hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, November 28, 2014













One thing I learned from reading Gardner's Scrivener which surprised me, but which on reflection makes sense, is that Jesus never debated the existence of God, or criticized atheism or atheists, even when he believed he had been forsaken. One would imagine, instead of having venomous arguments about compatibilism, the anthropic principle, fine-tuning and the multiverse, he would simply say "What is that to thee? Follow thou me."

not much to say except:

I don't like it when people are killed, maimed. tortured or jailed, and it seems to me Marissa Alexander and Chelsea Manning, among others, are being jailed unnecessarily.

I found Dorian Johnson's testimony highly credible, and Darren Wilson's testimony highly incredible. It seems very difficult to find a way forward from here, because if Darren Wilson is not an outlier, then the US police force seems to be filled with people without honor or shame. Michael Brown's family, with their call for a "campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera", have pointed a path forward. Another possible piece of legislation would be to allow a town super majority to pass a vote of no confidence in a town's police department, in which case the police chief would be fired and the police department possibly disbanded.

I once watched a debate between Dinesh D'Souza and Jesse Jackson on affirmative action, which I believe morphed into a discussion of illegal immigration. The debate was pretty arid, full of abstractions and analogies which seemed to obscure more than clarify, but towards the end Jackson brought some reality therapy into the discussion: "We know who we're talking about. They're the people who cook your food and take out your trash. Do right by these people." Many if not most of life's obligations are acquired in a somewhat haphazard and semi-conscious manner. Those obligations can often be abandoned or sloughed off, but not without hollowing out the soul. My opinion on undocumented immigrants is that America acquired obligations to these people when it used their labor to build its economy and its industry. I don't particularly support punishing any undocumented immigrant without punishing anyone who employed or benefited from undocumented immigrant labor. But of course, it is a very complicated issue.

I have a memory of my sister wanting to audition for Annie in the eighties, and my mother being like "No, no, you don't understand, that's not an audition open to our kind of people." Thirty years on, it's sort of cool that the new Annie does have brown skin. A somewhat related pet peeve is movies like "300" not casting multi racially on grounds that they're being historically realistic and authentic, while not casting only Greeks and only Persians on grounds. . . that they're taking dramatic license.

This is the first time this year I've had four days off in a row, and I find myself a bit disconcerted at how much I've been looking forward to these four days off, and the opportunity for a reset and a fresh start that they offer. My humble thanks to all those working this weekend, whose four day chunk lies sometime in the future.

next post: 8/15/2015