Why I Hate Public School History Courses

I love history. In fact I’m writing this post after spending about an hour reading The Secret History of the Mongol Queens (it’s a great book and if you have an interest in Mongol history I highly recommend it). This love didn’t develop until well after I graduated. During my public career I didn’t give two shits about history. It wasn’t not because I was lazy, it was because none of the history we learned was interesting. The most interesting history is the controversial history but that’s what they avoid teaching in public schools like the plague (which, interestingly enough, was likely introduce to Europe by the Mongols). I believe this is because the people drawing up the history curriculum want to avoid dealing with the idiot politicians who chomp at the bit whenever something slightly different from their party’s ideology is taught.

Whoever wrote the history curriculum in Oklahoma is learning this valuable lesson. Apparently they decided to cover some of the more sinister, and therefore more interesting, parts of this country’s history because some of that state’s Republicans are flipping their shit:

State Rep. Dan Fisher (R) introduced a bill at the beginning of the month that keeps the state from funding AP U.S. History unless the College Board changes the curriculum. The bill also orders the state Department of Education to establish a U.S. History program that would replace the AP course.

Since the College Board released a new course framework for U.S. history in October 2012, conservative backlash against the course has grown significantly. The Republican National Committee condemned the course and its “consistently negative view of American history” in August. Numerous states and school districts have now taken action to denounce the exam.

Fisher said Monday that the AP U.S. History course emphasizes “what is bad about America” and complained that the framework eliminated the concept of “American exceptionalism,” according to the Tulsa World.

This pisses me off for three reasons. First, the idea of “American exceptionalism” is nationalistic bullshit. The United States, like every other country on the face of the planet, has done some terrible shit. Nothing it has done has been exceptional in regards to the world at large. It really is just another country in the long history of countries. And if you really dig deep enough the United States is little more than a discount Roman Republic.

The second reason this pisses me off is because sweeping the bad parts of American history under the rug prevents the next generation form learning from those mistakes. Slavery, genocide, mass incarceration, institutionalized bigotry, and many other rather nasty things populate American history. If all of those things are just swept under the rug then they won’t be discussed critically and the lessons learned will be forgotten. Forgetting past fuck ups is not smart.

The third reason this pisses me off is because it dissuades teachers from covering controversial history. Without controversy history classes are places where students go to learn names and dates just long enough to pass tests. A lot of people bitch that kids these days don’t know history. Well it’s not their fault. They’re fed a bunch of bland facts with no critical analysis. Since that’s their introduction to history they believe it’s a born area of study and avoid it. If you taught them some of the really good shit they would likely take a real interest in the topic and pursue it.

What makes history interesting are the stories. Interesting people doing interesting shit is the backbone of any story whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. But telling interesting historical stories is difficult in a political environment where one or the other major party will jump down your throat because the stories shine a negative light on their bullshit ideology.

Minnesota Man Imprisoned for Months for Possession Vitamins

As the famous saying goes, you can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride. The war on unpatentable drugs has given law enforcement almost completely unchecked powers when it comes to stealing your shit and holding you in a cage. Civil forfeiture laws, for example, grant law enforcement the power to literally take your stuff and they only have to return it if you can prove that it wasn’t tied to a drug crime in any way (and proving a negative is very difficult). Likewise law enforcement officers can put you in a cage if you are in possession of anything that looks like it could be a verboten drug. While you may eventually beat the charge after lab analysis has been performed on whatever you were carrying you will have still wasted months of your life in a cage:

MANKATO, Minn. — A Mankato man was jailed for months while he waited for the state crime lab to process suspected drugs that turned out to be vitamins.

Joseph Burrell was arrested in November and charged with two felony counts of drug possession. His bail was set at $250,000. The 31-year-old Burrell says he’s not happy it took so long for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to process the evidence.

In all likelihood Mr. Burrell will receive no compensation for being unlawfully detained for months. This is because the state doesn’t have to compensate you when it makes a mistake, you only have to compensate it when you make a mistake.

Banning Sharp Sticks

The problem with prohibitionist ideals is that it’s hard to decide where to stop. For the longest time the United States has had a mob of people demanding that firearms be banned. They do this under the auspices of safety. When asked if they want to ban clubs, sticks, and other weapons they scoff and claim you’re using a straw man argument. But when they get their way they quickly start moving onto other weapons. As a state that enjoys very restrictive gun control laws New York is finally at the point where other weapons are becoming political targets. One senator is going to present a bill that will band machetes:

The sale of machetes should be outlawed after several recent attacks, a Queens pol said Wednesday.

State Sen. Tony Avella plans to introduce a bill to ban the possession of the scary blades in New York.

“The fact that anyone can easily purchase this potentially lethal tool is just crazy,” he said.


Under Avella’s proposed legislation, the mere possession of a machete could lead to a year behind bars.

This bill is in response to a single attack. Well a single attack and a strong desire to perform a little political grandstanding. Machetes certainly are lethal weapons but they’re also extremely limited by their size. That is to say a machete is difficult to conceal. Police are quick to question and people are likely to avoid somebody walking around with a giant knife strapped to their body.

I often point out the futility of prohibiting an easily constructed device when the topic of gun control comes up. Making a machete is child’s play compared to making a firearm, which is always child’s play. You can just buy a piece of flat steel, grind down a handle, and sharpen one of the sides. So this bill is not only stupid but it’s even more pointless than gun control laws are.

The Terrorist Canard

With encrypted communications threatening to reduce the state’s revenue stream by letting us little serfs conceal our black market business dealings the political body is getting worried. Whenever the political body gets worried it begins efforts to propagandize the general populace. The propaganda always exploits fear. At one time the fear being exploited was drug usage then it became street crime and now it’s terrorism. Hoping the hamper the development of strong cryptographic tools the political body has been looking at introducing laws that would require software and hardware developers to introduce backdoors for state usage. Because it’s the fear of the day they’re selling these laws under the guise of fighting terrorism:

President Barack Obama is making his position on encryption known: he is a supporter and “believer in strong encryption” but also “sympathetic” to law enforcement’s needs to prevent terror attacks.

“I think the only concern is… our law enforcement is expected to stop every plot. Every attack. Any bomb on a plane. The first time that attack takes place, where it turns out we had a lead and couldn’t follow up on it, the public’s going to demand answers. This is a public conversation that we should be having,” Obama said in a Friday interview with Re/Code. “I lean probably further in the direction of strong encryption than some do inside law enforcement. But I am sympathetic to law enforcement, because I know the kind of pressure they’re under to keep us safe. And it’s not as black and white as it’s sometimes portrayed. Now, in fairness, I think those in favor of air tight encryption also want to be protected from terrorists.”

Can we stop with the terrorist canard? Nobody expects law enforcement to stop every terrorist plot. In fact nobody, at least nobody sensible, expects law enforcement to stop any terrorist plot. What people expect of law enforcement is to clean up after a terrorist attack. If people actually expected law enforcement would stop terrorist attacks they wouldn’t be afraid of terrorist attacks.

Furthermore the state’s widespread surveillance efforts haven’t stopped a single terrorist plot. Every claim made to the contrary has been thoroughly debunked. This isn’t surprising. Widespread surveillance creates a sea of data from which no single piece of useful data can be extracted. What makes widespread surveillance even more worthless is that no single piece of data can reveal a terrorist plot so you need to find multiple pieces of connected data to being revealing a plot. If finding a single piece of useful data in a sea of noise is difficult try finding many pieces of connected data that aren’t obviously connected.

The only way law enforcement can stop terrorist plots is to utilize old fashion investigative techniques. But these techniques are expensive in both money and time and don’t lead to revenue for departments. Why would a law enforcement agency put resources into uncovering a terrorist plot when it can rely on anonymous tips to kick down the doors of drug deals and legally confiscate all of their property to auction of later? To add insult to injury solving a terrorist plot is actually detrimental to a law enforcement agency since they rely on successful terrorist attacks to justify buying surplus military equipment.

It’s time to put the terrorist canard to bed. Only the completely gullible are being fooled and they’re not the ones that need to be convinced. In order to put backdoors into software and devices the developers and manufacturers have to be convinced and they won’t be convinced because their users will stop buying their products if they implement said backdoors. Since many of their users are gullible idiots the state’s terrorist propaganda won’t accomplish its goal and thus the exercise is a waste of everybody’s time.

Military Worshiping Social Conservatives Upset with the Military

Last week was not a good week for military worshiping social conservatives. They were dealt a major one-two punch. First it was announced that Chelsea Manning would receive property medical treatment while sitting in a cage for doing the right thing:

In a first for the Army, Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman at the Army’s Fort Leavenworth prison, according to a memo obtained Thursday by USA TODAY.

Military worshiping social conservatives are predictable creatures. While they tend to be very open with their bigotry they don’t like people perceiving their motives as being purely bigoted. So it’s not surprising that the first criticism they made against this decision was that tax dollars will be used for Manning’s treatment. What they failed to point out is that part of the benefits package received by enlisted personnel is healthcare. Even if a soldier is declared a traitor and condemned to rot in a cage they must still receive proper medical care for whatever medical conditions they have. Since hormone replacement therapy is considered a medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria the military should be providing it to transgender soldiers. Providing hormone replacement therapy to a transgender individual is the same as providing anti-depressants to an individual suffering from depression.

The second criticism the military worshiping social conservatives came up with is the Army’s policy of treating transgender individuals like shit. But this is where the second blow came. The Army has decided to improve its policy regarding transgender soldiers:

The decision to discharge transgender soldiers from the Army now has to be made by a top, senior civilian official, documents obtained by USA TODAY show, a move that will make it more difficult to remove such troops from the service.

Instead of being made by lower-level Army officers, the undated memorandum says the decision to discharge transgender soldiers must now by made by the assistant secretary of the Army for personnel. In all services, transgender troops can be automatically dismissed from service on medical grounds once they are identified.

This isn’t exactly a stellar step forward but it is an acknowledgement by the Army that its policies are in need of improvement. While it does please me that the Army is considering treating transgender soldiers better I fear it’s only because it is concerned that it won’t have enough meat for the grinder in coming years. But nefarious motives aren’t grounds enough for my to condemn an improvement in policy so I will nod my head to the Army for this small change and laugh as its worshipers flip their shit.

Self-Defense is for Thee Not for Me

I firmly believe that every human being has a right to self-defense. That believe is what motivates my opposition to gun control (as well as the fact that gun control can only be enforced with the violence of the state). A source of constant amusement for me are advocates of gun control who believe only certain people, themselves always included, have a right to self-defense. They usually don’t state this hypocritical believe openly but it shows in their actions. One example of this is when gun control advocates are arrested for carrying a gun:

David Malik, a well-known civil rights lawyer, was arrested Saturday afternoon after authorities discovered a handgun in his carry-on bag at a Cleveland airport, but the attorney said it was a simple mistake.

According to a statement by Malik, he had recently been target shooting with a concealed carry instructor when he apparently forgot to remove the gun from his bag. He then used the same bag to pack for the trip he had planned to take and inadvertently brought the .22-caliber handgun, along with ammo, to the airport. Authorities confirmed that the gun was unloaded.


Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, pointed out the irony of the case.

“What’s interesting about David is he is such an anti-gun person,” Loomis said. “He’s such an anti-violence person, and of all the things for him to get arrested for, that really surprises me.”

This isn’t an unusual attitude for gun control advocates to hold. They will constantly condemn personal firearm ownership and laws allowing individuals to carry firearms. Then they will turn around and buy and carry a firearm because they’re so super important that an exception must exist for them. It’s nothing more than evidence that they see themselves as somehow better than the average individual.

I believe a life is a life. My life is no more or less important than yours. Therefore my belief in my right to self-defense necessitates I also believe in your right to self-defense. Many advocates of gun control believe they should be defended either by a personally carried firearm or armed body guards but you shouldn’t enjoy the same right.

Sometimes You Need to Have Conversations Like Responsible Adults

Sometimes I stupidly wade into the cesspool of Reddit’s libertarian community. I’m not sure why I do this. Maybe it’s to remind myself why most people view libertarians as raging assholes or maybe it’s because I periodically have to be reminded that the shitty side of humanity exists in every political movement. It really doesn’t matter why I do it. What does matter is that by doing it I sometimes come up with interesting material to write about. Reddit’s libertarian community recently discussed California’s affirmative consent law. With the understanding that libertarians will take a skeptical view of any law I figured this discussion would end up being fairly interesting. Instead it ended up being fairly cringe inducing.

Rape cases are difficult because they often fall into the realm of he said, she said. Did the drunken college woman consent to having sex with the drunken college man? Can a person who is blackout drunk consent? How can somebody tell if another person is too drunk to consent? What about the bad breakup between two partners. Did one partner accuse the other of rape simply to get back at them? Was one partner abusing the other? These are difficult situations to deal with and there really is no single correct answer.

But to read through the comments in the linked thread you would think every woman is just waiting for that opportunity to have drunken sex with a libertarian man so she can accuse him of rape the next day. Therefore the only legal option left under affirmative consent laws is a notarized contract signed by all parties engaging in a sexual act. And we know that’s ridiculous so this law means every man who has sex will be accused of rape and go to jail because the law no longer offers a man any defense against such an accusation.

Let me provide an alternative to a notarized signed contract: discussing sex like an adult. This may blow a lot of minds but you can actually discuss sexual activity with people. Is your significant partner OK with the two of you having sex when you’re drunk? Discuss it. Will your sexual partner consent to being choked? Discuss it. Does that random woman you want to fuck also want to fuck you? Discuss it. Sex shouldn’t be treated as some kind of taboo subject. In all likelihood reasonable adults will act reasonably when discussing matters.

I know what some people are asking, “But Chris, what if we’re both super drunk and want to fuck? We can’t possibly discuss sex like responsible adults if we’re drunk!” If you play a dangerous game be willing to accept the possible consequences (this is another part of being an adult). I’m not a puritan or a prude by any stretch of the imagination. However I am capable of realizing that involving myself in drunken sex with a stranger is risky behavior. It’s not just because I could later be accused of rape, that’s actually pretty far down my list of concerns in such a situation. Since I don’t know the other person’s medical history I have to worry about contracting a sexually transmitted disease. There’s also the possibility of pregnancy (I know, I know, use protection but we’re talking about making stupid decisions in an inebriated state). If you don’t want to face the risks inherit in having drunken sex with a stranger then don’t have drunken sex with a stranger. It really is that goddamn simple.

Libertarianism is supposed to be about voluntary interaction. A lot of questions arise about the ability of an inebriated person to consent so it’s best not to wait until the person is inebriated to discuss a matter. This goes for everything from buying a used car to fucking.

There are other corners cases in rape cases. As I mentioned above, rape often boils down to he said, she said. But for 99% (percentage pulled out of my ass to illustrate a large majority of cases) of situations discussing sex like responsible adults will have you covered. You won’t need to worry about notarized contracts signed in blood. For that other 1% of situations the specific wording of the law isn’t going to help you.

Why Nobody Likes the Republican Party Part 2

The Republican Party continues its downward spiral into political irrelevancy. This downward spiral is being pushed, nearly at the speed of sound now, by the party’s social conservatism, which no decent person supports. Yesterday saw a trifecta of Republican Party social stupidity. First the governor of Kansas decided to repeal a previous governor’s executive order that prevented the state from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees:

Kansas will no longer ban discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered in hiring and employment in much of state government because of an action announced Tuesday by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback rescinded an executive order issued in August 2007 by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The order applied to hiring and employment decisions by agencies under the governor’s direct control and required them to create anti-harassment policies as well.

Over the century the state has set a precedence for prohibiting itself from discriminating against employees. It started with the women’s suffrage movement and continued on through the civil rights movement. Since then the state has ruled that it cannot discriminate against people based on sex, race, religion, or national origin. As time continues on more groups are added to the list. It’s almost certainly a matter of time before LGBT individuals are added to the list. But the governor of Kansas is a fucking asshole that should be hauled out to a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific and stranded. By repealing the executive order he has demonstrated his desire to discriminate against LGBT individuals and that alone proves he’s a horrible human being.

Speaking of discriminating against LGBT individuals, one of the neocon’s rising stars decided he wanted to get in on the action. Ted Cruz, who is often mistakenly referred to as a libertarian by idiots, has introduced a bill to strip federal benefits from married same-sex couples:

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is pushing the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation that if signed into law could accomplish two objectives. First, redefine marriage at the federal level to remove from hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples the federal government’s recognition of their marriages, and thus, any corresponding federal benefits they are afforded, now or in the future. And second, should the U.S. Supreme Court not find a right to marriage for same-sex couples, encourage states that do not wish to recognize those marriages to potentially nullify them.

Cruz is, not surprisingly, selling this as a states’ rights bill even though it would strip same-sex couples of federal benefits. Once again one must ask why any senator is wasting our time with discriminatory legislation. Only the socially conservative zealots want this and they’re the last group of people anybody should be listening to with any seriousness. The state should not be in the business of discriminating against anybody for any reason. Doing so destroys the fiction its tried to hard to establish that it is representative of the people. Just toss this on the tall pile of reasons not to support Cruz if he decides to run for the presidency.

The third act in this trifecta is rather bizarre. Montana State Representative David Moor introduced a bill that would outlaw, and I’m not kidding here, topless men in public. The representative also had some choice words for yoga pants:

A Republican legislator from Montana has proposed a law that seems like something out of another decade — or perhaps even another century.

State Rep. David Moore has proposed a new bill that would ban “any device, costume, or covering that gives the appearance of, or simulates, the genitals, pubic hair, anus region, or pubic hair region.”

“Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway,” he added following a debate over the bill. Although the law would not make yoga pants or speedos illegal, it does call for the elimination of all nipple exposure, male or female.

Government so small it fits in your wardrobe! More and more the Republican Party beginning to reflect the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Like the Saudi rulers, members of the Republican Party continue showing an unhealthy obsession with sex. I’m not sure if this is because they’re trying to suppress desires that go against their socially conservative values or they’re just raging assholes that hate everybody that doesn’t fit into the tiny box that makes up their worldview. Either way they’re only pushing Americans way from their party, which is a good thing because they’re also a bunch of war mongering assholes (but their only real competitor is almost composed of war mongering assholes so this is a moot point).

Serving People as Only the English Can

I make fun of the English a lot. But there’s one thing they’ve mastered and that’s delivering insults. Although it’s impossible for me to verify this story I want it to be true if it’s not:

The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not—yet—allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

While I don’t recognize royalty anymore than I recognize any position of authority, I will give Elizabeth credit that she knows how to troll like only an English person can.