The word you’re looking for is “officious”

assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, especially with regard to petty or trivial matters: a policeman came to move them on, an officious, spiteful man.

• intrusively enthusiastic in offering help or advice; interfering: an officious bystander.

Isn’t that perfect? I’m just getting tired of these stories coming up every day about white people reporting black people for mowing a lawn, or selling candy, or picnicing, or walking in a neighborhood. Use it more often.

Use it in a sentence: White people, why are you being so fucking officious?

The “law” used as a tool for racism

It’s always been that way, hasn’t it? Here’s just another example: an old white woman sees a black youngster selling candy and has to protest, claiming her own righteousness.

The most telling moment in the woman’s complaint:

“They do it all around the country and you should see how they live,” the woman says.

As the teen counts the candy Lopez tells the woman that she’s ignorant.

“How dare you call me a racist, you have no idea,” says the woman to Lopez who completely ignores her and leaves the scene to get cash.

“They”. You should see how “they” live. And then to complain that you’ve been called a racist.

The man who bought all the candy is named Jay Lopez. He was being more than an ally — he was a collaborator. We all need to be more like that. It’s time to subvert the dominant paradigm.

The first comment on the Twitter thread is this one, and it’s also very true:

I’m pleased to say that I’m at my mother’s house this week, and she watches MSNBC, and last night we watched Rachel Maddow together. Just sayin’ there are some grandmas who don’t need their channels changed, and we all know which poisonous network that comment is talking about.

Ron Paul has abandoned any attempt at plausible deniability any more


And Ben Garrison, too. Look at those classic racist stereotypes.

I notice, also, that we’re supposed to go to Ron Paul’s photo page on Facebook to learn more about “cultural marxism”. I looked, there’s nothing relevant there, and I can’t imagine that yet another cartoon, since deleted, would be at all enlightening.

Libertarian is just another word for racist, isn’t it?

Have you ever thought the problem might be…hierarchies?

It’s time for another example of abusive academia: in this case, it’s a woman, Guinevere Kauffmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany who has been bullying and flinging racist emails about.

The research shows how employees and students are treated at one of the most highly respected research institutes in the world. While the institute in Garching outwardly presents itself as the cutting edge of German research, young scientists talk of despotism, fear of superiors, and destroyed careers.

The accusations against the director are only the latest in a global debate about bullying and abuse of power in science. Women physicists and astrophysicists are making harassment allegations public under the hashtag #AstroSH. For example, famous physicist Lawrence Krauss was placed on temporary leave at Arizona State University following accusations of sexual harassment. And astrophysicist Rachael Livermore was harassed by a colleague in a scientific article so severely that she has since left the field of science.

In early February German news magazine Der Spiegel reported similar accusations at a Max Planck institute, yet without naming the specific institute (Astrophysics) or the professor (Kauffmann).

It sounds like this branch of the Max Planck has utterly miserably working conditions. This is not how science thrives.

“This matter with Guinevere Kauffmann and her husband is by far the worst. But the prevailing culture in the entire institute is bad. Things happen there that aren’t okay,” said Hans. Andressa Jendreieck agreed. “I get the impression many of the advisors are bullying their employees.”

All nine scientists who spoke with BuzzFeed News Germany say that the institute is profoundly hierarchical. You either endure it, or you break.

“Hierarchical” is the magic word. Science isn’t a top-down process, and when you give select individuals so much power and control, it doesn’t lead to greater productivity. It breaks everything.

I’ve worked in an institute that was profoundly egalitarian — there were PIs, sure, but their role, for which they were respected, was to take on more responsibility, rather than more “power”. Everyone was fully aware that the goal of the institute was to work as a team to do great science, which meant that everyone, undergraduates, grad students, post-docs, technicians, and PIs had essential roles in getting that done — and taking a dump on someone at a lower level in the imaginary hierarchy was disruptive and self-defeating. All human beings in the great machine of science must be regarded as equals, or the enterprise will fail.

This is why the myth of the Great Men of Science is so wrong and damaging. It leads to pathologies like the situation at the Max Planck in Garching. Good science is collaborative and cooperative.

Sully discovers appeasement

Although he insists that he hasn’t.

Only his solution to that problem of white nationalism is to surrender and give them what they want.

So give him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this. It may never be completed; it may not work, as hoped. But it is now the only way to reassure a critical mass of Americans that mass immigration is under control, and the only way to make any progress under this president. And until the white working and middle classes are reassured, we will get nowhere. Don’t give it to him for nothing, of course. It should come with a full path to citizenship for all DACA immigrants, as in the proposed deal in January that Trump first liked and then reneged on, under Miller’s toxic influence. But it should also go bigger: a legislative fix for Flores; massive new funding for detention facilities, humane family-friendly housing, and, above all, much more money for the immigration legal system, now completely overwhelmed by asylum cases. If Democrats can show they want to deal with the humanitarian problem as a whole, and are willing to compromise on the wall, they’ll be in a much stronger position going forward than in the recent past.

He is not “owed” anything. Trump has a big job to do, running the country, which he is not doing — if anything he owes us, especially since he and his family and his cronies see their position of power as an opportunity to enrich themselves. He is supposed to be engaged in public service, and that is most definitely not what he is doing.

Isn’t Sullivan remarkably cavalier about throwing tens of billions of dollars on a wall that won’t work, throwing it away as a sop to the masses? Why not instead spend billions of dollars on improving educational opportunities for immigrants, helping them to integrate better into the culture here, for instance? Because that won’t appease that “critical mass of Americans” who’ve been encouraged by the propaganda machines of Trump and Fox News to settle for nothing less than punching down hard on the brown people.

And to think that once you give the bigots the great big wall they’re shrieking for, they’ll calm down and decide they’ve gone far enough is ludicrous — it betrays a total failure to understand how humans work. Give them a victory, and their cultlike devotion to Maximum Leader will increase, and they’ll demand more. Can you imagine Trump saying a nice “thank you” for his beautiful wall, then sitting back, reading the Constitution, and deciding to buckle down to the paperwork and minutiae of his job? No. He’ll start looking for another cause he can use to inflame his base, and win cheers for him and rage against the Democrats at future rallies. Sullivan is a man utterly clueless about human nature, who then engages in stupid punditry about human nature. He is blinded by his biases.

And then there’s this cack-handed nonsense.

What that says to me is that Sullivan sees conservativism as nothing more than a nicer word for fascism. Fine with me; I agree. Massive demographic change is happening, it always has, and the question is…will you resist until you break and die, or do you adapt and become something new? Deny reality, or grow and change? This has been the story of human history for thousands of years, and conservatives have always opposed, often violently, the inevitable change that is always going to overwhelm them. It’s that transition from old guard defending the status quo to the status quo fighting to oppress change that marks the shift from conservative to fascist, nothing more.

But here’s the bit where I started to see red.

If all this sounds like appeasing a bigot, I understand. But better to see it, I think, as a way to address the legitimate concerns, fears, and worries of a large number of Americans who feel like strangers in their own land, and whose emotional response to that has been to empower the white nationalist right.

It was one little word.


legitimate concerns, fears, and worries.”

What fucking LEGITIMATE concerns are you talking about? The anti-immigrant hysteria fomented by the Right? The lies about how “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”? Shall we discuss lies about how Germany is experiencing a crime wave committed by immigrants, when the German crime rate is the lowest it’s been in decades? Shall we have another White House photo op in which victims of crime by immigrants can misrepresent the threat? (I’d like to see the photo op in which Trump greets the families of people murdered by the police — it would be larger, but too many of those families would be black and would make the Republicans uncomfortable).

I feel like a stranger in my own land. I was brought up in a country that educated me to think that there were these important American ideals, like liberty and equality, that we were a nation of immigrants, this great melting pot where we welcomed the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, that Americans fought and died to bring freedom to others. These were all lies. This country was built on the backs of slaves over the corpses of the native peoples, and we fought wars to open markets so that we could exploit others.

Revealing that reality is what drives those Americans to be concerned, afraid, and worried — they want to pull the blanket back over their heads, and if that requires more death and persecution and children thrown into cages, so be it. Those are not the Americans I want to make happy, though. Those are the comfortable burghers who need to be dragged into the public square and confronted with the fruits of their labors.

And what about the people who are fleeing to America? They aren’t criminals. They tend to be families who are trying to escape desperate, intolerable conditions in their home countries — conditions that are often a consequence of meddling and disruption by a certain Northern nation that prefers weak client states that serve its economic need. Read about the actual makeup of these migrants from people who study them. These migrants are the victims of gang violence, and are people with a fucking legitimate need to move to new opportunities, even to a country where official policy hates them and where they will be beaten and imprisoned and separated from their children.

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory. The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee. Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of eleven years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.” Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women.

While the gang activities and gender-based violence can empty out neighborhoods, they are not the only factors driving outward migration from these cities. Across the region’s larger cities, LGBT migrants are fleeing discrimination and violence. At a recent trip to a migrant shelter in southern Mexico, I listened as the shelter’s director recounted the story of a father and teenage son who had fled Guatemala City only a few weeks prior: the father was afraid that his son would be killed for coming out as gay. It is not an idle threat. Since 2009, 264 LGBT people in Honduras have been murdered. The La 72 shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco even has a building in the shelter dedicated to providing specialized housing for LGBT migrants.

Our policy seems to be to stem the trickle of migration by making the US even more cruel and inhospitable than a Central American neighborhood dominated by MS-13 or Barrio-18, or by building walls so the “wretched refuse” die in the deserts outside our nonexistent Golden Door.

The very concept of “illegal immigration” is racist, white supremacist, and bigoted. Borders are artificial constructs used to maintain power imbalances, and what is undemocratic is refusing to acknowledge the needs and rights of whole groups of people on the basis of what side of an imaginary line they were born on. We use a racist notion of “legitimacy” to argue who lives, who dies, who suffers, who profits.

We should embrace and welcome people who see our country as a beacon, as representative of idealistic values we’re not particularly good at acting on, because maybe they’ll help change us to better be what we claim we are. Between the people in power who actually are fascists, and the media mouthpieces who make excuses for and enable the fascists, we need more people who are willing to stand up for equality and fairness and against oppression and brutality.

Remember the “Brights”?

Oy, that was an ugly misstep. It was foolish to try and label your identity something that makes everyone outside your group feel like you’re calling them dim.

But now some tiny group of people have started a really stupid meme campaign to relabel “white people” as “people of light”. I don’t think you can do that accurately, unless you’re so white you glow in the dark.

Anyway, I’ve put a few of their goofy memes below the fold if you want to laugh at them.

[Read more…]

Visceral horror

For years, I was involved in these uncomfortable debates within the atheist community where one side would argue “Reason and Science!” and the other would say “Emotions matter!”, and I would uneasily argue that they both matter — uneasy because I’m happier talking about science and am not at all charismatic or able to draw on any kind of emotional sympathy. Old Nerd Talking, that’s me.

But right now, in the court of public opinion, we’re seeing the debate play out, and what’s clearly winning is emotion — and, I think, reason as well, but it’s the feelings that are driving the discourse. I think that’s important. It really settles the argument that both are necessary. What’s punching everyone in the gut so hard is that the Republicans have thrown away any attempt to mask their lack of humanity.

An example: when my kids were very young, I let them watch what I thought was a harmless, fun, children’s movie. I didn’t realize that it was a horror movie.

That movie was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Does anyone remember this character?

It was striking: my kids were fine with the movie, until this guy shows up — a villain called The Child Catcher who snatches up children and drags them away from their families. He affected them immediately in a way that no other monster movie ever did. They’d cover their eyes. They’d run out of the room. They probably had nightmares about him, because all I had to do was say the words “Child Catcher!” and they’d shudder. I think if they had the choice of being attacked by the wolfman or the Child Catcher, the wolfman would win every time.

I got to visit my little grandson a few weeks ago. He’s 7 months old. Babies are fine-tuned, sensitive people detectors, and you could see it in his behavior, the way his eyes would light up and he’d squirm with happiness when he saw his mommy and daddy. He’s barely a person, he’s new and squishy and helpless, and the first concept his newly developed brain is forming is a love for his parents. I realized that I’d die fighting anyone trying to separate them.

It’s totally irrational. But this stuff matters. Donald Trump and the entire Republican party have steered themselves right into Child Catcher territory.

I’d like to think this would lead to their downfall, but unfortunately, Trumpsters also love children, and the only way they can resolve the dissonance is to dehumanize brown children even more — they aren’t babies, they’re future MS-13 gang members! That’s precisely what we’re seeing right now, and it could make everything even worse.