Monday, March 26, 2012

Things I don't understand

The weather is seriously borked.  If you don't believe me, I give you this article.  (Via Fred Clark.)  It's going to fuck things up severely.  From ticks spreading disease to an early thaw meaning an increased risk of forest fires to drought, to severe weather, to the fact that a couple days ago the lodge I was supposed to stay at while vacationing in Vermont for half a week with my mother (the one thing I had left that I could actually look forward to) called up to say that we were the only guests at the hotel because the mountain had basically no snow, so would we like to cancel?

We've been going there every year for some years now and the mountain is supposed to be covered in snow at this time of year.  Sometimes they'd have one trail they never bothered making snow on and you could see what a difference the snow making made, but there were always multiple peaks open with plenty of snow to connect them.  Not sure exactly how many lifts were usually open, but definitely in the double digits.  Definitely there are usually more lifts running at this time of year than there are trails open right now.

And, I just took a look, it's worse than I thought.  The situation has degraded severely since they called (when they had two lifts and 11 trails open.)  As of this moment there is one lift and four trails.

Out of 22 lifts and 140 trails.

You can use different metrics, and get slightly different results (Over four and a half percent of their lifts are open!) but if you look a number of trails, miles of trails, or skiable acres it looks like they're running at around 3% of normal.

The lodge we stay at, as mentioned, is empty.  The businesses in the town are probably quite screwed.  Things are supposed to be running at a pretty good pace since the mountain is supposed to be almost entirely open right now, maybe with the odd trail closed here or there, not every lift would be running (some are sort of redundant) but basically the whole thing should be there to draw people in.  It isn't.  The entire town is screwed.

Climate change costs money.  It's bad for business.  It screws people over.  The example that's in my face is skiing because that was seriously the last thing I had to look forward to.  There is nothing good on my horizon any more.  But what if I looked at it from a standpoint of insurance?  Stronger storms mean worse damage, more fires means worse damage, the changing climate means worse damage.  If you're an insurance company you've either got to be wiling to lose a lot of money, or you have to raise premiums.  Which do you think more likely?

Money spent on insurance premiums is money not spent anywhere else.  It's bad for business.

So why the hell aren't we doing anything about it?  Why isn't there an "Everybody but oil and coal companies" lobby that's pushing back against the oil and coal lobbies so damn hard that they don't know what hit them and we get serious action on this right now?

Why are we not raising gas mileage standards on cars so damn fast that our immediate goal is to make the Prius be considered a gas guzzler?  Why are we not putting solar panels (or gardens if you prefer) on every roof in the country?  Why are we doing almost nothing?

I don't understand it.


The abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, and the ongoing fallout has made me ask myself what I would do if I were Pope.

"But you're not Catholic," you say.

True, but it's sort of a thought experiment.

"But even if you were Catholic you wouldn't be a priest."

Shut up.  Thought experiment.

"And even if you were a pries the odds against you one day being Pope would be astronomical."

Thought Experiment!

So, basically, my usual response to the hearing about what happened is usually about what happened in the past.  Children were sexually abused, the Church covered it up, this was very bad.  Many many people have been hurt, every instance was a betrayal, and then betrayal was heaped upon betrayal in the process of covering up and putting more at risk.  There is so much damage, so much pain, so much evil, that has already happened.  And that is where my focus goes.  To the past.  To what has already come to pass.

Those in charge cannot limit their scope to that.  If one were to suddenly somehow find themselves Pope they'd have incredible power of the Catholic Church, but there's still nothing they could do about what has already happened.  The Pope does not have a time machine.  So if the keys to the Church were placed in your hands, what could you do?

If I had power over the Catholic Church, if I loved it and wanted the best for it and had the job of bringing it into the future as close to unscathed as can be managed, what would I do?

The answer is actually very simple.  There's a clear solution.  I'm not completely sure, but I think it's a Catholic solution at that.  (Though by no means an exclusively Catholic solution.)  At the very least it's a Christian one.  (Again, not exclusively)

I'd tell the various people charged with record keeping to cooperate fully with the police.  I'd tell the entire church to cooperate fully with the police.  I'd get everything out there so an independent investigation could take place.  I'd get it into the hands of people whose job it was to find justice, I'd get it out of the hands of the people who perpetuated the cover up. I'd try to set the Church on a course of making things right instead of keeping things limited.

Because that's the only thing that makes sense.  It has to end.  If you want to help the victims, you have to get things over with.  If you want to help the Church, you have to get things over with.  The truth needs to come out and the wrongness needs to stop.  If it doesn't stop then neither the victims nor the Church will ever be able to have peace.

I don't actually know what confession is like, but I imagine that the idea that things need to stop is a part of it.  I could be wrong, but I think if I went into confession and said that I'd taken my sister's MP3 player and refused to give it back to her one of the first things the priest would say is, "Give it back to her."  I think if someone said they were doing something bad, on an ongoing basis, be it large or small, the priest would tell them to stop it.

I know for sure that, "Go and sin no more," is Christian idea because it's something attributed to Jesus (John 8:11) and it seems to me that a big part of the problem going on in the Church is that they seem very intent on sinning more.

I have difficulty believing that if someone went to confession to say that they were part of an ongoing effort to help sexual abusers and their supporters escape justice which had endangered children and directly resulted in many being abused, the priest would say, "Well you definitely should keep that up."  I instead imagine that the priest would tell this hypothetical person to stop.  But the Church as a whole has not stopped, they have not even given evidence of trying to stop.

The solution - the simple obvious plain to see solution is to stop doing the wrong thing.  It's to start cooperating.

And then I learned, again via Fred Clark, that someone had actually done that.  An Archbishop.  The relevant bit of the article is this, "When Martin became archbishop, he provided the Murphy Commission with 65,000 files his predecessor had refused to turn over."  As soon as he took the reigns he decided it was time to change to a more moral course.

Here's what I don't understand: why isn't that happening everywhere?


Miss Universe Canada disqualified one of its finalists after learning that she hadn't been born with female sexual organs.  And this makes sense because... um... yeah.  I'm not sure I follow, exactly.

How exactly would being born in a non-female body be disqualifying?  Is it supposed to be an unfair advantage?  Do people born male-bodied just look better in bikinis than those born female bodied?  Is it the case that if we start letting people born male-bodied into beauty pageants those who were born female-bodied will be so outclassed that they won't be able to compete?

I considered that they might think the hormones or surgery represented an unfair advantage, but apparently there are no rules against either of those things.

I'd like to write more on this subject but I don't even... I mean... what the fuck?


Robo signing is fraud.  It is a crime committed by organizations.  It is a crime that is systemic in such organizations.  It is a crime that affects interstate (and international) commerce.

Why are we not prosecuting the banks using RICO laws?

I don't understand.

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