My father, Warren J. Wilson

My dad died July 1, about three weeks ago. He was a fan of my writing here at Skepolitical and suggested a couple of times that I submit things to the New York Times op-ed section, saying that most of what I wrote was better than what they published there, anyway. (I never did make a submission.) A short obituary was placed in my hometown paper, the Lexington Minuteman, and I wrote a more extensive obituary, as well. Below are the remarks I made at his memorial this past Saturday. After hearing my remarks, one of my dad’s former colleagues made an analogy of my dad’s intellect to that of a gentle giant: he understood that people’s feelings could be hurt, so he tended to correct people’s faulty reasoning in a way that protected their pride. He certainly did that for me.

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“Redskins” and Indians: Sports leagues respect money, not morals

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The redfaced “Chief Wahoo” adorns many local establishments in my adopted hometown of Cleveland. Avoiding such establishments is currently difficult due to the image’s near ubiquity. I took this picture of a local bar from the walking bridge to the Horseshoe Casino.

[Update 6/24: A lawsuit is being prepared to contest the Cleveland Indians' "Chief Wahoo" logo.]

[Update 7/8: Maybe "Redskins" is staying after all. From Cleveland Frowns: The Patent Office's cancellation of the Redskins trademark is relatively meaningless.]

In 1992, when Suzan Shown Harjo led the first group of Natives in challenging the Redskins’ trademark, the now-famous Tony Kornheiser wrote a column predicting the eventual end of the Redskins’ name. In his piece, Kornheiser begins rather tepidly in his opposition to the insulting of ethnicity (“I don’t see why Indians would be offended by names like Chiefs and Braves.”), but by the end of the piece, Kornheiser shed his equivocal stance with an assessment that seems to condemn race-based mascots of all kinds: “The issue is whether it’s proper to have a team name that derives solely from skin color.” Having found his own moral compass, Kornheiser, naively optimistic about the extent to which other Americans are guided by moral codes, takes a leap of faith in predicting that the eventual rectification of the Redskins’ name will be brought about by goodwill rather than anything as cynical as political pressure: “Some think that the only reason to change ‘Redskins’ is to bend at the vogue knee of being Politically Correct. I think it will eventually be done simply to be correct. Period.” As of this morning, even the idea that political pressure would force the name change is looking too optimistic. Continue reading (224)

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How American politics are affected by the outdated morality of retribution

The actual logo that was adopted by the US drone program.

The actual logo that was adopted by the US drone program.

An article in yesterday’s Washington Post about the effect of vengefulness on one’s political views had me thinking about one of my more controversial posts here at Skepolitical, in which I questioned the motives behind the decision to kill bin Laden. The idea that the raid that killed bin Laden could have been motivated by something as simple (and unproductive) as a desire for retribution is clearly vindicated by the studies described in the Washington Post. (The article, which does not cite bin Laden or the raid, therefor does not address the possibility that other, worthy, motives may have also been at play in that decision.) One study in particular, by Rachel Stein, I found particularly disturbing for its implications that these prevalent views on retribution underly a wide swath of people’s political views, are difficult to unseat, and are extremely resistant to mitigation by conflicting concerns, as would be expected if people’s views were based on something akin to a cost-benefit analysis.

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As they did by removing Donald Sterling, fans can keep making sports better by pulling back the curtain on team owners

downloadFans who are upset about the Donald Sterling debacle need to start taking note of the owners of their own favorite teams. In the wake of the Donald Sterling racism scandal, many news outlets were asking the same question: What took so long? Why did commissioners such as David Stern and Adam Silver tolerate such disgusting views among its ranks of owners? One answer is that we, as fans, enable racists like Donald Sterling by tolerating them. Continue reading (257)

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May 6 2014 Shaker Heights, Ohio Ballot Recommendations

This coming Tuesday, May 6, Ohio will be holding the 2014 primary elections, and a few issues will also be on the ballot. In Ohio, the only way to declare party affiliation is to request that party’s primary ballot. Since I am trying to start a brand new party here in Ohio, I am going to request an unaffiliated ballot in order to avoid any complications before my next opportunity (in two years) to change my party affiliation. That means I will only be voting for the three issues, one of which, involving a Cuyahoga County “Sin Tax” for maintaining Cleveland’s professional sports facilities, is very interesting. Below are my recommendations for the three issues: One state-wide for Ohio, one city-wide for Shaker Heights, and one county-wide for Cuyahoga County. Continue reading

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Privilege and the Skeptic Community

From http://tacit.livejournal.com/588331.html

Privilege matters. Photo by Kevin Carter, via Franklin Veaux.

I can’t quite grasp why so many people who consider themselves Skeptics reject the concept of Privilege.

Skepticism is about doubting and questioning beliefs and claims. Good skeptics know that it’s especially worthwhile to examine one’s own beliefs. This can be a really uncomfortable process, because it can be humbling and stressful to realize that you’ve been wrong about something, especially if it’s something important. Skeptics call themselves Skeptics because they think this process is important. It’s important if we want to understand the world we live in, and it’s important if we want to be able to understand each other and live a peaceful existence. We believe it’s better to swallow our pride and set aside our unsubstantiated beliefs rather than start wars over them.

It goes even further than that. Continue reading

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We Need to Start Talking about a Basic Income

A “Basic Income” is the seemingly crazy idea that every citizen of a country will get a check each month from the government as a “basic income”.  It is my opinion that this crazy idea is the best/only hope we have of making our economy work in the future.

The Exigence for a Basic Income – 1) Computers took our “jerbs”!

How to effectively price labor is a contentious topic at the moment.   Continue reading (671)

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Protest Party Update: New Website

I’m excited to announce that the Protest Party website is finally online at TheProtestParty.com! The graphics are embarrassingly generic, and I don’t have a bank account set up for donations, but it does have a blog  and a nice enough look. Frankly, I think it looks better than most corporate websites (thanks to Squarespace), except the main graphic is probably way too silly. Click over and check it out. The post you are reading is the first announcement of the new website, but I will also be posting an announcement on that site’s blog very soon. (Of course, anybody reading it will have already found the site, so it seems a bit silly to post an announcement there now that I think of it.)  Continue reading

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Protest Party 2016, not 2014

A recent conversation with Bob Fitrakis has convinced me to give up my plan to get the Protest Party on the ballot in 2014, and instead aim for 2016. In the meantime, I still need to seek supporters (the Meetup Group now has a third member) and develop some infrastructure such as a website and by-laws. The Ohio ballot-access laws are currently in flux, and there is a chance (according to Fitrakis) that they will become much more lenient for 2016. More likely, the Protest Party will need to collect over 28,000 petition signatures from unaffiliated voters starting in Fall 2015. That’s a lot of signatures, so obviously I will need gear up in the interim and try to hit the ground running in around 18 months. I will also use the time to consider other strategies for undermining our corrupt political process.

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Protest Party Progress

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 5.03.31 PMI haven’t written about the Protest Party since January 9. Since then, I’ve (among other things):

1. Established a web presence for the Protest Party with a Meetup Group, Twitter account, and email address.

2. Learned that the Ohio Ballot Access laws are in flux after the November 2013 laws were temporarily blocked.

3. Searched desperately for a lawyer to help me navigate these legal complications.

4. Found “Legendary citizen advocate and political agitator” Bob Fitrakis, who is also a ballot-access Guru of sorts, and

5. Attended the Ohio Green Party Convention to meet Fitrakis.

In short, things are getting more complicated, but I expected as much. I always assumed the most likely outcome of this project would be that I would fail to get a party on the ballot, but that I would at least learn much more about the ways in which minor parties are suppressed. Read on for more details about my efforts in the past six weeks.

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