The Equal Rights Amendment is Dead, Stop Pretending it Isn’t

Media activists continue pushing the myth that passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is right around the corner. The deadline expired in 1982.

Last year, Illinois symbolically voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), what would have been the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution if it hadn’t expired without the required support of 38 states. Sunday, on his show Last Week Tonight, comedian [?] John Oliver begged his audience in thirteen states where ratification failed to reverse their states’ decisions.

“Any of these 13 states has a huge chance to change how history views them forever,” he said.

In 1972, Congress passed the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification with an initial deadline of March 22, 1979. Constitutional amendments require ratification by three-fourths of the states. When the deadline approached without the required number of states, Congress extended it to 1982.

Supporters of the ERA argue that only one more state is needed to ratify the amendment and enshrine it into the U.S. Constitution, but this is wishful thinking and not supported by facts. Five states that initially voted to ratify the ERA later rescinded their ratification prior to the deadline, which expired on June 30, 1982–nearly 37 years ago.

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Battlefield Tourism in Decline

At a time when American history is being fought over in the social and political arena, a sharp decline in visits to our national battlefields reveals a sad lack of public appreciation for our nation’s history.

To me, there’s something deeply important about visiting museums, forts, and battlefields, which is why I write weekly articles about historic sites and events. It’s one thing to read about a battle in a book. I’ve read dozens of books on the American Civil War, at least ten on the Battle of Gettysburg alone. But until you stand on the actual ground where those armies fought, you’ll never have a complete sense of what happened there.

Battlefields are more than just lifeless monuments and interpretive signs that tell a story. You are standing on the same dirt those armies trampled 150 years ago, that same soil over which men fought and died, whose wounds bled into that very ground. Standing on Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Military Park, you can imagine the gray columns advancing through the smoke from the perspective of a Union soldier.

That’s not something you’ll ever experience in a classroom.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the Importance of Getting Details Right in Film

Nitpicking over historical or scientific details helps keep filmmakers honest and makes films more authentic.

In Joe Rogan’s Aug 22, 2018 interview with scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Tyson told an interesting story about how he contributed to the 2012 comedy Ted. It stemmed from his criticism of the night sky as depicted in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). Titanic, of course, was based on the true story of the 1912 RMS Titanic disaster.

Since we know exactly where and at what time the Titanic sank, astronomers can use computer modeling to re-create precisely what the night sky looked like from the perspective of the passengers and crew. Of course, this was a detail James Cameron overlooked and one that Neil DeGrasse Tyson noticed immediately.

When Tyson later brought it up to Cameron, the director was initially dismissive but then later corrected the mistake in a director’s cut of the film. Years later, filmmaker and comedian Seth MacFarlane called Neil DeGrasse Tyson to make sure he had the correct sky at a specific time at a specific place, in a comedy film about a Teddy Bear that comes to life.

Now that’s attention to detail!

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Does President Trump Want to Build Steam-Powered Aircraft Carriers?

Business Insider publishes wildly biased and misleading news story about Trump’s recent visit to Japan.

An unusual-sounding headline popped up in my news feed today. “Trump tells troops that future US supercarriers are ‘going to use steam’ in a weird rant about an obsession he can’t seem to shake.” Written by Ryan Pickrell for Business Insider, this alleged news story and its misleading headline is rife with opinionated and obviously biased descriptors and characterizations.

When I read this headline, it conjured an image of President Trump advocating a return to late 19th Century steam-powered ships. After all, that would be a “weird rant” about future US supercarriers using steam. You have to read past the headline to find out what actually happened.

In an address to sailors and Marines on the USS Wasp in Japan earlier today, President Trump mentioned he might issue an order for the Navy’s new Ford-class supercarriers to use steam-powered launchers to catapult aircraft off the flight deck, rather than the planned Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. “The US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have used steam launchers for decades,” the article explains.

Trump is concerned the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System is much more expensive without any added benefit. It also appears the majority of Naval personnel support continued use of the simpler steam launchers. So Trump is bringing up an issue to win favor with the troops, hardly something “weird” or controversial.

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CrossFit Abandons Facebook

Social media companies are increasingly coming under fire for arbitrary and alarming censorship.

I’ve written in the past about my love-hate relationship with social media, and why I’ve chosen to delete my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Now a huge company and social movement, CrossFit, is joining the exodus. CrossFit describes itself as a fitness movement that promotes an alternative to mainstream convention when it comes to health. After Facebook suspended one of its groups (with 1.65 million users) without explanation, CrossFit decided to ditch Facebook entirely. Who could blame them?

On their website, they listed eight reasons why Facebook has become a terrible company, including:

  1. Facebook collects and aggregates user information and shares it with state and federal authorities, as well as security organizations from other countries.
  2. Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM.
  3. Facebook censors and removes user accounts based on unknown criteria and at the request of third parties including government and foreign government agencies.
  4. Facebook collects, aggregates, and sells user information as a matter of business. Its business model allows governments and businesses alike to use its algorithmically conjured advertising categories as sophisticated data-mining and surveillance tools.
  5. Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice.

I don’t agree with CrossFit’s criticism of modern nutritional science, but that’s ok because we live in a free country where discussion and debate over ideas and alternatives should be commonplace. Censorship has been tried many times in the past, and it never works in the long term. When ideas are labeled “dangerous” and “subversive,” people naturally want to seek them out to see what all the fuss is about. It has the opposite effect of what the censors intend.

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Is Cauliflower Racist?

Culinary partisans can relax; there’s nothing offensive about eating ‘non-native’ foods.

In the latest Bizarro-World controversy, political partisans have taken to the internet to fight over – cauliflower? Yes, really. This bland and ubiquitous vegetable has become the latest front in the Culture Wars, with freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) even claiming ‘people of color’ have a hard time gardening because cauliflower is a colonialist vegetable.

Many people love cauliflower because it’s high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. I dislike it for the same reason I dislike vanilla ice cream and plain waffles–I need flavor in my life! But because AOC has become clickbait and her name buries every other search result, I haven’t been able to determine where these anti-cauliflower sentiments come from. Is it actually something argued by fringe identitarians, or did AOC just make it up to grab headlines?

In the dumbest video she’s uploaded since pretending to not know what a garbage disposal is, she said:

“But when you really think about it — when someone says that it’s ‘too hard’ to do a green space that grows Yucca instead of, I don’t know, cauliflower or something — what you’re doing is you’re taking a colonial approach to environmentalism. That is why a lot of communities of color get resistant to certain environmentalist movements because they come with the colonial lens on them.”

Essentially, she’s arguing that South and Central Americans living in the Bronx have been brainwashed into growing European foods, rather than something native to hot, dry regions like the Yucca plant. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it’s easier to grow cauliflower in New York than a desert plant like Yucca. Yucca thrives in a completely different climate.

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Foreign Ties Cloud All Sides

Or, why politicians in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

By now, we’re all familiar with the “Russia collusion conspiracy”, debunked by a two-year long investigation, that President Donald Trump conspired with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. A few things have come to light recently that expose the reality behind other national political figures and their foreign contacts.

After all, we can’t pretend we’re alone in the world and that our presidential elections have no impact on the rest of the world. Practically every country on earth wants to influence us in one direction or another. We give nearly $7 billion in foreign aid every year, and that doesn’t include military spending. It also doesn’t hurt to have influential friends in Washington, DC.

So it should come as no surprise that major US political figures have questionable foreign contacts and associations.

According to indictments unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department, Pras Michel, a musician and film producer, allegedly conspired with a Malaysian businessman named Jho Low to illegally funnel $865,000 to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign without disclosing it came from a foreign source.

A total of $5.9 million in foreign money was bundled to avoid US campaign finance laws during the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer were among top recipients. Their hypocrisy is astounding when it comes to decrying foreign influence in U.S. elections, considering how much money they’ve taken from foreign sources.

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