Sunday salmagundi

Ari Kohen directs us to this post on Chiune Sugihara, who served as the Japanese Consul to Lithuania during World War II. Sugihara served as the Japanese Consul to Lithuania during World War II. Today there is a synagogue in Massachusetts named in his honor.

This is another story I did not know. This is a story everyone ought to know.

• My wife has never watched a complete episode of Star Trek. And yet she’s a huge fan of George Takei. Here’s part of why.

• This is bass-ackwards. With unemployment above 7 percent, we shouldn’t be cutting Saturday mail delivery, we should be adding Sunday mail delivery. Quitting your job to save on the cost of commuting is not a smart way to fix your finances.

The U.S. Postal Service, by the way, is still really good at what they do.

• What do Mary Lou Retton, Barry Manilow, Bob Barker, The Temptations and the Mennonite Central Committee have in common?

Lenny Kravitz is cooler than you think, even after you take into account that Lenny Kravitz is cooler than you think. (And the kid who plays guitar for the Voice of Praise choir from the First Baptist Church of Lewisville is pretty cool himself.)

• “How to Write a Worship Song (in 5 Minutes or Less)” Nicely done, Blimeycow. Nicely done.

• World Vision continues it’s mission of providing clothing for the poor while confusing much of the world about the history of American sports. (Eventually, some entrepreneurial kid in the developing world is going to set up an eBay account and test the waters to see how much she can get wealthy American sports fans to pay for a “2005 World Champion Houston Astros” T-shirt.)

• James McGrath asks why it is that “all conservative arguments lead to abortion“? I suspect part of the answer to his (mostly rhetorical) question is something Atrios often says:

I actually think some conservatives truly believe this kind of thing, that liberals are just anti-conservative. They don’t like people getting benefits, so we must love more people getting benefits. They don’t like regulations they don’t like, so they think we love all regulations. They claim to support small government, so we must like ever-expanding government. Etc.

• We should not laugh at ignorance. We cannot help but laugh at ignorance mixed with triumphal arrogance. Ignorance is innocent. It deserves compassion, engagement and a patient generosity. Arrogant triumphalism is not innocent. It requires confrontation, refutation and deflation.

So how to respond when these two things are mixed together? There’s the rub.

• It seems like every younger generation at some point has to remind the older generation of activists that young people can be committed activists too and not just a bunch of apathetic slackers free-riding on the accomplishments of their forbears. Carly Manes does this with more patience than I had when I was her age. I wound up coining a new word just as a way of flipping the bird to the old folks to remind them that the kids they dismissed as slackers were more active than they realized. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana notices the same thing, writing, “As a member of Generation X, who heard a lot of the same criticisms leveled at me and my generation that I am now hearing about the Millenials, it is reassuring indeed.”

She links to a Scientific American piece by Maria Konnikova that says one thing all generations have in common is a tendency to think the next generation of young people is different: “When I was your age …: Or, what is it with kids these days?

• Ken Houghton of the econoblog Angry Bear writes a personal note:

Baseball lost a piece of history yesterday, as my great-aunt Edith died, about a week shy of what would have been her 101st birthday.

Edith Houghton was a ball player, a WWII veteran, and the first female scout for a major league team. Quite a story, quite a life, quite a woman. Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis, the inspiration for Genna Davis’ character in A League of Their Own, also passed away this week. Sad week for baseball.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

… noted that law schools did a poor job at emphasizing that court decisions should be based on the letter of the law, and recalled that even school children who visited the Supreme Court had referred to the Constitution as a “living document.”

“It’s not a living document,” Scalia said. “It’s dead, dead, dead.”

It’s a funny coincidence: That was the exact same response many American evangelicals had to Steve Chalke’s essay on why the Bible demands that the church follow Jesus’ example of radical inclusivity and begin blessing same-sex marriages.

Evangelicals rejected Chalke’s careful exegesis and his hermeneutic argument, saying it’s the letter of the Bible, not the trajectory of its message, that matters. “It’s not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead.”

More stupid white people on Twitter. (Why isn’t there a White History Month edition.)

• Stay warm and stay inside, Chris, and everybody else northeast of here.

  • AnonymousSam

    White History Month this year falls between the dates of January 1 through January 31 and then from March 1 through December 31. I can forgive anyone who forgets such a tiny niche.

  • MikeJ

    Every day is children’s day. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    The thing that is most exasperating about these “White History” jackasses is that they ignore their own, well, “white history.” Most of them assume that because they are considered generically white today that their ancestors would have been considered racially white in times past. The reality, of course, is that 100 or more years ago, immigrants from most nations other than Great Britain were viewed as varying degrees of “mongrel.” The famous window sign stating “No Dogs or Irish Allowed” is well known. Less well known is the fact that the largest mass lynching in U.S. history was not of African-Americans but of Italian immigrants swept up by a mob in New Orleans after the local police chief was assassinated (allegedly by “a dago”). Frankly, while “White History Month” is patently offensive, I would not object in the slightest to an “Immigrant History Month” during which schools were encouraged to talk about the various ethnic waves of immigration during U.S. history, the sociological changes wrought by them, and how each wave in succession assimilated into our melting pot culture. It might help to alleviate the “Brown Terror” that too many white people in this country have about the present demographic shifts that are driving the Tea Partiers so crazy.

  • http://deborah.dreamwidth.org/ deborah

    The World Vision t-shirt dump is actually deeply problematic and needs to stop.  See “Haiti doesn’t need your old t-shirt” or hash tag #SWEDOW (stuff we don’t want).

  • Lori

     

    Frankly, while “White History Month” is patently offensive, I would not
    object in the slightest to an “Immigrant History Month” during which
    schools were encouraged to talk about the various ethnic waves of
    immigration during U.S. history, the sociological changes wrought by
    them, and how each wave in succession assimilated into our melting pot
    culture.  

    I have no idea how they’re handling it now, but when I was in school we covered this pretty extensively as part of generic American History. Clearly some folks weren’t paying attention though, so I guess highlighting the fact that much of the class would at one time or another not have been considered white would probably be a good idea.

    TTBOMK my genetic background is pretty dang white (mostly Swedish & Norwegian), but my (adoptive) dad’s family, and therefore my last name, hails from Eastern Europe. Let’s just say the my great grandparents & grandparents on that side were not welcomed with universally open arms upon their arrival on these fair shores. There are plenty of other people who have that same experience not that far back in their family tree and it would help if more of them remembered that.

  • Daughter

     About a year or so ago, I reread My Antonia while I was tutoring a kid who had to read it for English class. In that late 19th-early 20th century story, even Swedish and Norwegian immigrants are treated with suspicion.

  • spinetingler

    Hey kid overseas – I’ll pay good $$ for a Boston Celtics NBA Champs 2010 shirt. Call me.

  • Lori

    There were looked at with suspicion, but that was because they were “odd” though, not because they weren’t white. Right? Coming from the Midwest my history classes definitely made me aware that the Scandinavian settlers were often seen as strange, but I don’t recall ever hearing that they were considered to be not white, the way many other groups were.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh lord, that comment from the  Carly Manes link by carolineb?

    Basically throwing in a ton of irrelevant crap and then crowning it off with the sheer dickery of snidely telling her to be grateful she wasn’t aborted?

    What is wrong with some people?!

  • Lori

    I have never been able to understand that argument, and it’s been used on me more than once. When some people find out that I was given up for adoption pre-Roe v Wade and that I am adamantly pro-choice it’s like they just can’t stop themselves.

    Every one of them acts like it’s this huge “Gottcha!”, and almost all of them nearly swallow their tongues when I calmly reply that if my birth mother had aborted her pregnancy I wouldn’t have cared in the slightest because I would never have had the capacity to care in the slightest, what with never being born and all. Non-existence really freaks a lot of people out and they just can’t wrap their head around the idea that I don’t share their angst and therefore can look at the situation a bit more logically. 

  • vsm

    I thought y’all might appreciate this. Someone tried to start an “I need masculism because” meme on twitter, which backfired hilariously. Here’s some examples of quality trolling: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/i%20need%20masculism%20because

  • AnonymousSam

    Between the 1980s and today, subsidized rice exports from the United States to Haiti wiped out thousands of local farmers and helped reduce the proportion of locally produced rice consumed in the country from 47 to 15 percent.

    As if I needed more reason to despise Monsanto…

  • http://kohenari.tumblr.com Ari Kohen

    Incidentally, for those with an interest, here’s a reply I wrote to the hundreds and hundreds of comments I received on my blog post about those ridiculous “White History Month” tweets: http://kohenari.net/post/42287383511/white-history-month2

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    From Lord Dunsany’s The Gods of Pegana:

    And Mung said: “Were the forty million years before thy coming intolerable to thee?”
    And Mung said: “Not less tolerable to thee shall be the forty million years to come!”

    And from a later section:

    “Thy life is long, Eternity is short.
    “So short that, should thou die and Eternity should pass, and after the passing of Eternity thou shouldst live again, thou wouldst say: ‘I closed mine eyes but for an instant.’
    “There is an Eternity behind thee as well as one before. Hast thou bewailed the aeons that passed without thee, who are so much afraid of the aeons that shall pass?”

    My copy has a quote from David Hume in the notes, that “he was no more uneasy to think he should not be after this life, than that he had not been before he began to exist.

    I think it’s tied to the fear of death. Using time travel to retroactively prevent an enemy’s birth is usually presented as a more terrible thing than just killing the person.

  • stardreamer42

    I’ve used the same argument for the same reason. If my birth mother had had an abortion, I would never have known about it and therefore wouldn’t care! Oh, and BTW, how many unwanted children have they adopted? If the answer is zero, they can STFU until they put their money where their mouth is. Ditto if they vote or campaign against school taxes, day care for single mothers, or WIC benefits.

  • picklefactory

    Kate Beaton <3 Chiune Sugihara

  • Lori

    I think it’s interesting that the only comment you’ve gotten on that post is a link to something written by the Unibomber. I mean, I think I get the point the guy is trying to make but maybe the Unibomber wasn’t the way to go.

  • Baby_Raptor

    There’s a thread about this that’s been running on the Escapist for several days now. They’re thoroughly mocking it and anyone who believes it.

    I had a clean behavioral record, until I decided to say something in that thread. 

    I’m now sitting at a warning, and upon repealing that warning I was told that mocking people you disagree with is fine, because peoples’ feelings only get hurt when you start pointing insults directly at them. (Full disclosure: I called the guy who started the thread a shitbag and pointed out that people like him are one of the reasons feminism is needed.) I was also told that there would be no further discussion on the matter and if I was that upset about it, I was free to respond with a request to delete my account.

    So, in other words, the mod that saw my comment was likely laughing his butt off at the mocking as well. At least my Neo badge isn’t in danger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     I can top that, I think. My own response to “if your mother had been pro-choice, you wouldn’t be here” has always been “Yes I would. I’d have just been born to someone else. Everyone knows that the soul enters the body when you draw your first breath. Genesis says so.” Cue lots of spluttering about how Satan can twist scripture to his own ends.

  • Carstonio

    There were probably older Cro-Magnons shaking their heads at their youngers: “What is the world coming to? First it was fire, and now it’s cooking meat!” Hell, there could have been amoebae lamenting the advent of sexual reproduction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Sugihara-sensei was a heck of a guy.

  • LoneWolf343

     Mine is “You don’t know what the word ‘choice’ means, do you?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki
  • banancat

     I was born after Roe.  My mom had a choice and she chose to have me so it really wouldn’t change anything if that choice had been unavailable to her.  This is true of any person born after Roe.

  • reynard61

    “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

    … noted that law schools did a poor job at emphasizing that court decisions should be based on the letter of the law, and recalled that even school children who visited the Supreme Court had referred to the Constitution as a ‘living document.’

    “’It’s not a living document,’ Scalia said. ‘It’s dead, dead, dead.’
    It’s a funny coincidence: That was the exact same response many American evangelicals had to Steve Chalke’s essay on why the Bible demands that the church follow Jesus’ example of radical inclusivity and begin blessing same-sex marriages.

    “Evangelicals rejected Chalke’s careful exegesis and his hermeneutic argument, saying it’s the letter of the Bible, not the trajectory of its message, that matters. ‘It’s not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead.’”

    Actually, the Bible *is* a “dead” document in the sense that — at least according to convention and “conventional wisdom” — it can’t be added to or changed. The U.S. Constitution is a living document because it *can* be changed/amended according to the needs of those who are governed under it’s laws. (Scalia is one of those people who makes me firmly believe that “smart” doesn’t always equate to “intelligent”.)

  • Lunch Meat

    Actually, if life begins at conception, wouldn’t I be in heaven already if my mother had decided to have an abortion?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I always want to turn that “gotcha” around, ask “How would you feel, knowing that the only reason you’re alive is that your mother was legally forced against her will to carry you to term? How would you feel knowing that your very existence was the result of nine months of your mother being forced to suffer, legally compelled to carry you inside her, each moment wishing with all her strength that she could be rid of you, and each night, crying herself to sleep in fear and pain at the fact that her body wasn’t legally hers? ”

    Of course, I think I’d probably just get a blank “DOES NOT COMPUTE” response.

  • Jessica_R

    A link for the next “sometimes humanity isn’t completely terrible” round up… http://wonkette.com/500811/your-sunday-nice-time-everything-working-out-awesome-for-gay-ohio-cop

  • Amaryllis

     It’s a nice story.

    However, it would have been more pleasant to read if it had referred to the mayor who was harassing the guy in other terms than “witchy old lady.” There are plenty of ways to describe bigotry that don’t link it to age or gender– or, for that matter, witchcraft.

  • Mrs Grimble

     I hate that argument as well.  So much so that I’ve written an answer to it that I can simply copy and paste:

    “I wouldn’t be here if my mother had had an abortion.”
    In that case, you wouldn’t be here, period.  There would be no ‘you’ to complain about not being here.
    You also wouldn’t be here if:
    your father’s sperm hadn’t made it to your mother’s ovum;
    your mother had had a natural miscarriage;
    your parents had used contraception;
    your parents’ contraception hadn’t failed;
    your parents had made love on another day;
    your parents had never met;
    Your grandparents had never met….

    And so on.  We are all here today because of an infinite series of happenings and chances.  Singling out “I wouldn’t be here if I had been aborted” is a really, REALLY lame argument that nobody should use.

    Feel free to use it!

  • Cathy W

    To parents of middle school students: At some point, it’s inevitable that your middle school student will have to write a term paper on the Holocaust. If your middle school student has a sensitive personality, might I suggest Chiune Sugihara as a low-nightmare-potential topic? (says the mom of a girl who still occasionally has nightmares about Dr. Mengele, two years later….)

     There isn’t a whole lot of awesome to find in the Holocaust, but he, all by himself, is a substantial fraction of it.

  • Loquat

    To add to Deborah’s point about clothing dumping not actually being good news for the recipients:

    What happened to all of the Zambian clothing manufacturers? Mark O’Donnell, spokesperson for Zambian Manufacturers, explains that in 1991, when the country’s markets were opened to free trade, container load after container load of used clothing began to arrive in Zambia, undercutting the cost of the domestic manufacturers and putting them out of business. The skills, the infrastructure and the capital of an entire industry are now virtually extinct, with not a single clothing manufacturer left in the country today.

    T-Shirt Travels, a 2001 documentary – can also be seen free on Youtube.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Not sure the American citizen really counts a ‘civilian’, though. Wasn’t he a card-carrying member of Al-Qaeda? (or would’ve been if they, you know, issued membership cards)

  • phranckeaufile

    I’ve never had to use it, but if I do, my reply (similar to yours, just more specific) will be:

    “My birth mother was 16 years old when I was born. Should I therefore be in favor of teen pregnancy? She was unmarried. Would you have me promote out-of-wedlock sex? A nearly infinite number of contingencies led to my existence. Must I be in favor of all of them?”

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Stay warm and stay inside, Chris, and everybody else northeast of here.

    Thanks for the concern. (And the link.)

    I stayed inside for most of the blizzard, and even waited for the wind to die down before I went out.  Probably waited too long actually.  Notice how my next post on the topic was posted at quarter of four AM?

    Shoveling took till near midnight, as for why it took me three and three quarters hours to get the post about it up… I honestly have no idea.

    And today it rained.

    -

    My evil aunt (oddly not the same person as my fundamentalist aunt) was apparently terrified of the idea that she might never have been born.  The thought that it was possible that in some hypothetical past she wouldn’t have been born apparently kept her up at nights.

    Her younger sister, my mother, never understood in the least why that should be disconcerting at all.  Obviously she had been born, so what’s the problem?

    As far as I know my evil aunt doesn’t make any anti-abortion arguments because she’s not religious.  She’s an atheist and painfully so.  She’s also French, by marriage, and painfully so at that as well.  It’s like she took every negative stereotype about atheists, every negative stereotype about the French, combined them, threw in the less than flattering caricatures of both, and then modeled her personality on the result.

    Probably a good thing that, so far as I know, no anti-atheist crusaders have met her because they could point to her and say, “See, I told you so,” for almost any negative claim about atheists short of blood libel.  She does, for just one example, operate on the principle that anything you can get away with is completely acceptable and since she doesn’t believe there’s anyone infallibly keeping track she can get away with quite a lot.  (Though not turning the family farm into the heroin trafficking capital of the city, the police might let person with French licence who pretends not to speak English of on traffic violations, but they drew the line at drug trafficking.  She still didn’t get punished, but she had to put a stop to it.)

    Anyway, the point is that some people, even non-religious people (even people who are walking caricatures of what the most ignorant and hateful religious people believe atheists to be), are really deeply troubled by the idea that had things gone differently they wouldn’t exist.

    For my own part, I was a wanted child that took multiple tries to get (as was my older sister) but I’m also the product of an abusive relationship.  Does that mean I’m supposed to support abusive relationships now?

    What happened happened and if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be here.  That doesn’t change what is right and wrong.  That doesn’t change how we should act going forward.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    She does, for just one example, operate on the principle that anything
    you can get away with is completely acceptable and since she doesn’t
    believe there’s anyone infallibly keeping track she can get away with
    quite a lot.

    Sounds like she read Ayn Rand when nobody was looking (O.o)

  • vsm

    That article says nothing about assassinating him, just using the drone to find him. Not that Obama’s use of drones hasn’t resulted in lots of dead civilians.

  • arcseconds

    I think the first person on record to make this argument is Lucretius, in his De Rerum Natura, Book III:

    Now look back: all the time that ever existed
    before we were born, was nothing at all to us.
    It is a mirror which nature holds up for us
    to show us what it will be like after our death.
    Is it very horrible? Is there anything sad in
    it?
    Is it any different from sleep? It is more untroubled.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I think The Escapist uses a random number generator to supply moderation.  Their system seems to be designed to get posters who actually know what they’re talking about banned and keep the zero-content trolls.


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