Selection bias, confirmation bias, or…?

Conservatives Converge Around Fox News as Main Source; No Single Source Dominates on the Left (Source: Pew Research Center)

Conservatives Converge Around Fox News as Main Source; No Single Source Dominates on the Left (Source: Pew Research Center)

The news seems to have been dominated by a couple of themes this week. I could easily write a whole series of blog posts extending my “Bullied Bullies” series into the double digits, what with The entire Idaho wedding chapel story is a lie, and NC officials refuse to marry gay couples, claim religious oppression, and Gamergate Goons Can Scream All They Want, But They Can’t Stop Progress, and No, The City of Houston Isn’t Bullying Anti-Gay Pastors – This Is Basic Lawyering. I could go on and on.

But I don’t want to only write about people being clueless and/or bigoted all the time. I have to remind myself that one reason I see so many stories clustered around particular topics is because I tend to read news sites that report on topics of interest to me, and as an out gay man who was raised Southern Baptist, studied math and science at university, and have always been a sci fi/fantasy nerd, I gravitate toward news sites that cover social justice, science, technology, and nerd culture. So I’m going to see a lot of stories like Gamer Gate, or the propaganda efforts of anti-gay folks, and so on.

It’s not just which news sites I choose to go to, of course. If some sites are covering a story, similar sites will pick it up, even if only to summarize and point to the original piece. Seeing these stories, and seeing people respond to them, make the news gatherers, reporters, and editors look for similar events in subsequent news cycles.

Sometimes, of course, there really are a lot of things happening all related to a particular topic. The recent Appeals Courts’ rulings about marriage equality, and the Supreme Court’s decision to let them stand, has put a lot of states that no one expected to be dealing with marriage equality so soon into the crosshairs. This makes people who oppose same sex couples having the right to marry feel even more threatened. And because each circuit court covers a bunch of states, these people who feel threatened are scattered over a wide geographical area. You have a lot of people in a lot of places all reacting to a perceived threat, you’re going to have a lot of incidents that will rise to some level of newsworthy. A whole lot.

And of course, I’m not the only person who is reading selective news. The folks who feel exactly the opposite as I do about some of these topics are reading their favorite sites. Or should I say their favorite site, singular (Conservatives Converge Around Fox News as Main Source; No Single Source Dominates on the Left)? Where they find the same stories being couched in a very different light, fanning those flames of fear.

I had about four half-written pieces that I could have finished to post yesterday, but they were all about the sorts of stories I link to up in the first paragraph. One of my goals for the year has been to reduce the outrage, and focusing so much attention on those stories does not help me with that goal. The problem is, the only other topic I had nearly ready to publish was about people who look down on other people because of the kinds of books they like to read. Which had a very same-y feel to it.

Which all led me to here, contemplating how everything I’m writing about (other than my novel) is processing exactly the feelings I don’t want to be spending so much time on. I suppose it could be argued by writing them down, I have gotten some of it out of my system, but I’m not sure that publishing them all would further the purpose.

So I’m going to try to concentrate my attention for the next few days on my fiction writing. I’m overdue for writing about the craft of writing, any way.

Bullied bullies, part 4

cartoonThis is last week’s news, but still worth commenting on: Mark Driscoll resigns from Mars Hill Church. Mars Hill is a megachurch (consisting of 15 branch churches, several in the Seattle area, both others in other states) that preaches a slightly modernized/pseudo-hip version of the usual misogynist/homophobic fundamentalism. And the lead paster/senior pastor/whatever he called himself was a particularly douche-y man named Mark Driscoll. Read More…

Weekend update: Can’t keep up

The people updating this maps can't keep up!

The people updating these marriage equality maps can’t keep up! (Click to embiggen)

The marriage equality court rulings, whether states are deciding not to appeal or whether the Supreme Court refuses the appeal, just keep rolling forward. The people trying to maintain graphics the show which states have equality, which don’t, where rulings are under appeal, and so forth have been having to update them at least once a day all week. Again. It’s more than a little breathtaking!

One that is particularly exciting for me is Arizona. I have some friends who live there, two of whom happen to be a lesbian couple who, after being together more than a decade, had gotten legally married over in California during the brief period it was legal before Proposition 8 was passed (which, of course, was late struck down and now California is a marriage equality state, once more). But Kathy and Barb are Arizona citizens, and it has been galling (not to mention sometimes costly {don’t ask about how hard it is for a couple whose relationship is not legally recognized to get a clear house deed in both their names once the mortgage is paid off}). Anyway, on Friday Arizona came into the 21st Century, recognizing the rights of same sex couples to marry, which means their California marriage license is recognized. And the icing on the cake? Friday was the sixth anniversary of their California wedding! Talk about an awesome anniversary present! Congratulations, Kats and Barb, and here’s wishing you many more happy years together!

It’s not all good news regarding equality, Media Matters explains How Conservative Media Make It Harder For Schools To Protect Transgender Youth.

And look at this, Report about racial profiling for traffic stops in Ferguson, MO, reveals that 25% of the city’s revenue come for court fees and fines. Am I supposed to be surprised?

In case you missed it, since earlier this week most of the media failed to report that the seemingly slightly more tolerant statements about homosexuality were reversed, Catholic Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays.

But in moderately better news, Catholic Cardinal who said it is evil to introduce children to their gay relatives ousted.

Friday Links (with prehistoric giant kangaroos)!

memecenter.com

memecenter.com

It’s Friday! The third Friday in October—only two weeks before Halloween!

Last week was so crazy amazing: ten states got marriage equality over the course of five days. How could anything top that? Well, the dominoes keep falling!

Anyway, here is a collection of news and other things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared.

So, here are my links for the week:

20 HILARIOUS RESPONSES TO NOM’S WARNING THAT GAY MARRIAGE WILL LEAD TO PEOPLE MARRYING THEMSELVES.

Largest, oldest creature on Earth?.

Why I Deleted IHeart Radio From My Devices And You Should Too.

Texas Just Crowned Their First Transgender Homecoming King.

Uprooted, Again. An interesting ending to a story about one woman who used DNA testing to fill in her family tree…

The strange world of the bright blue Velella.

New Particle Is Both Matter and Antimatter: The Majorana fermion.

Second draft of document on accepting gays bows to pressure from bishops.

Everyone Keeps Falling for the Catholic Church’s Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine.

Adorable photos of flying lemurs! And other interesting pictures, but the flying lemurs are incredibly cute! (They aren’t true lemurs, they’re a species that split off from the primates 79 million years ago, but they’re basically a cross between a lemur and a flying squirrel!)

A wonderfully accurate comic about Gamer Gate.

Presbyterian workers wore no hazmat suits for two days while treating Ebola patient.

Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ Moon May Hide Subsurface Ocean.

Frigid Polar Vortex Unlikely to Repeat This Winter.

Locomotion in Extinct Giant Kangaroos: Were Sthenurines Hop-Less Monsters?

The media is doing an awful job explaining Ebola, and #ClipboardMan is proof.

CASSINI CAUGHT IN HYPERION’S ELECTRON BEAM.

Condition Called Tetrachromacy Allows This Artist To See 100 Million Colors.

Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass.

Man with possible explosive device lodged inside his leg brought to UAB Hospital.

Paramedic refused to leave man with grenade lodged in his leg: nerves, humor and body armor all part of 8-hour ordeal.

Nijicon: Philly’s First-Ever LGBT Comic Convention Is This Weekend.

Leaving the GOP Gov. Huckabee? Great, Take the Other Anti-gay Republicans With You.

In North Carolina, Thom Tillis is the Last Holdout Against Gay Marriage.

And by the way, those people claiming these marriage equality rulers are anti-Christian? Remember that in North Carolina, it was United Church of Christ ministers (among others) who sued to get the ban overturned: United Church of Christ wins for marriage in NC.

Christian right’s vile PR sham: Why their bizarre films are backfiring on them.

A conservative judge’s devastating take on why voter ID laws are evil.

Anti-Gay Marriage Group Alleges Bias on Federal Appeals Court. They don’t understand probability…

Matt Zarley – I Just Knew:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Nick Deutsch – Run:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Columbus Day – How Is That Still A Thing (HBO):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

David Guetta – Dangerous (Lyric Video) ft Sam Martin:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Go purple!

Millions go purple on Spirit Day in a stand against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

I’ve written way too much about my own experiences being bullied in my youth. It can be depressing to think that all these decades later it’s still going on. But I refuse to be daunted. And these kids do, too:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Find out how to go purple at http://glaad.org/spiritday

Find out how to go purple at http://glaad.org/spiritday

In contempt

RichardWagnerQuoteA friend recently posed a question online about how many of his friends and acquaintances who read that blog enjoyed the holidays. I first responded with a simple, “Do I really need to answer this?” because I figured that he knows me well enough to know how crazy I go with Christmas decorations and such.

I saw only a couple of other replies before one mutual acquaintance posted that he doesn’t like holidays, and has often wondered if the “joyful people” are brain-damaged or perhaps have butlers to handle all the stressful tasks.

Read More…

Hoops all the way down

Cartoon-thumbBefore I get into the meat of this post, let me first say that the way we handle health care in the U.S. is dumb and a disgrace. Okay. So, I think it was two years ago that my employer switched to our current provider. They sent us new ID cards, as usual. What was unusual was that the cards also came with these cute little tyvek envelopes, and the envelopes had additional information.

The size of the text on the cards and the envelopes is extremely tiny and difficult to read. There are multiple phone numbers, mailing addresses, all sorts of information. The company is headquartered in the midwest, and since they don’t have offices at all on the west coast, those of us working in the offices in Seattle and the various California locations are supposed to submit things through a local insurance network for reasons that don’t completely make sense to me. That’s one of the reasons there is so much information crammed on the cards and envelope: there is contact information for multiple offices.

The first time any of my health providers tried to submit claims… Read More…

Alas, poor grasshopper…

In July we drove into central Oregon to attend the wedding of our friends, Katrina and Terry. At the end of the weekend, after we’d loaded up the car, checked out, and so forth, I had just started the car and was preparing to back out of our parking space, when I saw the teeniest, tiniest, bright green grasshopper-like bug clinging to the cowling around my driver’s side mirror. I had seen a few similar bugs on the outer wall of the hotel and clinging to some of the other cars in the parking lot. They were all so tiny. I thought it was adorable. Read More…

Sunday Funnies, part 8

Another in my series of posts recommending web comics that I think more people should read:

xkcd.com: Marriage

xkcd.com by Randall Munroe is one of those comics that I don’t ever have to refer to my bookmark, because at least once a week someone I know shares a recent comic on Twitter, or Facebook, or their blog, which leads me to click on the link, then use the Previous button to catch up on the two or three strips that have been posted since the last time someone linked to it. The comic’s warning statement is a better summary than a one-sentence review from me would be: “Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).” The above linked info graphic was one of this week’s comics, which is both interesting and a comment on current events. I think his infographics are some of the best comics, period.

If you enjoy xkcd, you can purchase the new book, or find a variety of other cool things at his store.

3Tripping Over You by Suzana Harcum and Owen White is a strip about a pair of friends in school who just happen to fall in love… which eventually necessitates one of them coming out of the closet. This particular comic is one that I first discovered more than a year ago, and was following it for a while, and then, because of some craziness in real life, I missed it for a while, couldn’t remember the title, couldn’t find a bookmark for it, and just lost it for a while. A couple of weeks ago my friend, Sheryl, posted a comment to the previous Sunday Funnies post with a link to this comic and it was like meeting a long lost friend! It was more than a bit nice to be able to read a whole bunch of missed strips and catch up on the story of Milo and Liam… until I was caught up, and now I have to wait for the next strip!!

Tripping Over You has several books, comics, and prints available for purchase.

dm100x80I’m a big fan of “Deer Me,” by Sheryl Schopfer. This artist is also a friend. I have previously described this strip as: “Three roommates who couldn’t be more dissimilar while being surprisingly compatible.” Except in a recent story line Thomas has moved out! Eeek! Currently, the strip has traveled back in time to the high school days of one of the aforementioned roommates.

In any case, if you enjoy Deer Me, you can support the artist by going to her Patreon Page!

mr_cow_logo
I’ve long been a fan of: “Mr. Cow,” by Chuck Melville… and not just because the artist is a friend! A clueless cow with Walter Cronkite dreams presides over a barnyard of a newsroom. Or just showing him reading reacting to news or hatching plans to achieve fame, or just reading ridiculous news is funny because the real news isn’t any more logical.

And if you like Mr. Cow, you can support the artist by going to his Patreon Page. Also, can I interest you in a Mr. Cow Mug?

title
And I love this impish girl thief with a tail and her reluctant undead sorcerer/bodyguard: “Unsounded,” by Ashley Cope.

The_Young_Protectors_HALF_BANNER_OUTSIDE_234x601The Young Protectors by Alex Wolfson begins when a young, closeted teen-age superhero who has just snuck into a gay bar for the first time is seen exiting said bar by a not-so-young, very experienced, very powerful, super-villain. Trouble, of course, ensues.

12191040If you want to read a nice, long graphic-novel style story which recently published its conclusion, check-out the not quite accurately named, The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal by E.K. Weaver. I say inaccurate because I found their story quite epic (not to mention engaging, moving, surprising, fulfilling… I could go on). Some sections of the tale are Not Safe For Work, as they say, though she marks them clearly. The complete graphic novels are available for sale in both ebook and paper versions, by the way.

Out! Out! Come out now!

National-Coming-Out-Day-300x300Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-first anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

Since I am still occasionally surprised to learn that someone I know or work with hasn’t figured out that I’m gay: my husband (Michael) and I are both men, and we’re very much in love with each other and happy together.

My husband and I.

My husband and I.

But while I’m (re-)stating what I think ought to be obvious, I would like to announce that I am a card-carrying liberal gay man who thinks:

Read More…

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