crime.

Also, Viagra prescriptions to require a urethral sounding.

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Public Interest Lawyers have put together a handy fact-sheet on the government’s “Back To Work” schemes, known popularly as “Workfare”.

They’ve looked at the policies that are being put in place, supposedly to give people out of work a chance to get back on the career ladder and develop worthwhile experience. They’ve found, like just about everyone who’s paid attention to the scheme in any detail, that the policies are achieving no such thing, and no intellectually honest assessment of the situation could conceivably have led the government to make the decisions it has.

2. The Government is not “paying them… through benefits” to work, as the Deputy Prime Minister has claimed today. Jobseekers allowance ranges from £53.45 to £67.50 per week. It is paid for one specific (and obvious) purpose – to support people whilst they seek employment. It is not remuneration for work, and even if it were it would mean that people on Back to Work schemes would be getting paid as little as £1.78 per hour, often whilst working for some of our biggest retailers. Many of those retailers are now realising that such a scenario is unacceptable and have either pulled out of the schemes or demanded that the Government thinks again.

3. People are not being given a choice. Ministers claim that work under these schemes is not forced but voluntary. This is not correct. The Community Action Programme, Work Programme and Mandatory Work Activity Scheme (the clue is in the name) are mandatory, and jobseekers will lose their jobseeker’s allowance if they do not participate. The Government says the sector-based work academy and work experience schemes are voluntarily, but Cait Reilly was told in no uncertain terms that her participation was “mandatory”.

And so on. It’s beyond abundantly clear by now that the coalition government is being entirely disingenuous in its claims to want what’s actually best for young people and the unemployed. It’s ignored the evidence too many times, and done too much to polarise the issue in a prejudiced and classist fashion with terms like “job snobs” and “scroungers”. If you’re not already rich and powerful enough to be of use to them, the government are not your friend.

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One legal activist is considering the possibility of an action that might “bring the whole [justice] system to a halt” in America.

That action? Organising people to claim their constitutional rights.

At the moment, most people who are charged with a crime will waive their right to a trial. They’re commonly advised that a full trial could lead them to face serious penalties, whereas agreeing a guilty plea beforehand and getting it all sorted out quickly and efficiently would be better for everyone.

If they took the rights they were entitled to, there’s no way the system could cope. But they’re pressured to plea out, and sometimes they have little choice.

Erma Faye Stewart pleaded guilty, having been told that it was the only way she’d be able to look after her children. As it turns out, if she’d gone to court, the case against her would have been dismissed. But that’s no comfort now that she’s been evicted from her home, made ineligible for food stamps, lumped with court costs and probation fees, and given a permanent criminal record.

I already told them, I’m having a hard time, buying my son medicine. I have to have his medicine for his asthma.

Her son needs medicine for his asthma. Goddammit, if you wrote a character in a movie as heart-wrenching as this woman, people would be vomiting into their popcorn at how schmaltzy and contrived it was. Why the fuck are we not better at helping people?

The fact that the US has a serious incarceration problem is no secret. The idea that the system could be so easily crashed just highlights how broken it already is.

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Holy shit America, how much defending do you need?

– You know, men can (and should) be something other than knights or beasts.

– If you’re going to insist that people earn at least slightly less than a living wage, why not give everyone a hundred bucks an hour? Huh? Satirez!!

– Sometimes skeptics just ought to knock it off when someone has faith. It can be a beautiful thing in their lives. Who are we to say it’s wrong, with our “facts” and “reason”? Follow what you know to be true in your heart, Ezra.

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Saying that Fox News killed Hallie Culpepper may not be hyperbole, but it feels like an unnecessary reinforcement of the partisan divide.

It’s a horrible story. She was an elderly woman who had a fall, and refused medical treatment, because she was scared of what “Obamacare” might do to her. She specified in her will that she didn’t want her money going to “the Muslim Brotherhood”, a terrifying organisation about which I’d lay money Ms Culpepper could not have provided a single fact, beyond that the President was all tied up in their evil affairs somehow.

She died because of ignorance and confusion. The “death panels” she was so frightened of simply don’t exist. None of her poorly understood and incoherently articulated worries had any bearing on reality. She didn’t have to die.

Ms Culpepper watched Fox News “religiously”. There’s no doubt a lot of the misinformation in her head, not least the nonsense that scared her out of accepting medical help that could have saved her life, was shoved in there by one of the most hatefully biased and unjust television channels in America. It might be true for Tracy Knauss to say that Fox News killed his mother.

But that fails to tell the whole story. The problem isn’t Fox News in itself. Fox News are a pustular symptom of the illness of modern politics. They’re among the most virulently efficient institutions at abiding by one of the few remaining rules of the political game: pick a side, stick to your guns, dehumanise and destroy the opposition, and loyally rationalise whatever’s being done by the people on your team who you find yourself having to defend.

If we don’t get out of this tribalistic mindset, there’s always going to be channels to watch or papers to read religiously out there, willing to assure us that only they know what’s best for us, and they’ll teach us how to watch out for those others who wish us ill.

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