Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bruni today

Go read Frank Bruni's column in today's NYT. If you thought you were disappointed in the media before reading the column, just wait.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bad guy out, semi-good guy in

Thankfully, Pope Francis pushed out one of the most anti-gay cardinals in the United States, and installed a seemingly reasonable bishop in his place.
The bishop chosen by Pope Francis to be the new head of the Archdiocese of Chicago says that people should not read too much into the decision about the Catholic Church's future direction.

Bishop Blase (BLAHZ') Cupich (SOO'-pihch), of Spokane, Washington, has been described as a moderate and has called for civility in the culture wars.
Civility would be nice. Let's see if he churns any out.

The only hint in the linked article of the monster who preceded this appointment is given here:
During a news conference Saturday in Chicago, Cupich was asked several times about whether he would shift direction as a successor to Cardinal Francis George, who is particularly admired in the church's conservative wing.
You know what it takes to be "admired" by the "church's conservative wing", doncha? This kind of thing. Yup, he actually compared gays to the KKK. He is a full-fledged monster. So good riddance, though who knows if Cupich will be any better.
Seriously, there's a "wing" of the Catholic church that consistently cheers vicious statements? Says a lot about the god those people worship, doesn't it?

And of course, the clincher is that there is no god. All this hate, for no reason at all. As I often say, religion is a magic fence surrounding nothing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Apple blocks government surveillance with iOS 8

I think this is pretty damn cool:
Apple is rolling out new privacy protections for iPhones and iPads, with a new system that makes it impossible for the company to unlock a device even with a warrant.
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Simply and easy. I wonder how our surveillance-mad government will respond to this news. Like a spoiled child, I imagine.

A black sociology professor's take on child abuse

Michael Eric Dyson has an opinion piece at the NY Times this morning about the rampant child abuse that takes place in many African American homes. The article was occasioned by Adrian Peterson's physical abuse of his four-year-old child and his reliance on religious excuses for this behavior.
If beating children began, paradoxically, as a violent preventive of even greater violence, it was enthusiastically embraced in black culture, especially when God was recruited. As an ordained Baptist minister with a doctorate in religion, I have heard all sorts of religious excuses for whippings.
It's good to see light thrown on this shady practice. To be clear, this also happens in white families. And the abusive white parents often cite the same "religious" excuses for their behavior. God is such a convenient fall-back position. But of course, there is no god. These folks are simply evil for beating their children.

Beating a child is never okay. All parents who engage in such abuse perpetuate a cycle of violence, guaranteeing that their children will grow up to beat their children. This makes no sense. And bringing god into it doesn't help at all. The mass murders being committed by ISIS are the final, logical extension of this way of thinking. God made them do it. Sorry, but that doesn't fly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What if people became telepathic?

In one of my sci-fi novels (not yet released), I dabble in telepathy. It's a fascinating concept, especially when you reel it out and look at it closely.

In the movies, we see telepaths sending a thought to someone else. Is that "reading a person's mind"? If it is, I'm not impressed. We'll soon have our communication technology implanted, so we can always send a thought to someone. We call that a "phone call". So that kind of telepathy gets a meh from me.

But what would it mean if some technological miracle allowed people to truly share people's thoughts, to hear how they think and discover what they're thinking about? People would find this hugely threatening. Everyone has thoughts they're ashamed of. Everyone's done something they don't want others to know about. Total mental access? Most would find it abhorrent.

But what if telepathy was forced on everyone through technological advances -- all in the same instant? Yes, they'd initially be horrified at their mental exposure -- but in the long run, would people learn that everyone is basically the same no matter what they look like, what they wear or how many buildings and companies they own? Would it bring humanity together by brute telepathic force?

There might be an added bonus. The vicious people of the world might not be able to survive in such an environment. Once others could see into their dark hearts, they would be scorned by virtually everyone. They might even be pushed into becoming decent people by the force of opprobrium directed their way by the telepathic mob.

Does this sound familiar? (Think of the way social networking is driving the news today. Ray Rice, anyone? Adrian Peterson? Roger Goodell? Without social networking, their sins would remain hidden, or be brushed aside by the powers that be. Make no mistake about it: social networks are driving the American story right now.)

What will happen when telepathic social networks become the norm? I'll bet it's in the cards.

PS: Sorry to be absent from the blog but I'm recovering from hernia surgery. Hurts a lot, even with oxycodone. But if the surgery fixes the problem, I'm willing to put up with it. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Isn't it funny how some traits go together?

Now, where have I heard news about Adrian Peterson before? I'm sure I saw something last year about him. Let me think. In the meanwhile, there's this:
It's another scar for the NFL and this time the victim is a 4-year-old boy, beaten in the back, buttocks, legs and scrotum by his dad, running back Adrian Peterson.
Oh, wait - now I remember! He's the NFL player who felt compelled to share his distaste for gay marriage.
Peterson says he considers Kluwe [Chris Kluwe, a football player who is in favor of marriage equality] a good friend but he differs with the punter on the subject for gay marriage.

"To each his own, [but] I'm not with it," he said. "I have relatives who are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in.
He simply had to say that. Couldn't stop himself. And now he's being looked at for beating his four-year-old child with "a switch or a branch". On the scrotum!

I wonder if he was trying to beat heterosexual marriage into the boy.

Isn't it funny how people who are literally scum are the ones who fight against marriage equality? I wonder if there's a connection there. Hmmm.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pope Francis is absolutely right

Pope Francis hit the bulls-eye with his remarks while visiting a war memorial in Italy yesterday.
Pope Francis urged the world Saturday to shed its apathy in the face of what he characterizes as a third world war, intoning "war is madness" at the foot of a grandiose monument to soldiers killed in World War I.

Standing at an altar beneath the towering Redipuglia memorial entombing 100,000 Italian soldiers fallen in World War I, the pope said "even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
I think these remarks are very perceptive. The third world war is already taking place. I've felt this in my heart for a long time but I confess I'd never put it in such concise terms. Let's repeat the pope's words:
"Perhaps one can speak of a third [world] war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction." 
Well said, and I hope the world takes note and adopts this language. The third world war is already being fought.