7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.1)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.1) July 1, 2013

1. Funny or Die offers a sneak preview of the first new film from Rick Santorum’s EchoLight Studios. (Not really, but it is a good joke, well-executed.)

2. Joe Hanson shares a wise comment from J.B.S. Haldane: “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

I think of Haldane as the “inordinately fond of beetles” guy. I’ve noted before that I think that comment — “If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation, it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles” — is an excellent piece of theologizing. Same goes for the quote above about the surpassing strangeness of the universe.

The other place I’d encountered Haldane was in C.S. Lewis posthumously published essay, “A Reply to Professor Haldane,” which included Lewis’ condemnation of theocracy (see here). That “reply” was a response to a couple of barbed pieces by Haldane in response to Lewis’ worries about what he called “scientism.” They seem to have been talking past one another a bit in that exchange.

3.I’ll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.”

4. Gary Bauer — the diminutive founder of the Family Research Council who later came up short in his bid for president — says that those of us advocating for marriage equality are not actually advocating for marriage equality. We’re just using that as an excuse to imprison anti-gay Christians like Gary Bauer. In a Washington Times column, Bauer writes:

The ultimate goal of homosexual-rights activists is not to legalize same-sex marriage. Rather, it is to silence those who disagree with them and, if necessary, to throw them in jail. … How did we get to the point where homosexual-rights activists would be clamoring to redefine society’s oldest and most reliable institution and people of faith would be worried about being fined or jailed for teaching their faith?

To answer Bauer’s question, if any “people of faith” actually are “worried about being fined or jailed,” my guess is that this fear comes from columnists like Gary Bauer repeatedly telling them that this is something they should be frightened of.

It also comes from these people of (very timid) faith somehow being the only people in America who have never heard of the Rev. Fred Phelps and his notorious Westboro Baptist Church. If they know who Phelps is, then they know that what Bauer is saying is not true. If no one is trying to put Fred Phelps in jail, then it’s ridiculous for cowardly Christians to fear they’re facing prosecution or persecution just because they believe in some less-confrontational and less aggressively abrasive form of “God hates [The Other]” theology.

5. Delaware has a new law protecting manufactured-home owners. As you may have read, the trap for manufactured- or “mobile-” home owners is that they own their house, but not the land it sits on. Most manufactured-home owners pay rent for the lot beneath their not-so-mobile home, and since trying to relocate the home can cost thousands of dollars, there’s no market-based check against landlords imposing predatory increases in rent. Delaware’s new law doesn’t impose rent control, but says that any proposed lot rent increase of more than the CPI has to be justified to and approved by a state commission. It’s not as ideal as helping residents to buy the land under their homes in order to form a resident-owned community, but it’s an enormous improvement over the former status quo, in which these folks had no protections from markets or from government.

6. A reminder: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in May. A second reminder: “Pro-lifers” still seem mostly silent and/or hostile toward this bill. That suggests something.

7. Two examples of what the Internet is for: The Skunk River National Park Twitter feed (via Grist) and the Amazon customer reviews for the Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe (the Sen. Wendy Davis model). Well done, folks.


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  • I didn’t mean to imply that there was anything wrong with seeing the pretty and fantasizing so long as fantasy was strictly separated from reality. Just that I can’t do it. And I can and do have fantasies about all sorts of places and times that were actually pretty terrible (that’s often part of the, er, charm). The antebellum South just — I can’t with it. Maybe it’s because I see too many people defending it on a regular basis.

  • The fact that she even feels she can use the N word at all?

    That’s a problem and I’m amazed anyone is trying to defend her, even after it proves that she has other equally reprehensible viewpoints.

  • The only charm I see is in the architecture, really, and even that has some detractors, as in the person who noted that it was usually built using cheap knock-off materials to simulate the actual marble or limestone used in buildings in the North.


  • Alix

    1. You’re acting like personal memoirs are less valuable than other sources. In many ways, to a historian, they’re the most valuable sources, because they frequently provide details on daily life, culture, and psychology omitted from more official writings.

    2. You can’t insist on a large sample size. This isn’t science; it’s history. Most of the stuff I study, for example, we don’t even have one single complete document for, just fragments or oblique references in other texts.

    3. History requires both synthesis and extrapolation. You have to look at all sorts of information – not just documentary evidence, but things like DNA or archaeology, where applicable – and you have to not just combine that into one picture, but try to fill in the many, many gaps.

    4. Documents are biased – and not just the memoirs. At least with memoirs, personal journals, etc., the bias is clear. Every. Single. Piece. of written evidence, from a historian’s point of view, is as unreliable as any witness on a stand – human memory is fallible, and human records even moreso. We alter every story we tell, every report we give, without even knowing it – and this doesn’t even touch the many things slanted deliberately.

    Shorter me: history is not science, stop treating it like it is.

  • Alix

    Oh, that’s an interesting site. Thanks for the link!

  • Alix

    Dude, now you’re getting ridiculous. Given how rarely you provide that level of citation, you don’t have much right to demand it of others. You’ve been given some places to start, if you’re actually interested – ball’s in your court, now. Giving you a couple books to look at is plenty sufficient for a comments-section thread.

  • When I read about Plantation tours I get the sudden fervent desire to shower all the ick off of me, because they take such a hagiographic and patronizing viewpoint about the realities of the lives of slaves. I wish I had the website of that one tour which was all like “spend an authentic night in a slave shack” or some such rot.

  • As much as I see how the phrasing could have come about I don’t think it’s really nice to use such unflattering monikers based solely on physical appearance.

  • Also it’s an open secret based on the fact that so many slaves ended up picking up the surnames of their owners either on manumission or after the Civil War.

  • You remind me of that guy who claimed female on male violence was far more prevalent than the other way around and based most of it on one link to like 200 journal articles for which 50% of the data set is based on one article that surveyed a lot of people.

    (The remainder had much smaller samples and considerable fluctuations from set to set as to the prevalence rate)

  • You know, it’s like some people think the CSA movie should’ve been real.

  • The pictures got taken down from the original blogspot site, which is unfortunate, but even just the ones reproduced on the Jezebel site seem… unfortunately structured.

  • How do you even eat that? It looks like it would end up being impossible to hold well. :O

  • My god, there is such a thing as overkill when it comes to burgers. (O_O)

  • Arresi

    Out of curiosity, do you know where those pictures are from?

  • Tommy Lee Jones – just google Tommy Lee Jones implied facepalm. (Apparently it’s from No Country for Old Men)

    The second picture is Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak from Arrow. :)

  • reynard61

    Not demented, just stupid and in over his head. If it hadn’t been for his privileged childhood, he’d probably be flipping burgers or swilling beer in front of a TV in a dilapidated trailer depending on welfare and “Food Stamps” to get him through the month.

  • Arresi

    Well, if you don’t mind a personal opinion, I think the main difference is that there’s no double-meaning to calling Limbaugh fat or Palin a woman. Fred called Bauer a diminutive, literally something that makes the thing it’s attached to – in this case the FRC – trivial and small, and pointed out that he came up short (of votes) in his run, in a post that was basically about how Bauer’s views on homosexuality are making his supporters looks petty, trivial, and out of touch.

  • Carstonio

    I might have assumed that the list was a parody, but then, I might have thought the same of fried Twinkies.

  • Arresi

    Ah, thanks. Completely missed that you’d put the actors’ names there the first time. (Not that TLJ’s name helps much in figuring out where a screencap comes from. He’s only played a few dozen grizzled law enforcement/military officers.)

  • Beroli

    It is abundantly obvious that, because you’ve decided that you don’t want to believe rape was epidemic in the antebellum South, “anything you’ve gotten” is a small sample size.

    Hint: Your will to be stupid is your problem and no one else’s.

  • Carstonio

    Why the legalistic focus on “generally”? That’s something I would expect from a person trying to defend the reputation of specific slaveowning ancestors. Keeping humans in bondage is possible only through brutality, and the bondage itself is a form of brutality. So debating over whether most slaveowners committed specific acts of mistreatment is pointless.

  • Beroli

    Jesus, you realize what sources are for, right?

    Giving to every random idiot who demands them on the Internet?

    Wait, no, that’s not it.

  • AnonaMiss

    I always thought the value-neutral-ness is the point with short people jokes – c.f. Randy Newman’s Short People, where it’s used as a reducto ad absurdum for prejudice based on physical appearance. Half the point of a short joke is the inherent absurdity of poking fun at someone’s height.

    I do agree we could use some more value-neutral traits to rib people about. I’d suggest hair color, but the joke that gingers have no souls spun out of control a little fast among chavs.

  • Amaryllis

    And yet, when in these pages Rush Limbaugh was referred to as a “big fat liar,” there was an outcry. Even though he IS a lying liar, and even though the adjectives could be read– probably were intended to be read– as referring to the size of the lies rather than the size of the liar, most of Fred’s readers considered the phrase inappropriate because it reads like a weight insult, and body size should be treated as a value-neutral trait.

    Like Nicole, I raised my eyebrows over the “diminutive.” (I was just to my shame too lazy to say anything last night.)

    Yes, you could read it as a clever reference, “something that makes the thing it’s attached to – in this case the FRC – trivial and small,” but I didn’t read it that way. I read it as “He’s short [and there’s something a little ridiculous about short men].”

    He’s a petty and trivial person because of his views,; his vies aren’t trivial because of his height.

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s undisputed that slaveowners owned other people, had no moral problem owning other people, would face no legal repercussions for abusing them sexually or otherwise, and did regularly physically abuse their slaves.

    Consider the competing claims: that in this situation, slaveowners did regularly take sexual advantage of their slaves, or did not take sexual advantage of their slaves.

    You’re really more skeptical of the claim that rape was widespread, than that it wasn’t?

    PS Frederick Dougalss, Sally Hemmings (keeping in mind that in a master/slave relationship meaningful consent is impossible)

  • Amaryllis

    Never heard of him.

    So either Sister Mary Frances or my own memory has let me down.

    As for Daniel Carroll, the Fitszimons Wikipedia page is just wrong. Charles signed the Declaration, Daniel signed the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution ( at least, according to his own page, but that sounds right).

  • Button Gwinnett is just about the only signer I can name. Because how awesome a name is “Button Gwinnett”?

  • WTF?

  • You completely misunderstood my intentions. I’m not bragging, simply denying any commentator’s attempts, real or potential, to belittle my High School education to try to understand my requests for sources. I was certainly not trying to get people to brag about themselves. Remember, the AnonSam comment I was replying to was a response to a response to me.

  • I don’t deny that rape of slaves occurred in the antebellum South. I am, however, strongly skeptical of Liira’s statement that

    A rich white married slaveowning woman was almost certain to be be
    married to a man who was a rapist, have children who were rapists, and
    have a father who was a rapist, and know all of this but have to pretend
    she didn’t.

    -Emphasis added.

  • Actually, it is it.

  • Besides, I’m only one sample.

  • Carstonio

    Why is that phrase in bold such a big deal to you? Sure, among the wealthiest of slaveowners there were probably a few who didn’t rape their slaves. That doesn’t matter, because we’re still talking about people who had no scruples about owning fellow humans for personal gain.

    Rape of female slaves was not just about abusing power, it was also about accumulating more wealth by siring more slaves. It would have been rare for a wealthy slaveowner to resist both temptations.

  • Beroli

    Don’t sell yourself short. You’re more than stupid enough for 150 people.

  • Lori

    I never went anywhere like that. The ones I went on were much more honest about slavery and at least one still had the slave cabins as part of the tour*. Naturally there’s a limit to how much they say since they don’t want to upset the tourists, but there was no “happy darkies singing in the fields” crap. I never even heard of anyone offering to have tourists spend a night in a slave shack, and I don’t know what “authentic” would even be. Having the tourists go to bed hungry and sleep on the ground? I don’t see people paying for that.

    *Very, very few former plantations still have any slave cabins standing. Some were torn down, but a lot just fell down. They were very poorly built & didn’t last long once there was no regular fixing being done to them. In that sense the absence of the structures tells it’s own tale and at least one of the tours I went on pointed that out.

  • And you did make an extraordinary claim-

    A rich white married slaveowning woman was almost certain to be be
    married to a man who was a rapist, have children who were rapists, and
    have a father who was a rapist, and know all of this but have to pretend
    she didn’t.

    -Therefore, you have to back it up with extraordinary evidence.

  • It depends on the meaning of “widespread”. Liira claimed “A rich white married slaveowning woman was almost certain to be be married to a man who was a rapist, have children who were rapists, and have a father who was a rapist, and know all of this but have to pretend she didn’t.”. Emphasis added.

  • I’m not stupid.

  • Beroli


  • What would count as sources?

  • Aren’t you forgetting the famous Tale of the Slave, Ross?

  • AnonaMiss

    If the frequency is what you wanted to know about then you communicated it extremely ineffectively. “Can you give some references for your claims?” and then going on about your Skepticism (sic) makes out like you don’t believe sexual assault of slaves was a common occurrence. “Do we know how widespread it was for sure? ‘Almost certain’ sounds a little high.” would have been a much clearer and friendlier way of asking for the same information/voicing the same objection.

    Sometimes I get the feeling you intentionally word your disagreements as vaguely as possible. The kind part of me thinks it’s because you’re on the autism spectrum and in denial of it; the unkind part of me thinks it’s because you get off on the self-righteous feeling of Being Falsely Accused.

  • In the case of what Fred has written, that may be accurate. He used the word as an adjective, which doesn’t necessarily imply judgment. However, it’s also irrelevant, making one have to wonder why he–or anyone using such descriptors–would bother pointing it out unless it were intended to be significant.

    In the case of making references to Limbaugh’s weight or Palin’s sex, those aren’t typically used as descriptors, they’re used as means of attack. “Stuff another donut in that gob, you disgusting fat slob!” “What Palin really needs is to shut her mouth or put it to a proper use. *Eyebrow waggle*”

    Those aren’t descriptors. Fat-shaming and misogyny don’t belong anywhere, including directed toward people we don’t like.

  • Yeah, there are two very exclusive competing claims here, three people all identified as Roman Catholic and supposedly either only one or two (but not overlapping with the first) were Catholic. This is the first epic fail I’ve seen from Wikipedia in a long time.

  • Your first paragraph is true. Thank you for helping me realize how I was ineffective in communicating my request. I certainly don’t intentionally word my disagreements as vaguely as possible. I just don’t realize when I do. I also don’t get off on the self-righteous feeling of Being Falsely Accused-in fact, I find unproductive conversations very annoying.

  • Bullshit.

  • Why do you say my words are bullshit? I am telling the truth. Do you just say my words are bullshit because you do not like admitting you were wrong about my intentions?

  • Well now, “rape was widespread” is a very different and weaker claim than “A rich white married slaveowning woman was almost certain to be be
    married to a man who was a rapist, have children who were rapists, and
    have a father who was a rapist,” which is what was actually said. I haven’t seen EH actually dispute that rape was widespread, just that it was nigh-universal.

    (I wouldn’t say anything, but this isn’t the only time recently that there’s been discussions here where the “good” side makes claims that assume “widespread” means “universal” or “half the time” means “almost always” or “lots of people” means “most people”)

  • I think if it was just that, it wouldn’t be so widespread. I think that in among the people who think slavery is forgivable is a much large group who through naievety or willfull ignorance think you can separate out the slavery and still have something left worth celebrating in antebellum plantation culture.

    I mean, heck, Joss Whedon did “The Civil War in Space with the Space-Confederates as the noble lost-cause good guys (only none of that icky slavery stuff)”