I can’t talk. This is all too fucking sad.
When I start paying attention, everyone is already talking.
Tata: I’m bored.
Tata: You’re WHAT?
Tata: Now, that is a SHAME!
Tata: I object to that objection!
Tata: Look, we’ve got stuff to do. Shut up, crazy people!
Tata: Will this give me wrinkles? Because this had better not give me wrinkles!
Tata: Are you eating a cookie?
I may be thick-skinned, but it’s skin I’m aware I should be taking better care of, so I was not exactly surprised when last night someone sat on the couch chattering about useless crap and this morning, I slathered my epidermis with moisturizing goo. There, uselessness! Take your irritating, time-wasting chatter and begone! Two more goo-coats and I should be itch-free. In the meantime, I bet Jeff Bezos wishes for a hot tub full of cortizone cream.
When you ask Iris “is abortion wrong?” the Android app will answer:
Yes, abortion is wrong. The Lord has said, “You shall not murder,” (Exodus 20:13). The life that is growing within the mother is a child, a baby. The Bible looks at the life in the womb as a child. Thanks!
The blame, however, doesn’t belong to the company that develops Iris. At least not entirely, because you could also argue that they are ultimately responsible for the answers its app gives.
After its popularity explosion om[sic] the Android platform, Dexetra decided to partner with Q&A engine ChaCha to expand its search abilities. And that’s where the problems truly are. ChaCha—incidentally, a derogatory Spanish word for cleaning lady—is a company that is partially funded by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and founded by Scott Jones, the inventor of Gracenote, the music database that powers parts of Apple’s iTunes.
If you go to ChaCha’s website and ask the same question, you will get exactly the same answer. If you ask Iris “is abortion right?” then it will provide a more neutral answer: “Abortion is a tricky issue—whether it’s right or wrong should be up to the mother to decide.” But if you ask again if she’s pro-choice, she will admit that yes, she’s “actually pro-life”, arguing that “every embryo is a life and a miracle.”
Scratchy! We have blasted our way to a new and record-breaking depth when electronic devices now preach about the miracle of life. Look, life is not a miracle. A few million years ago, maybe it was. We don’t know. Now it’s a habit like smoking or thinking Bill Kristol is merely stupid and not evil. No, Bill Kristol is mostly evil with a spicy dash of stupid, just to change things up, and thinking he doesn’t mean what he says is one of those bad habits that protects us from understanding that lots of terrible people mean what they say and we are surrounded by them. Anyway, life: not a miracle anymore, if it ever was. Living things reproduce and they’re so successful at it that people on TV keep arguing that massive and mass-produced bombs are better at stopping reproduction than small, regular doses of chemicals. I mean, that’s what they’re saying, isn’t it? And now our phones say it, too, albeit in suddenly diplomatic terms:
Update: hours after this article was published, ChaCha is changing the answers to those questions and, I’m sure, frantically searching for others. That’s good ChaCha, as good as the fact that we have all the captures and video with their old answers. Here are some of ChaCha’s new answers, as reported by readers:
Is abortion wrong?
Many people believe abortion is wrong because their God teaches that all human life is sacred. However, many people believe that it is wrong to bring a child into the world if the parents are unfit due to drug problems, financial instability, or if it was a result of rape or incest among many other reasons. I believe it is a personal choice. You must do what you believe is right. It may be best to talk with family, friends, counselors, or a religious leader before making any decision.
Is rape ever justified?
No, I do not think so. You might devise a justification in your mind, an unenlightened culture might condone it, but justifying sexual physical violence against another human is always wrong.
Many other people believe that a woman should bring a child into the world when she’s good and ready and nobody else’s opinion matters. Many believe sex can be fun and interesting and a delightful way to clear the complexion and who’d want to fuck people that don’t, anyway? If you need an app to tell you right from wrong you’re already lost.
And, yes, it was a Girl Scout cookie.
The Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay of execution for Troy Davis.
At 7:05 p.m., five minutes after his scheduled death, Davis’ supporters erupted in cheers, hugs and tears outside the jail in Jackson, Ga., as supporters believed Davis had been saved from the death penalty. But Davis was granted only a temporary reprieve as the Supreme Court considers the decision.
The warrant for Davis’ execution is valid until Sept. 28. The Georgia Resource Center, part of Davis’ legal defense team, said it was unsure how long the delay would last.
I would be surprised if anyone concerned slept tonight.
In other news and muddying the already troubled waters, Lawrence Brewer was executed tonight in Texas for the murder of James Byrd.
Then I was happy because at least I was stooopid for a reason. Reason, however, fails these people altogether.
There’s an old Jewish expression: When you have two Jews, you have three opinions. One reason converting to Judaism was so easy for me was that my being of two minds about a topic was actually a dinnertable-argument asset. It’s no surprise then that this week’s developments in the fight for sensible health care just about sent me round the fuckin’ twist.
Yesterday rumors were flying and some folks are saying they’ve been confirmed. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC), in an effort to make health care into a bi-partisan effort, is considering a restriction on abortion funding with the passage of health care reform. This could mean not allowing a public health insurance plan to cover the cost of abortions for women. It is still unclear under what circumstances this provision would apply, but we want to make sure that you all are aware of what’s going on in the SFC!
The reason I was waiting for this was that I’ve been paying attention for the last thirty years, and I knew there was no way the forced birthers were going to let real women’s health care get into that plan, and that the Democrats would immediately cave, because vaginas have cooties. Also via the Sideshow, a more or less incoherent piece at Buzzflash so filled with Newt Gingrich’s specially conditioned assumption language that the title tells the reader everything she needs to know: Should We Sell Choice To Get Change? As a cantankerous little old lady, I feel obligated to deconstruct that question with a rolling pin. Whack! Individually, some Congresscritters may desire “change” – which is to say a national healthcare plan – but most have accepted bribes – which is to say campaign money and buckets of it – from insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit hospital corporations. Our interests as citizens and the interests of our congressional representatives diverge, a big problem for us, because that brings us to the second assumption packed into the headline: that reproductive rights may not go down the tubes with this plan. They’re going. I’ll be blunt: this is going to sting. A comment from the Buzzflash piece by Jeremyg:
We should all be able to agree that we need to respect the rights of people who believe abortion is murder, and not force them to pay for it with their tax dollars. Isn’t that what a tolerant society is all about? Respecting the rights of those we disagree with. Tolerance is better than any fundamentalism, even pro-choice fundamentalism. Let’s respect everyone’s choices.
That is hay-filled, corn-fed bullshit, right there. I actually don’t give a good goddamn anymore about the opinions of people who think abortion is murder because – once again – I’ve been paying attention for the last thirty years and I know they don’t respect my opinion that another person’s medical procedures are none of their fucking business. Moreover, we as taxpayers do not get to decide how the money is spent. Our one decision: do we or do we not in good conscience pay our taxes as they have been assessed? If the answer is yes, write the check and shut the fuck up about how my tax dollars are spent. You know what, person of faith? I argued vehemently against the war, against privatizing government services, against the death penalty, against the war on drugs, welfare, unemployment, the aged, the disabled, the homeless and hungry, ridiculous and xenophobic border patrols, the national parks, the environment, endangered species, public transportation and fucking common decency, but does that really matter? No. Because while I believe we shouldn’t spend a red cent on the Pentagon, my tender feelings don’t figure into the budget priorities of the United States of America, and neither should yours. Sending kids to die for an imperialist adventure was murder each time we’ve done it, so plainly this money-murder relationship is not the dealbreaker you make it out to be. But that’s not the worst of it. No, the worst is when middle-aged women of faith sell our daughters down the river, as Blue Gal does:
A fellow blogger had a fit last night via email, because that blogger heard a rumor that possibly abortions would not be covered under the Public Option. I. Just. Winced. All. The. Way. To. Bed. We don’t HAVE a public option yet. It’s not a sure thing. We have to wait for the insurance companies to fail before single payer is maybe possibly back on the table, but let’s pour a heaping cup of the most divisive issue of the past fifty years into the pot right now, because it’s so very critical.
It is critical, because abortion is often an economic decision. In real life, sometimes women choose not to bring a pregnancy to term because they can’t afford it. If you think abortion is murder, that probably boggles your mind, which boggling has gummed up government for a handful of decades, especially since our government quit paying for abortions in the seventies. Insurance companies, as Blue Gal reminds us, sometimes pay for abortions. But what happens if we develop a national healthcare plan that doesn’t cover them? Bet your shoes that insurance companies will stop covering anything the national plan doesn’t. Once abortions are off the table, contraception is next, and mental health coverage, and dental, until there’s nothing left in that plan.
The place to draw the line then is at abortion. It must stay in the plan or we return to the time pre-Roe, with even less than we have now. Back-alley abortions and deaths are only the beginning of what awaits us.
The second thing driving me out of my mind is that the administration doesn’t seem to know how to haggle. There are two ways to strike a bargain:
1. You start bargaining from a position beyond your wildest dreams. For instance, if you’re going clean Ted’s gutters and you want $100 for the job and Ted is going to bargain with you, you start by telling Ted you’ll do it for $200. If Ted says, “No, dude, here’s ten bucks and a used bowling ball,” you know that Ted is not serious about wanting his gutters cleaned. Note that Republicans offer Democrats used bowling balls all the time. They are not serious about bargaining. If however you ask $200 and Ted says $45, you may get some back and forth that results in a price close to what you want.
Where healthcare is concerned, Congress fucked this up badly by starting with a stupidly modest plan that will make only the healthcare industry happy, because it will do nothing for the common good. Our representatives should have started with plans well beyond single-payer, knowing how legislation is enacted. That they didn’t tells us that we cannot hope for anything.
2. The Chicago way, as described by Sean Connery in The Untouchables:
Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Anything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.
Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.
[jabs Ness with his hand, and Ness shakes it]
Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Malone: Good, ’cause you just took one.
Scrap the plan as it exists. Start from a position beyond your wildest dreams and make it politically expensive for opponents of a good plan for the common good.
We won’t see either a decent plan or the survival of reproductive rights as we know them for ordinary American women if the administration doesn’t send a few Republicans to the political career morgue very soon.
Sorry about the fucking bruises.