Ripley is a villian

Reading this old XKCD comic, I’m flabbergasted that Randall Munroe is a follower of the Charles Krauhammer school of  “the only good spaceflight is government spaceflight”.   Weyland-Yutani (a private corporation) did everything Munroe ever dreamed of: colonizing the galaxy, making an off-world economy viable, etc. You would think the person that encountered something different and shouted “Kill it! Kill it!” would be viewed as a neanderthal troglodyte instead of a hero.  Apparently the entity that wanted to study an alien rather than commit genocide is somehow evil.  Stop hampering space exploration, Randall!


It would be ruder if I didn’t

Kevin Drum and Andrew Sullivan think that checking one’s phone in the presence of friends is rude, with Drum in particular chalking this up to his and Sullivan’s advanced age compared to those disrespectful youngsters .  And that’s their right, I suppose.  In my personal experience, however, they’re as wrong as wrong can be, and I attribute our different attitudes to our difference in professions rather than in age.  In short, Drum and Sullivan are professional bloggers, while I on the other hand have clients.

To explain I’ll have to delve into my work history a little bit.  I’m an e-discovery professional, and I’ve worked previously at a law firm but currently work for a vendor.  When I worked for the firm, I didn’t have access to email on my phone, and my ability to work from home was hampered by the technology available (at that time a very subpar VPN hookup).  While this might be a fine setup for a federal employee who lives the 9 to 5 life, I was still receiving and expected to answer client and attorney requests at all hours.  This meant I was spending a lot of time at the office.  I frequently stayed past 10 PM on weeknights and would regularly work at least one full day on the weekends.  Obviously, my social life suffered.

When I started working for a vendor, the first thing my company did was pay for a smartphone with an unlimited data plan.  Now I check email from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, and of course I check it when I’m out to dinner with friends.  I’m in the office whenever I feel like it, and never come in on weekends.  Anything I need to do can be done on any computer with an internet connection, as all our work is on virtual machines.  I’m the guy at the party constantly checking my phone, but at least I’m at the party.

In essence, I’ve exchanged a tether to the office for a tether to my mobile phone, and I fail to see how that’s not an upgrade.  The choice I face is not between checking or not checking my phone, it’s between checking my phone and not having a social life at all.  I get to see my friends without worrying about what I’m missing at work, and my co-workers and clients can get a hold of me in a timely manner and not feel like they’re dominating my life.  My friends and my job are no longer in direct competition with one another for my time.

While I’m sure it’s part of it, I don’t think age fully explains for the difference in opinion.  After all, my teacher and federal worker friends (all in their late 20’s/early 30’s) all feel the same way as Drum and Sullivan.  But of course, principals don’t expect to reach their teachers at 11 at night, nor will editors miss a federal court deadline if their writers aren’t available to answer a question.  Client services is a 24 hour a day business, and people outside the field simply don’t understand how freeing and valuable it is to be able to carry around connectivity in your pocket.

I am going to check email at dinner, and if that makes me rude, so be it.  But I’d rather be rude than be an office-bound hermit

The childish sexuality of Alex Knepper

I’d like to associate myself with everything Jill Filipovic writes here at Feministe about American University Eagle columnist Alex Knepper.  I’d especially like to comment on this section:

Right-wing rape apologists are pretty good at encouraging men to put themselves in the shoes of those accused of rape — “Can you imagine going home with a girl and then the next morning she regrets it and you’re going to jail?” I find it really helpful to actually think through, fully, an acquaintance-rape scenario as they more typically happen (and here I’ll switch to more gender-neutral terms, since acquaintance-rape is not only men raping women, as it’s often imaged — and again, these descriptions may be triggering). It’s easy to remember that time you had a few beers and also had consensual sex — something that rape apologists try to exploit. But it should be just as easy to remember that time you were hooking up with someone and they said to stop or slow down and of course you did! Or the time you were hooking up with someone and you said to stop or slow down or you just pulled back or moved their hand away and of course they stopped wherever you drew that line, and you didn’t really give it a second thought, because what kind of person hears “stop” or “no” and keeps going anyway?

As an American male who attended college, I can confirm that this sort of sexual paranoia gets pushed on college males quite frequently, leading some to believe that rape is a charge rife with ambiguity. Jill is right, though, in saying this sort of gray area does not exist, and is instead an extremely easy call.  For instance, I am absolutely sure every sexual encounter I’ve ever had was consensual.  Do I know this because I required my partners to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, or because I paused every thirty seconds to reaffirm consent?  Not at all; it’s because every woman I’ve slept with was, at the time, actively trying to fuck me.

Women have used many methods over the course of my life to indicate they are trying to fuck me.  They have taken off my clothes.  They have taken off their clothes.  They have given me oral sex.  They have asked for oral sex themselves.  They have taken their hand to physically guide my penis into them.  After said insertion, they have moved their hips to produce the necessary motion inherent in coitus.  They have suggested different positions.  They have uttered variations of the phrases “Fuck me!”, “Fuck me there!”, or “Keep fucking me”, all of them awesome.  I share this all not to be boastful or salacious (hi, Mom!), but to simply note that it is extremely easy to determine whether a woman is trying to fuck you or not, and that if it’s not blindingly obvious, you’re likely committing rape.

That Knepper sees this as difficult at all makes me question whether he’s ever had a consensual sexual encounter in his entire life.  He claims to have a positive view of female sexuality, but thinks that women are so unwilling to ever have sex that they have to be tricked into it.  In his view, sex is something men have and women give, an outlook that leads him to concoct a series of playground-like rules to overcome this dynamic:

  • Get her back to your room, and you’re home free!
  • If she goes to a certain party, she’s already consented by being part of the culture.
  • Women are automatically submissive, and thus you can dominate them at any time.

If anyone’s creating rigid rules around sexual encounters here, it’s Alex Knepper, not feminists.  The feminist rule is “if both people want to fuck, go for it” while he prefers “If she’s at place A at intoxication level X wearing C and at a flirting level of Y, and if you can get her back to place B, go for it”.  He has such little understanding of basic human sexuality that I pity him as much as I despise him.

In any case, Jill’s response is really great, so go ahead and read the whole thing.

Go to Hell, Everyone

Just to counter FDL, Corrente, Kos, and Open Left, let me just say that you motherfuckers are killing the liberal movement (I’m not ever going to bother addressing the PUMAs, who are only in this game to oppose Obama, nothing else).  The Overton Window shifts left when the Republicans cease being a national party, not because you blogged about single payer a lot.  At that point, the Democrats can split into a center-left and left party that can both win national elections.

Anyone on the left who opposes the president now is favoring this shift happening during their generation at the expense of this shift happening at all. You are all a bunch of selfish bastards who deserve to die in a fire; you are certainly not anyone who’s “keeping Obama honest”.  Your shortsightedness will be all of our ruin.

A Doctor of Divinity in the Immediate Vicinity

A mindless fundamentalist atheist like myself might see the Pope’s recent outreach to conservative Anglicans as a call to hate gays and Muslims together.  Chris Dierkes of the League of Ordinary Gentlemen, however, is a greater mind than I.  Due to his dense theological understanding of these issues, I now see that the Pope is calling Anglicans to hate gays and reason together with him.  Without such “reasonable” and “serious” people as Dierkes, I’m afraid I would have totally missed the point.

*While I’m currently dissing on the League, dear reader, you should know that reading them is a completely worthwhile endeavor, especially since they brought my friend Jamelle aboard.  They’re just fuckwits on the topic of religion.  It’s no reason to avoid reading their otherwise excellent political insights.

BREAKING: Mickey Kaus is a Crazy-Ass Idiot

Is it me, or does the leaked Journolist thread Mickey Kaus posted contain a whole lot of disagreement?  This seems very unbecoming of a “secret liberal media email cabal”  dedicated to coordinating talking points.  If anything, the snippet provided by Kaus seems to match Ezra Klein’s initial description of JournoList as “a safe space where policy experts, academics, and journalists could freely talk through issues, bringing up the questions they considered urgent and the information they thought important”.

Furthermore, Kaus seems to have nothing of substance to say about the subject of the thread, Martin Peretz’s racist post about Mexicans.  Kaus seems to think that disagreeing with Peretz here is somehow damnable, but doesn’t quite say as much.  In any case, it’s troubling to see Kaus so readily defend his former boss with this boorish distraction.  It’s almost as if they were looking out for one another against those dastardly whippersnappers.  Of course, such coordination would be entirely kosher, as it was likely not conducted via email.

Photo by Flickr user scruss used under a Creative Commons license.



Grar! Feminism!

Part of the mental illness that is PUMA is the delusion that Sarah Palin is a super-secret liberal.  PUMAs hold this belief despite Palin’s stated positions on the issues, her actions as governor of Alaska and mayor of Wasilla, and her lack of any positive record when it comes to gay or women’s rights.  To PUMAs, it’s as if simply having a vagina confers all sort of progressive credibility on Gov. Palin,  never mind her self-professed status as a right-wing fundamentalist wingnut.

None has been more outspoken in this delusion than Egalia, the proprietor of Tennessee Guerilla Women.  So it’s no shock, then, to see Egalia gushing over Palin’s recent pick of Morgan Christen to the Supreme Court of Alaska.  Christen is a former board member of Planned Parenthood and seems to be legitimately on the right side of most issues.    To Egalia, this is proof positive that Palin really is the pro-choice feminist of the PUMA hivemind’s dreams, and Gov. Palin is somehow owed an apology by those who (correctly) called her pro-life right winger during the campaign.

If this was all there is to the story, that might very well be right.  However, Egalia and her PUMA friends are purposely ignoring quite a bit of context to this pick.  From the Washington Times writeup (HT:  Andrew Sullivan):

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had to make a tough choice in filling a vacant slot on her state’s Supreme Court: Appoint a woman who once served on the board of Planned Parenthood, or risk giving an environmentalist lawyer, also pro-choice on abortion, the chance to become an activist judge.

He admitted, however, that Mrs. Palin was “backed into a corner” by the state’s system for selecting judges, known as the “Missouri Plan.” Alaska’s constitution requires an independent panel to vet and then submit choices to the governor when positions on the court open up. The only names the panel submitted for consideration were Judge Christen and Mr. Smith – neither an obvious conservative choice.

She didn’t have the ability to go out and pick anyone she wanted,” said Palin communications director Bill McAllister.

(Bold mine)

So Palin was forced by Alaskan law to choose between a liberal pro-choicer and a liberal pro-choicer and chose a liberal pro-choicer.  Egalia wants to give Palin credit for this?  Especially when Palin’s own staffer says that Judge Christen would not have been Palin’s pick had she a freer hand?

I’m sure Egalia’s next project is to portray Laura Sessions Stepp as a radical feminist.  With a little bit of quote mining and a whole lotta lying, it should be a snap.

Photo by Flickr user smiteme used under a Creative Commons license.

Double Standards: Now completely transparent!

Shorter Andy “Birther” McCarthy: Declines in the stock market are always the fault of President Obama.  However, it’s absolutely preposterous to suggest that an increase in stock prices is any way attributable to him.

It seems we have yet another graduate of the Larry Kudlow School of Market Analysis (motto:  “If the stock market is moving in any direction, it’s doing so to reinforce my beliefs.”)

Oh, and I’m posting here again.  w00t!

Fire Caro!

Lambert and Vastleft at Corrente are always complaining that they’re not PUMAs or racists, but instead trying to critique Barack Obama from the left.  Funny, then, that they continue to let Carolyn Kay post on the front page.  Kay, or “Caro” as she’s known online, posts a daily blog roundup.  Of course, most if not all of her recommendations are PUMA blogs, and one in particular (let’s just say that if you don’t read the Confluence, you’d still get to read most of their writing via her posts).  This is harmless enough on its own, but recently it’s come out that she’s a hard core Birther.

Take today’s post, for instance.  Caro notes the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari for Leo Donofrio’s crazy “natural born citizen” lawsuit with the kind of self-centered pith she’s become (in)famous for:

This decision confirms my belief that the Republican powers that be WANT Obama in the presidency. They must think they have a better chance of discrediting him and the Democratic Party with Obama at the helm.

It’s not that Donofrio’s suit has merit.   It’s that the Republicans are engaged in a giant conspiracy to make the Democrats looks bad by…well, by…electing a Democratic president?  Caro has gone so crazy that she’s gone down the rabbit hole and come out the other side.  She’s spouting a racist right-wing conspiracy theory, blaming right-wingers for not expelling Obama from the presidency.  She’s convinced herself that Obama will somehow discredit Democrats forever, so her ideal solution to protect Democrats is to elect a Republican.   This is a special kind of crazy.  It’s supporting Democrats via Rube Goldberg device.

This ranting isn’t by any means, though, a progressive critique of the President-Elect, which is what Corrente is supposedly all about.  So Lambert and Vastleft, I’ll follow your lead and issue a self-righteous ultimatium:  I’ll start taking you seriously when you shitcan Caro.  Your tolerance of her right-wing bloviations undermines everything you claim to represent, and a dedicated reader of Corrente such as myself deserves nothing less than an end to this bullshit.  What say ye?

UPDATE: Edited for clarity.

An auspicious beginning

Let it be noted, yea blogosphere, that on Sunday, December 7th in the Year of Our Lord 2008, the Confluence fully embraced Birther conspiracy theories.  Imaginary Hillary Clinton, in all her splendor and PUMAnosity, immediately let shtuey know she was pleased by appearing in public in a navy blue pantsuit.

For a site that originally renounced rumors and conspiracy theories about the President-Elect, the Confluence has certainly come a long way.  It’s worth it, then, to restate the essential truth about the various Obama birth certificate/dual citizenship/etc. conspiracy theories:  they are all fundamentally racist arguments.

To explain I’m going to need a little help from Melissa McEwan and the other writers at Shakesville.  They have a long-running series of post entitled the “Obama Racism/Muslim/Unpatriotic/Scary Black Dude Watch“.  The title  is so slashed not because McEwan & Co. are individually chronicling mentions of Obama drenched in racism, or the times he’s called a Muslim or unpatriotic, etc.  The Shakers are instead making the point that these different attacks are the same exact argument. It’s all about casting Barack Obama as “the other”.

Birther conspiracy theories follow in this dubious tradition.  PUMAs and crazy right wingers want to “other”-ize Obama, but are afraid of risking the opprobium that explicit racism would bring down on them.  So instead they speak in code:  he’s a secret Muslim, he doesn’t wear a flag pin, he’s into black liberation theology, he’s a Black Panther, ad nauseum.  “He’s not American” is simply one more way to say “he’s a [n-word], he’s not one of us”.   Their goal isn’t so much to convince anyone (they’d need actual evidence for that), but to signal to other racists that Obama is not to be trusted.  At its heart, it’s an effort to keep the faithful riled up.

The Confluence apparently wants to go down this road, which is sad, but not at all shocking.  The quicker they out themselves as fringe racists, the quicker anyone of consequence will cease to take them seriously.