7 things @ 6 o’clock (7.29)

1. “A woman who discovered huge errors in her Equifax credit report and couldn’t get them fixed was awarded a total of $18.6 million in damages. She contacted Equifax eight times about the errors between 2009 and 2011, but they remained on her report.”

That big number will, as usual, likely be whittled way down on appeal — particularly the $18.4 million of it that the jury awarded as punitive damages. But this is still a positive sign of push-back against the unelected, usually unaccountable overlords of the credit reporting agencies, whose vast and growing influence on our lives is relentlessly awful.

2. Steve Wiggins reminisces about an obscure tribal debate among white evangelicals of a certain age: What about the Violent Femmes? My short answer: Frontman Gordon Gano is, like Alice Cooper, an American Baptist PK (pastor’s kid), who has described himself in the past as a “devout Baptist.” But if you’re looking for “Christian themes in rock music” from Gano, check out the delicious self-titled album from Mercy Seat — his gospel-punk side project with Zena Von Heppinstall. Check out “I’ve Got a Feeling” or “Let the Church Roll On.”

3. Steve Benen has a smart piece about the blue-state/red-state patchwork taking shape as the 2014 arrival of Obamacare approaches. In places like New York, California and Maryland, residents will be very pleased to find better coverage and lower premiums. But in places like Indiana and Ohio, where Republican governors have been working hard to make sure residents won’t be pleased with the law, it’s benefits won’t be nearly as obvious or as beneficial. That’s been the goal of GOP attempts to obstruct Obamacare at every turn — to prevent residents from enjoying the benefits it can provide.

Benen asks the key question: “What happens in those red states when residents start looking across borders and they wonder to themselves, ‘Why aren’t my benefits as great as theirs?’” (The answer, I think, is that they’ll start telling lies about New York and California just as they have, for years, about Canada. Expect to hear scary stories and urban legends about death panels, waiting lists and the “undeserving” — i.e., non-white — somehow stealing health coverage that rightly belongs only to real ‘murkans.)

4. Once again, here is a quote I love, attributed to St. Augustine: “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” (Trigger warning for that link to Sarah Moon’s “When Anger Saved My Life,” which is hopeful, beautiful, angry and courageous, but also frankly  discusses and describes abusive violence and sexual violence.)

5.Operation Cross Country.” The FBI held a news conference this morning, “in which they announced that 105 children have been rescued from a child sex-trafficking scheme that spanned 76 U.S. cities and has landed over 150 people in cuffs.”

6.Willie Reed (Louis) died last week at the age of 76.” I did not recognize his name and I did not know his story, although I knew about the larger story in which he played a courageous role. He was, as Paul Campos describes him, “An American Hero.”

7. No vengeance in Jubilee. At Internet Monk, Mike Bell discusses Jesus’ first public sermon — his “mission statement,” taken from the book of Isaiah:

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.

To fully catch what’s going on there, Bell notes, you have to look at the passage Jesus is quoting, from Isaiah 61. He stops reading mid-sentence. Isaiah says, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.” Jesus got to that bit about vengeance, “And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.” Hmmm.

  • sievetronix

    And here I thought he was talking about Nick Cave….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahr4KFl79WI

  • MikeJ

    Regarding the Violent Femmes, you know that Juliana Hatfield tune, My Sister? In it she talks about going to her “first all ages show, it was the Violent Femmes, and the Del Fuegos”. I also saw the Femmes with the Del Fuegos, but friends in bands had already been getting me into clubs for a few years at that point. I even got high with the Del Fuegos at that show

    Anyway, Juliana’s b-day was this weekend. Same as mine. :) Sadly, I couldn’t find a video of Get Off Your Knees to post. Get off your knees and repeat after me, The devil rocks my soul….

  • Carstonio

    Fred usually talks about anger in righteous terms, as if anger wasn’t about arrogant entitlement, as if it wasn’t inextricably linked with aggression and violence. Anger is two drivers in gridlocked traffic yelling curses at each other. Anger is someone throwing a device across a room because it’s not working right. Anger is an intoxicated person leaning over people and delivering enraged, unfocused rants in their faces. Anger is the father I once saw in a park, cruelly berating his preschool-age son in hateful words and tones.

  • dpolicar

    Those are certainly some things anger can be, yes.

    When you suggest that anger is “inextricably linked with aggression and violence,” I understand you to be saying that one cannot be angry without becoming violent, without hurting people, without making the world worse.

    Have I understood you correctly?

  • Carstonio

    I mean that an angry person has the potential to become violent if provoked any further. It’s like heating water on a stove, with violence being the water at full boil. That’s why someone who is angry should be either avoided or handled gingerly.

  • Lori

    Everyone has the potential to become violent if you push the right buttons. Not everyone who commits an act of violence gets angry first.

    I know that in your mind angry is linked to violence, but this is one of those things where the world really doesn’t conform to your expectations.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    Anger can be a fuel, and enact change, and anger directed correctly is a force to be reckoned with… but it’s way, way, way too easy to decide that because some anger is good, all anger is good, and then you get caught in this trap where you’re too busy yelling at the universe to do anything about it, and it’s roaring out at people who in no way, shape, or form deserve it or should be having to deal with it…

    I think maybe anger is like comedy, a bit? Fred also talks often about how good comedy always punches up – from powerless to powerful, and not the other way around. Not all anger directed at the powerful is good, but consider the anger of someone who recognizes the injustice of the fact that black males are incarcerated more than white males, to an utterly horrific degree. That can go places – it can change things.

    Versus the anger of significant parts of the entitled right-wing towards what they imagine to be a “welfare state.” Hell, just take that – those who are angry at the “welfare state” and therefore the poor, versus those who are angry at the corporate “welfare state,” and get angry, instead, at the laws and system that have allowed this state of affairs to come about.

    Anger’s like all emotions, IMO. It can be a good thing, as long as you don’t let it consume you and start eclipsing everything else.

  • dpolicar

    Do you mean necessarily?

    Do you mean differentially? (That is, do you mean that people who behave angrily have the potential to become violent if provoked, and people who don’t behave angrily don’t?)

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Re #3: For the second straight year I got a letter from my insurance company letting me know that I’ll be getting a small rebate (last year it was $33). Because only 84.3% of the $2.2 billion they collected in premiums were spent on health care, my provider must return over $15 million to its plan-holders. Thanks again, Obamacare!

  • Baby_Raptor

    Alright! Update two on the Fundie Questionnaire from the beginning of the month. We just now got back to it because Dear Boyfriend has had some life stuff happening. We finished it last night.

    The first big issue to come up came from “Would you rather rent or buy?” as we are both fine with renting an apartment until we’re ready for kids to come into the picture, but there’s a lot of push-back against renting. A lot of people tend to describe it as throwing money down the drain. And yet the housing market is still iffy. So it ended up getting left up in the air for future debate, contingent on figuring out where he’s going to land permanent employment.

    Next was “Can you balance a check book?” I was taught how to in junior high, but would probably need some time and the necessary materials to remember how. He doesn’t remember if he ever learned or not. This may be a Bad Thing, I am unsure. In my current living situation, we just monitor the account’s standing balance and make decisions from there, and that’s worked fine thus far.

    “How would you respond if somebody were to tell you that you are angry?” and my response “I’m a grown woman; I am perfectly capable of identifying my own emotions” caused a fairly long discussion on how exactly to know when one truly is reading their own emotions wrong. We never reached a solid conclusion.

    “Are you willing to take a physical exam by a physician before marriage?” was kind of looked at askance. I feel like this is one of those things that there are logical sounding reasons for, but it’s still just weird and…unnecessary?

    And then we had a debate on whether or not clear is a colour.

    A *bunch* of the questions revolved around God in some way, which really isn’t something we can resolve right now as Dear Boyfriend is going through a massive doubting phase.

    We learned that apparently birthday parties are questionable, as “Are Birthday Parties O.K.?” was a question asked.

    We also learned that “Curse Free Units” exist. My guess is that this is a device that filters swear words out of TV shows.

    “Are you open to us making these decisions together?” was asked in several forms throughout, which I found odd because according to the comments, this was something that was designed for a man to give a woman. They ask questions casting aspersions on women having any sort of life outside them home, and then give her authority here? Confused.

    “How do you begin to train infants?” was just several levels of sickening to me. Overall, we did not in any way agree with the questionnaire’s child-rearing ideas.

    I learned during “Do you have a problem with nursing vs. bottle feeding our foals?” that some New York hospitals are having a big push to get mothers to breastfeed, at which point I made clear that we wouldn’t be having kids in NY (he lives there currently) because I have a massive fear of breastfeeding.

    And that’s the worst of it. Sorry for the big wall of text.

  • smrnda

    I’d argue that if some angry people actually became violent over the things that made them angry, as long as their actions were aimed at those really responsible for them, I’d say it’s okay. Would it be wrong for people to violently rebel against an unjust authority, or should they just sit around and meditate?

    The other thing is that many people are very good at being violent simply because they don’t get angry – they’re able to remain calm and calculating with far better judgment, which can make them more dangerous.

  • Albanaeon

    As a Taoist, I have to disagree. Anger is an emotion that everyone has, what you decide to do with it, however is personal. In and of itself, anger is natural and neutral expression in regards to events, but how you act on it can have a wide range of consequences, both positive and negative. Equating “anger” into only a few responses, most negative, ignores the reality and complexities that often crop up in human emotions.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And also has the unfortunate effect of conflating an angry person with an irrational and dangerous person, which makes the victim of injustice into the perceived aggressor. (See also: “I don’t care who started it.“)

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    This is a way awesome update, and thank you for posting it! It’s really interesting to take that questionaire of… so much Wat, and think about it in a reality-based context.

  • Carstonio

    I’m not sure that anger qualifies as an emotion. It seems to be more an expression of dissatisfaction with someone, and the person on the receiving end has to deal with the fact that zie doesn’t meet the angry person’s expectations. Whether those expectations are reasonable is largely irrelevant. Being on the receiving end of someone’s anger is arguably a punishment.

  • Evan

    About balancing your checkbook – I’ve heard people recommend not just looking over the balance but the transaction history, because they’ve sometimes actually seen mis-labeled transactions. I’ve never seen any with my account, but it still seems like a decent idea.

  • aunursa

    in places like Indiana and Ohio, where Republican governors have been working hard … to obstruct Obamacare at every turn

    They’re just following the lead from our chief executive. If a part of the law is politically inconvenient, you can just decide unilaterally to ignore that part (at least for the time being.)

  • Lee B.

    I’m not sure that anger qualifies as an emotion.

    what is this i dont even

  • Lori

    We also learned that “Curse Free Units” exist. My guess is that this is a device that filters swear words out of TV shows.

    Indeed it is:

    http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/1999/08/21214

  • Carstonio

    Not everyone who commits an act of violence gets angry first.

    Very true. Often people lash out violently from fear, but that’s from a desire for security and not a personal animosity.

  • Lori

    Oh yes, it’s definitely Obama leading the way on that one. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with rampent Republican obstructionism. If he insists that the lay be implemented as passed, in the timeframe originally agreed to he’s ramming it down wingnuts’ throats. If he defers implementation of some parts in order to get some fucking thing done he’s unilaterally blah, blah, blah.

    Seriously? On this issue Republicans really need to STFU now.

  • Vang

    On the telling you you’re angry part, I like both sides. Having someone tell me I’m angry is insulting. On the other hand, I agree that you’re not always a neutral party in telling whether or not you’re angry.

    To me personally, I don’t say “You’re angry”, unless the person is waving a knife at you. And even then, maybe not the best idea. :) It’s always been better when talking to someone I care about who’s upset to say that they *seem* angry. It’s much more open there.. you’re not accusing them as much, you can discuss what they’re doing seems angry, and it’s just more of a leading statement than a flat one, inviting them to explain rather than accusing. And there’s lots of things that seem like anger that are just frustration, and the other person can clarify rather than having to defend as much. Sure, it doesn’t always help, there are lots of people who’ll take that as exactly equivalent to “You’re angry”, but it’s at least a step.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    If anger isn’t an emotion, then neither is anything else. Happiness isn’t an emotion, it’s an expression of satisfaction with the current state of affairs. Sadness isn’t an emotion, it’s an expression of discontent. We just react as programmed to the stimuli, nothing more.

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

    You can also be hopping mad about things like credit reporting agencies and the unconscionable leverage they have over the lives of millions in the financial system.

  • Lori

    This is a reflection of your experiences and your perceptions. That’s obviously legitimate for you, but it is most definitely not the whole picture how how anger operates in the larger world. You have a very narrow, self-derived view of this issue. There’s a whole wide world beyond your experience that simply does not conform to your view. It’s like you’re looking at an ocean liner through a straw and insisting that what you see is all there is.

  • Lori

    And sometimes people commit acts of violence out of cold calculation. You have something I want, if I hurt you or threaten you, you’ll give it to me. Nothing personal, just business.

    Fear is not the only driver of bad things in the world Carstonio. I know it’s your go-to explanation for, but it’s not all there is.

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

    As for that jibber-jabber about the War Powers Act, I don’t recall Republicans being too unhappy with the way Dubya Bush justfied and costed his two $3 trillion wars.

    Or when Reagan decided to have a litlte army jaunt into Grenada to pick up a crappy little country and throw it against the wall just to show the US means business.

  • de_la_Nae

    Hey, Hoosier here (because Indianian is awkward). Thank your team for making our lives here even harder for us, ‘kay?

    Not that we don’t help do it to ourselves sometimes, but sheesh.

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

    1. “A woman who discovered huge errors in her Equifax credit report and couldn’t get them fixed was awarded a total of $18.6 million in damages. She contacted Equifax eight times about the errors between 2009 and 2011, but they remained on her report.”

    You know, I very very rarely wish for severe destruction of our technological infrastructure, mainly as I depend on it myself to communicate, but on this one occasion I would say that the depredations of the credit industry (Equifax and equivalents, as well as the way banks have helped create the Charlie Foxtrot that is the mortgage and foreclosure crisis) depend crucially on computers.

    And when I think about that?

    I would probably give up all this and acquiesce to the sudden drop in my standard of living if something like Revolution were to happen tomorrow.

    Because at that point, the entire industry above would be rendered virtually powerless and nonexistent. Credit scores mean nothing when the entire world has to run on cash and barter.

  • Carstonio

    Actually it’s more like intent not being magic. I could say that I love someone, but the person may not feel loved by me, perhaps if I treat the person in an unloving manner. Anger is the same way, where it’s ultimately about how others react to the person’s anger.

  • Lori

    So you’re saying people can’t have their own emotions, but are instead beholden to other’s people’s reactions for permission to feel things? You need to think that one through a lot more, through something other than your fear lens, because that’s a recipe for abuse.

  • aunursa

    No, the Republicans are not going to STFU on this issue. Today more Americans than ever support repeal. If the Democrats don’t like the pace of implementation, they shouldn’t have left it up to states. They can always change their minds and repeal it and support bipartisan reform.

  • Lori

    You break it and then blame Obama for it being broken. You lie to people and then use their responses to your lies as proof that your lies are true. You are so full of shit.

    Also, it’s funny how “more people than ever” (can you vague that up a little more?) supposedly supporting the GOP position on this issue means that the law needs to be repealed, but when public opinion goes against a GOP position all we hear is that the Republicans have the votes to get their way and everyone who disagrees can like it or lump it. Hypocritical assholes.

    And another thing, there is no such thing as “bipartisan reform” in the current climate. Because for the modern GOP bipartisan means “everyone does what Republicans want”.

  • Carstonio

    I tend to see greed as a type of fear, or really insecurity. Similar to the bully who victimizes others because he subconsciously sees this as the only way to prevent being victimized himself.

    If someone hurts me or gets angry at me, I have a responsibility to look at my own behavior first, because it’s possible that there was something about me or something I inadvertently did that provoked the person. The other person could still be operating out of cold calculation, as you described, but there could have been a way to exempt myself from the person’s calculations.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So the man who killed an elderly couple for $20 to go buy beer — he’s insecure and afraid?

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    There are not enough words in the world to adequately express my utter hatred of the credit score system. It is so completely wrong in such a massive way.

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

    He posted before he found the opinion poll.

  • Lori

    I tend to see greed as a type of fear, or really insecurity.

    This is because you see everything as a form of fear. This is your issue. I think it would be easier for you to understand some things about how other people operate in the world if you expanded your view beyond fear.

    If someone hurts me or gets angry at me, I have a responsibility to look at my own behavior first, because it’s possible that there was something about me or something I inadvertently did that provoked the person.

    It’s always good to examine oneself and to be willing to accept your fair share of responsibility. It’s possible to take that too far.

    The other person could still be operating out of cold
    calculation, as you described, but there could have been a way to exempt myself from the person’s calculations.

    This? Is too far. This is the root of victim blaming, and the magical thinking of abuse victims.

  • banancat

    I sort of do it in an unusual way. It’s 2013 so I rarely write checks at all anymore. I put whatever I can on my credit card so I can get the rebate and then pay of the balance each month. So I basically just have to check my bank account that one time to make sure there is enough in checking, rather than at each transaction. It’s basically three transactions that affect my checking account each month: rent, electricity, and then “everything else” dealt with in one lump all at the same time.

    I do check my credit card statement to make sure there are no errors, but I find this method much less stressful because I only have to worry about it once.

  • Nathaniel

    Even you actually defending a position, you still engage in distancing language to give you technical ability to deny any personal opinions on the subject.

    Is this behavior conscious, or is it just a reflex by now?

  • general_apathy

    If someone hurts me or gets angry at me, I have a responsibility to look at my own behavior first, because it’s possible that there was something about me or something I inadvertently did that provoked the person.

    This is rather unfortunate given the Emmett Till article Fred linked in the post. (“[...] tortured and murdered, for the crime of allegedly whistling at the wife of one of the men.”) Really it’s unfortunate in any circumstance. There is a big gulf between “getting angry” and “hurting someone”. Regardless of how they may feel, it’s their responsibility not to hurt.

  • stardreamer42

    Anger is a tool. Like any other tool, it can be used wisely or poorly. I dare you to read that link from Sarah Moon and deny that the ability to get angry saved her life. She’d have been a statistic by now. Instead, she’s happy and healthy… because of anger, appropriately directed.

    Telling the abused that they shouldn’t be angry because anger is “inextricably linked with aggression and violence” is clamping the chains onto their arms yourself.

  • stardreamer42

    FOALS???!!! WTFIDE. If they refer to human infants as animals, what other fucked-up assumptions are in there?

    Re balancing checkbooks, I still know how, but online banking has rendered this skill largely obsolete. The reason you had to balance your checkbook was to catch and correct errors in your addition and subtraction of amounts. Now you can monitor your balance and transactions on a daily basis if you like (for me, it’s more like biweekly) and the bank is far less likely to screw up an entry than you are doing it by hand.

  • AnonaMiss

    That would be BR’s brony filter automatically converting ‘children’ to ‘foals’.

    I did a double take too, FWIW.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah, that’s my fault. I wrote the comment out in a different space and left it waiting for today’s “7 Things at Time” post, and didn’t think about the RP filter having fun with my paragraphs. My apologies.

    I went back and fixed it now that it’s been caught.

  • Carstonio

    What Moon experienced doesn’t feel like anger to me, because it was about assertiveness and self-defense and not about judgmentality or dominance or punishment. The idea that abuse could be justified is horrid to me – in a truly just world, abusers would feel soul-crushing terror far worse than their victims feel.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    It seems like you are defining anger only as something that is purely aggressive. Moon was angry. She was angry because someone was abusing her. That is a good reason to be angry, because you are being hurt by another person. There is nothing wrong with her reaction of anger – and you are, perhaps unintentionally, undermining her message and her experience by denying that it was anger.

  • Marshall

    #3, “telling lies” … It’s happening already. This is a column by Nat Hentoff, a regular, in our local newspaper:

    … little attention has been paid to the president’s most threatening weapon for cutting health care costs: the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It still remains, causing the administration fury when it’s called a “death panel.”

    Well, it isn’t a lie lie; people do get upset. But let’s pretend Medicare lets your doctor do whatever is in your best interest, cost notwithstanding.

    (In their defense, the paper published “Reform drives GOP mad” in the same space. Balance, of a sort.)

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    …argh. It is infuriating to see that sort of balance, to be honest. It basically fails at the central job of “informing the public.” Readers who are inclined to see the plan as Teh Ebil Obamacare are going to read the one column, nod sagely at Even The Liberal Media admitting that Obamacare is a problem – readers who are not, are going to nod sagely at the column slashing the GOP.

    It’s like interviewing the defending and prosecuting attorneys of a case, and then, rather than publish one factual explanation of what the hell is going on, have one columnist write up The Grand Theft of the Century, and another write up The Crucifixion of an Innocent Man. That’s not information, it’s bloody pandering.

    And it is most definitely a lie. When your job is to tell the truth, telling the half of the truth that makes your side look good is a lie.

  • Marshall

    #7, EricW’s comment is worth reading. For one thing, it isn’t clear that Jesus selected this passage for himself.

    I believe by omitting the final verse he is disclaiming the role of Messiah as Conquerer. A new thought for me, maybe that’s why they wanted to throw him off the cliff … that is, I used to think it was for being uppity. But he was already a wonder-worker, maybe his homies had strong expectations for him and took violent exception when he insisted that no, this isn’t the season for vengeance. Fans always hate it when you change your gig.


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