7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.16)

1. A 34-year court employee helps a defendant secure a DNA test that proves him innocent of the crime for which he was about to be sent to prison. The judge who had previously denied the DNA test called the employee into his office. Guess what for? Was it: A. To thank her for preventing him from negligently committing a grievous miscarriage of justice; or B. To fire her for “insubordination.”

If you guessed “A,” then you’ve mistaken this judge for a decent, intelligent man who really believes in the justice system and/or justice at all. If you guessed “B,” you’re right.

The judge’s name is David Byrn. David Byrn made a serious mistake. Then he retaliated against the woman who corrected his mistake. David Byrn is not fit to be a judge. “Your honor?” Not even close.

2. Daniel Nuckols wants you to know that he has the most extreme Maddonna/whore complex you’ve ever seen. And he’s proud of this. Crippling neuroses really shouldn’t be confused with piety.

3. “It’s nice to think that Republican voters might notice that their party’s policies are causing pain in their own communities, but that strikes us as a tad optimistic. After all, when a Republican voter gets food stamps, it’s a temporary necessity that is only fair because they’ve paid their taxes. It’s always those other people that are lazy moochers.”

4. Speaking of  moochers. …

5. “It is a recent development — Jones dates the ‘tipping point’ to 2011 — and it has helped marginalize gay-marriage opponents by discrediting their most powerful claim: that they speak for the religious community.”

Hallelujah. The pretenders to the moral high ground have become so accustomed to others accepting that pretense that they’ve long since bothered offering any attempt at moral justification for why they should be viewed as the authoritative Voice of Morality. The emperors have no clothes. The emperors aren’t even emperors.

It’s long past time we stopped uncritically accepting the presumption that they speak for God. Their lack of morals — yes, denying the equality of others is immoral — really undermines their claim to moral authority.

6. Grandmere Mimi, one of my favorite Louisiana bloggers, recommends Tim Murphy’s fascinating, frightening account of the ongoing disaster in Bayou Corne, “Meet the Town That’s Being Swallowed by a Sinkhole.” It is, she says, “one of the best of the accounts I’ve read of the events that led up to the sinkhole collapse, its increase in size, and the consequences that followed for the people who live or once lived in the area.”

Here’s a taste:

What happened in Bayou Corne, as near as anyone can tell, is that one of the salt caverns Texas Brine hollowed out — a mine dubbed Oxy3 — collapsed. The sinkhole initially spanned about an acre. Today it covers more than 24 acres and is an estimated 750 feet deep. It subsists on a diet of swamp life and cypress trees, which it occasionally swallows whole. It celebrated its first birthday recently, and like most one-year-olds, it is both growing and prone to uncontrollable burps, in which a noxious brew of crude oil and rotten debris bubbles to the surface. But the biggest danger is invisible; the collapse unlocked tens of millions of cubic feet of explosive gases, which have seeped into the aquifer and wafted up to the community. The town blames the regulators. The regulators blame Texas Brine. Texas Brine blames some other company, or maybe the regulators, or maybe just God.

7. Vorjack compares the very similar philosophies of John Piper and Professor Pangloss. Pangloss, a fictional character in Candide, was Voltaire’s devastating satire of Leibnizian optimism, which Voltaire summed up as “everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

Well, it should have been a devastating satire, anyway, but obviously this philosophy survived Voltaire’s attack and remains quite popular, particularly among Calvinists like Piper, who seem unaware that this idea was definitively turned into a punchline more than 250 years ago.


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