Sunday, May 22, 2016

Music Rules: Soft Cell, "Tainted Love" (Extended Version)


There's nothing like a good cover version, is there, a new and good take on a classic song.

"Tainted Love" is a great three minute pop song on its own, but combined with the long instrumental midsection and gradual shift into The Supremes' hit song, it works well on so many levels.  It was the first mainstream electronic song that caught my ear and made me understand its appeal.  (I already enjoyed electronic music in the form of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, but not mainstream pop songs.)



Abuse Unbridled: Two horses were mutilated and killed for people's entertainment

On Saturday May 21, the gambling event and fashion show for the obscenely wealthy - known as "The Preakness" - took place.  During the "race", two abused horse fell and were injured.  Instead of attempting to medically tend to the horses and save their lives, the financial decision to save money was made and the horses were killed.  No doubt they already had semen from the horses so they could breed the next generation.

I hope you enjoyed your bloodsport.  Did they also "euthanize" the jockey who broke his collarbone in the fall?

Circuses are under pressure to stop using animals for human entertainment.  Animals in circuses are subjected to abuse, to violence and mistreatment, to poor health and living conditions.  Most of the public oppose it and circus numbers are declining.  Even some in the corproate media are speaking out against animals in the circus. 

But when it comes to horses owned by the rich for gambling and entertainment, a different standard applies.  As we have seen in multiple professional sports (e.g. basketball, golf, footbal, etc.) don't dare to criticize the wealthy or you will be banned from the sports venues.  Breaking scandals is unacceptable - you can only report on repulsive behaviour and actions after they are publicly known (e.g. Donald Sterling, Tiger Woods), not while their dirty secrets are still behind closed doors.

Some circuses have switched to human-only displays and shows, and racing can do the same.  Keirin racing in Japan is popular and is a sport on which there is legal gambling.  (Keirin racing became a popular replacement for horse racing because of Japan's limited land space.)  Unlike animals, humans have the ability to say "no" and the willpower to say "yes" and push themselves to their physical limit.  There is no abuse when there is a choice.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Questions Avoided: Is "argumentum ad ignorantiam" a type of GMO plant?

A reputable scientist will agree that argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy ("argumentum ad ignorantiam" - the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), but that doesn't mean educated people are incapable of making mistakes, cherry picking or ignoring what they don't want to hear.

GMO advocates still haven't answered important questions about GMO plants: Why are they actively speaking out against and criticizing those who choose not to eat or grow GMO?  Have they shown it is harmful to continue eating and growing plants that have been grown and eaten for thousands of years?  Are they trying to force everyone to abandon and never again grow what we have been eating? 

Why do GMO advocate mischaracterize and equating of those who don't want GMO to "conspiracy theorists"?  If your argument is right, you don't need to attack those who disagree with you.

All emphasis added to the text is mine.
Alternet: The Media Got It Wrong About a New Report Saying GMOs Are Safe: Here Are 3 Takeaways

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on GE crops and technology was met with cheers from the biotech industry, but little meaningful scrutiny by the mainstream media. Initial media reports boiled the message down to “GMOs Are Safe” and “healthy,” some even claiming that the study “proves” the safety of genetically modified crops.
[...]

1. GMOs are safe, but..."

Absence of evidence is not absence of effect," Dr. Fred Gould, a professor at North Carolina State University and chair of the Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops, told UPI. "We're very clear to point out that with very subtle long term health effects, it's really difficult to point out such a thing."
[...]
 

2. We don’t need labels, but ...

Labeling GE food is no panacea, but it will increase the odds that problems will be detected sooner rather than later. The decision to not label GE foods has the effect of keeping the entire medical community on the sidelines, unaware of possible GE food-allergen problems, and not capable of doing anything about them.

[...]


3. GMOs don’t harm the environment, but...

Despite finding no “conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from GE crops,” Gilliam wrote, the committee concluded that “evolved resistance to current GE characteristics in crops is a major agricultural problem.”

In other words, a problem for farmers, but no problem for the environment. 


[...]
Did the committee make any definitive, declarative statements? Perhaps this one: Contrary to the biotech industry propaganda, GMO crops are doing nothing to improve farmers’ yields or feed the world.
"The committee examined data on overall rates of increase in yields of soybean, cotton and maize in the U.S. for the decades preceding introduction of GE crops and after their introduction, and there was no evidence that GE crops had changed the rate of increase in yields.”

But we already knew that.
So "GMO is safe" is a false statement.  A more honest statement would be "GMO has not yet been proven to cause harm."

If there is no benefit in yield to growing GMO crops but there is potential risks by growing them, then why should people not have the choice not to grow GMO?  If you say you're not trying to take away people's choice, then why criticize, attack and mischaracterize those who don't want to eat or grow GMO plants?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Music Rules: Rough Trade, "What's the Furor About the F├╝hrer?"

Who says things never change? Sometimes they get worse.
"Air is thick with propaganda
Terrorists? The new SS
We're in the midst of a recession
A new master race goossteps into our hearts

[...]
Every one of us is a neo-nazi
Living in a so-called democracy"


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Comments Closed: Fact checking is not "harassment"

One of the most oft repeated mantras of bloggers is:
"You have no right to free speech on my blog!"

True.  Bloggers have no obligation to host disagreement, no obligation to endure trolls, no duty to permit "Yes, but..." arguments.  Many (e.g. Ania Sarkeesian) justifiably don't allow comments on their blogs or youtube channels because they have been subjected to organized campaigns of hate and threats of violence.

However, silencing comments is not always about harassers claiming to want "free speech".  As often as not, silencing comments is done by writers who are unwilling to be fact checked.  They make up things as they go, state their opinions as "fact", and then claim "offense" when someone actually takes the time to do the research and cite a source (e.g. an anti-vaxxer deleting a comment which factually reports that Andrew Wakefield is not a doctor).

If you are so full of yourself that you believe you are unquestionable and do not want your opinions challenged, then feel free to build yourself an echo chamber.  You could even pretend to allow comments. Create your own sock puppet accounts to give the illusion of readership and popularity.  It might even make you feel good about yourself. 

Being fact checked is how you learn, and people willing to learn are not afraid of it. Comments are a community, and it shows what sort of readership you have.  When you have no comments, you have no readers.  It is not just the fact that no one can post, but also the fact that no one would want to read someone who is afraid of feedback or correction.  Chances are, if you can not handle valid criticism, your opinions are likely not worth reading.  And people shold stop reading you.

Pain Sucks: If only Ranma 1/2 were real life....

Oh, how I hate going to the doctor.  Some treatments and procedures are necessary on the road to transitioning, but that doesn't make them any less pleasant.

This weekend I received another round of laser hair removal.  Every zap on the face hurts, and it smells like my flesh is burning as the doctor does it.

Pain is one thing, but I hate the pills he gave me even more.  I have never done illegal drugs of any sort, and I avoid anything like painkillers for the same reason: they affect my ability to think.  It feels like I'm looking through cotton, and in talking I feel like I'm drunk (which I also rarely do).  I'm not a control freak, but I really hate not being able to think clearly.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Music Rules: Jimmy Page, "Liquid Mercury"

In 1988, after the demise of his attempted supergroup "The Firm", Jimmy Page released his solo album "Outrider".  It was a much better record than anything he had done since the end of Led Zeppelin. 

"Liquid Mercury" was the standout track from the album, listenable for its set or repeated riffs and themes, yet completely off-kilter and non-repetitive structure.  At a time in the 1980s when most New Wave and Heavy Metal groups were becoming derivative, "Outrider" was a refreshing return to classic rock yet still highly original.


Sexist Missteps: Heels demand that a woman wear heels at work, fire her for saying No

A sexist and sociopathic financial company in England refuses to pay a woman her wages because she dared to wear shoes to work that are comfortable and presentable instead of wear high heels that objectify her.

Wearing heels is a choice.  I like wearing them from time to time, but not all the time.  It is painful to wear them longer than a four hour party once a week, never mind nine hours every day at work.

And yet there are knuckle draggers out there who seem to "think" women can still be objectified, and fired or not paid if they reject abuse and double standards.  Nicola Thorp's question is perfectly valid: Would men be required to work all day wearing shoes that are painful, uncomfortable and (in most workplaces) physically unsafe?  If men aren't required to, why are women required to wear them?

London receptionist 'sent home for not wearing heels'

Temp worker Nicola Thorp, 27, from Hackney, arrived at finance company PwC to be told she had to wear shoes with a "2in to 4in heel".

When she refused and complained male colleagues were not asked to do the same, she was sent home without pay.

Outsourcing firm Portico said Ms Thorp had "signed the appearance guidelines" but it would now review them.
The company is now "reviewing their policy", but only after public shaming and the potential of legal and financial damages.  They certainly aren't changing policy because they view women as human beings.

Death Sports: Football player "retires" because of injuries

Ricardo Lockette didn't "retire", he is barely alive.  Even if his injuries heal, he may be permanently disabled and endure long term medical problems.  And the NFL won't contribute a dime to help him.

The self-centred and self-aggrandizing Tom Brady ignorantly said about concussions the other day, "It's just part of life".  Yeah, right, as much as gunshots are a part of life - they only endanger you if you live in a country where such dangerous and reckless behaviour without accountability is considered a "right" and something to aspire to.  And the majority of that country ignorantly celebrate the worship of such behaviour.

Terrible neck injury forces Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette to retire

[...]

The hit from Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath while Lockette covered a punt was so bad, Lockette said earlier this year he could have died. 

"The doctor told me that pretty much my skull, all the muscles, all the ligaments that connect my vertebrae and the cartilage between that -- so the cartilage is out, the ligaments torn. He said if I would have stood up then, the weight of my head, left, right, front, back, I would have died," Lockette said in March, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Death Sports: Pop Warner football kills 18 year old kid

Football is a dying sport, and a sport that kills.  The only question is how many people will be killed before the game dies.  How many is not just players, but also children, girlfriends and wives killed by players with dementia, and people endangered and killed by the acts of players and former players (e.g. Rob Bironas).

People who put their children into football are no better than people who shake babies.

Paralyzed youth football player who settled with Pop Warner dies at 18

Donnovan Hill, the paralyzed former youth football player who reached an unprecedented seven-figure settlement with Pop Warner football, died Wednesday after complications during surgery related to managing his health, his mother, Crystal Dixon, said (via ESPN.com).

He was 18.

In 2011, Hill was paralyzed while making a tackle in a Pop Warner game in Lakewood, Calif. His injury and subsequent lawsuit, in which he claimed his coaches promoted a head-first tackling technique, ignited the discussion over player safety in youth football in general and the vulnerability families of severely injured players face.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Music Rules: Lighthouse, "One Fine Morning"


Here's your semi-weekly dose of music, an idea stolen from a thousand other websites and blogs.



Lighthouse released "One Fine Morning" in 1971.  They were one of several groups form that era (Blood, Sweat & Tears; Tower of Power; Chicago; Sly and the Family Stone; Steely Dan) to incorporate large brass sections into modern rock and pop music.  It is as breathtaking now as it was then.



Music is played by musicians with instruments and can be recreated on stage with instruments.  If you disagree, tell someone who cares.  (I've had people, in person, make the idiotic claim that my statement is "racist" because it doesn't allow for "music" that involves sampling.  Please explain how it is "racist" to prefer Miles Davis, James Brown or Two Tone bands over stuff like Kanye West.)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Some Disagree: Mother's Day isn't for everyone

If you have a great mom and you love her, then call her up and tell her. Make it a great Mother's Day for her and for you.  But remember that not everyone has or had the same life as you.  And they're not wrong for feeling differently about their family or about having one.

For a variety of reasons, all of them valid, some women choose not to have children.  Some are concerned about the planet, and havung just one child will increase the population by about 3-5 by 2050.  Some can't afford to have children and make the sacrifice not to bring up any in poverty, even though they want kids.  Some choose not to have any because they want their personal freedom of not having the responsibilty of raising kids - it is NOT "selfish" to not become pregnant, not selfish to not have kids that don't yet exist.  And there are other equally valid reasons, none of which you or anyone has the right to criticize.

Some women cannot have children due to infertility, genetic conditions they don't want to pass on to kids, among other medically valid reasons.  Women are not "barren" or "failures" for not having any children. You are insulting all women when you say they have no value if they don't have kids, you're no better than the republicans in the US who want to deny women bodily autonomy.  Women are complete human beings without ever having children, contrary to what some people "think".

Some people are lousy human beings, they are physical, emotional and sexual abusers.  Just because a woman gave birth to someone does not mean the person owes her anything.  If you are ignorantly demanding that people "forgive and forget" (or worse, tell the victims to "apologize"), please shut up.

Would you tell a woman to "forgive" an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend who used to beat on her or raped her?  Unless you're a complete pile of garbage (e.g. a republican who believes rape doesn't happen), you wouldn't tell a woman to do that.  So why would you tell people to "forgive" when they suffered a childhood of abusive parents?  Being blood related DOES NOT entitle anyone to anything.  It is not "selfish" to protect oneself by cutting all ties with one's blood relations - note that I don't call them "family", because they aren't family.  You have family by choice, not by force.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Predators Target: Rightwing christian fanatics are enabling and encouraging cisgender rapists

In the US, all known cases of sexual assault against women and children in public bathrooms have been perpetrated by cisgender heterosexual men.  Police departments across the US report not a single instance of transgender women assaulting anyone in bathrooms anywhere.

Breitbart's ignorant attempts to smear transgender women backfired when they showed that twnety five cases of sexual assault were by cisgender men.  In their typical incompetence, not-so-Breitbart did the exact opposite of what they intended, and showed that transgender women pose no danger to anyone.

Since straight men are the danger, why are christians and various rightwing groups repeating the lie of "man in a dress raping women"?  Why are christians encouraging sexual predators to enter women's washrooms at Target stores (and elsewhere) and endangering women?


Right-Wing Anti-LGBT Activists Are Sending Men Into Target Bathrooms to 'Test' the Store

Do you know how many reports of transgender people assaulting others in bathrooms there have been? The grand tally stands at none, a number also expressed as zero, zip, nil, nada. Yet several jurisdictions and states—North Carolina most notoriously—have passed “bathroom bills,” and a number of others have pending legislation targeting trans people and restroom access. In response to the ginned-up scaremongering at the heart of these laws, Target issued a message stating it “welcome[s] transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” Now, anti-LGBT activists have appointed themselves restroom guardians, and have been going into bathrooms in the company’s stores to "test" the store's vigilance.

Among the greatest ironies of this story is that these bigots claim they’re trying to protect women from trans people, but they’re overwhelmingly men. In other words, a bunch of dudes, in the misguided name of “safety,” are invading women’s rooms. As if having a random guy in the bathroom while you go isn’t a bajillion times worse, more invasive, and something far closer to harassment than having a trans woman in the stall next to you. It’s utterly ridiculous.

Children Abused: Beating kids until morals improves doesn't work

Wow, what a shock.  Abusing children with physical violence is as mentally and emotionally damaging as sexually abusing them.  Who would have expected that?

Pretty much everyone who has ever endured physical violence from their parents, that's who. 
Risks of harm from spanking confirmed by analysis of 5 decades of research

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

The study, published in this month's Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. "We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children."




I have asked a question to every person who attempts to justify "spanking" (a/k/a child abuse):

If spanking kids is okay when they disobey or do something wrong (e.g. break something), does that mean your partner or employer can do the same if you do the same things?  Unlike a child, an adult who has the knowledge and education to know better.

Unsurprisingly, defenders of child abuse say "No".  In their hypocritically "thinking", it's perfectly okay to physically and mentally abuse a child who can't fight back and doesn't know their legal rights and protections available to them.  But hitting an adult who can call the police, file a lawsuit or physically fight back is suddenly somehow wrong.

Temporarily Silenced: I had first world problems

Real life intrudes.  My laptop computer died. 

I will definitely never buy Compaq again.  My ten year old no-name generic laptop was sitting in a closet for over two years, and it worked the first time I turned it on today.