Sunday, November 29, 2015

I'm the authority on me

A bill has passed the US House with a veto-proof majority to restrict Syrian refugees from coming to America. I had said before that this kind of persecution of Muslims (indirectly – by refusing shelter from terrorists) is exactly what ISIS wants. The debate has now shifted to the Senate, where Elizabeth Warren said,
We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.
There is fear the bill will also pass the Senate with a veto-proof majority.

Over many years Melissa McEwen of Shakesville has been pushing back against the Diet Industry. One of the ideas she objects to is that fat people all get fat the same way and a standardized diet will work for all people. She is also annoyed that fat researchers discount what fat people say – if you say you are following this diet and still gaining weight, then of course you're lying.

A new study shows what McEwen has been saying. A food that doesn't prompt weight gain in one person might prompt weight gain in another. Our bodies are not the same. It is annoying that fat researchers never listen to fat people and we need evidence such as this study to get permission to be authorities on our own lives.

Yes, it took a long time before doctors and psychologists realized that gay people were the authority on gay people.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Flatter than Kansas

When someone remarks about land being flat, most people think of Kansas. Yes, back in 2003 research was done to show that Kansas is flatter than a pancake. But Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Delaware are flatter than Kansas. (West Virginia was determined to be the most unflat – Alaska and Hawaii weren't studied.) The flatness of Kansas has another little problem. The west side of the state is 3360 feet higher than the east side. Kansas may be flat, but it isn't level. An anonymous cartographer created a map to show what a level Kansas would look like. We'd only have to move 5500 cubic miles of earth from west to east – and watch out for the 900 foot bluff in the middle of Kansas City. But why? It would fulfill this little bit of prophecy from Isaiah 40:4: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."


Indiana Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's civil rights laws. But don't cheer yet. It still has exceptions for religion that are way too broad and institutes fines for "frivolous" discrimination complaints. It would also trump any local laws. That means LGBT people would be included in the state law under a different set of rules than other minorities. The bill did not simply add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the existing law. We would still be discriminated against. The first clue to read the bill carefully was that GOP senators introduced it. The second clue was that at the time the bill was introduced the Indiana Pastors Association was holding a prayer vigil and rally against our rights at the Statehouse. Do we even need a third clue? How about what looks like a t-shirt with "LGBT" but underneath isn't Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, but "Let God Be True."

Didn't Indiana learn anything from the smackdown they got last March with their previous religious freedom act? Apparently not. However, this bill may not get far – conservatives think it gives gay people too many rights.


The parliament in Cyprus has approved civil partnerships. The legislation does not include adoption rights. The bill passed 39-12 with 3 abstentions. An effective date has not yet been set.

In Europe 14 nations have legalized same-sex marriage (though not in effect in all yet), 9 have civil unions, and 8 nations along the eastern edge of the continent have no recognition of same-sex couples.

Canada has laid out plans to accept more Syrian refugees. Families, women, children, and gay men will be welcomed. Straight men traveling alone will likely be excluded. Interesting... a case where there is an advantage to being gay.

According to Pew Research white Christians now make up less than half of the US population. The only place white Christians maintain a steady and solid majority is in the GOP where 70% of those who identify or lean towards the GOP are white Christians. This is part of why they feel backed into a corner and are lashing out.

The Federal Elections Commission produced a map of America in which states are colored by the majority of their delegation in the US House. All is red except the western coastal states, the northeast, and Minnesota, Illinois, and New Mexico. Yeah it makes the red menace look overwhelming. But is the GOP a healthier party than the Dems? The map does not represent the size of the delegations (California would be huge and Montana smaller than Rhode Island) and does not show the size of each state's majority. Click on the link and scroll down as a commenter has supplied a cartogram that does show the relative size of the delegations. The GOP healthy? Maybe not. But they are good at gerrymandering, suppressing the vote, and pulling all kinds of other election tricks.

I missed mentioning Transgender Day of Remembrance held each November to commemorate those transgender people killed in the last year. The number is up this year, though part of that is likely better reporting. For this year's Day of Remembrance trans artists have created a bunch of wonderful posters.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Shot, beaten, gassed

The GOP candidates for prez. have been ranting about Muslim terrorists, wanting to smash ISIS to smithereens. But what about these terrorists?

* Abortion clinics vandalized in Louisville as well as Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire, Washington state, California, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

* Jamar Clark, a black man in Minneapolis, was killed by police earlier this month. Black Lives Matter activists protested outside the police station. White "counterprotesters" tried to shut down the protests, then fired into the crowd, hitting five. Fortunately, no deaths. With casualties on their doorstep the police turned their backs.

* Laquan McDonald was murdered by Chicago police a year ago. The release of a video of the shooting and the indictment of the officer for murder again brought out demonstrators. And the police's response was violence and aggression. Police also arrested a demonstration leader on trumped up charges.

* Mercutio Southall Jr. stood up in a Trump rally and shouted "Black lives matter!" The white crowd attacked him as Trump shouted for him to be thrown out. The crowd chanted "All lives matter!" Southall later wrote:
So for all the people who are still confused at this point, they proved what 'all lives matter' meant. It means, 'Shut up, n*****.'"
There have also been many protests at various colleges and universities around the country. I commend them and am glad to see them standing up. Most of what the black students want is safety, something rather basic.

Melissa McEwen of Shakesville catalogs the events – the acts of terrorism – over the last couple years perpetrated by white supremacists, some of whom are police. And still many white people refuse to see a connection between these events, declaring them to be isolated incidents. McEwen extends her catalog from the big things to the everyday things:
And school segregation, and job discrimination, and housing discrimination, and wealth inequality, and pay disparity, and mass incarceration, and municipal violations, and fair legal representation, and the disproportionate application of the death penalty, and lack of meaningful visibility, and unequal opportunities, and access to healthcare, and millions of microaggressions, and white people (and other non-black people) doubting whether anti-black racism really still exists and auditing the ways black people try to address it and accusing them of looking for things to get mad about and screaming BOOTSTRAPS at them and calling them oversensitive.

McEwen quotes her friend Dan Solomon:
Okay, here is the thing about Black Lives Matter protests and all the I'm-just-a-reasonable-white-guy whining about how the kids are all way too sensitive and don't deserve their "safe spaces" -- the space outside of a fucking *police station* in Minneapolis wasn't safe. If they want to talk about the way that black lives are at very real risk in this country, they are at risk of being fucking *shot* for it. The idea that they're not equipped for the "real world" because they want safe spaces on their campuses when the world tells them over and over again that they don't get safe spaces, that a space that is super safe for someone like me is actually dangerous as hell for them, is such heavy, condescending bullshit that anybody who spouts it should have fucking asphyxiated by now.

Every time black protesters go to the street to talk about this, they are aware that they are not safe. They get shot. They get beaten. They get gassed. They are aware that they get shot and beaten and gassed. They are *willing* to get shot and beaten and gassed. It's not because their tactics are too aggressive or they snatched a mic from Bernie fucking Sanders, it's because the world is filled with racist people who will shoot and beat and gas them. Motherfuckers, you'd want a "safe space" too.
Hey, all you GOP candidates, want to do something about terrorism? Forget about the Muslims coming into this country who might carry out some act of terrorism. Instead, look at the white supremacists who are already in the country and already are carrying out acts of terrorism. Oh, wait – this is your political base? So then you're promoting state sponsored terrorism.

The Democratic National Committee has a new video out: Inciting Fear Isn't Presidential. Using the phrase "Islamic Jihadists" is an oversimplification and wrong. How does the DNC know? Because George W. Bush said so.