Weekend Links

dali dawn 2015-12-5
Snow on Cangshan in the morning.
dali dusk 2015-12-5
Snow on Cangshan in the evening.

Snow will likely remain on the mountains here in Dali, Yunnan Province, China for the rest of the winter. It’s beautiful in the morning and evening lights. The above pictures taken during my walks to and from work yesterday don’t really do the scenes justice.

While the views are lovely in winter, the season comes with a major downside. As written previously, in this part of China there are no central heating systems installed. This makes life and work indoors really uncomfortable and difficult, even if it’s sunny and temperatures are relatively mild. My wife and I have been using our little space heater at select times for a few days now, and most horrifying of all, we put the electric blanket on the bed last night.

It’s usually sunny and beautiful here in the winter, making outdoor activities like hiking and biking really nice. Visit here in the winter, but I don’t recommend living here through it!

Some links for the weekend:

  • For background, I’ve been saying since August (here and here) that Donald Trump has at least as good a chance as any of the other candidates, if not a better chance, to win the Republican nomination. Now that Marco Rubio seems to be the apple of the Republican establishment’s eye, it’s reasonable to ask how, exactly, Rubio is supposed to win the nomination. Ed Kilgore and Michael Tomasky explain how Rubio’s path to the nomination is extremely difficult, if not impossible. To summarize, how is Rubio supposed to win the nomination if he can’t win a single primary? Things could change, but right now he isn’t looking strong in any state.
  • In the wake of a terrorist attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding (which had already been prohibited from going towards abortion services anyway). So now Republicans have put their money where their mouths have been on this issue, and they’ve been using their mouths to spew anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric that helped incite the attack in Colorado Springs. Nice pro-life movement you’ve got there.
  • On a related note, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina’s lies and rhetoric about Planned Parenthood back in a September debate propelled her into the mainstream and found their paraphrased way into the Colorado Springs terrorist’s mouth. Asked for comment about the attack, Fiorina chose to drag Black Lives Matter protestors into it for some unknown reason. This is the Republican Party.

I’ll leave with a link to one of my almost-daily reads. Run by John Cole, a self-professed right wing nut until various Bush-the-younger-era Republican debacles cured him of the disease, Balloon Juice is a liberal (in the American political sense) blog bringing together an assortment of writers with different expertise, passions, and insights. I link to the site’s homepage because I have to get back to work and don’t have time to find the particular post that got me thinking about the following.

I wonder if dealing with guns in our society through gun control legislation is mostly a lost cause. I wonder if this is an issue, similar in some ways to LGBT rights, where it has to be a battle for hearts and minds. The LGBT rights movement included many legislative and judicial victories to be sure, but the sea change that happened in public opinion was also very important. When people can be made to feel shame and embarrassment about owning any kind of gun other than a hunting rifle, maybe we’ll start getting somewhere. I think this is part of what went on with LGBT rights; a lot of people who did not come to a positive embrace of LGBT rights at least ended up feeling a bit ashamed of their retrograde stances and slunk into the shadows, leaving a minority of bigots powerless to stop the movement.

Of course, we still have homophobes assert themselves from time to time but usually at worst they eat a bunch of chicken or make fools of themselves by proudly refusing to serve pizza at gay weddings. These people will probably never completely go away, but it’s a good thing that there aren’t so many of them anymore and they have less and less influence. The same needs to happen with gun people.

Here’s where I admit that this isn’t apples-to-apples. Whether in the minority or not, gun rights absolutists are still people armed with convenient machinery of death. Homophobes are now too small a minority to really do much except whine impotently. In contrast, well-armed gun rights dead-enders are uniquely positioned to defend their values in ways that are very scary.

Bottom line: a society and culture in which people, including terrorists of any stripe, can legally buy weapons designed to kill people, almost as easily as if they were going out for milk, is a disgrace. Decent people should be repulsed by such a society. If you own these guns or opine about how people should be able to own these guns and that’s just the price we pay for freedom, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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