27 March 2016

Unpopular Opinions on Revolutionary History: The Easter Rising and the American Revolution

Today is the 100th Easter since the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, when republican revolutionaries rallied to fight for independence from the British. The actual dates of the rebellion were April 24-29, but Easter's come a bit early this year, and Ireland has chosen to commemorate the centennial now rather than in a month. It's doing so with unprecedented ceremonies, as it should. The Easter Rising was brutally crushed, but it was a critical moment that soon led to the rise of the Sinn Féin republican party, the Irish War of Independence, and ultimately Irish independence in 1921.

On Twitter a few days ago, I noticed people were upset about coverage of this history from RTÉ, Ireland's national broadcaster. I never got the chance to see any video of the coverage in question, but here are some of the relevant tweets:

Not All Native History Is "Ancient"

Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, early modern leader—not "ancient"
(actor Cristian Esquivel, source)
The Aztec Empire—was it "ancient"?

I hope your answer is no, because no empire formed less than 600 years ago qualifies as an "ancient" one. If it does, I guess we need to start calling Leonardo da Vinci an "ancient" artist and scientist.

(Leonardo's life, by the way, was fully contemporaneous to that of the Aztec Empire, and he died the same year that Cortés landed in Mexico.)

On two occasions this week, I saw the word "ancient" used in reference to indigenous histories that are anything but. The first example was what you just read: I saw someone refer to the Aztecs as "ancient" and it just made my head spin.

17 March 2016

Clinton-Obama 2008 vs. Clinton-Sanders 2016: The Map

Many political commentators have made connections between the current Democratic primary and the one in 2008, fought between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. After all, one of the candidates in each race is exactly the same person (even if her political experience and some of her positions have changed in the intervening years).

One thing I haven't seen, however, is a map showing how well Clinton has done compared to her race in 2008, and how well Bernie Sanders has done compared to Barack Obama.

So, I decided to make my own. Here it is:

16 March 2016

What If We Let the South Choose the President?

I haven't blogged here at all yet about the 2016 presidential election, but the primaries for both parties are at very important turning points right now, so I thought it was about time.

There are now three candidates left in the race for the Republican nomination—Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Trump has a sizable lead, and he most likely will become the Republican candidate. No one really expected that months ago, but his ability to excite voters with his nationalist rhetoric has been pretty powerful.

via Wikipedia

If you look at the map of the Republican primary so far, you can see the South has gone overwhelmingly for Trump, with the exception of Texas, Ted Cruz's home state. The only way Ted Cruz has a shot is if he wins the majority of the West in the upcoming primaries, and perhaps if Kasich is able to pick up a win or two in the Northeast, cutting Trump's advance. Given the results so far in states as diverse as Massachusetts, Illinois, and Nevada, though, that seems unlikely. Trump's appeal has been broad; voters just haven't seen a presidential candidate like him before, and many Americans love it.

In the Democratic primary, most of the states that have voted so far are the same as in the Republican one: All of the southern states have voted, but not much of the rest of the country.

via Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton won every state in the South. Elsewhere, however, Bernie Sanders won nine states out of fifteen, came in close to Hillary in Nevada, and came extremely close in Iowa and Missouri. Clinton's strength among Democratic voters in the South was overwhelming and undeniable. Elsewhere, however—in swing states and more liberal states—Bernie Sanders has been winning.

Many people are saying right now that Hillary Clinton has clearly won the Democratic primary: She holds the majority of pledged delegates so far, and she's won a large majority of the states that have voted so far. However, nearly half the states in the country haven't voted yet, and the South has made up the vast majority of Clinton's support.

If people think Hillary Clinton's already won the Democratic nomination, I think it's fair to ask this question: What if we let the South choose the President? 

Here's who would have been elected President in the last six elections.

  • 1992: George H. W. Bush (Sorry Bill Clinton, you won some of the South but not enough.)
  • 1996: Bob Dole (Sorry again, Bill, you never would have been President.)
  • 2000: George W. Bush in a landslide (though maybe President Dole would have run for reelection)
  • 2004: George W. Bush in an even bigger landslide
  • 2008: John McCain (Obama only won Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.)
  • 2012: Mitt Romney (Obama did even worse, losing North Carolina.)

And finally, what would almost inevitably happen if we let the South choose the President this time as well?

  • 2016: Donald Trump

I hope you'll agree we still need to hear the voices of primary election voters in the rest of the country. I will be voting in the Alaska Democratic primary on March 26th, and if you haven't had a chance to vote yet in either primary, do it!

21 January 2016

Are Spoilers Actually Good?

The new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released about a month ago, and it's made nearly two billion dollars so far. In fact, it made a billion dollars faster than any movie in history.

(source)
It would seem that anyone who cares about Star Wars must have obviously seen the film already. Not me. I do care about Star Wars: I watched Episodes IV-VI as a kid and loved them, and watched Episodes I-III as they came out while I was a preteen and teen. (I mostly loved them, too, but later—like most fans—realized they had some significant failings.)

Instead of watching The Force Awakens, though, I accidentally spoiled one of the major plot points for myself, and then the internet spoiled another for me. However, now that I think about it, I'm actually happier knowing the major surprises of the movie without having seen it, and I can wait even longer before I take the time to watch it. Perhaps—and hear me out on this—spoilers actually a good thing.

31 December 2015

Top 5 Posts of 2015

The year 2015 has been the 25th calendar year of my life, and the 8th of Peter's Publisher. I started blogging soon after I became competent in using the internet, and I've continued to blog for the entirety of my adult life—regardless of whenever I think that started.

number of posts per
year on this blog
(will be 17 for 2015)
If you check out the sidebar of this blog that shows all my posts, you'll notice I've blogged less in 2015 than in any other year since I created the Publisher. I'm a little saddened by that fact, but I do have plenty of excuses: I've been teaching full-time, putting my all into it (and writing about it every now and then on my separate blog Teaching in Lingít Aaní); I went on big, three-week honeymoon over the summer with my wife, a little less than a year after our wedding (only mentioned here on the blog); and we just bought ourselves a home over the course of October and November. (I've been so busy with everything I didn't even share that news on here until now!)

Back in 2011 and 2012, I ended the year on the Publisher by sharing my Top 10 Posts of 2011 and Top 10 Posts of 2012. It's interesting to note that those were the two years in which I was most prolific in my blogging (117 posts each), and they were my last two full years as an undergraduate student, as I began my master's program and student teaching in 2013. I've never been able to blog as much ever since!

Nevertheless, I'll consider it a success that I have continued to blog when I can. Since I don't have much to choose from for a "top 10," I'd like to celebrate the end of the year with a list of my top 5 posts of 2015. Here they are, listed in the order I wrote them in:
5. Tina Fey's Disgusting Native Storyline in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
calling out a disgusting farce of Native assimilation—one example of how trying to do "smart" comedy can be even worse than more crudely offensive humor 
4. Yeah, A Song of Ice and Fire is Orientalist
in which I move on from criticizing the show Game of Thrones and take aim at the book series A Song of Ice and Fire and author George R. R. Martin himself for being orientalist
3. Panic vs. Tolerance: Gay Marriage, the Confederate Flag, and Wade Hampton
addresses how three greatly differing topics have all sparked panic and outrage in certain circles because of a lack of open-mindedness and tolerance 
2. I Resent Learners of Fictional Languages
confessing that people who learn Klingon, Elvish, or other invented languages seriously disappoint me, since they could be helping save real, endangered languages instead 
1. "Christmas Christians" and Reasons to Go to Church
asks why some Christians might only go to church on Christmas, and discusses my own story of moving from a church-going non-believer to a church-goer no more
The pieces I chose for this list all ended up being rather serious, and only the "Christmas Christians" post is particularly positive. Still, I think these were my favorite and best-written posts of 2015, and if you happen to find this list, I hope you enjoy reading some of them.

Have a happy New Year! I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store.

25 December 2015

"Christmas Christians" and Reasons to Go to Church

a church in July—I wonder what their
attendance is then? (my photo)
Christmas has me reflecting on all the church services around the world that must be happening, with millions and millions of people in attendance. It's amazing to think that, even though some Christians recognize Christmas on different dates, December 24th and 25th must be two of humanity's most celebrated days—maybe the most celebrated.

Of the millions of people attending services this Christmas, many have undoubtedly gone to church infrequently over the past several months. Maybe the Christmas service will even be their only one this year. The Wikipedia article Lapsed Catholic lists a number of amusing terms for such people:

03 October 2015

I Resent Learners of Fictional Languages

Let me start by saying that I understand learning a fictional language is a hobby. Many people have hobbies that don't seem to have any particularly useful purpose. I'm sure I have hobbies that some would judge to be a waste of time, and I certainly have plenty of knowledge (including knowledge of fictional worlds) that many would judge to be useless.

Nevertheless, I resent learners of fictional languages. I resent those who learn fictional languages not because I believe their pursuits are harmful, but because they clearly have aptitudes that could be put to exceptionally greater uses.