By now I hope everyone has heard at least a little about Ferguson, Missouri. I figured I’d share some thoughts on it, since I felt like writing this evening.
There is no situation where a police officer can shoot an unarmed man six times in the back and be morally or legally justified. Ever.
Michael Brown was, and is, legally an innocent man because this is the United States of America were all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It does not matter what video you have, it does not matter what evidence you have, it does not matter whether or not he did commit that crime, or any crime. Police do not have the power to execute anyone. The only time a police office is justified in shooting someone is if they are a clear and immediate danger, and even then I expect a serious investigation, not because things should be difficult for cops, but because shooting a human being is not something to be treated lightly under any fucking circumstances.
To crack down on fully justified anger for what appears to be an outright murder does not help the situation, because it ignores the real problem. The real problem isn’t that lots of people are angry about what appears to be an outright murder, or that some people are using that anger as an excuse for theft or violence, the real problem is that apparently a cop felt completely comfortable with outright murdering one of the citizens he was sworn to protect, and apparently has good reason to think he’ll get away with it.
And, for some completely inexplicable reason, an awful lot of people, especially those in power, seem to be closing ranks to defend this apparent murderer. Because that’s what always happens when a cop shoots an unarmed black man. (That’s five separate links spanning the last four years. They all came from the first page of a Google search.)
There is a pretty clear message here that black people can be murdered with impunity. To scold a 70% black community for being angry about this as though they were, (to paraphrase John Oliver), an unruly class in a high school assembly is not only refusing to recognize their situation or take them seriously, but to treat them as though they are the ones in the wrong for having the audacity to publicly voice the situation.
I seriously do not understand why this country consistently treats exposing and denouncing injustice as a worse crime than the injustice itself.
Worse, to wave away or minimize the very real situation that cops kill black people with impunity fairly routinely is nothing short of saying that it is okay for them to do so. If you’ve attempted to justify Brown being shot in the back by saying he allegedly robbed a store earlier you need to accept that you are saying it is okay for a cop to execute suspects without a trial, and I want you to seriously consider what that means.
There is no way this is going to get any better until cops start going to jail for shootings like this. I feel confident in saying this because I remember how stupid I was at age eighteen, and realize that if I were a young black man I’d be thinking very hard about how to protect myself from the cops right now. Until the police start facing justice, I can only see this escalating. And frankly, if peaceful protests are met with violence and military hardware, maybe it needs to.
I’ve heard that the National Guard has been deployed. I can only hope it is there to protect the people of Ferguson from their police.
I’ve been in San Francisco for one year now. I feel like I should write an introspective essay about what’s changed and what hasn’t, and how I feel about it, but I really don’t have time today.
So I’ll just take a moment to say that I still love this city. Yesterday I took a walk and discovered beautiful places that I never knew were there. I stood in what could easily be mistaken at a glance for an old-growth forest, surrounded by mist with water dripping from the trees, and then minutes later walked into an urban garden, with signs illustrating plants that grow well in this climate and teaching cultivation techniques.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I think I could happily spend most of it near San Francisco Bay.
As promised, here are “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!” along with my answers. Here is the source link, which I’ll be reading from instead of the Pharyngula post so that I won’t have to wonder if I would have said that before I read PZ’s answer. Hopefully writing the last post will have moved my mind in different directions enough to help with that for the questions I already read. Since the list is hosted on Today Christian, I will assume the context that the questions are being asked by some variety of Christian.
Looking over Pharyngula this morning I found that Professor Myers was answering another list of proclaimed questions atheists cannot answer. I was halfway thru when I decided that I wanted to blog my own answers, since I haven’t been writing much lately and apparently miss it. I decided this gradually as I read the list, there was no clear instant where I made up my mind, but I found myself comparing the first answer to pop into my head with the good professor’s, and finding substantial overlap. Enough that I started thinking I would have trouble keeping them from mixing in my head before I got them written down.
I stopped reading around question #4 and starting writing this instead. As so often happens, my mind wandered someplace interesting that I didn’t expect while considering the fairly mundane problem of eliminating bias from my writing.
My opinions may well have been colored by reading some of PZ’s responses before I wrote my own out, but while I was thinking about that it occurred to me that my responses have definitely been colored by his influence over the last five years or so, since I’ve started reading his blog.
PZ has been accused by several people of having a cult-like control over his regular readers, which may make him an unfortunate impetus for this line of thought. On the other hand, clearly his alleged mind-control isn’t too binding, since this is exactly the kind of thinking a proper cult leader would want to discourage! Read the rest of this entry
So, I honestly meant to start posting again once or twice a week, but, well, I suddenly got a wonderful new apartment. So I’ve been very, very busy with moving and decorating and working as much as I can to pay for everything.
It’s been a busy month for me, and not likely to let up just yet.
I will try to post more now that I’m somewhat settled in, but since I don’t have internet right now I have to either post from my phone or set my phone up as a Wi-Fi hotspot and post through it. Neither is very conductive to my usual method of writing. So posts will probably be few & far between for a while yet.
There are still book reviews I want to write, and many things in the news and life in general that I feel like discussing, so there will be more eventually.
In the meantime, I love my new home!
Once upon a time, there was a webcomic called Casey and Andy. Mad science, zany characters and lots of geekery, it was one of my favorites. I was sad, but satisfied, when it ended.
Then about a month ago Howard Taylor mentioned a hard sci-fi novel called The Martian, and that it was written by the same Andy Weir who once gave us Casey and Andy. I bought the book before I finished reading Howard’s post about it.
And it’s good.
This has had me in a funk since I learned about it this morning. Three of a friend’s cats have been attacked by someone with a pellet gun. Two of those cats used to hang out with me.
Veterinarians are expensive and time-consuming, so here’s a link to a page raising money to help.
I don’t have anything more to say, except to wish my love to the family.
I picked up Hull Damage for Kindle free on Amazon. The current rating there is 3 & a half stars, and that feels about right to me. It has a lot going on, both for and against it.
The setting is sci-fi, it feels like a cross between Heavy Metal’s dystopian space settings and Firefly’s wild lawlessness, with a healthy dose of Star Wars. The book follows the career of a space pirate and his crew, an episodic story of the ups and downs they face trying to make a name for themselves. Read the rest of this entry
So yesterday I picked up an app called “iDeas for writing”, (that’s how they capitalize it) and I’ve been playing with it from time to time all weekend. The concept is simple, it has several random generators for characters and story prompts, and then some exercises to stretch yourself with these tools.
I spent some time with it and a tablet of paper, and wrote a page inspired by a “first sentence” the app provided. Because I’m me, this short bit of creative writing required a nap to recover from.
So, here’s what I wrote.
The pirate thought about her again. She had been on his mind more than usual lately, singing in his dreams the way she used to sing in the kitchen.
He couldn’t really remember any of the songs she used to sing, but he could still hear her voice as clearly as his own.
He knew she would not be proud of the decisions he had made. But neither would she condemn him for them. He was sure about that.
The pirate shivered and tried to clear his head. She always came to mind right before a raid, since the very first one, but her memory haunted him more lately. He thought he knew why, too.
In the beginning there was little choice for him, trapped as he was between crime and starvation. He had done what was needed to survive. But things had changed since then.
His ill-gotten gains had built up to a tidy sum. It wasn’t the vast fortunes hoarded by pirates of legend, but it was enough. It was time.
Time for one last heist.
Time to retire.
That’s it. More a teaser than a story, but it was fun to make. I like the ambiguity of it, we know so little yet it still tells a story.
So there’s my ultra-short fiction for today. Maybe I’ll have more next weekend, who knows.
Next up, book reviews!
Let me just blow the dust off, here.
If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past three months, I’ve been working 55 to 60 hour weeks. When you have as much trouble writing as I do, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. But things have calmed down a bit now, so I should hopefully be able to post again from time to time.
If nothing else, there’s a lot of books I want to write about.
Speaking of books, here’s a cool thing! StoryBundle offers collections of books in epub format that you pay what you like for. The current offering is the “Epic Fantasy Bundle”, and it lasts for another ten days.
It really is epic, too! If you pay over $12 you get three bonus books. I paid $20, because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my hard-earned overtime pay and frankly I often undertip.
The one I’m reading now is The Camelot Papers, which should win a prize for misleading cover art. I thought I’d be reading a farcical comedy, and while there are moments of dark humor, this really isn’t one. It is compelling, though, and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I’ll try to write up a proper review once I’m done with it.
Speaking of cool things, Evolution Expo is happening in Oakland this summer! It’s billed as “putting the science back into science fiction”, which is something I can get behind! I fully intend to attend, and you should too!
So, I’m back to writing again. No where near as often as 2012, but hopefully more than 2013. Coming soon, book reports and ultra-short fiction!
This should be subtitled, “In which I dump a stream of consciousness about my favorite TV show.”
I first discovered Doctor Who in the mid-1980’s. It aired on PBS Thursday nights, and we were about ten years behind so my first Doctor was a goofy bohemian with a bag of jelly babies and a ridiculously long scarf.
To this day, scarves feel uncomfortably short to me right up until they become awkwardly long.
So last Saturday, the 23rd, was the 50th anniversary of the show. It originally aired on that one day during which John F. Kennedy was dead and Lee Harvey Oswald still lived. The show’s been a major part of geek culture worldwide and British culture in general. The spaceship disguised as a police box is especially fun to me, because while police boxes would have been a fairly common sight in Britain in 1963, they’re now almost forgotten except for this show.
The fandom is one of my favorite parts of this show. Here is a comic-form story called The Ten Doctors (also available for download here), which is overflowing with little nods and continuity gags for long-time fans of the show. The author clearly knows the old show better than I do, he’s done several more Dr. Who fanfics, and just started his own 50th anniversary special titled The 23 Doctors!
There will be spoilers for the Day of the Doctor after the jump, but first a short film all Doctor Who fans should see, whether or not they’ve seen the 50th anniversary special yet. Androids and gentlebeings, I present to you Night of the Doctor.
I wish we’d had more of Paul McGann playing the Doctor on-screen, but if you like his portrayal of the Eighth Doctor you can hear him in many excellent audioplays by Big Finish Audio.
And of course, many trans people are murdered.
Take care of each other, everyone. And remember.
Got an email this morning from Courage Campaign, informing me that the people behind prop 8 are now attacking a law that attempts to protect trans kids from discrimination and bullying. My immediate reaction is that being no longer able to beat up gay adults with prop 8, they looked for a more vulnerable target and chose trans children.
The rationale given for opposing this anti-bullying measure is the old narrative that a trans woman is just a man in drag, so they’re trying to keep boys out of the girl’s locker rooms. Look, the social fallout for being a teenage boy who sneaks into the girl’s locker room is very slight, often effectively non-existent, while the consequences of being perceived as trans, or just not hetero-normative, start with bullying and go all the way to murder. You’re bravely defending the strong from the weak, here.
Anyway, mobile posts encourage me to be brief so I’ll sign off here. Take care!