The carbon bucket will soon overflow

A graphic from the Global Carbon Project vividly illustrates how close we are to a tipping point in climate change.

Doesn’t ICE have better things to do?

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (more commonly known by its acronym ICE) has been at the center of the controversies over the inhumane treatment of immigrants with their policies or separating families and keeping children in extremely cold cages with little food or sanitation facilities and required to sleep on concrete floors with thin blankets.

But they spread their cruelty widely and the Detroit Free Press reports on an elaborate scheme in which they set up an entirely phony university to entice students, some of whom were in the US legally, to enroll in them and then used that to deport them.
[Read more…]

What is the benefit of remote starting cars?

I came across this tragic item of a person who was killed when a car that had been remotely started moved.

A New York man has died after being crushed by an empty car accidentally started by remote control.

Michael Kosanovich, 21, had been standing between two parked 2002 Lexus IS300s, on 6 December, when one of them had been started remotely by its owner, police said.

The car rolled forward and he was pinned between the two vehicles.

Bystanders tried to push them apart but as they did so, the car rolled forward and crushed him again.

Mr Kosanovich was taken to hospital with severe trauma to his torso and legs, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD). He died of his injuries on 7 December.

The NYPD said Mr Kosanovich had been inspecting one of the vehicles at the time of the accident, intending to buy it.

[Read more…]

Knives are less dangerous than guns, duh!

There is a reason that there is a saying that one does not bring a knife to a gunfight and that is because while a knife in the hands of a killer is dangerous, it is nowhere near as lethal as someone armed with a variety of high-powered guns. But that has not stopped gun nuts in the US from pointing to the knife attacks in London as to why gun control does not work because, according to their ‘logic’, if people’s guns are taken away, they will use knives instead. People like Donald Trump paint a lurid picture of knife attacks that have no relation to reality, like in this speech last year.
[Read more…]

Samantha Bee updates us on impeachment

I have to say that I find the whole thing utterly depressing, especially watching the craven subservience of the Republicans to Donald Trump. To add to that is the fact that Democrats are now painting a picture of the FBI as if it were an impartial, purely investigative body of great integrity and ignoring its ugly history of multiple violations of people’s civil rights and outright racism, even if it may or may not have done bad things in this particular case.

Let’s just give up on patriotism

Patriotism is a concept that many people think is a good thing but it just doesn’t stand up under close scrutiny, usually ending up in ‘my country, right or wrong’ and defending the actions of a government even when it commits the most outrageous crimes against its own people or those of other countries. Most frequently it is used as a cudgel against those who point out a nation’s flaws, in order to shut them up and as a means of diverting their attention away from global isues of justice.. I agree with Leo Tolstoy who wrote:
[Read more…]

Once the well is poisoned, does adding more poison matter?

One of the more bizarre developments on the right wing of US politics (and this saying a lot given how off-the-charts nutty the right wing has become) is the emergence of a group known as ‘groypers’. They have taken as their symbol an obese version of the cartoon character Pepe the Frog, which is appropriate in a way because the right-wing neo-Nazis and white supremacists had already adopted Pepe as their symbol over the objections of its creator. Groypers are, if you can believe it, even more racist and have ramped up their racism and anti-Semitism to 11.

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

[Read more…]

Rules are made for people, not people for rules

Yesterday I wrote about Merriam-Webster announcing that it had chosen to make the non-binary singular personal pronoun ‘they’ its word of the year. I have been using it that way for some time now and it comes naturally for me. But it was not so at first. When I first started using it, it was reluctantly and with a sense of unease every time even though I was fully aware of the positive reasons for adopting the practice.

I initially thought that my unease was because it seemed to violate a basic rule of grammar that I had learned and that had become instinctive to me. But I began to realize that there was a deeper reason and that it was because I thought that people who heard or read me using it might look down on my lack of knowledge of proper English and thus think less of me. Since I take some pride in my writing and speaking skills, this bothered me.

Following that self-realization, I made the conscious decision that if something is the right thing to do (which this clearly was) then I should go ahead and do it because why the hell should I care what other people think? In my pre-occupation with my self-image, I had forgotten the basic fact that rules are made for people, not people for rules.

Keeping that front and center turns out to be quite a significant and simplifying factor in decision-making. It should have been obvious to me from the beginning, of course, but sometimes we are not aware of how much our behavior is based on seeking or keeping the approval of others, even those whom we do not know or perhaps even like.