February 25, 2010
The state of Utah, famously the home of the Mormon church and one of the most conservative states in the union, is on the cusp of enacting the reductio ad absurdum of anti-choice thinking: they are going to make women criminally liable for miscarriages.
Yes, you read that correctly. They are going to outlaw miscarriages. I struggled long and hard to think of words suitable to describe this, but “knowingly enact a reductio ad absurdum” is the best I could come up with. The worst part is this was just one of several points from the other night, when the denizens of Rightwingia were even more explicitly deranged than usual.
Another one is this story from Glenn Greenwald, in which the editorial staff of Newsweek defend their decision not to label as “terrorist” the man who committed suicide by crashing his private plane into an IRS office building in Austin, Texas, by explaining that they reserve the word “terrorist” for foreign Muslims, even if the acts they commit are in all respects identical.
Some cynics may say that this is hardly surprising, but there is something new about the sheer explicitness of it. Yes, we all suspected they think that way, subconsciously, but we held on to the idea that we all agree that this is an insane way of thinking, and that while they may feel that way deep inside, if we dragged it out to the surface the sheer horribleness of it would make them recoil at the sight, and realize how horribly they’ve been acting, allowing us to shame them into better behavior. Well, no such luck, we now know that they not only feel this way very consciously, they actually believe that this is entirely reasonable and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s hard to find the words to describe this as well.
The days just fly by without giving me time to work.
There is a new development in health care reform: some Senators are pushing to include the public option in a fix to the reform bill to be passed via the process known as “reconciliation” – the important point of which is that it is not subject to filibuster. This was the process Bush used to pass his tax cuts for the spectacularly wealthy. Now, one might reasonably ask “why didn’t they do that in the first place?” or “why don’t they do that with everything?”, and the short answer is there are limitations for what can be passed in this way, but I don’t know exactly what those limitations are. As always it is a debated topic. But anyway some Democratic Senators are pushing for it but the blogosphere is cautious; they have been burned on this before, and are warning that if the Democrats are not 100% serious and committed – if this is just something to energize the base but which they don’t actually believe will pass or intend to fight for – that will rebound on them viciously.
To recap the last chapter of the story: the Senate has passed a reform bill which does not include the public option – but that was before Scott Brown, a Republican, won the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, thereby costing the Democrats their allegedly filibuster-proof majority. Now, every bill has to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but the bill the Senate passed was insufficient in many important ways, and unpalatable to the more liberal and more electorally risky House; many Democrats in the House warned that passing the weak bill would do nothing for their re-election prospects, and hurt the majority. But if the House passes a stronger bill it is guaranteed to fail in the Senate, where the Republicans now have a filibuster-capable 41 seats. Hence reconciliation: the House has been saying that they will pass the Senate bill, provided the Senate agrees to push through substantial improvements using reconciliation, which would theoretically allow them to do so with a simple majority.
So now some Senators are pushing for the public option to be included in that fix. The public option remains popular, as the American public know that this would in fact directly help solve the ongoing health care crisis which continues to worsen every month. In California, one major insurance provider has informed their costumers that they will increase their rates by up to thirty-nine percent within the next couple of months, and from now on will continue to adjust their rates more often than the old once a year. Their stated reason for doing so? People can’t afford their comprehensive health care plans and are dropping out of coverage; therefore they will reduce what they cover and raise prices to maintain their profits. Yet more proof that a free market for-profit healthcare system is an abomination.
The question always remains, do the Democrats actually believe in their own policies? It’s hard to remain optimistic.
February 14, 2010
…Valentine’s Day edition.
Okay, not really. I have nothing to say about valentine’s day. I haven’t even eaten a candy today. For which I am quite proud, in fact.
With February now half gone (which I only just realized with some shock), I am growing increasingly angry at chapter 12, which must now rank as the greatest failure of my novel so far. I have now spent some six weeks editing it; longer by far than any other chapter (chapter 8, the longest chapter so far, did not take more than a couple of weeks to edit, if memory serves), and yet I feel like I’m not much closer to being finished. In addition I’m feeling that every scene is, well, bad. There is very little, almost nothing, in the way of logical storyline progression, the characters’ personalities do not shine through, leading to many boring scenes of just people talking in a fairly plain and not particularly vivid manner, events seem arbitrary and aimless…
Six weeks of editing, so far, for a chapter that I originally spent one week writing. Because I wrote the original draft in a mad rush without the slightest concern for quality in order to reach the end before the end of my summer vacation in August. And then once my summer vacation was over I was forced to put it aside entirely in favor of schoolwork and an evening course that took up more energy and time that month than I actually had available, and I was running behind the entire fall as a result. I was so ready to edit this chapter immediately after I finished it, but could not do so, and by the time I could, in December, the story had slipped my mind so much that I had to spend forever refamiliarizing myself with every single detail.
Originally I had hoped to edit this chapter, and chapter 11 because those were written more or less as one, in september or october. Then I hoped to edit them both, and chapter 3 which I decided it was finally time to revisit and fix up properly, in december. But by new year’s I had only been able to edit chapter 11. By then I had a new year’s resolution to write a new chapter every month of 2010, in the belief that if I could do this I would reach the end of the book this year. Chapter 12 is still only half-edited, chapter 3 remains untouched, and I have not begun writing any new chapters.
This is starting to piss me off.
What is growing more and more certain is that chapter 12 definitely isn’t going to be good anytime soon, and as other stuff demands my time my standards slip. I now believe that I will give up on quality entirely and content myself to fill in the gaps in the text with more text that at least make the narrative coherent, even if it won’t be anywhere near as exciting, elegant or satisfactory as I had originally hoped. And this is a major climax too, which I had been looking forward to finally writing literally since the day I started writing the novel.
February 12, 2010
So right now the Republicans and Fox News and various other people want to believe that extreme weather events that leave Washington DC crippled and buried under a mountain of snow is a sign that everything is hunky-dory and that climate change isn’t happening. Well, this is what happens when you have a class of people dedicated to misunderstanding scientific theories that have been explained to them a hundred times over the past ten years, and who have a news network entirely dedicated to disseminating their misunderstanding to the wider public. The reality of course is that global warming has never meant that everywhere will get hotter at a regular pace, until we all live in a tropical paradise; it means quite simply that the average global temperature will increase, resulting in more extreme weather events at either end of the scale… such as massive blizzards in Washington DC.
When I hear people in my cold, northern country say they wouldn’t mind global warming to heat the place up, I shudder at the ignorance of it. Global warming is more likely to throw us into a new ice age than it is to make us comfortable.
In other news, you remember that Senator Shelby decided to single-handedly hold up Senate approval of every single one of Obama’s appointees to various government offices. There is a way around this kind of blockage: the President has the power to make temporary appointments without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. These recess appointments only last out the next session before they must be approved. This is the method Bush used to make John Bolton, an anti-UN nutcase, the United States Ambassador to the UN, when Democrats, in a rare show of spine, filibustered his appointment. Obama, in response to Shelby blocking every single nominee (who, unlike John Bolton and Bush’s other recess appointments, are uncontroversial, qualified, and have bipartisan support), threatened to make recess appointments if the hold wasn’t lifted, and the Republican backed down and allowed 27 of the 70 or so nominees to go up for a vote, where they easily won approval.
February 9, 2010
Somewhat old now, but these are the people who run America’s political press.
February 7, 2010
Gotta get rid of these links!
Via Sadly, No!: Colorado Springs is going Galt. Teabaggers rejoice at the prospect of an ethnically homogenous self-policed free-market anarchy.
Via Daily Kos: A Research 2000 poll of self-identified Republicans finds that self-identified Republicans believe lunatic nonsense. Fox News is outraged at the very idea that Republicans believe what they hear on Fox News. Also while I’m on the Kos, the Senate’s gentlemanly unanimity rules which allows one single crank to hold up business for ages are currently being used by Republicans Senator Shelby to block every single Obama appointment unless they agree to give Senator Shelby a million dollars. Gentlemanly.
The Democratic National Committee, a fundraising organization, spends money donated by party activists paying for ads for Democrats who aren’t up for re-election to defend their opposition to Democratic policies. In an election year, in which actual Democrats are facing tough challenges.
Richard Cohen, Washington DC press corps elite, wants to feel safer. And the way to do that is to torture foreigners.
Did Sarah Palin name her baby with Down’s Syndrome something basically equivalent to “Tard”? Would any of us really be surprised to learn she did?
And finally this requires something more than a one-sentence witty remark. A couple of years ago a right-wing what-passes-for-intellectual-in-those-parts named Jonah Goldberg published a book entitled Liberal Fascism, whose title says it all really, and whose central thesis was that fascism “is properly understood as a phenomenon of the left”. The whole sordid history of the publicans can be found here. Needless to say no serious historians can bring themselves to take it seriously, and the work is filled with exactly the kind of selective, unrigorous, dishonest nonsense we’ve all come to expect from the Fox News universe. But unlike most pieces of crank right-wing historical revisionism, this one didn’t flop miserably, and has spread insidiously throughout the brainwaves to become accepted orthodoxy among the American right. This is the thinking that motivates Glenn Beck and the teabaggers, and all the respondents to that R2K poll. So blogger and historian David Neiwert set out to get real academic historians to take serious steps to respond to and correct Jonah Goldberg’s dangerous nonsense. The result was a series of articles, including Goldberg’s own response to his critics and their response to his responses. Links to everything can be found here.
February 4, 2010
I will have many of them in a post soon. For now, have a story about scientologists travelling to Haiti to do relief work.
February 1, 2010
It’s the end of the first month of the year, which means I am going to run down my list of new year’s resolutions, many of which were stipulated monthly, and see how I did. Forecast: less than ideal.
-Write and edit one chapter of my novel, with the goal of reaching the end of it by the end of the year.
Verdict: failed. Big time. My current writing situation is as follows: I am trying, without much success, to edit chapter 12, which I wrote last summer, and had intended to finish editing in December (after which I had planned to edit another chapter, also in December).
-Write at least one short story in addition to each chapter, and try to sell short stories to magazines, to establish myself as a writer and “get my name out there”.
Verdict: failed. A couple of weeks ago I began writing a short story, but didn’t finish.
-Read and study in-depth one Shakespeare play.
Verdict: Partial success. I read a play, Titus Andronicus, and read a little about it, but I don’t think I can say that I studied it in-depth.
In addition to that, I also intend to join the university gym and take advantage of its facilities regularly. I also intend to join one of the university’s many martial arts clubs, for weekly practice, and also look into the university dance club.
Verdict: Partial success. I went to the beginner’s kung fu class a few days ago (still sore…) and I mean to go back next week.
In general I intend to nurture what I described to my friend as “irresistable qualities”, and in general see about acquiring a more positive mentality.
Verdict: failed. Let’s not go into more detail.
So all in all I have fallen into the great pastime of mankind, failing to uphold new year’s resolutions. That’s not a terribly good trail to follow. But let’s try to maintain some optimism, or at least try to pinpoint why things failed. And on that score two big things immediately come to mind: first the great Computer Deadening. In addition to simply removing the tools I have for writing, it sapped my mental fortitude for a long time beyond that. I am still not entirely recovered. And secondly, winter.
So yeah. Things went quite badly. And it remains the case that winter is the bane of my existence, and if I am ever to be able to work the entire year around I must relocate to someplace that does not have winter. In the meantime I must simply do what I can.