Понимание Путина


“Vladimir Putin 14 February 2008-7″ by Kremlin.ru. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Putin_14_February_2008-7.jpg#/media/File:Vladimir_Putin_14_February_2008-7.jpg

I want you to try (yet another) of my little thought experiments. It goes like this:

Suppose that China began forming military alliances with various nations in South America, and eventually signed a defense treaty creating the Sino-American Defense Organization, or SADO (admittedly a terrible name). Let’s say that at the same time the various nations of South America formed the Pan-American Union. They adopted a similar set of laws and a single currency, and did so with China smiling benevolently on the whole affair.

If this happened, we might start to get understandably nervous, much as we did when the Soviets were fooling around down there during the Cold War. Of course it’s no longer the Cold War, so no problem, right? We’d eventually adapt and come to accept what’s happening down there, though we probably wouldn’t like it.

Then suppose that the Sino-American Defense Organization began moving north. First Panama joins up, now putting what we’d view as Chinese proxies in charge of the Canal. Then they move up more, with Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and other nations joining up. As they do, they also begin trickling their way into the Pan-American Union. Now we have a whole set of nation states that are apparently in league with China. But they’re still not touching us, so that’s ok, right?

Well, then suppose that Mexico starts making noises about joining, and as they’re doing that, there’s an uprising in Mexico City. This uprising claims to be about replacing a terrible government that isn’t responsive to the people, and puts in place one that’s much more responsive to China. Ooops, I meant to say, “the people”, though for all we know, that’s as in “The People’s Republic of Mexico”.

Now we’d really lose our minds. Here we’d have a potentially hostile country directly on our southern border that’s being influenced by another country that’s our ideological enemy, and that’s regularly competing with us in the global marketplace. Forget nervous; we’d be scared out of our minds.

Replace China with America, SADO with NATO, the Pan-American Union with the European Union, and Mexico with Ukraine and you begin to understand what Russians in general, and Putin in particular, might be thinking, and why they might be lashing out.

“But!” you might protest. “America and the European Union aren’t like that! We’re friendly, benevolent countries that only want freedom and peace!”

A reasonable point, but this is where the China analogy somewhat falls apart, because China hasn’t launched an illegal, unprovoked war against another country in a fair amount of time. We, on the other hand, have, and did so with much help from the EU.

So try to put yourself in Putin’s shoes. Try to actually think like him. While he is yet another in a long line of Russian dictators, he’s neither insane nor evil. He’s reacting to what he genuinely believes is a threat to his country. Thus Russian actions in Georgia, thus their actions in Ukraine.

I’m not saying this is in any way justifiable. Russia is jumping at shadows, and Putin is a dictator. Russia needs to calm down and Putin needs to step down. Democracy can and should come to Russia, and by that I mean real, solid democracy; not the mocking of it that currently exists with rigged elections and dissenters being punished.

But until that happens, we need to try and understand why Putin thinks the way he does, and we need to deal with him that way. The Cold War is pretty much over, and we need to avoid restarting it, and understanding Putin and treating him and his position with respect, is the only way to do that.

Oh, and for the record: him invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea had nothing to do with any “weakness” on the part of Obama. If it did, you have to ask yourself why he also invaded Georgia during George W’s time in office.

Are GMO’s Safe?


Once again, the answer is, in general, yes.

That’s a good article, and I highly recommend reading it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the following food crops are genetically modified from their wild cousins:

Potatoes
Corn
Tomatoes
Wheat
Rice
Strawberries
Cabbage
Broccoli
Barely
Raspberries
Blackberries
Logan berries
Garlic
Green peppers
Red peppers
Pepper
Coffee
Chocolate

And…you know what? Every single domesticated food crop we eat is genetically distinct from its wild cousin. We began modifying DNA the moment we invented agriculture, which was about 10,000 years ago, give or take a few centuries. This applies to animals as well as plants, and if you doubt me, try to make a pet of a wolf rather than a beagle.

We really need to grow the fuck up. Simply because something has had its DNA tinkered with in a lab does not make it any worse (or better), than something that had its DNA tinkered with slowly over the course of decades/centuries.

We have nine billion people to feed. We can all make snarky little comments about how there should be fewer people, but unless you’re willing to eat a bullet, you can shut the fuck up, and just eat some GMO food instead. It really can save humanity.

Well, We Got This to Look Forward To


And I’m…reasonably optimistic. I was horrified by much of what happened during season 8 (ahem), but there’s some possibility here. And that girl at the end? If she’s anyone we’ve seen before, she’ll be either Jenny or Susan. If. Which is a very powerful word!

Reality Cares Not for Your Opinions


So this guy has reached the opinion that global warming is no big deal. He’s a Nobel prize winning scientist, and so therefore his opinion really matters, yes?

Eh.

First off, his field is physics, not climatology. If he was speaking out against vaccines his opinion would carry about the same weight that it does here.

Second, fine. This one scientist doesn’t think much of global warming. Ok. On the other hand, 97% of other scientists do. So we can have him and two other scientists on one side, while 97 others are saying that, yes, it’s totally a real problem.

Science isn’t based off opinions, it’s based off verifiable, repeatable evidence. It doesn’t matter what this guy personally believes. The evidence is against him, and that’s all that counts.

A Confederacy of Dunces


Who won the American Civil War? It seems like a very clear-cut question. The Union won, slavery was ended, and the nation remained intact. But who actually won the Civil War? By the end of Reconstruction, the black population of the south weren’t slaves, it’s true, but they were slaves in all but name. They had no civil rights, they earned subsistence wages, they were routinely oppressed and sometimes lynched. A very real argument can be made that while on paper the Confederacy lost the war, they did not, in fact, lose it, and in the process they and their descendants made themselves out to to be something other than a movement entirely dedicated to slavery and its preservation. History may be written by the winners, but in the case of the Confederacy, they’ve sure done a great job of editing the final draft.

That’s the overall thrust of an article I read this morning, that also makes some very valid comparisons between the Confederacy, various Confederate-style movements, and the Tea Party. I strongly suggest you all go read it. The comparisons made between the way many liberals acted after the 2000 election and the way many conservatives acted after the 2008 and 2012 elections are quite striking. Can you honestly look at the Tea Party people and tell me we wouldn’t have had an armed insurrection crop up if Obama’s win had only come via the Supreme Court?

More About that Fucking Flag


Including some stuff I didn’t know!

A Very Simple Solution


So many people still have no clue when it comes to gay marriage and believe it to be an abomination before God. Oddly, they don’t seem to have the same problem with people wearing clothes of more than one kind of cloth, people having tattoos, or people no longer having slaves, but there you are.

The Attorney General of Texas has said that county clerks who don’t want to perform same-sex weddings don’t have to. Mind you, these weddings are a completely secular institution that have nothing to do with religion, but, again, there you are. Also, a clerk in Mississippi, long known as a bastion of tolerance and decency toward all, has resigned rather than perform same-sex weddings.

One of these people has handled this correctly, and as a mature adult. The other is the Attorney General for Texas.

I think it’s stupid to bring your religious beliefs into the workplace, but if you genuinely have a problem with the idea of having to sign off on a marriage license for a gay couple, quitting your job is a valid option. It sucks that this woman feels that she has to do that, but that’s fine; it’s her choice.

On the other hand, telling people they don’t have to do a major component of their job, simply because they don’t like one permutation of that component, is childish and asinine. It also opens up a horrible can of worms that the former Confederacy really, really doesn’t need to be dealing with.

For example, why should this stop at same-sex couples? Should a Catholic clerk be allowed to refuse to marry two divorced people? What about a Muslim clerk, who doesn’t believe Christians and Muslims should marry? Would that clerk be allowed to pass? What about someone who believes, as many people actually still do, that mixed-race marriages shouldn’t exist? Are they allowed to cite their “deeply held beliefs” and refuse to do their job?

This finding from the AG is probably illegal, and certainly unwise. It’s not going to hold up in court, nor should it. But Texas is now going to have to waste time and money defending the concept.

I think the lady that resigned her position in Mississippi is an idiot, but at least she’s doing what she feels is right for her, and not demanding that her job be changed to suit her needs. I think she’s being foolish overall, but I can respect her choice. The Attorney General of Texas, however, is simply playing politics.

His solution is probably illegal, and certainly unworkable. Hers is silly and unwise, but it affects only her. One of these people chose the simple solution. The other did not.

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