Live Through This


¡Freak Flag Fly!

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Question Are state same-sex marriage policies associated with a reduction in adolescent suicide attempts?

Findings This difference-in-differences analysis of representative data from 47 states found that same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities.

Meaning Same-sex marriage policies are associated with reduced adolescent suicide attempts.

(Raifman, et al.)

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Is This Thing On, and Why Would You Care?


Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

It occurs to wonder what actually happens when the written word is dismissed from duty and argumentation is carried out via social media with links to other people’s YouTube rants.

No, really, I just don’t get that bit about how someone wants their voice to be heard so they send you a link to an hour-long YouTube rant. Honestly, they’re like really unskilled salesmen; getting you to sit through an hour of their favorite bigot is the point. Seriously; they know they’re not going to convince you. They just want to demand that you waste a bunch of your time in order that they might feel special, and then despise you for accommodating.

Sometimes it feels stupid to post these notes, but then we might recall the godawful narration explaining poker to a James Bond audience; and something goes here about the simpleminded moralist explanations in Hunter x Hunter mixed in with the sexual molestation scene and the nostalgic bit with the guy standing there in the middle of an emergency sniffing the scent of a woman from his fingers.

No, seriously, at first it’s a combination of Dragonball and Boobah―(“Look what I can do!”)―with infantile moral lessons describing character motivations, and then ....

Which actually might prove useful, for once. Perhaps the proper response to, “Here is a long-assed video in lieu of me actually doing any work to post a proper argument,” would be to simply post episodes of Hunter x Hunter and One Piece, the latter of which actually has the courage to denounce sexual harassment by its name.

If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

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Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities


The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

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Louisiana: Helping Build Family Values … and Families


¡Freak Flag Fly!

Begging your pardon, there are certain things we need to make clear. Let us start with two paragraphs from Judge Edward D. Rubin that bear actual life-altering influence:

The court grants the Petitioners’ Motion for Summary Judgment and denies the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. It hereby declares that La. Const. Article XII, Section 15 (the Defense of Marriage Act/DOMA) and La. Civil Code Articles 86, 89, and 3520(B) are unconstitutional because they violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article IV, Section 1, the Full faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Louisiana’s Revenue Bulletin No. 13-024 (9/13/13) is likewise declared unconstitutional as it violates the petitioners’ rights guaranteed by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Hence, Tim Barfield in his official capacity as the Secretary of the State of Louisiana Department of Revenue, is hereby ordered to act in accordance with this court’s ruling and allow the petitioners to file their state tax returns as a couple whose marriage is valid and recognized in Louisiana. The court hereby enjoins the state from enforcing the above referenced laws to the extent that these laws prohibit a person from marrying another person of the same sex. Additionally, having ruled that the petitioners’ marriage shall be recognized by the state of Louisiana, it follows that Angela Marie Costanza has satisfied the requirement of stepparent under the provisions of La. Ch. C. article 1243, which allows for intrafamily adoption. The court reaffirms its previous decision in Adoption of (__) which declared Angela Costanza’s adoption of (__) to be in the child’s best interest. The minor child, (__), is declared, for all purposes to be the child of petitioner, Angela Marie Costanza to the same extent as if (__) had been born to Angela Costanza in marriage. As such, the court further orders Devin George in his official capacity of the State’s Registrar of Vital Records, to issue a new birth certificate naming Angela Costanza as (__)’s mother.

The State of Louisiana is hereby ordered to recognize the Petitioners’ marriage validly contracted in California as lawful in this state, pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit guaranteed by Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution.

This is what it looks like when justice comes.

There is, of course, a backstory.

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On the Complexity of Making Things Complicated


Hillary Clinton

Sometimes the key to politics is to make things complicated not so much by making them actually complicated, but by complicating things with additional layers and steps. Political discourse is something like the living, realtime inspiration for internet chatter; after two or three quick rounds it’s hard to tell what anyone is referring to, anymore.

But at the same time, it is not as if the rhetorical devices of American politics are especially complex. Consider, for instance, Paul Krugman:

This policy unity has been helped by the fact that Obama has had a moderate degree of success in achieving these goals. If he had had an easy time, the party might be divided between those wanting more radical action and those not in a hurry; if he had failed utterly, the party might be divided (as it was for much of the past three decades) between a liberal faction and a Republican-lite faction. As it is, however, Obama has managed to achieve a lot of what Democrats have sought for generations, but only with great difficulty against scorched-earth opposition. This means that the conflict between “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” — exemplified these days by Elizabeth Warren — and the more pro-big-business wing is relatively muted: the liberal wing knows that Obama has gotten most of what could be gotten, and the actual policies haven’t been the kind that would scare off the less liberal wing.

One would think this easy piece of political perspective would not be so rare in our discourse, but for some reason—perhaps a tendency toward equivocation for the sake of narrative simplification—it sometimes seems useful to take a moment and think about how it comes about.

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On Advocacy and Avoidance: Fetus Stuffing Edition


“What if the umbilical cord was reattached and the baby stuffed back into the womb, would it cease to be a person?”

—Attributed as “Anonymous”

There is a backstory here.

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