Friday, December 6, 2013

Vale Nelson

Something of a repost, but it captured how I feel.

I'm too much the individualist to have heroes as such, but I do greatly admire Nelson Mandela. Most ordinary men, locked away for a third of man's natural span, would find their minds turning to vengeance, but Mandela, equipped with the tools to have his revenge, had a deep well of compassion to draw on, and not only showed forgiveness but taught his nation a lesson in forbearance that may yet be its salvation. I still remember vividly the day Mandela was released from prison: he strode through the gates, head unbowed, a beacon of courage and honour in a dirty word. He doesn't need a memorial. His life itself is its own memorial. But I am thankful for his life. Amandla!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Slumming it at the Salon

Having a look at Salon as a way to spew a blogpost since I haven't managed one for a while:

Let's hope so. I mean, we can bicker some over how harmful marijuana is, but it's not as harmful as alcohol simple as that. Any serious argument against pot can be made against alcohol with bells on. However, I mostly agree with those who say "everything in moderation". Neither is that bad if you don't overdo it. But alcohol is a lot worse if you do.

Well, he mostly just proves that cross-genre covers are awful, frankly, and any "best of" list with Tori Amos on it is automatically wrong. The Bangles' version of September girls is quite nice, but not really cross-genre at all. Big Star are one of the great pop bands and so of course are the Bangles (any disagreement will be trumped with Eternal flame, you have been warned).

The problem with this analysis is it has nothing to do with the "left". US liberals are afflicted by wanting to fight their political battles, particularly on the economy, on the ground set out by the right. Instead, they should be looking to shift the Overton window to the left in the same way wingnuts have shoved it to the right. For instance, take royalties on natural resources, something most of the "left" would agree is a good measure that will help us "fund" progressive policies. The problem is, if this is the leftmost policy we present, the right can (and do) demand we split the difference. So we should begin with nationalisation. We believe resources are our common inheritance, and we think they should be owned by the state in our common interest. Our shared resources should  not be plundered by some at the expense of the broader society. Oh, you don't agree? Well, how about we take some of that common interest in the form of part of your profits from extraction?

Women have periods. Get over it.

This is one of those areas where rightists define themselves as reality deniers because this should not be news to anyone. And it's past time we agreed that yes, inequality is a choice. It's past time the wealthy just admitted they are greedy and don't want to share, and stopped relying on cobbled-together "philosophy" to justify it. Let's stop re-imagining the poor as stupid or lazy. They're in the main not either. Of course you do get shiftless layabouts who don't want to work and suffer for it, but there's also Paris Hilton. Most of what we gain in life we gain through sheer luck. After all, Gina Rinehart's dad spotted a seam of iron ore from his plane. He didn't create the ore. It was just lying there.

Most of the problems of the world are quite easy to solve. But we just don't want to. It is though quite annoying that instead of admitting that, we invent justifications that make it all someone else's fault. It's not. It's yours and mine. We're lazy and greedy.

But they were already doing everything this article suggests they will do if they win in 2014. And if they did control the Senate, they'd have changed the rules themselves. Don't kid yourselves. These people know we are at war. We have to stop pretending we are having a discussion. Have you ever played tennis with someone who calls all your line shots out? The outcome is to narrow the court for you, while for them, because you're scrupulously fair, the court not only stays as wide as it's supposed to but may even get wider because you give them the benefit of the doubt.

Not that we'll win. The American "left" is soft and unmotivated. Part of the problem is that most of the fighting is over other people's problems. We may hate racism, for instance, but no one  is being racist to us (where "us" is the typical soft US white college-educated liberal). Only half of us are women. We're mostly not gay. But, you may say, the Christian right is also concerned mostly with other people's business. Yes it is, but it is fired by hatred, a powerful motivator. They hate the world; they hate where it stands now. They are prompted by men who press the hot buttons that fire up that hatred. Women, gays, blacks, these are all blights on their landscape, that at best need controlling. You can't meet that hatred with reason. We make the mistake of thinking you can. But you can't. You just have to win, diminish their power, shout down their voices. We are not having a discussion. You cannot debate with madmen.

I got about halfway, but it was too much Bible. The Bible's a work of fiction, guys. What "really happened"? Well, who knows? Who cares, really? The story is what matters here. It's a bit like arguing whether Gepetto really made a wooden boy. The point of Pinnochio is "don't tell lies", not that there was a puppet that came to life.