07 December, 2016

The Digest—Wednesday, 7 December, 2016

[The Digest is a collection of articles, videos, and other media I've viewed and found significant throughout the day. It is a way to divest myself from other social media that is more reliant on likes, click-bait, and peer-approval rather than quality, intelligence, and diversity of opinion, which are the qualities I find important. It is also a way to devote myself to daily contributions to this space...at least in theory.]

-=Summary: Xmess for Feminists, abortion on the way out, Steve Bannon vs. secularism, a photo essay of the violence in the Philippines, killing the middle class, Trump vs. the Constitution, white vs. black at Applebees, Ohio wants guns every-freakin-where, United to charge for carryon bags, business as usual with Trump, Sandy Hook truther arrested, why we think we're more ethical than we are, America's statistical descent into fascism, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, & Black Mirror=-


Broomsticks, T-shirts and coffee: what every feminist wants for Christmas
Arwa Mahdawi from The Guardian
1. A nice broomstickDefinitions of feminism can differ so it’s worth quickly recapping what the f-word actually means. Pat Robertson, an American televangelist, might have said it best when he described feminism as a movement that “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”. Now, I hate to make sweeping generalisations, but if you’re going to practise witchcraft, then you’re going to need a broomstick.


Ohio's 'heartbeat' abortion bill awaits Gov. Kasich's signature
Max Blau & Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley from CNN

This is one of the boldest bans in the country and will likely be reversed on appeal, unless Trump nominates an activist anti-choice judge, which is likely. This whole case could lead to major restrictions and wholesale bans on abortion across the country, depending on SCOTUS decisions. Once again, America, you couldn't have fucked it up more if you tried. 

Why Steve Bannon wants to destroy secularism

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins from The Guardian

It's this kind of stuff that makes many prominent atheists proclaim the stupidity of religious folk. The utter magical thinking that extends beyond religious practice and flies in the face of fact and history. I understand magical thinking when it comes to religious belief itself because it is necessary in order to sustain that belief; walking on water, rising from the dead, etc. But this is the painful truth of many fundamentalists and religious bigots who claim their vision and their vision only has the answers and wish away anything otherwise untoward. Steve Bannon does not just want to destroy secularism, as described above, but to impose Judeo-Christian values on everyone else. That is also my least favorite thing about religion in general: I am right, you are wrong, and wrong must be destroyed. Screw you, too, buddy. 

'They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals'
Derek Berehulak from The New York Times

A vivid, graphic, tragically beautiful look at the crisis of extrajudicial murder of drug dealers and users in the Philippines using photographs, security footage, and text crafted as a visceral visual experience. If you don't mind staring the horror of violence in the face, I highly recommend this. 

How to Kill the Middle Class
Alana Semuels from The Atlantic

So the middle class keeps electing people that destroy the ability of the middle class to secure better wages and benefits. Or that's the myth, anyway. What's the Matter With Kansas? did a great job breaking some of this down, but in an era when this anti-worker politics is so visual and so publicized, why do workers keep tolerating it?

Trump Could Be in Violation of the Constitution His First Day in Office
Normal L. Eisen & Richard W. Painter from The Atlantic

Perchance to dream. The electoral college won't actually do its job and prevent this from happening, and it really is an expression of how much we value wealth more than character, episodic drama more than information, and cruelty more than honesty. In a way, Trump and his ethics and conflicts and bombast and business and con jobs and cult of personality are the perfect representation of the United States. That doesn't mean you have to approve, but this nation has been moving in this direction for a long, long time. 

Black Couple: Firefighter Threatened to Kill Us but D.A. Won’t Charge
Kate Briquelet from The Daily Beast

The most disturbing part of this is how utterly unsurprising all of it is.

Ohio’s Insane Guns Everywhere Bill Covers Airports, Childcare Centers, and Even Police Stations
Cliff Schecter from The Daily Beast

I wonder how many people have to die before the NRA loses its clout, or what emails and indiscretions and callous remarks must be leaked before its defenders realize they are being used in the worst possible way. 

United Airlines Wants to Do to Flying What Republicans Want to Do to Health Care

Jordan Weissmann from Slate

Soon you'll have to pay extra for a seat on a plane, while the standard fare are for those in standing-room. This is already being experimented with by some airlines, I kid you not. Just wait. 

A Japanese Billionaire Just Showed How Corporations Are Going to Manipulate Trump
Jordan Weissmann from Slate

Again, unsurprising. 

Sandy Hook ‘truther’ arrested for making death threats against father of slain boy

David Ferguson from The Raw Story

Can you even imagine enduring something like this and then to not only have a group of right-wing nutbags claiming you're just a paid actor, but then also levying death threats against you for having the nerve to suffer the murder of your own child? This is the kind of conspiracy crap Trump &co. promulgate. Perhaps not this particular conspiracy, but the promotion and sharing of false stories, conspiracy-mongering ("The election is rigged unless I win!"), and utter lack of care for what is communicated and expressed. 

One of the best ways to keep a citizenry unstable, not to mention alliances, is to constantly keep people guessing about your intent. Trump has mastered this. Apparently he thinks keeping well-informed is a bad business decision; it's also bad for democracy. To intentionally mislead and confuse the public will promote uncertainty and fear in all but the most faithful, and they are, after all, not who any of those in power need to worry about. To conduct every act of speech with levels of plausible deniability is insanity, and yet that is the strategy in use. 

I expect more craziness and acts of community violence like this woman's actions and those of the "pizzagate" nonsense. It's government action in a hall of funhouse mirrors. Prepare to be befuddled. Or shot. Or something.

Why President-elect Trump doesn’t think he has a conflict of interest problem
Elizabeth C. Tippett from The Conversation

This article is kind to Trump's motives; I personally think he knows exactly what he's doing most of the time and is counting on his presidency to enhance his business dealings, not thinking he's above such behavior. Still, a good look at ethical relationality, especially when it comes to self-examination.

Here’s how the US empire will devolve into fascism and then collapse — according to science

Travis Gettys from The Raw Story

By science, he means statistics, which are, well, math. Also history and probabilities. Short version is that it's going to get a lot scarier before it gets any better. Hold on for the ride. 


Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
via Netflix

The commentary about police brutality, from choke holds to fatal shootings, could be made today. In general, this is still hilarious and refreshing for its blatant honesty. There would be a riot if some of these jokes were made today. On that note, let me say something about why certain jokes are more problematic than others.

I'm someone who thinks you have to be able to joke about everything, but that doesn't mean any joke is appropriate in every situation. Jokes about rape are a problem not when they're heard by those who recognize the culture in this country that normalizes sexual violence toward women, but by those who don't, or who aren't sure, or have no opinion. Jokes are part of the normalizing process, so exposure to these jokes without any discussion helps impress that normalizing sense on such individuals, thus further promulgating rape culture. 

It is the same with racist jokes and jokes about any oppressed and vulnerable population that is oppressed and vulnerable due to the impression of stereotypes and dismissive of that group/person's value in society. Jokes that make fun of black men pursuing and "raping" white women might reinforce previously heard stereotypes and lead one to think, not necessarily consciously, that indeed, black men pursuing white women results in sexual assault, which carries a host of other, related, stereotypes and biases. 

Black Mirror, season 2, episode 3 ("The Waldo Moment")
via Netflix

This episode predicted the rise and election of Donald Trump by a good 3+ years. It was so close to home that it was much more disturbing, and much less amusing, than when I first watched it. 

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