How to Handle Indiana


So the other day, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R…but you know that, of course), signed a very stupid bill into law. Basically it says that if someone has a discrimination suit filed against them, they can use their religious beliefs as a defense. This means that if a gay couple is getting married and a florist refuses to sell them flowers because the florist hates money the florist’s religion hates gay people, then they may well be able to get away with it.

There has been much hand wringing and discussion over how to deal with this. My personal method? Ignore it and wait for it to implode on its own, which it will.

First off, I’m not 100% sure of the Constitutionality of this law. The Equal Protection Clause seems to potentially be a problem.

Second, just you wait. Just you wait until the first time someone refuses service to a black person, because their religion forbids mixing of the races. Or refuses service to a Jewish person because, c’mon, they’re Jews. Or imagine a Muslim refusing to sell things to a Christian. Hey, under this law, they can all get away with that, right?

Or suppose our money-hating florist up above (seriously! What kind of idiot turns down gay wedding flower money?), decides that he also hates mixed-race marriages, and won’t cater to people in that situation. Or mixed-religion marriages.

Don’t think any of this applies to you? Don’t think that any of this is realistically likely? Think again, because once the door is open to this kind of discrimination in any form, it’s open to it in all forms. It can and will apply to you and everyone else.

I know some people believe religious freedom should trump all, but please understand: once you decide to do business in the public square, you surrender certain amounts of freedom to do so, including religious freedom. You are not allowed to pick and choose to whom you will sell your flowers, or your wedding cakes, or whatever else. Don’t like it? Tough shit. Close down your business or sell it off. The Bible doesn’t require you to be making money, after all, and wealth was certainly something Jesus seemed to frown on.

So for those who are against this law, just wait. The courts and the far more ancient Law of Unintended Consequences will take it down.

A Viral Viral Video


This is a very good, very informative video. My only regret is that he didn’t cite a lot of examples, but I’m sure if you’ve spent more than fifteen seconds on the internet, you can think of a few.

Sci Transit Terry Pratchett – 1948 – 2015


AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

This one hurts.

I’ve written obituary articles on here for people like Leonard Nimoy, Elisabeth Sladen and Roger Ebert. And while all were important to me in certain special ways, none were quite as important, quite as interesting, and quite as enjoyable as Terry Pratchett.

Pratchett was born in the UK in 1948. From an early age he’d wanted to be a writer, and his first story was published when he was thirteen. Not bad. From there he drifted into a career in journalism, and eventually wound up as Press Officer for the Central Power Generating Board, which covered three nuclear power plants; something he found very amusing in the wake of the incident at Three Mile Island.

Things changed dramatically for Pratchett’s life in 1983 when he sold The Colour of Magic; the first of what would end up being forty books in the Discworld series. It wasn’t the best of his works, as he himself would later admit, but it was the start of something greater.

Pratchett’s writing career really took off with the publication of Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. Not long after that, the Discworld novels took a turn with one of the best books in the series; Small Gods. It was around this time that he did the math and realized it was now costing him money to go to work, so he left the nuclear industry to write full-time.

And write he did! In addition to the forty main range Discworld novels, he also wrote Nation, a book about a young boy and a young girl trying to survive and rebuild a society on an island devastated by a tidal wave. There was also Dodger, a story about a sewer rat in Victorian London and how he rises up into the world. There were also other small series of books, like the Truckers series, and the Johnny books. He even ventured into non-fiction with The Science of Discworld and its sequels, as well as A Slip of the Keyboard.

In 2007, Pratchett’s world took a bit of a turn, when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. It was not a happy thing, to put it mildly, but he took it in stride, describing it as an “embuggerance”, and working hard to help Alzheimer’s patients throughout the UK and the world. It was an odd form of the disease, which left him with his memory, but severely impaired his motor skills. He also became an advocate for the “right to die” movement in the UK and worldwide.

I was fortunate enough to meet Pratchett twice. First was at a book signing in Seattle, where he talked about his love of Seattle’s chowder, and his record for the amount of time from landing at Sea-Tac to having his first bowl of that visit at Pike Place Market (something like an hour, which is fairly impressive).

The second time was here in Phoenix a couple of years ago. It was long after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, and it was clear that he wasn’t quite as vibrant and lively as he had been. Still, he related a story of getting his knighthood, which involved meeting the Queen. He said that while in Buckingham Palace, he’d noticed that the Queen and his own mother were about the same age and same build. He mentioned that he wanted to see if he could find the light switch and pull-off a bit of a swap.

One of my favorite quotes from Pratchett was this, “”It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.” I can think of few better statements about the man and his writing. He will be severely missed.

(Long Overdue) Good News, Everyone!


goodnewseveryone

I’ve been offered a new job. I’ll be working a tech support position out in Scottsdale beginning April 16th. This is absolutely fantastic, and quite overdue. I’ve been very discontent with the way my life has been going lately, and this represents a (hopefully) positive change.

Plus it’s a desk job, so I’ll be able to go back to getting fatter and fatter…

How Nerd Culture is Broken


This article is inspired by this post over on Topless Robot. They can explain to you in greater detail what’s being talked about here. But I wanted to kind of expand on some of the points.

If you ever want an unpleasant experience, go to trade chat in World of Warcraft. You will never see so much hate and bile spewed out anywhere else as you will there. People calling each other “fag” and “cocksucker” are the least of it. “Nigger” generally makes a few appearances, as does more subtle racist remarks, like how now that Obama’s president, we should call it the Black House. That isn’t even going into the misogynistic bullshit.

This is certainly not isolated to WoW’s trade chat. Try playing any first person shooter game online. “Fag”, “nigger”, “retard”, etc. All of intolerance’s greatest hits. They’re all there. Generally they’re being spewed out by adolescent boys, or oftentimes by grown men who simply want to act like adolescent boys.

Various gaming companies, well aware of this problem and how uncomfortable it makes gamers, have tried to take action. WoW has a nice little “ignore” button that you can use to silence anyone who’s acting like a total twat. You can report them, too. Most other online games have similar.

But that’s not enough. The trolls always find a way back. So here’s the solution I have.

If you know someone who acts like this, even if it’s “only” online, call them out on it. Don’t be a passive enabler of their bullshit. Tell them they’re acting like jerks and that they need to knock it off. Make it clear that even behind a mask of pseudo-anonymity, that sort of behavior isn’t acceptable.

It isn’t just unacceptable; it serves no useful purpose and only makes everyone, including game publishing companies want to keep their distance from you. Yes, that’s right. The game companies themselves don’t like this behavior. People who act like this are only making the game less accessible to new players, and that makes gaming companies frown, because especially with games like WoW, they depend on those new players for money.

It is vital that these behaviors change. Acting like bullies and like you’re king of your little castle is idiotic. So please, if you know anyone who does this, call them out on it. It is, after all, entirely possible that they just don’t understand how offensive they’re being. So let them know. You’ll be doing everyone a service.

Feelin’ Vaguely Lazy


I considered writing about what a tool Netanyahu is, then I decided…naw. Let’s put up a funny video instead.

Integrity


I’ve refrained from commenting on the Brian Williams/NBC Nightly New situation because, frankly, I don’t much care. His exaggerations may have been intentional, but maybe not, and either way, it’s just not that big of a deal. NBC did the right thing by suspending him, and he’s probably gone for good, but my views of him as a journalist haven’t changed.

Let’s contrast that with the situation at Fox News, where Bill O’Reilly has been caught-out exaggerating to pretty much the same degree. Has Fox News suspended him? Of course not. Instead they’re blaming the whole thing on “far-left advocates”. This despite the fact that they admit he’s exaggerated his record, at the very least.

Let’s contrast these two things. First off, Williams voluntarily suspended himself before NBC did so. He did this because it was the right thing to do. By contrast, Fox has admitted that O’Reilly exaggerated some things, and haven’t taken any steps to discipline him. He certainly hasn’t taken any steps himself.

So here we have a great example of old-school journalism, which included integrity and accountability, up against modern “journalism”, which includes neither. This should be a surprise to no one.

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