Open Thread, doing really neat things with sand edition

This is an open thread. Go wild! Self-linking is like a double-entendre about masturbation: always appreciated.

* * *

I love the interwebs. Time from not even knowing an art form exists, to seeing that there are dozens of examples of it on Youtube: 30 seconds.

  1. Immigration Raids Routinely Ignore Fourth Amendment.
  2. The American Family, Kate & Allie, and Co-Parenting.
  3. Research data on racial profiling ignored by mainstream media.
  4. Olbermann’s and O’Reilly’s corporate owners shut them both up, because GE didn’t like being criticized on TV. Thank goodness for a free press! (And shame on Olbermann and O’Reilly for going along with it.)
  5. Apparently, only 25% or so of white Southerners think that Obama was born in the USA.
  6. The Fat Woman Stereotype. (Via this post on “The Challenge of Writing Fat-Friendly Fiction.“)
  7. Are Fat Rights today where Gay Rights were 30 years ago?
  8. The Birthers are right! Finally, a compelling argument proving that Obama is not a natural-born American.
  9. “The National Organization for Marriage is right. Gay marriage IS a religious freedom issue. They’ve just identified the wrong party as victim.”
  10. What if modern-day Republicans had been around when firefighting was made into a government function, instead of left to the free market?
  11. How Medical Innovation Really Happens. Hint: It’s not all the free market.
  12. In 28 of 33 Gitmo detainee cases heard so far, federal judges have found insufficient evidence to support keeping them in prison.” Also, poll shows that Americans favor torture more than the people of almost all other nations. Plus, we tortured a young teenage boy. In short, we suck and we’re evil.
  13. The argument for a free market in selling human kidneys.
  14. The argument against a free market in kidneys.
  15. The Future Of Book Banning?
  16. Links about polyamory.
  17. Power Your Car With Pee
  18. The best of The Question (a superhero character). “The plastic tips at the end of shoelaces are called aglets, and their true purpose is sinister.”
  19. This magazine design is so much cooler than I’ll ever be:

Oh, and here’s some dancey fun for the Buffy/Angel fanatics among (amongst?) us, via Buffyfest:

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23 Responses to Open Thread, doing really neat things with sand edition

  1. 1
    FilthyGrandeur says:

    note that most of my links this week are NSFW.

    Extenze for women–so the men already taking Extenze have something to fuck: i think the title speaks for itself.

    filthy grandmothers!! click here!!!!: my response to people finding my site by googling the title phrase.

    No safety for racism: basically this is for white people who either think it’s okay to say racist things among fellow whites, and for those white people who fail to challenge those racist things.

    lulz: a sort of follow-up to my Extenze for women post.

    note also i’m on vacation, and while i have computer access, i’ll do my best to moderate comments on my site in a timely manner, so don’t be discouraged from leaving comments; just please be patient with me.

    awesome links this week, Amp!

  2. 2
    PG says:

    #4 – The problem I saw with O’Reilly’s reporting on GE was that it was dishonest in two ways. (1) He successfully got his viewers to think that GE was selling the Iranian government military equipment that would then be used to kill people in Iraq, when in fact GE was doing nothing of the sort (not out of corporate ethics, but because it would violate U.S. trade sanctions). (2) It seemed to arise from a desire to “get back” at Olbermann by attacking MSNBC’s corporate parent. It was a form of ad hominem — O’Reilly couldn’t make a good counterargument to Olbermann’s criticism of his show, so O’Reilly instead decided to go after GE.

    #6 – I was sort of disturbed by the “via” link’s saying, “If an author’s aim is to solely to get books into the hands of those who already want fat heroes and heroines, then it’s important to face the reality that such a target audience has not yet become even a small niche market. Sadly, it’s more like a few ledges at the back of a couple of established niches such as cozy mysteries, romance, and humor.” I think contemporary romance/chick-lit has been doing some great work in featuring heroines of all body types (including disabled women), and it seems sort of dismissive to say “Ah, well, it’s just a niche.” Romance is a “niche” that is 50% of mass market paperbacks sold in America, and it’s a genre dominated by female writers and readers.

    #8 – As I was looking into the birther movement more in the last week, I realized some people have been categorized as birthers when that’s not quite an accurate term for them. A “birther,” to me, is someone who believes there has been a massive conspiracy ranging from the Hawaiian newspapers of 1961 who printed Obama’s birth announcement, to Republican governor Linda Lingle last year and the Hawaii Department of Health, to fabricate evidence that the president was in fact born in Hawaii. It’s someone who is saying that Obama is a liar and a fabricator of evidence.

    However, folks like Orly Taitz and some of the people showing up in the Heretical Ideas comments are not basing their challenge to the president’s eligibility on where he was born. Rather, they are making an argument about constitutional interpretation, saying that the term “natural born citizen” should be interpreted in accordance with a 1758 book by a Swiss legal philosopher that describes the jus sanguinis (literally law of blood) rule that applied to citizenship in Europe, where being born in a country doesn’t entitle you to automatic citizenship there (incidentally, I think this is part of why even legal immigrants are a “problem” in Europe more than in the U.S. — they and their children are kept as outsiders for generations).

    That the U.S. does not operate under Continental law, and that the 14th Amendment indicates we are a jus soli nation (and that conservatives usually cry when European law is cited to interpret U.S. Constitutional provisions), is the kind of detail that Taitz has to ignore in order to make this argument, but it’s not an argument about Obama’s birth. I have no problem with people’s making legal arguments. Legal arguments were raised about Chester Arthur’s father not having been a citizen at the time of Arthur’s birth; about whether George Romney and John McCain, not having been born in an actual U.S. state, were “natural born citizens.”

    While both are almost certainly motivated by hatred of the president, which in turn is linked to xenophobia/racism/religious bigotry, there is a significant difference between someone who is calling Obama a liar and fabricator and who requires a massive 50 year conspiracy for his theory, and someone making a crappy argument about Constitutional interpretation.

  3. 3
    PG says:

    #13 and #14 – I have more serious objections to organ selling than this, but the last time I was discussing organ selling, I noted that a market in organs priced above $12k would require someone to pay a substantial federal gift tax if he gave a kidney to a sibling, parent, child or friend.

  4. 4
    Myca says:

    Legal arguments were raised about Chester Arthur’s father not having been a citizen at the time of Arthur’s birth; about whether George Romney and John McCain, not having been born in an actual U.S. state, were “natural born citizens.”

    Have there been legal arguments about John McCain’s status as a natural born citizen?

    Where?

    —Myca

  5. 5
    PG says:

    Myca,

    One of the more prominent examples.

    The uncertainty about whether birth outside the 50 United States and D.C. still makes one a “natural born citizen” has produced law review articles and at least one bipartisan Senate bill to settle the question.

  6. 6
    Myca says:

    Ahh, okay, I thought you meant ‘legal arguments’ as in, ‘a lawsuit argued in court before a judge’ etc etc.

    —Myca

  7. 7
    PG says:

    Myca,

    There’s a standing problem for lawsuits that challenge a candidate’s eligibility, because you generally can’t get a lawsuit past the preliminary stage if you can’t identify a specific harm to yourself or the people you represent (this has been a problem for some environmental lawsuits, for example). Citizen/taxpayer standing is difficult to convince a judge to accept, which is why the dozen-odd lawsuits against Obama’s eligibility mostly have failed without any judge’s actually going through the evidence and arguments.

    Taitz got a plaintiff who was being called up for active duty military service and could claim a kind of standing because he would experience the individual harm of being sent to fight under an illegitimate Commander in Chief. Alan Keyes, as a presidential candidate, also had standing to challenge the other candidates. As I recall, Keyes’s lawsuit challenged both Obama’s and McCain’s eligibility, so at least Keyes is an equal opportunity kook.

    But for the most part, we expect Congress to settle such matters in the process of certifying election results as valid. The courts have leaned toward considering it something of a “political question” inappropriate for judicial jurisdiction.

    ETA: Some googling indicates additional lawsuits questioning McCain’s eligibility. But again, these lawsuits were based on differing interpretations of the term “natural born citizen,” not on calling McCain and his mama a liar.

  8. 8
    FurryCatHerder says:

    A great song that showed up on Pandora.

    http://www.pandora.com/music/song/nofx/youre+wrong

    Not safe for the workplace. Also not safe for people who lack a complete sense of perspective.

  9. 9
    PG says:

    Can anyone explain the reasoning of the following statement to me?

    Until recently, the Swiss government had steadfastly insisted on Swiss sovereignty and refused to provide assistance to other governments in cases of tax evasion — that is, cases in which a taxpayer failed to declare income, either intentionally or unintentionally. While tax fraud is considered a crime here, tax evasion is not (though it can be subject to fines).

    This Swiss peculiarity of considering tax evasion as a mere administrative offense has a long history. We think government exists to serve us, not the other way around. We understand that we have to pay taxes — and we do, with numerous studies showing that the Swiss are extraordinarily honest about paying what we owe — but we do not think it is the government’s role to intrude on our privacy and wrench them from us.

    This attitude goes back to Switzerland’s founding in the 13th century. The original Swiss communities’ resentment of what they saw as the Hapsburgs’ oppressive taxes helped push them to claim their independence in 1291.

    Today, Swiss citizens continue to vote on any tax increases in referendums (and sometimes even accept them). These healthy curbs on government contrast with the Orwellian concept of the “transparent citizen” whose every act is known to government. We see our system as a social pact between citizens and the state.

    Maybe the Swiss are not subject to Original Sin and the general selfishness that characterizes the human condition, but in the rest of the world, if people only have to pay taxes on as much income as they feel like declaring, they’re going to declare precious little income. Tax evasion is seriously damaging to developing countries, where the government is expected to provide services in accordance with the demands of burgeoning capitalism, yet lacks the tax revenues that would accord with the country’s rising GDP.

    Oppressive taxes have nothing to do with the government’s ability to collect the taxes that have been duly approved by the citizenry. If taxes are where citizens through direct democracy have approved them to be, why is it a problem for the government to actually be able to collect all of those taxes? Only where taxes are oppressive due to a tyrannical or democratically deficient government does tax evasion become in some way morally justifiable.

    I understand the importance of privacy — indeed, I find it unlikely that the Swiss actually have greater protections of their physical privacy than Americans do under the 4th Amendment — but what does Orwell have to do with your government knowing how much money you have? Did I miss that part of 1984 where citizens’ ability to revolt against an oppressive government was stymied by their income tax returns?

    Maybe it sounded better in French.

  10. 10
    Rosa says:

    This is just speculation, but I know the Swiss make a lot of money in corporate taxes on the banks that keep all that tax-evasion money from other countries.

    Is it possible that applies to citizens but not to corporations?

  11. 11
    Sailorman says:

    PG, what are your main arguments against organ sales? I cannot imagine that if we allowed it, that e couldn’t easily make a tax exemption for donations.

  12. 12
    PG says:

    I haven’t looked into organ sales much since 2002, but my objections at that point (and let me know if the facts have changed since then) can be summarized as:

    - surveys have shown that introducing money into the transferal of organs would make more people who otherwise would have considered donation of their own organs decide against it, than it would increase the number of people who otherwise wouldn’t have donated their organs.

    - a pilot study showed that the amount of money received from giving the organs of a family member would be a consideration in making the decision whether to end life support for that family member.

    - organ donation imposes no economic costs on the donor nor his family, so if the deceased has expressed a desire to keep his organs even in death, his family should feel no monetary compulsion, not even that of funeral costs, to contradict his wishes. Everyone should be an organ donor, but no one should do so out of even the faintest hope of economic return. The only reason not to donate organs is if one is uncomfortable with the idea, i.e. economically puzzling emotional distress. The discomfort may be due to a myriad of causes: religion, distrust of the medical profession, even misanthropy. Whatever the motive for people’s failure to donate organs, it is not something we should try to assuage with money. We can do our best to educate and inform, and even to guilt people into donation (“Look at this woman, wasting away on a dialysis machine. If you just got over your erroneous belief that the doctors won’t try to save you if you’re an organ donor…”), but we should not attempt to bribe them in any way.

    - the organ “shortage” arises from failures by our society to encourage donation, not from a lack of financial incentives. About 19% of hospitals produce 80% of the organs for donation; many small hospitals lack a trained counselor to discuss donation with families, and 54% of families who are asked to donate do so. We do not force people to make a decision one way or the other about donation of their own organs (e.g. requiring people to check yes or no in order to obtain a driver’s license), and my decision to donate my organs is not binding and can be superseded by family members who think differently. We should change all of these legal and social impediments to organ donation before jumping to organ sales.

  13. 13
    Sailorman says:

    PG Writes:
    August 4th, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I haven’t looked into organ sales much since 2002, but my objections at that point (and let me know if the facts have changed since then) can be summarized as:

    - surveys have shown that introducing money into the transferal of organs would make more people who otherwise would have considered donation of their own organs decide against it, than it would increase the number of people who otherwise wouldn’t have donated their organs.

    Well, seeing as the main incentive for $$ is getting more organs on the market, then if this was true it’d be fairly damaging.

    That said, it seems fairly obvious to me that the supply and cost graph is going to be some sort of sliding scale: perhaps paying $100 per kidney would reduce them, but paying $10,000 per kidney would increase them, and so on. So the question is not “Can some monetary payment reduce the frequency of donation?” rather it is “can the donations be increased and supported by selecting the appropriate monetary payment?”

    - a pilot study showed that the amount of money received from giving the organs of a family member would be a consideration in making the decision whether to end life support for that family member.

    OK. Why is this a problem that can’t be dealt with?

    Two solutions seem obvious: One is that nobody but the donor can make a decision to donate, so that the family incentive doesn’t exist absent the donor’s consent. That incentive will still exist if the donor has authorized it in advance, but presumably the family (and donor) are capable of deciding the marginal cost/benefit of survival and funds from donation.

    The second is to allow the family to donate on their own volition, but not to get paid for it. Just like now.

    - organ donation imposes no economic costs on the donor nor his family, so if the deceased has expressed a desire to keep his organs even in death, his family should feel no monetary compulsion, not even that of funeral costs, to contradict his wishes.

    If the deceased wants his organs, then as i said above the family shouldn’t be able to override that directive. Compulsion becomes moot. If the deceased has authorized donation, then i would rather have the family possess MORE options than FEWER options.

    Everyone should be an organ donor, but no one should do so out of even the faintest hope of economic return.

    Why? We do all sorts of things with the hope of economic return. Many of them are dangerous, from firefighting to coal mining to infantry to working 18 hours a day, 6 days a week.

    Sure, you can argue that we shouldn’t need to work hard to feed our families. Even then, why is it OK for me to try to provide for my child’s future–paying for her to go to Harvard instead of U.Maine, if she gets in–by doing the things above, but not by donating a kidney? The long term risks of donating a kidney are far less than the long term risks of many of the above list.

    The only reason not to donate organs is if one is uncomfortable with the idea, i.e. economically puzzling emotional distress. The discomfort may be due to a myriad of causes: religion, distrust of the medical profession, even misanthropy. Whatever the motive for people’s failure to donate organs, it is not something we should try to assuage with money. We can do our best to educate and inform, and even to guilt people into donation (”Look at this woman, wasting away on a dialysis machine. If you just got over your erroneous belief that the doctors won’t try to save you if you’re an organ donor…”), but we should not attempt to bribe them in any way.

    I can understand the no pressure” argument, but I don’t understand the “pressure is OK, but not money” argument. It’s a bit like the “danger is OK, but not danger from donation” argument.” Why is money so different?

    - the organ “shortage” arises from failures by our society to encourage donation, not from a lack of financial incentives. About 19% of hospitals produce 80% of the organs for donation; many small hospitals lack a trained counselor to discuss donation with families, and 54% of families who are asked to donate do so. We do not force people to make a decision one way or the other about donation of their own organs (e.g. requiring people to check yes or no in order to obtain a driver’s license), and my decision to donate my organs is not binding and can be superseded by family members who think differently. We should change all of these legal and social impediments to organ donation before jumping to organ sales.

    Am I reading you wrong? It sounds to me like you’re more comfortable with my family members being able to donate my organs irrespective of my wishes, than you are with my being able to sell one while I’m alive. That doesn’t jibe with the little I know about you from our conversations here, so I am probably missing something. Can you elaborate?

  14. 14
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    I woke up yesterday, to the fact that I was surrounded by them…

    “We’re all birthers now”: the Capricorn One faction of the GOP

  15. 15
    Simple Truth says:

    Had I not read this blog, I might have seen this article and thought, “Well, that’s vicious.” Now I see the backside and the fat-hatred going on behind it. I link not because I think the article has a valid point, but rather because I think it proves much of the discussion on here about health vs. weight and the misconceptions present in our society. This child was overweight, morbidly obese – but you really think that exercise is the solution? It’s rarely that simple.

  16. 16
    PG says:

    ST,

    The SC DSS issued a statement saying their involvement is always “limited to cases where health-care professionals believe a child is at risk of harm because a parent is neglecting to provide necessary medical care. DSS would not take action based on a child’s weight alone.” I don’t know whether that’s true, and the much greater degree of state involvement in African American families makes me suspicious. Unless the medical risk was something like the mother’s refusing to take her son to a doctor to address any issues that might either be causing or be caused by his being 555 lbs at age 14, I agree that the solution was not to take the child away (the threat of which was what caused the mother to flee SC, a warrant to be issued and her arrest to occur).

  17. 17
    PG says:

    For the next time someone complains about ACORN’s having had a few employees who forged voter registrations in order to meet quotas:

    Outrage — and details — continue to flood in over a lobby group’s forgery of letters advocating against Congressional climate legislation.

    Forged letters to several Congressmen, purportedly from minority groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, were apparently sent by Bonner and Associates.

    Bonner, it seems, was doing subcontract work for another firm called the Hawthorn Group, which in turn was working for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (A.C.C.C.E.), a group of companies involved with coal, including coal producers, utilities and railroads.

    The letters urged the House members to vote against the Waxman-Markey climate bill. (The bill passed the House by a narrow margin, and the action is now in the Senate.) …

    According to the political blog Talking Points Memo, Jack Bonner of Bonner & Associates said that the trouble stemmed from a temporary employee who “lied to us — and contrary to our policies sent these letters.”

    The employee was fired and apologies issued, Mr. Bonner told the blog.

    Adding to the brouhaha, a document that appears to be from the clean coal group is making the rounds, suggesting that the coalition — whose work is often opposed by many environmentalists — learned of the forgeries on June 24, two days before the Congressional vote.

  18. 18
    Simple Truth says:

    Thanks to PG – I didn’t know the details of the case. To me, the tone of the site’s article was completely out of line…but then I read more on the site and it just seems like a nest of neurosis there. I’ll take my readership about parenting to less blame-heavy, omg-why-you-aren’t-the-perfect-mom sites. But I did want to thank the contributors of Alas for speaking up about obesity issues…it’s through the posters here and their links that I have most of my knowledge about it.

  19. 19
    Radfem says:

    More experimenting with loading pictures from my phone to email to computer to blog. Still working on it looking less formulaic and ordering them better. The bird was a bit hard to capture but he was very popular with the kids. Events provide good practice for burgeoning photo skills.

    And alas, lost some of my pictures in transit from one point to another.

    National Night Out event

    It was interesting. Lots of comments about the blog. It’s always interesting finding who the readers are. This posting attracted a bunch of them a couple months ago, part of an ongoing series.

  20. 20
    Charles Brubaker says:

    Regarding link #4, you might want to watch this.

  21. 21
    Ampersand says:

    And then read this.

    Olbermann seems to be flatly contradicting himself. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but subject to new developments, I think the evidence favors Greenwald’s interpretation.

  22. 23
    Julie Herds Cats says:

    In re, Birthers –

    A few years before Dad passed away, when he had one of his last bouts of lucidity and health (he was bipolar, overweight, out of shape, diabetic — a general physical mess) he and I talked about going to Yerushalyim for a visit.

    One problem — a short bit earlier, his only copy of his birth certificate, was stolen. And he, unlike Barack Obama, was not born in the States. In fact, he wasn’t ever even naturalized — his Mom was born in Queens (nice Jewish girl) and that was all it took for Dad to have a code word clearance (“above Top Secret” for some of y’all) during the Cold War. I spent more than a year calling embassies, consulates, and the governments of four different countries (Brazil, Canada, UK, US) trying to prove that not only was my father a US Citizen, but that he’d even been born.

    I was certain he’d been born, mostly on account of I’d been born. But I still couldn’t prove he’d actually ever been born.