Monday, March 19, 2012
It’s the screams. Listen to them. Really listen to them. The terror reaches out through the speakers and grips you by the heart. If you have the least bit of empathy, your mind will be inexorably drawn to imagining the last few terrified moments of this kid’s life as he pleaded to be allowed to live.
When I heard it, all I could think of was my son’s face, his eyes wide with fright, pleading for his life and hoping that someone anyone will come to his rescue. Then the gun shot. Then the second gun shot. Even if one were trying to be ‘fair-minded’ (i.e. pretend that this might not be about race) the second gun shot makes it clear that Zimmerman meant to get himself a trophy. He was going to be the hero who saved the gated community from the young black man. It is bad enough that cops kill black people in the course of routine traffic stops and walk away without even a slap on the wrist. Now, it appears that--at least in Florida--we’ve taken a gigantic step backward and civilians can also kill a black man who is carrying Skittles-of-mass-destruction in his hand.
Imagine that you are there. You’re Trayvon Martin. You are walking home from the corner store with Skittles in your hand and suddenly you face every black parent’s nightmare. Yes, every black parent’s nightmare. For now, right now, I don’t really want to hear white people jumping up with their story of how their neighbors’ brothers’ best friend
knew this guy who was neighbors with this woman, who had a third cousin thrice removed, whose former neighbors’ son went to school with a guy who was randomly shot by a black guy. It’s a genre of ‘karmic balancing act’ tossed into American discussions of race. You are probably more familiar with the genre wherein the storyline is this, “When I was right out of high school, I tried to get a job as Attorney General of the United States and they gave it to some black guy named Eric Holder because they needed to fill a quota.” Never mind that the story teller hadn’t gone to law school. When the subject is job discrimination based upon race there will inevitably be some story where a white person didn’t get a job because ‘they’ had to ‘give it to a minority’. It is inconceivable that a black person might actually be the most qualified candidate for the job. Oh no! If a white person and a black person compete for the same job and the black person gets hired it must be because a quota had to be filled so any ongoing job discrimination is just karmic just desserts for blacks taking so many jobs we aren’t qualified to do in order to fill a quota.
There’s a difference between this hypothetical story and what actually happened. There are no municipalities where a black man could run down and shoot a random white kid, have the police show up and that black man just go on about his idle business. If Trayvon Martin had been white kid, and George Zimmerman a black man I guarantee you that Zimmerman would, even now, be sitting in jail awaiting trial. But since Martin was black and Zimmerman white, the latter gets to go on with his life. I wouldn’t put a $10 bet (much less a $10,000 dollar bet, Mittens) on Zimmerman doing any time whatsoever. IF it goes to trial and IF he is convicted, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Zimmerman got off with time served in county jail. This guy Zimmerman, against the advice of 911, followed this young black man and killed him thinking he would be thought a hero. He’s not far off wrong.
Oh, he won’t be praised on Red State or anywhere else, at least not immediately. But the fact that he was carrying a gun and is defending himself under the ‘Stand your ground’ law is instructive. Apparently, the men I listed at the head of this piece (and all the one’s I left out) are so deadly that one has to stand one’s ground while following him down the street when he is armed with a pack of Skittles. At some point some conservative commentator or another is going to make a statement to the effect that Zimmerman reacted properly because how was he to know that a black kid walking with candy and an iced tea wasn’t a threat.
The 911 tapes are here (opens new window). Listen to them as many times as it takes for you to internalize this fact; Trayvon Martin is dead because he was black and a male over the age of 8. George Zimmerman is free because Trayvon Martin was black. Listen to his screams. Imagine him backing away from Zimmerman. Listen to the gun shot. Imagine the bullet striking his young body. See him falling to the ground. See Zimmerman taking another shot. You will have entered into the nightmare of every black parent in America.
And I still don’t want to hear any tales or statements of the ‘that could have been anyone’ variety. The shade of Billy the Kid or John Dillinger could walk down the street carrying a suitcase nuke and a AK-47 while wearing a tee-shirt reading, “Ask me about my plans to pillage and kill” and not be seen as ‘suspicious’ while a black kid with Skittles is a mortal threat.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
It appears that a story last week about a hairy, woolly mammoth seen walking across a Siberian river is a hoax.
In the opening frame of the blurry video that went viral, an animal is seen moving through the Kitoy River. Superimposed over the video are the words: Siberian Mammoth, Copyright Michael Cohen/Barcroft Media
That's where the controversy and accusations began to fly.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
The man who wrote this is a conservative. He is also right.
Monday, February 6, 2012
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Monday, January 23, 2012
So I was watching Rachel Maddow and she interviewed a gentleman who is putting together a parade for veterans of the post-9/11wars. I would like to see something done like here in Portland. How this happens I don’t just yet but it should be doable.
Friday, January 20, 2012
A story from my way-back days in tech will be illustrative here. I used to work for a start-up in Oakland. This was my third job in the computer industry. I came in the door as employee thirteen. When I started, the company did not cover domestic partner benefits. As I was doing all of my paperwork on day one, the office manager came to me and said, “Don’t fill out your insurance forms yet. We don’t cover DP because it never came up before but now it has so I just have to call Aetna and it’ll take a few days to get it all sorted.” At the time I was only dating some woman, we’d had all of two dates and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t have a domestic partner.
That said, the next three hires were queer and so they benefitted from it. I was kicked out of the military for being queer. I never lost my job for being queer and in all the time I’ve worked in the field (since 1994) I can only think of one time that my being queer was the likely cause I didn’t get a job and that was because the organization was an arm of the Lutheran church. Since 1994, I’ve worked for two non-profits (including the YWCA), two start-ups and two multinationals. I’ve been treated fairly and equitably and been a valued member of the teams I was on.
I will give the last word to Sullivan.
This is not because they are somehow being noble. It is because they are serving their shareholders by employing the absolutely best people for the jobs they have and do not want to miss someone's talents because of something irrelevant like sexual orientation.
Hence capitalism enables equality. And the last entity to get with the program is the government.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
And therein lies one of the central dilemmas of political life in developed societies: sharing and solidarity can conflict with diversity. This is an especially acute dilemma for progressives who want plenty of both solidarity – high social cohesion and generous welfare paid out of a progressive tax system – and diversity – equal respect for a wide range of peoples, values and ways of life. The tension between the two values is a reminder that serious politics is about trade-offs. It also suggests that the left’s recent love affair with diversity may come at the expense of the values and even the people that it once championed.
This may be something that we on the left will have to face sooner or later and, for my money, I would have it sooner. Neither the American left or right seems to truly grasp that the very nature of politics is trade-offs. The left, admirably pursuing diversity, has become blind to the fact that in doing so we may have fractured the social bonds that tie us together as Americans. Unlike, say, the Japanese who have a--more or less--common ancestry, history and heritage we Americans are tied together solely through commitment to an ideal and a history that may have some of us placed in the role of outsider or the target to whom the history happened. So like the British but unlike, say, the Germans part of the challenge for us as Americans is to figure out how to see the national story as being our story. Currently, those on the American left are likely to see our national story and ideals as something deeply and profoundly alien to us even though it may be the only story we know well. Instead of seeing the founding of America as the start of something great and good, we see it as the beginning of an unending string of horrors visited upon blacks, Native Americans, mestizos, Japanese and Chinese immigrants, etc. While there is historical accuracy to this portrait, it is not the whole of the story nor is it necessarily where we should want our focus to be.
It is difficult enough for a nation as diverse as ours to hold itself together. It is even more of a challenge when we do not feel that our national story has anything to offer minority populations outside of a long list of grievances and broken promises. What’s more, the more we emphasize that which makes us different and hold that up as far more important and noble than that which makes us similar, we will have a very difficult time convincing our fellow citizens that we need a stronger social safety net.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Listening to Ron Paul’s speech this evening it was interesting his enthusiastic use of straw men:
- “All these bleeding hearts who said we can just give everyone a free house and they can borrow off the equity…”
- Produce Free Electricity For Your Home and Appliances in Just 48 Hours With The "Howard Johnson Motor" (HoJo Motor) - The only "Free Energy Device" to have 3 U.S. Patents! | HoJo Motor
- >Produce Free electricity for your home and appliances in just 2 days!<
- No, you won’t be able to do this.
- >Fire the Greedy electric companies and supply more of your own electricity!<
- NO, you won’t be doing that either. Rather, you’ll be giving the greedy, self-deluding scam peddler lots of money as well as your greedy electric company.
- >Reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment!<
- Get a bicycle, it will actually work.
Perpetual motion machines (and all ‘free energy’ devices are perpetual motion machines) violate either the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) or the second law of thermodynamics (conservation of work).
The first law states that in a closed system you cannot create new energy. This device, the Johnson motor, appears to violate the first law. The claim is that you can generate work without having to input energy. The argument is essentially this: you give an initial impetus to the device and then, once it is going, it will continue to generate more energy than is needed to keep it going.
The second law states that in a closed system, whenever work is done *some* energy is loss to friction etc. In other words, you cannot have an engine that is *so* efficient that 100% of the energy input into the system is used.
The argument against all forms of free energy is this:
1) You cannot get free energy. In other words, you cannot get *more* energy out of a system than you put into it (1st law)
2) In any system where work is done (e.g. a change of states happens because of energy put into the system) some will be loss because of inefficiencies.
3) Therefore, you cannot make a machine that makes enough energy that it can either keep itself going without an external input or get out more energy than you put in.
All ‘free energy’ advertisements are scams don’t fall for ‘em!
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Livewire | TPM
Here’s a partial list of Bush the Younger’s recess appointments. Just so that when your FOX News watching relatives pretend that Obama made up the whole concept of recess appointments you’ll have something to counter with, gentle reader.
Andrew G Biggs
Now, I will be the first to admit that my employer’s liberty was limited in that they couldn’t just refuse to hire me because I’m black, a woman or queer. However, in the America my parents spent the first 50 years of their life in their liberty was seriously constrained because they were black. In other blog posts, I have taken apart the idea that if only the market had been left to its own devices integration would have come to America in the fullness of time. There is less than no reason to believe this. In fact, the argument comprises a counterfactual worthy of Harry Turtledove. We ran the experiment and we know how it turned out. Many of the people who experienced that experiment through most of the last century are only now departing this veil of tears. Another fairly large cohort is only now just retiring. The generation who experienced ‘the Change’ are only now reaching middle-age. The market didn’t solve the problem on its own. I will not rehash that argument in this post but if you’re interested in it (and my mea culpa for assuming a goodwill on the part of Paul the Elder that his newsletters suggest he does not deserve) the blog post discussing the problem with the libertarian fantasy that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unnecessary is here.
Over at the Washington Post, Michael Gerson, in full mainstream Republican freak-out mode makes this observation about Ron Paul and the overly anti-government rhetoric of libertarians.
Government can be an enemy of liberty. But the achievement of a free society can also be the result of government action — the protection of individual liberty against corrupt state governments or corrupt business practices or corrupt local laws. In 1957, President Eisenhower sent 1,000 Army paratroopers to Arkansas to forcibly integrate Central High School in Little Rock. This reduced Gov. Orval Faubus’s freedom. It increased the liberty of Carlotta Walls LaNier, who was spat upon while trying to attend school. A choice between freedoms was necessary — and it was not a hard one.
A proposed bill in Tennessee would create a loophole in the state’s anti-bullying laws to protect those expressing religious, philosophical or political beliefs, which one proponent says would ensure that people can still express their “views on homosexuality.”
The proposed bill would amend the state’s current anti-bullying laws to specify that the anti-bully policy should “not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views” as long as there’s no physical threat or threat to another student’s property.
So the key here is not to threaten a gay kid but to just go ahead and beat the stuffing out of them. One wonders if the good people of Tennessee think that this law should cover Muslims although given recent history one suspects the answer is no.
(Tip o’ the hat to TPM for the original story.)