Weekend Update 05-12-2012

Today, my wife and I have been married for twenty-two years and together for more than twenty-four! She’s a pretty amazing woman for having put up with me this long. By now, hopefully, she’s used to me and wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of breaking in someone else. 😉 Today, we’ll be seeing The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project 10 Years Later. I’m looking forward to it!

In this post, Krugman does a good job explaining how the discipline of mathematics and science are supposed to function when reality runs counter to our “intuition” or “common sense.” It’s short and well worth the read.

Robert Reich accurately describes history and our current situation. Not that I see anything good coming from it when such a significant portion of our country appears to have completely lost touch with anything resembling reality.

In neither many uses of the “pro-choice” perspective (to free herself or others of the “burden”) nor in many applications of the fundamentalist Christian perspective, does a woman actually have anything like what I would consider a “choice.” Fr. Ernesto picks up on that aspect perfectly.

Frankly, it’s the privileged idiots like Sharron Angle who are truly “spoiled. Prior to the current Lesser Depression, the recession in the early 80s was our worst since the Great Depression. And during that recession, I was a young teen father and husband living in a highly depressed part of our country as part of relatively poor families. (Unlike Romney “borrowing from parents” to start a business was never an option.) And jobs did not exist. I certainly wasn’t picky. I traveled anywhere I could find work, often living out of my ’65 Chevy Bel Air with perpetually bald tires (I could only replace blowouts with other used tires). I dug ditches, planted pine trees, picked strawberries, worked as labor in construction (and during a good period actually as a drywall finisher). And even so, there were plenty of gaps between jobs when there was simply nothing. I never had a phone during that period and often didn’t have electricity or sometimes even running water. And this current Lesser Depression is worse than that recession was. Repugnuts spouting off about people unwilling to work make me sick.

And, of course, the above is made even worse by all those who desperately want to assert that the unemployment problem is structural rather than stemming from a lack of demand. There’s absolutely no evidence supporting their view. In fact, all the evidence says the current unemployment isn’t structural. But if they accepted reality, then they would presumably be forced to advocate or work to increase demand (like we did in every previous recession and — driven by war — to finally end the Great Depression). It’s one thing to have differing interpretations of ambiguous facts or philosophical positions about the underlying nature of reality. It’s another to put your hands over your eyes and ears, ignore unambiguous facts, and choose to live in fantasy instead of reality.

That transformation, from consumerist governed by the passions, to disciple governed by Christ, is the very heart of the Christian life.

Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms. Robert Reich on a roll.

The banking regulation “debate” has always puzzled me. The evidence, after all, is crystal clear. We had forty years of banking and financial industry stability (and growth) following the Great Depression and the regulatory reforms enacted as a result. Starting in the eighties, an ideological movement proposed the hypothesis that regulation was categorically bad (which is prima facie silly, of course, since most of us do desire safe water, food, etc.) and that we didn’t actually need those banking and financial industry regulations. Over the last thirty years we’ve experimented with removing many of those regulations and as we’ve done so, we’ve seen increasing fraud, questionable behavior, rank profiteering, and overall instability in the banking and financial industries culminating in a virtual duplication of everything that went wrong in the 1920s and 1930s and our own Lesser Depression. So there’s absolutely nothing unclear about the facts. We fixed the banking and financial industries after the Great Depression and those industries were stable for forty years. We then tested the hypothesis that those regulations were unnecessary and have proven it false. So let’s put the regulations that actually worked back in place. Duh. It’s simply another area today where we see the psychology of ideology and group participation completely overwhelm the ability to perceive reality for a large segment of our population. And I have no idea how we fix that. How long can we maintain a stable government “of the people” when many of those people are lost in a fantasy world?

There’s the whole thing about refusing to learn from history and dooming yourself to repeat it. “In the long run we are all dead.” Indeed.

Dianna Anderson has a good post on Romney and gay-bashing. I agree that people can change. In fact, I think most of us change over the course of our lives to one degree or another. I’ve certainly changed quite a bit, yet I’m still continuous with the person I was when I was a teen. However, our past remains a part of us. We can, I suppose, reasonably hope that we “won’t be raked over the coals” for things we did when we were young, the world usually only works that way when people don’t know or can’t see those parts of your past. I know that all too well as a teen parent, because that’s something that’s both highly visible and stays with you your entire life — no matter what you accomplish in life. I don’t regret and have never regretted having my children or actively being their father. In many ways, they are the raison d’etre of my life. But as I mentioned to Dianna on twitter, even though I’m coming closer to that fifty year mark these days, when conversation turns to kids and people ask how old they are, I still get that uncomfortable pause as they look at me and do the math. I can’t claim it really bothers me anymore. For me, it’s been normalized. If anything, I tend to be amused. But I know all too well that nobody really gets a pass on their past unless they relocate, develop all new friends (and enemies), never talk about what they want gone, and stay away from high profile gigs — like running for President. And, of course, assuming that the past they are leaving behind is something that, unlike teen parenthood, actually can be left behind. (Oh, and if anyone who reads my blog has any doubt, I’m very pleased that President Obama expressed his personal support for marriage equality as the sitting President of the United States. Even if he did it purely for political reasons — which I rather doubt — it remains a highly significant event. And I fully support him in it.)

It’s been two decades since the seminal first person shooter (fps) Castle Wolfenstein 3D was released. Now you can play it online in a browser! It sucked me in for a while.

This is an excellent celiac disease panel conducted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Take a few minutes to watch it.

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