Sunday Morning Reading Material: First Sunday in May 2011: Chemically Enhanced Edition

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for writing blog posts while on Adderall so that you can figure out if it helps you become a better writer. Sundays are also for getting together with friends to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and try out the boardgame. Alternately, Sundays could be for being sheepish in the Greater Tacoma Area.

This week a major tornado ripped through Alabama, killing hundreds. Also this week: the British government shut down the United Kingdom because a non-citizen married a citizen. Also also: The current Catholic Pope took the first step in canonizing the his immediate predecessor. Also: the “president” of Yemen refuses to step down, even though everyone has asked him rather nicely.

One of the major stories in the electronic world over the past few days has been the destruction of the Playstation Network. Hackers were able to seize control of network, steal every password, (possibly) every credit card number, and probably every home address that anyone had ever registered on the site. Then they shut it down. The scary thing is that most people use the same password for damned near every site on the web. Now is an excellent time to change your password to something secure. There are simple ways a person can create secure passwords. Try one out.

Obviously- obviously!- the language a person uses to describe a circumstance will shape the way that circumstance is perceived. Obviously- obviously!- we wish to use inclusive language at all times so that everyone is allowed into the conversation, and that no one will feel that the conversation-space is unwelcoming to them. Unfortunately, it is rather easy to use the insistence on “correct” language as another tool for privilege to propagate itself. Given that my own demographic is how the patriarchy is usually defined, I am not well placed to tell other people they’re going too far in demanding certain words be used or not used. So instead I’ll point out the linked article and allow the conversation to happen around me.

We humans have eyes. Also? We humans have sex drives. Not all of us have either- or both- of those things, but the vast majority of us do. Naturally we humans are going to find one another physically attractive. Any philosophy which demands that we humans cease to find one another attractive will simply fail. Given these things, we humans need to learn to check one another out without causing distress to those we observe. This seems like a good beginning point to figuring out how to do that.

How did you celebrate World Penguin Day?

There are certain things that I really just don’t understand. They are so far outside of my life experience that I simply have no frame of reference around which empathy can be draped. Something I have learned is that empathy is an unnecessary emotion. I do not need to feel what another person is feeling. I do not need to understand what they’re going through. All I need to do is treat them and their circumstances with respect and dignity. Empathy is a tool for this end, but a failure of empathy does not absolve me of my responsibilities. I say all this because I do not understand being trans-gendered. But I am very glad to see that my government will no longer be discriminating against trans-gendered people. This is one of the many small things the Obama administration has done correctly.

A small slice of social history of regarding a trans gendered “person”. “Person” is put in quotes there because, well. Click the link and it should be obvious.

Children of 2083 are already mocking us for taking so long to legalize being gay gay marriage. Also: they need to get off my lawn.

Let’s toss out all the rules and reinvent chess. Because we’re eight, and the world hasn’t taught we shouldn’t.

Portal 2 themed musical interlude

Liberals and conservatives have a longstanding dispute about the efficacy of government involvement in society. We liberals believe that without government, society could not function. Conservatives- American ones at any rate- believe that “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” is a “terrifying” phrase. Interestingly, the former Bush speech writer who coined the phrase “axis of evil” seems to be hitting back at conservative anti-government rhetoric.

One of the weirder aspects of the American federal system is that the nation government is much more rigorously watched than local governments. CNN, MSNBC, FOX news, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and a myriad of other networks, magazines, and newspapers cover the goings-on of Washington DC. By contrast, there might be a pair of non-local newspapers which cover the California state capital, and approximately the same number of Tv stations. As a result of this, it is much easier for local bullies to create massive harm than is for national bullies to do likewise. a similar dynamic has played out throughout human history.

The Civil War wasn’t tragic.

Yes it was. (They’re both right.)

The Galactic Civil war happened a long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away. It saw the destruction of at least one planet. Was that actually an efficient use of Imperial resources? The short answer is that it depends on the aims of the empire. My take? The destruction of Alderaan was the Imperial version 9/11: a massive show of strength which scared the opposition so badly that they utterly destroyed the people responsible. Strategic blunder of the highest order.

SETI will no longer have a dedicated set of telescopes with which to look for non-human intelligent life.

Get vaccinated or die. Not only will you die, you’ll probably kill other people as well.

Being privileged, it’s easy to give racist people the benefit of the doubt. Concerns over a president’s birth certificate certainly can look legitimate. Being privileged, it is easy to take the self-justification of other privileged people at face value. In the end, doing so only leads to the same old tired dance.

President Obama spoke at the White House correspondents dinner. The man made cruel mockery of his opponents, causing the entire press to laugh with him and at them. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the greatness of the man “who brought us Universal Healthcare”

One of the things I’ve spoken about- at great length- is that our culture is forever attacking things that appeal to women. Twilight may be a vacuous set of books, but they’re not worse than New York Times best selling author David Webber’s trashy novels. The royal wedding was a huge and noisy pageant. It was very fashionable to mock it- because it was coded for women.

There is, however, a very good reason to mock the royal wedding. As an American, we should be siding with Cromwell. Just so we’re clear: any article which-as does this one- implies strongly that Reagan is a traitor to America will get a link from me.

The economics of being a fashion model. Making a living as a model is roughly as humanity-reaffirming as eating while being a model. Shockingly Obviously, the majority of this personhood destruction is being done to women.

If you click just one link:

I’ve tweeted and talked quite a bit about my mental health issues. I am… not entirely well. The subhead for this week’s post refers to the fact that I am- on the advice of my shrink- on medication as I type these words. It is, in fact, much easier to focus with this medication. What is difficult for me (sometimes impossible (sometimes painfully so)) is to actually sit down and try to type. Unfortunately, the chemical rebalancing of my brain isn’t really meant to deal with this. This statement by Ira Glass is part of the reason why I have a hard time doing things I want to do. And perhaps part of the solution. In a week, or a month, or a year, please remind me of this.

This week’s theme has been empathy, sympathy, and privilege. In the comments below, let me know what you’ve been most privileged to enjoy over the past year. Instant messaging me or tweeting me isn’t nearly as good as leaving a comment in the comment box.

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