September 4th, 2009


[links] Link salad discovers Friday

The Flash Fiction Open continues well [ | LiveJournal ] — Some more good entries these past two days in comments on both sides of the blog. I'll put together a poll over the weekend. Meanwhile, if you've been thinking of writing one, you've got a another day or so.

Seattle Geekly podcast episode 30 — In which both calendula_witch and I are interviewed in connection with Grant's Pass, along with a cast of several.

Great flaming gas bags! — Walter Jon Williams on Jess Nevins on zeppelin pulps. W00t! (Via klingonguy.)

Prehistoric monster terrorises kids in the Ganges — Sort of... (Via

Healthcare that worksThe New York Times with some facts, some polls and some strong analogies about healthcare reform.

Joe Republican — An essay which makes much the same point I did yesterday: that government and liberal activists have made almost everything people assume about their lives today possible. Clean air, clean water, safe roads, safe medicine, workplace benefits and so forth. (Thanks to joshenglish.)

?otD: Who put the "Fri" in "Friday"?

Body movement: n/a (overslept post-travel)
Hours slept: 6.5
This morning's weigh-in: n/a (forgot to weigh)
Currently reading: The Real Wizard of Oz by Rebecca Loncraine; The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham

Originally published at


[funny] What's on your t-shirt?

Yesterday afternoon, I said on my Twitter and Facebook feeds:
We should all have snappy labels on our shirts - "Doesn't play well with others", "Requires external validation", etc. What's yours?

The responses have been hilarious. As of about 5:40 am Pacific Friday...

From Twitter:

Junglemonkey: "Not stuck up, just introverted."
MKKare: "Do I look like a fucking people person?"
NewroticGirl: "Requires external validation."
aynjelfyre: "Cap may forcefully eject."
gewhiz: "Poor impulse control."
jenniferbrozek: "Just wants to be loved, adored and obeyed."
josephhaines: "Feed. Make fat. If his mouth is full, he can't rant."
lizargall: "Dangerous when bored."
lizargall: "Likes to nap in sunshine."
nethspace: "Has already forgotten your name."
tinytall: "Requires time signals."

From Facebook:

Laura Anne Gilman: "Assume nothing."
Jo Ellen Mauer: "The wheel is spinning but the hamster's missing."
Lillian Csernica: "Parental discretion advised."
Dawn Taylor: "I am on fire and have dangerous cargo: keep well clear of me." (with appropriate marine signal flags)
Daniel Lei: "Requires Some Assembly."
Astrid Bear: "Eats cookie dough."
Katherine Sanger: "I Run With Scissors."
Jimmy Simpson: "I'm out of bed and dressed. What more do you want?"
Karen Meschke: "Questions authority."
Stina Leich: "I make up stuff."
Jayme Lynn Blaschke: "Open other end."
Luke McGuff: "Do not play on or around."
Chris Beckett: "You say tomato, I say f*** you."
Jim Crider: "I reject your reality and substitute my own."
Selina Phanara: "Runs with scissors."
Steve Schend: "I write lies for a living. No, I'm not a political speech writer."
Jude-Marie Green: "Surf Naked."
Tina Jens: "Flaming Liberal & Damn Proud of it!"
John Burridge: "Quomodo te amare possum nisi facere vis quae praecepi?" [How can I love you if you won't do what I say?]
John Burridge: "But enough about me; what do _you_ think of my shirt?"
Karen Grant: "Quando omni flunkus moritati." [When in doubt, play dead.]
Joseph Paul Haines: "Feed. Make fat. If his mouth is full, he can't rant."
Elissa Malcohn: "I have multiple personalities and none of them likes you."
Bob Kruger: "Maybe if this shirt is clever enough, someone will finally love me."
Rochelle Inselman Smith: "Poor impulse control."
Anthony D'Atri: "Another dissatisfied customer."
Jonathan Vos Post: "In the future, ALL human knowledge will be stored on a single nanotechnology t-shirt!"
Sara A Mueller: "Eternity is a terrible thought... I mean, where's it all going to end?"
Matthew S. Rotundo: "Karaoke slut."
Glenn Glazer: "Danger! Land Mines!"
Bridget Coila: "This is me"
Michael Bloss: "Make sure you actually have my attention before talking to me."
Lori Ann White: "Selectively Mature."

Got shirt? Real or imaginary? Post it in comments!

Originally published at


[politics] More on religious objection to gay marriage

In comments here, hkneale bestows the Clue Fairy on me, and takes me to task for being an antireligious hater. I am respectfully disagreeing, at length.

I fail to see how someone objecting to homosexuality due to their religious beliefs to be considered "unprincipled".

I think we are significantly misunderstanding each other, partly through my abbreviated choice of words. Let me try again.

First of all, I'm not a "hater". My belief in others' freedom of religion is as absolute as my belief in others' freedom of speech. As a staunch atheist, I could hardly think otherwise. To force people to deconvert is just as repugnant as to force them to convert, perhaps more so.

That being said, those very same freedoms guarantee that I am not required to agree with or obey your speech. Neither am I required to agree with or obey your religion.

As for religious commandments themselves, by definition, they are an Argument From Authority. This is certainly true in the Abrahamic religions, and so far as I know, it's true in most or all other world religions. The Argument From Authority is a logical fallacy in and of itself. Furthermore, religious commandments only apply within the framework of their religion. Just because they believe it, doesn't mean it's true.

This is not to say that many religious commandments don't have equivalent social principles. Exodus 20:13, "Thou shalt not kill", has a pretty broad application in any functional society. (As an aside, note the nuance that the original text, such as we understand it, could more accurately be translated as "Thou shalt not commit premediated murder", but the idea holds either way.)

On the other hand, many more religious commandments don't hold any water as social principles. Leviticus 11:12 states "Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you." (Likewise Deuteronomy 14:10.) Not eating shrimp doesn't have any application in a functional society, at least not one with decent refrigeration.

In other words, you can't base principled social policy on religious commandments. As a society, we don't even base religious policy on religious commandments. Otherwise all Jews and Christians would look and act like Orthodox Jews. Religious principles are selective, and in my opinion, quite necessarily so in order to ensure the long term survival of the religion over generations.

That is decidedly not the same thing as saying that persons of faith are not principled. Neither is it suggesting they shouldn't be permitted, or even encouraged, to state their beliefs, as you suggest I'm intending, further down in your comment.

The point I was trying to make is that we can't frame a social policy based on religious principles. Otherwise we'd all be subject to either majoritarianism, or the principle of maximum of offense. The evils of either of those options should be obvious.

Social policy gets framed based on cost-benefit analysis, moral considerations, and the social context. Our American political equivalent of religious commandments is the Constitution, and the body of legislation and case law which descends from it. Yes, those are Authority, but they're consensual authority established by our society, and malleable as our society changes.

A lot the people of my personal acquaintance who are against the practice of homosexuality (and therefore are standing against gay marriage) have reasons other than "God commanded it so." I know because I've asked them.

What are those reasons? As I said in my original post, I've seen no arguments that don't boil down to either antigay bigotry or religious commandment. What have you heard otherwise?

Would you respect them any more if they failed to stand firm by their principles? Probably not.

Not in the slightest. But neither do I think religious principles per se are a basis for framing social policy. If they were, we'd be a theocracy, and we all know how well that turns out.

When it comes to this whole gay marriage thing, I get much bemusement out of human behaviour. Those who openly support it are getting very hateful and malicious in their attitudes towards those on the fence, even when they are not normally hateful and malicious people. That's probably the last sort of attitude one should adopt.

You're implying it's hateful and malicious of me to stand against those who oppose secularism, equality under the law, and individual rights. I am almost certain I misunderstand you here, but let's be clear. I am quite capable of being deeply snarky about damned near anything (including myself), but I don't think I've ever been hateful and malicious about opposition to gay marriage. I simply think that such opposition is profoundly wrong headed and not grounded on the social and moral principles of our society. It is certainly in many cases grounded in the social and moral principles of individual religious belief, but those are not equivalent and do not apply within the framework of American constitutional democracy.

Don't be one of the haters.

Thankfully, I'm not.

Originally published at