September 27, 2013

'Try' is not always a dirty word

Raise your hadnd if you, like me, have heard a sentence like:

"There is no 'try'; there is either 'do' or 'not.' "

The psychological idea behind this ... kind of a pop psychological idea at times ... is that saying "I'm trying to do X" is in reality some sort of copout.

However, this doesn't look very well at ordinary English language usage.

Many people use a phrase like that second one in a colloquial way. They're referring to their actions in pursuit of some inner goal, or more often, some external expectation coming from another person, in ...
A situation in which significant parts of the "equation," and therefore the result, are outside their control.
People who mean this, if asked to think, and speak, more formally, thus might say something like this:
I am doing 'A,' 'B' and 'C' in pursuit of outcome 'X,' but some items are outside of my control that have influence on how likely 'X' is to happen.
And, this is true of a lot of life's events. As James T. Kirk told orphaned teen Charlie in the Star Trek episode "Charlie's Law" (not exact quote, but very close):
There are about a million things in this world that you want that you can have, and about a billion things that you want that you can't have.
Among that 1,000 to 1 ratio (with due allowance for hyperbole), is control of outcome of events, surely.

That said, I'm not denying many things are in our control, or primarily in our control, at least.

If "X" refers to a bad habit like excessive drinking, smoking, etc., then the use of "try, " especially after someone else mentions the phrase I listed up top, is an attempt to minimize or deny personal responsibility, in all likelihood. That said, when "bad habits" are addictions, while not denying individual responsibility, I'll state that the issue is more complex.

But when the boss wants you to increase sales of widget X, or the local social organzation wants you to increase membership by 20 percent or whatever, these things are less in our control.

Maybe the widget is crappy. Maybe the community organization has an overbearing chapter president nobody likes. Maybe planning for how to meet the goal is inadequate.

Anyway, human behavioral psychology is a bit complex at times.

September 26, 2013

Syrian opposition — Iraq all over?

A group of rebel groups in Syria has officially rejected any connection with groups of exiles.

Just like Ahmed Chalabi and his neocon backers were rejected by people who had stayed in Iraq while Chalabi hadn't been there for 20 years. (And we know neocons are among the drum-beaters for military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad.)

And, just as Chalabi was a bumbler who fell out of office after our presence became more disliked, it's probably safe to assume that similar would happen in Syria.

Meanwhile most of those 11 other rebel groups have various degrees of Islamicist shading. And, some of them are folks we the bipartisan foreign policy establishment thought were "good guys" and "our guys," at least up to now. Per the story linked at top:
Distancing themselves from the exile opposition’s call for a democratic, civil government to replace Mr. Assad, they called on all military and civilian groups in Syria to “unify in a clear Islamic frame.” Those who signed included three groups aligned with the Western-backed opposition’s Supreme Military Council.
Oops.

And, since we can't control Syria's future after Assad leaves, by whatever means, without boots on the ground, which Obamiacs, including friends and acquaintances of mine generally refuse to admit, this is once again why US President Barack Obama needs to be honest about an overall military plan, exit strategy, etc., for any action he might undertake toward Syria, since so far he hasn't crafted one.

As far as the tragedy of deaths, and ABC weapons, we never intervened in North Korea. Why? It's next door to its Chinese patron. Purely as far as deaths, we've never intervened in a place like Zimbabwe, or even encouraged an African-only intervention. Why? Probably because it's landlocked and nowhere near oil.

Syria does not immediately border Russia, but does border lots of oil in a volatile area.

That's still no excuse for intervening without clear strategy and clear exit plan.

However, a Security Council deal, though without military teeth, may help things out.

September 25, 2013

Let #Zuckerberg and #Effbook see my credit card?

I'd rot in hell before I'd let Marky Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook minions, with their constant changing of terms of use, privacy protection and more, keep my credit card info on their website for the "convenience" of Facebook auto-fill when buying something via Effbook, which I'd never do anyway.

Not a chance!

With a quick riff on Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways ..."


How could he screw me? Let me count the ways.
Z'berg could screw me to depth, breadth and height 
My wallet be screwed, feeling rather light 
Privacy sadly lost in Facebook haste. 
He’d screw me, Zuckerberg, every day
He’d screw me, by sun and candlelight. 
He’d screw me freely, e’en in dark of night; 
He’d screw me purely, in many new way. 
Screw me with a passion he’d freely choose 
Give my money, unprotected, on faith? 
My magic card’s sixteen digits to lose 
With my lost info — I hate thee to death, 
Broke, hounded, hassled — as my pain accrues, 
I shall but loathe thee with my daily breath.


I mean, seriously, besides the possibility of Marky Mark losing my information (which I don't store for autofill ANYWHERE), I'm sure this is just a step to spamming me with Facebook Store come-ons.

Also, per the end of the blog piece, why would PayPal partner with Facebook on this? A few years from now, I can see a massive attack of regret.

A sad day if #RachelMaddow thinks #Ike is a liberal

What started this blog rant of mine? The photo poster you see.

Yes, President Eisenhower may have been more liberal than today's GOP on Social Security, and possibly on racial issues.

That said:

1. He feared the military-industrial complex for budgetary reasons much more than military ones. And, the President who used the CIA to overthrow Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala, while planning the Bay of Pigs (although handing some of that off to Tricky Dick) might well have been a neocon today. At a minimum, there's a straight, bright line from Ike to the "Chilean 9/11," our overthrow of Salvador Allende on that date in 1973. (If you bring up Suez as a counter to this, Nixon said that Ike later regarded it as his biggest foreign policy mistake, which may well be true.) Also, given that Eisenhower as president started DARPA, I'm pretty sure he'd be as OK as Obama is with snooping on Americans' Internet habits.

2. On racial issues, he took SCOTUS' "due deliberate speed" in Brown vs. Board as a license toward deliberate slowness. (I am not sure if he had public comment when Truman desegregated the armed forces in 1948.) And, he had no problem with continuing to golf at segregated clubs. Also, we know, without any intermediation by Nixon, that he called appointing Earl Warren as Chief Justice his "biggest damn fool mistake."


3. Ike was also the Cold Warrior who did the heavy lifting on adding "under God" to the Pledge in 1954.

4. On labor issues, while I've seen these "Republicans and unions" pictures getting shared around FB, I quote the 1956 GOP Platform: "Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. ... In 1954, 1955 and again in 1956, President Eisenhower recommended constructive amendments to this Act. The Democrats in Congress have consistently blocked these needed changes by parliamentary maneuvers. The Republican Party pledges itself to overhaul and improve the Taft-Hartley Act along the lines of these recommendations." I'll venture any such "improvements" were for the benefit of management.

So, a Rachel Maddow on the The Rachel Maddow Show saying that agreeing with the Eisenhower-era Republican platform makes her liberal is both kind of shallow (actually, from a Rhodes Scholar, it's incredibly shallow), and kind of a statement on what many non-Republicans apparently think qualifies as liberalism today.


It's fine to show that Ike, with all of his own conservativism, is still more enlightened than a Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and many others. It's another to claim that Ike was in any way a liberal. And it's still more wrong to claim that being like Ike would make you a liberal today.

And, having read one of Maddow's books, I have no problem saying that she doesn't impress me that that much, and that a statement like the one in the photo poster really doesn't surprise me.

And, this is a partial critique of MSNBC's lineup. 

Chris Matthews? Well on his way to being a parody target as much as his former boss, Tip O'Neill.

Ed Schultz? A former conservative who found that playing a liberal was a faster way up the talk-TV ladder.

Lawrence O'Donnell? Not bad, as is Chris Hayes.

Joe Scarborough and the rest of Morning Joe? Bleah. Mika Brzezinski probably wouldn't be where she is without being a "legacy." Andrea Mitchell? Establishmentarian deluxe.

September 24, 2013

Gnu Media guru Mathew Ingram once again isn't ...

Isn't a guru, that is.

He can write a whole column about how modern online journalism still seems to have no viable financial model and not even mention the word "paywall."

The closest he can come is this:
Obviously, some media outlets charge for their news and are still in business — the Wall Street Journal, for example, or the New York Times or Financial Times.  
Which he then treats as back-of-the-hand giving later in the same paragraph with this:
But even they are not pictures of financial health: they have all had to cut staff, and to some extent the NYT and WSJ are subsidized by the largesse of their owners.
Ahh, wrong!

The NYT makes more off circ, including its paywall for the online version, than it now does on ads. How much of that is due to the robustness of its paywall, and how much of it is due to ongoing anemia of both the print and online advertising world, I don't know. But, there you go. 

This is nothing new for Ingram, as I've blogged before. For him, as for compadres, the anti-paywall mindset of the Gnu Media gurus is still that entrenched. The Jay Rosens, Jeff Jarvises and Clay Shirkys continue to have varying degrees of opposition.

And yet, Ingram can then pair that column with this one lauding the decline of journalism because it's producing more innovation. Except that he doesn't like innovation in the world of paywalls a lot.

That said, on the content side, the second column's a dud. Talking about the Boston Globe using a Twitter-based system as a new news aggregator? Hot Twitter topics aren't always journalism; I could argue that, with this, the Globe is at risk of becoming a swankier BuzzFeed. Or simply pass on not just viralized fluff, but clearly wrong, viralized false information. It's happened before, as in Superstorm Sandy, which Shirky simply ignored when touting crowdsourcing a while back, as I note here.

As for the Washington Post experimenting with a new display on mobile devices for trending story lines, he says:
Again, this probably isn’t going to make the difference between profitability and unprofitability for the Post, but it is a welcome sign of experimentation and a desire to learn how to present content differently for a mobile, digital audience.
Well, there you go. Experiment away. But ... don't put up a paywall for it.

Worry about your monetization, cash flow, revenue, whatever term you want. But, even if you know it's not the be-all or end-all, don't talk about a paywall, don't think about a paywall, for doorknob's sake don't put up a paywall, and, if you do do that, for double doorknob's sake, don't actually make the paywall very strong.

That's because Steward Brand said information wants to be free, didn't he?

For those unfamiliar with it, I once again post the full paragraph that contains Stewart Brand’s “information wants to be free” statement.

If you aren’t familiar with it, I’ll post it now:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
The issue at hand is what “free” means, whether to Brand himself, or others.

A number of people argue that it means “free to access,” and not “free of cost,” though the free to access may include lowered cost. It’s unclear which one Brand meant. Some claim he meant the former more, but, if we're talking in terms of parallelisms, the latter seems more likely.

That said, because the “free” part is one half of a polarity, it’s clear that Brand was NOT saying that information should be free. There’s no blanket espousal of that by him.

But the Ingrams and others don't tell you that. That's why they're Gnu Media Gurus.

However, what they don't tell you is that Old Media have listened to them less and less on the issue of paywalls in the past year or so. Of course, the Gnu Media Gurus will respond, "that just illustrates why they're still Old Media," even as Ingram notes, in his first link, that online-only sites generally aren't doing well either.

That includes the irony of Ingram writing for a site called Paid Content, which may pay him for its content, but has no paywall and probably damned few ads.

Massimo Pigliucci did a very good job of addressing the "information wants to be free" meme earlier this year.

They came for the #mansplainers and I ....

Apologies both to Martin Niemoller, for riffing on his poem to write about something far more banal than Nazism, and also, apologies to those who are unfamiliar with nth-wave feminism, post-postmodernist talk of "privilege," or how both have infected the already problematic world of Gnu Atheism.

That said, here goes.

They came for the mansplainers, and
I egged them on
Because I knew that men in general
Were bad enough, even piggish enough
That every man who defended the gender
Had to be as vile as the worst of them.

They came for the straightsplainers, and
I applauded.
I knew that nobody who tried to claim
That non-gay people didn't have special privilege
Especially when they claimed some straights
Were more insightful than some gays,
Really could understand.
Or empathize.

They came for the cisplainers, and
I nodded my head.
I knew that, despite my gender confusion
My knowledge was certain that they could not sympathize
About my gender confusion
Because that uncertainty trumped all certainty

They came for the agesplainers, and
I totally approved.
I knew that, just like in the 60s,
You should never trust anybody over 30,
And, I knew in my privilege-fighting soul,
That I would never pass 29.

They came for all the other privilegesplainers
As I knew they would, and needed to.
I pointed out each time every offender
Invoked "privilege" as a put-down
To disenfranchise social justice warriors.

Surrounded by the like-minded,
With everyone else 'splained away
The social justice war had been won,
Within our tight hermetic circle.
But I knew my vigilance could never cease;
New forms of privilege would always lurk,
Insidious and invidious
And even the most seemingly pure
Might not be part of the elect.

Basically, what all the neologisms are about is nth-wave feminists and allies who, finding even Gnu Atheism didn't offer enough latitude for them as social justice warriors (another key phrase to them) started the Atheism Plus movement. I have heard the first neologism repeatedly and basically threw up in my mouth when I heard the third one. To round out this post, I invented the others. At least, I think I did; somebody else may be already using them.

Per the "straightsplainers" stanza, the notion of "privilege" stands behind a lot of this. In fact, it's enough behind it that I gave it a separate stanza.

The mansplainers is what started this all. And yes, there are men who oppose any feminism in the name of the men's rights movement. And, there are women who lump any man who opposes any excess of certain types of feminism in with the men's rights movement. They may not be equally bad, but to riff on an old cliche, a lesser wrong doesn't turn a greater wrong into a right.

The straightsplainers I kind of link to the cissplainers. And, in case you don't "get" that word, it's a riff on trans-, as in transgender. Showing how non-pomo, let alone non-post-pomo, I am, I had never before heard of the word "cisgender." Some people would probably say that's my "privilege" speaking.

I feel kind of sorry for myself that I waded my toes even this far into the quagmire to learn this much.

I feel more sorry yet for the non-leaders of this movement, being led on leaders who have a back-of-hand-to-forehead martyr complex. Indeed, like Jehovah's Witnesses in the door-to-door meatspace world, I suspect many of the leaders of this movement take delight in having cyberdoors slammed in their faces.

And, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about all of these.

Mansplainers? While men do commit the great majority of sexual and physical assaults, they don't commit all of them. Indeed, a new blogger at the Gnu Atheist ground zero, Ally Fogg, has recently taken on this issue. (I had noticed this myself, before someone on Facebook posted it, and I continue to wonder how long he'll stay there, and how comfortable he'll be there. While the word "mansplaining" wasn't used by commenters there, several commenters did "diminish" what he was saying, one or two in particular. And, that said, I hope he stays and sticks.)

Even to question exact percentages can be called mansplaining. And, that says nothing about gay or lesbian sexual or physical assaults, which add a further twist. And, even if one rejects the outlandish statements of Pop Ev Psych, one can still have the mansplainer epithet hurled at them if one claims that there are genetic differences between the sexes.

Cisplainers I first heard mentioned not by an Atheism Pluser, but by someone who apparently had the word hurled at him, even though he is gay, himself, and "out." Apparently, he still has too much "privilege" to understand the problems of people struggling with sexual identity.

On both this, and straightsplaining, I would probably get such terms hurled at myself if I asked if sexual orientation status isn't to some degree psychologically determined or chosen, rather than being totally genetic (or genetic plus womb-epigenetic).

I believe that gay or lesbian identity, or shades of bisexual identity are, and I'm fine with that. I've said that before in the context of gay marriage. If your type of sexual relationship is to some degree one of gay or lesbian choice, that's fine, too.

I think sexual identity, in the case of would-be transgender people, is even more psychological, rather than just genetic, or genetic plus womb-epigenetic, than, is sexual orientation identity. And, she-males of certain types of pornography aside, in this case, I don't think the psychological side of the coin is always "healthy." Part of that may be due to even less social understanding than for people coming out as gay or lesbian. Part of it may be psychological effects of some of those womb issues. However, people who feel themselves to be clearly male or female, whether gay/lesbian or straight, may vary widely in male to female hormonal ratios, no less than "trans-struggling" people. They may also have hidden partial sexual organs of the "opposite" sex, for all I know. Or maybe, per the issue of chimerism, about which I blogged earlier this week, maybe the twin they absorbed was of the opposite sex and, for whatever reasons, this affects different people in different ways, and in different strengths of effect.

Part of the reason I talk about this is that at least some "trans-struggling" people will change their sexual orientation identity after changing their sex. In other words, if a person were a woman interested in men before, they become a man interested in women. So, maybe some people are confusing sexual identity and sexual orientation identity. For some people, maybe this is even a psychological abnormality similar to people who, often for sexual fetish reasons, want to have a limb amputated.

And, I'm sure that some people would consider the last two paragraphs massive cisplaning.

The agesplaining? Maybe the cutoff age isn't 30, like it was back in the '60s, but the Atheism Plus movement clearly and deliberately trends young.

The "privilegesplainers" is a word that probably even they haven't used yet, but surely will, soon enough.

Finally, as I noted under the "mansplaining" section, allegations that people are engaging in some sort of 'splaining can be made without using the actual word.

It's a mindset. And, one that I've done more than enough plumbing of, for my own taste, for right now. Part of this was written with a snarky tongue in cheek, but part of it is written in seriousness about the total post-postmodernist ideas of "privilege" that lay behind such language.

===

I had meant to do a stanza about "monosplaining." However, because the great majority of poly-sexual relationships are polygynous marriages, I wasn't sure that would fit the theme, because that might seem patriarchial. And, no, I'm not joking about having the idea, nor about part of why I didn't do it.

There's yet more I could delve into, and may, tangentially, like the whole issue of absolutism.

Or just the issue of "privilege," which I shall now do.

This issue is in a class by itself. My impression is that getting into a discussion of this issue with an Atheist Pluser leads immediately to Kafkaland — once you start trying to have a rational discussion of the issue, noting that it may exist, but not in the quasi-absolutist way that Plusers claim, well, then, you're automatically claiming privilege right there.

I'm lead to this point by a blog post I wrote earlier this summer about issues at the Center for Inquiry, which Stephanie Zvan brought up during a vitriolic exchange on a Facebook thread. For now, in part because the person took it down, although without giving me a chance to spell out my side of the "history" between her and I, I'm not naming his name, though I may well do that at any time, because the whole issue sticks in my craw a bit, and because, though D.F. isn't a full-blown Gnu himself, let alone a Pluser, he is a bit of a Gnu fellow traveler, and I'm still trying to figure out how much. (The post was set to "public," therefore I'm not breaking any Facebook privacy.)

Anyway, I cited favorably, as you can see, part of CFI head Ron Lindsay's comment about the Plusers, and the nth-wave feminists driving it. I also talked a bit about "privilege."

But, see, you just can't do that with these folks. You can only discuss such issues on their terms. And, I think D.F. leans halfway that way. Which is why I'm passive-aggressively mentioning his initials right now.

But, here's the biggie, from one of Zvan's blog posts:
Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed "pisses them off", no matter how much they'll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man's behavior by having sex with him.  
Oy, how much of this is not true.

What started all of this was a heated discussion we had over the Swedish government re-opening the rape claims case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. I said that, as the Swedish government had participated in multiple CIA renditions, it had "good" political reason to re-open the case, no matter how weak it was legally.

Second, "schooled"? Greg Laden couldn't school a first-grader in a Montessori classroom.

Third, the "controlling the man's behavior"? If you're so thin-skinned absolutist that you and Laden can't take a joke about henpecked husbands (and yes, I knew when I first wrote it that you weren't married) with me adding the extra twist of calling him "wife" instead of "husband," after the type of vitriol I know you pass out at many people besides me, take a look in the mirror and stop hyperventilating.

Fourth, this is what got Zvan's goat:
Anyway, this (as in "privilege" claims) is all about "posturing." Or, for the men involved, "dick swinging." Chris (Mooney), you can put those in your next book on motivated reasoning. 
And, I have just the title for you: 
"Mansplaining, the CFI, and How I Learned to Love the Watson."
Thank me very much.

Anyway, this is part of what D.F. took overliteralistically when cutting off his Facebook thread, then messaging me making further allegations, and not wanting to listen to my side of events. I finally told him to stop, which he did. Because if he hadn't, I would have not only unfriended him, I would have blocked him. I was that angry at the time. And, D.F., if you figure out  this is you, or if I reveal your name, now you know.

It seems clear half of the Gnu Atheist block bot, which I've blogged about here, is focused on people who publicly question Plusers' absolutist take on certain issues.  There's, as usual, no nuance. There's no attempt to separate people who legitimately question Plusers from over-the-top men's rights activists.

But, that's not all. Per my link to the Assange issues above, I think not just socially, but legally, some of these Plusers do not believe that in America, people are innocent until proven guilty.

I'm at the point where I think modern "movement" atheism is as much a train wreck as the modern Democratic Party, as I continue to identify as a Green.

4-H, brought to you courtesy of #KeystoneXL

Hey, kids! Learn to dig an oil pipeline across your neighbors' back yards as part of 4-H! From an Extension Service press release:

"October 6-12 is National 4-H Week, which culminates with 'one day 4-H' — a day of community service set for Oct. 12, said a Texas 4-H program coordinator. ...

"Toby Lepley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 4-H and youth development specialist ... aid this year’s one day 4-H efforts are being sponsored by TransCanada."

Oy.

I see that our neighbors to the north, at least in the oil bidness, aren't so much kinder and gentler after all in the PR world. Will said sponsorship include teaching them how to email President Obama to OK KeystoneXL?

This is not quite as bad or blantant (yet, at least) as the Exxon Math and Science Academy, guaranteed not to teach kids the truth about climate change, but it's bad enough.

And,, beyond TransCanada, or ExxonMobil, this whole issue of sponsorship is problematic. Yes, both small-town Main Street businesses and bigger companies have contributed to nonprofit organizations for decades. But, they've never before talked about "sponsorship." I find this troubling.

I would find it troubling with a less controversial company than TransCanada.

Shock me: Gay hater Rod Dreher doesn't like Pope Francis

Pope Francis' recent comments about how the Catholic Church shouldn't focus quite so much on gays and abortion does sound relatively enlightened. And, it's straightforward stuff, it seems, unlike his comment about atheists that the mainstream media first got wrong and therefore blew out of proportion.

The fact that this interview was kept under wraps at first, then simultaneously printed in multiple Jesuit publications, shows its serious.

That said, it's no surprise that former Dallasite and former Dallas Morning News op-ed columnist Rod Dreher, who has a history of not liking gays, as well as being an apologist for racism, takes offense. (I had the semi-pleasure of meeting him in person once, after I emailed the Morning News, as did others, about him violating company police by also opining for World Nut Daily at that time. I didn't yet realize just the totality of what he was like, though.)

Dreher first claims the NYT and the rest of the big media are overblowing this one. Au contraire. The Vatican itself reacted when the media claimed a month ago that Francis said that good atheists were guaranteed a shot at heaven. There's been no such pushback this time.

Dreher refers readers to one of those journals, which American Conservative may have excerpted without authorization. It doesn't explicitly say in the story that it does have such authorization, and the Jesuit mag says that excerpting without it is a no-no.

And, Dreher's wrong.

Per the full interview, which I shall not excerpt without authorization, the pope says that he was disciplined when he spoke even briefly on such issues before.

Or per the New York Times story:
“I see the church as a field hospital after battle,” Francis said. “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.” 
Sounds like that's not overblown. Francis is talking about about priorities.

And, no, Rod, he's not naive, either. See my timeline note, above.

And, he's made clear that previous comments about gays (and lesbians, but gays in particular on this one item) refer not just to the priesthood but the laity, too.

That said, nothing he did say indicates the Roman Catholic Church will change its stance on either abortion or homosexuality.

But, it will treat people dealing with being gay, or terminating a pregnancy, with more love than Rod Dreher ever will.

As for people like the ex-Catholic Dreher, or the right-wing Catholic priests and laity he counts among his contacts, Francis addresses him and them:
The pope said he has found it “amazing” to see complaints about “lack of orthodoxy” flowing into the Vatican offices in Rome from conservative Catholics around the world. They ask the Vatican to investigate or discipline their priests, bishops or nuns. Such complaints, he said, “are better dealt with locally,” or else the Vatican offices risk becoming “institutions of censorship.”  
Well, sure. That's exactly what these people want.

Of course, Dreher is the man who, among others, prayed for Chris Hitchens to have a deathbed conversion. By his religious rights, I suppose he thinks he's just doing what he's supposed to. Well, 150 years ago, Indian Hindu women thought they were supposed to throw themselves on their dead husbands' funeral pyres. Less informed Muslims think female genital circumcision is supposed to be part of their religion. Mormons still get baptized for dead people.

Nuff said.

Meanwhile, speaking of those earlier misinterpreted platitudes of Francis? He's not a Gnu Atheist, but Massimo Pigluicci takes him to the cleaners. And, per Massimo, he actually isn't letting up **that much** on the idea of judging gay people.

Indeed, blogger Pacheco shows that, although not as much as with "atheists get to go to heaven," the MSM has perhaps overblown this one, too, even though the Vatican hasn't objected this time.  In fact, he notes that since the interview, Francis the Talking Pope and the Vatican have, among other things they've allowed or caused:
  • Pope Francis denounce abortion and tell Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them (even when the life of the mother is in danger and the fetus is not viable)
  • The Vatican excommunicate a priest in Melbourne for his support of women priests and gay people (not exactly the loving approach one would expect from the person interviewed a couple of days earlier)
  • A damning report from MPR on how Minneapolis Archdiocese leaders KNEW about inappropriate sexual conduct from one of their priests covering over a DECADE, and yet failed to do anything about it until after the priest had sexually abused several boys. Way to provide moral leadership, Archibishop Nienstadt.
What this all shows is, Pope Francis is about a lot of froth.

Maybe not as much as that frothy substance called "santorum," but froth, nonetheless.

And, that the likes of Dreher takes offense to even that shows how ridiculous he is.

September 23, 2013

Which is more spammy — #LinkedIn or #Facebook?

At one time, it would have been easy to say Facebook.

But, starting with the crack cocaine of LinkedIn's "endorsements," especially when we're asked to endorse people who not only aren't in our network but are more than one step removed from people who ARE in our network, or so it seems when I'm asked to endorse people I'm  not even close to knowing, LinkedIn's closing the gap fast.

The clearly made-up nature of many of these skills, such as "storytelling" (what is that for, career politicians) only increases the height of my skeptical antennae.

Then there's this.

Not only is LinkedIn about as spammy as Facebook, it's apparently taking lessons on TOU-shifting and similar things:
On September 12, 2013, we published revised versions of our Privacy Policy and our User Agreement. Your continued use of LinkedIn means you agree to these revised documents, so please take a few minutes to read and understand them. Visit the LinkedIn blog to learn what these changes mean to you.
Really? Did you have this in 48-point bold type on or before Sept. 12? Of course not.

The why is because kids can now have LinkedIn accounts. Yeah, like the average 14-year-old is applying for a job via LinkedIn.


And, no, I'm not kidding. LinkedIn has lowered its age of usage to 14 as part of the privacy updates

It's all about the money. The "University Pages" are clearly an attempt to get more said universities to advertise to 14-18 year olds.

Great. And now, high school freshman can increase popularity contests by playing with LinkedIn's crack cocaine of endorsements.

I now have a poll up. Feel free to vote. 

And, Twitter's not in the mix yet. But stay tuned.

A likely-overvalued IPO will mean, as with Fraudbook, the need for more revenue streams. That means more ads, or more marketing of Twitter. Plus, with using Twitter as my log-in for Disqus since, per a friend of mine, OpenID has sadly fallen by the wayside, means I'm getting all sorts of commercial spam tweets. I've just been blocking them so far, but I'm soon going to start reporting them as spam. 

And, speak of the devil, three days after I write this, LinkedIn spams me on Twitter. And, I reported you as spam, I didn't just block you. 

Oct. 24, 2013: LinkedIn's latest spamminess? This idea of intruding into your personal email flow. 

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Per the first comment below, re LinkedIn, I become part of the solution and avoid remaining a passive part of the problem by refusing to accept more endorsements and refusing to pass them out. As a LinkedIn account is semi-de rigeur with many larger companies, at least, I'm not going to delete my account. But I'm not going to expand it any further. Like Facebook, I think we should also be wary about how much personal information we put on LinkedIn. 

And, so I have just done. 

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Actually, Twitter, with its laughably wrong suggestions on whom to "follow" (Barack Obama? When I know the Green Party has to have a Twitter account? Katy Perry? When I am not even sure what she's been in? Oops, she's not even an actress.) Seriously. Twitter has never suggested the St. Louis Cardinals' feed, or an individual Cardinal player. It's never suggested, besides the Green Party, say, Dennis Kucinich.

And, doorknob help us when it launches its IPO. 

And speaking of that devil, it just took the lid off that IPO.

#TxDOT bribery? - we don't do urban roads, we don't need machines!

The folks at the Texas Department of Transportation claim that they've got taxpayer interests in mind with plans to auction off as much as 6,000 pieces of equipment.
"We owe it to the taxpayers to get the best value we can," said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. "When we have 16,000 vehicles, we should ask the question, 'Do we need all of those?'"
Er, isn't this instead likely to be connected to the agency's push to dump maintenance responsibilities for a bunch of state-signed highways in major metropolitan areas on the respective cities or counties?

And, just in time for the meeting tomorrow of the Texas Transportation Commission!

Yeah, the road-dump idea is just being discussed, but I'm sure a "spoonful of sugar" would be to offer cities involved a right of first refusal or something on any auctioned-off machines.

In fact, this story about Permian Basin leaders opposing the road-dump plan kind of confirms that's a possibility:
Ector County Judge Susan Redford, who called the proposal “an extra kick in the teeth for counties in West Texas,” said the county builds roads more cheaply than TxDOT, and it lacks the equipment it would need to maintain the state roads.   
Connect those dots, folks!

Showing how ridiculous the plan is, in Waco, for example, TxDOT wants to "abandon" U.S. 84 where it runs through Waco as Waco Drive. I originally thought, before hearing details, that this proposal was only about loops and spurs, like Loop 12 in Dallas, or Spur 491 in Waco, not through routes,

This is 10-cents-on-the-dollar cheap, folks.

And, it's another way in which state-level GOP wingnuts will try to continue to claim that they provide government without raising taxes.

Noooo, they just raise fees instead, where they can, and dump stuff on the local and county level where they can't.

Meanwhile, there's the flip side of the coin, with TxDOT wanting to convert more and more farm-to-market roads to gravel. Its starter plan was 83 miles of road in six counties in South and West Texas to gravel. However, state Sen. Carlos Uresti says he has heard the agency has 400 road miles in its target.  And there's this:
Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke met with TxDOT officials in August to address questions rural Texans have regarding the conversion of the roads hardest hit by oil and gas exploration.

As a result of that meeting with Farm Bureau and concerns expressed by others, TxDOT has pledged to work closer with stakeholders with plans to hear their concerns in public meetings in the affected counties.

Also, in a response via letter to Farm Bureau, TxDOT said they will restore converted roads to their original construction “as soon as possible.” TxDOT qualified “as soon as possible,” however, as contingent on the reduction of energy-sector activity on FM roads and provided that “sufficient additional funding” is obtained.

In other words, don’t hold your breath.
On the other hand, all you folks like the president of the Farm Bureau who continue to vote for GOP government on the cheap, of the cheap, by the cheap and for the cheap, you've got nowhere to look but yourselves for why this is happening.