Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

R.I.P. Hugh Hefner (1926–2017)

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Farewell Mr. Hefner and thank-you for all your work.

Although I suspect that much of this news will surround Playboy and nude photography; I actually prefer to remember Hef’s work promoting and defending the First Amendment. His fighting against censorship laws and his promotion of feminism and same-sex rights have helped build the bulwark against theocracy in Western society.

Nudity aside, Playboy magazine did advance lifestyle and culture in new directions. It helped to get people thinking outside norms that were barely altered clones of past generations.

Hef will be missed. I hope that Playboy will carry on his legacy. The First Amendment must be defended constantly on many fronts.

Madison, Wisconsin Trip & The 40th National FFRF Convention

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

As previously noted, last week I was back in Madison, Wisconsin for FFRF’s 40th National Convention. I arrived two days early so that I could spend some time with my friends Dan and Kevin.

Kevin is a Wisconsinite through and through. He suggested that we visit Devil’s Lake State Park, the Wisconsin Dells (Kevin made a 3D model inspired by The Dells) and the Botanical Gardens. All three were excellent choices and my only regret is that I did not have more time to spend with my friends exploring them.

Part of the Convention included the Betty Lou Boat Tours of Lake Mendota or Lake Monona. So I took a lot of photos. Quite possibly more photos that I have ever taken before. I am still sorting the wheat from the chaff and editing the RAW files for upload to Flickr. I will try to get that album created this weekend.

I am happy to report that the FFRF membership has seen a considerable spike upward this year. This is almost certainly caused by the election of Donald Trump. The White Evangelical segment continues to support this dumpster-fire of an administration because they have been promised arch-conservative judges being nominated to the bench. The obvious goal is to further restrict abortion and LGBTQ rights. This is a match made in hell if ever there was one.

At least people are pushing back against this. As the columnist Dan Savage likes to say, “Impeach the motherfucker already!”

Of course, the FFRF National Convention was also excellent. I practically gush about it every year since it feels so good to be surrounded by like-minded persons.

There was a solid line-up of speakers this year that I thoroughly enjoyed. Steven Pinker, Katha Pollitt, Maryam Namazie, young Kelly Helton (only 12 years old and already a firebrand for reason!) and Michelle Goldberg.

I kept myself on a leash this year and only bought one new t-shirt and one book – Katha Pollitt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.

Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Happy 241st birthday America!

I sincerely hope that you are around to see number 242…

I Did Not Expect This Today

Monday, June 27th, 2016

One day after the wonderful first anniversary of the Obergefell decision and SCOTUS gives us this excellent decision.

This stupid Texan law was a naked assault on the rights of women. It served absolutely no medical purpose in spite of the gibbering, spittle-flecked blubbering of Re-thug-licans to the contrary. It was nothing more than kissing the ass of the dying evangelical christian movement.

I hope this deters other states in the South that have implemented or are considering such backward, anti-women, anti-choice laws. I hope this is one more nail in the coffin of the current GOP.

The United States desperately needs reform across all its halls of power. This is a step forward.

Happy 1st Anniversary To The Obergefell Decision

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Today marks one year since the SCOTUS Obergefell decision legalized marriage equality across the United States.

Suspiciously absent is the god-spawned smiting we were promised.

No-H8

Everybody should have the right to marry the person that they love. It is simple as that.

EDIT: I want to link to Camille Beredjick’s post at Friendly Atheist. A celebration of major victories is important; but work remains. There is much prejudice and discrimination that still must be overcome.

Another Book Finished & Another Started

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

SavingCapitalismLast Friday night, just before nodding off to sleep, I finished Robert Reich’s excellent book Saving Capitalism: For The Many Not The Few.

My first encounter with Reich’s ideas was in the documentary Inequality For All. You can think of this book as an expansion or companion to that film. Although one might think economics to be a dry subject; Reich’s writing is very approachable. The first several chapters break down the causes for today’s chasm between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

The final chapters then explore the steps that are necessary to correct the imbalance.

What struck me the most was how Mr. Reich repeatedly stressed that this is not about some conspiracy theory. The ultra-rich have not gathered in secret somewhere to pull the political strings to create this situation. They have behaved as any rational actor would. Rather like the death by 10,000 papercuts, no one person or action is responsible. Instead, many discrete events over the course of a few decades have brought this about.

Both the documentary and this book emphasizes that we have been here before. The Great Depression of the 30s and the height of the Robber Barons of the late 19th Century have close parallels with what is happening today. Corrective action was taken in order to fix what had gone wrong. We need to take corrective actions again and make capitalism work for everyone instead of just a handful of ultra-rich.

ExtremeBricksMy next book is a bit of a unicorn-chaser.

Extreme Bricks is about the LEGO fans and Master Builders who build huge models. These are often on display at LEGOLand parks or at toy conventions.

The chapters cover some biographical information about the builder and then discuss the model and challenges behind its creation. Fascinating stuff.

As much as I love LEGO and dream of having millions of bricks, I know that I do have the patience to build at scales like these. But I profoundly appreciate the passion that these people have.

The Kim Davis Furor

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

I cannot write a post about the hypocrite bigot Josh Duggar and not mention the other recent religious maelstrom around Kim Davis. What a saga this turned out to be.

Some criticism against Davis turned needlessly personal and ultimately off-topic. I got tired of that pretty quickly. I agree with Libby Anne’s thesis here, but I do disagree with the example that she used.

I do not see the use of the Southern drawl as being “classist.” I do not see this as mocking the way that Davis talks and I certainly do not see it as a barb against her intelligence. This simply sells the point of who is being represented here.

I definitely disagreed with the memes that attacked Davis as a whore or a bitch or questioned why any of her husbands would marry her in the first place. Such things are completely irrelevant and just mean-spirited. Questioning the obvious hypocrisy of her supposedly Bible-based position is absolutely correct and valid.

My biggest wish is that Kim Davis had been incarcerated and fined. Judge Bunning noted that a fine alone would not incentivize her to do her job. He was correct at the time – many people worried that fundie believers would simply setup a GoFundMe account to cover her expenses – however, GoFundMe has changed their rules to preclude such a thing.

Both Dan Savage and The Friendly Atheist summed everything up rather nicely.

Now, we’ll just see how long she’ll stay in jail. The main thing is that marriage equality continues to gain ground and acceptance despite the efforts of bigots.

Way To Go SCOTUS!

Friday, June 26th, 2015

The Supreme Court Of the United States has made some spectacularly bad decisions over the years – Citizens United has flooded the political system with legalized bribes.

But this week, this country took some big steps forward. The Court upheld key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and this morning they ruled that love conquers all – the states cannot ban marriage equality! My LGBTQ friends can marry whom they choose. This is a great day for the United States.

Cracked’s article A 30-Second Guide To How The Gay Marriage Ruling Affects You nails this perfectly:

If You Are a Homosexual and Want to Get Married:

Where before this came down to whether or not your state had legalized it, now you are free to do so regardless of which state you live in.

If You Are a Heterosexual and Do NOT Want to Enter into a Homosexual Marriage:

You will not be required to marry a gay person. This is a common misunderstanding. This decision actually does not affect you in any way.

If You Are Currently in a Heterosexual Marriage:

This decision does not affect you in any way.

If You Are a Heterosexual Who Is Not Currently Married:

This decision does not affect you in any way.

It goes on like that. “This decision does not affect you in any way.” EXACTLY!

Equal rights for everyone.

Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention – 2014

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

I was in Los Angeles, California last week for the 37th Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention. This is the fourth convention that I have attended and I am looking forward to many more in the future. FFRF is a great organization with a mission statement that all should support – even if one holds religious beliefs.

This year’s speakers were every bit as excellent as I expected.

Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson spoke about his discovery of the famed fossil Lucy. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll gave a somewhat tongue-in-cheek talk about death and physics.

Professor Anthony Pinn gave a moving and inspiring talk. Just as inspiring were Christopher Johnson and Scott Clifton. Barbara Mancini’s story was utterly heart-wrenching.

Constitutional lawyer and scholar Erwin Chemerinsky discussed the philosophies of the current Supreme Court makeup and how this influences their (sometimes awful) decisions. Marci Hamilton showed the history of the wretched federal statute RFRA (what drove the horrid Hobby Lobby decision).

Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens talked about their experiences with the Supreme Court and the Greece v. Galloway decision.

Happy Belated Birthday USA!

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Happy 238nd birthday to the United States Of America!

Since I have often missed posting about Canada Day on time, I thought I would delay this one too.

A lot of good and bad has happened over the last year. I am glad to see that steps toward civilization continue as more states recognize same-sex marriages. More people are becoming aware of and angry about the income inequality gap (I very highly recommend Robert Reich’s documentary Inequality For All)

Unfortunately, this rotten-to-the-core Supreme Court has continued to disenfranchise millions of Americans. They have further stripped campaign finance laws away and allowed the ultra-rich to buy the elections in this country. Most recently, they have allowed for sectarian prayers before town council meetings as well as given the idiotic ruling that closely-held corporations have religious rights. Disgusting.

What a bizarre, social experiment this country is!

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