03 July 2014

Headlines for 3 July 2014

Summary
Check out headlines with notes on: Hobby Lobby ruling already expanded, the Hobby Lobby ruling could also undermine the idea of a corporation, starting classes with writing assignments has a number of benefits, racism expressed by patients in healthcare common, China bans fasting for Ramadan in one region, and the illogic of employer-paid health insurance. Extended commentary on: why we should have the power to define our own identity terms (touching on terf and atheism). Check out just headlines on: American teachers have it harder than rest of industrialized world, US jobless rate lowest since Sept 2008, the Twin Cities has the lowest joblessness of the major American metro areas, and 10% of world's population lives in a country/region with marriage equality.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right, and we already have proof
Well, the Hobby Lobby decision has already expanded. Supreme Court clarified their decision allows closely-held businesses to opt out of covering ALL kinds of birth control on religious claims (regardless of if their claims are directly refuted by medical science). The Hobby Lobby verdict overlooks the science on pregnancy, and the Supreme Court has now clarified it is really all just about closely-held for-profit businesses having religion. Disturbing.

How Hobby Lobby could undermine the very idea of a corporation
Corporations are suppose to be entities seperate of the owners. It helps to mitigate risk and prevents lots of other issues. Unfortunately, the Hobby Lobby ruling allowed some people to impose their religious views on the entire company, damaging this seperation.

The obvious benefits of in-class writing assignments
This Chronicle of Higher Education post is advocating starting classes with a 5-minute writing assignment, suggesting that it will help transition to the class period, aid in discussion, ensure course readings occur, and improve student's writing.

The doctor won't see you now
This article discusses racism in the medical system in the sense of patients requesting different nurses.

China bans Ramadan fasting in Muslim northwest
China, I do not think you understand how seperation of education and religion works. It doesn't work by forcing everyone to do the same thing... Let individuals do what they will, just don't coercively impose it on them! (For example, school should NOT lead prayer, but if someone prays at their lunch table that isn't a problem). Of course they are really just trying to come up with an excuse for Islamophobia.

The illogic of employer-sponsored health insurance
This article argues that part of our healthcare cost problem is that it is tied to employer. It also notes the Hobby Lobby decision in part acts as though healthcare is something the employer gives out of the good of their heart as opposed to part of the employee compensation package. Essentially, it seems like this article is echoing the idea that either: (1) employers pay their employees what they would've paid for insurance and the employee goes through the insurance exchanges [seems to be the article preference], or (2) a single payer system.

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Extended Commentary

The power to name ourselves: Why I don't give a damn if you call yourself atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, or what
It is important for people to be able to define themselves and their terms. This seems to be a trend that happens as marginalized groups gain acceptance, where at first the dominant community stamps terms onto us and uses them in a very strict manner, and as acceptance is gained society transitions to using the terms we have crafted and defined for ourselves (homosexual to gay / lesbian is a common example, though there are more, including many good examples coming from racial communities). The Queer community is the example drawn from for this article. I certainly agree with the sentiment, and have argued a bit on Tumblr about this, such as this post:
I’ve noticed this odd “truscum” stuff appearring all over Tumblr, so I decided to take a peek at what Feminist literature has to say about it. Hopped on Google Scholar, and guess what? No articles. “Transmedicalist”? Again, nothing.
I then saw a truscum post accussing people of just making up identities like demisexual, so I decided to pop onto Google Scholar (for “demisexual” this time). This time? Hits.
I believe strongly in the power of language to grow, change, and adapt. That said, if you are going to argue that “genderspecials” are just “making up identities,” then at least apply that same thing to your own terms.
Let me warn you before you go looking at truscum stuff, they hold a very narrow view of what counts as Trans*. Truscum in essence tries to stamp a strict view of "what counts" as Trans* onto people and rejects the identity of those who don't fit their narrow view of what should be considered Trans*.

This gets in to a larger discussion that I have seen solely on Tumblr - a group of so-called radical feminists (they claim to be radical feminists as they as they focus on the patriarchy, and from stuff I've seen seem to view the patriarchy not as a component of the kyriarchy but instead as the dominant system of oppression though I may be misreading stuff), associated with Trans* Exclusionary "Radical Feminists" (Terf). From what I have seen on Tumblr, this group, it appears, feels they know what a man and woman is, based on a hijacking of the biological definition of sex (they are often fixated on a single component of the biological definition of sex - typically genitals, ignore brain/mental sex, and claim intersex sexes are too uncommon to disrupt the binary). They view Trans* individuals as coping out of the system or trying to infiltrate female-only spaces. In essence, they are using many of the same arguments used against Lesbians in the past against Trans* individuals now (The Tretter Collection actually pointed this out).

I wonder if some people have a hard time holding the following two ideas in their mind at once: (1) we want to undermine the gender binary and gender roles, and (2) we want to embrace people's conception of their own gender. Yet we feel that way about a lot of things, not just gender. For example, I am gay and that is an important part of my identity. I don't want people to be "sexual orientation blind" as a means of achieving equality. I don't know that I can be as articulate as I want to be on the topic. This video likely does a better job than I can, starting at 9:54 and ending about 11:25:


This is ultimately the heart of self-determination - of terms, of identities, et cetera. I also think this gets to the heart of the topic this commentary is all about in the first place - people should call themselves what they want.

I identify as an atheist. If you asked me to explain how I feel on the topic of religion, I would say that I think the existance of gods has no effect on the way reality works, and therefore there is no compelling reason for me to concern myself with whether or not they exist or what they may or may not want. It simply doesn't change anything. Some might argue this is an agnostic idea as I'm not claiming to know, I'm just claiming it doesn't matter. Yet I feel most comfortable saying I'm an atheist. I think people best understand (as well as they are going to) how I feel about gods when I say I am atheist than if I were to use some other label. I sometimes am more specific and say I'm a naturalist (I don't care about / believe in the supernatural, in the same sense as gods before). If it were commonly understood what I meant when I said I'm a naturalist, I would say that instead. Yet I think I'm most clear, and also can best advocate against marginalizing non-belief, when I say I am an atheist. This may or may not work for others, and who am I to decide what works best for them. I am also saying all of this from an enormous place of priviledge. My family isn't going to disown me for being an atheist, they aren't even going to try to hide the fact from others. I'm a white, cis, male in graduate school studying evolutionary biology. I'm on a career path that has about as few barriers for an atheist as one is going to find. I'm openly gay, so anybody who wouldn't want to associated with me on the grounds of my non-belief will probably stop associating with me due to my much more visual sexual orientation first. I am able to identify as an atheist with far less concern than the overwhelming majority of people. I echo a sentiment many have said in the past, "If they need a punching bag, might as well be me."

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Just Headlines
US teachers have harder job than counterparts in industrialized world
US jobless rate dips to 6.1 percent; lowest rate since September 2008
Twin Cities boasts lowest jobless rate among big US metros
Posted on American Foundation for Equal Right's Facebook Page

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