Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 15, 2018
RIP Tom Wolfe
Category: Ancient … Current Events … Serious

With the news of author Tom Wolfe's death, my first thought was, "Hey, didn't I do a comic about him way back when? I think I did!" And then I looked the comic up and... holy crap, lol. But I think that was a pretty common humor template back then: point out a potentially ludicrous thing, explain why it's potentially ludicrous, and punctuate the discussion with a desire for the perpetrator of the potential ludicrousness to die horribly. I still remember a bit on Garfield and Friends -- yes, Garfield the orange cat -- that ended with Garfield muttering, "People who sing like that should be dragged out into the street and shot." Again, this was on Garfield and Friends. Rating: TV-G. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 3:28 pm | Comments (0)
March 11, 2018
Xi Jinping: China’s President for Life
Category: Current Events … Linkage

From BBC News: China's Xi allowed to remain 'president for life' as term limits removed

So I am obviously (thankfully?) not a Chinese citizen and don't entirely understand Chinese culture, but this seems insane to me. The video in the article struck me as particularly unsettling -- whereas the folks questioned kept saying that the change exemplifies China's democratic nature, it seems like a move away from democratic norms to me. (Not that China is at all "democratic" according to our definition of the term, but whatever.) The voting results: "two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes." Can you imagine that kind of consensus with respect to any issue in the US?

I also want to blame Trump for this -- note that other countries have used his election and subsequent performance to condemn the idea of Western-style democracy, because in such a democracy it's possible for the people to elect a buffoon. I wonder about the extent to which China's move to allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely stemmed from observations of the chaos of our current executive branch. And, of course, Trump praised the change and jokingly (I hope) suggested that we should give that a try. He would.

But maybe Xi Jinping is such a capable and selfless ruler that it will be better for China and the world at large for him to remain president for life. I don't know. Time will tell.

-posted by Wes | 5:00 pm | Comments (0)
February 23, 2018
NYT: Frederick Douglass vs Scientific Racism

This opinion piece in the New York Times -- "Frederick Douglass's Fight Against Scientific Racism" -- is decidedly worth reading.

Of course, "scientific" racism persists in 2018, as one repeatedly learns after delving into the comments of any of the laudatory articles Trump links on his Twitter feed. The final paragraph, which quotes from one of Douglass's final speeches, also rings true today: on more than one occasion I've heard (well-meaning, I hope/assume) white people of my acquaintance who, in noting the depressed state of many minority communities, have wondered why "they" continue to struggle and asked what should be done about "them."

And for readers who haven't seen the movie yet (note that I'm not attempting to shame you for not having seen it yet; apparently that's a thing happening elsewhere on the interwebs), forgive me for the spoiler -- but Black Panther concludes with an especially relevant quote on that point. In a speech to the United Nations, the titular character remarks, "More connects us than separates us -- but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe."

It's a sentiment that runs counter to much of our current political discourse, what with "BUILD. THE. WALL!" serving as a rallying cry for our current commander in chief, but it is a sentiment that we would all do well to adopt.

-posted by Wes | 12:44 am | Comments (0)
January 14, 2018
Trump’s Ambiguity Assault
Category: Current Events … Serious

So I admit that I've probably been less horrified by Trump's antics than most of the folks in my orbit. I mean, yeah, he consistently shows himself to be a ridiculous buffoon who's in no way up to the task of running the country -- but he's also often hilarious. I often talk about how I read Trump's Twitter feed because I want to see his comments unfiltered, from the source; I also read it because it frequently sends me into peals of laughter. Not a lot of things have that effect on me.

But his current freakout about whether he said "I" or "I'd" isn't even funny -- it's just sad and stupid, and I can't even bring myself to giggle about it.

For those of you who missed it, Trump tweeted an accusation that the Wall Street Journal deliberately misquoted him, writing that he said "I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un" instead of that same statement with "I'd" instead of "I". The extra consonant sound does indeed change the meaning of the statement -- arguably significantly -- but this really shouldn't be a big deal. It's an easy thing to mishear and an easy thing to misspeak -- especially since, quite naturally, we often drop trailing consonant sounds. (It's also worth noting that this president isn't the most careful when it comes to enunciation; remember the confusion over whether he was saying "bigly" versus "big league"? Not that that's necessarily a criticism; in America we don't require every citizen to sound like a British royal.) All Trump had to do was clarify what he meant, without assigning blame to anyone, and that would have been that. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:06 pm | Comments (0)
November 10, 2017
But I don’t blame China.
Category: Current Events … Serious

After all, who could blame one party for knowingly and eagerly taking advantage of another party in agreements that were supposed to work to the mutual benefit of both parties? Any lopsidedness in these agreements was clearly the fault of the United States -- and its stupid leaders, and its stupid people for electing those leaders -- for being so incredibly stupid and inferior. China was both right and in fact morally obligated to exploit that stupidity for the benefit of its citizens.

This is the kind of "leadership" we get from a "businessman" president. Silver lining: Trump can't actually file for moral bankruptcy.

-posted by Wes | 8:30 pm | Comments (0)
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