A peeved city of Las Vegas has apparently rolled up the welcome mat, shuttered the doors, and hid the children – at least insofar as President Obama is concerned.
Figure skater Johnny Weir is caught up in a well-deserved furor over his now-withdrawn intention to wear fox fur at the Olympics. The whole affair not only is a slap in the face of compassionate living but also a strike against the ideals of sportsmanship.
If the so-called upset in Massachusetts, in which Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, teaches us anything, it is this: just as youth is wasted on the young and wealth is wasted on the wealthy, voting is wasted on voters.
Well, I’ve done it. I’ve finally succeeded in squeezing into my schedule a little 2 hour and 40 minute long film (excluding previews) you may or may not have heard about called Avatar. And surprise, surprise, it turns out to be an anti-colonial tirade. This isn’t especially notable, as Avatar isn’t the first or only film to draw blood from politics. Yet I can’t help but wonder what the point of it all is. Is a movie just a movie?
Note: My discussion of climate change will continue in January. This week, I take a detour to a protest that took place outside of Bark Works at the Westside Pavilion mall.
If you’ve been to Westside Pavilion, chances are you’ve seen them. Cute little balls of fur frolicking in the storefront displays or snoozing peacefully in their cages, priced at hundreds of dollars. Puppies! But the Companion Animal Protection Society, an organization devoted to investigating pet shops and puppy mills, wants you to know something about Bark Works
There is the view – recently expressed by TFPO’s fearless editor Ari Noonan – that the word “denier” is colloquially reserved for Holocaust deniers. This is news to me. A denier, unless my command of the English language is faulty, is simply someone who denies, which seems pretty straightforward.
The ongoing controversy of climate changes illustrates a rather important relationship in science and reason: The relationship between claims and the burden of proof. We’ve all heard Carl Sagan’s observation that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. In the bigger picture, the issue is whether it’s reasonable to doubt climate change enough to do nothing or whether that doubt is irrational to the point we are compelled to act decisively to forestall disaster. The question is whether the fundamental concept of climate change, specifically human-caused climate change, is an ordinary claim subject to an ordinary burden of proof or an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.
A large problem with media reporting of the Fort Hood shooting has been unreliable information, at least initially. From the death of Maj. Hassan to incorrect statements about cop Kimberley Munney (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/), who was originally credited with bringing down Hasan until Sergeant Mark Todd’s primary role was revealed, certainty about what happened during the Fort Hood shooting is hard to come by, never mind explanations for why it happened. Patience is a virtue, they say, and so it is for journalists as well as anyone else. We have nothing to gain by rushing to judgment before all the facts are in and much to lose if we act on bad information.
So, what are Muslims? The new Jews or Blacks? Just when I hoped that, as a society, we had made progress in overcoming bigotry like anti-Semitism and racism, along come yet more signs that Muslims are the proper, universal subjects of regularly scheduled two-minutes hate. Two minutes, amplified and repeated in the media’s 24/7 echo chamber, leading to the depressing fact that we haven’t even remotely overcome our prejudicial ways of thinking. Major Hasan’s shooting of 13 people at Fort Hood has brought to the surface not only the usual confusion as to how anything like this can happen, but ire directed towards Muslims that is sometimes glaring but more often subtle.
Sure, I know about his Nobel Peace Prize and his good work with Habitat for Humanity. I know about his travels across the world and his service as election monitor. I’ve even read some of his op-ed pieces. But surely, I distantly wondered, a one-term President is like, in music terms, a one-hit wonder. Then there’s the antipathy many people, notably on the right, express towards Mr. Carter, raising many questions. Is he really such a horrible individual? Is he really a closet anti-Semite? Was he really that dismal a President? Truthfully, I’ve just never given much thought one way or another to former President Jimmy Carter.