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It is inevitable

January 7, 2014

By the time I’d spent a few months on Daily Kos, I figured it wouldn’t last for me. I don’t seem to possess the requisite hostility to put up with the environment indefinitely. I value causes more than in-fighting. But like a 24-hour news cycle, you can dispense with the petitions and peruse donation requests in a few minutes, which still leaves you with the rest of the day to fill up.

I’ve seen partisans on both sides of debates over whether Obama is a saint or an abomination – they’re all Democrats, but somehow they find reasons to war bitterly over things we can’t control. I’ve seen the ‘liberal’ gun enthusiasts, who try so hard to connect liberal values with anarchic gun rights and fail, troll and bait and drive off whoever gets in their way. And yesterday, I was amused to see religious privilege put so plainly it made me laugh, even as that community now seeks to drive off virulent skeptics.

If the goal of this blog were to express antireligious sentiment, I would never have come here. If you want a blog that is comfortably intolerant of religion, by all means go find one! I’m sure there are many. Intolerance of religion has never been an official or unofficial element of Daily Kos.

A comment from a believer taking offense at religion-bashing. Not xian-bashing or muslim-bashing (hell, people get away with the latter some days) but calling religion a problem. Or like the way Hitchens put it that religion poisons everything. I don’t have the same fire for the battle that I used to, but I have yet to find redeeming qualities to it that are not incidental, that cannot be found elsewhere. And yet so many believers will take offense on behalf of their religion. They seek to identify with their religion, to claim it as their identity the same way the color of their skin or their sexual preference is part of their identity.

Well, certainly people are born with their skin, subject to some change perhaps. And at least there’s data suggesting sexual preference is inborn. But religion? There’s not even compelling evidence for the ‘god gene,’ much less anything convincing about being ‘born’ xian or muslim or … whatever. Even a predilection for god-belief, however misguided, has to find a vehicle through which to manifest. And what is that going to be, but whatever religion hooks them first? Most likely, whatever religion their parents are taught to instill, because it’s so much easier to indoctrinate children.

Get ‘em while they’re young. Works for cigarettes too, or so I’m told.

We Democrats have always prided ourselves on our big tent. One of the things that has prevented us from winning as many victories the past several decades has been a perceived intolerance of religion. I would suggest therefore that demonstrating tolerance for people of faith is one way the Democratic Party can expand its electoral victories.

So this commenter raised this question for me. A ridiculous question, but I’ll see if I can find an opportunity to ask it anyway, because I empathize with pragmatism and that’s what this is, a call to pragmatism. Maybe the premises aren’t all true, or maybe it’s not important enough to appease the religious majority by silencing skeptics. Or maybe it’s pointless, because of free speech someone will always speak up. But I want to ask the admins, seriously. Bashing religion is not the same as bashing people, although believers try so hard to equate it with bigotry and prejudice and shame people into silence.

They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves for trying to drive people off, but they obviously value their own hurt feelings more than mine. Big shocker.

Should skeptics be silent about religion in order to placate believers? Should we play along with the religious majority? Does the stated goal of Daily Kos, to elect more and better Democrats, mean we endorse this oppression of the non-religious minority by the religious majority? This actual exercise in intolerance, in bigotry, as opposed to the loud plaintive claims of the believers? Should I really get lost and find somewhere else to read and chat, some other outlet for supporting Democrats? I mean to find out. And while the believers claim such painful alienation when their precious religious beliefs are attacked, I’m already alienated enough to have stopped writing there, for months. Work slowed down enough for some new writing a while ago; I just haven’t bothered. And I already get enough email about petitions and causes to donate to. Maybe it is time to go.

So, this is more or less a reminder to self to raise the question at the next opportunity. I already know what I’d do, personally – that intolerant xian hypocrite can piss off. Take those wounded sensibilities and shove it with the actual oppression. They’re so oblivious that they complain about oppression of their ideas while trying to really drive me out of the community. Who is worse off, the ‘second class’ citizen in perception or the exile? But I’m a pragmatic sort. I’m curious to see if this fellow is an outlier or more representative of the community.

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Xmas in the desert

December 27, 2013

Dad was interested in seeing some photos today, so I took one of the xmas cactus as I have no proper tree. On the bright side, decorating this one doesn’t result in a dead tree every year.

Personal 009Just the string of lights I added to it on a whim last year; it’s not that spectacular. Sue tells me it’s understated. I think she’s just being nice.

Anyway, with some time off I also entertained the neighbor’s cat today, who is not enjoying the windy day and the cold night. It’s not below freezing, but it’s cold for us!

Personal 005Mudbug enjoying the la-z-boy and his favorite blanket too. He wants to move in, but there is no litter box and there will be no cat food. Besides, I know where his real home is; it’s right behind mine. He’s just too bad a cat to stay there apparently. So, he gets to hang out until he gets to be a pain here and then I kick him out too.

So, not doing much for the holidays, and that’s all right. The weather has not been conducive to much yard work, not that there is much to do. After last winter, it’s mostly taken care of with minimal maintenance. The fancy term is xeriscaping but for me, it means less yard work.

 

 

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This could be your Skyrim experience…

December 26, 2013

Since Dave may well still be playing Skyrim, finding videos of this particular mod made me think of him, of course.

Been awhile since I posted anything new here, but I think a browser switch may have finally helped. Firefox just wasn’t working well here anymore, but Chrome has been an improvement.

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End of the road

September 28, 2013

Shadowmourne
So, this week I wrapped up the seemingly endless quest for Shadowmourne on my hapless death knight. I had a pretty good shot at it, back when Wrath of the Lich King and Icecrown Citadel was the current raid content; I was with a hardcore raiding guild back then, and finished most of the quest line with them. When that guild burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp, I went through several raiding guilds with softer, chewy centers, and got jerked around every time. I even left the Daily Kos guild this year when their raiding officers proved to be just as cliquish and backstabbing in that regard as anyone else. Shocking?…not really. But this summer I learned how to solo more of the content, and picked up the last of my soul shards this month. After being rejected by everyone else, I just kept mugging Marrowgar until he gave me what I wanted and begged me to stop. I’d feel bad about it, except that he’s only a bunch of pixels (much like my orange axe).

I have the option to go try to whack Arthas one more time and get a chest of super-rare loot for it, not sure if I will. But since Wrath was wrapped up, I haven’t had the same urge to play and raid and max-out and test myself in the game like I used to. Having tried the hardcore thing may have contributed; more likely, it’s having been through so many raiding guilds, trying everything from no-frills raider to officer/raid organizer and back again, and always finding it unsatisfying in the end. It may also be because Blizzard has picked on melee classes forever. And it could be because my death knight’s story seems played out; even if he has gone from a Tauren to a Night Elf to an Orc in the process.

I’ve got one of every class on our server now at this point, and not being terribly interested in tanking and healing, I’ve been exploring my ranged classes. Mages are often showered with love from Blizzard, although maximizing the output of my fire mage is supposed to incorporate the somewhat puzzling Alter Time ability. Perhaps less complicated is my hunter, although he’s only level 80 now; have to see how that works later. But it’s promising. I may end up going back to the class where I started, way back in 2004, although my original nelf hunter is languishing on some other server than our ‘main’ one, Kilrogg.

Whisperclaw
Whisperclaw, contemplating the Storm Peaks on his way to 80. I’ve gone back and forth on questing vs. dungeon crawling, but lately I’ve been questing. I think questing on the wolfie was the first time I finished the dwarf questline out of Frosthold and saw the lore about Muradin. That may change as I leave the Wrath zones for Cataclysm and Pandaria, since the older xpacs are still my favorites, flawed as they were. Why, I can’t say. I suspect that I am just getting old and set in my ways, even virtually.

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…one month later

September 4, 2013

Interesting, I didn’t realize that it had been this long. It happens that my last posting here had to do with Ariel Castro. How odd that I should find myself here again, talking about him. Because he happens to be dead — suicide, in prison — and anytime that happens the question of negligence on the part of the corrections officers will come up.

If Ariel Castro’s lawyer is to be believed, corrections officials in Ohio may have some serious explaining to do.  This morning–literally hours after Castro was found dead in his cell–Castro’s lawyer claimed that he’d asked for an independent psychiatric evaluation of his client, only to be turned down both times.

This writer on Daily Kos, heh, mentioned how bad the comments section looked at today.com where they found this article about Castro. But Daily Kos often reminds me that the values I take to be ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as I might think, so…

So what? (2+ / 0-)

What about the lives he fucked up forever?

Screw his rights.

Oh, you think that’s all? No, no. Not at all!

BREAKING NEWS in this story… (0+ / 0-)

Ariel Castro, convicted of kidnapping and raping three women, as well as murder…

http://www.cnn.com/…Just so we’re all reminded who we were dealing with here amidst this diary of sympathy for this fucking scumbag.

No, I see no need to name names, but I did find at least three different folks chiming in along these lines.

In the case of Ariel Castro (0+ / 0-)

My yawn should be sufficient enough to gauge my outrage.

Good riddance.

And they all want to interpret any sense of disturbance or outrage at the prison system just letting some inmate hang himself with a bedsheet as sympathy for Ariel Castro, the kidnapper, rapist, etc. etc. As if this criminal has done something that renders him less than human. As if the basic concepts of human decency no longer apply. As if we can set aside a certain class of people and just not care about anything that happens to them. Yeah, I suppose there is some degree of sympathy. The sort of base, minimal sympathy I would give any human being, no matter who it was. I guess that’s bad.

Even more interesting, it’s needless trust of the gov’t and the justice system, more than I usually expect from the pot-smokers and hipster more-liberal-than-thous that frequent the Great Orange Satan. After all, just because this happens to the latest poster boy for the death penalty, doesn’t mean it only happens to the righteously condemned. It rains on the just and the unjust, and in our country it rains injustice on them both, too.

It’s appalling to me, to see this mindset pop up amongst supposed liberals, folks who might be expected to value basic human rights and decency. The ones who even now (like me) are yelling at the President and Congress to not go to war in Syria, to not drop bombs on and blow up more innocent people (collateral damage will happen) and add to the death toll in Syria. These same people can somehow process the contradictory notion of fuck Ariel Castro. Whatever happens to him, he deserves it. He deserved to die. Whatever gets him there, right?

I say no.

Seriously – most of the time when I have some serious difference of opinion I find myself more conservative than my liberal company, somehow. Weird that today I seem like the bleeding heart. And they use the same damning language of a conservative.

Oh, the outrage from you! Good grief… (0+ / 0-)

…Charlie Brown.

I don’t give a rat’s ass whether a kidnapping, raping, murdering scumbag is treated with ANY dignity. He can rot where he rests, for all I care.

Would this be out of place on some conservative blog like RedState? I think not.

You’re pissed because people are posting candles (0+ / 0-)

and crying over this scumbag’s death.

And this actually drew out somebody into mouthing off and getting hidden for it. Someone I typically have zero respect for, he got mad at this and yelled back and for once, I can hardly blame him. So today? Zounds, we’re on the same side. Incredible. Mind you, there was no one actually ‘posting candles and crying’, references to a little community on DK, I believe, called IGTNT, that writes about soldiers that die in the line of duty, who do post candles and rigorously enforce civility. I wonder if there’s some lingering resentment, there. The one place where no one is allowed to swagger in and swing their internet schlong around and behave badly while people are mourning a dead soldier. Even a soldier killed for a cause we don’t necessarily believe in. Just a human life, gone, and regrettably so. A bit like Ariel Castro, to the extent that we are talking about dead human beings.

Anyway, what a surprise, disgusted with DK again. I suppose it’s probably just a few people. Good thing there isn’t a poll. I know from Pharyngula how internet polls can get crashed.

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Rape culture pops up in the strangest places

August 3, 2013

This is a post I almost want to put up on Daily Kos, but I’m thinking better of it, because of the fight it would pick there. There’s a nice community of skeptics there, but there’s also a fair share of rabid catholic defenders there and I don’t enjoy interacting with them. (who would.) Besides, the great orange satan is being overrun by libertarian anarchist types, so…

Anyway, rape culture, catholicism. This should be fun eh?

So I was listening to a little MSNBC today getting ready for work. I didn’t get a chance to see much of it, but I can check it out later at length. I already found the pertinent bit, though.

I can’t embed it, but it’s the first clip of today’s Melissa Harris-Perry show and it’s about the end of the Ariel Castro court case. For kidnapping, imprisoning and raping three women over the course of a decade, he’s finished as part of this society — he gets to be housed in a jail until he expires. But he left society with a bang.

if you’ve seen the youtube video, amanda this weekend, this right there itself proves that this girl did not go through no torture. that woman did not go through no torture. because if that was true, do you think she would be out there partying already or having fun? i don’t think so.

This was Castro offering excuses for his behavior — that since these women have been seen to be happy since they escaped his clutches, they must not have suffered as much as they say.

i seen gina in the media. she looks normal. she acts normal. a person that’s been tortured does not act normal. they would act withdrawn and everything. on the contrary, i heard the opposite. she’s happy, the victims are happy.

Naturally Melissa’s panel had no kind words for Ariel Castro, and it’s amazing that he even tried. He’s the poster case for rape! The lengths to which he went to imprison these women, the chains they found, no one’s going to mistake what he did for anything but rape. But the panel went on to speak of a rape culture, a term I haven’t seen much, but I am aware of the concept. The one man on the panel had this to say about it.

so to me, what i heard there was an appeal to us in the larger community and society and saying, hey, if i did this, would this woman be out there partying? because what happens in rape culture, what happens in sexual harassment is that women are continuously put in a position, where they have to prove their innocence before their perpetrators, you know, are found guilty of what they’ve done.

It was an appeal to men. And why not, who else would it appeal to but men? Well, perhaps some women sufficiently indoctrinated or bullied into going along, I’ll get to that…not that MHP is one of those. She mentioned being a survivor and now I’m wondering about that, but this was her take on rape culture.

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently. this seems to me, we have policies substantiating this. we were just looking at the fact that in ohio, in fact, in 31 states, in 31 states, rapists can sue for custody of children produced in the context of rape and/or for visitation rights, in 31 states this this country. in only one state where there’s a waiting period for abortion can people who have been raped or are victims of incest even get that waived, right? but that idea of, who has to claim innocence, how much is that a part of rape culture? that you, the victim, the survivor are also the one on trial.

So, up to this point I was considering a DK diary until I remembered one of the many things I despise about the catholic church. This was what reminded me:

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

And there’s a valid argument about catholicism to be had here; but I know the G.O.S. is not that good a place for such arguments anymore. There is a patron saint, however, of rape victims.

Maria Goretti was born in October, 1890 to a family of peasant farmers. Alessandro, her murderer, was the son of her family’s landlord. The attack took place in July, 1902, when Maria was a few months shy of her twelfth birthday. Most accounts say that Alessandro had “propositioned” her before and she had always refused him. After her death, Alessandro went to jail, where he dreamed that he saw Maria in Heaven and she forgave him. He then repented and was forgiven by both the church and Maria’s mother.

And so, the patron saint of rape victims is an 11-year-old girl who was not raped, but who died rather than “allow herself” to be raped.

The Catholic Church holds up Maria Goretti as a shining example of purity and chastity. As Pope John Paul II explained, “St Maria Goretti is an example for the new generations who are threatened by a non-commital[sic] attitude that finds it difficult to understand the importance of the values which admit of no compromise.”

The RCC has several patron saints for this purpose. There’s Agatha, who was tortured and killed for rejecting a man’s advances and refusing customers after being forced into a brothel. Agnes of Rome refused to make sacrifices to pagan gods, and to surrender her virginity by rape, and was killed for it. Antonia Messina fought a rapist to her last breath: a martyr to purity, she’s called.

Detecting a bit of a theme, here.

Maria Goretti is another of these martyrs to purity. She was called that by Pope John Paul II, as recently as 2002. He also had this to say about her. Keep in mind the story of her death.

Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility.

Contrast this with MHP:

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

The old pope (two popes back now I suppose) raises some questions about the choices people have, and how the church interprets them, as pointed out by this fellow skeptic

Given the context of promoting chastity, “following the impulses of pleasure” appears to refer to normal sexual desire. If so, what does “following the impulses of pleasure” have to do with Maria Goretti? Is the pope saying that if Maria had “allowed” herself to be raped, she would have been “following the impulses of pleasure”? Or is he saying that Alessandro was “following the impulses of pleasure” by wanting to rape Maria?

If the pope was referring to Alessandro, it still shows the Catholic Church’s lack of understanding about the psychology of rape. The act of a rapist is not the same thing as normal sexual desire. Not for the rapist, or for the rape victim. Rape is a violent act of domination. The fact that this case is about a 20-year-old attempting to rape an 11-year-old should already tell us that this is not an example of normal sexual desire.

There’s no good answer here, for the pope or the church. Of course, these best-case asexual eunuchs to their crucified god aren’t the sorts of people I would go to for any kind of expertise in this area, much less understanding. Empathy seems beyond them as well, when the examples they hold up to women are martyrs to purity. That the only proper path to show innocence is to die resisting. The church teaches that rape victims — survivors — must be in some measure guilty. After all, they’re not dead. There’s your rape culture. There’s a piece of it in church doctrine. I bet their priests teach catholic victims of rape to pray to saints like Maria Goretti, and hidden in the stories of these saints is a message to survivors that they failed.

you literally must die to prove that you resisted sufficiently.

And being a religion, of course, there is no political process by which we can seek to excise this cancerous idea from our midst. The most we can hope for is that most catholics don’t know about this rot in their belief system. I expect most don’t; I sure didn’t, back when I was one of them. But like most skeptics, I’ve learned quite a bit more about religion since I gave up believing in the stuff, quite often we know more about religion than the believers do.

This isn’t an attack on catholics, though. Charitably, one could call it an attack on their ignorance. Worst case, their priesthood knows. It’s on catholicism that the attack comes. And the reason I don’t bother putting this up on DK is that the catholic defenders’ league recognizes no such difference. I would like to think that I’d have a really hard time finding voices sympathetic to Pope John Paul II’s glowing endorsement of the martyr of purity. But this culture, this rape culture is pervasive. Clearly, the 31 states where rapists can sue for custody and/or visitation rights for the products of their violation speak to it.

I think I’ve internalized it to some degree, myself. In my wandering, reading and research I came across this tumblr and started reading. A lot of horror stories seem to start in parties with alcohol as a key ingredient, so to speak. I was thinking how it’s a shame that alcohol is around to facilitate this sort of thing, that I’m glad I don’t drink, it’s a wonder women go to parties at all…

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not.

If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t.

If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. They are.

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

…and that thought process came to a screeching halt.

It’s true, it’s not the booze. Women ought to be able to drink and have a good time like anyone else. This should not be what happens to women if they choose to have a few drinks. There’s something wrong with this society, and there’s something wrong with me. Step one, I suppose, recognize the problem. This is one occasion where I can quote Matthew 7 at myself.

7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and [a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how [b]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Perhaps I’ve taken the log out of my eye? Or have I just figured out that it’s there. Progress either way, I guess. As a skeptic, it pays to check and examine what’s in my head as much as anyone else’s. Rooting out those sorts of assumptions will be the work of a lifetime for me. I may have been raised catholic, but I’m not even sure where this notion came from for me. It could just be from being male, in this society.

Anyway, I can work on myself along with those 31 states and the church. No one gets away scot-free. Except for the vast majority of rapists, I suppose. Also cited during the MHP show:

and it’s the rare moment where someone who has committed sexual assault is put in prison for that. right? so that’s the 3% of cases that that actually happens.

Got a lot of work to do.

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I wanted to be wrong about this

July 25, 2013

This gives me a cold sweat just to think about it, but I’m actually sad to see this appear in the news.

Annually, about five million patients stay in an intensive care unit in the United States. Studies show that up to 35 percent may have symptoms of PTSD for as long as two years after that experience, particularly if they had a prolonged stay due to a critical illness with severe infection or respiratory failure. Those persistent symptoms include intrusive thoughts, avoidant behaviors, mood swings, emotional numbness and reckless behavior.

Yet I.C.U.-induced PTSD has been largely unidentified and untreated. When patients leave the I.C.U., said Dr. O. Joseph Bienvenu, a psychiatrist and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Everyone pays attention to whether patients can walk and how weak they are. But it’s the exception for them to be screened for psychiatric symptoms like post-traumatic stress or low mood.”

Now critical care specialists are trying to prevent or shorten the duration of the mood disorders, which can rattle not only I.C.U. patients but their frantic relatives.

So there’s a million or two folks, each year, that may be suffering from PTSD from their experience. It beats being dead, I know. Been there. But still, not nice.

I spent a month in the hospital trying not to die from respiratory failure, that was chalked up to a viral pneumonia (still don’t know what caused it). Been long enough that I can’t remember the specific terminology but I think it was characterized as ARDS. I was also not taking any care of my health, so I know I brought it on myself to some degree. A month lost, took a while to recover enough physically to function, but it took a year to recover in my head.

“I.C.U. patients have vivid memories of events that objectively didn’t occur,” Dr. Bienvenu said. “They recall being raped and tortured as opposed to what really happened,” such as painful procedures like the insertion of catheters and IV lines.

The I.C.U. setting itself can feel sinister to patients, as if lifted from “The Twilight Zone.” The eerie, sleep-indifferent lights. The cacophony of machines and alarms.

I can recall one specific instance of nearly jumping out of my skin one day, when a radio program played the noise of a ventilator and I mistook it/recognized it as something out of a nightmare. Crazily enough, it was understanding that it was a ventilator noise that helped – the realization that these nightmare visions had some basis in reality, however distorted. But that’s just the most vivid experience I can recall, while awake…that was months after the hospital stay, those sedation drugs were long gone. I still feel sometimes, irrationally (and I know it), that some part of me died there and I lost something essential. That’s nothing compared to the folks all too willing to offer interpretations on what few details I did let spill to anyone at the time.

I don’t want to say more about it. Certainly not going to share this on Daily Kos like my gun violence diaries; better that nobody or almost nobody reads this. Even if it was in the NYT. But I have more evidence, more understanding. I wish that felt good, but it doesn’t. It just…is, and I don’t want to forget. The understanding, that is. Some parts of this I will never forget.

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