Discussing "The 'Other Side' is not Dumb"

This entry is my comment regarding The "Other Side" is not Dumb

That's a really good article, and it does have some good points. I can relate to some of it, like my tendency to have a knee-jerk judgement of people who are big fans of "Duck Dynasty". Also, if I go someplace that has a waiting room with Fox News playing on the TV, I probably won't go back. I do read and watch LOTS of news, just not stuff like Fox. I also try to ask questions of people who express opposing viewpoints, especially if it's something I haven't encountered before, or if I think that asking questions will get THEM to really examine their viewpoint. HOWEVER - when discussing issues with conservative people, I find that in the great majority of cases their facts really are just wrong. Often, what it comes down to is that I end up arguing facts, while they are arguing feelings.

There really is a completely different approach to issues on the left and the right. Having outlets like Fox "News", the Wall Street Journal, conservative talk radio, and some conservative web sites has made the problem much worse, since they are pumping out MIS-information on a continuous basis. When you dig down deep enough, though, you usually find that "facts" don't carry nearly as much weight on the right. Most Conservatives get their "news" from just one or two official sources, but they get most of their "facts" from other Conservatives. For most of them, what they've heard from other people carries much more weight than any news source. Things stay in the grapevine that have long been debunked officially. It's very frustrating to try to discuss anything with people who don't even know where they heard something, or why it may or may not be true. They just KNOW it. They don't like to question what they believe they know. They believe the first thing they've heard that fits into their worldview, and they usually have a strong aversion to anything that questions that.

I know I start to sound smug and dismissive of Conservative viewpoints, but that's because often it's the same viewpoint I've heard a dozen times, that I already know is based on some erroneous information that's still floating around on the right. While I do change my mind about issues all the time, based on new information, it's very difficult to convince people of that who believe that facts are things that never change. It's even more frustrating to try to discuss things with people who only use "facts" to justify something they already believe, but who aren't going to change what they believe whether the "facts" are true or not.


Pro-Choice Vegetarian

It's so ironic to me when I argue with "pro-lifers." As a vegetarian, I've spent a LOT of time thinking about when something is "alive", and when it isn't. I don't even draw the line at things that have a face or a brain. I won't eat a clam, because it has respiration and voluntary movement. On the other hand, unlike strict vegetarians or vegans, I do eat eggs. Eggs are not chickens. I know that most chickens may be kept in inhumane conditions, and later killed for their meat. To me, though, an egg by itself is still not murder, and I only use cage-free eggs.

What I don't understand is how people can be so passionate about the "sanctity of life" when it comes to a fertilized human ovum, and yet not care anything about the death penalty, war, or eating meat. They would never understand that I'm much more disturbed about the cows, pigs & chickens they eat, than the abortion of a first-term human fetus.

Pro-lifers try to convince me that the sanctity of unborn humans is proven by biology. Believe me, I understand the biology. I just don't think anything counts as a corporeal being that has no consciousness. I suspect that underneath all the bogus "fetal brain wave" arguments, most pro-lifers are thinking about a soul. It happens that I don't believe in souls. If I did, I would certainly believe that animals have them every bit as much as humans.

The final thing that connects my pro-choice views with my vegetarianism is my concern for the earth, and all other life on it. We've just reached a population of 7 billion. It's simply inconceivable to me that this number isn't front-page news. How could anyone know this fact, and still think that we need vastly more human babies to be born than we currently have? As far as I know, there is nothing in the bible about god creating another planet for us to live on when we use up this one.

No matter how much pro-lifers believe that they can convince me that an embryo is a human being, I simply don't believe that human life should be valued so much more highly than the life of every other creature on the planet, and the overall life of the planet itself. While I don't believe in gods or souls, I do sincerely believe that we must live in harmony with nature and the earth.

One hard fact that you know if you've ever lived on a farm, or in other close contact with the ways of nature, is that not every embryo that is conceived is even meant to be born. Despite the idea that god personally manufactures each & every human fetus in "his" image, many horrible things can, and do, go wrong in that process. I'm certainly not saying that every child with a birth defect should be aborted. It is a fact, though, that not every unborn child can even be brought to term. It's also my belief that not every child with a congenital mutation should be born, especially if what life they have is doomed to be short and full of suffering. I certainly don't think that anyone should have the right to saddle another family with that burden. It's also a burden on our health care system, social services, and society in general. When it comes to genetic defects, I don't understand why we would actually encourage people to pass those mutations on to subsequent generations.

The final argument about whether or not it should be a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy always seems to come down to the idea that it should be up to god to decide what children should be born. In my view, that's the worst argument of all. If we were leaving all of our health decisions up to god, we would stop getting vaccinations, treating cancer, getting blood transfusions, etc. We would just leave all of those life & death decisions up to god, or fate, or whatever. However, we don't do that. We don't do that because we now have the ability to do something about disease and death. We have a choice. I can respect someone who makes whatever choice they want for themselves. However, I reserve the right to also make those choices for myself, based on my own beliefs.

If you want to argue with me about the sanctity of life, that's fine. If you want to have me take you seriously, please first stand up against capital punishment, and stop eating animals.


The Egalitarian eReader

After several months reviewing all the major eBook readers, I've decided to get a Nook. These are my reasons:

  1. The Nook's book format is ePub, which is a commonly shared format used by lots of places. Amazon's format is completely proprietary, so you can pretty much only use them on a Kindle, and the Kindle doesn't let you get eBooks from as many places.
  2. The Nook lets you loan books you've downloaded for up to 14 days. You can even share them with friends who don't have a Nook, since you can download the software to a PC, Mac, iPad, etc. {I've since read that the ability to share a book is determined by the publisher, and that not many books allow it. However, the Nook still makes it possible for those where sharing is permitted.}
  3. Barnes & Noble lets you read books for free in their stores for an hour at a time, using their free WiFi. You also get coupons for stuff in their stores, including the coffee shop.
  4. B&N has 2 million books available, compared to Amazon's approximately 700,000. They also have lots of free ones.
  5. From everything I've read, the Nook does a better job of supporting PDF files, which lets you load your own documents on it. I really like this for stuff like user manuals & knitting patterns.
  6. You can highlight text and add notes in all their supported formats, as far as I know. I don't know if the Kindle supports that same feature.
  7. Apparently the Kindle doesn't even let you change the battery yourself. According to this review on Amazon, you have to mail your Kindle in to Amazon, and they send you back a different, "refurbished" one.
  8. They never sell you a book & then take it off your device when they find out they didn't have the copyright, or when they decide it's too "erotic", like Amazon has recently.
  9. Lastly, Barnes & Noble didn't publish "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure". That might not be all that pertinent to the eReader, but it's still a count against Amazon for me. Also, if they're going to start practicing mass censorship, they should just focus on things like that.
All in all, the main reasons I prefer the Nook are philosophical. The Nook & Kindle might be comparable technically, but the Nook seems to be the more egalitarian choice.


The problem with polls...

I am still on the topic of the new TSA security procedures. One of the things I keep hearing mentioned is this poll that said 4 out of 5 Americans are in favor of using the full body scanners at airports. What I kept wondering was, who did they ask? Did they ask people who actually fly, or who are going to in the near future?

Not surprisingly, the answer is "no". I tracked down the actual poll, which was conducted by CBS News. According to the poll, which is shown below, "This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,137 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone November 7-10, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones."

Nothing in the published part of this poll had anything to do with whether or not these people do or will fly. So, while they may have said they were for it, they didn't say whether they would submit to it themselves.

Another thing lacking from the CBS poll was whether people would approve of invasive, full-body searches that include feeling the crotch, buttocks and breasts. From what I'm hearing, most people who actually have to go through this process are NOT in favor of it.



Fear of Flying

This new security process is making me terrified to fly, but I really have no viable options. My elderly parents live 3000 miles away, and that is too far, and too expensive, to take a train.

Some people have implied that we shouldn't complain, because this was publicized beforehand. I don't know when or how the "enhanced pat-down" was publicized, but I just heard about it in the past few days. I'm flying within a week, and it's too late to change those plans.

Others have also implied that the search isn't that invasive, or isn't any different than what was performed before. From everything I've read and seen in the news, that is also not correct. I've had a pat-down before, but no one has previously touched my genitals, or ran their hand between my buttocks or under my breasts. I just don't think I can take that. Being an older, overweight woman, I have a lot of folds & crevices that might make TSA feel they need to inspect me more thoroughly.

I am also an abuse survivor, and disabled. I cannot stand to be touched - not just because of the abuse, but also because of nerve damage and pain from multiple surgeries. I have not had anyone touch me in the areas being described in over 11 years, and no, I'm not looking forward to it.

One of my fears is that I will not be able to stand up in the body scanner, and therefore be forced to submit to the pat-down. I have to use a rolling walker to get through the airport, but of course I have to go through security without it, or my cane. I also wear pads for bladder control problems, and I'm afraid that I'll be subject to the pat-down for that, too.

Altogether, I've already started having nightmares and losing sleep over this. Traveling is difficult enough with my other disabilities, without being subjected to emotional trauma and humiliation on top of it.

I just don't understand how people can say that the wars we're fighting are to ensure our freedom, when it's obvious that our freedom is being rescinded. If we're doing this to fight terrorism, why do I feel like I am being terrorized?

I'd like to encourage anyone else who's concerned about this to check out the site Fly With Dignity.


Major Malfunction?

I am a bad, bad blogger. The last time I edited this blog, I left it in the middle of fiddling with some HTML in a widget. I never saved it - I just closed the browser. Now I see that my header is all wonky & totally FUBAR. Perhaps it tried to commit blog suicide. I don't know if I can fix it, or if I should even bother.

The good news is... The Freethinker Daily! I replaced the lame, half-finished widget at the top left with this very cool little widget that I created in paper.li. If I could, I would just replace my whole stupid blog with it.

I may or may not try to fix my header. I'll think about it. In the meantime, PLEASE click on the widget and go look at my Freethinkers paper. It's pretty awesome.


Bible, Schmible

I usually find that I am more familiar with what the bible actually says than most Chrisians I've talked to. In fact, most of them don't seem to care. I've come to the conclusion that Christianity is really a verbal tradition, just as primitive cultures passed on their cultural traditions through storytelling. It seems that most Christians learn their religion from what they are taught by their families, and later by their pastors and other church members. That is why it is usually so futile to try to argue biblical theology with the average Christian. What is actually in the bible has very little to do with their beliefs, which are strongly tied to family tradition and social culture.

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