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Interrupting Gelastic Jew

Updated: 2018-03-05T19:25:15.490-08:00


Charlottesville, VA


I keep scrolling through social media and professional news outlets searching for something. I keep thinking “this has got to be the thing that tips the balance, so everyone will acknowledge the situation.” This time for sure!

And it’s not happening. It’s never going to happen. People, human beings, it is our way to justify. We justify our positions and decisions as if they had logical bases when really they are emotional reactions (fear, anger, resentment, frustration) and then we defend them because we think we are defending ourselves.

They marched and chanted "Jews will not replace us." They carried flags from a war they lost and chanted "You lost, get over it" about the 2016 presidential election. They're walking, talking cognitive dissonance.

I listen to the man saying "our purpose is to stand for our heritage [...] for our people who are being scrubbed off the planet, by marxists and leftists. I mean they're literally pulling up all our culture from the roots, I mean they're not pulling up anybody else's culture, it's specifically Southern culture, white culture, Christian culture, and they're fricking throwing it all in the trash." And I wonder how puny and threatened he feels as he marches in public, in daylight, with police protection instead of police threatening him as they would a Black Lives Matter march. And what Christians around the world who are not from the few states in the southeast of the USA think of his statement.

I listen to another man saying "I'm here because our Republican values are, number one, standing up for local white identity, our identity is under threat. Number two, the free market. Number three, killing Jews." I know some Republicans and I don't believe they agree that killing Jews is in the top three most important Republican values...but I don't see enough Republicans repudiating this statement to be sure. And I'm not sure what the relationship is between marching to protect statues of Confederate generals and killing Jews but I don't think teasing that information out of the discourse will help. And notice it's about the Jews. It's not just blacks and slavery, it's not just Muslims and terrorism, it's the Jews who are called out and mentioned.

There were also people there counter-protesting, showing that there is more to the US than these protectors of their right to kill Jews, fly the losing Confederate flag, and discriminate against others. Until one white man drove a car into the counter-protestors. He murdered one person and injured more than a dozen.

This is not a fringe movement or a few exaggerated reactions. So if you've ever said about the Holocaust how you would have fought it and hidden people or helped them escape, what are you doing now? Because we are long past the beginning. We are in it now. We are in the 1930s when so many people outside Germany justified what was happening and refused to think the worst was possible even when there was evidence. We are beyond the canary in the coal mine stage.

This is war. Which side are you on?

Word for 2017


My word for 2017 is BOUND.

I will bound through the world like a leaping tiger.

I will bound the edges of my energy and my tolerance to protect and care for myself, to ameliorate and mitigate stress.

I will bound my expectations so they're realistic and more likely to be met.

Word for 2016


For 2016 my word is: wait.

I can wait for things to get better.

I can wait for my health to improve.

I can wait to achieve my goals.

I can wait to fix things that are outside my power right now.

I can wait because I am still alive.

Video games are about agency, not power.


An article at The Guardian used one of my button words: agency.
But in video games, I wonder sometimes if something much more subtle and instinctive is going on. Perhaps games aren’t really about power, they’re actually more about agency – the idea that we can have any sort of influence and control over what happens to us, and the world around us.
This makes sense to me-but that doesn't make it true, just gratifying.
For most of us, control is limited and ephemeral. We have jobs to do, people to care for, rules to follow – and we live in societies that place vast infrastructural limits on what we can do or affect. There are complex cognitive behaviours, from superstitions to compulsive gambling to obsessive compulsive disorders, through which the desire for, or belief in, agency express themselves. Throughout the 70s, UCLA researcher Ellen Langer developed the concept of “The Illusion of Control” studying how people often rely heavily on this unrealistic perceptions of their own autonomy. “The argument I’ve been making for the last 40 years,” she said during a talk in 2013, “is that actually, most of us are mindless virtually all of the time.”
And I think this is actually what video games are about. At a very basic, fundamental level, they are simply about providing a sense of control, rather than necessarily about making us feel like superheroes. Video games merely have to confirm us as sentient agents in order to function.
Do so many people really feel powerless and that they lack the ability to make choices and changes in their own lives? Agency is really all we have, in my opinion. I like to play video games, but not because I feel helpless to affect my life.

Maybe video games can be practice for exerting your agency.

Self Defense: notes from a seminar


This is a rough transcription of my notes from a July 2007 seminar given by Rory Miller.

Think about the difference between violence and martial arts. Martial arts is a highly structured sport that uses force.

If you don't train to jump out of the OODA loop (that's the loop of observe, orient, decide, and act) with an immediate, impulsive response (such as a punch to the nose of your attacker), you'll get stuck in it.

The most important thing is to work out your moral/ethical standards in advance.

1. What thing(s) would you create orphans to achieve, be willing to do jail time? What are your go buttons? Examples might be:

-No rape in my presence
-I won't be handcuffed by someone I don't know
-No abuse of children in my presence

What are yours?

2. Learn how attacks happen. Learn to see them coming. What is the body language? Facial expression? Tone of voice?

3. Is it possible to diffuse the situation? Can you/are you willing to use humor, to give up your wallet, to be submissive if that will make the attacker go away?

4. Operant conditioning to flinch reflex effectively. (Yeah, 8 years later I don't remember what I was noting with this sentence.)

5. Freeze--how to recognize it and break it

-Endorphine dump happens to help you cope/survive
-Two conscious actions in a row/at the same time will break it--what are yours? Rehearse, train, practice them
>hit back

6. Fight! This is where the fight happens, if it's going to happen at all. Training gets you through a fight, maybe.

7. Aftermath


Deal with these at step 1. Legal consequences are easy to predict. Physical ones will depend on how the encounter went: did the attacker break your arm, leave bruises, knock you out? Emotional ones depend on preparation, but will surprise you the first few times. Will you be angry? Feel shame or guilt? Maybe you'll have grief. Any emotional response could happen.

A fight is over is 5-6 seconds. Serious damage is done inside range, close up; every action you take should improve your position and worsen his. Keep your balance strong.

Vigilance is important all the time; it increases your appreciation of life.

Adrenaline effects (during and after an attack)
-hearing goes
-tunnel vision
-quick exhaustion
-you get weak
-thinking changes
-fine motor skills gone

A complex response to a complex problem: addressing mass shootings in the US.


Ysabetwordsmith dissects social, structural reasons for mass shootings in the United States.

Remember that America has had plentiful guns for a couple of centuries and only recently developed a persistent problem of mass shootings. Also there are other countries with guns that don't have this problem. So if you want to fix it, you have to look at the root causes, which include...


* Poor job prospects. People who can't get a job that pays enough to live on feel frightened and angry. It is difficult or impossible for them to participate in society, so they feel little if any loyalty to it.

* Social fragmentation. When job options, home insecurity, and other forces drive people to move frequently then that shatters social ties. The family has gone from extended to nuclear to now having lots of singles and single parents. When people don't have a social support network, that undermines their ability to handle challenges well. It also means that more kids grow up without learning a good set of coping skills.

* Lack of meaning. People want their lives to matter. They want to make a difference -- usually, want to make the world a better place. Profession, relationships, and home are among the things most people turn to for meaning. Unemployment and menial labor, lack of family ties, and frequent moves undermine that sense of significance. People go looking for ways to fill the gap, and that can leave them vulnerable to cults, violence, and other problems.

and then offers suggestions to address the root causes (because just trying to take away all guns won't work):

* Provide resources for self-regulation. These may include quiet rooms, reference materials, comfort objects, or whatever else helps people feel safe and calm after something upsetting. Quite a lot of violence -- especially in public places -- happens because someone gets wound up and then has no way to wind back down. That means the next thing that can go wrong tends to trigger an outburst, sometimes a violent one. Think of these as social firebreaks: they prevent small problems from becoming large problems.

* Establish a right to work. It's not that there's a shortage of workers or work that needs doing; what we have is a resource distribution problem where a few people are hogging so much wealth that it doesn't leave enough circulating to meet personal or public needs. Restore the high-tax-bracket system that was developed after the Great Depression, and that would fund public works and public-service jobs for everyone willing and able to work.

[links omitted; please read the entire post and follow the links.] I agree with every word of that post.

Word for 2015: Endure


Because I'm still going through repercussions of injury and treatment, because I've had 3 surgeries in the last 2 years and done uncountable days of recovery and physical therapy, and because I'm not well yet, I've chosen "endure" as my word for 2015.

I'm not ready to do more than endure. I will endure this process of recovery, with bad days and good ones. I will endure continuing symptoms and waiting for healing. I will endure sometimes painful, always tiring physical therapy. I will endure occasional medical appointments and minor changes in the state of my health. I will endure the emotional responses to all of these things.

But planning for a future life that is different from this, I am putting off. Deciding what to do about some long-term issues unrelated to this recovery, I choose to put off.

To endure is all I demand of myself for the coming year.

Where is the new feminism?


Laura at Apt 11D asked Where goes Feminism?When I started blogging ten years ago, I stepped into a vibrant feminist blogosphere. There were raging battles about reproductive rights and motherhood and employment. I wasn’t a full-time feminist blogger, because I was too undisciplined to commit to one type of blogging, but it was certainly a regular theme at Apt. 11D.Sadly, all those feminist blogs withered. A handful of bloggers went pro, but most just got tired of the whole thing, like most other bloggers. (One advantage to being an undisciplined blogger is that you don’t really get bored.) Now, we have Jezebel, which is more concerned with Lorde and Avril Lavigne than politics. And then the recession hit and the debates about having a fulfilling career seemed pointless. Having a job — any job — was more critical than self fulfillment.So, what’s the big issue in feminism today?She thinks it should be girls. I think she's just looking in the wrong places. I see a vibrant, outspoken, wide-ranging feminism online, it's just not on old-style blogs that respond to each other with cross-links and new posts. As I wrote in a comment to her post:You’re not looking in the right places.Feminism is partly being subsumed into intersectionality (rightly, in my opinion). Does a black woman suffer more from racism or sexism? The answer is, why are we even asking this question? We have to address both! Likewise gender expression and sexuality bias. And where I see this is not on traditional blogs that converse by alternating posts and cross-links, it’s on tumblr and Dreamwidth and Twitter, and it’s often in the comment sections of those places. It’s in articles about the lack of representation of racial, sexual, gender minorities in popular culture (like movies and comic books) and about reactionary anger of people-with-privilege when oppressive behaviors are called out and punished (like creepers at atheist conferences and science fiction conventions). It’s in online conversations spread across a multitude of platforms about how the old (mostly white male) guard counter-attacks when their sexist, racist, we-were-here-first-and-we’ve-always-done-it-like-this words and behaviors get them tossed out of their professional organizations (like the Science Fiction Writers of America). It’s a head-on conflict between the way things used to be (and since I had a good time impliedly they should stay that way) and the way the rest of us want things to be in the future (which means you can’t keep doing that just because you used to get away with it). And it’s a vibrant, loud, excoriating verbal battle everywhere I look.It’s women actors speaking directly to the camera about how few good roles there are for women. It’s male authors dressing up and posing the way women are portrayed in comic books to show how absurd it is. It’s John Scalzi talking about “white male” as playing a game on the easiest setting. It’s women writers across the ‘net opening up about the rape and death threats they get, and sometimes it’s even a major forum (The Comic Book Resources Forum) closing itself and reforming because of the threatening writing posted by some of its participants, or a convention banning somebody because they touched a cosplayer without consent.Feminism is out there and in here, at least in my life.And then I tried to post some links, but I think that comment is stuck in moderation. Some of the places I read about feminism, intersectionality, racism, fat activism, and kyriarchy are:Karnythia: Twitter, Tumblr, and Dreamwidth.K. Tempest Bradford: Twitter and Tumblr.Jim Hines, who is one of the people who dressed up and posed as book cover and comic book women to show the absurdity, and also generally posts on inclusivity. John Scalzi's post on how being a straight white male is like playing a game on the easiest setting[...]

How identity and being yourself in public are privileged


Great article on identity and "being yourself" concludes that "structureless" organizations default to the surrounding social structure, and if the social structure is white supremacy and patriarchy the "structureless" organization will copy it.
[I]n an organization without people formally titled “manager”, people will have to step up to manage each other at least sometimes and to some extent. How do you take initiative and assert power — in the absence of a structure that makes that power legitimate — when you’re already culturally oppressed and disempowered? If nobody is a manager, who will be most successful in, say, asking that their team institute a “run regression tests before committing code” policy: a tall, white, able-bodied, cis man; a short, Latina, disabled, cis woman; or a fat, Black, genderqueer person? When is it possible for people to really treat each other as equals, and when do they infer hierarchies when not given a formal hierarchy to look to?

Word for 2014: Heal


I have been through a lot this year, mostly physical health stuff (including two surgeries that involved opening my skull) but also some emotional stress, and so I am choosing heal as my word for 2014.

Surgery is very wearing on the body. I was under general anesthesia two times within four months, each time for more than two hours, followed by 2-night stays in the hospital and weeks at home recovering. I am doing physical therapy, but it will take months to get back the physical strength and stamina that I lost from the surgeries and more importantly the weeks of bed-rest after each surgery. Because my surgeries involved neurological symptoms, the healing of my brain pathways will also take time, as the physical therapy retrains my brain to fit the curing changes the surgeries made in my body.

I've also had some emotional pain and stress, and I need time to think about the sources of those feelings and work through my reactions.

I will focus on healing myself this year.

More than the minimum


Megan McArdle gets it right when she says:
My point is one that both sides should be able to agree on: whatever we redistribute, the most important task of economic policymaking is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get a job which can support them decently--which is to say, at the minimum respectable standard of their society. He or she has to be able to obtain, in exchange for their honest labors, what Adam Smith called "the necessaries":

By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without. A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessary of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct. Custom, in the same manner, has rendered leather shoes a necessary of life in England. The poorest creditable person of either sex would be ashamed to appear in public without them. In Scotland, custom has rendered them a necessary of life to the lowest order of men; but not to the same order of women, who may, without any discredit, walk about barefooted. In France they are necessaries neither to men nor to women, the lowest rank of both sexes appearing there publicly, without any discredit, sometimes in wooden shoes, and sometimes barefooted. Under necessaries, therefore, I comprehend not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people. All other things I call luxuries, without meaning by this appellation to throw the smallest degree of reproach upon the temperate use of them. Beer and ale, for example, in Great Britain, and wine, even in the wine countries, I call luxuries. A man of any rank may, without any reproach, abstain totally from tasting such liquors. Nature does not render them necessary for the support of life, and custom nowhere renders it indecent to live without them.

If that isn't possible for everyone, or can be done only with heroic and unceasing effort, then economic policy is not working, even if the gini coefficient and the tax laws are arranged to everyone's perfect satisfaction.

Economics is about more than tax policy, or inflation policy. It's part of how we shape our society and our community.

Quotes on creativity


"No great thing is created suddenly."


"Doing something and getting it wrong is at least 10 times more productive than doing nothing at all."


What if links made you think?


What if IQ tests are really measuring the ability to filter your visual environment?
The ability to visually filter the motion strongly predicted IQ in fact, motion suppression (the ability to focus on the action and ignore background movements) was as predictive of total IQ as individual subsections of the IQ test itself.

What if monogamy is what makes women's sexual desire diminish?
But for many women, the cause of their sexual malaise appears to be monogamy itself. It is women much more than men who have H.S.D.D., who don’t feel heat for their steady partners. Evolutionary psychologists argue that this comes down to innate biology, that men are just made with stronger sex drives — so men will settle for the woman who’s always near. But the evidence for an inborn disparity in sexual motivation is debatable. A meta-analysis done by the psychologists Janet Hyde and Jennifer L. Petersen at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, incorporates more than 800 studies conducted between 1993 and 2007. It suggests that the very statistics evolutionary psychologists use to prove innate difference — like number of sexual partners or rates of masturbation — are heavily influenced by culture. All scientists really know is that the disparity in desire exists, at least after a relationship has lasted a while.

What if you really got to negotiate the contract that is the terms of service (TOS) internet companies are always making you sign?
One thing a "People"s Terms of Service" would challenge is the Objective Theory of Contract, the doctrine that attempts to ignore the context in which contracts are negotiated and agreed upon. "The law currently protects one-sided contract arrangements," the authors write, "by assuming they were fairly negotiated, and thus reflect a 'meeting of the minds' by equal parties." Yet that assumption, in a world of boilerplate jargon and pages-long disquisitions, is no longer a fair one to make. "After all," they argue, "these contracts are usually created through user confusion and one-sided demands. How can citizens even bargain with a standard, take-it-or-leave-it form?"

Gun use doesn't have to mean bullet use


You can use a gun to stop a crime, even a person who is actively injuring others, without shooting at them.

Giving up, or aggression?


In On the Radicalism of Leaving, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out a quote from a book he's reading:
Oftentimes to just go away is one of the most aggressive things that another person can do, and if the means of expressing discontent are limited, as in this case, it is one of the few ways in which pressure can put.
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth Of Other Suns
Mr. Coates (and the book) are discussing the Great Migration, the movement of African-Americans away from the South in the 20th century. But the quote is worthwhile to me on a personal level.

As "kylara7" puts it in a comment to that article,
The quote captures one of the great personal "click" moments in my life, when it dawned on me that I was not obligated to dig in and try to fix unsolvable or entrenched problems with family, friends, workplace, or partners, and that one of the options on the table was to simply just walk away.
You don't have to keep trying. You don't have to give second and third and forty-fifth chances. You don't have to accept apologies. You don't have to forgive. You can move on.

Moving on has a price-it has many prices. But it also has rewards. One of them is that your life can be about something else, not about solving past problems. It can be about a new creative adventure, or making a new friend. It can be about working on your own issues instead of somebody else's.

I've never thought of it as aggressive before, but I can accept that the people you leave may receive it as aggressive and that may be one of the costs.

Overweight people live longer, more active lives


In Rethinking Thin, Megan McArdle disposes of arguments trying to ensure the safety of society's religious obsession with whether people are fat. After disposing of arguments about the populations involved in the study and whether it controlled for other markers of health, she discusses whether people might be living longer but, because of ill health, be less active and happy.
On the contrary, active life expectancy is increasing faster than life expectancy, according to the experts I interviewed for an article in the Atlantic. You can see this in the proportion of people on Medicare who have limitations in their ability to perform the tasks of daily living, which has been falling, not rising. (Note: this chart is from 2008, before the bulge of baby boomers started skewing Medicare demographics younger).
(links omitted, available at original)

So yeah, we may be getting more fat, but it doesn't seem to be making us die earlier or have less active, less healthy elderly years--to the contrary, in fact.

Maybe that's enough bullets? Maybe not?


In response to a recent series of mass murders a lot of people are trying to come up with a way to reduce the risks of them happening again. There are some reasonable proposals that I, as a gun owner, would be willing to support--if I were also seeing reasonable risk assessment. But when people suggest a law barring large magazines (which carry more bullets so you can go longer without reloading), I don't see risk assessment that includes stories like this.
“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” [Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman] told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved.

“She’s standing over him, and she realizes she’s fired all six rounds. And the guy’s telling her to quit shooting,” Chapman said.

The woman ran to a neighbor’s home with her children. The intruder attempted to flee in his car but crashed into a wooded area and collapsed in a nearby driveway, Chapman said. [Emphasis added]
She shot him six times and he still got up, got into his car, and drove away. Yes, she ended the engagement--but only because he chose to try to get away. What if he'd chosen to press his attack? Maybe she didn't really hit him, or only gave him a flesh wound? Nope:
Slater– who was taken to the hospital with punctured lungs, a punctured liver, and a punctured stomach– has reportedly been arrested six times since 2008.
She hit center-of-mass at least a couple of times; those are serious wounds. But that clearly wasn't enough to stop him. One shot didn't stop him; six didn't stop him! If he'd decided to come after her, he might well have injured her or her kids.

This didn't take place in an instant. She heard him break in the front door and had collected her children and retreated to a crawl space.
Authorities said the woman took her twin 9-year-old children to the attic as the man broke into their house with a crowbar. He reportedly busted open the front door and gave chase when he heard the woman call out to her children.

Investigators said the man chased the family into a crawl space near the attic, and when he opened a door the mother opened fire, striking him five times.
and he tracked her down. But the police weren't there yet.
And remember this was all before police were able to respond. She had called her husband as the home invasion was taking place and he called 911.

I don't think this kind of home-invasion self defense gun use happens very often-but then, neither do mass murders. How do we decide whether the risk of mass murders is worth keeping someone like this woman from defending her life and her children's from a violent attack?

Links recently


Crochet a sushi or bacon-and-eggs scarf.

Think making it yourself is cool? How about a phone from your barbed wire fence?

I want to try casting my own chocolate shapes in brown sugar!

I've done a lot of sewing using my old clothes as the raw material, and here's an old sewing pattern that shows exactly how to cut out a woman's blouse and jumper from a man's shirt and an old dress.

A comment on a blog post about the problems with bras makes the most important point:
[I]t’s important to remember that a bra is like any other product of human engineering. And with all other ingenious and near-magical things mankind (and womankind) has made, somewhere along the line someone said it was too expensive to manufacture that way.

So remember. When you’re dissatisfied with the way something is made, punch an accountant.

Word for 2013


To cultivate, literally, means to run a tool through the earth to loosen it, so air, water, and nutrients can penetrate the soil and improve it. This year I want to cultivate my life as if it were a garden. I want to pull some weeds, tidy up the planting beds, and clip off the dead leaves and branches to leave room for new growth.

Another meaning of cultivate is to encourage, as in cultivating a hobby by spending time researching and practicing it. This year I want to cultivate my interests. I want to learn more about some things, and practice others to improve my skills.

Cultivate is an active verb. It's something I can do.

Not even in the top 10


This week (so far) there have been two mass murders, and both murderers used guns. Both murderers were men in their early 20s. Both attacked sites where there was a concentration of people--one a mall, the other an elementary school. The sites shared a reasonable expectation that few of the potential victims would be armed themselves.

In another person's reaction to these horrifying events, that person linked the interesting information that the United States isn't even in the top ten list of countries by firearm-related death rate.

What you may not know is that a man with a knife also attacked an elementary school. In China. Violence is the problem, not the tools used.

* * * * *

I'm reading (well, I'm listening to-due to an attack of vertigo reading is difficult so I bought a couple of audio books for my commute) Nassim Taleb's "Antifragility," the thesis of which is that the opposite of fragility isn't resilience but some other state that benefits from chaos and change, and that humankind's attempts to damage-proof itself and its environment are causing more weakness and fragility. I think eventually the author will start directly advocating for learning to be antifragile, although he is aware that some antifragile people benefit by the damage done to fragile others and condemns that form of antifragility.

The concept of antifragility intersects interestingly with the current tension between the helicopter parent movement and the free range parent movement. I'll write more as I get further through the book.

Fashion and aging


American Age Fashion is subtitled "What older American women Wore, 1900 to now" and explores how women's bodies change as they age and the choices fashion offered them. A recent post explains that the "teenagers these days" problem noted by Plato also applies to elder fashions:
Consider these observations from 1898: “My mother never varied the form of her dress for forty years. To the last she wore a soft fleecy cap, a muslin kerchief about her neck crossed in front, a gown with the skirt gathered in fullness and fastened to the waist. Other women of her period dressed as she did. But today the aged matron draws her thinning locks into a tight little knot at the back of her head, or wears false hair, with never a softening cap about her sweet and faded face. She is dressed as her juniors are, and not to her advantage.” The author, Margaret Sangster, was upset about rapidly changing standards of dress for older women. Other commentators celebrate it. However, one thing remains the same: our sense that “everything is different now” has been around for a long, long time.

Word for 2012: Persist


Right now the most important task in my life is to keep trying, to endure what is happening and hold onto my sense of values through some experiences that are testing me sorely. And so I pick "persist" as my word for 2012, and hope in my innermost self to exceed persisting and actually thrive this year.

Thinking about work


I often say that I love my job, and most of the time, that's true. I enjoy the tasks, I enjoy most of my co-workers, I am paid a good wage, and well-treated in other ways, including verbal appreciation and respect. Kahlil Gibran:
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Recent 2d amendment news


The Oregon Court of Appeals has struck down a rule forbidding guns from state university campuses (pdf). The FBI reports that gun crime continues to decrease, while gun sales and concealed carry licenses surged. A book of photographs explores some of the estimated 15 million women in the US who own and use guns.

Perception and bias


We have gone through a time of aspirational objectiveness in news reporting, during which the organs that report news in the US have claimed they are merely giving us the facts without spin or commentary (except when labeled as such). For much of that time reporters and publishers of news were admired and valued for investigating and explaining how things worked and how people made them work, from businesses to politics to personal lives.

Except it turns out we don't actually believe them about being objective. Gallup reports that 55% of people polled have little or no trust in the media to be unbaised, to report the news "fully, accurately, and fairly."

The breakdown by party line is revealing.
Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively.
If Democratic party adherents and liberals believe the media is just about right, that probably means that what they read and hear in the news closely adheres to their worldview--it reinforces what they already think.

Of course liberals and Democrats also believe (at least the ones I know, and the ones I read) that they have a better perception of the real world, and would argue that the reason conservatives and Republicans don't trust the media is because conservatives and Republicans are misled or wrong about the real world, so when the media reports the truth of the real world it conflicts with the mistaken conservative/Republican perceptions, and therefore it's not that the media is biased (it's still objectively reporting the truth), it's that the conservative and Republican worldviews have skewed so far from reality that the truth looks like a lie to them.

But none of that really matters. What matters is that 55% of people polled in the US don't trust the media to tell the truth. They turn to other sources, sources that don't even pretend to be unbiased, such as bloggers and talk radio hosts. And confirmation bias works again to preclude a community that acknowledges difference and works toward compromise.

This breakdown in trust is a problem for the media to choose to address, or not. But as co-occupants of our society we need to build responsibility toward our community, to commit to shared goals, to lessen our burdens by working together, and I believe these tasks are much more difficult when we lack the insight into other people's thinking and opinions that is the natural consequence of living in the echo chamber.