Heaven and hell, robots with lasers and car-eating vultures

“Whatever the sticklers say, data isn’t a plural noun like ‘pebbles.’ It’s a mass noun like ‘dust.’

“They must have made some money — they ran the ads for years — but I never personally knew anyone who ordered these things.”

We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.”

 “They’re not hungry –€” most of the time they don’€™t really even eat the car parts they’ve savaged, just tear them up with their claws for no obvious reason. The going theory is just that they’re bored.”

“Why do I think that when we curb the urge to flatten turtles with our cars, we’ll solve some of our other problems, too?”

A near enemy to compassion is sorrow … that’s me getting wrecked by the picture of the child in the newspaper so that I can’t actually help them.”

“Try doing the opposite of all the networking advice, and talk to the person who probably can’€™t help your work and who doesn’™t have any prestige.”

“When it comes to ‘the church’ i think we have a really jacked up system related to power.”

Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”

“This Christianity thing isn’t about escaping hell and this world to go to heaven. It’s about bringing heaven to this world and abolishing hell forever.”

“Hell is in business here all the time … heaven too, or we couldn’t stand it.”

“Brady told the conservative publication Illinois Review that the ‘true conservative position is in favor’ of allowing same sex marriage.”

“It could be that we are beginning to convince evangelical lay people that allowing gay people to marry at the courthouse or at some other church does not threaten their right to believe and live as they choose.”

“Because it was the first time I really cared about gay people and they could tell.”

“What does it mean to be privileged? It means not having to think about any of this, ever.”

It’€™s like being pecked to death by feral potatoes.”

“That’s advice I’ve been giving to others for about the last thirty years but I only recently realized where I got it in the first place. I got it from Richard Chamberlain.”

Church Sign Epic Fails: We Serve Minors

 

 

  • Loquat

    Rare is the conservative who rants about [monogamous long-term] marriages without pushing the straw man of liberals allegedly favoring irresponsible promiscuity and single motherhood.

    But, see, if a conservative accepts the argument that sexual orientation is inborn and can’t be changed (and there’s been enough scientific research on the subject that an old-fashioned science-loving conservative could certainly accept this) then banning same-sex marriage forces gays to choose between (a) sham opposite-sex marriages, which would likely have a high rate of adultery and painful divorce, or (b) sex and possibly child-rearing without marriage, which our hypothetical conservative considers irresponsible and immoral. Or a lifetime of total sexual abstinence, which is highly unlikely. So H. C., being a reasonable conservative who prides himself on being realistic about human nature, therefore reaches the logical conclusion that allowing gays to marry will likely result in more stable families, less nonmarital sex, and fewer unmarried parents.

    I’m not sure why you keep insisting that all possible definitions of conservatism must necessarily oppose same-sex marriage. But apparently you also think there isn’t any difference between conservative and liberal attitudes towards promiscuity and single motherhood, which is, shall we say, an interesting theory.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Most conservatives in the U.S. have an idea of marriage that is one man and one woman because the man is supposed to be in charge of the woman, though. A conservative who throws out the idea of this traditional marriage has to discard gender essentialism and misogyny as well. In which case they might be “conservative” by the original definition, but they no longer belong in the conservative group in this country.

    Which is why I said that they would “probably feel a lot better about it and themselves in the long run.”  :D

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    But in principle, everyone sorta kinda agrees that monogamous long-term marriages are a social good. It’s the social equivalent of politicians wrapping themselves in the flag. Rare is the conservative who rants about such marriages without pushing the straw man of liberals allegedly favoring irresponsible promiscuity and single motherhood. Feminists have been pushing back for decades against that libelous charge.

    True, and most everyone does express support for that.  The devil is in the details though.  A person might say that they support such things, and might indeed believe very sincerely in those things.  But one has to examine the actual efforts they go through in regards to that issue.  For example, do they support stable families, but at the same time undermine efforts to see birth control widely adopted, support strong oversight for domestic savings and loan banks, and seek to ensure that living wages are widely paid?  

    What I seem to run into often is where the nuclear family is held up more as an ideal to aspire to and make gestures in support of it as an abstract concept, compared to seeing it less as some high idea and more as something to pragmatically strengthen without any particular valuation of it.  You will find a lot of anti-gay supporters in the former category, and a lot of labor supporters in the later category.

  • Magic_Cracker

    There’s that (it was the 80s), but I don’t think there were ever more than 3 or 4 adults out on the playground at any given time, and as I recall, they were focused mostly on policing the kids playing basketball, dodgeball, football, etc. to make sure the games weren’t getting too rough.

  • Carstonio

    I’m not sure why you keep insisting that all possible definitions of conservatism must necessarily oppose same-sex marriage.

    No, it’s possible that they exist and I’m not aware of them. And I’m not talking solely about opposition to SSM itself, but opposition to changing the laws for it, a preservation of the status quo.

    Belief in the value of stable families is more universal than either conservatism or liberalism, and I imagine that very few non-conservatives would disagree with your reasoning.

    Liberals generally don’t deem single parenthood as a good thing in and of itself. Instead, they object to the very long practice of shaming single mothers as either “slutty” or selfish. Of all the reasons for single parenthood, too many conservatives focus on the instances where the woman chooses this from the outset. That selective focus doesn’t make sense unless the basis is a belief in gender roles. Similarly, feminism is about social and legal equality of the genders, yet feminists have been constantly attacked by conservatives as allegedly hostile to marriage, family and motherhood.

  • SisterCoyote

    I’m sure I’ll look back up at the comments and see this has been hashed and wtfed at already, but… uh.

    http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/christianpiatt/files/2013/01/AlcoholicsAnonymous-300×234.jpg

    Really? Fucking seriously? Not, like, a sign on the door that says “Please smoke outside and get rid of the cigarette butts, thanks,” but a basic “You People aren’t welcome here anymore, your habits make our church look/smell dirty, and we’re uncomfortable with that.

    Isn’t there a bit Fred usually posts around Christmas that deals with someone’s experience with an AA meeting that’s rather harder than this?

    God. Christians. What the hell. Christians. Ow.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    No, it’s possible that they exist and I’m not aware of them. And I’m not talking solely about opposition to SSM itself, but opposition to changing the laws for it, a preservation of the status quo.

    The specific example I could cite here would be one of my roommates.  He was a lifelong conservative, and considered himself a Republican up until the last few years (he has since distanced himself from the political party considering the crap it has gotten up to lately.)  

    As part of his background, he grew up in a military family, the son of a doctor (his father in fact served as the crew doctor on Air Force One for a period.)  So from a very pro-military family, raised by a stay-at-home-mother who was always there to support her husband and children (the military is kind of bad at supporting households where both partners have careers due to a variety of practical concerns,) raised in an environment where there was never any big concern about lack of money and his own intelligence made college and work in the software industry come easy to him and reward him well.  

    You can see where that kind of upbringing would give him a lot of conservative values.  He was raised in an environment where his kind of privilege seemed a given for everyone, so he assumed that if you did not have the same kind of success as him you were just not trying hard enough, and a single income should be enough to support an entire family.  However, he is also an atheist, from a family of atheists, and as much as he likes the nuclear family ideal, he has little common ground with the religious conservatives about family structure.  Of course he supports gay marriage.  Heck, his direct boss only recently got married (because Washington state only recently legalized gay marriage) and my roommate could not be happier for him.  

    Incidentally, his views on family structure in general have softened in the last several years since his marriage.  Having a spouse who is an intelligent polyamourous liberal feminist can have that effect on some people.  

  • Loquat

    No, it’s possible that they exist and I’m not aware of them. And I’m not talking solely about opposition to SSM itself, but opposition to changing the laws for it, a preservation of the status quo.

    Well then, allow me to expand your horizons:

    The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage, published in Newsweek in 2010 and written by Ted Olson, who served as Solicitor General under George W. Bush and later joined a lawsuit trying to overturn Prop. 8. It was kind of a big deal at the time. Key quote:

    …same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance.

    The conservative case for gay marriage: GOP is not the party of intolerance, an editorial published in the New York Daily News during the lead-up to the state legislature’s vote (which did indeed result in legalization) in 2011. Key quote:

    In New York State, it is Republicans rather than Democrats who have freedom built into our political DNA.
    [short list of historic New York Republican abolitionists and suffragists]
    Same-sex marriage is consistent with the party’s legacy of individual freedom and limited government. It is a profoundly conservative virtue. Conservatives are right to value marriage as the world’s most powerful social institution. The marital bond provides a nongovernmental social safety net, whereby individuals care for one another and anchor civil society in self-sufficiency.

    And, because everything’s better in threes, a recent essay from Commentary magazine’s website, GOP Can’t Be the Party of Old White Men, which attributes Mitt Romney’s loss in part to Republican opposition to gay marriage. Key quote:

    Marriage and churches are among the “mediating institutions” that conservatism most warmly affirms, because they stand between the individual and the encroachments of the state. To defend them is to defend freedom. (Calling the GOP the party of married churchgoers is just another way of calling it the party of freedom). [...] And if the GOP really is the party of marriage, shouldn’t it be in favor of extending the goods of marriage to as many as possible? If marriage is everything we conservatives say it is, why should we want to deny its moral benefits to gays? The point is to stand for marriage, for an institution that promotes human freedom, and not to barricade ourselves behind the status quo ante. That’s how the party of freedom becomes the party of reaction.

    You can declare the universality of support for stable families (and freedom, for that matter) all you want; that’s not going to change the fact that loads of conservatives believe that supporting stable families (and freedom) is one of the pillars of conservatism.

  • banancat

     Um, I don’t agree that monogamy and long-term marriages are a social good or are automatically better than non-monogamy and single parenthood.  I guess I’m not part of “everyone”?

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you distinguish between consensual polyamory and cheating and you consider the latter bad, you have no objection to monoamory, and you think a kid’s best off when the people raising zir are the same people (however many of them there are) for as much as possible of zir childhood, then I think you are part of ‘everyone’.

  • banancat

     Carstonio said:

    everyone sorta kinda agrees that monogamous long-term marriages are a social good.

    I don’t agree with that.

  • arcseconds

     I’m sure that what you say will be true of some people, but I doubt many people go through anything like this.

    Maybe I’m overly cynical, but I don’t get the impression that most people carefully weigh up their commitments and consider what following through on them will mean for the future of society, with an option of jettisoning a commitment if they see it as putting other commitments in peril.

    They just want society to magically be transformed into a whitewashed, rosy-tinted vision of life in the 1950s.  Or they’re thoroughly spooked at the prospect of mandatory gay sex for everyone.  Or they’re patting themselves on the back at how values-centered they are, and hoping everyone (especially God) is noticing.

    (Not that I think progressives are necessarily all that fantastic at critical thinking, either, on average, but at least the idealized vision of society is one where I’d usually be happier living)

  • Carstonio

    As much as I appreciate Olson’s work on behalf of equality, he doesn’t drop the other shoe where marriage is concerned. Not about conservatism specifically but about the institution’s history. Until very recent decades, marriage was about male headship, about treating women’s wombs as property. When anyone of any political persuasion talks about marriage as the building block of society, this implies that single people are being selfish. And in practice, that has been said over and over about single women, and it’s not right to single them out that way.

    The missing component from Commentary’s point about individual freedom is that social norms can encroach on it even more than government. Neither society nor government should be in the business of telling individuals how to live their private lives. The writers you quoted seem to presume to know what’s best for people, and that’s the ugly spin they put on the social benefits of marriage. Too many of the SSM opponents take the same paternalistic attitude arguing that homosexuality is bad for participants. That’s a big reason for my confusion about conservatives who support SSM – both they and their colleagues seem to be arguing from paternalism.

  • Loquat

    Well then, it’s a good thing I’m not asking you to adopt conservative arguments in favor of same-sex marriage as your own, isn’t it? What I’m asking you to do is acknowledge that they bloody well exist, and that conservatives aren’t just a giant blob of homophobia and hatred of change. Seeing as how, you know, your very first post in this thread was

    I’m not sure how same-sex marriage is compatible with any of the definitions of conservatism that I’ve heard.

    It’s kind of hilarious watching you move the goalposts to try and prove all conservatives are evil misogynist bastards, though. All I have to do is scroll up to see you posting things like:

    saying that one supports stable families is like saying one like cute puppies – it’s too safe and convenient and doesn’t reveal anything useful about one’s mindset.

    in principle, everyone sorta kinda agrees that monogamous long-term marriages are a social good.

    Belief in the value of stable families is more universal than either conservatism or liberalism

    And now you say marriage is tainted by its history as an institution, anyone who talks up monogamous long-term marriage as a social good is bashing single people by implication, and social norms that encourage the formation of stable families are unacceptably paternalistic!

    And what the hell is [Olson] doesn’t drop the other shoe where marriage is concerned supposed to mean, anyway?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    and given how the roads up here are icy for half the year (which means brakes should be used with caution),

    Surely you don’t have deer and icy roads at the same time, though? Aren’t deers hidden in quiet during the winter (to conserve calories), instead of out and running around?

    As for sudden braking: even without ice, that’s dangerous. The ADAC (biggest motorists club) recently had an article that a lot of the crashes on country roads by younger drivers were not (only) because they had been to the disco, drunk a lot and driven home; but also because the roads are badly maintained (no shoulder, no white border stripes) and the young drivers inexperienced, so a sudden twitch from shock turns into a swerve and they don’t know how to get the car back under control. The ADAC offers (against a fee) courses for drivers where people train several days just sliding on different surfaces – wet, simulated ice, simulated snow, sudden swerves, emergency braking – and advocates for the drivers permit license (people get a permit at 17 and drive for one year with an experienced driver on the passenger seat).

    Do you have the possibility of such additional training (even when it costs a fee)?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    But I don’t understand flattening anything on purpose. It boggles me.

    Going out of your way to kill cane toads is common, and approved, in Queensland. The things are vermin killing the native creatures, so they get so sympathy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It kinds does sound like you want a conservatice to say to you straight “the philosophical core of conservativism is about being a bigoted idiot and generally nasty person, just as the philosophical core of liberalism is about being an enlightened, intelligent, fine individual.”

  • Carstonio

    That comment wasn’t aimed necessarily at conservatives but at anyone who disagrees with gender egalitarianism, which something I don’t see as synonymous with liberalism. I’m saying I know of only two core reasons why anyone would deem gender hierarchy as right or moral – selfishness or authoritarianism. Ideas about “the natural order of things” fall into the latter category. There may be other reasons that don’t stem from those core reasons, but I wouldn’t know what they would be.

  • Carstonio

    It’s kind of hilarious watching you move the goalposts to try and prove all conservatives are evil misogynist bastards, though.

    No, I’m saying that all the core philosophical definitions I’ve heard of conservatism involve either authoritarianism or opposition to change, or both. The quotes you offered about marriage involve some degree of authoritarianism.Anyone who argues that there shouldn’t be a social norm that excludes homosexuality is implicitly arguing against authoritarianism.

    And now you say marriage is tainted by its history as an institution

    No, it’s marriage advocacy that is tainted by its history of sexism. The social norms I’m criticizing aren’t the formation of stable families, but the bashing of women who don’t go along with those norms. That’s what I meant by “the other shoe.” For most of the last century, politicians and commentators of various political stripes who have talked about the importance of stable families have generally (but not always) put an anti-feminist spin on it. The implied or overt idea that there would be more stable families if women dropped their careers and accepted a husband’s natural authority.  So when anyone starts talking about that importance, it’s reasonable to anticipate that spin if he or she doesn’t explicitly say that marriage should be a partnership between equals.

  • christopher_y

    I’m not sure how same-sex marriage is compatible with any of the definitions of conservatism that I’ve heard.

    There is a well established definition of conservatism which was articulated by the Duke of Cambridge (the grandson of George III, not the present whippersnapper) thus:  “There is a time for everything, and the time for change is when you can no longer help it.”

    I like to think that increasing numbers of same-sex marriage opponents are realising that they can no longer help it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Anyone who argues that there shouldn’t be a social norm that excludes homosexuality is implicitly arguing against authoritarianism.

    That’s an unsupported leap of logic. Plenty of gay or gay-friendly people are OK with forms of authoritarianism that benefit (or at least don’t hurt) them.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Here in Montana the (seriously suicidal) deer are most definitely running around on icy roads. I have close calls several times a week. I once had one run from behind my right rear fender to cross in front of me.

  • Carstonio

    Plenty of gay or gay-friendly people are OK with forms of authoritarianism that benefit (or at least don’t hurt) them.

    No disagreement there. The argument itself is still anti-authoritarian.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    The argument itself is still anti-authoritarian.

    Let me echo that back to you and make sure I understood. You agree that there exist gay folks who support authoritarianism but oppose social norms that exclude homosexuality. Your claim is that those people are arguing against authoritarianism whether they mean to be or not, and whether they know it or not.

    Yes?

    So, just to pick an absurdly extreme example, suppose I say (in the US) “It’s wrong that society excludes homosexuals. What it ought to do is exclude heterosexuals. Of course, because heterosexuals are the majority and will always vote for their heterosexual interests, in order to achieve this we can’t rely on majority rule. I therefore support appointing a government overseer whose mandate is to eliminate the existing heteronormative social structures and replace them with analogous homonormative structures, and who is empowered to unilaterally revise any instruments of government in order to do so… revise the Constitution, pass and repeal laws, override Presidential vetoes, etc.”

    Are you saying that this is implicitly an anti-authoritarian position?
    Or merely that nobody can coherently articulate a position like this?

  • Carstonio

    Opposition to social norms that exclude a sexual orientation is anti-authoritarian, because this implies that society should be indifferent to an individual’s orientation. In the absurd example you posted, all that changes is the type of orientation being excluded from the norm. Your point would apply if the person explicitly says that some sexual orientations should be excluded by social norms and other orientations should be included.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Ah! So when you say “there shouldn’t be a social norm that excludes
    homosexuality” in the original comment, you mean something more like
    “there shouldn’t be a social norm that excludes some sexual orientations
    but not others”?

    OK, that I can understand: if I oppose social norms paying attention to orientation at all, I implicitly presume a constraint on the legitimate scope of social authority, which is at least arguably an anti-authoritarian position.

  • Carstonio

    implicitly presume a constraint on the legitimate scope of social
    authority, which is at least arguably an anti-authoritarian position.

    That’s part of it. An authoritarian position on social norms is that these have inherent merit, or that they should be observed for their own sake.

    My own position on social norms, which I more or less categorize as anti-authoritarian, is that these should be questioned. Not blindly rejected but not blindly accepted either. The question to ask is how a particular social norm benefits not just society but the individuals in it. I detect no such benefit from the social norm that proscribed homosexuality. Defenses of such proscribing tend to be authoritarian, sometimes with rules that are alleged to have been dictated by deities, and sometimes treating “nature” or reproduction as a deity.

    I have relatives who point out that when they were growing up, dating someone from a different ethnic group was “something you just didn’t do.”

  • Lunch Meat

    I feel like you’re assuming a clear line between “authoritarian” and “anti-authoritarian,” and assuming all conservatives are completely authoritarian. A lot of conservatives–especially those who aren’t in leadership–are just more authoritarian than not. One can believe that social norms have inherent merit and are there for a reason, and still believe that if they come under question and can’t be defended, they should be abandoned.

  • Carstonio

     Valid point. I would say that a given argument in favor of an ethical concept can be authoritarian or anti-authoritarian, or even non-authoritarian. Where people are concerned, yes, it’s  a matter of degree. A person could have an authoritarian mindset but still hold some positions that aren’t driven by that mindset.

    One can believe that social norms have inherent merit and are there for a reason

    That in itself is not authoritarian, unless one simply assumes that the reason exists and that it’s valid. There many be some social norms that grew out of some perceived need far back in human history, and changing circumstanced rendered these unnecessary yet they persisted. Reading about some societies in modern India, I suspect that their patriarchal norms generally grew from attempts by men centuries ago to preserve their power – it doesn’t benefit women when all the options available to them involve being dominated by men.

  • Loquat

    Let me see if I understand your arguments here… You believe that most everyone supports stable families, and agrees that monogamous long-term marriages are a social good, but that anyone who actually says society should encourage these good things is by default anti-feminist and bashing single women, unless they explicitly say otherwise? (Sort of like how people who argued against the Iraq war back in the day often felt compelled to preface their arguments with “Saddam is a totally evil tyrant” so they wouldn’t be accused of coddling tyranny?)

    And if conservatism must always be authoritarian and/or opposed to all change, why does that New York Daily News article I linked earlier proudly list historic New York Republicans who worked for the abolition of slavery and for women’s suffrage? Those were both massive social changes, and by your definition both were anti-authoritarian. Might it be that all that conservative talk about “freedom” is something more than empty rhetoric?

    Face it – you just can’t stand the idea that a conservative might support the right side of a social justice issue, so you’re grasping at straws to convince yourself that they technically don’t, and they’re doing it for the wrong reasons anyway.

  • Tricksterson

    Obviously the lasers are to defend themselves from the vultures.

  • Tricksterson

    Such an effort
    He if he only knew of my plan
    In just seven days
    I can make you  maaan

  • Tricksterson

    In contrast I remember being on my way to a Ren Faire when the driver, the manager of said Faire, saw a turtle on the road, stopped, picked it up and put it in a nearby pond.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suspect that it isn’t simply “People like to hurt turtles.” It’s more like a kind of Turtle Madness, where a person in  a car who sees a turtle is suddenly and inexplicably overcome with a desperate need to know whether or not a turtle’s shell will protect it from being run over by a car.

  • Tricksterson

    Never had a deadly deer encounter but when I LARPed the camp where we did it was in a rural area and we had some close encounter with wild turkeys, pheasants and, in one case a cow on the lam.

  • Carstonio

     

    You believe that most everyone supports stable families, and agrees that
    monogamous long-term marriages are a social good

    Yes.

    but that anyone who
    actually says society should encourage these good things is by default
    anti-feminist and bashing single women, unless they explicitly say
    otherwise?

    Not at all. I’m saying that after many, many experiences of demagogues using the first as the basis for the second, it’s reasonable for one’s antennae to go up whenever the subject is mentioned. The same is true with the issue of public assistance, because of the decades of Southern Strategy euphemisms.

    We don’t live in a just world, and instability where families are concerned has far more to do with lack of economic opportunities. Marriage is partly an emotional investment in the future, and I suspect that many couples don’t see the point of such an investment when they have little to invest economically.  Simply holding up marriage as some sort of ideal is not only ridiculous inadequate, it wrongly implies that selfishness is the chief motive for remaining single. That has the same lack of pragmatism as abstinence-only sex education. The best way for society to encourage marriage is to increase economic opportunities.

  • Rugosa

     And I’m thinking, “Don’t park under the buzzard tree with anyone else but me, anyone else but me . . . “

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Bucks in northern Michigan in the late ’90s decided to war against cars, as far as I can tell. I can’t blame them, but of course they weren’t very smart about it.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    And I’m thinking, “Don’t park under the buzzard tree with anyone else but me, anyone else but me . . . “

    OMG I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-King/514746942 Iain King

    “Whatever the sticklers say, data isn’t a plural noun like ‘pebbles.’ It’s a mass noun like ‘dust.’”

    So is Lego, but good luck getting that through to people.


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