Filkers on Patreon

Just a list of some filkers’ (or close-to-filkers’) pages on Patreon:

If I’ve missed some, please let me know.

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Is Donald Trump the new Lenny Bruce?

In most of history, in most of the world, tribalism has held the upper hand over liberalism, or liberalism hasn’t had any presence at all. Liberalism’s foothold in the US is weakening, with Donald Trump as the latest example.

I’m not talking about Democratic vs. Republican politics. Donald TrumpBy “liberalism,” I mean valuing tolerance, freedom, and reason rather than orthodoxy, authoritarianism, and tradition. It prospers when people who may disagree on important matters recognize that peaceful communication is better than attempts to silence each other. It can be passionate and angry communication, but it at least tries to make a point rather than simply demonize the opposition.
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Regal Cinemas’ hypocrisy

You can’t go into a movie at a Regal Cinemas theater without submitting to a stranger’s going through your bags and possibly stealing some stuff, after you stand in line for half an hour. The ostensible reason for this is to reduce the risk of being shot. A more plausible explanation is that they want to keep people from bringing in outside snacks and are appealing to fear.

movie scene of man pouring liquorThe explanation that Regal is trying to eliminate the tiniest risks looks dubious when you notice that they serve alcohol. I’ve done some rough calculations from Internet statistics, which are too loose for me to bother you with, and it looks to me as if there’s about 2 chances in a billion of getting fatally shot in a movie theater, and 20 in a billion of dying in a traffic accident going to or coming home from the movie. Different assumptions could shift the results by an order of magnitude or more, so I’m not claiming you’re more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, but I’m willing to say the risks are roughly comparable. If Regal were really interested in eliminating risks on that scale, it wouldn’t increase them by serving alcohol. However, serving alcohol and searching customers are consistent policies if revenue enhancement is their policy — and if they believe they won’t drive away vast numbers of customers by violating their privacy.

I rarely go to first-run movies anyway, so it doesn’t affect my behavior much. I can’t boycott what I wouldn’t attend in the first place. Most of the movies I’ve attended in the past couple of years have been silent movies with live accompaniment. The excessive sound levels, long runs of ads, annoying audience behavior, and high concession prices are already reason enough for me to choose other entertainment. Obviously a lot of people think otherwise, and that’s their choice. We’ll see if their choices change when Regal treats them like dirt.

Varieties of political correctness

It’s not politically correct to criticize political correctness. If you do, the politically correct will say you’re a bigot or worse.

PC is a confusing term these days, and other terms may be less ambiguous — for reasons other than political correctness. According to an article by Jesse Walker, Marxist-Leninists were the first to use it, and they considered it a good thing. Over time, it became a pejorative term, referring to demands from the political left (whatever that means to the speaker) for thoughts or word choices that follow a party line. Political correctness includes efforts to mold discourse so that it’s impossible to express dissenting ideas; for instance, defining “racism” as a position only white people can hold.

Some people on the “right,” though, denounce dissent from their ideas as “political correctness.” A Washington Post article reports “conservative voters near Mobile have praised Trump’s rejection of ‘political correctness’ and his forthrightness on a key issue.” The context is Trump’s claim that the Fourteenth Amendment’s provision, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States,” doesn’t apply to all persons born in the United States. Saying that the Constitution means what it says is outrageously narrow-minded, it seems. Some years ago there was a “No ‘Merry Christmas,’ no Christmas shopping” movement, which declared that anyone who said “happy holidays” was imposing political correctness on them. Actually, isn’t playing the victim and taking offense at a choice of words that doesn’t conform to their ideas a textbook example of political correctness?

I’m rather fond of the term, at least when it applies to people who keep devising new ways to get outraged, precisely because it outrages them some more. It’s subject to misinterpretation, though, so in serious discussions a more straightforward term, such as “demands for conformity” or “chronic offense-taking,” is more suitable than “PC.”

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Holocaust Memorial in Nashua

Today while riding on my bike I came by the Holocaust Memorial on Main Street in Nashua, across from Shaw’s. I’d known it was there but somehow never noticed it. It’s simply and powerfully designed.
Holocaust Memorial, shot from distance
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1000 Lashes

Yesterday I picked up Raif Badawi’s 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think. It took me less than an hour to read the 60-page book, and I’m not a fast reader. You might not consider it a good value per word until you remember that he paid for each word in blood.

Raif BadawiBadawi is a rarity in Saudi Arabia, a liberal who hasn’t kept silence or fled the country. For his criticism of authority, the government sentenced him to death. This was commuted to a thousand lashes, to be delivered at fifty a week, and ten years in jail. That is, death by torture instead of a clean sword blow. So far, he has received only the first fifty lashes, likely because of heavy international attention. 1000 Lashes is a collection of some of his blog posts, translated from the Arabic. When identifying him as a liberal, I don’t mean it in the degraded Democratic-Party sense but in its older meaning:

Liberalism means to simply live and let live. We should all acknowledge our respect for the traditions and personal behaviors of others, as long as they don’t cross the line for others and invade their personal space. It’s a natural human right to say what you want and do what you want, as long as this freedom is ruled by laws; your freedom ends on the outskirts of the freedom of others.

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NBC News panders to religious hatred

A headline on NBC News plumbs the depths of bigoted writing. It reads: “‘Wiccan Ritual Killing’ Leaves Family of Three Dead in Penascola: Police.”

The evidence? Andrew Hobbes, speaking for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, said, “It appears that this might be connected to some type of Wiccan ritual killing and possibly tied to the blue moon.” He further referred to “The injuries to the victims, the positions of the bodies and also the person of interest right now is also a practitioner.” The injuries were described as blunt force trauma, and the murder weapon was supposedly a claw hammer. Funny, I haven’t heard of claw hammers as a Wiccan ritual instrument of sacrifice before.
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Support woes at HE.net

Update:HE.net support tells me they’ve fixed the SSL certificate issue described below. I haven’t tested it, since I have something that works and don’t want to risk breaking it again.

You’d think that an Internet service provider would be able to deal with common issues like getting an email connection on an Android phone. This turned out to be beyond the ability of HE.net’s support staff, though.

This morning I tried to set up email on my new Moto phone with Android 4.4.4, using the standard email application. After entering the POP3 server information I got this error message: "Can't safely connect to server. (java.security.cert.CertPathValidatorException: Trust anchor for certification path not found.)"
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