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Druid Squirrel

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Republicans are comedy gold [Jun. 14th, 2009|03:54 pm]
Druid Squirrel
Last year Republicans argued that Obama was a member of a radical Christian sect with a pastor that hated Whitey. And also that he was a secret Muslim. And also that he was a godless communist.

Picking up where they left off, they now seem to be claiming that a public option for healthcare would be the WORST THING EVER! It would put the government between you and your doctor! Oh, and also it would attract so many subscribers it would put the private plans out of business.

Please pick a story and stick with it.
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Atheist notes [Apr. 19th, 2009|02:15 pm]
Druid Squirrel
There's this old joke about a person stopped at an IRA checkpoint in Northern Ireland. The IRA soldier demands "Are you Protestant or Catholic?", the person replies "Atheist". The soldier is confused for a second but then says "Atheist Protestant or atheist Catholic?".

Which is just a long-winded way of saying that although I'm Druid, I'm atheist Druid.

Just saw a great quote by David Hume:

Bad things happen when people decorate their bare, inchoate, unstable and inconsistent imaginings with the baser trappings of their culture. They come out of the fog bearing ludicrous beliefs about cosmology or biology, or carrying their envies and fears, their embarrassments about sex in general or certain varieties in particular, their desire to steal some land or make war on their neighbours. Deities then become dangerous, megaphones through which emotions are whipped up and particular moral demands are given a spurious authority. People need prophets and priests to carry the megaphones, and they are often supposed to signal their rapport with the deity by making remarkable things happen.

Or, to put it more succinctly:

Whoever can get you to believe absurdities can get you to commit atrocities.

On a slightly different note... it just dawned on me that whenever an atheist is depicted on TV or in a movie, it's always the same: they grew up happily going to church until some Big Personal Disaster happened to them and convinced them that God couldn't possibly let something like that happen and therefore does not exist. If they can just work through their person anger and see God's plan, they'll get their faith back. Rendereth unto me a freaking break. Did anyone ever consider the possibility that some people might just realize that magic Jewish zombies are as ridiculous as flying pasta monsters?
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Take that, H.L. Mencken [Nov. 6th, 2008|01:41 am]
Druid Squirrel
John McCain, with his brilliant VP pick, has just become the first person to go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
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And another thing [Nov. 6th, 2008|01:35 am]
Druid Squirrel
So, Obama gets 61% or so in California, while No On 8 only gets 48% or so. Assume all McCain supporters voted Yes On 8, that still leaves 13% who voted for the Obama-Bigot ticket. What's the deal with that?
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Just Unmarried [Nov. 5th, 2008|11:09 pm]
Druid Squirrel
I don't know what to say. I feel like I've just been punched in the stomach. Yesterday I was married; today I guess I'm not. Thanks a lot, California.

A few random observations:

It's really strange to me that the California Constitution can be overridden with a bare majority vote. I always thought the purpose of a Constitution was to protect minorities from mob rule. But now it seems like the California Constitution is completely meaningless. Ok, sure, the fundamental structure of the government can't be changed -- we couldn't, for example, abolish the executive branch and replace it with a parliamentary system and Prime Minister -- but, beyond that, evidently the sky's the limit. No right is safe.

I think things might have gone differently if Obama (who claimed to oppose the measure) and Schwarzenegger (who claimed he'd be there to campaign against it) had stepped up. So please pardon me if I'm not 100% on the Obama bandwagon. I understand that McCain would be a million times worse, but, come on. Clinton had "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and DOMA, and now Obama is already throwing us under the bus and he hasn't even taken office yet.

Thinking about how to win this with a future ballot measure: Yeah, demographics are in our favor: every year, more bigots will die and be replaced by new voters who can't image why you'd want to discriminate against gays. So, in theory, we'd do a little better in two years, and a little better two years after that, and so on, until we finally win. But I don't think it's that simple. For one thing, it's lot easier to get a "NO" on a ballot measure than it is to get a "YES". I think that fact alone is worth maybe 5 points. In other words, if we had another election tomorrow asking, "Should the right to marry be extended to same-sex couples?", we'd probably lose by 9 points instead of 4. Not because people are suddenly more bigoted, but because some people just tend to vote "NO" on things they don't care about. Another point to consider is that, if you keep bringing up the same damn thing every election, you're going to annoy people. It's crazy, but I think you really have to watch out for that kind of reaction and pick your spot.

So the question is, from a tactical standpoint, when does it make the most sense to bring up a ballot measure to restore marriage equality? My understanding -- and I could very well be wrong -- is that, according to the conventional wisdom, Republicans tend to be better about showing up for midterm elections, whereas Democrats are more likely to skip the midterms and just show up every four years to vote for President. Is that still true? If so, maybe our best bet is to wait until 2012.

The other factor to consider is: will Mittens be the GOP nominee in 2012? If so, it seems entirely likely that Space Jesus or Moroni or Magic Underwear Man or whoever gives the Mormons their marching orders, will suddenly decide that the best use of their money is to get Romney elected, rather than to stamp out civil rights. (The stamping will presumably come after Romney is elected.) Without the insane amounts of Mormon money pouring in to fund the non-stop, scaremongering attack ads, this suddenly looks like a different race.

I also think we've now seen which of their lies tend to be swallowed the most, and we can pro-actively design the wording of our ballot measure to circumvent them. Yeah, they'll come back with a new set of lies, but maybe these won't be as virulent. For example, the lies that seemed to stick the most were (1) if we don't outlaw same-sex marriage, your kids will be taught about it is schools; and (2) churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages or lose their tax-exempt status. Hopefully our lawyers can come up with language that defeats both of those arguments. For example, something like, "The right to civil marriage shall not be denied or abridged on account of sexual orientation. Religious organizations have no obligation to perform same-sex marriages. Nothing in this amendment will be interpreted to require that public schools teach about same-sex marriage. Nothing in this amendment will be interpreted to affect the tax-exempt status of any religious organization." Of course, everything but the first sentence is superfluous, since all that other crap is already true whether it's in the amendment or not -- this is just to help get a "YES" vote.

Ok, sorry about the incoherent rambling, but I find it therapeutic to sit down and write about this, instead of just curling up into a ball.

P.S. Thanks to pretty much everyone on my friends list for doing their part to fight this evil. Liz and John, Bill and Cyn, Madeline, I know all of you worked your asses off. I'm proud to call you all my friends.
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The Three Trillion Dollar War [Mar. 20th, 2008|12:07 pm]
Druid Squirrel
Via The Poor Man:

"No one could have predicted that letting a semi-retarded dry drunk with a history of abject business failure run the country for 8 years might end up having negative economic consequences."
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One year on last.fm [Feb. 6th, 2008|09:39 pm]
Druid Squirrel
Today is my one-year anniversary on last.fm. In that time, I have scrobbled about 20,400 songs, which works out to about 56 songs per day. The band I listened to the most in the last year is the German band Popol Vuh, with 931 listens. The song I listened to the most (172 times) in the last year is "Histoires Sans Paroles" by the Quebec band Harmonium. Looking at the list of the 50 bands I've listened to the most over the past year, the biggest thing that jumps out at me is the fact that there are virtually no American bands on the list. The only one in the top 50 is the band Oregon, who play a kind of organic world jazz. Here's a breakdown of my top 50 band list by country:

Germany: 18
UK: 14
Sweden: 3
Norway: 2
Finland: 2
France: 2
Quebec: 2
Belgium: 2
Italy: 2
USA: 1
Poland: 1
Hungary: 1
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Elemental Logic [Jun. 16th, 2007|12:53 pm]
Druid Squirrel
I'm kind of bummed -- I finished reading Water Logic Thursday night. Friday, I was busy all day: went from work directly over to the Dragons of the Yellow Sea game, then home and immediately to sleep. But now, with nothing to distract me, I feel so bereft! Whatever will I do without Shaftal?

I've already read both of Jane Fletcher's series (Celeano and Lyremouth). Have I now exhausted the supply of queer-friendly fantasy/sf worlds? It can't be!
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Recent Reading List [Jun. 3rd, 2007|07:14 pm]
Druid Squirrel
Since I just mentioned that Not Before Sundown was the best book I've read this year, I figured I should list the other candidates. Actually, I'm not really organized enough to keep track of when I read which books, but these are the ones I see stacked up in piles next to the bed.

His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, by Naomi Novik: Seems like I read these ages ago. Probably wasn't actually this year, after all. Also, I'm getting the distinct feeling I wrote about these in a previous entry.

The Gypsy, by Steven Burst and Megan Lindholm: got this used from (I think) Madeline. It was ok. The collision of fantasy and reality kind of reminded me of Gossamer Axe by (??? can't remember).

Unquenchable Fire, by Rachael Pollack: was actually somewhat disappointed. I guess my expectations were too high after Godmother Night. The endless myths kind of bored me after a while.

Stable Strategies and Others, by Eileen Gunn: after I started reading this, I realized I had read many (if not all) the stories before. Bummer.

Air, by Geoff Ryman: almost lost be a couple of times with the slow-ish pacing, but ultimately a very satisfying and enjoyable read.

Life, by Gwyneth Jones: kind of the opposite of Air, in that it really had me engaged the entire time, but the denouement was kind of a let-down. Still, overall, this is an excellent commentary on gender politics.

Always, by Nicolla Griffith: probably my least favorite Griffith novel, or at least that was what I felt after I got far enough into the book to grasp the "scope", but the more I read the more I liked it. I wanted to be bored by the detailed descriptions of, for example, martial arts training sessions or self-defense classes, but I ended up being mesmerized. Also, the way the secondary plot (the "incident" in Atlanta) was slowly revealed made it almost like a mystery novel in a weird way. So, yeah, I still like absolutely everything she's written.

Protector of the Realm, by Gun Brooke: really bad sci-fi. Almost didn't finish.

All seven books by Jane Fletcher. They are divided into two series, as follows:

The Temple at Landfall, The Walls of Westernfort, Rangers at Roadsend, Dynasty of Rogues: this is a sci-fi series about a planet colonized by humans, where all the men die off, but they learn to reproduce using a special genetically-engineered technique that allows certain gifted individuals to merge the DNA of two women to create a child. The world is absolutely fascinating, and I was completely hooked by the "big" stories: politics, rebellion, religion, etc. The small, personal part of the stories were more run-of-the-mill, and I was even bored at one point by a murder mystery that I didn't really care about. Still, overall, this is an excellent series and I'm looking forward to further volumes.

The Traitor and the Chalice, The Exile and the Sorcerer, The Empress and the Acolyte: another excellent series by Fletcher. This one is fantasy, as opposed to sci-fi, and it is absolutely brilliant. The story is excellent, but -- again for Fletcher -- it's the world that's the most interesting part. The main population of the world live in a culture where everyone is bisexual. To be attracted exclusively to people of only one sex is, as one character puts is, as strange as being attracted only to people whose favorite color is blue. Then, into that culture, we plop down a woman who comes from a strict matriarchal culture (where women are super-strong due to an ancient magic) and homosexuality is punishable by death, and there are numerous opportunities to examine assumptions about gender and sexuality. Still, as I said, the story is what really drives this one. Also, Fletcher is clearly a better writer than many of the others on these pulpy lesbian specialty labels, and I could see her doing more ambitious writing in future.
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Not Before Sundown [Jun. 3rd, 2007|07:06 pm]
Druid Squirrel
Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo, is a complete mindfsck of a book; devoured it in one sitting this afternoon. It was kind of disturbing, but then again, kind of not disturbing, and it's kind of disturbing that it was not completely disturbing. Or something. Easily the best book I have read this year; highly recommended.
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