Bill to resist Agenda 21 fails MT House

Rep. Randy Pinocci (R–Sun River,) recently implicated in the conspiracy of the missing fudge

Rep. Randy Pinocci (R–Sun River,) recently implicated in the conspiracy of the missing fudge

Have you heard about Agenda 21? It’s a non-binding UN plan for sustainable development signed by then-President George HW Bush in 1992. It’s also a plan to abolish private property rights and herd us all into cities under the auspices of a one-world government. Or, as Montana House Bill 583 put it:

Agenda 21…calls for the abolition of private property throughout the world, education for global citizenship, and the use of technology for the management and control of all human activity.

I’m no lawyer, but that means robots will be our masters. Rep. Randy Pinocci (R–Sun River) sponsored this bill, but he is by no means the only member of his caucus terrified at the implications of this non-binding environmental agreement from 20 years ago. At Pinocci’s request, former Madison County commissioner Dan Happel told the House Judiciary Committee that Agenda 21 would outlaw raising livestock and traveling in private vehicles, and that “single-family homes and suburban communities will be eliminated.”

That definitely sounds like something the UN could do and, for that matter, like something the Montana House could stop. Either that or it sounds like a conspiracy theory tailor-made to address everything conservative Montanans love: trucks, the suburbs, using “urban” as a euphemism for “not white.” Sadly, HB 583 has been defeated, and Pinocci et al will have to get back to the extremely boring business of actually governing the state. I wrote about in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. You should check it out and then yell at that guy who keeps posting the same comment about how much money Indian reservations spend. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Regarding the moth joke

Norm Macdonald has been all over the internet lately in connection with Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. One Rolling Stone writer dubiously asserted that he was the 135th funniest of the show’s 141 total cast members—behind Randy Quaid and two people who never actually appeared in any sketches, Laurie Metcalf and Emily Prager. Obviously, John Belushi had the funniest SNL career. But Macdonald remains one of my favorite comedians, partly for his strange delivery but mostly for his pathological commitment to his vision of humor. For me, he is on a short list of uncompromising comic sensibilities with Louis CK and Steven Wright. The infamous moth joke, captured above, is an example of how particular and particularly misunderstood Macdonald’s sensibility can be.

Continue reading

The Times on how much a woman’s life matters in Afghanistan

A father addresses his daughter at a women's shelter in Afghanistan.

A father addresses his daughter at a women’s shelter in Afghanistan.

I don’t mean to bum you out, but you should read this incredible article about women’s shelters in Afghanistan, a relatively recent product of Western influence. Honor killings are alarmingly common in the provinces, where resources are scarce, small communities make family reputations important, and a daughter of marrying age is a valuable commodity. The Times piece describes several women who eloped and sought protection from their own families in women’s shelters—including Faheema, whose stepmother burned her face with acid and whose father makes it clear throughout the article that he intends to kill her. Then, near the end, we get this:

Faheema tried to make peace between their two families and braved a phone call with her angry father to beg him to meet with elders from [her husband] Ajmal’s clan. But her father refused to see them and said the only thing that would satisfy him is if they gave him a daughter to marry off to his son or nephew in exchange for Ajmal’s taking Faheema.

That’s the only thing that can keep him from murdering his daughter: fixing up his nephew. Our plan was to teach this man democracy.

Continue reading

ISIS bans teaching of evolution, agreeing with US conservatives

Regional theocrat Pat Robertson

Regional theocrat Pat Robertson

Poker strategists sometimes describe unskilled behavior as “coinciding with correct play.” For example, the way most people play poker badly is by calling every bet. If you bluff such a player, even in a situation where he absolutely should fold, he will call your bet and win. His mistake coincides with correct play. From the perspective of conservative Republicans, the Islamic State coincided with correct play when it banned the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution from schools in Mosul. Also, the Islamic State is establishing public school curricula in northern Iraq now. At least we don’t have to worry about Saddam Hussein anymore, right? Guys?

Continue reading

Friday links! Batting average of empathy edition

Nolan Ryan punches Robin Ventura in the head during a 1993 baseball game.

Nolan Ryan punches Robin Ventura in the head during a 1993 baseball game.

What is the failure rate of empathy? Surely it is among the most powerful forces in human motivation, but no one would say that it works every time. So what is empathy’s average? .750? .250? Ted Williams batted .344, and he’s in the hall of fame. It would not be ridiculous to suggest that even a top-shelf impulse like compassion wins fewer than half the days. Are we prepared to accept that for every anonymous kidney donor, two people crowd the gate before their boarding group is called? Today is Friday, and that which makes us human only works some of the time. Won’t you grudgingly share resources with me?

Continue reading