Reactions to some recent news

I’ve been feeling sort of angsty today due to various stupid reasons and while reading some news on the bus I felt compelled to get some of it out but these are sort of not-for-Facebook ideas so I’m dusting off the old blog. Ironic that I feel safer sharing “controversial” things on a public blog than I do on a non-public Facebook page. On to my rants…

1. Silk Road website creator gets life term for drug plot
I can’t believe this guy got life in prison. I get that illegal stuff happened there, but to me this crime pales in comparison to so many things lately that people have gotten away with completely (e.g. Wall Street financial crisis, George Zimmerman, various police officers across the country, etc.). I completely agree with the defense’s position that “in contrast to the government’s portrayal of the Silk Road website as a more dangerous version of a traditional drug marketplace,” the website “was in many respects the most responsible such marketplace in history.” I’m skeptical of the claims that the guy took out hits on people, too. I also think it’s stupid that parents of people who died of overdoses were involved with this case and testified during sentencing.

2. Putin Accuses US of Meddling Into FIFA Affairs
I hate to agree with Vladimir Putin about anything, but I sort of think he has a point here. I understand the argument as to why the corruption is a bad thing and has real-world consequences (outside of sports), but why does the United States have to file the lawsuit? Soccer is a bigger deal in nearly every other country in the world yet we’re the ones bringing this lawsuit? I hate to say but it only bolsters the claims made by Putin and IS that the US is trying to control the world. (That said, I doubt that the US is doing this in an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from Russia.)

3. The Duggars
I find this whole situation extremely offensive. What other group but a religious group would harbor a child molester while continually bashing gay people. I’m not the first to say it, but ironic that people who insist that gay people are dangerous to children (brainwashing, sexual abuse, etc.) are in fact the ones who are literally dangerous to children.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

During the rescue of the Chilean miners, I heard/read lots of people saying that they were praying for the miners. And once all 33 of the miners were rescued, people said, “Thank God!” followed by: “It’s a miracle that they made it out.” The president of Chile even said:

What started as a tragedy is ending as a real blessing. I think that the miners have given us an example of unity, of teamwork, of faith. Their families, they never lost faith

It was a miracle, because on the first day the odds were against us… At the end of the day, the miners were in the hands of God.

Well, actually, no. The miners were not in the hands of god. They were in the hands of humans. And it was humans who saved them.

God (if it exists — which I don’t think it does) had absolutely nothing to do with this mining incident. God did not save those miners — people did. People who used a lot of scientific knowledge and then bravely went down into the mine to rescue the trapped miners. If god was real and had any power and genuinely wanted those miners saved, it could’ve teleported them out of the mine or something like that.

And if god is so into saving miners all of the sudden, how do you explain the miners recently trapped in China? Did god just decide that miners in Chile are more important this week?

I know that that argument (“Why can’t god save everyone?”) is tired… my main point is this: People keep giving credit to god saying it was a miracle or that faith kept the miners alive, etc. Well, no, it was actually modern science that did both. I hate it when people praise god for things that humans did. It only diminishes the accomplishments of humans and hands them over to some nonexistent being.

Let’s give humans credit for what humans do.

Firefighters Let Home Burn

Like everything nowadays, I have mixed feelings about the buzzy news story about fire fighters letting a house burn to the ground. Judging by the headline, “Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground” the story/situation seems really fucked up and upsetting… but then you read more and find out that the people who owned the house in question opted out of paying for “fire protection.”

Everyone should see this as a parallel for health care. A lot of people opt out of paying for health care because, “Well if something happens to me they will pay anyway.” This is what always bugged me about the health care debate — “fiscal conservatives” rallied against “mandatory universal health care” even though that’s the de facto system we had all along (hospitals won’t turn away someone who is wounded even if they lack insurance). The people whose house burned down thought the same thing:

“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” said Gene Cranick.

What really bugs me about this conservative “cost-saving” mode of thought: They think that bad things won’t happen to them and if they do that someone will help them. The flip side of this is that they think that when bad things happen to “poor” people that it happens because they deserve it. How the tables turn when it happens to them.

This is why we need government services and why they cannot be opt-in/opt-out: Everyone thinks the same thing the Cranicks do: That if they play the odds chances are nothing bad will happen to them (and they save some money in the process), but if for some crazy statistical chance something does happen to them, that someone will be there to bail them out. They don’t want to pay taxes or for services that help “poor people” but they expect the “poor people” to pay in case anything happens to them.

* Note: I’m making huge assumptions about the Cranicks and what type of people they are and admittedly don’t know anything about their situation. I’m just using them as an example rather than some hypothetical story.

MSNBC Is the New FOX News?

According to The Daily Show

Oh well — I guess I’m glad to say I support it…

Nov. 15th’s “Gay” SNL

Paul Rudd and Andy Samberg on SNL
I’m glad to see a few places (Defamer via The Stranger) noting how “gay” last week’s Saturday Night Live was.

And by “gay” I don’t mean the great, awesome, queer-type way.

There were four gay-themed sketches:

  1. A family where everyone kisses each other — and at the end two of the guy cast members had an open-mouthed kiss with lots of tongue
  2. Paul Rudd and Andy Samberg doing the “Everyone’s A Critic” digital short that included them being naked and painting nude portraits of each other
  3. Snagglepuss denying he was gay during “Weekend Update” (and if you don’t know who Snagglepuss [like me], checkout the Snagglepuss wiki entry…)
  4. Two closeted gay guys making a lot of jokes with gay sexual inudendo

It’s not that I have a problem with gay-themed jokes. Last season Shia LaBeouf did some funny Macgruber sketches with gay undertones and I loved them.

The problem with last saturday’s episode was that they seemed to be using the fact that the discomfort caused by the gayness as the punchline for the joke. It was people doing gay things but not actually being gay. And since the skits were evoking humor, it wasn’t like “oh look, straight guys can do these things without being gay” it was “when straight guys do these things they are funny [because they seem gay].”

For what it’s worth, I’ve really been enjoying Saturday Night Live lately. I think Kristen Wiig is hilarious.

I hate to say this, since I know so many gays who love him, but I think the problem was Paul Rudd. He seemed to bring some juvenile male sense of humor to the show and that’s what caused all these unfortunate gay-themed skits.

30 Seconds

What value is there in having a political debate and limiting responses to 30 seconds?

I’d rather have candidates talk about one or two issues and talk for five minutes and really explain their thoughts than feel pressured to fit everything into 30 seconds (which moderators seem to selectively enforce anyway…).

Gay in Iran

After all the discussion about being gay in Iran following Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment about there being no gay people in Iran, I found this Newsweek interview with a gay Iranian (who left Iran for the U.S.) interesting and thought it was worth sharing.

One part of the interview especially struck me. The man says:

It’s not easy for everybody to get out of that situation. Especially right now, it’s very difficult for Iranians to leave Iran: they cannot get visas to different countries. They just have to deal with the situation, lead a secret life and tell lies all the time …

I never realized that the U.S. war on terror and all sorts of diplomatic restrictions (denying visas, travel, etc.) against certain countries are making it even more difficult for people in these (often Islamic and religious and extremely conservative) countries — not only economically, but also when it comes to progressive social change.

I’m not sure what the ideal situation is, but the specific case of gay people desiring to leave their super-religious conservative countries never occured to me.

No Iraq Left Behind

If Iraq was a school in the United States and failed on eight out of eighteen benchmarks that the Bush administration set for it, the school would lose it’s funding and be shut down, right?

Why not with Iraq?

Privilege Not To Think Twice

The thing about being privileged (be it by being white, straight, male, etc.) is that if someone ever calls you a name or treats you what you perceive to be unfair or differently, you never have to think twice about whether it’s because you’re somehow “different” than most people.

This morning on The Commentators, they were talking about an incident in Portland in which two 14-year-old lesbians were kicked off a public bus for kissing/making out.

According to the girls (it sounds like the transit system hasn’t released audio/video of the situation yet), after making out the bus driver called them “sickos” and that after one of the girls went to hug her upset friend, the bus driver kicked them off.

John Carlson kept insisting that the girls were making out to taunt the passengers and drivers and that the driver ultimately kicked them off because public displays of affection make people uncomfortable, and that it had nothing to do with the fact the girls were lesbians.

Okay, fine, that very well might be the case, but to those girls, I’m certain that they assumed they were kicked off for being lesbians.

When you are straight and something like this happens, you never have to think, “Wow, does the bus driver somehow hate me or have a prejudice against me because I’m straight?” I think the fact you never have to worry about that stuff is one of the most prevalent ways that white/straight/male/etc. privilege exists.

Also, on a somewhat related pet peeve of mine, I hate it when straight people say that they don’t mind gay people “as long as they don’t flaunt it” (by holding hands, kissing in public, etc.). They try to disguise it as “public displays of affection make me uncomfortable” but I highly doubt they’d complain about straight people making out in public, too. You can ask my friends: As a joke, when I see straight people holding hands, kissing, etc. in public I often say, “Ugh, don’t you hate it when straight people flaunt their sexuality?”

Again, when you’re straight you don’t even have to think twice…