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.

MSNBC Is the New FOX News?

According to The Daily Show

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

Afronauts

Miss E. So Addictive
Last summer Slate had a nice piece about the “Afronaut Invasion.” I.e. hip-hop music that was obsessed with outer space and sci-fi stuff.

I gotta say, that the more electro and spacey crazy aspects of hip-hop are certainly my favorites. The first hip-hop album I really loved was Missy Elliott’s Miss E… So Addictive (which I also think is her “gay” album).

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…).

John the Revelator

“John the Revelator” has been one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs ever since I first heard it on Playing the Angel (which also happens to be my favorite Depeche Mode album [yes, I’m not quite a Gen-X’er]).

For the fun of it, I was reading about the song today and came across this amazing unofficial video:

I love that the video really highlights the transgressive nature of the Depeche Mode re-interpretation of the “traditional” version of “John the Revelator,” which has a much more religious tone. (Not that the Depeche Mode version isn’t religious — but it’s anti-religious, if anything.) Showing George W. Bush as an evil version of John the Revelator is just awesome.

In addition to that awesome video, the CD single for “John the Revelator” is pretty great, too. The UNKLE remix is my favorite, but Tiefschwarz does nice straightforward and dub versions of the song, too.

Finally, the official version of the video is nice too… it captures the spirit of their “Touring the Angel” tour (which I didn’t see in person but have a DVD of…):

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?

The Problem

“They are trying to make us more afraid of fixing the problem than the problem itself.”

Rachel Maddow said this tonight on Countdown about America’s health care problem. While it can certainly be applied to health care, I think this is basically the conservative position against almost anything progressive. It’s the best way to maintain the status quo. I think understanding this can make it a lot easier to achieve progress.

Bill Breeden and Iran-Contra

Fact of the day: Bill Breeden was the only person arrested for anything having to do with the Iran-Contra Affair.

Who is Bill Breeden? He’s from John Poindexter‘s home town and held a sign for a street named in Poindexter’s honor for “ransom.” He was arrested and jailed for this. None of the military or government officials involved with illegally selling weapons or funding a war that the U.S. wasn’t supposed to be involved with or covering up served jail time.

Anyone who thinks that the recent news about Paris going to/from jail/house arrest has anything to do with faith in the justice system is terribly confused, I’m afraid.

(Fact thanks to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.)

Mental Illness and Guns

After the Virginia Tech shootings last week a lot of people have been making a big deal of the fact that the guy who purchased the guns had a history of mental illness, and that “people with mental illness shouldn’t be able to buy guns.”

The whole idea of mental illness is still very subjective and so this logic still returns to the fact that people with guns is a bad idea.

Homosexuality was defined as a mental illness until 1973. While nowadays people don’t really accept that and if you ask most people who say “people with mental illness shouldn’t be able to buy guns” (I’m thinking of someone faily liberal like Bill Richardson, who made the comment about mental illness that inspired this post during last night’s debate), they would have no problem with gays buying guns… but that’s because times have changed.

Let’s say some bill is passed and somehow “people with mental illness” cannot buy guns. Now lets say in 50 years or so there is some big religious war and some new religion or who knows what is behind it. Then lets say that a conservative president appoints conservative-minded people to whatever association decides what is and isn’t mentally ill. Next thing you know that association finds some “mental link” between mental illness and religion X.

The point of this is, defining mental illness is very inprecise. It’s a subjective label that might be helpful for doctors and psycologists, but not for making policy decisions.

Look, if I was in charge, I wouldn’t hesitate declaring “bigotry” as a mental illness. Racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. — I honestly and truthfully think that people who hate someone because of some innate trait have mental issues. I also, personally, think that there could be a connection between religion and mental illness. But that’s the thing — who am I to decide?

This whole “people with mental illness shouldn’t buy guns” thing is just an excuse. The problem is guns. While I want to be in favor of any little thing that gets more guns off of the street, I find it hard when the underlying premise is still “Guns are OK.”