The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘end of the world’ Category

Do you remember this article from a couple of years back? It was big in the media for a few days. Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children.

Having a child contributes some thirty times as much to warming the planet as the next closest action an individual can take: living without a car.

 

Climate change impact of having a child: each one adds 58.6 tons of CO2 equivalents per year. Using a car adds 2.4 tCO2e per year.

 

 

And yet, amidst all the discussion of air travel and bicycling and electric vehicles, there’s a ban on mentioning population control.

Another example I came across recently was in a very encouraging article about greening the Sahel in Africa.

… {Farmers had a] cheap, effective way to regreen the Sahel. They did so by using simple water harvesting techniques and protecting trees that emerged naturally on their farms.

Garrity recalls walking through farms in Niger, fields of grains like millet and sorghum stretching to the sun planted around trees, anywhere from a handful to 80 per acre. “In most cases, the trees are in random locations because they sprouted and the farmer protected them and let them grow,” he says. [Depending on species] [t]he trees can be cut for fuel… They can be pruned for livestock fodder. Their leaves and fruit are nutritious.

One tree, Faidherbia albida, goes dormant during the wet season when most trees grow. When the rains begin, the trees defoliate, dropping leaves that fertilize the soil. Because they have dropped their leaves, the trees do not shade crops during the growing season. Their value had long been recognized by farmers….

[But] “He laments that work is moving too slowly. With the Sahel’s population doubling in 20 years, Reij says regreening needs to be finished within 10 to 15 years.”

He makes it sound as if this doubling is a great force beyond human influence, like a solar storm or a meteor strike. It’s not. It’s merely human reproduction. We’re helpless only because the subject is so untouchable it can’t even be said out loud.

What’s up with that?

I think the answer lies in the two possible trajectories to control births.

One is coercive. China’s one child policy is perhaps the most famous recent example. Since women are the ones giving birth, you have to control women. You punish them if they have too many children. You enforce abortions on mothers. Or, if you’re a Nazi in the 1930s who wants lots of blond babies and no browner ones, you try to enforce a eugenics program on women. You sterilize gypsies or the disabled or Jews while giving “your” women the option to be incubators or nothing.

All those methods involve hideously totalitarian pre-emption of individual choice and body autonomy (like the supporters of forced pregnancy, but we’re more used to them so it doesn’t feel as outlandish). But on the bright side, they don’t require any changes to misogynist and patriarchal social systems.

The other trajectory is to give women control over their own reproduction. Wherever that is done, birth rates drop dramatically. They may not fall all the way to replacement levels, but they get much closer than any other method. Giving women control works, it works sustainably and long term.

But.

But it deprives society of its main tool to control all aspects of women’s lives. Your reliable producers of the next generation, your unpaid domestic servants and nannies and handholders and caregivers, gradually find other things to do with their lives. Members of the upper caste might have to do their own dishes. Your whole system falls apart.

And therein lies the rub. All our current problems are made much worse by overpopulation. Dealing with that requires treating women like human beings. Which gives the patriarchy the vapors.

So suddenly respect for medieval religions and medieval cultures make it impossible to promote birth control. They might be offended!

There’s not the same action-limiting respect when it comes to things that serve the caste system. Porn is all over the place even though the Pope disapproves. But breastfeeding is too avantgarde for the delicate sensibilities of men on Facebook. Nor is there ever equivalent concern that women object to being erased.

The discrepancy has a name. Sady Doyle wrote about it almost three years ago, Trump, Putin, Assange, and the politics of sexism. Supposedly all three are exponents of radically different systems, and yet they have a lizard brain-level understanding that they’re on the same side. Her focus is social and political effects, but the same allergy to anything kind or well-meaning is everywhere.

Recently, reactionaries have made The Misogyny of Climate Deniers obvious by their revolting comments against a 16 year old who’s done nothing except use the full weight of all the evidence to disagree with them.

The connection has to do with a sense of group identity under threat, … both by developing gender equality—Hultman pointed specifically to the shock some men felt at the #MeToo movement—and now climate activism’s challenge to their way of life, male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap, the three reactions feeding off of one another. … Climate change used to be a bipartisan concern, the first Bush senior presidency famously promising to tackle global warming. But as conservative male mockery of Thunberg and others shows, climate politics has quickly become the next big battle in the culture war—on a global scale.

Misogyny isn’t the only motivation of reactionaries. There’s greed and garden variety hatred in there, too, but misogyny is the core. It’s misogyny, not greed or racism or ordinary hatred, that makes men fear weakness more than anything. And fear of weakness is what ties together the worst of what they do.

They think strong man governments are a good idea. They like guns and “defence” — war, really, so long as somebody else dies in it. Peace is only tolerable “through strength.” The reactionaries are against anything that doesn’t shout big power. They like nukes because gigawatts! dangerous! The truth is that even building a new gigawatt nuke every two months from 2010 till 2050 would solve only a small part of climate change and energy needs. Meanwhile renewables could provide all our energy by 2050 for a fraction of the cost and without radioactive waste. But distributed power, whether that’s rooftop solar or real democracy, strikes reactionaries as la-la limp-wristed hippie crap. Likewise, restraint against environmental destruction is pathetic weakness in the face of hard choices.

And weakness is the worst thing you can show. They (“They”) come and take your man card away. It’s the only thing that gave you any standing and it’s gone.

That is a future so horrible it’s worth burning the world down to avoid it. It must never be spoken lest saying its name calls it forth.

Crossposted from Acid Test.

aclu_socal_vote_carousel.png

We are less than a week away from the midterms. November 6, 2018 will be a red-letter day for America. History will be written with that day as the dividing line. What America was before 11/6/18 and what it will become after. It is impossible to really know what will happen. Predicting the outcome is an exercise in futility. We thought we knew what would happen on 11/8/16 and the electorate disappointed. Will the Blue Wave of the special elections become a tsunami of the midterms? Or will it subside and resemble only a small tide? Nobody can predict. Will people actually leave their homes and vote? Who knows. There are still an extraordinary amount of people who don’t plan to vote. New Yorker just had an article about some young people who don’t plan to vote because reasons. There are voters who still don’t feel inspired by anyone. And there are voters who just don’t think it’s a big deal. Will these people vote when it counts? Who knows… We can hope that someone, a friend, will make them see the light on the issue.

There is also the question of Trump voters: will they vote? Some argue that believing that everything on the news is Fake News makes them ignorant of the imminent blue wave. That may be true… but it’s also true that Trump and the entire GOP – now openly, proudly a party of Nazis, racists, anti-Semites, homophobes – are using every dirty trick in the book to steal the election: everything from purging voter rolls to shutting down voting stations so people can’t vote to sending out wrong voting information to leaving Democratic candidates off the ballot. We’ve seen all these things play out in real time and it terrifies me to say that I’ve seen very little reaction from Democrats. ACLU does what it can to file lawsuits, but the Democratic party leaders are mostly silent, letting the candidates – the vast majority of whom are new at this – find their own way. In North Dakota Republicans – after saying Native Americans must have IDs with an address they don’t have on reservations – are now rejecting ballots because the color of the ink is “wrong.” Election is being openly stolen in Georgia and the Democratic party – and the media – are looking at it as helpless spectators.

And we also don’t know what will happen on November 7th. Whether Democrats manage to win anything or if Republicans hold on to all of their power. What will Trump do? I think we can safely assume that if Democrats win the House – Trump will try to declare the election invalid. He is already floating ideas of rigging by Democrats. We know the GOP will back Trump 100%. What will Democrats do when that happens? I am not hopeful. If Republicans hold on to all of their power – things will go off the rails in a different way. GOP and Trump will declare a mandate and I really think that will be our last election. I am sorry to be this negative. I just want to make sure we are all prepared for November 7th. Because I think November 7th is going to be very bad, no matter how the vote goes.

Do you think I’m off my rocker?

Too much news

Posted on: May 17, 2018

breaking-news.jpg

May 16 may have been one of the nuttier news days of the Dump administration. It was like the evening news dump, but all day long. And I was working with my boss in the room, so didn’t have much time to see it or absorb it until I got home. So this is an attempt to summarize some of the biggest developments – for my own sake and everyone else’s.

Dump called immigrants “animals.”

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

This is deep and dark, and an escalation of his own rhetoric attacking immigrants. Such dehumanization of a group of people (and you know Trump is not talking about Swedes) has a long and terrible history. Nazis called Jews “vermin” and the Tutsi in Rwanda were called “cockroaches” before they were mass murdered. What is also concerning is that apparently none of the evening news shows discussed this statement by Trump. Because of everything else happening a statement this alarming didn’t even warrant coverage.

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti has been teasing and baiting Cohen for days with seemingly deep knowledge about his money dealings and the question has been what does Avenatti know and how does he know it. New Yorker provided the answer that the whistleblower leaked the info out of concern after seeing that a government database was missing some records and this person feared a cover-up in progress.

The documents this law enforcement official allegedly could not find are not easily misplaced bureaucratic paperwork. Suspicious activity reports, or SARs, are reports that banks and other financial institutions file if they have an inkling that someone might be engaging in money laundering or another illicit activity. They are filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which maintains a database for government and law enforcement officials. A suspicious activity report is not proof of any crime, just a red flag, and can help authorities establish patterns.

This sounds suspicious indeed but – let’s not overreact just yet. A few respectable people on twitter – Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare blog and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa argued that a) the documents “disappearing” can be for legitimate reasons (removed because of a secret investigation, for example) and b) even if the documents are missing, those are not the only copies. The banks that filed the SARs will have their own records, and there are records of the original transactions as well. So in order to successfully erase Cohen’s activities there are many databases that have to be erased. So if there is anything of interest, Mueller either already has it or can get it from the banks. (Probably already has it.)

There was also the the NY Times non-apology buried in the middle of a long article about their infamous story clearing Trump of any wrongdoing just before the election. We all knew the story was a lie when the Times Lichtlbau Timespublished it. And more importantly, they knew it was nonsense. They interviewed Harry Reid for the story – and then threw out his entire interview, choosing to clear Trump right there in the headline. While openly blasting and speculating about emails on the front page. In their non-apology they blamed the FBI for misleading them. I have no doubt their sources in the FBI misled them, but they had other sources of correct information, which they chose to ignore. I won’t get into the rehash of all that again, it makes my blood boil. But it’s worth noting that more than 18 months after the story was published and executive editor Dean Baquet has been defending it the whole time – they finally acknowledge that they did it wrong. And they accepted no responsibility for doing it wrong. They blamed the FBI. So after all this, fuck you NY Times and Dean Baquet. (BTW, the article itself reinforces the fact that Comey and FBI ratfucked us all by blasting Hillary’s emails and hiding the Trump investigation. They watched as Trump colluded with the Russians to throw an election and did nothing to stop it. Curses on Comey and whoever else in the FBI (yes, including Wray) did this. May they burn in hell.)

The Senate released transcript of Junior’s – and others’ – testimonies and they’re a doozy. Junior is a moron and everything he says reinforces the fact that they met with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary. And instead got an earful on the Magnitsky act. Apparently Kushypoop was livid at lack of dirt offered in the meeting, per testimony of Rob Goldstone:

After a few minutes of this labored presentation, Jared Kushner, who is sitting next to me, appeared somewhat agitated by this and said, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. Could you please focus a bit more and maybe just start again?” Goldstone recalled of the meeting according to hearing transcripts released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “And I recall that she began the presentation exactly where she had begun it last time, almost word for word, which seemed, by his body language, to infuriate him even more.

Kushner presented a completely different picture of the meeting, of course; one where he was barely paying attention and left early. Sure Kushypoop, sure.

One really fascinating tidbit from Junior’s testimony are mysterious phone calls he made, but says does not remember. Daily Beast summarizes the events nicely and here’s a timeline I compiled from their article:

  • June 6, 2016 Rob Goldstone emails Don Junior with an offer “to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” via well-connected Russian lawyer and Junior should talk to music producer Emin Agalarov to schedule an appointment.
  • Minutes after speaking to Agalarov, Junior places a 4-minute call to a blocked number.
  • Minutes after that, Junior calls Agalarov again and sets up the meeting for June 9.
  • Junior immediately places an 11-minute call to a blocked number.
  • June 8, 2016 Donald Trump says at a rally that the following week he will give a “major speech” where “we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”
  • June 9, 2016 Junior, Manafort and Kushner meet with Veselnitskaya and others where Junior asks Veselnitskaya: “So can you show us how does this money go to Hillary?” And when she drones on about Magnitsky Act, Kushner gets angry.
  • After the meeting ended, Junior placed a 3-minute call to a blocked number.
  • Trump’s speech on the Clintons never happened.
  • Junior says he does not remember who he called on any of those occasions.
  • Corey Lewandowski has said that at the time of these meetings Donald Trump used a blocked phone number at his home.

This is an open thread.

 

Photo courtesy of CNN

Yes, Widdershins, I’m wading into I/P again. I can’t help it – what’s going on in the Middle East is so appalling and wrong, and since the Republican Party is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Russia, they’re all going along with it and letting the madness continue. It’s just insane that this oversized orange rhino is galumphing all over the world with his big giant feet, destroying everything he touches…and not a single peep from Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell! Do they not get that our enemies have nukes?! Christ on a cracker, as our beloved Chatblu used to say!

Now let me be clear: I completely believe Israel is as lawful a country as all the other countries in the world, and it was established with much more care, much more reason, and much less violence. (See: Native Americans and White Europeans Who Stole Their Country, 17th century to present.) The difference in the perception of Israel is, of course, that Israel is mostly Jewish. And the world, especially the white, European 1% who run it, doesn’t like us much. (See: Holocaust, The.) I also believe there is no such thing as a Palestinian. It’s a made-up word for a hodgepodge of people from the surrounding Arab countries who exited Israel after the Zionists bought it and moved in, during the war that followed. And yes, I say “exited” because, contrary to 70 years of propaganda, they weren’t all kicked out. I was surprised to see CNN’s story actually state this, instead of lazily repeating the usual bullsh*t. Here is another good story on the four sticking points causing the unending conflict…sadly, not much has changed since 2002.

Another point of disagreement: Israel is not “occupying” anything. Israel has as much right to Israel, including Jerusalem, as any of the random Jordanians, Lebanese, Egyptians, etc. who claim it. The very premise that this group is “right” and the Israelis are “wrong” is beyond absurd. Israel’s history (thousands of years of continuous living in the area), as well as the Balfour Declaration, proves the Jewish claim to the homeland. And besides, after the Holocaust, European Jews were rejected all over the world. No one wanted us. Israel was the only safe haven we had, and after what we had suffered at the hands of white Europeans, our survival depended on establishing that haven.

That being said…

The Mango Moron’s idea to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was a truly terrible one, guaranteed to produce this result. I am quite sure that evangelicals, being prompted by Putin and Netanyahu behind the scenes, convinced Drumpf to do this to bring on the End Times. And while I don’t agree with the protesters, I do fervently support their right to protest, peacefully, and not get killed. Even if some threw rocks and burned tires, did the IDF really need to use live ammunition?! The barbarism of Bibi’s army is appalling.

Here in America, when we protest, we know that, while we may be arrested and/or tear gassed in some extreme cases, we won’t pay for our beliefs with our lives. At the Women’s March, the most that happened was some dyspepsia over the 12 idiotic pro-deathers who tried to make themselves relevant by standing at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue, forlornly draped in black. There was no military presence, no insistence that we not walk right in front of the President’s house and give him the collective middle finger. The First Amendment, protecting the freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly, is one of the many things that actually make this country great.

I know the two cases aren’t exactly similar. The protesters do not have to try to cross the border into Israel, or even come close enough to it to be fired upon. But their beliefs are strong, and they are brave, and they are willing to die for their right to express themselves. The cost of protest is high in the Middle East, and I applaud the courage of those who are willing to pay it.

I truly believe that nothing will improve in this troubled region until ignorant, hateful “leaders” like Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump are removed from the world stage and put in the Hague where they belong. Perhaps then, like our wonderful American kids who are leading the #NeverAgain movement, young partners for peace will find their voices, and create a new, unified Middle East where all the bloodshed and hatred will be a distant memory.

Ken y’hi ratson. So may it be.

This is an open thread.

Happy New Years Widdershins

Is everyone ready to put 2017 behind them?  Nevermind, I already know the answer to that one.  What will 2018 have in store for us?  Will the mid-term elections be a bloodbath for the Republicans?  Lordy, let’s hope so.  Will Mueller finish his investigation or will tRump and the Repubs shut it down?  Right now we don’t know the answers to any of these questions.  What I know the answer to is how I’ll spend my New Years Day:  Football!  There will be lots of college bowl games on and I’ll do my best to watch each and every one of them even if I get carpal tunnel from wearing out the clicker.

So for this post I decided to look for some New Years quotes and I went to Brainy Quotes to find some.  I have put some of what I thought were the better ones below.  Enjoy and if you have a fond New Years quote please include it in the comments.

 

 

 

* * * *

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

* * * *

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
Hal Borland

* * * *

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.
Benjamin Franklin

* * * *

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’
Alfred Lord Tennyson

* * * *

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
Helen Keller

* * * *

Okay Widdershins, let us hope that 2018 will be a better year than what we experienced in 2017.

Open thread of course.

I’ll end this with a schmaltzy piece of music, Auld Lang Syne, Guy Lombardo edition.  Saxophones:  Warm up those vibratos.

 


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