Thursday, October 30, 2014

Washington, D.C., and cutting-edge art

In discussing Melissa Chiu's new role as director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The New York Times stays true to form and characterizes Washington, D.C., as "staid"; "focused on the traditional, sometimes staid, vocabulary of civic monuments [and unwilling] to embrace a more risk-taking approach"; and "a tough place to introduce unconventional ideas," as opposed to New York, which it calls "a well of contemporary creativity worth tracking." Yet a city's aesthetic tastes are necessarily a macroscopic averaging of those of the people in it, and a city known chiefly as a seat of government tends to attract a different sort of person from one of the world's leading centers of commerce. This point seems lost on the government-worshipers at New York Times.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Someone actually said this (twofer): Gay libertarian gun nuts

Under the completely objective and not at all inflammatory headline "Meet the Gay Libertarian Gun Nuts," Cecilia D'Anastasio writes,
If you find the “gay libertarian gun enthusiast” identity perplexing, you’re not alone.
Gosh oh golly, yes, that is perplexing. What could individual liberty have to do with itself? The author then gives Shelby Chestnut of the Anti-Violence Project the last word:
"We need to look at the systemic inequalities that are causing people to be victims of violence,” she said. “The solution to that is definitely not creating violence to end violence."
Ms. Chestnut is welcome to ride her "systemic inequalities" unicorn, but some of us think that in the real world, intervening in violence to prevent violence from coming to fruition is enough of a solution.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This week's eternal verity about majority rule

All right-thinking people know that since people are too stupid and lazy to run their own lives, a government elected by those same people should run our lives for us. Apparently, the voting booth is like the Great Teacher from Star Trek. Also, a progressive recently told me that while markets are not self-regulating, government is because of voting.

Now, however, the plot thickens:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says his state's voters were "reckless" for voting to become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The Democrat's statement came during a debate Monday with his Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez, just four weeks before voters head to the polls for the state's hotly contested gubernatorial election.

In 2012, more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado supported Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. The amendment aimed to regulate marijuana in roughly the same way alcohol is regulated.

Since the new law took effect in 2014, the state is on track to raise more than $40 million in new annual revenues for education and other priorities from marijuana-related taxes. There has been little evidence that crime rates or driving fatalities have increased since the law took effect. In fact, the opposite appears to be true: Violent crime rates in Denver were lower in the first half of 2014, and traffic fatalities in the state are near a record low.

So those brilliant voters are stupid after all, at least when they disagree with those politicians whom they had the sheer genius to elect. I guess we should just go back to the days of kings by Divine right. For one thing, rulers who enjoy the Mandate of Heaven never have conflicts of interest:
Hickenlooper said he is concerned that teenagers using the drug may experience long-term-memory loss. The governor, who made his fortune as a beer brewer, did not express similar criticisms or concerns about alcohol, which many scientists consider far more toxic than marijuana.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Someone actually wrote this: Republicans scaring up another war

To the people who still wonder whether the mainstream LGBT media shill for Team Blue: Both of you may want to look at this. The author, while lumping together stuff that he doesn't like, helpfully tells us who is responsible for the don't-call-it-a-war in West Asia:
The speed with which we are being goaded into war is not a sign of strength. It is easy to mock Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his overcompensating sidekick Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for their endless saber rattling, or Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) for his claim that ISIS members are sneaking across the Mexican border to cut our throats. But already our fears have been successfully exploited to justify yet another Mideast war effort.
Gosh, I wonder how Obama is handling all of this. Well, he does merit one mention in the column:
A better use of our military resources is the humanitarian mission announced by President Obama on Sept. 16, in which American forces will set up field hospitals and train local health workers in West Africa to help the fight against Ebola.
So I guess that's all he's up to.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Faux News: Democrats, Republicans offer competing plans to replace Statue of Liberty.

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2015 (Faux News) — As the nation mourns the destruction of the Statue of Liberty in the Great Blowback of 2015, Republican and Democratic U.S. senators have offered competing plans to replace the iconic statue with images that they say are more in keeping with contemporary American values.

Senator Brianna Fischer proposes rebuilding the Statue of Liberty as the Statue of Equality. Explains the Northeastern Democrat, "Liberty is an outmoded concept, and the word is just a code word for racism. Since we now understand that equality is what actually matters, our nation's iconography should reflect that."

Meanwhile, Senator Cody Brennan proposes building the Statue of Security on the site of the destroyed statue. Explains the Deep-South Republican, "Liberty was fine in the past, but the Great Blowback of 2015 changed everything. Those who would give up liberty for security are simply making the common-sense recognition that the Constitution isn't a suicide pact."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More on freedom for me, but not for thee

I came across the following in the Twitter feed of an acquaintance: That is fine as far as it goes, but by what neutral principle is it okay only in the situations specified? In general, people in the mainstream LGBT movement regard freedom of association as a scourge upon the earth. We also have those activists who sound like anarcho-capitalists when they talk about their own lives but like nanny-statists as soon as the topic turns to anyone else's. It's okay to want freedom for yourself; it's not okay to engage in special pleading to want freedom only for yourself.

Someone actually wrote this: China, Mexico, and the soda tax

In The New York Times, Mark Bittman writes,
Say what you will about the Chinese, but they know how to make wholesale changes, and sometimes those changes are inarguably for the good. As noted in an editorial in The Lancet last week, the life span of the average person in China in 1950 was 40 years; by 2011 it was around 76. (The average life span in the United States in 2011 was 79.)

The causes of this near doubling of life span are no secret: China has developed public health programs that have reduced communicable diseases to a manageable level.

Yes, that must be it, since nothing else whatsoever has changed in China in that time period. By the way, his own source does not support his claim of causation. Also, another Lancet article paints a more complicated and less fawning picture of public health in China and includes the minor detail that "Mao killed many more people than his medicine saved."

Having given airtight proof of the success of Chinese public health, Bittman shifts to Mexico and draws the following lesson:

With a staggering 70 percent of our adult population overweight or obese, the United States was until recently the world’s leader in this unenviable race. Recently, Mexico (71.3 percent), took our place. (In China, the combined obesity-overweight rate is hovering at under 30 percent, still frightening.) Yet Mexico, which many Americans and Europeans haughtily consider primitive, was the first major nation in the world to institute significant soda and junk food taxes. That law went into effect early this year, and the results are already positive: Sales of soda are slipping.
I need a decoder ring to determine when tax disincentives work and when they are just a right-wing myth.
If we know how to diminish needless human suffering and mortality, why would we not? As Mexico has shown, it’s the responsibility of government to protect its population from hyper-processed food.
When government intervenes in people's choices over their own bodies, especially "to diminish needless human suffering and mortality," what can possibly go wrong?