Quit Pointing Your Avocado At Me!

2013-06-30 Quite Pointing Your Avocado At Me

This is a hilarious and very important article about the importance of letting your ego go. Here’s the central message:

Feeling judged by other people’s decisions is an insanely ego-centric way to live. Like my dad always says, “Glennon, nobody is thinking about you as much as you think they are.” Everybody’s just doing the best she can, mostly.

But you should read the whole thing, because the story that gets there, and the realizations that come after, are hilarious.

Reconciliation and the Eternal Race War

2013-06-27 VRA

Right now everyone’s talking about the SCOTUS decisiosn overturning DOMA and (effectively) Prop 8, which is understandable, but I don’t like talking about what everyone else is talking about so I’m going to talk about the decision that was making headlines before the gay-marriage decisions: the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

For those not paying attention, the Court (by a 5-4 margin, again) struck down the provision of the VRA that required certain states (mostly in the South) to run any proposed changes to voting by the Department of Justice for review first. Of course there is the usual liberal willful blindness on this one. Rather than see that Southern states chafe under federal intervention (just as Western states are annoyed by how much of their land is owned by the Feds), they see nefarious schemes for intentional racist oppression. The worst of which, as far as I can tell, comes down to requiring photo IDs, which is something that developed democracies in Europe require as a matter of course (this Foreign Policy mag referred to the US system as “trust based”). 

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Texas Abortion Law Stalled

2013-06-26 Texas Abortion Law

The Texas Tribune is reporting that the GOP attempt to pass one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws in Texas failed last night / early this morning because the Republicans were unable to vote before midnight. The whole thing makes me so depressed.

  1. I give props to Wendy Smith for her legitimate, stand-up-and-talk-for-hours filibuster. I’m not an expert, but the GOP’s efforts to derail her seemed shady at best.
  2. I can’t give props for her reasoning. She said the defeat of the bill “shows the determination and spirit of Texas women and people who care about Texas women.” This is a bill that included safeguards for women that are desperately needed (Gosnell wasn’t alone, and we know that). Defeating the bill isn’t about supporting women. It’s about supporting abortion.
  3. The mob take-over of the legislature was, given the GOP’s shady handling of the filibuster, perhaps a necessary evil. But the raucous celebration of the chaos by Democrats is immature at best, and strikes me as ominous. If the majority of people have to seize power from their elected officials, even for a moment, that’s a serious and sober moment. But when a minority do so it is even more troubling. Even if you oppose the law, there’s nothing to celebrate at all in how it was defeated.

It depresses me and it shames me as an American. There may have been some few folks who acted out of principle, but all I see–on both sides–is a rowdy crowd rioting because their team won or lost a sporting event.

Adverse Childhood Experiences And The Truth About Everyone

2013-06-26 Dr. Felitti

In the first of three articles for the Huffington Post, Jane Ellen Stevens talks about one of the biggest public health studies you’ve never heard of.

Dr. Felitti ran an incredibly successful preventative health program, but one of the initiatives had a puzzling problem. Aimed at helping people who were significantly overweight, he found that about 50% of the population would drop out before completing the program, even though they were making good progress. His efforts to uncover this mystery led to something even bigger. In a massive study with over 17,000 participants, Dr. Felittie and others discovered that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)–things like physical or sexual abuse–created a staggering toll on adult health: “chronic disease,… mental illness, doing time in prison, and work issues, such as absenteeism.” What was really surprising, however, was the extent of the exposure to ACEs. Over 2/3rds of study participants had experienced at least one form of adverse childhood experience, and of that population, 87% have experienced two or more. Dr. Felitti, upon seeing the results for the first time, says “I wept. I saw how much people had suffered and I wept.” 

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Salon’s New Atheism Takedown

2013-06-26 Salon New Atheist Takedown

I’m pretty much over the New Atheists these days, probably because the one Facebook friend of mine who posted Dawkins and Hitchens quotes most frequently left Facebook. Funny, how our worldview can hinge on such inconsequential matters. Even when we know all about selection bias and problems with small sample sizes, it just takes too much cognitive power to keep a constant watch on unruly intuitions.

In any case, this is a particularly good take-down of New Atheism (specifically: of the late Christopher Hitchens) and, surprisingly enough, it comes from Salon.

Even more surprising? It cites a “The Most Misunderstood Book: Christopher Hitchens on the Bible,” which is  an article from the FARMS Review of the Maxwell Institute out of BYU.

Salon quoting Mormons to take down Hitchens? The world is truly upside down.

Beyond Bigotry: The Real Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

2013-06-25 Gay Marriage Protest

A lot of things are disconcerting about the same-sex marriage debate. One of them–which I’ve already discussed–is the way that social conservatives were silent for too long in pairing a principled stand for traditional marriage (one Christian virtue) with sincere interest in the welfare of homosexuals as brothers and sisters (an even more important Christian virtue). But another comes from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

Eric Teetsel explains it harshly but clearly in a post for the Witherspoon Institute:

Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George recently wrote a masterful defense of what marriage is and why it matters. It is no exaggeration to say that their argument is the intellectual foundation for marriage advocates, used by the National Organization for Marriage, the Heritage Foundation, and others (including my own Manhattan Declaration).

What did the same-sex marriage movement do with this seminal book? They ignored it.

They don’t have answers to the authors’ claims; they don’t need them. Advocates of same-sex marriage aren’t concerned about the logic of their arguments or the precedents they establish. Forget facts; theirs is a more powerful weapon in the era of amusement: fad.

As I said: harsh. But I think Teetsel is largely right, even if it could have been expressed with more sensitivity. In almost all cases the “debate” goes something like this: support gay marriage or be tarred a bigot. With some exceptions that seems to be about it. It’s as though Americans who support gay marriage think that the Westboro Baptists genuinely represent the traditional marriage constituency.

They don’t.

With the upcoming Supreme Court decision, this debate may be winding down or moving on. Then again, maybe not. But in either case, I think it would be incredibly beneficial for those who support marriage equality to read the paper Teetsel referenced. It’s called “What Is Marriage?” and it appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. It’s not exactly short or light reading, but as Teetsel points out, it’s the actual expression of what defenders of traditional marriage actually believe. No matter how this debate plays out, I think that’s something worth understanding. Primarily, I might add, because I think while it may not be what gay marriage supporters want to hear (obviously), it’s notably free of what bigotry, animosity, or intolerance as a motivation. Vocal minority of fearful idiots notwithstanding, that’s not what the traditional marriage movement is really about.

So go ahead: give it a read.

Lost, Underwater Egyptian City

2013-06-25 Lost Egyptian City

So this is pretty awesome:

It is a city shrouded in myth, swallowed by the Mediterranean Sea and buried in sand and mud for more than 1,200 years. But now archeologists are unearthing the mysteries of Heracleion, uncovering amazingly well-preserved artifacts that tell the story of a vibrant classical-era port.

More pics and video at ScienceDump.


Monday Morning Mormon Madness: Modesty and Feminism.

Check that alliteration out! That’s a 5 in a row and 5 out of 7. Don’t try this at home!

Anyway, here’s my weekly post for Times And Seasons, in which I jump into the fracas over (former Power Ranger, current swimwear designer) Jessica Rey and her comments about bikinis, modesty, and empowerment.

2013-06-24 Jessica Rey Power Ranger

This one is definitely less heavy on the Mormon terminology and more universal in scope, although it does address more the concerns of religious (not necessarily Mormon) social liberals and social conservatives. I’m going to turn comments off on this thread, so feel free to weigh in over there if you’d like.

People Never Finish Articles

A person browses through media websites on a computer on May 30,

I witnessed this first-hand when my post about food insurance vs. health insurance got picked up on Reddit. It was obvious from some of the earliest comments that folks hadn’t bothered to read the article, because they were like “Well… he didn’t bring up X” when, in fact, I did bring up X. So, not a surprising article from Slate, but they do have lots of specific data to back up the reality that folks just don’t finish reading articles. Often even if they share them!

I wonder how many people finished reading that article, though…