Wait, these are supposed to be bad things?

Via Juanita Jean, I saw that someone named Jesse Lee Patterson posted the same powerful photograph of six new congresswomen that I had posted a couple of weeks earlier, but with annotations.

When I first saw his additions, I thought they were meant to highlight the fact that these women brought even more diverse backgrounds than I had initially been aware of. But apparently Patterson thinks these are derogatory things that should disqualify them from office. (I notice that he writes for the site World Nut Net Daily, a fount of right-wing insanity, which alone discredits him. Actually, I am surprised that the site is still around.)

What a sad man.

Avoiding a war with China

It is a safe rule of thumb that at any given time, the US needs a external threat that requires a heavy military response. That is how the military-industrial complex keeps the gushers of money flowing their way. They can never allow a time when people say to themselves “Hey, I feel safe!” because then they might ask why the country spends vast amounts of money on the military and its adjuncts when so many other pressing needs exist. So we went from the Cold War to the war of drugs to the wars in the Middle East to the war on terrorism and now some are urging that the US is facing a resurgent threat from Russia. There was even a time when Nicaragua and Grenada were portrayed as existential threats. China was initially portrayed as a threat after the Communist revolution and during the Vietnam war, then faded for a while but has recently risen in the charts as a result of its rapid economic growth that will soon make it the world’s largest economy.
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The Brexit crisis is more about the UK and less about Europe

The veteran Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole argues that the Brexit mess is less about Europe and more a reflection of internal problems within the UK, and that Brexit is a symptom of its ills rather than a cause. And the main issue is that its current four-nation composition cannot function within its present structure.

Yet in Theresa May’s humiliation on Tuesday, there were prizes for almost everybody else: a glimpse of opportunity for her rivals in cabinet; a revival of their sadomasochistic no-deal fantasies for the zealots; the hope of a second referendum for remainers; proof of the near-collapse of the Westminster order for nationalists; the hope of a general election for Jeremy Corbyn. But in truth nobody has won anything – it is a losing game all round.

Even if May were a political genius – and let us concede that she is not – Brexit was always going to come down to a choice between two evils: the heroic but catastrophic failure of crashing out; or the unheroic but less damaging failure of swapping first-class for second-class EU membership. These are the real afterlives of a departed reverie.

The visible collapse of the Westminster polity this week may be a result of Brexit, but Brexit itself is the result of the invisible subsidence of the political order over recent decades.
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Wittgenstein’s ‘defense’ of religion

I really enjoyed philosopher Stephen Law’s 2011 book Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole where he takes apart many common beliefs, including religious ones, and provides tips about how to deal with the slipperiness of the many arguments put forward by believers. (I wrote three blog posts about it that you can read here.) I can highly recommend the book to those who find themselves constantly drawn into interminable discussions of religion with friends and family.
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How straight can you shoot an arrow?

The flight of an arrow is often used as a metaphor for going straight. Xeni Jardin says that Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame has a new show called Mythbusters, Jr. where he teams up with young people to see how straight an arrow flies. He recruits an expert archer Byron Ferguson who can shoot an apple thrown in the air. Pretty amazing.


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Louis C. K. has decided to embrace his inner jerk

None of us are wholly good or wholly bad. We all have our good and bad sides. If we are lucky, we are self-aware enough to know that we have bad sides and work to suppress it. But sometimes it escapes our control and reveals itself to others and we receive criticism. What happens next is the decisive thing. We can acknowledge that we did something wrong, apologize, make amends as much as possible, and vow to try and keep our bad side under greater control. Or we can decide that the revelation of our bad side means that we can give ourselves over completely to it and even revel in it.

It seems like Louis C. K. has decided on the second option. After receiving criticism for the things he said in an earlier return to stand up last month, Stacey Solie reports that he seems to have doubled down, to show that this is who he really wants to be.

So be it.

Light blogging due to travel

I am going to visit my daughter and son-in-law and so blogging will be light for the next few days. I left for the airport particularly early because I had heard reports of long lines at security checkpoints around the nation but at the Cleveland airport there was no line at all, though the TSA person said there had been a line earlier. All the security people were friendly but that is the usual case in Cleveland.