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Kudos to Amanda Berry for taking a chance on a stranger to save herself, her daughter and two other women who had been kidnapped as teenagers.

It was heartbreaking to learn that the stranger didn't know her story and to hear the recording of the 911 operator who either did not know her or who did not acknowledge knowing her name. (Even if she did recognize the name, perhaps 911 responders are trained not to jump to conclusions?)

As virtually the first thing she said, Berry's name was a shining sword she wielded that would light the way and explain everything. She had every confidence that the outside world had not forgotten her name.

It was both untrue and true at the same time. Although Charles Ramsey didn't know her name, he recognized someone who needed help to be returned to her family and to the community that never forgot her name and never gave up hope.
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I had some unpleasant thoughts after yesterday's school shooting news. They came down to: What if all this -- the attack, the mourning, the outcry -- were to be seen as part of an acceptance that a particular society has made, whether it ever made that formal recognition or not?

This is not an original thought. Tom Tomorrow put it brilliantly in a 2011 cartoon that he re-posted at a reader's request:



Moving from the prosaic to the poetic, here is a mytho-anthropological view that the author Jo Walton just posted:

Originally posted by [community profile] papersky at Moloch


In ancient Carthage bronze and angry gods
demanded children's blood and children's bones
and people bowed their heads down on the stones
knowing their city's life hung on those odds.

These babies sacrificed in all their gore
this blood of innocents was shed to save
protect, defend the rest, the parents gave
their children to be safe from theft or war.

So, in America, the mighty Gun
likewise demands this high and bloody price
in children, in a bloody sacrifice
to stern necessity, what must be done.

The Gun, like Moloch, keeps the people free.
But these are not my gods, will never be.


My thoughts are with the survivors, and everyone who works with others toward a safe and fruitful society.
tartysuz: (Default)
This is one of the best science stories I've read in the mainstream media -- and it's by a wine columnist!

Why wine drinking and monogamy go together

Instead of playing on the possibility of a causal relationship between wine drinking and cultures that sanction monogamous marriage (as opposed to cultures that sanction polygamous marriages), the columnist actually quoted the scientists explaining the "spurious correlation" demonstrated by the data.

The conclusion is that the economic conditions that lead to monogamy are the same ones that make a wine industry and a wine culture possible.

"Since females are better off by sharing the resources of a rich male rather than singularly enjoying the limited resources of a poor male," the authors write, "there is a positive correlation between polygyny and male inequality."

Randomia

Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:12 am
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Welcome Back, Buffy
It's more of a case of me going back to the comic. I'm working through a stockpile of them and realizing how much I miss Joss Whedon's dialogue for the Buffy characters.

Buffy to a sentimental Riley at a field hospital: "Did they give you the MOST morphine?"

Xander to a sentimental Buffy: "Yooou... have feeings. At me."

Buffy was never good with intimate conversations, was she?

Egypt's Canada's Internet Disconnect
On Monday, The Guardian noted that the government of Egypt was able to shutdown the entire country's access to the Internet in a matter of minutes because there are only three wireless carriers there.

On the same day, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was blasted by consumers, businesses -- even the supposedly non-interventionalist Prime Minister -- for deciding to allow usage-based billing. The New Democratic Party's digital affairs critic Charlie Angus complained that the ISPs here were acting like a family compact instead of a free market. How many major wireless providers are there in Canada? Three.

But like the masses showing up in Egypt to push change, the 100,000 people per day who signed a petition to reverse the decision had an effect. The government will reverse the decision, as the industry minister confirmed last night -- via Twitter.

I Want My Dire Straits
I finally read the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council's decision to ban the unedited version of "Money for Nothing" from broadcast. This organization is the Canadian broadcast industry's equivalent of the Comics Code Authority: it's non-governmental, its decisions are non-binding and it is completely wrong-headed, at least in this case. It was acting on a compliant from a member of the LGBT community who objected to the song because it uses the word "faggot." I can certainly see how someone would not want that word in public at all, so it's a reasonable complaint. However, the broadcaster was moronic for using the "but we've played it since 1985" excuse. Sure, but just because you could drive without wearing a seatbelt in 1975 doesn't mean you can do so now. Alright, that's not really a fair comparison. There are laws about using seatbelt, but none about using the word "faggot" on air.

Still, the CBSC decision makes no sense. It includes a whole section entitled "Contextual Considerations," which lists instances wherein it decided that the context justified the use of the word "fag" or "faggot," though mostly "fag": the decision includes some completely made up unsubstantiated reasoning for why the short form is less offensive than the full word. (There is also a section cheekily called "Whither the Evolution of Language" that fails to take into account gay artists reclaimation of the word, or the use of the word to describe homophobic situations: it's as if the panel does not envision actual gay people using the word for whatever purpose. ) Yet, the CBSC dismissed the context of "Money for Nothing": "The Panel certainly does not close the door to that possibility but it does not consider that “Money for Nothing” is such a song. The Panel finds no case for the application of the exception protecting legitimate artistic usage on this occasion."

Wha? Did the CBSC just say they wouldn't close the door on a contextual defensive of the use of the word, then just closed the door? If it had shown that it knew the song was ironic, and still had reasons for banning the word, fine. But that just doesn't seem to be the case. Really, almost the most depressing part of this case is that the CBSC did not understand the song.

Ironically, the aforemaligned CRTC has ordered the CBSC to review its decision. Could this order have been prompted by the hundreds of thousands of complaints from people who thought the CRTC was involved, when it was clearly not? There's also the fact that a handful of radio stations across the country played the unedited version in heavy rotation as a protest -- with no consequences. The CBSC is clearly looking like it overstepped its bounds, and with nothing to back it up.

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