Monday, June 29, 2009

Gay marriage argument chart

This is pretty good:
HT: Mad Latinist

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Iran's government: "We'll quell them with hobbits!"

The Lord of the Rings movie adaptations are pretty good (I could discourse at length about their flaws, of course), but somehow I don't think the Iranians will accept this in lieu of the changes they're demanding:

In Tehran, state television's Channel Two is putting on a "Lord of the Rings" marathon, part of a bigger push to keep us busy. Movie mad and immunized from international copyright laws, Iranians are normally treated to one or two Hollywood or European movie nights a week. Now it's two or three films a day. The message is "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Let's watch, forget about what's happened, never mind. Stop dwelling in the past. Look ahead.

Frodo: "I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish that none of this had happened."

Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

The author of this piece wonders:
Who picked this film? I start to suspect that there is a subversive soul manning the controls at Seda va Sima, AKA the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. It is way too easy to play with the film, to draw comparisons to what is happening in real life. There are the overt Mousavi themes: the unwanted quest and the risking of life in pursuit of an unanticipated destiny. Then there is the sly nod to Ahmadinejad. Iranian films are dubbed (forget the wretched dubbing into English in the U.S.; in Iran dubbing is a craft) and there are plenty of references to "kootoole," little person, the Farsi word used in the movie for hobbit and dwarf. "Kootoole," of course, was, is, the term used in many of the chants out on the street against President Ahmadinejad.
But the hobbits and dwarves are the good guys. So maybe it is being shown as a pro-hardliner propaganda piece.

It's funny that the state is trying to bribe people with the very thing that it rails against: the culture of "The Great Satan". If the best thing that they can come up with to keep people glued to their televisions are Hollywood blockbusters, then haven't the anti-Westerners already lost?

Kudos to Mark Sanford...

...for not making his wife stand next to him when he delivered his mea culpa.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I could use a week-long solo vacation to Argentina, too...

Update: Sanford confesses to an affair. Sullivan:

Dog Bites Man

Another far-right Republican confesses to an extra-marital affair. Not the most effective way to keep it under wraps: disappearing for days with no notice. But it's important to remember at these moments that we're all human. I just wish the GOP leadership would apply that lesson to everyone else.

[end update]

...But I'd at least tell my wife and co-workers where I went. Apparently, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, decided that was unnecessary:

We didn't know the Appalachian Trail went all the way down to Buenos Aires!

AWOL South Carolina guv Mark Sanford resurfaced at the Atlanta airport this morning, and told The State newspaper he hadn't been hiking the trail, as his staff said. Instead, he'd taken a jaunt down to Argentina...

OK, there's gotta be a good story behind this: a Republican Governor disappears for a week, leaving his clueless staff to spout bullshit stories to the media. His wife doesn't know where he is, or pretends not to know. This is the weekend of Fathers' Day, by the way. Gossip-hungry bloggers want to know!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Upside-down thinking

The Green Revolution in Iran is provoking some odd reactions among some of the neocon hawks. One would think a peaceful, popular uprising against a regime that the neocons have demonized would be a welcome development to them. But instead, we're getting a lot of stuff like this:
I had a conversation at lunch yesterday with a friend, a neocon Jewish American, that fascinated me. We were getting ready to get up from the table when he said, "Hey, wait a minute, do you want to talk politics for a minute?" We proceeded to discuss the events in Iran and at one point I brought up my amazement at the protesters' embrace of non-violence and their courage in the face of aggression. I said, "I wonder if this will be a lesson to the Palestinians. That perhaps if they renounce violence and embrace peaceful resistance they too could garner more international support for their cause, a la Gandhi." His reaction fascinated me. He got this very serious, dour look on his face and replied, "That's what worries me. The biggest existential threat to Israel is that the Palestinians will realize the potential for non-violence and embrace it."

I finally understood why some of the more cynical neocons cannot stand the Green Revolution. Without a conflict, without a bogey man to demonize, they are scared to death. In their minds their legitimacy comes from the fact that they are better than the bogey man, that they are necessary to keep the bogey man at bay. I don't think that the nation of Israel is so fragile that it could not come to terms with a peaceful movement for Palestinian statehood.

Wacky thinking. "Oh no! People who now use terrorism might decide to pursue their agenda by peaceful means! Israel is doomed!" or "It's important that the oppressive regime in Iran wins, because if the people win then our foreign policy might not be hostile enough." This kind of upside down thinking reminds me of this passage in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Internal Monologue supports a strong public health care option

I should be more active on this issue. There are all sorts of signs that
Democrats are caving. No. I want real health care reform. I think that
has to include an optional government administered plan.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back to English

The right-aligned text and strange formatting was too weird. I'm shifting back to the English language setting. I'm still keeping the green and the Tehran location and time zone.

You want me to go back where? For what?

A former slave responds to his ex-master's request to come back and work for him:
Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
[...]


It's good; read it all.

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Violent muppets sell coffee in the late 50's

This is pretty stupid, but funny:



Yes, those are real muppets by Jim Henson.

Dangers of Pornography

xkcd warns us of one of the dangers of internet porn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Persian Version of Internal Monologue

Internal Monologue is temporarily publishing as a Persian blog with a Tehran timezone.
This is going to make the formatting and timestamps pretty weird for a bit.
Why am I doing this?
See this article in Wired.

Going Green for Iran

Following Sullivan and Instapundit, I've changed Internal Monologue's background color to a shade of green as a show of support to the Iranian protesters. This is until I figure out something more constructive to do.

And yes, I am aware that the US has a horrible history of meddling for the worse in other countries' affairs, particularly in Iran in the 50's with the Shah. And I'm aware that the Iranian opposition is not a bunch of sinless Persian Unitarian Universalists ready to make nice with every single US policy aim. They have their own set of vested interests. They'll be messy and difficult and maybe even awful and catastrophic. But they would be more legitimate than the current rulers, who have exposed themselves as contemptuous thugs. There's a lot of cynicism out there in the blogosphere about what's going on in Iran. But it seems to me that if that hardline theocracy were to fall, it would have to be because of a movement like the one happening there now. And I'll take cronyist insider plutocrats over fanatical religious puritans any day of the week.

Yes, in a lot of ways what's going on in Iran is none of my business. But sometimes we choose to make things our business, even if only in a small symbolic way.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iranian upheaval

I wish there were something the United States could do. But I'm afraid any statements or actions of support by the United States will be used by the oppressive government to justify oppression in the name of keeping "foreign meddlers" out of Iranian politics. We really shouldn't have helped that coup in 1953. Anyway, if I figure out some decent way to help I'll let Internal Monologue readers know. Sullivan's blog continues to offer extensive coverage.

Update: Digby's blog mentions wearing green tomorrow as a show of support for the protesters.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Potential revolution in Iran

Sullivan's blog is covering it. I hope the Iranian people can choose
the government they want.

[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or
typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Facebook user ID

I'm zdrake314, just like my email addresses.
http://www.facebook.com/zdrake314 takes you to my Facebook page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Tiller, now this

More right-wing domestic terrorism, this time at the Holocaust Museum. I hope this stops. But unless someone reaches out to these folks and calms them down, I don't see that happening. I'm starting to get scared, though there are so many other things that are more likely to hurt me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New media & old media


From Ben Joseph via Sullivan.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My scores on the big 5


(This and other quizzes here.) Hmm, interesting. My scores in green, average in purple.

  • Openness to experience: not too surprised here, as this dimension is all about thinking of cool new things andbeing curious about different ways of looking at things. Not surprising that I almost maxed
  • Conscientiousness: not surprised that I'm higher than average here. I've always been a good student, concerned about getting things right, etc.
  • Extraversion: thought I'd score lower on this. I've always thought of myself as pretty introverted. Maybe all the Facebook chatter is making me more of a people person.
  • Agreeableness: I would have thought I was nicer than the average person, but I guess I'm not. Maybe there are times when I can't be bothered.
  • Neuroticism: Ouch. I used to think of myself as cool under pressure and emotionally stable, but recent life events have kind of upended that. I do worry, I'm anxious about things, and I've always been sensitive and cried easily as a child. Of course, my current circumstances are somewhat exceptional.
It was interesting answering some of these questions, because I had to decide whether to answer them from my recent depressed state of mind or my more recently "enhanced" state of mind (see here and here for details.) I chose the former. My neuroticism is now MUCH lower. And I'm largely thankful for it.

Moral foundations of liberals and conservatives


On Yourmorals.org, (registration required) you can take a bunch of quizzes about your personality and how you think about morality. The first tests involve assessing how important harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity are to your moral decision-making. The above graph shows my results in green along with average liberal results (blue) and conservative results (red).

So, I'm slightly less concerned with harm than the average liberal. I'm actually closer to conservatives than to liberals in my opinions about fairness: I think fairness is more important than conservatives do, but only by a little bit. On authority I'm pretty much an average liberal. And I'm less concerned with loyalty and purity than everybody. Overall, I'm not too surprised.

(HT: Mad Latinist via email)

Side note: From the numbers at the top of the graph, it appears that liberals are much more interested in taking Web-based quizzes about their morality than conservatives are. Or it could be that liberals are more likely to read blogs that link to such quizzes. Blogs like this one, for example.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Women dominating higher education


Wow, I didn't realize the numbers were so dramatic:
Of the more than 3 million college degrees for the Class of 2009, women will earn close to 60% of those degrees (1,849,200), or almost 149 degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men.

And it's now official: Women dominate men at every level of higher education, in terms of degrees conferred.
This has dramatic implications for the distribution of power in our society. 30 years from now, things like legislatures and corporate board rooms and the upper echelons of academia are going to look very different than they do today. I fear backlash.