And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby

21 06 2013

Un-able/-willing to think long thoughts, but still wanna say some things; thus:

*Sully’s been running a series on bisexuality (including a rather disingenuous vid of Dan Savage on how he loves the bis), to which I find myself mildly irritated.

Only mildly. I’m a mid-life bi who can’t be arsed to date anyone (or be arsed enough to do whateverthehell I’d have to do to entice someone to date me), male or female, and it’s just so obvious to me that this is a Real Thing that discussions of its existence are, well, irritating.

Most of what’s been said is about men, with the requisite oo-women-are-bendy disclaimers, and gay men who once said they were bi seem to be holding court in these posts, but, I dunno, more bi-straight men and bi-women ruminating on this might be nice.

Don’t know how much control Sullivan has on who writes in, however. (And no, I won’t be writing in, and not just because I don’t want to be another bendy-broad: I just don’t have much to say about my own experiences.)

*Another bit from Sullivan: He posted what what seemed to me two contradictory pieces In the same post) on drone warfare.

The first concerns the tedium of drone surveillance, as well as the clarity of the videos (“A nine-camera sensor nicknamed Gorgon Stare is capable of streaming full video with enough resolution to discern facial expressions.”). Through repeated viewings, drone operators become familiar with their subjects:

“It might be little things like a group of kids throwing rocks at goats, or at each other, or an old man startled by a barking dog,” says Mike. “You get a sense of daily life. I’ve been on the same shift for a month and you learn the patterns. Like, I’ll know at 5 a.m. this guy is gonna go outside and take a shit. I’ve seen a lot of dudes take shits.”

The second bit comes from Sascha-Dominik Bachmann

Keith Shurtleff, the US Army Chaplain and military ethics teacher, aptly summarized this concern “that as war becomes safer and easier, as soldiers are removed from the horrors of war and see the enemy not as humans but as blips on a screen, there is very real danger of losing the deterrent that such horrors provide.”

So my question is this: if the drone operator can see the people with whom he’s become so familiar, how removed is he, really, from the horrors of war? Is he not more aware of the humanity of possible targets than, say, pilots, for whom targets really are “blips on a screen”?

*No, Jordan Bloom, just because “The libertarian says the draft is slavery” doesn’t make it so.

I hold to my civic republican beliefs and consider shared civic obligation of particular importance to a pluralist (pluralistic?) society.

Yes, national service can be a problem, but, done right, it doesn’t have to be. I would favor a mandatory 2-yr paid stint in either military or civilian service beginning within some months of leaving/graduating from high school for all citizens and those who want to become citizens.

Yes, there’s an argument for/behind this, but did I mention the un-able-willing thing?

*George Packer has put together some great posts at the New Yorker on the financialization and Siliconization of our economy, and what it means for all of those folks who just don’t fit on Wall Street or in the Valley.

I borrowed a number of quotes from his “Change the World” piece on Silicon Valley for my summer pol sci class, highlighting the certainty of the tech-heads of their ability to lead [some of] us out of the swamp of politics and into the clean, well-lit techno-utopia beyond.

Can you guess my response to that certainty?

*This fucking guy:

Never, ever, ever, wait for a SIGN before you escalate! You will miss out on the vast majority of chances if you sit around waiting for SIGNS. Men are notoriously bad at reading women’s minds and body language. Don’t think that you’re any different. From now on you must ASSUME that she is attracted to you and wants to be ravished. It’s a difference in mindset that makes champs champs and chumps chumps.

. . .

Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.

Should I note for fairness’s sake that if a woman really really really makes super-crystal clear that she’s just not that into you then This Fucking Guy does allow that perhaps you should back off, if only to try again later, er, for safety’s sake?

Didn’t think so.

*Think vaginas are icky?

Fine, whatever. Just don’t be shocked that not everyone shares your belief  that vaginas are “objectively gross.”

(And not that you’ve asked, but I won’t be sleeping with you, either.)

*It’s a bad idea to arm the Syrian rebels. Bad bad bad.

I’m generally opposed to slippery slope analogies, but this is one case where it seems that if the US gives a guy a gun, we see little reason not to give him a cannon, then an RPG, and on and on until we get sucked in or distracted and everything goes to hell.

More to the point, as bad a butcher as Assad is—and he’s bad—the US has shown little-to-no-ability to make these situations better rather than worse.

I was agnostic-on-to-mildly supportive-of the Libyan intervention, but I can’t really tell you why I think this is such a bad idea.

But it is.

*Shall we end on a happy note?

My window-basil is growing like gangbusters. It apparently likes the rain as much as I do.

Advertisements




One day it’s fine, the next it’s black

5 03 2012

Buncha thoughts, none of which currently coheres into an argument or essay:

Why should I have to pay for a woman to fuck without consequences?

An attack on women’s sexuality—yeah, yeah, nothing new—but the logic behind this bares not just hostility to women claiming their full humanity, but to insurance itself.

Why pay for contraception is a question that could be asked of any medical intervention. Why pay for Viagra is the obvious follow-up, but the underlying sentiment is why should I pay anything else for anyone for any reason?

Actually, that’s not just an attack on insurance, but on politics itself.

~~~

When to stay and when to go?

This is an ongoing conflict between my civic republican and anarchist sides: When should one fight to stay within any particular system, and when should one say I’m out?

One part of me wants the full range of women’s health services wholly ensconced in medical education and practice, an integral part of the medical establishment, and another part of me says Enough! We’ll do it ourselves!

I’ve mentioned that when I was in high school I helped to start an independent newspaper. We wanted to be in charge of what was covered and what was said, and decided that the only way to assert that control was to strike out on our own.

Given our options, given our willingness and our ability to do the work, and given what we wanted to accomplish, it was the right choice.

I’m not so sure that peeling ourselves off of the medical establishment would be anywhere near as good an idea, not least because the conditions are, shall we say, rather different from starting a newspaper; more to the point, what would be the point of such disestablishment?

In other words, what’s the best way for us to take care of ourselves?

~~~

For all my anarchist sympathies, I am not an anarchist, and my sympathies do not run in all directions.

I am not a fan of homeschooling, for example, and have at times argued that, in principle, it should not be allowed. I have at times argued that, in principle, no private K-12 education should be allowed.

I have principled reasons for these arguments, but, honestly, there is a fair amount of unreasoned hostility to such endeavors.

This is a problem.

No, not the contradiction, but the lack of reflection. If I’m going to go against myself, I ought at least know why.

~~~

I might be done with Rod Dreher.

I’ve followed Dreher on and off for years, first at BeliefNet, then at RealClearReligion, and now at American Conservative. He’s a self-declared “crunchy conservative”, writing about a kind of conservation care, community, and his own understandings of Orthodox Christianity. He also wrote quite movingly of his beloved sister Ruthie’s ultimately fatal struggle with lung cancer.

As an unrepentant leftist I think it’s important for me to read unrepentant rightists: not to get riled, but to try to understand. And Dreher, because he has so often been thoughtful about so many aspects of his own conservatism, has been a mostly welcoming guide to a worldview not my own.

More and more often, however, that thoughtfulness about his own side is being drowned by a contempt for the other side. This is not unexpected—one remains on a side because one thinks that side is better—but Dreher has turned into just another predictable culture warrior, launching full-scale attacks on the motives of the other side while huffily turning aside any questions regarding his own motives.

Perhaps he thinks the best way to deal with the alleged loss of standards is to double them.

And that, more than any political difference, is what is driving me away: he no longer writes in good faith.





This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco

22 11 2009

I am not a Republican.

But, god help me, I agree with Republican Senator Lindsay Graham on at least one issue. In response to a question recently about Glenn Beck, he responded “Here’s what I worry about. How many people in my business are going to be controlled by what’s said on the radio or in a TV commercial?”

His business, of course, is the business of politics—or, more to the point, the business of governance.

It’s a key distinction, that between politics and governance, once which those who lack the responsibility for so governing find it convenient to overlook.

The NY Times notes that M. Beck, along with Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mike Huckabee are all rallying the troops to do. . . something they want. It’s the usual boilerplate of a deracinated American conservative movement: low/flat/no taxes; low/flat/cut spending; stop illegal immigration/drug smuggling; energy independence—more drilling/mining/nuke-power production; responsible environmental stewardship; small government; victory in Iraq; keep Guantanamo open. . . are you noticing any problems here?

As in, complete incoherence? Close the borders but do so with less spending; win in Iraq and lower taxes; shrink the size of government and give it the power to torture and detain people indefinitely; no redistribution and give parents vouchers for education; tap your head and rub your tummy at the same time. . . oh, wait. . . .

There’s more, of course, and I could provide the links to their sites, but why give them the page views?

More to the point, why send you off to emptiness? There’s nothing at the Beck, Hannity, and Ingraham sites beyond a list of conflicting demands. At least Huckabee’s plans are tethered to reality, such as it is: he seeks to raise money for Republican candidates.

Then again, Huckabee is the only one of the Fab Four who has actually served in government, that is, who has actually had to take responsibility for his words and deeds.

This is what underlies Senator Graham’s lament: Beck can cry and Ingraham sneer and Hannity harrumpf and at the end of the day they leave the studio and let others clean up their kleenex and spittle. And if shit goes bad, well, it’s just fodder for tomorrow’s broadcast cannon.

I’m a big fan of the First Amendment, just as I’m a big fan of democracy, and I tend to think the fewer rules attached to either speech or participation, the better. And that goes for these bloviators and their followers, as well.

But I’m also a civic republican (note the ‘little r’), and think that politics works best as requires something more than tears and outrage from its participants; democratic politics in particular requires an engagement which goes beyond oneself.

A concept of citizenship, as it were.

This is an odd argument for someone as decidedly not-patriotic and anti-nationalist as I am, but I do recognize obligations to the those with whom I share a political space, i.e., my fellow citizens.

These obligations are basic, and don’t require much agreement with those fellows, and hardly demand one bow to to the government.

But it does require at the very least a recognition that one does share a political space, a space beyond one’s living room or therapist’s office or tavern booth, in which one might just have to set aside one’s personal concerns for a consideration of public matters.

I think most people in office get it, even the people who I’d rather not hold any office beyond that of dogcatcher (and some not even that—I’m lookin’ at you, Michelle Bachmann). They go through the hassles of campaigning because they actually want to accomplish something. Sure, they want to inflate their successes and evade their failures, but at least they put themselves through the process whereby they might in some way be held accountable for both.

But The Media Personality™? No, he or she mashes up resentment and principle and incoherence and general sky-pie-edness and then dances on by the difficulties of actual decision-making, policy-formation, and, oh, yes, governance.

This all-partying/no-hangover mentality is not, alas, confined to the right. But right now they’re the ones smashing open the kegs and spiking the kool-aid and inviting the  palin-drones and tea-baggers to Drink! Drink! Drink!

Designated drivers need not apply.