Thursday, March 8, 2012

Last Call

I hope they throw the book at Apple and these publishers over this.

Apple and five large book publishers could be hit with a lawsuit over allegedly teaming up to raise the price of e-books, according a report Thursday.

The U.S. Justice Department has warned Apple, along with Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins, that it plans to sue them for antitrust violations, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the inquiry.

The six companies allegedly colluded in 2010 to force Amazon to raise its discounted e-book prices.

Three of the book publishers -- HarperCollins, Hachette and Penguin -- declined to comment. Representatives for the Justice Department and the other companies named in the report did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If these allegations are true, it completely justifies my decision to never again buy an iTunes or iBook from Apple.  If the cost of these publishers getting in the ground floor on Apple's iPad bookstore was having to screw over Amazon's Kindle users like myself, then we have a serious problem on our hands, and I hope that Kindle e-book buyers like myself get the difference back, plus interest.

This sucks, Apple.  Forget me buying any content from you in the future.

The Grand Unifying Theory On Bigotry

The word "racism" doesn't mean whatever the right says it means.

The winger right has been losing the argument on race for quite some time now, culminating in 2008's election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  It's driving them insane, too.  ABL talked about the idiotic Derrick Bell "hug-troversy" yesterday, and the right is gleefully pointing to young Harvard Law Review president Barack Obama speaking about diversity and Harvard faculty as proof he's a "racist".

This is because the right loves to reframe the definition of anything bad as "something that applies primarily to liberals."  It goes something like this:  "We're tired of being called racist by you people, so we're going to define racism as 'including race in the consideration of anything' and therefore that means all liberals are racists.  We win.  What are you going to do about it?  You can't deny that liberals are aware of race in differing points of view and take them into consideration through diversity and inclusiveness.  That means you're defining people by race, and that makes you racists, Q.E.D.  Oh, and we're done talking to you about this, because we don't talk to racists."

Pretty amazing stuff, and yet this perfectly encapsulates the conservative viewpoint on race, where Arizona Republicans have banned Latino Studies classes in school as "indoctrination" and the Supreme Court has to take another look at race in college admissions because consideration of race is in and of itself "racist".  Mention, consideration, attention to race is the new definition of what it means to be racist, and that means liberalism itself is the source of "the real racism in America."
As ridiculous as it is, it serves a very real purpose:  the wingers use this argument to defuse and dismiss any real criticism of racism.  "You can't accuse us of racism in any way when you support diversity and affirmative action!" they bellow.  Such breathtaking false equivalence, literally equating the awareness that race affects social and political fabric of the nation with actual, overt racism, is the key to how the rabid right "wins" arguments.

It applies to not only race, but virtually all aspects of liberalism's inclusiveness of viewpoints by definition:  gender, socioeconomics and class, religion (or the absence of it), sexual orientation, you name it.  And all of it becomes ammunition to use against liberalism itself.  Once you accept the first false equivalence that considering sexual orientation is discriminatory against heterosexuals, or that discussing race is in an of itself racist against whites, every other argument you can make to defend that is a loser.

That's what makes the media's acceptance of these "well both sides do it!" frames so absolutely poisonous.  If you accept the possibility that Derrick Bell's call for faculty diversity makes him a racist, there's nothing you can say that can then "prove the negative" that he's not one.  From there, you can't "prove the negative" that Barack Obama's association and introduction of Bell possibly racist views in 1990 didn't adversely affect the formative views on race for the now President Obama.  These folks are literally arguing that because you cannot prove that the President isn't a racist when he's talking about race, it's as bad as him being a racist.

It's sophistry on a grand, transformational scale, and yet once again this same level of lunacy is driving our national discourse.  It applies to the ongoing Rush Limbaugh misogyny as well:  Bill Maher said bad things about women at one point, making him just as bad as Rush and proving that feminists all hate men because they cannot prove liberals' consideration of gender issues isn't in turn misandry.  Everything then becomes a situation where liberals are "forcing" their views upon conservatives, thus robbing them of their freedoms, bringing us to the recent contraception "controversy" where having employers agree to birth control coverage is in fact an abridgement of their religious liberties, proving liberals are the religious bigots.

It applies to secular arguments as well, take science, evolution, and global climate change.  The false equivalence here is that liberals cannot prove 100% that these theories are absolute fact, so that refusal to accept the "equally valid" theories of creationism and sunspots being responsible is proof that liberals are the closed-minded ones who reject science and the scientific method, never mind that this awesome argument means I can have a theory that the Earth was created by Doozers leaving underneath Fraggle Rock and that rejection of it by Dr. Stephen Hawking means he's not a real scientist.

Everything is related here, folks.  It all ties together, forming a multi-pronged attack on liberalism itself, the rejection of valid new ideas because they challenge the old, the holding of ridiculous fallacies as proof of victory and that in the end, all conservative ideas are correct because classic liberalism, the creation of new ideas itself, is an inherently evil act precisely because you can't prevent those new ideas from possibly being evil.

It's Dick Cheney's One Percent Solution taken to the application of pretty much everything.  It might be wrong, so it must be wrong.  And it must be destroyed.   The faster we recognize these false equivalencies for what they are, the more we can point them out to others and say "This argument is terrible and here's why, and they're using this argument because they don't have anything else."  It's something that we have to keep fighting until we win.

If we don't, then we'll be the "racists, bigots, and haters" forever and it will always be unacceptable to call it out, which is precisely what they want the situation to be.

Solar Babies

The Sun has had enough of your crap, Earth.  Take that.

U.S. politics had its "Super Tuesday" yesterday, and so did the sun, says Joseph Kunches from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

That's because the sun had two solar flares associated with two coronal mass ejections. Coronal mass ejections involve massive amounts of energy and charged particles shooting out of the sun, and can cause problems if directed at Earth, as was the case over the last couple of days.

This event may stir up a geomagnetic storm, and lead to disruptions to high-frequency radio communications, global positioning systems and power grids, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said Wednesday. The peak of the storm is expected to hit Thursday morning; it may gradually diminish by Friday morning.

One of these coronal mass ejections is the strongest since December 2006, NOAA said. The equivalent of 10 billion tons of highly charged particles are hurtling at a rate of 3 million to 4 million miles an hour toward Earth. NASA says the leading edge of this coronal mass ejection will hit Earth at 1:25 a.m. E.T. (give or take seven hours).

The sun is currently in a cycle of increased sun spots. This is part of an 11-year cycle that is expected to peak over the next year. The magnetic field in a sunspot stores energy that is released in solar flares. These flares are intense bursts of radiation that get ejected into space.

Which is funny, because I would have pegged this year to be the peak of gas ejected into space, with the election and all.   NASA footage of unusual solar activity below:

Sun keeps trying to kill me, man.  KILL ME.

Show Me Stupidity: Busty Edition

So, Zandar tipped me off that Missouri is putting a bust of Rush in the Missouri State Capitol, where there are many famous Missourians.  Facepalm.  Headdesk.  A cussing rant that made my cat blush, followed by a thin trail of drool from when I went into a StupidiComa trying to digest this.  I can't say I have never been more ashamed of my state, but it's pushing the limit.

Of course the Democrats are protesting, and rightfully so.  Famous does not mean good, celebrity status does not equal worthiness.  Limbaugh is a disgrace to his profession and everyone who backs him, and I'm mortified that he may be forever associated with Missouri.  For what it's worth, I had missed out on that fact until this called it to my attention.

He does not belong in the same hallway as Mark Twain, Harry Truman, and other people who actually contributed to the world.  To continue to "honor" Rush Limbaugh is to give value to his attitude towards women and minorities.  It's like Missouri is saying "it's cool, we don't give a crap about them either, please proceed."  On the flip side, can you imagine the message it would send if Missouri changed their minds after he called Fluke a slut?  That's a powerful message, but I'm afraid this backwards state just doesn't have the balls or the brains to take a stand.

The same sculptor is working on a bust of Dred Scott, taking mixed messages to a scary level.  Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom and was denied in the infamous Dred Scott Decision.  Scott's plight eventually led to massive changes, due to the outrage of people at the reasoning for the decision.  Basically, his human rights weren't as valuable as the theoretical inconvenience to his owner.  Makes me think a lot of Republicans voting against fair pay for women because of the burden it might put on businesses to have to be fair.  Now that is a man and a statement worth honoring.  That says that unfair things happen, but good will triumph in the end.

Rush is a publicity whore, to reward him is disgusting.

GOP Women: Hypocrisy In Action

The Immoral Minority ran a swellegant piece about Sarah "I can't miss a chance to grab a headline" Palin trying to equate Obama's call to Sandra Fluke with failing to support the troops.  Yeah, I know.  But please give him a second and read the full article here.  It's right on target.

There is one thing he mentioned that I want to bring up and expand on just a bit.  Palin has three daughters.  Count them, three young women who will enter this world and be treated like second class citizens if Palin's boys have their way.  What kind of parent can look at their children and think to themselves that they don't need medical rights to their body, that they should be good little women and be submissive to their husbands and not ask too many questions?  What kind of politician says she supports freedom and then lets a young woman be thrown to some mighty big wolves for trying to speak to her government?

Sarah "the antichrist wears cool glasses" Palin, that's who.

But she isn't the only one.  Michele "I can't believe they still remember who I am" Bachmann is hiding from the same questions I want answered.  Remember when the band played Lyin' Ass Bitch and she had a conniption?  Remember how she milked that and talked about the disrespect?  She called that sexist, and accused CNN of a double standard, but won't speak out against the actions of her own buddies.  She is selling all women out for her gain, and while this isn't the first time we've pointed that out, it's rare we get such a clear example.  Call her a liar, and hell hath no fury.  Call someone else something even worse and with even less cause... well, boys will be boys, right?  Surely he didn't mean it, because words like slut are so ambiguous.

Click here for the full article, including video showing her act like a spineless weasel.

These women are a disgrace to their gender.  They have sold out women for political gain.  They don't care that people are going hungry and some folks, including married couples, have decided that now may not be a good time to bring more children into the picture.  With health care, safety net programs, public school meltdowns and soaring food costs, who can blame them?  The fact is, it's responsible to hold off on kids you can't afford.  Their attempt to convert birth control into a single slutty woman's problem is about as ass backwards as it gets, and they know it.

But the bottom line is it isn't the government 's place to dictate values to the people.  America was built on choice and freedom, not the cowards who hide behind lame apologies and take shots at a law student who speaks the truth.  We deserve better, and if the GOP insists on screwing up, we will have better.

Here's hoping for a solid round of changes.

The Short Answer Is No

TPM's Evan McMorris-Santoro asks:

Does Obama Have A Bill Maher Problem?

Yeah, see, I like Evan, I follow him on Twitter, I've cited his articles, but...this?  This is just silly.  To whit:

Faced with what appears to be a losing fight over Rush Limbaugh, Republicans are trying to turn the tables in the condemnation game by urging President Obama to repudiate comedian Bill Maher, who donated $1 million to Obama’s super PAC and has said some nasty things about Sarah Palin and other Republican women.

Republicans think they’re really on to something here. And some observers agree.

If Obama wants to have credibility on the Limbaugh attacks, says Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, president of the Women’s Campaign Fund and a former Democratic House candidate, he’s going to have to show he’ll step up to all sexism when he sees it, even the sexism that comes from huge donors.

“They’re absolutely identical,” Bennett said. “It’s completely unacceptable when Maher said sexist things about Bachmann and Palin. It’s completely unacceptable when Rush called Sandra Fluke a ‘slut.’”

“If you attack one woman, you attack all women, period,” she added. “If it goes uncalled against, we’re saying it’s OK. It’s not.”

This zero tolerance/false equivalence nonsense stuff is exactly how the right gets out of headlocks like this, and McMorris-Santoro goes right for it.  Siobhan Bennett is on FOX News all the time as the "official" voice of "liberals are the misogynists" anyway.  Of course BECAUSE BILL MAHER is going to be the new argument to allow Rush to continue to call women "sluts" and "whores" for the rest of his career.

There is such a thing as intent and amount.  Rush's attacks have been constant and consistent for 20 years now.  Maher has stuck his foot in his mouth of course and he should apologize, but equating the two is like taking a pitchfork to do something about the enemy battalion occupying your town and then being told your pitchfork usage makes you equally morally bankrupt.  Maher has not the political or financial power or the social outreach of Limbaugh.  Nor do Maher's crimes stack up to his either.

It's pointless, and the acceptance of the false equivalence that what Maher did and what Rush did are congruent is nonsense of the highest order.

Evan, you should know better.

Nothing More American

We know Muslims have made int in America when a TV show depicting them as completely normal individuals is canceled.  Alyssa Rosenberg:

TLC has cancelled All-American Muslim, its reality series about an interconnected group of Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan. The show pulled relatively low ratings—even as the show’s buzz reached its height, fewer than a million people were tuning in on Sunday nights. And members of the cast told the Detroit Free Press that TLC explained that the ratings were the reason All-American Muslim wouldn’t be coming back for a second season.

The show was also the subject of a campaign by prominent Islamaphobes. Pamela Geller insisted that the show was offensive because it refused to portray Muslims as extremists, terrorists, and criminals. The Florida Family Association, essentially a one-man front group with a history of running boycotts rather than advancing family values, convinced hardware giant Lowe’s and travel discounter Kayak to drop their advertising on the show. Lowe’s tried to hide behind claims of negative buzz for the show on social media, though there was little evidence of any such chatter that wasn’t inflected by anti-Muslim sentiment, and Kayak’s founder wrote an incoherent attack on the show in response to criticism. Both companies were subject to intense pressure to reinstate their advertising, and music executive Russell Simmons offered to buy up spots on the show, only to find that they were sold out.

I personally believe that while America certainly needs more of the message that Muslims are perfectly normal, average Americans, the fact of the matter is the show was exploitative in a way and I'm not sad to see it go, either.  What if the show was called "All American Mixed-Race People" or "All American Jews"?

The fact is that the people who needed the message that Muslims are Americans and proud of it will never, ever listen to them.  Putting them on a reality show is at best horribly misguided, and at worst it was guilty of treating Muslims as anything but normal.

Not sorry to see it gone.


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