Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
June 12, 2019
Turning off Bill Maher

So, not a novel gripe, but I continue to be annoyed with people who decry the rise of "identity politics" when they really mean that they're frustrated at being made to consider issues involving people who are not them.

Another not-novel sentiment: I'm really sick of Bill Maher. I admit that I used to kinda like the dude, and in any case I found his show worthwhile -- I mostly could've done without the "comedy" bits (some did land), but his New Rules weren't entirely lacking in insight and the panel discussions were generally informative exchanges. What I especially liked about Maher there, though, is that he often seemed aware that he was the least informed participant in those conversations and therefore served less as an active interlocutor than a moderator whose goal was to prevent the content from getting too esoteric. He'd say something like, "Whoa, this is a comedy show! A little context for the viewers at home," and then the panel members would explain what they were talking about so that the conversation was more accessible to someone who wasn't a policy wonk or a political insider. Since I was really watching the show for those exchanges -- and since during those moments I sometimes found myself confused (and I generally try to keep abreast of political news) -- I appreciated Maher's input there all the more. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:32 pm | Comments (0)
February 19, 2019
Promises from God for Men of Color. Ugh.
Category: Books … Serious

So I was in Walmart late the other night and was looking over the books on their Black History Month table, and my eyes settled on a book titled "Promises from God for Men of Color." I think I was in the mood to be annoyed or amused or confused -- or possibly, though doubtfully, enlightened -- or whatever, because it was this book that I decided to pick up and flip through.

Eventually, after finding nothing particularly arresting on the pages I found upon first opening the book, I skimmed the table of contents to see if it would point me to something more interesting... whereupon I found a section called "Positive Thinking." For myriad reasons -- many of which are related to my experience as a so-called man of color -- I do find it difficult to think positively about events. So, curious as to what advice the book might have for me on the subject, I turned to the page indicated.

Firstly, the page indicated didn't actually point to the "Positive Thinking" section -- that section was in fact two pages later. So a book that purported to communicate the promises found in the infallible Word of God to a particular audience couldn't even get the TOC right, which is discouraging but somehow apropos given the hand God's dealt men of color. Anyway, I did ultimately find the "Positive Thinking" section and settled in to read the verse expressly chosen for the subject. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 12:53 pm | Comments (0)
January 9, 2019
The president needs better speechwriters.
Category: Current Events … Serious

So... any thoughts on Trump's address last night? For my part, I found it highly discouraging -- not just because Trump is Trump, but also because he apparently doesn't have competent writers behind him. I honestly wish I'd had a chance to look it over and better organize and support his talking points; I feel like I could've helped him make a more compelling case for his wall without the faulty sensational appeals and the needless and sometimes false attacks on Democrats. Like, insofar as border patrol agents really are convinced a wall would aid their efforts, that's a great point -- I'd probably have stressed that more heavily. Honestly, insofar as it's true (in which case Trump should put more effort into convincing us that it is), it's arguably the only point Trump really needs to build an effective argument for his wall. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 2:52 pm | Comments (0)
November 19, 2018
James Loewen… huh.
Category: Linkage … Serious

Random "...huh" moment: this Vox article showed up on my FB feed, so I decided to click through and give it a look since it contains an interview with James Loewen. I'd never heard of Loewen before a few years ago, when an Italian friend (in the midst of an argument about Columbus Day) excoriated him for his authorship of Lies My Teacher Told Me and his revisionist approach to the study and teaching of history. In the midst of our exchange, she wrote, "Loewen, a black historian, clearly had his own agenda in both his writing and teachings."

And I just sort of assumed she knew what she was talking about, at least with respect to Loewen -- the sentiment was hella racist (rather than seeking to remove bias from and approximate truth in our understanding of history, a black man "clearly" must be writing to serve an anti-white and anti-Italian agenda), and it was preceded by other comments I found equally offensive (I discontinued the exchange once she got around to projecting that agenda onto me). But the awful nature of her views on the subject seemed most apparent in her emphasis on the fact that Loewen is black.

Except I'm reading this article, and at one point Loewen responds: "If you looked around the world at that time, white people dominated most of it. ... We simply assumed that we dominated because we were better, or smarter, or worked harder." And it strikes me as odd that Loewen would use "we" there given that Loewen is presumably a black man.

So I hit the Google Image search and do a little more digging (photos aren't exactly conclusive here), and I ultimately land on Loewen's bio on the Tougaloo College website. And here I read: "In 2012 the American Sociological Association gave Loewen its Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, for 'scholarship in service to social justice.' He is the first white person ever to win this award."

...Huh.

-posted by Wes | 3:27 pm | Comments (0)
November 7, 2018
A thing I learned today.
Category: Miscellany … Serious

So I learned a thing about myself today.

Folks who've known me for a while (or perhaps not as long, depending upon what you've read and/or what I've said in particular conversations) know that a question that has long plagued me is whether or not I am or indeed can ever be *good*. There's a lot involved in that line of questioning, but part of it has stemmed from my general lack of feelings, or at least their irrelevance to much of my programming: I tend to not *feel* particularly strongly, but I have principles how I should treat others given the nature of our relationships, and I stive to hold to those. One of the reasons I enjoyed Dexter (the show) was that I identified closely with the titular character's approach to the world -- he was governed not by emotions but by a set of rules: a code. In Doctor Who, I very much liked the Doctor's declaration at the end of Capaldi's first season: "Love is a promise," such that a Cyberman, purged of all emotion, is still capable of adhering to and acting on its dictates. I don't know that I'm capable of the love people generally describe when they talk about that phenomenon -- and I particularly question my ability to experience the intensity of feeling, the physical desire, the emotional connection and empathy, and so on that people describe as components of romantic love -- but I endeavor to be good to the people about whom I claim to care. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:27 pm | Comments (0)
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