Various and sundry.

[CONTENT NOTE: homophobia.]

I don’t know how other writers’ brains work, but sometimes I ruminate over a subject for a good long while before writing about it. Case in point: the water in Flint. I’ve been following this disaster for some time now, and frankly the post would write itself. I mean, I could just follow the template from virtually any of my previous rants about conservative governance, search and replace a few words, and voilà! Done. For example:

Conservatives ruining lives as usual, this time in Myanmar Flint.

See? Easy-peasy. Maybe that’s a big part of my problem, that these stories are always the fucking same. That is because there is nothing new about conservatives or the ways they operate, ever. All we can really aspire to do is discover the cause of this epic calamity and hope that this will lead us to the cure, and in the meantime of course we can find new and amusing ways of mocking it. Alas, here too I’m running up against my own limitations. I am so utterly saddened and outraged by the entirely predictable and preventable situation in Flint that I cannot find that angle on the story. Yet.

_________

Speaking of the cause(s) of conservatism

My friend (and self-proclaimed Loyal Subject™) SJ recently sent me a piece by Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books, entitled The Age of Ignorance. Simic laments what he sees as a dramatic uptick in ignorance and irrationality among the US citizenry over the past several decades, and the litany of specific delusions fervently believed by millions of conservatives: “Christians are persecuted in this country. The government is coming to get your guns. Obama is a Muslim. Global Warming is a hoax,” etc. He notes that:

The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country…A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

At the root of all of this, Simic suggests, lies the destruction of public education and the failure of families to carry on a tradition of educating their young, with an able assist from a deceitful corporate media. He concludes that this might not be so bad, were it not for our lack of skill or even desire to verify whatever nonsensical bullshit the powerful vested interests are constantly feeding us. And all of that may be true: for example, a media literacy curriculum from grades K-12 would probably go a long way toward immunizing the populace from the worst excesses (which is precisely why it won’t happen).

But I think Simic misses the big, honking red-white-&-blue elephant in the room: faith. In fact, I think it’s pointless to discuss US conservatism without touching on it. I’m not talking about the specific dogmas of any particular sect—although those are plenty awful. I’m talking about faith as a way of thinking, the unfortunate habit of holding as truth any claim for which there is no evidence—and sometimes believing it all the more strongly when there is overwhelming evidence against it. I told SJ:

The very idea that you can “know” anything based on faith—and worse, that this is somehow indicative of an admirable character—leads to all manner of foolish gullibility and belief in demonstrably untrue nonsense. Conservatives actually fight at the school board level against the teaching of critical thinking (and its cousin, media literacy), for the same reason they gerrymander: because they and their toxic bullshit cannot win without doing so.

I linked to the abstract of a study (behind a motherfucking paywall goddammit) that appears to support my point. Researchers questioned 5- and 6-year-old kids about whether the central character in a story could be a real person. There were three scenarios: (1) “realistic stories that only included ordinary events,” (2) “religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention” and (3) “fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic [or] without reference to magic…”. From the abstract:

 In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children’s upbringing was also related to their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.

[emphasis added.]

The problem with “religious ideas” is not that they provide only a limited epistemology; it’s that faith-based thinking provides no way of ascertaining truth or reality at all. For some reason, more rational and reality-based people continue to scratch their heads at conservatives’ blatant hypocrisy, illogical contradictions and feverish falsehoods when faith-based thinking precludes none of that. It guarantees it.

odd

Of course the ruling class does not see any of this as a problem; quite the opposite, in fact. And you can bet that we will see no public funding for studies that build on such research, for the same reason the CDC is forbidden by law from studying gun violence: this knowledge is decidedly not in conservatives’ interests.

By the way, Simic’s piece was published in March 2012, but could just as easily have run today for the relevance it has to the Republican’s scary clown show. Nothing’s changed in 4 years, and I’m not even convinced anything’s changed much in 40. And that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s the same fucking story, always and forever Amen.

 __________

Speaking of new and amusing ways of mocking conservatives…

A friend on Facebook linked to this:

Pastor: ‘I would smear feces all over myself if my son married a man’

While speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference last weekend, Pastor Kevin Swanson told the crowd that he was “not kidding” when he said he’d smear feces all over himself if his son were ever to marry another man.

“I’d sit in cow manure and I’d spread it all over my body. That’s what I would do and I’m not kidding! I’m not laughing!”

“I’m grieving!” Swanson screamed, tears of rage running down his cheeks. “I’m mourning! I’m pointing out the problem!”

Now remember kids: it’s women who are more emotional and irrational than men. FYI.

“It’s not a gay time,” he continued. “These are the people with the sores! The gaping sores! The sores that are pussy (sic) and gross and people are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores! That’s not a nice thing to do! Don’t you dare carve happy faces on open, pussy (sic) sores!”

Now how the fuck does one even mock that? It mocks itself.

If conservatives keep this shit up—and of course they will, because always the same fucking story—I’ll soon enough be out of a blog. :|

__________

Here is something cool:

New evidence suggests a ninth planet lurking at the edge of the solar system

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth.

Naturally, the question that immediately arises is: when can we launch the conservatives there? Now, I’m no astrophysicist, but I’m pretty sure the spacecraft can easily be powered by thoughts-‘n-prayers.

__________

belikejill

IRIS ♥︎ JILL.

__________

Via Glenn Greenwald on Twitter comes this link:

Diplomats, national security officials blast Sanders on Iran normalization, ISIL*

“Senator Sanders’ call to ‘move aggressively’ to normalize relations with Iran — to develop a ‘warm’ relationship — breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners.”

OH NO NOT CONSTERNATION! From Saudi Arabia? Israel? My god. The horror.

The bloc of former diplomats called on Sanders to address issues with Russia, China, U.S. allies and nuclear proliferation, before concluding, “We need a Commander in Chief who sees how all of these dynamics fit together — someone who sees the whole chessboard, as Hillary Clinton does.”

The signatories include Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff to the CIA director and defense secretary; Rand Beers, former deputy homeland security adviser to the president; Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former U.S. ambassador-at-large; Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Kathleen Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy; retired Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, former deputy national security adviser to the president; James Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy; and Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president.

Yes indeed: these are exactly the “sober and responsible” people we should all be listening to about our foreign policy that has been working so well.

____
*This news story political advertisement was brought to you by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman 4 Hillary PAC. HAHAHA I’m kidding! They don’t need a fucking PAC!

__________

doyouever

Ever? How about every day?

__________

Well, that’s all I got. We now return to our regularly scheduled malaise.

Have a nice day.

palacehappyface

One thought on “Various and sundry.

  1. Iris should be a keynote speaker at the coming Reason Rally! http://www.reasonrally.org/
    Exposure to the wisdom of Iris in other forums, especially forums that attract the young (e.g., concerts, dance halls, tailgate parties) in early stages of faith-based indoctrination, might mitigate the grotesque effects of uncritical thinking in this country. Those infected with the relgion virus are for the most part beyond secular redemption; focus on the young while bailing furiously in our own fashion to keep the ship of state afloat. We’re still a somewhat secular democracy; let’s turn Iris loose to steer it from from the shoals of irrationality toward the calm waters of reason. As RGI noted, “I admit the reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, blown and flayed by passion’s storm and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish it and naught remains.”

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