03 January 2012

Infamous Brad

Brad Hicks is a blogger who writes only very occasionally, but at length, on a range of subjects, always insightfully. I am reminded of this by his review of Amy Schalet's book Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex.

I am, for the second time in two years, convinced that I live in a country full of superstitious, primitive, blood-thirsty savages.

Good stuff. And a good excuse for a set of links to my personal list of The Best Of Infamous Brad.

Christians In The Hands Of An Angry God is his best-known essay, and for good reason.

How did so many seminaries and so many preachers and so many authors get converted to this false gospel? What deal did they make with Satan himself, and why? What did they think that they were doing? These aren't rhetorical questions. I've met one of the people who “signed” that deal and helped enforce it. He was quite proud of his achievement, and years later told many of us about the meeting where that decision was made. It is only recently that I came to understand just who the other side in that deal really was, as opposed to who the fundamentalists in that room thought they were dealing with.

Fascinating, and very relevant to the relationship between politics and religion today. It's a five-part series; click through the next entry links at the top of each page.

Yes We Can Put Americans Back To Work. We Probably Won't, Though. A look at the history of the Work Projects Administration emphasizing a point that I'm baffled isn't more apparent to people, that the WPA built the backbone of American infrastructure that we depend upon every day.

In that four months, CWA [precursor to the WPA] workers had already built 1,000 rural airports, built 40,000 school buildings, built or resurfaced a quarter-million miles of roads, and laid twelve million miles of sanitary sewer lines, some of the first sewer lines laid in most counties. In four months. Right-wing Democrats and anti-tax pro-corporate Republicans screamed bloody murder about all the money that the CWA was “wasting,” but (and this is a point I'll come back to again) we're still using almost all of that stuff today. 75 years later, those “worthless” “make-work” projects are turning out to be some of the most valuable stuff the government had done in its first 150 years of existence.

He makes the case that we need to do that again, and he's right.

Atlas Shrugged 2: Shrug Harder is a meditation on the works of Ayn Rand.

I don't know how many of you realize that Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's science fiction classic, is actually only book 1 of a trilogy? Hardly anybody knows this, because she never got around to writing the missing middle volume. She wrote book 1 in the series. She wrote book 3 in the series, but didn't explicitly label it a sequel to Atlas Shrugged, she and her agent marketed it as a stand-alone volume. She never got around to writing the middle volume that bridges the two.

Nobody Will Ever Believe How We Got Here #OWS is about the weirdness of the origins of Occupy Wall Street.

Millions of Americans have been told by the corporate media, ever since the 1980s, that nobody but a handful of dirty hippies, and evil Satanic commies, and lazy welfare bums, and illegal immigrants, and of course more recently al Qaeda, but other than those people, nobody else but you has a problem with winner-take-all laissez faire oligopoly capitalism.

Not That the Actual Forbidden Knowledge is as Interesting as That There Is Forbidden Knowledge explores a chilling fact about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Don't say I didn't warn you that you may not want to know. But if you're reading me, maybe you do.

I think that 30 scientists and researchers from a half dozen or more different fields who gathered in rural France in 1990 to check each others' work must have felt something of that same horror when they found that they could not disprove their mutual finding. It was something that none of them wanted to believe. It was a thought that only one of the 30 of them was willing to confront the implications of, and do further research to explore the implications of. And I'm sure that they knew or at least suspected that no matter how important their scientific finding was, they would be vilified for a lifetime if they made society confront this awful truth, and that was a price that they were unwilling to pay. And see, that, to me, is the fascinating thing, even more fascinating than the awful truth itself.

Opposite Extremes is about an encounter with the authoritarian temperament.

My relative is firmly of the opinion that it is flatly never acceptable to place your own moral judgment above that of anybody in authority over you. Ever. Not only is it never acceptable, it's never moral. Not only is it never moral, it is never even legal, he insisted. Not only is it illegal, but it's a sign of a sick mind; only the most twisted and psychopathic and immoral of perverted reprobates says that their moral judgment is more reliable and more trustworthy than that of any authority figure over them. If someone in authority over you tells you that something is moral, then either that settles it, or you're the kind of criminal monster sicko that guys like my relative have sworn to protect society against. And when he got that across to me, I lost my temper even bigger than he had.

Using It In Reverse is a similar meditation on how “loyalty” is poisonous.

One of the things that every truly awful, truly monstrous boss I've ever had had in common was that they all demanded a very specific and very one-sided loyalty. Not to what was right, and certainly not to what was right for the company; they wanted to know that you could be counted on to always do what was right for them, personally. If they had any doubt in your personal loyalty to them, they'd find a way to sabotage your career and get rid of you, as happened to me twice and nearly happened several other times. And without exception, the managers who expected me to screw the public, screw the customers, screw the company, screw anybody necessary to protect them personally, all had something big that they needed to hide.

It's Not a M----- F------ “Miracle.” It's Somebody's JOB. is about how the story of US Airways flight 1549 is about the quiet heroism of professionals preparing for the worst.

I keep getting enraged at some politicians and spokesmen for some of the genuinely awful, genuinely stupid, actually malevolently evil things that they're saying about it. And none of them has so far affected me so strongly as New York governor David Patterson's oft-reported description of this as “a miracle.” And yes, I know he's not the only one who's calling it that. So let me try to find the under-used, or perhaps over-used, vocabulary to try to explain something very, very important to me. This was no mother fucking “miracle.” This was a job. Praise one or more gods on your own time. The real reason that 155 people lived through this is that dozens, maybe hundreds of ordinary men and women with jobs to do were well-trained for those jobs, and when the time came to do so they did their jobs, and they did them right and did them well.

Update: Brad has moved off the LiveJournal platform to take advantage of Medium as a place to kick out the jams.

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