7 things @ 11:30-ish (7.9)

7 things @ 11:30-ish (7.9) July 9, 2013

1.Doubt climate change? Here, have a cigarette …”

2. Addie Zierman offers some hopeful and helpful thoughts about “Jeans, Social Justice, and One Small Thing.” That post is a good discussion of the frustrations of trying to shop ethically on a limited budget and with limited time and information. Her approach — “Maybe next week, one more small change. Maybe the following week, another” — strikes me as wise and human and empowering, rather than guilt-inducing. (Guilt without alternatives tends to be paralyzing — fostering resentment more than resolution.)

We need an app for this.

“I wish there was a chart,” Zierman writes. “It would be so simple if there were charts that included wages and cost of living and safety ratings, and you could just pull it up on your phone …”

There used to be an app for that. Well, not an app, but a handbook, actually. It was called Shopping for a Better World, and it was updated annually throughout the 1990s. They stopped updating it in 2000 or so, and the website for the project hasn’t been active for years.

That handbook let you look up most products/companies found at the supermarket or the mall and learn about their wages, fair-hiring practices, employment and executive diversity, safety, environmental compliance, animal testing, military contracts, criminal fines, etc. It was a terrific resource and there really ought to be an app for that.

3. Addie Zierman’s post is also a good excuse for me to get in a plug for — and a question about — my favorite brand of jeans. Diamond Gusset jeans are made in America. They used to be called “Diamond Cut” jeans, and before the rebranding they always advertised as being union made in the USA. Since they’re not saying that any more, I don’t know if that’s still the case — anyone know? “Made in the USA” isn’t important to me for jingoistic, tribal-chauvinism-masquerading-as-patriotism reasons, but it does let me know that the company has to comply with U.S. laws regarding wages, safety, etc. Plus they’re really comfortable — thanks to the famous diamond-shaped “gusset,” which avoids the old problem of having a knob of seams and stitches all coming together underneath exactly the same place where your anatomy all comes together too.

4. Hooray for actuaries! Grist’s RL Miller explains “Why the insurance industry won’t save us from climate change.” Miller’s right that insurance companies won’t be able to single-handedly solve this problem, but don’t let the pessimistic tone of the post distract you from the important — and useful — fact underlying Miller’s argument: The insurance industry is unanimously and unambiguously convinced that climate change is a huge problem.

Insurers and reinsurers have too much skin in the game to mess around with the lies and legends and delusions of climate denialists. They can’t afford to play partisan games with the data because their whole business model depends on getting the facts right. Corrupt politicians like Sen. James Inhofe can make a profit by repeating whatever lies his corporate donors ask him to say about an alleged “global conspiracy” perpetrating the “hoax” of climate change, but Inhofe and all the others promoting this conspiracy theory cannot explain why the insurance industry would commit suicide by participating in it. They have no economic incentive to lie and they have every economic incentive to get the data right. People like Inhofe or your Fox-addled relatives may reflexively reject anything said by Al Gore or NASA or the Sierra Club, but they have no basis for rejecting or resisting what the insurance industry is saying.

5. Hooray for actuaries, again! Here’s another place where insurance companies are preferring data and facts to right-wing myths and lies: They’re saying that putting more guns into schools will make schools more dangerous. The NRA may think it’s a great idea to sell more guns to teachers and custodians, but the insurance companies who cover those schools think the increased risk that would introduce is incalculably higher. Steve Benen writes:

In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, far-right policymakers in a variety of states decided the appropriate response was bringing in more loaded firearms into schools, to be kept around children. This is precisely what the NRA recommended — schools will be safer, the group insisted, with armed school personnel — and policymakers acted accordingly.

But insurance companies don’t much care about political rhetoric, and have fiduciary responsibilities to consider. And wouldn’t you know it, the actuaries ran the numbers and decided insuring schools that may include gun-toting teachers is not a wise investment.

Remember, it’s not like EMC Insurance was lobbied to make this decision by the White House, Michael Bloomberg, or Gabrielle Giffords. Rather, the company made a straightforward business decision …

It’s a straightforward business decision “simply to protect the financial security of our company,” for an insurer to refuse to cover the risk of arming school zones. Just as it’s a straightforward business decision for those same insurers to urge, beg and plead with governments to do more to address the incalculable risks of climate change.

6. Speaking of “straightforward business decisions,” Charles Kuffner reminds us that “With Rick Perry, you always have to ask, ‘Who benefits?’” Why is the Texas governor incurring the wrath of hundreds of thousands of Texas women while telling “pants on fire” lies about their health care? Could it have anything to do with the fact that his sister’s company stands to profit handsomely from this new law?

7. Paul Louis Metzger on “White Theology, part I“:

A given theology might not address the issues of race. It may be the case that the theologian in question assumes that race has nothing to do with theology or that we live in a post-racialized society. To the contrary, theology had everything to do with America’s heinous, historic capitulation to racism and slavery. The Bible and theology were used as justifications for the promulgation and promotion of slavery. …

Yes. American “evangelical theology” is white theology. Its “Bible-based” approach relies on the peculiar clobber-text hermeneutic that arose in defense of America’s peculiar institution. That’s where it comes from. That’s what it’s for — what it was designed to do.

I’m looking forward to Metzger’s “part II.”


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  • This may actually be a natural sleep pattern. Some historical sources indicate that individuals frequently had a two-phase sleep pattern, often with a break of hours between. Some of us may owe our existence (or at least the existence of our ancestors) to a biphasic sleep pattern — our ancestors were likely too tired for sex right at bedtime and had to get up with the sun and get back to work, so a very common time for sex would be during the break between sleep phases.

  • Alix

    Oh, interesting!

  • themunck

    I don’t believe in wound infections. I cut my finger the other day, and it healed up just fine.

  • Mark Z.

    Once again, the world fails to support your theory that absolutely all bad behavior is rooted in some kind of privilege.

  • I wonder if a gusset would prevent the “being cut in half” feeling I get from most jeans.

  • Lori

    They have special paint to use on the walls of places smokers have
    lived. Because if you don’t use the special stuff the stink and stains
    come through the regular paint. The stink comes through paint. ‘Nuff said.

  • Alix

    One common thing you hear a lot from people convinced their house or another place is haunted is that they mysteriously smell tobacco smoke. What’s really going on is exactly what you say – and the smell can come through decades later.

  • Carstonio

    I wasn’t suggesting anything like that, at least for Perry. Given his religious views, a better word for what I expected from him was entitlement, like he believes his gender makes him a natural leader. His comments about Wendy Davis sound like mansplaining.

  • Jim Roberts

    Yes, but the techniques are the same. “Read this!” “Ignore this!” “Read this in this way only!”

  • Jen K

    Daughter of a smoker and asthmatic. People actually get surprised that I never tried smoking, never even wanted to try. “My dad smoked, I have asthma”.

  • Jen K

    Yes. Different people are sensitive in different ways! I get asthma attacks from woodsmoke and incense, same as cig or pot smoke.

  • True. Many arguments against SSM are rather similar to those once used against legalizing interracial marriage.

  • However, I simply could not sleep for the entirety of a night-long 12-hour flight to Moscow. That was painful. My body could not adjust to a proper sleep schedule until after I returned home after a week-and-a-half.

  • Jenny Islander

    My mother smoked herself to death. Some years before the cancer finally manifested, she helped me pack my clothes for college, to be mailed to me after I had settled in. They were packed clean. When I opened the boxes after a couple of weeks in a smoke-free dorm, the stench almost knocked me down. I had been carrying that odor around for my entire life!

  • Alix

    My response to that “but why don’t/didn’t you try it?” sort of thing is “because somehow, lighting a wad of plant matter on fire and sticking the burning bundle in my mouth**, when I know for an absolute fact it will give me at least the most severe kind of pain I have ever experienced* and probably make me sick to boot, just sounds like an all-round stupid idea.”

    *Not exaggerating in the least, which is why the “just go pop some Advil and stop bothering me” smokers annoy the crap out of me. Those headaches hurt more than broken bones and dental surgery. Edit: and I’ve yet to find a pain reliever that actually works on my cluster headaches, so. :/ But nooooo, I’m just exaggerating, trying to stick it to the poor oppressed smokers, who are just innocently trying to get their fix…. Grrr.

    **I’d love to know what went through the heads of the first people to try this. Sticking wads of burning anything in one’s mouth is … not exactly intuitive, if one possesses any shred of self-preservation.

  • Alix

    I seriously used to think I just couldn’t smell things, because people’d talk about, oh, the smell of flowers or something and they always seemed muted to me.

    I then move away from home and discover that hey, Santa Fe smells nice! And also, wow, I breathe through my mouth a lot. Breathing through my nose is so much nicer!

    And then I went home over break, walked into a literal low-hanging perpetual cloud of cigarette smoke, and realized – yeah, there’s a reason I subconsciously trained myself not to inhale through my nose. (Not that breathing in through my mouth helps my lungs any, but it cut down on the amount I had to smell the damn stuff…)

  • Alix

    Also, I am sorry about your mother. *Hugs*

  • Jim Roberts

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u4Z3n2Fnyc (Not sure how to imbed that)

    Watch to the end.

  • Alix

    Ouch. Longest trip I ever took was, with stopovers and all that, a trip to New Zealand that amounted to damn near 24 hours … and we arrived at 6 am local time, and had a full day ahead of us (it was a student trip, and clearly someone wasn’t thinking).

    I couldn’t sleep on the entire flight, or even in the airports. Or in the bus, or anywhere else. I was loopy as hell by the end of that first day in Auckland.

    Longest I’ve ever been awake was three days straight, because I was so caught up in a project I just kept downing sodas and never once checked the clock. Finally I did realize I was hungry, checked my clock, went “ah, I pulled an all-nighter, dammit,” and tootled on down to the kitchen, only to be met by the bemused stares of my family. It took me quite some time to realize I’d missed the passing of an entire day in all of this. (My brain, it likes to fuck with me.)

    …Fortunately, it’s never happened again, since I now set a timer reminding me to, oh, eat and sleep when working on stuff. XD

  • Alix

    The really funny thing about incident 2 is that I actually had my curtains open – one would think the changing light and darkness would’ve clued me in, but I am apparently capable of great feats of Not Noticing Stuff when I am in the zone.

  • I used to be like that until a number of internal organs decided they just weren’t going to put up with that anymore. Now I have to avoid it because the sickness brings on panic attacks, for reasons I absolutely cannot even begin to guess. I miss having so much time!

  • Alix

    Yowch. Panic attacks are especially unfun. :/

    I hate those all-nighters ’cause, however productive I am, I crash hard and am usually an irascible bitch the whole time, too. Really, really unfun, but for reasons unknown, sometimes my brain just won’t shut down and let me fucking sleep, already. Like I said, I have to set timers to eat and sleep, or just … not let myself actually get really into a project. And a “project,” in the right state, can be something as simple as catching up on reading. >.:( It needs to come equipped with an off switch.

  • I have that problem too, but I seem to have figured out a way to trick my brain into following a daydream into REM. By only indulging this daydream while in bed, brain seems to think it’s just entering an alternate dimension where I continue being awake and doing stuff.

    It’s a good thing that daydream is implausible, because if I lived it out, I’d probably become narcoleptic.

  • Alix

    Oh, interesting. I may have to try a version of that.

  • On the one hand, it makes cigarette butts less of a nuisance.

    On the other hand, the foul and toxic smoke from the cigarettes will continue to be a public nuisance.

  • Anton_Mates

    $23,500 to him personally up until that point, $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which has been a big Perry donor (and which he chaired twice.)

  • reynard61

    “People like Inhofe or your Fox-addled relatives may reflexively reject anything said by Al Gore or NASA or the Sierra Club, but they have no basis for rejecting or resisting what the insurance industry is saying.”

    Well, they may have no *rational* basis for rejecting/resisting it…other than that it’s also being said by Al Gore or NASA and the Sierra Club…

    It’s basically a combination of Tribal Identity and Conspiracy Theorism. You are either a member of The Tribe and agree with *EVERYTHING* that The Tribe believes, 100%; or you are The Other and part of the Kitten-burning Satanazi Conspiracy to do away with God, Guns, Mom and Apple Pie. They (the Tribalists) seem to have forgotten — or have decided to completely ignore — that the World, for all their wishing otherwise, is still a complicated place*.

    *TV Tropes time-hole. You have been warned.

  • reynard61

    Obviously not this charming little moment

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m aware smoking is bad for me. I have been since I started.

    I tend to be polite about it, as long as the person saying “Hey, please don’t do that” is also polite.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’ve never understood this line of thinking. It’s like saying “Breast cancer doesn’t exist; there are lots of women with chests that don’t get it.”

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Yes, that’s the one. Thanks for posting the link.

  • Even the female anatomy can be irritated by all those seams, especially if you’re inclined to go commando, as I usually do.
    Seriously, Fred, thinks for the heads up about the jeans. I definitely need to check them out.

  • I used to go commando, and they didn’t bother me much, but I’m weird. I just think their awesome as my partner’s in construction, and that’s what he’s always tearing out of his jeans.

  • danallison

    Amazing, the power of media suggestion. No one was EVER bothered by “second-hand smoke” prior to 1964. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butt_Out

  • Alix

    *shrug* I wasn’t born prior to ’64. I was born after, and I knew secondhand smoke bothered me long before I learned what it was called.

    Smoke-triggered cluster headaches will do that to you.

  • Alix

    :/ I hope that, even if someone rudely requests you take your smoke elsewhere, you still would. I … kind of hate the sense I sometimes get, that my health only matters if I ask politely enough.

    I mean, obviously you don’t have to be polite to rude people, but. :/

  • Alix

    I’ve seen the same attitude among avid tanners (tanning doesn’t cause skin cancer!) and some die-hard alcoholics (drinking doesn’t cause liver damage!). And I suspect the “come on, it’s perfectly safe” attitude from a lot of people I know who do dangerous things for fun is along the same lines. It’s flat-out denial of risk to make one feel better (safer, whatever) about something they like, and it’s a way to shut down critics.

  • I’m certain I read a 19th century children’s fiction book once (forgot the title; I read it over five years ago, maybe as much as ten) in which one of the side characters is forced to smoke outside by his wife. Either your comment is satire or it is the most bizarre and outrageous bit of denialism I’ve seen this week.

  • J_Enigma32

    I have a few tactics that I like to use on pro-forced birthers; I like them both, but I prefer B over A.

    Tactic A: Actuality outweighs Potentiality (aka, the Aristotle Argument)
    Aristotle took the position that actuality outweighed potentiality. We can both agree that a woman is an actual human being, and therefore, her wants and desires should be honored as she is awarded the position of “actual human” by the whole of society and our legal system, as well as numerous other traditions. However, we cannot agree, and there is no legal tradition or social tradition, for assuming that a fetus is a human being. We can both agree that it is a potential human being, but not that it is an actual human being. Ergo, since potentiality is outweighed by actuality – we would want the votes of actual citizens to count over potential citizens; we want actual doctors working on us, not potential ones; we would want actual mechanics, not potential ones; – we must give weight to the wants and needs of the mother (i.e., the actual human being) over the needs of the fetus (i.e., the potential human being). Ergo, until the fetus is considered an “actual human being”, it’s wants and needs are subservient, ethically speaking, to the wants and needs of the mother. Ergo, abortion should be legal, in theory, right up until birth as that’s when tradition dictates that the fetus becomes a human being.

    – You’ve got Aristotle on your side and you’ve stolen one of their Appeals to Authority, since Aristotle gets cited a lot in other topics as if he were an authority.
    – It’s an iron-clad syllogism, as long as you agree that “women are human.”

    – Fallacy: Appeal to Tradition. We’ve always done it that way, ergo, it makes sense to continue doing it that way without an explanation why (because there isn’t one I’ve found yet that doesn’t make the entire argument collapse faster than a hypernova).
    – Rebuttal: You can make the argument that we didn’t think slaves were humans either, but after fighting that, we got them to be considered human beings. This is a morally bankrupt syllogism, but it’s a perfectly logical one nevertheless.
    – Rebuttal: No, I don’t agree women are human beings (it shuts the door immediately, but it does a nice job of showing the real position of the “pro-life” movement).

    Tactic B: The Autonomous Organ/Zombie’s Right’s Argument
    We do not have a solid definition of life. I’m an amateur astrobiologist (the infamous “science in search of a subject”) and I’ve taken a more than a few classes on genetics, epigenetics, gene expression, and I’m familiar with biology in general. There is no clear definition of Life; it’s very much a ‘know it when we see it’ deal. We have a pretty clear idea what’s alive and what isn’t in most cases; for instance, cells are alive whereas viruses are not. Your sperm and your egg cells were both alive long before the child was conceived; by this definition, life cannot possibly start at conception since it existed before then, and will exist after that. If you’re going to award personhood to a collection of cells that is a “live” simply because they are from a “human”, at what point do you take that way? At what point is someone truly “dead”? Long after the brain stops functioning there’s still cellular activity; like life, death is a process. If you’re going to award personhood to a collection of cells that may be alive, based off of your definition of life (i.e., cellular activity), you also have to award those same rights to things that were formally humans (i.e, corpses), since there is still cellular activity even after the brain activity has stopped. What’s more, since you’re awarding personhood based on merely having cells from a human, what’s to stop you from awarding the personhood right to someone’s liver or heart?

    Reductio ad Absurdem: it highlights how stupid the “pro-life” position truly is by using their logic to demand rights for corpses.
    – Strong syllogism; it’s a fairly strong syllogism if you think about it long enough; their argument is that something is alive because it has human cells and therefor should be considered a human being. Ergo, anything with living human cells should be considered a human being, including corpses and organs. Furthermore, it doesn’t require them to agree on anything.

    – Modifying: You can modify this to deal with the claims that 46 chromosomes also make a human being, since all human cells except the gametes and cells that have undergone some kind of flaw have 46 chromosomes.

    – Fallacy: Strawman While the argument itself isn’t, be prepared to defend it from accusations that it is.
    – Rebuttal: Purely materialist; it overlooks the possibility of a soul. That’s fine for me; I’m an atheist and I don’t give a flying rat’s ass. But that’s not okay for everyone.

    I have a few others, too, but those are the two most frequent that I use.

  • banancat

    I’m allergic to secondhand smoke in a weird way – it causes me to get strep throat. I have had strep throat literally over a dozen times in my life. When I tell people about it they think I am lying or have no idea what I’m talking about, but this diagnosis came from my doctor. I am a carrier for strep bacteria, and secondhand smokes affects my immunity enough that I become infected.

    Various people in my immediate family have smoked in the past and they were always good about not doing it around me, but I can’t say the same about the general public. I was sick so frequently in college because I lived in the middle of a city and simply couldn’t avoid it while walking to class. I now work at a gigantic company that is smoke-free except in a few designated areas. It’s fantastic to just walk from one building to another without worrying whether I’ll wake up the next day with strep throat. It’s really quite liberating.

  • J_Enigma32

    I remembered another one:

    Tactic C: The Chimera and Down’s
    I argued once against a fellow who believed that a human being was a bunch of cells that worked together that formed a functional living organism of H. sapiens. It’s important he qualified it that way, since now I’m stuck. Fortunately, he then claimed that humans had 46 distinctive chromosomes in all of their cells, and that was what made us human beings. I rebutted with the “argument to the chimera”; for those who don’t know, human chimeras, while rare, are humans who have multiple sets of chromosomes and multiple genetic identities, with some cells display genetic identity A while others display genetic identity B. Other, more radical mutations are possible – babies who are born half-and-half (literally; they are half white and half black, half male and half female) – but, thankfully, those mutations are very rare. Still, they exist; based off of this, the argument that you need 46 chromosomes to be a human begin excludes Chimeras.

    Furthermore, it also excludes people who develop extra chromosomes (like Down’s syndrome) or those who are missing chromosomes from the definition of human being..

    Tactic D: O2 God
    The last tactic that I use is the tactic of the Omnipotent God. It’s a scaled down version of the threat that an omnipotent and omniscient plays to the notion of Free Will, especially when you factor in Theodicy. The argument works like this: God is all powerful and all knowing. God knows you in the womb. God sees your future and your life. What makes you think that God would grant a soul to a child that he knew was going to be aborted ahead of time? That would be senseless; if a woman is having an abortion, it’s the result of God telling her to. By keeping her from that abortion, you’re forcing babies without souls to be born and you’re defying what God wants, by questioning his judgement and his actions through the lives and “choices” of others.

    I don’t like Tactic D. But I have used it to limited success before.

  • Thanks for the mention here. Will definitely be checking out those jeans!