7 things @ 9 o’clock (11.26)

1. Today is the feast day of hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748). The man died 265 years ago and millions of people are still singing his songs. He wrote “Joy to the World,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and this one — which was also Gandhi’s favorite Christian hymn:

2. Erin Matson took her almost-5-month-old daughter with her for a lobby day in support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. That bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace. Without that legal protection, they may be forced to choose between keeping their pregnancy and keeping their paycheck — without which they may be unable to keep their pregnancy.

Gobble tov.

I’ve noted before that this bill is supported by the National Women’s Law Center and by just about every feminist or pro-choice group you’ve ever heard of. Oddly it is not supported by any of the “pro-life” groups. Or perhaps not so oddly. It’s tricky trying to interpret a silence, but theirs is a conspicuously loud silence on this issue. It’s a kind of silent scream, you might say. And what it says about the real priorities of those groups is not pretty.

3.‘Cause it’s weird … and wonderful.” That’s Pastor Phil Wyman explaining why he loves his adopted hometown of Salem, Mass. Benjamin Corey of Formerly Fundie has a long interview with Wyman that’s a fascinating read. I don’t know anything about Wyman or his church, but it seems like if any of us showed up there — evangelical, Pagan, atheist, liberal, right-wing, whatever — he’d cheerfully offer us a cup of cocoa on a cold day. I suspect his theology is, in many ways, very different from my own (“We do dream interpretation,” he says, nonchalantly), but I bet the cocoa is pretty good.

4. Thanks, Alex. I’ll take Religious Tribalism for $400.

“20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan. ‘It was like a spiritual ghost town,’ the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.”

What is preening subcultural myopia?

“You’ve won $400!”

5. Speaking of Jeopardy! champions … the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has scored a hit, a palpable hit, against payday lenders. Sleazy Cash America will be paying $19 million in penalties — that’s a $5 million fine, and $14 million in refunds to the people they ripped off. (I’m really, really liking the CFPB, but it needs a better name or nickname.)

6. Julian Borger on “How Iran nuclear deal was clinched to Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire‘”:

When the negotiations inevitably spilled into the weekend, the Intercontinental was double-booked. On one wing of the first floor were the committee rooms set aside for the talks, but the rest was hired out for parties.

On the Saturday night a charity ball was held, the organisers of which decorated the hallway with a full-size hot-air balloon gondola, and hired a country-folk band who became more raucous as the evening wore on. As midnight passed and it was genuinely unclear whether the high-level political capital being spent would pay off or collapse under its own weight, the focus of the diplomats poring over heavy-water reactor designs was constantly assaulted by the strains of “Loch Lomond” and “Ring of Fire.”

7. Regarding the agreement itself, here are some good summaries and evaluations:

Fred Kaplan: “The agreement makes it impossible for the Iranians to make any further progress toward making a nuclear weapon in the next six months — and, if the talks break down after that, and the Iranians decide at that point to start building a nuclear arsenal, it will take them much longer to do so.”

Juan Cole: “The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled.”

Gershom Gorenberg: “The Syria agreement was the warm-up act for the interim accord with Iran. … No one can yet be sure that the interim deal will lead to a full agreement to keep Iran from getting a bomb. But the immediate steps promise an improvement in Israeli security.”

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  • AnonaMiss

    I think other goals like “not having the federal government all up in all of my business” are also important.

    This is a false dichotomy. Not having the government all up in your (or anyone’s) business is a necessary part of reducing suffering in the long term. Power, corruption, and all that.

    In fact, your whole argument depends on this sort of false dichotomy. The long-term alleviation of suffering requires not only spending on food and medical aid, but also investment in education and infrastructure to grow the technologies necessary for the more widespread alleviation of suffering.

    The only concern which I would say might have a claim to equal importance with the alleviation of suffering even when in conflict with it is the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge. This is usually in harmony with the goal of alleviating suffering, but in the hypothetical case of a piece of knowledge which is harmful to humankind, I am not sure if it would be ethical to hide such knowledge away. But I come from an educationally privileged background, so it is quite possible that this is only an important concern in my own mind, and that the alleviation of suffering should take absolute precedence over even the dissemination of knowledge.

  • The premiums have to exceed 9% of your gross income before you can shop on the exchanges, if your employer provides coverage.

  • Nathaniel

    Cranberry sauce. Mint jelly. Stuffing. Pies of the apple, cherry and pumpkin variety. Sweet and baked potatoes.

  • Jenny Islander

    Or presuming that any excuse to fire a long-term employee and replace her with somebody they could pay starting wages was a good excuse.

  • VMink

    My mind has wandered from the straight and narrow
    My mind has wandered from the flock, you see
    My mind has wandered, the man just said so.
    The man just said so, I heard it on TV….

    Problematic song, but those lines leapt to mind when I read your post.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It fits.

  • *wavewave* Haaaaaaaaaai! long time no see. :)

  • ohiolibrarian

    Isn’t it our business to determine government’s “proper role”? You know, through democracy? So, if we elect people to enact regulations or ‘Obamacare’ then that is exactly the “proper role” of government. You treat this “proper role” question as if your libertarian principles are part of the Constitution (which actually does define the US government) when they are not. Government is the tool that the mass of people can use to counter other concentrations of power, like religious or military organizations or business cartels.

    If you actually cared about ‘liberty’ for individuals, you might employ the ‘principle’ that entities that constrain and control individuals are to be opposed whether or not they are governments. By overly shrinking and weakening government, you weaken everyone who doesn’t already have extensive resources, i.e. most people. By throwing your weight behind existing interests, you defend the status quo. It’s no wonder that libertarians have lined up with conservatives.

  • If it wasn’t so hackneyed by now I bet aunursa would haul out that hoary old chestnut about the taxpayers voting themselves money from the government coffers and sending civilization on the Hell Express as a result.

    … and found it:

    “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” – attributed to Benjamin Franklin and/or de Tocqueville.

    Well, “the people” sure found out they could vote themselves money: they’re called all the corporate contributors to the Republican Party.

  • ohiolibrarian

    A lot of humanity’s problems predate western civilization.

  • The irony is, it’s usually the really hardcore antisocial folks who end up embodying the rugged individualism ideal the Repubs always hold up as some kind of Holy Grail. These fellas though, live in unelectrified shacks in the middle of Ass End, Nowhere, and live basically a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    Everybody else, even the survivalist wannabes who hit up the coffee shop in town, is “plugged in” to the tax system even indirectly, since the shop pays corporate tax on the profits from selling those yahoos a coffee.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Color me shocked.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    *waves back*
    Hi. I’m almost never here any more but Papa Francisco preaching up a storm needed sharing.

  • …sure…& a lot of problems predate humanity. & what I am saying is that the set of things I was commenting on is a subset of that. Like, entropy! Entropy is a big problem too! Just outside the scope of my original comment.

  • That’s rather ironic considering how folks like that love to deride Communist leaders and people in Communist countries for being “people who want to be told what to think and do by someone else”.

    Why is it that I consistently find that among right-wing people in particular it’s a habit of theirs to unconsciously mirror the things they say they don’t like in their erstwhile opponents?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I question if it’s subconscious projection, or if it’s another case of their “It’s okay when we do it” attitude. Some Rightwingers honestly buy into “Have the right attitude and no matter what, you win” or “Intent is magic” theories.

  • David S.

    The funny frustrating thing is in 1975, Fred Brooks published The Mythical Man-Month, a volume familiar by reputation at least to every programmer, that points out that adding more people doesn’t work in programming. We’re not talking true but little known; we’re talking one of the fundamental books in the field.

  • P J Evans

    ‘Adding manpower to a late software project only makes it later’.
    (Brooks did an updating chapter for the 20th anniversary edition. Yes, it’s still in print.)

  • Because almost everything in the conservative mindset can be explained by some form of resentment or projection.

  • alfgifu

    Err, I am. At least, it’s part of my job description.* As near as I can tell, being a ‘thought leader’ means coming up with new ideas and promoting new ways of thinking in a specialist area. And then talking about it a lot on the internet.

    * I wish I was joking about this.

    **My patch is assurance by professional accountants.

  • AnonaMiss

    Also mashed potatoes and gravy! And rolls with butter.

    Green bean casserole is another one though people tend to find the ‘traditional’ recipe meh. My mom’s calls for artichokes, walnuts and red bell peppers. Sooo good.

  • R Vogel

    I don’t think I’ll call them pro-lifers anymore
    Totally agree. I refuse the sterilized label too. They are anti-abortionists. They don’t care about life, they care about preventing abortion. What happens to that life once it is born or what happens to the life that gives it birth is irrelevant to them.