Department Of A Boon For A Natural Selection
For a few glorious days, we could only hope that the reports were accurate.
Moiself refers to reports surfacing which claimed that ivermectin –
a livestock de-worming, anti-parasite veterinary drug, deemed by the brilliant minds of certain people who were too smart to waste time going to medical or veterinary school, to be an ideal treatment for the COVID-19 VIRUS (which is *not,* ahem, a parasite), to be taken by people, who are not livestock (except for the horses’ asses which thought up the idea in the first place and the sheep who followed them) –
can cause sterility in men.
When I first heard the reports moiself praised the gawds I don’t believe in, and immediately changed my opinion about people who would try such an unproven and dangerous “treatment.” Instead of thinking that such people should be locked up for their own protection,  I decided to lobby to make ivermectin mandatory (and free!) for any man who wears a MAGA hat and/or refused to be vaccinated/wear a mask…and please, can there be a study showing that ivermectin produces infertility in women as well?
Some things are just too good to be true. It turns out there are problems with the ivermectin-causes-sterility study being cited, as Forbes and other sources have reported. C’est la vie; it was a nice fantasy, while it lasted.
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Department Of Podcasts I Mostly Admire…
Or used to.
Dateline: earlier this week, listening to the latest People I Mostly Admire podcast (Episode 44 ). After the first twenty or so minutes of his interview with his guest, the podcast takes a break. During the break the show’s host, author and economist Steven Levitt, had a letter from a listener read to him by the show’s producer, Morgan A. Levey. This is the podcast’s typical format; the letters usually involve questions about recent podcast topics. This week’s questions led to….well, read on.
Morgan Levey (reading a letter from “Jordan,” to Steve; my emphases):
” ‘Steve, since you have quite a large family and are a thoughtful person, I want to get your opinion on the morality and ethics of having children in the face of climate change.’
It sounds like Jordan is thinking of starting a family, and he wants your opinion on having kids, since you have six of them.”
“So Jordan, I do have six kids, and I have to say, in having those kids, I don’t think climate change ever crossed my mind. Here’s the thing: there are 8 billion people on the planet, so if you add one more, it doesn’t really matter. And, what I do, doesn’t affect anyone else’s behavior. If my having a kid led hundreds of other people to have more kids, then it’s a different story.
To me, it’s a microcosm of the exact problem we face on climate change generally: no individual’s behavior actually matters very much, but collectively, we all have to act together.
When I think of climate change, I really look to other kinds of solutions, whether it’s technology to take carbon out of the air, or doing something at a larger scale….
So if it feels wrong to you to have kids, that’s totally your prerogative…. but at least for me I would not put climate change near the top of my list to have or not have children….
“So Jordan also wanted to know if you thought that your kids will struggle in the future with the result of climate change-induced issues, such as food security, pandemics, water shortages, if this is something you thought about and were worried about.”
“I’m not a climate scientist, and I don’t know the exact answer. It certainly is an impression people have that weather patterns are getting wilder, and it’s probably true. I also think there’s a bias toward people assuming that every time something extreme happens, that’s caused by climate change ….but my impression is that the really destructive impacts of climate change are much farther in the future. That, at least for Americans, in the next fifty or a hundred years, there’s no reason to think that our quality of life is going to dramatically degrade. As I sit here just pondering whether I think my kids will have a better or worse life than I had, I think probably better.
Morgan, I don’t think Jordan is going to like my answer very much.
What do you think?”
I didn’t hear his producer’s retort until days later. I had to stop listening. My butt was frosted to hear Levitt’s casually dismissive statements about the effects of climate change – effects which are “probably true,” he admits, yet not enough to trouble him as he sits there “just pondering” whatever it is he ponders (apparently, not the plight of other people), from the POV of his privileged, upper class, white American ass — pondering his ignorant defenses which excuse himself from any personal responsibility to act…or care.
How convenient for him, to convince himself that an individual’s behavior doesn’t matter much, and that what he does doesn’t affect anyone else. Dude, your six children are watching you. Even more than what you say, they watch what you do…and don’t do.
Levitt admits the obvious – he’s no climate scientist – then ignores the facts climate scientists have been stating for some time, in favor of his flippant description of extreme weather events as an “impression people have“? Holy cruising down the river of De Nile.
But then, what should moiself expect from someone with six children,  who doesn’t even include them in his statement of how what he does doesn’t affect anyone else.
Levitt is correct as to the need for global/larger solutions, but he is wrong about the individual’s impact, thinking it’s negligible because he’s one person out of 8 billion. Eight billion people – how did we get here? Holy compounding multiplication! We got to that absurd number via one individual decision at a time. Multiply one person thinking having four to six biological children is fine times “only” one billion other individuals, and where will that get us?
As for Levitt’s comment about how his actions don’t influence people, how does he know that? Whether or not he ever gets up on a podium and overtly decrees, “Everyone should have a large family, like me!” the fact of him having done just that that may cause others to think, “Oh, hmm…an educated and successful person does this, perhaps I can as well.”
Back to his producer’s response, to his question. At least she called him out about his cluelessness and privilege (however mildly, given the circumstances).
“Morgan, I don’t think Jordan is going to like my answer very much.
What do you think?”
“To be honest, Steve, *I* don’t like your answer very much.
I think what you said sounds a little  insensitive, considering the fact that that there’s already millions of climate refugees around the globe – people who’ve had to move because their home are unlivable.
We’ve just had the hottest month on record in human history, AND extreme weather HAS been *undoubtedly* linked to climate change. When I think about just ten years from now, *I* worry about my own future, let alone if I have kids, what their future would be.”
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Department of Beating Around the Bush…and Reagan…and Clinton….
” On May 12, 2015, potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush could not fully commit to an answer when asked if he would have voted to authorize the Iraq War in 2002, using the phrase “simple fact is, mistakes were made” on Sean Hannity’s radio show. He was lambasted by both liberals and conservatives for his answer.”
Remember the rightful disgust y’all have likely experienced over the years, whenever you heard the hideous passivity of, “Mistakes were made.” It’s the ultimate phrase of non-accountability, whether spouted by President Reagan re the Iran–Contra affair (the “arms-for hostages” debacle), or President Clinton as per a Democratic party fundraising scandal, or President G.W. Bush’s political advisor defending neocons re the Iraq War…as well as too many times before and after.
Mistakes were made. By an unknown, but distressingly prevalent, almost mystical Mistake Maker ®, apparently.
We’ve all been trained to use this passive voice; most of us don’t even know when we’re doing it. But, think for a moment of the world it constructs.
I often get impatient when people nitpick language. My fear: people often judge/dismiss and don’t really hear *what* someone is saying because they are too busy critiquing the *how* someone is saying it.
Still, the writer in moiself tries to never forget why word choice is important: it not only conveys, but shapes how we feel and think about issues.
Consider the different images that come to mind, when describing a disabled person’s mode of mobility:
“He rides (or uses) a wheelchair.”
“She is confined to a wheelchair.”
A wheelchair, for someone who has need of one, is actually a device of liberation. Yet the second phrasing evokes images of shackling, and pity.
These subtle differences are why (as I’ve mentioned in this space, “The Speech I’m Not Policing” ) I think certain scholars and activists are correct in advising that we should retrain ourselves to use the term “enslaved” person, rather than “slave.” The active voice is needed as a reminder, that people are not just born slaves, as they might be born a Swede or a redhead or with a certain eye color:
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project at The New York Times, which tracks the legacy of slavery. In Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with journalist Hannah-Jones, (which I referred to in a recent blog post as influencing my opinions about reparations for slavery), TG asked Hannah-Jones about why she uses the term “enslaved person” and not “slave” in her writing (my emphases):
“It was very important in the 1619 Project and whenever I write about this, to not use language that further dehumanizes people who every system and structure was designed to dehumanize.
I think when we hear the word “slave,” we think of slavery as being the essence of that person. But if you call someone an enslaved person, then it speaks to a condition. These people were not slaves. Someone chose to force them into the condition of slavery, and that language to me is very important, as is using the word “enslaver” over slave owner because these people didn’t have a moral right to own another human being, even though the society allowed it, and I think it needs to be active, that this was an active system of people choosing to treat other human beings as property.”
Let’s resolve to use the active voice. To take responsibility – and to point the finger and accuse as well – when necessary.
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Punz For The Day
What do you call a weatherman who destroys dinosaurs?
It was a terrible summer for Humpty Dumpty, but he had a great fall.
People using umbrellas always seem to be under the weather.
What’s that Arabic country with loads of sheep and very wet weather?
* * *
May we keep in mind The Real Problem and lose the passive voice;
May we never comfortably think that our individual actions don’t matter;
May we all anticipate having a great fall;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Whatever happened to just drinking bleach? That wasn’t idiotic enough for them?
 I think two of them were adopted by Levittand his wife, from China.
 “And by ‘a little,’ Steve, I mean, absolutely fucking…”
 Click! In the 1970s that word signaled the moment when a woman awakened to the powerful ideas of contemporary feminism. Today “click” usually refers to a computer keystroke that connects women (and men) to powerful ideas on the Internet. (Click! The Ongoing feminist revolution, cliohistory.org )