Frankenstein only made one monster…these guys made rooms full

I try very hard to not think less of people because their views differ from mine, but Frank Luntz has assembled a group of some real gems in this focus group, and keeping true to my goal is a bit hard after listening to these people. Let’s take it bit by bit, just for fun.

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About death (and pseudoscience)

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I don’t know what happens when we die. Nobody does, I guess except maybe people who are dead. I lost two friends this year, which only mildly intensified my already frequent pondering about life and death.

My hope is that this post will end up supporting a theme about the use, or misuse, of science in forming beliefs about things that aren’t testable using science, but for now, it’s going to focus on death, because a good uplifting topic is just what I need right now (maybe not as much as a good established sarcastic font, that would be life changing).

What do we know about death? Continue reading “About death (and pseudoscience)”

Using your own words against you…

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David Brat is mad. He’s mad at Obama for asking Christians to be, well, more Christian. In a recent interview, Brat, a republican Member of the House of Representatives from Virginia, said that he was very upset with Obama. And in other news, water is wet. Kidding aside, Brat is upset because Obama used teachings that are part of Christianity to urge elected officials to be more compassionate. As was first reported by Right Wing Watch, Brat said that Obama “is using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible.” He went on to say that Obama is “mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love,” and further stated that “our side [the conservatives] needs to reeducate its people that we own the entire tradition.”

I understand that people get mad when their own words are used against them. I can appreciate that, but maybe, just maybe, when we’re called out for hypocrisy, we should be upset at ourselves for being hypocrites, instead of being mad at the person who pointed it out. To be fair, however, there’s a part of me that see’s Brat’s point, but only a little bit.

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In a world of fear

I wrote a piece a couple of months ago arguing that we are experiencing a very hateful time in our history. Not that we feel like we hate people more than ever before, but that we feel more hated than ever before.  For some time, I had connected some of this with a persecution envy that seems to be everywhere, and feels so strange to me, but I’m starting to think that this hatred is stemming from our culture of fear. We are afraid of everything, and so much of what we see tells us that we’re not afraid enough.

 

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All or nothing thinking and how it hurts us all

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I have a FB friend, who will remain unnamed here. We argue a lot, and these arguments are pretty frustrating for me. Clearly not as frustrating for me as they seem to be for him, however, because he has unfriended me several times (yet keeps on re-friending me and starting fights again). What does this have to do with anything? This: one of the things that seems to make our conversations difficult is that is seems to me that this friend is unable to see both good and bad in people or things. If somebody did something bad once in their lives, they are a bad person forever. This was especially apparent in a recent “discussion” about Jimmy Carter. I posted an article about Jimmy Carter’s grandson dying, and how sad I found it. He felt the need to point out that Carter was a horrible president, and a racist. The thread is gone now, because my other friends jumped all over him for being callous, and he got angry for not seeing Carter as a racist, and then I said something about him being so full of hate and anger and needing help…then he was gone and the thread went with him. Thinking about this all, and our interactions, and what I see from many others on the news, this issue, this all-or-nothing, black-or-white, good-or-evil thinking is at the heart of so many things that divide us as a nation. It’s something that I think needs more attention.

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The flipside of making everybody happy…the US Constitution in action.

One of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite podcasts is called “Sex, Ducks, and The Founding Feud.” It’s a RadioLab Episode with a great story about lover’s revenge, and an update of the story on the news not too long ago got me so excited that I nearly swerved into oncoming traffic. The crime story is fun, but the part of the episode that I loved the most is the talk about the Constitution and how it was adopted. This starts at the 6:40 mark (but you’ll miss other cool stuff if you fast forward there, so take the 22:31 of your day to listen to the whole thing, trust me). It’s an incredibly simplified version, but so revealing, and with such relevance to where we sit today.

Continue reading “The flipside of making everybody happy…the US Constitution in action.”

If protesters take over a site that nobody goes to, does it matter? What if they’re black?

As you may have heard by now, there is some ruckus going on in a remote part of Oregon. The Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been seized by a group of anti-government protesters. The Refuge has been closed to visitors, and nearby schools are closed also, in the interest of safety. This article describes what’s going on quite well, and I’ll let Dickenson fill you in if you need it. Also, once again, I’m thoroughly impressed by the reporting coming out of Rolling Stone Magazine. Tangent alert: Matt Taibbi’s coverage of the fiscal collapse was really exceptional, and anybody who read his reporting on the issue already knew pretty much everything that happened in the Big Short — which was really entertaining nevertheless. Tangent over.

The armed takeover of the Refuge has sparked some debate about the way that we and our news outlets treat protesters of different stripes. I think this is worth looking at, and I also think it’s worth giving the benefit of the doubt, at least sometimes.

Continue reading “If protesters take over a site that nobody goes to, does it matter? What if they’re black?”