Tags: politics

spandex jackets

Unexpected literary kinship

Because it's very timely at the moment due to its influence on U.S. politics lately, I've been reading some recaps and analyses of Atlas Shrugged. And I finally noticed something very... well. Take a look at this list of story elements and tell me what it sounds like to you:

  • The protagonist is female, attractive, and super-competent, but under-appreciated and surrounded by lazy, incompetent, and pettily evil people
  • She's one of a small group of special people who can save her society, which is crucial because...
  • ...the world either has suffered or is sliding towards a major collapse or apocalypse
  • The government is evil and up to no good
  • There's a hidden secret group or society which the protagonist will eventually stumble into so secrets can be revealed, crucial plot things can happen, her specialness can be appreciated, etc.
  • The worldbuilding behind society's collapse/destruction, the government's plots, and the secret society's secret activities is pretty shaky and might collapse if you look at it too hard
  • Multiple hot guys all want the protagonist, and which one she loves most is just as important as millions of people starving and dying in industrial accidents and getting smashed up by superweapons designed to crush discontented populations
  • These guys sometimes stalk or threaten her, which supposedly shows the depths of their love

YA dystopian novel or Atlas Shrugged? Why, it's both! It's just that AS has about 800 more pages of philosophical speechifying and is considered serious and appropriate for manly men to read, unlike those silly girly books. Well, and the YA protagonists sometimes doubt themselves or make mistakes (which mostly the narrative justifies as not really their fault, but still), which Randian protagonists are never allowed to do.

I'm not sure where to take this comparison, other than noting that certain plot elements seem to appeal to a broader demographic than is generally reported and that double standards still exist (I know, shocker). But... interesting.
spandex jackets

Signal Boost: Canada's Bill C-279

I'm not Canadian and so their politicians probably don't care what I think, but I can still signal boost! Go read Natalie Reed's post about this bill, which will

add gender identity and gender expression to the list of statuses protected under the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

Currently, transgender Canadians have no such protections, and may be discriminated against on the basis of their gender by employers, businesses, shelters, institutions (public or private) and individuals without any legal consequence. Effectively, I can be turned down for a job, barred from entering a restaurant, denied admittance to a shelter or hostel, or forced to comply with male dress-codes at public institutions without my having any recourse. If I am harassed, assaulted or murdered on the basis of my being trans, this does nto qualify as a hate crime. I am in the position of having to depend simply on the mercies of a legally empowered majority to choose not to exercise their right to openly discriminate against me.

I'm pretty sure most US states are also in this sorry situation.(California has some protections, but did anyone even hear about those bills last year in the first link? It should have been a huge news item.) If anyone's aware of any similar bills in other countries, drop a line about it. Though probably all the US legislatures, at least, are too busy trying to make women carry dead fetuses to term (because nothing says "pro-life" like "even though it could not possibly preserve a hypothetical life because it's ALREADY DEAD, you better carry that dead tissue even if it gives you sepsis or whatever and kills you, because I like farm animals") to be working for something as outrageous as equal rights.

Sick of hyperbole

Dear politicians, pundits, and random citizens interviewed on TV,

I am pretty sure that the "most divisive president ever" was Abraham Lincoln, on account of the fact that the country actually divided after his election.

Best wishes for greater accuracy in the future,


I know this is complicated legal theory, but - oh, wait, we learned this in 5th grade

And 8th, and 11th. At least, those seem to be the standard years for learning US history in California. Unless your teacher has you all play cards during class or you sleep through the entire year, at some point you're going to learn what judges do: (among other things) if after reviewing the evidence they deem a law unconstitutional, it gets overturned, which means that law can't be enforced anymore. This helps keep legislative bodies (and voters, if there's a direct initiative process) from doing things like voting away your rights because they don't like you. Simple, right?

But apparently we need to spend more time explaining this. Here's some handy tips!

1. Overturning a law is not the same as making a law.

So - to pick an example totally at random, I assure you - if a judge rules that a law banning same-sex marriage violates both the due process and equal protections guaranteed by the constitution, that means the law is invalid and you can't enforce it or make an identical new one. End of story. It doesn't say anyone has to go out and do whatever they can't ban anymore, or that they have to like it. It just says they can't ban it because that would be unconstitutional. Sort of like how eventually a judge decided that allowing people to own other people or forbidding interracial marriage were also unconstitutional, and we couldn't make laws allowing those things anymore. Are people complaining about those decisions being "legislating from the bench"? No? Maybe because they didn't sleep through class after all and know the difference between legislating and judging.

2a. Majority vote is not, and has not been, the sole determination of what is legal.
2b. This is a good thing.

If a majority of Californians voted that blondes couldn't own property, that would pretty obviously be unconstitutional regardless of the majority favoring it. The majority would just have to suck it up when that law got overturned. Are some people seriously arguing that equal rights should be subject to vote? In that case, if enough people voted that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the only religion entitled to First Amendment protections, we could ban all the other religions or regulate what they could teach. Which would include all those religions with rules against same-sex marriage. Whoops! Funny how you can't vote away other people's rights without opening your own up for violation.

3. Do I even need a point 3?

Seriously, nearly all the Californian adults making these arguments have had three years of American history, more if they went to college and took some. If they still don't understand the basics, is there any hope? If they remember perfectly well and are making arguments they know are false, then arguing back with pesky facts probably won't help.
spandex jackets

Speculations on Vulcan political factions

Item #1: I defeated an HMO with logic! "Ahem. Here are the reasons why you are wronger than a Klingon boy band and should give me health insurance: [detailed list of their reasons for the original denial of coverage with rebuttals]." Their tightfisted financial people agreed with me. Hah!

Item #2: I want to set up Henry VIII and the Wife of Bath to see who would win. He's king and she's a fictional commoner, but on the other hand, she has five dead husbands (and whether she helped them along, well...) while he only killed two of his six wives.

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So, does anyone else think too much about Vulcan politics?