This is how free speech gets shut down. #BoeingGate

Ear­li­er today Don­ald Trump tweet­ed that Boe­ing was spend­ing $4 bil­lion dol­lars to ren­o­vate Air Force One. He was off the facts by orders of mag­ni­tude but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know knew exact­ly what he was doing. It’s time we stop try­ing to read his tweets as exer­cis­es in truth find­ing. It doesn’t mat­ter if Trump didn’t know or didn’t care about his num­bers: With author­i­tar­i­ans, we must fol­low the effects, not the logic.

Trump’s tweet came less than half an hour after the Chica­go Tri­bune post­ed a few short quotes from the Boe­ing CEO say­ing they were con­cerned about the impli­ca­tions of trade with Chi­na under a Trump Admin­is­tra­tion. It was rel­a­tive­ly tame stuff and of course a multi­na­tion­al with bil­lions of dol­lars in Chi­na is going to be con­cerned. About a quar­ter of their air­crafts are built for the Chi­nese market.

But fol­low not the log­ic but the effect: if you crit­i­cize this pres­i­dent in pub­lic he will destroy your share­hold­er val­ue. Boe­ing lost half a bil­lion dol­lars in val­ue fol­low­ing Trump’s 140 char­ac­ters. Every CEO in Amer­i­ca will now have to think twice before speak­ing to the press. It would be fis­cal­ly irre­spon­si­ble to do oth­er­wise. A few quotes in a paper isn’t worth that amount of share­hold­er value.

Free speech isn’t just court cas­es or a few lines in the Con­sti­tu­tion. Even the CEOs of the largest cor­po­ra­tions in Amer­i­ca need to watch their tongues. Silenc­ing has begun.

Autism, anxiety, and bullies

A pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment from my wife Julie ear­li­er this evening:

Autis­tic peo­ple feel anx­i­ety just like all of us. How­ev­er they may cope dif­fer­ent­ly. For neu­rotyp­i­cals, if the anx­i­ety is a result of some­one taunt­ing or being some­how rude or abra­sive or annoy­ing, we know to walk away. But in my expe­ri­ence with my spec­trum kids, they don’t under­stand why peo­ple are mean, and they’ll freak out or just keep com­ing back for more. They don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly get that it’s best to leave some peo­ple alone and walk away. It takes many such lessons to “get it” because their minds work dif­fer­ent­ly. They go from the spe­cif­ic to the gen­er­al, not the gen­er­al to the spe­cif­ic, as Tem­ple Grandin points out. They are easy tar­gets for bul­lies. #The­MoreY­ouKnowAboutAutism

Spiritual Biodiversity and Religious Inevitability

Emi­grants from the Irish pota­to famine, via Wikipedia

Peo­ple some­times get pret­ty worked up about con­vinc­ing each oth­er of an mat­ter of press­ing impor­tance. We think we have The Answer about The Issue and that if we just repeat our­selves loud enough and often enough the obvi­ous­ness of our posi­tion will win out. It becomes our duty, in fact, to repeat it loud and often. If we hap­pen to wear down the oppo­si­tion so much that they with­draw from our com­pan­ion­ship or fel­low­ship, all the bet­ter, as we’ve achieved a pati­na of uni­ty. Reli­gious lib­er­als are just as prone to this as the conservatives.

These are not the val­ues we hold when talk­ing about the nat­ur­al world. There we talk about bio­di­ver­si­ty. We don’t cheer when a species mal­adapt­ed to the human-driven Anthro­pocene dis­ap­pears into extinc­tion. Just because a plant or ani­mal from the oth­er side of the world has no nat­ur­al preda­tors doesn’t mean our local species should be superseded.

Sci­en­tists tell us that bio­di­ver­si­ty is not just a kind of do-unto-others val­ue that sat­is­fies our sense of nos­tal­gia; hav­ing wide gene pools comes in handy when near-instant adap­ta­tion is need­ed in response to mas­sive habi­tat stress. Monocrops are good for the annu­al har­vest but leave us espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble when phy­toph­tho­ra infes­tans comes ashore.

It’s a good thing for dif­fer­ent reli­gious groups to have dif­fer­ent val­ues, both from us us and from one anoth­er. There are pres­sures in today’s cul­ture to lev­el all of our dis­tinc­tives down so that we have no unique iden­ti­ty. Some cheer this monocrop­ping of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, but I’m not sure it’s healthy for human race. If our reli­gious val­ues are some­how truer or more valu­able than those of oth­er peo­ple, then they will even­tu­al­ly spread them­selves – not by push­ing oth­er bod­ies to be like us, but by attract­ing the mem­bers of the oth­er bod­ies to join with us.

God may have pur­pose in fel­low­ships that act dif­fer­ent­ly that ours. Let us not get too smug about our own inevitabil­i­ty that we for­get to share our­selves with those with whom we differ.

Add Quaker Blog Watch to your site

A few months ago I start­ed keep­ing a links blog that evolved into the “Quak­er Blog Watch” (for­mal­ly at home at “non​vi​o​lence​.org/​q​u​a​ker” though includ­ed as a col­umn else­where). This is my answer to the “aggre­ga­tion ques­tion” that a few of us were toss­ing around in Sixth Month. I’ve nev­er believed in an uberBlog that would to supercede all of our indi­vid­ual ones and act as gate-keeper to “prop­er” Quak­erism. For all my Quak­er Con­ser­v­a­tivism I’m still a Hick­site and we’re into a cer­tain live-and-let live cre­ative dis­or­der in our reli­gious life.

I also don’t like tech­ni­cal solu­tions. It helps to have a human doing this. And it helps (I think) if they have some opin­ions. When I began my list of anno­tat­ed Quak­er links I called it my “Sub­jec­tive Guide” and these links are also some­what sub­jec­tive. I don’t include every post on Quak­erism: only the ones that make me think or that chal­lenge me in some way. Medi­oc­rity, good inten­tions and a famous last name mean less to me than sim­ple faith­ful­ness to one’s call.

There’s no way to keep stats but it looks like the links are being used (hours after I stum­ble across a previously-unknown site I see com­ments from reg­u­lar Quak­er Ranter read­ers!). Here’s the next step: instruc­tions on adding the “last sev­en entries of the Quak­er blog watch to your site.” I imag­ine some of you might want to try it out on your side­bar. If so, let me know how it works: I’m open to tweak­ing it. And do remem­ber I’ll be dis­ap­pear­ing for a few days “some­time soon” (still wait­ing, that kid can’t stay in there too long.)

Live Web Coverage from FGC (not)

23028940_2a342308d2Over on Beppe­blog Joe dreams of dai­ly web cov­er­age of the FGC Gath­er­ing [Update: link long dead]. Well, FGC’s not pay­ing its web­mas­ter (me, for now) for such ser­vice but I’ll try to sneak in a few posts between book­store cus­tomers. The book­store set-up was remark­ably easy. There was no truck cri­sis, no com­put­er cri­sis, no get­ting lost on highways.

As reg­u­lar read­ers will know, I’m lead­ing a work­shop called “Strangers to the Covenant” with Zachary Moon and this morn­ing was the first work­shop. Although it was billed as a work­shop for high school stu­dents and adult young Friend (so 15 – 35 years old), though almost all of the par­tic­i­pants are high school­ers (what does that mean?). It seems like a great bunch. I arrived about fif­teen min­utes ear­ly to cen­ter in wor­ship; two of the atten­ders came in the room and sat with me and one by one every­one came in and joined the wor­ship. I had to won­der if a group of old­er Friends would have been able to resist the temp­ta­tion to ask about each other’s jew­el­ry, com­plain about the air con­di­tion­ing, etc.

Julie reports that the cafe­te­ria food is good. We’ve also been hap­py patrons of Gillie’s and Bollo’s Café.