Friday, December 11, 2009

Elements of Hope

Once the outrage over the ridiculous statements and claims of the irrationalists and obsequious co-religionists has cooled, it's possible to step back to look things overand find some measure of hope.

We cannot truly address their stupidity, delusions nor willful ignorance. These are decisions the creationists and co-religionists have made, and they will never change them. The best focus of our free-thought is the ever-expanding frontiers of physics, biology and psychology.

But we may take solace in how the Internet is enabling our erstwhile opponents to not only shoot themselves in the foot, but also to reload and do it repeatedly.

The greatest mistake the irrationals have made is to forsake secrecy, to seek external validation, to parade their cause before an amused world.

The Internet provides us with the means to see how truly insane they are, to watch them do and say the same things over and over again while they expect different results.

This self-exposure, (while satisfying their need for persecution as a form of validation), has done them more harm than any possible good they could wring from it. Their "good-old-boy" networks are illuminated in all their smarmy operation: their intentions to divide and conquer, to paralyze our system of government through bribery and coercion, to segregate and oppress people of our many cultures, to rape and to kill as their passions suit them, to enslave women and children for the greater glory of their dietyall, all are fully revealed.

The greatest threat we have now to our society, our cultureour very civilizationis once more the irrationals scurry back into hiding, withdraw from the public eye and turn their churches once more into little hells on earth.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Coin Under the Tongue

You have to step back a little to see just what is happening.

The damage to the Bill of Rights done by Mainers is a sign and symptom of a much greater malady. Fed on religious propaganda, frightened by ludicrous claims of a corrupted educational system teaching "homosexual marriage" by a platinum blonde waving her TV remote to control the needed talking heads. Claims with no truth to them whatsoever.

The Xtian faith is dying. Only weathered bones and rags of flesh remain of their crucified savior, still nailed up on the cross on Golgotha. It's so simple: in their efforts to ensure the second coming of the christ, they've killed him off instead.

Lie. That's all it takes. Lie until your tongue turns black, and then lie some more. The most effective political technique our Xtians have found is to bear false witness, to violate the 8th commandment in the name of Jesus. Take something their Xtian leaders know is not true, and blow it all out of proportion. Sow fear and panic amongst the faithful so they will rush to the voting booths and destroy our basic freedoms and heave a sigh of relief that now two guys can't walk down a street holding hands.

But it's so easy to do that, isn't it? By now the church members will believe anything they're told as long as it comes from the pulpit and has a snippet of bible verse to back it up.

But these injuries are just signs of a huge beast thrashing about in it's death throes and wounding innocent victims as it flails about. Like dinosaurs with their primitive brains, the Xtian faith will take a long time to die, perhaps years.

But the cancer of spiritual rot is slow and sure, vexing and oppressing their fellow men and making miserable the lives of it's faithful--until finally they, too, turn on each other and rend themselves apart. History is certain; we've seen this before.

And so the faithful embrace new religious fads and think they have revived the Xtian faith--only to descend into the dark madness of political tyranny while the graven images of Baal wait, patiently, for their new worshippers....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Seeds of Disaster

Conservatives are so busy sabotaging every little thing Obama does while trying to recreate a utopia that never was that they're ignoring the future.

Forget the projected costs to our economy for taking care of the elderly and other right-wing deceptions. What about our children?

Children growing up without proper healthcare, unable to afford needed checkups and immunizations. Growing up with "pre-existing conditions" that could have been prevented before they were five years old.

Eventually they will have to be covered in some way. Usually through their employers, who will have to pay more for a workforce who will be less healthy than their parents. Memo to employers of all sizes: Your HMO is not your friend. Not when they're fighting healthcare reform over the loss of projected higher profits. Profits extorted from you. Obama is not raising your costs.

Less healthcare when they're children means more--much more--middle-aged and elderly who are less healthy than their parents. The cost to the government will be staggering. This is not voodoo economics healthcare-style but plain common sense: Sickly children = sickly adults = sickly seniors = increased government spending.

There is no yardstick to measure the impact of missing healthcare because the problem will get worse. Sickly people without healthcare will have children, and these children will be even worse off. (Word: epidemics.)

This cuts across all barriers, all classes, all races. People shouting asinine slogans and waving placards blaming Obama for a conservative mess over 20 years in the making are helping no one--not even themselves.

Disputes over access to healthcare are meaningingless when we are faced with no healthcare available. Or even worse, healthcare denied.

The political leaders opposing healthcare reform know this. They have to in order to oppose it for reasons having nothing to do with the common good, reasons having nothing to do with the future of the American people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A + B = ?

There are times I think of remaking this blog into one titled "AayPlusBeeEqualsSee."

I have spent my whole life using Critical Thinking. The nice thing about CT is it doesn't require any degrees to know how to use it.

Most CT is simple. I've found a good rule of thumb for critical analysis is A + B = C. Applying this to the statements of people and organizations is very pragmatic.

Take for example the recent mass hysteria about Obama addressing our nation's school kids and "indoctrinating" (their word, not mine) them into being socialists. Or at least planting the seeds of Obama's "socialism" in their minds.

So we have: Obama (A) + Addressing school kids (B) = (C) Socialism.

Since C is made up of A and B combined, inverting this equation shows:

C = A + B, or A = C and B = C. (This is straight Algebra.)

With C = Socialism, socialism--or some form of it--must also present in both Obama (A) and our school kids (B).

A quick examination of both shows neither have anything to do with Socialism: Obama has never espoused Socialism during his political career and to do so in the Oval Office would be worse than foolhardy. (A search of "obama socialism" results in hundreds of entries who claim Obama is socialist but offer little or no reliable evidence. If Conservatives do it, it's "capitalism." If Obama does it, it's "Socialism.")

The idea of our nation's school kids as fertile ground for socialist contamination is not just ridiculous but appallingly ignorant. Children are not socialists from the cradle; they have to be told to share their things. For more on this, see my post Have Faith in Our Young.

In light of this the term "socialism" has no meaning. It is not a menace nor a threat, just a handy label to defame our elected President with.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Have Faith in Our Young

In regards to all the recent hysteria of our chief elected official addressing our nation's school kids about the importance of education and the need to study hard (which, by the way, helped propel a man of color into civic duty and finally achieve the oval office) and thus through some nefarious charisma indoctrinate our children into a socialist mania.

Parents of America, you may heave a sigh of relief. Your kids, the ones you have to stand over with a club to get anything done, are not so easily swayed. These are the same kids who won't do their chores, won't clean up after themselves, won't do their homework, insist on watching the very TV shows you forbid them to watch, playing with the other kids you tell them not to play with and going places you specifically tell them not to go to.

Against these determined efforts to assert their independence and do things their way, what chance does Obama's svengali-like socialism have?

Your kids are so busy deprogramming themselves not to believe what you tell them is true, they're going to apply this same ruthless skepticism to anything a senior elected official is going to tell them.

Your children are not living in cocoons (unless you're trying to put them in one) so they probably know all about it already. They're googling with their smart phones, the home PC, their school laptops, the library computers. They're checking the news feeds to find out what all the fuss is about. They're social networking the heck out of it and Twitter is keeping their little fingers a blur on their phone keypads.

And if a scheming Obama chortles with glee at the chance to slip in healthcare while addressing our nation's young--it's waaay too late. Chances are your kids already know a lot about it. After all they have to sit at the dinner table night after night and listen to their elders hold forth on it and argue it back and forth. So they already know amongst themselves that some of their parents are against healthcare reform for this and that reason.

So our kids get together and put their heads together and draw their own conclusions. So by the time Obama speaks to them, our school kids are ready and waiting--their minds already made up.

We as parents have not fully realized the effect of the Internet on our children. Parents will watch the news channels on TV and sit and argue about what may happen or could happen. Our children are doing searches on the Web, and learning all about it instead.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Made You Look...

I think it would be a lot of fun at a Democratic town-hall meeting when all the elderly club-wielding (they're called "signs") gun-toting fundies-from-out-of-town-trucked-in-on-the-Republicans'-nickel mob the event. And I'd stand near the front and shout, "Hey, somebody dropped their copy of The Turner Diaries!" And see how many people stop and look around on the floor—while the news-media cameras are rolling.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Heat of the Kitchen

There are certainly many opinions and viewpoints about Sarah Palin's abrupt resignation as governor of Alaska. I've lived in Alaska and I can tell you the one thing Alaskan's have little respect for is someone who quits when the going gets tough. Consider also her reasons for quitting: Ethics complaints and the media.

Ethics complaints are the price of doing business in Alaska. Aside from mineral and hunting issues, the governments in Alaska are small ones, perfect breeding ground for partisan politics. In essence, her reason for quitting are not political, but personal.

This begs the question: How important was the role of Governor to Sarah Palin? By all appearances, taking into account her actions after being tapped by McCain for VP, it was not very important at all.

Conservatives everywhere can heave a sigh of relief: Sarah Palin has committed political suicide. By quitting when the going got tough, there is no longer the danger of her splitting the Republican party in 2012.

(Thank goodness we found out how she felt about the First Amendment before she held high government office. As long as she's the one using it everything is fine—including personal attacks on her opponent's family members. But when someone else uses the First Amendment she's all outrage and legal threats.)

She'll certainly still be the poster girl for 6000 year-old cavemen and the neo-cavemen who want to return us to the Stone Age under the guise of patriotism. Photo-ops, interviews, junkets to other states—oh, yes, life is good.

Sadly someone will talk her into forming an ultra-conservative "Cow Moose" party—if someone hasn't already. Teddy Roosevelt she is not.

But now the movers and shakers of the Republicans will hesitate—hesitate—when her name is put into any hat. After all, she quit once. So what's to keep her from doing it again?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Me Caveman; You Post-Modern

The perplexing question of why supposedly rational people believe Evolution is the source of all our social ills cannot be answered if you look at it rationally. A sane, sensible explanation is not forthcoming. The key to answering this is simple: if you discard the rational (as they have) then you're left with the irrational.

They're cavemen. Not cavepeople, but cavemen. Cave-dwelling, hunter-gatherer culture and society. Males go out and find food. Females raise babies and prepare food.

Cavemen worship the great thunder-god Yah. Since He's a thunder-god on the top of a mountain he's naturally the god of war. Invade another tribe's area, loot them completely and return home with the spoils to celebrate. Other tribes are not human, so we can do what we want with them: take them prisoner, torture them and then torture them again.

Above all, Cavemen want to return to the time of Cavemen. When their whole tribe was united together against other tribes, cavemen acted like manly cavemen, worshipped the great thunder-god Yah and women would fuck and make more Cavemen. It was so because Yah said it was so.

Now in the midst of great changes and advances in science, medicine, communication and world culture, Cavemen shamans have risen up and said, "This bad! This no Yah! Is not tribe, is not money—is DARWIN!" And all the Cavemen howled and beat their clubs against the ground. And the shamans sent runners to other Cavemen tribes who spoke around the campfires of the evil sorcerer DARWIN who opposed the great thunder-god Yah.

And so the Cavemen turned to their shamans for guidance. And the shamans said: "Yah has spoken! Yah made the world. To question Yah is taboo! The Great Stones are Yah's word! If any say is not Yah, beat them with clubs!" And the Cavemen held their clubs up high and chanted, Beat them with clubs! Beat them with clubs!

So the Cavemen went unto the schools and said, "DARWIN is not Yah! Yah made world! You teach DARWIN we beat you with clubs!" And the Cavemen held their clubs up high and chanted, Beat you with clubs! Beat you with clubs!

But the lawgivers of the people rebuked the Cavemen. "By the rule of Law, our Constitution, you cannot teach Yah in the classrooms."

And the Cavemen replied, "Law is bad! We no follow law! Law is Great Stones! Worship Yah in classrooms!"

But the shamans conferred with one another and then said to the Cavemen, "The lawgivers say no Yah? Then no say Yah to them—no say Yah to anyone! Say Yah only to other Cavemen at Cavemen campfires. Yah is BIG secret! We trick them so they not teach DARWIN. We tell all DARWIN is bad, DARWIN is weak. Trick them all!"

So the Shamans and the Cavemen spoke of The Maker, very smart, very clever. "You see world is big and confusing," they told the lawgivers. "You no understand, we no understand, must be BIG brain to make all. Made all around us all at once! BOOM! Is life. Is world. You see; Big Brain Maker did it all."

But the lawgivers were not fooled and they told the Cavemen, "Your 'Maker' is just another name for your great thunder-god Yah. Don't waster our time with your silly little tricks."

And the Cavemen howled with fury and pounded their clubs against the ground. The not-Yah secret was so good, such strong magic! Why didn't it work?

But the Shamans were not deterred. "Keep Yah big secret still. No say Big Brain anymore. Tell them DARWIN bad. Tell them DARWIN bad because DARWIN is DARWIN, and DARWIN is always bad. Make like DARWIN very bad man, hates Yah. Tell them DARWIN made Evolution, but Evolution is BIG mistake, full of holes. Is crazy thing cause not Yah."

And the Cavemen once more spread the word of the Shamans, and the tales grew in the telling. "DARWIN make our daughters big-bellied cause DARWIN make our daughters fuck." "DARWIN makes our little ones say Yah is bad!" "DARWIN turns our boys into girls and our girls into boys so they don't make more Cavemen." "DARWIN make females disobey males." "DARWIN makes our females abort babies so DARWIN can eat them! DARWIN really likes to eat babies!"

And so this is what it has become: a select group of Cavemen who seek to destroy our culture, our civilization, our very society, in order to save it for their great god Yah.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adios Darwin-baby

Suppose—just suppose—we tossed Darwin's Theory of Evolution out the window. What, then, are we left with?

Creationism, many would say. And that's what creationists want us to think.

(They probably won't say Intelligent Design. With Darwin's Theory gone, there's no longer a need for the ruse of ID and so everyone involved would speak openly of Creationism.)

Not quite. We're still left with Evolution. Darwin didn't invent Evolution. It was already widely accepted in the scientific community that creatures on Earth were evolving through a process of mutation. What no one could agree on was how. Darwin solved that puzzle with his theory of Natural Selection. "Survival of the fittest."

So the baby isn't thrown out with the bathwater. Worse, we have to change it's diapers. Evolution is still functioning right under our very noses.

So, we have to get rid of Evolution itself. Is it that easy? Sure, we slap a gag rule on the classrooms, insist "Evolution is a theory, not a fact," and other forms of propaganda. Darwin's face appears on the video screens and the students scream abuse and hurl spitwads at it.

Yet when hauling out the mural of evolution and burning it into the back of the schoolyard we're still left with Biology. We try to assemble a new mural of life on Earth and there's this big piece of the puzzle missing—and no one can explain why. There is no alternative explanation. (Note: "God" explains nothing.)

So we have to find an answer, an explanation that makes sense. That means Science. And Science means asking questions. And here's a big clue: "Biology" does not mean "begat."

So we get rid of Biology. We open up the high school yearbook and find a bunch of smiling faces under "First Year Creationism." Evolution is a dirty word scribbled on the bathroom walls. There is still Science to contend with.

The Science with a capitol "S". Brain-child of the ancient Greeks, bastard step-child of the Dark Ages, re-born in the Renaissance, clothed in the Age of Reason and finally finding a home with Sir Issac Newton. Now it's a tough old bastard and getting it out of the schools is going to be a long, hard fight. There will be blood, trust me.

See something odd or remarkable. Ask a question why. Suggest a possible answer. Re-create the conditions. Duplicate the event. Record the process and the results. Compare the results to your possible answer. Revise the possible answer to meet the results. Welcome to Science. It's that simple.

Because it's so simple and so thorough there's no way to stop it. Ask the question, "Why do creatures mutate in the wild?" and the whole facade comes crashing down. Six days and then kick-back gives no explanation, no insight.

But, say, we get rid of Science. Nobel laureates languish in prisons. Stephen Hawking appears on national TV to renounce Science and repent of his heresy. (Except it didn't go very well. Stephen managed to override the pre-scripted recant programmed into his voder and made a passionate speech defending Science and freedom before he was yanked off the air. His current location is unknown.) OK then; problem solved.

Not quite. There's still Nature to contend with. You know, Nature? As in war, famine, pestilence and death? The four reasons we need Science like right frickin' now? (And we have religious leaders who want to ride them right into a theocracy?)

Feynman said that Nature won't be fooled. Neither can it be ignored. And Hurricane Katrina is a perfect example of what happens when we ignore the data, when we don't use the science providing the data.

Take the final step: Remove Nature from the school curriculum. Except it's not a school anymore. So let me ask again: What, then, are we left with? Many would answer, "God." And that's indeed all we have left. A religious seminary, with the students eyes firmly fixed on heaven while the world all around them degenerates into a living hell.

It's strange how Darwin's Theory, reviled as the ultimate materialist philosophy, has such devastating spiritual consequences should we reject it. Perhaps it's because in the rejection we willingly embrace ignorance, turn our eyes away from a truth about ourselves—the knowledge we need so our people do not perish.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Piled Higher and Deeper

During the development of nuclear physics one question haunted physicists: Could a nuclear chain reaction be sustained? Yes, there had been bench-top reactions but they were to study what particles were being emitted when atoms were split.

Predictions from existing theories were uncertain; either a chain reaction would exhaust itself and slow down to a halt, or else the reaction would immediately "wildcat" and surge out of control--with disastrous results.

By 1942 one successful experiment to create a chain reaction had been done at Columbia University. But that was to initiate a chain reaction on a large scale. Once initiated, it was halted.

Now with the pressure of the second world war and fears over NAZI "hard water" experiments, the question of a sustainable fission reaction was vital. Physicists lobbied President Roosevelt to create a nuclear weapons program, but Roosevelt and his advisors were not convinced a nuclear weapon could be created--nor would even work.

Enrico Fermi had a simple solution: Build a reactor and create a sustainable nuclear chain-reaction. With limited federal funding the physics department of the University of Chicago stacked a giant cube of graphite bricks interspersed with small globes of uranium fuel.

After careful manipulations of the control rods, the first self-sustaining nuclear chain-reaction was created December 2nd, 1942. It ran for 28 minutes and then was shut down by inserting the safety control rods.

All of this, the construction, the operation of the power pile, the timing of the sustainable reaction were exactly calculated by Enrico Fermi. Observers and co-workers were astonished at Fermi's ability to accurately predict every phase and step of this operation through the manipulation of his slide rule.

The formula crucial to his calculation's was the Special Theory of Relativity first proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein. E=MC2 predicted atomic energy, demonstrated how a nuclear fission chain-reaction was possible and showed how much energy was needed to initiate this chain-reaction.

In order for this formula to work, in order for Fermi's pile to be successful, in order for a sustainable nuclear chain reaction to take place C2, the speed of light squared, had to be a constant. Were C2 a variable, Fermi's calculations would have been useless. No atomic energy, no power pile, no sustainable chain-reaction, no Manhattan Project, no atomic bomb. No Cold War, no nuclear medicine, no X-rays, no CAT scans.

With the speed of light proven a constant instead of a variable, radioactive half-life decay is also established as a reliable scale of measurement. With this the existence of the Earth is shown to be measured in the billions of years, not mere thousands.

Day after day the overwhelming evidence for the evolutionary development of the Earth and its lifeforms accumulates. The speed of light not only helped us unlock the atom, it shines a light upon the vast scale of time we developed from--and have inherited.

The re-insertion of the control rods ended the chain-reaction, proving we could both initiate and control this incredible power. We held the reins in our hands; we could stop it, shut it down. No such ability, no such predictions have arisen or will ever arise from a religious text. The assertion the whole of our universe and the power it contains can be comprehended through a set of ancient tribal laws and myths is not just delusion, but madness.


Enrico Fermi (Wikipedia)

The First Reactor (Dept of Energy)
Note: There is a link at top left of page to download a 6meg PDF file.

An excellent overview and history of atomic physics is the book The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cheating at Hopscotch

The study of Evolution is now so vast and in-depth (itself a refutation of any mythology) it's opponents are now able to hopscotch their way through, picking an ambiguity here, a disputed detail there and a freely mis-quoted extract or two just to liven up the mix.

Presenting such generalities as facts to a mostly untrained audience makes their con game easy. Since they are generalities they must be refuted in detail, requiring an expertise most people don't have. And whose eyes tend to glaze over when presented with a 1040 tax form.

There is a vast difference between the innocent uneducated and the willfully ignorant. Such people as Jonathan Wells trade on this ruthlessly, with self-serving questionnaires like 10 Questions Every Student Should Ask Their Biology Teacher. Many teachers who teach biology are teaching it as a secondary class. Asking them to be fully conversant on prehistoric atmospheric oxygen levels, a highly specialized piece of knowledge, clearly shows this is a test designed to fail most biology teachers. (And how the hell is this even relevant to a junior Biology class? This is a matter of biogenesis, taught at the college level.)

Even if these "10 Questions" were true--which they are not--Evolution would still exist. Darwin's theory could be disproved and Evolution would not vanish like a soap bubble. We would be left with a phenomenon in nature with species adapting through a process of mutation, with some mutations severe enough to give rise to a new species. This will not and can not go away. The stasis of the Bible is shattered with every fresh observation of evolution in Nature.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's Review

With all the hoopla and noise surrounding the efforts to suppress or outlaw the teaching of Evolution, a summary of the main points would be helpful:

  1. Evolution does not address the origins of life.
    1. Organisms mutate to adapt to changes in their environment.
    2. Thus a new species can arise from existing species.

  2. Evolution does not address the existence of any god.
    1. The existence of a Creator cannot be proven nor disproven using evolution.
    2. Evolution is a mechanism, not an intelligence.

  3. Evolution is not a "religion" within science.
    1. This is a creationist myth:
      1. Creationists call it Darwinism to make it sound like a cult.
    2. Religion operates on faith; Science operates on facts.
    3. Study of Evolution does not require atheism.

  4. Evolution occurs whether we "believe" in it or not.
    1. It is a process occuring in nature.
    2. Evolution was accepted by scientists long before Darwin, but what "triggered" it was not known.
    3. Darwin proposed changes in the environment favored a process of "natural selection."

  5. Darwin did not "invent" evolution; evolution is a natural process.
    1. Discrediting Darwin has no effect on Evolution, nor on Darwin's Theory.

  6. Evolution is a fact; Darwin's theory explains how it works.
    1. "A set of simple statements predicting a broad range of responses."
      1. The Book of Genesis does not qualify as a theory.
        1. Nor does the Gospel of John.

  7. Evolution is widely accepted by the scientific community.
    1. There is no "controversy." (Creationists wish there was.)
    2. There are arguments about how evolution works, but not about it's existence.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Creationism is not the only myth we can subject to critical thinking. Take ghosts, for example:
  1. If ghosts are the spirits of people who have died and thus returned, then why aren't they everywhere?

    1. Millions die every year.
      1. In a couple of decades there would be billions
    2. "Spirits" are considered eternal.
      1. So we should be hip-deep in them. (And we have no way to get rid of them.)
    3. Only a handful of sightings per month.
      1. Most are readily explained.

  2. If ghosts are the spirits of the dead who have returned to fulfill a mission or purpose, then why aren't they?
    1. Say one percent of 1,000,000 have the "will-power" to return; thus at least 10,000 every year.
      1. Yet all they can do is appear and disappear, drift around, and speak through mediums.
      2. Otherwise they are firmly nailed to one location and can't leave it.
    2. Incidentally, if they have returned to watch over and protect us, why aren't they?
      1. Standing in line at a mac-fast-food joint.
        1. Noooo! Don't eat that--it's bad for you!
      2. Filing an income-tax return.
        1. Noooo, don't file that! The IRS will audit you!

  3. If we see a ghost at one location, why don't we see them everywhere?
    1. Ghosts don't obey the laws of physics.
      1. So they're not restricted to space and time.
    2. The place haunted is "special" due to a traumatic event.
      1. Traumatic is determined by the person going through it.
        1. Yet there are no ghosts haunting street corners or intersections.
    3. The place is haunted due to "special" geophysical forces.
      1. Even with a restricted combination of these "special" forces, we're looking at thousands of potential locations scattered across the globe.
        1. So we could go ghost-hunting with Google Earth.
        2. And all these "special" locations are conveniently on dry land.
            (I don't include the Devil's Triangle 'cause that's aliens, not ghosts.)
      2. If these combined "special" forces are geo-magnetic, then re-creating them in a lab will produce ghosts.
        1. We could go from bench-top to full-scale industrial ghost production.

  4. So we can conclude these basic Ghost Guidelines for the future:
    1. People do not return from the dead.
    2. Ghosts have no reason to come back.
    3. Ghosts are not everywhere thus they are nowhere.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hero = Zero

Do you honestly mean to suggest some creeped-out bigoted old man who takes a rifle and shoots up a museum and kills a security guard is some kind of cultural hero?

Are conservatives that desperate for an icon?

Seriously, we're going to open up school textbooks 50 years from now and he's going to be described as some avenging vigilante of justice? At a museum doing him absolutely no harm whatsoever? Killing a security guard who mean't nothing to him?

He is touted as a victim of the Obama administration who finally snapped. Never mind his impoverishment was the result of policies formulated during 12 years of Republican control of Congress. He is now an icon, and icons generate myths.

Yes, we grasp at a thistle of truth and it's nettles pierce our skin with consequences. The Holocaust happened. It must not happen again. Yes, there are those who seek power who deny it happened. So we know them for the moral cowards they are.

In a huge archive in Berlin are countless files and paperwork. We have the names, we have the dates, we have the places and often we have the faces as well. The horrors are better documented than our own Civil War. And that is something we must ensure never happens again either.

Wireless Danse Macarbe

Isn't it a shame about Rush Limbaugh? His slow descent into madness is sadly the stuff of advertising revenue and commercial exploitation. I would be outraged over what he says, but clearly he's no longer responsible for his words or actions.

We all froth with outrage and stinging rebuttals for his deluded fantasies; but seriously folks, it's not worth it. All he has to offer is hate--hatred and fear.

In some ways I could even pity him, surround by sycophants and cads who reaffirm his delusions so he will keep saying them and advertising money will flow into their coffers. They high-five him after each show and say, "Great work, Rush--you sure told them!" But in their minds they think only of him as ratings gold, the ass who will bray at each goad.

We are witnessing not just the death of newspapers but also the demise of radio. The brain is dead, but the dinosaur carcass doesn't know it yet, as it flops and writhes while slowly expiring.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And Just What is This Supposed to Accomplish?

So some good Christian burns a working business and puts several people out of work just because they were showing too much skin. I think this qualifies as petty and vindictive.

Maine Topless Coffee Shop Destroyed By Arson Fire

I wouldn't be surprised if the reason it was burned by some infantile vigilante was because the town council was reluctant to shut the place down due to it's bringing so much tourist money to the town.

"The state fire marshal's office concluded it was arson after investigators, aided by a specially trained dog, sifted through the shop's ruins. Officials would not say how or where the fire started, but said evidence was taken to the state police crime lab for analysis."

How it should read:
"The state fire marshal's office concluded it was domestic terrorism after investigators, aided by a specially trained dog, sifted through the shop's ruins. Officials would not say how or where the fire started, but said evidence was taken to the state police crime lab for analysis."

What's next? Shooting the town's doctors?

Culture War? What Culture War? The only people shooting guns, detonating bombs and burning places down are the Christians.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Rush of Time

In re-reading my past entries I see I seem cranky--even surly. Not surprising, considering I was writing aobut things that help raise my blood pressure.

Thank the gods for influences like music, music that helps remind me of what it means to be human, to live in the midst of the great upwelling of humanity and the cultural revolution that is the Internet.

The past 50 years have been like a rushing wind, filled with images and sensations of our world steadily--yet slowly--improving. Should we limit our vision to just the past few days--focus only on the here and now--then indeed all seems a hopeless mess. Yet it seemed like a hopeless mess in '68 (it seemed like a terrible mess in '69). Yet The Bomb is gone and The Wall is gone and the Internet is helping to make Democracy a real thing.

Take pictures. Make videos. Keep blogs. Twitter. The Good Ol' Days are here and now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

E-Book Readers Sweat

Oh, this is too rare. By the end of the year (2009) all those fancy, high-priced e-Book Readers are going to be obsolete.

Snapdragon-powered Smartbooks: in case your smartphone / netbook ain't cutting it

Why buy a 400+ USD Kindle when you can buy a 100-200 USD Smartbook? And with a Linux-based OS, these smartbooks from out of the box will be able to handle most of the common formats both text and video--plus act as Internet terminals.

On the minus side, however, this is how we will finally get the "$100 Netbook" we've been eternally promised. Oh well--bones with the mutton.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, It Gets Worse

As I feared--and dreaded--poorly supervised American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib detention center did more than humiliate and torture.

Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape'

I wondered why Obama suddenly reversed himself. All they had to do was show him the photos and he knew this would endanger the soldiers who still possess their ethics and integrity. As a veteran myself, I know releasing these photos would severely damage morale amongst our soldiers.

There are over 400 of these incriminating images. I shudder to think of what else they may contain. And conservatives want to call these criminals in uniform heroes?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"California's top court upholds Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage"

Oh great. The California version of don't-ask-don't-tell.

A big lesson from Thomas Paine: When a mechanism for oppression is in place, it will be used.

Here is the nightmare our loving fundies have opened the door to:

Original Text:
"Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California?"

Now that it's written into the state Constitution, just a few tweaks would be needed in the future:

Nightmare 1:
"Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex and non-white couples to marry providing that only marriage between a white man and a woman is valid or recognized in California?"

Nightmare 2:
"Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex and and non-Christian couples to marry providing that only marriage between a Christian man and a Christian woman is valid or recognized in California?"

Oh, you think this won't happen? Why not? We've already trashed the Bill of Rights through this legislation. By removing a civil right for one group of people that civil right is gone.

Now it's just a matter of wording, that's all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What is Known and What We're Told

"The Labor Department tabulates six different unemployment figures each month, ranked U1 to U6. Their midpoint, U3, is the standard figure released to the press and reported on to anxious readers before they head to work (or don’t). The U3 indicator measures the number of jobless Americans as a percent of the labor force. It doesn’t include those who have stopped looking for work but want a job, or part-time staffers who’d prefer full-time employment. That tally is represented by U6, which hit 15.8 percent in April. Nearly one-fifth of Americans are either unemployed, underemployed or have given up."

Wired-o-Nomics: Why Is the Real Jobless Number So Elusive?

The emphasis is mine. And this doesn't include those who have dropped off the public assistance / unemployment databases. They are swallowed up in an underground economy and we have no way to measure that--except in terms of the lives ruined and/or destroyed. Those figures are lovingly cultivated by conservatives to argue we need to reduce the safety net even further for the victims of the economy they're exploited by.

Don't wonder why I'm a liberal. Liberal is the only thing that makes sense.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Eyes Wide Open"

Conservatives congratulate themselves on being smarter and more pragmatic than others, their "eyes wide open." Then with these wide-open eyes they commit the fundamental stupidity of taking away our civil rights.

It Ain't so Easy

"My father 'has an obligation to speak out,' Liz Cheney told the hosts of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Tuesday. She compared his outspoken defense of harsh interrogation techniques to Al Gore's public role since leaving office. He would much rather be fishing, she said, but he felt it was his duty to defend the Bush Administration."

Liz Cheney Defends Dad On MSNBC (VIDEO)

Sorry dear, but it's not OK just cause Daddy says so. Daddy didn't have the authority to authorize torture for interrogation and never did. Per the Constitution, no one did--but Daddy's fishing buddies never played by the rules, regarded such rules as for us wimpy citizens only and considered themselves above the Law.

I'm sorry to break it to you this way, but that's why we have the Constitution, that's why we have these rules. We can't live in a society where it's all OK 'cause Daddy said so. For if we did, I assure you, the results would be very, very bad.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wish In One Hand...

Let's look at this again:

You want me to buy an Amazon Kindle e-book reader for USD 489...

When I can buy an Acer mini-laptop (about the same size) for USD 289 that will read almost any text format, bit-torrent download e-books for nothing, play videos, access the internet, email, chat and so on and so on...

What customer surveys are these people reading?

The New Ruth

I look at this and I can see in my mind's eye all the Christian magazines with Ms. Cargill on the front cover as "Woman of the Year."

Cargill: The universe isn't expanding.

No, of course we're not talking about religion.

Stars, moving away from us, redshift. Always. Always.

I recall a t-shirt that read: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stuck Record

So we have high-priced laptops aimed at power-users; we're coming out with high-priced netbooks aimed at power-users. And now we have a new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, supposedly more powerful than Google as a relational search engine--but intended for use by academics and professionals.

And the gulf of the Digital Divide grows ever wider and deeper...

Monday, April 20, 2009

ID and Critical Thinking

A false Premise will not lead to a true Conclusion.

You know, if I was a proponent of Intelligent Design ("ID"), I would not take the stance, We need to teach ID in the classes so the students will learn critical thinking. Because I would not want critical thinking within a 100 yards of ID.

Take, for example, the Earth is 6000 years old. A calculation arrived at by an Irish bishop who assigned an arbitrary number of years to each generation or "begat" in the Bible and used that to calculate the Earth was 6000 years old.

(Archbishop Ussher in 1650 in his book, Annals of the Old Testament.)

That is NOT scientific in any shape, way or form. That is not even good critical thinking. All this bishop did was speculate - that's all he really did.

Any decent high-school debate team would be able to take the proposition, "The Earth is 6000 Years Old," and rip it to shreds. It is logically indefensible. And that means the bishop was doing nothing more than speculating. And yet that is presented to us as rock-hard fact.

Compared to THIS, any inconsistencies in Evolution pales to insignificance.

Gensis in the Classroom


So picture this:

SCENE: It's a high-school classroom-- could be in Texas, could be in Ohio, or any place the fundies forced ID on the student body--and it's first-year Biology. Teacher walks in:

ap Morgen: OK, class, listen up. Stevens! Put the DS1 away! Our subject today is Intelligent Design.

Class groans.

Vicki: Creation again? We've heard that so many times.

Vince: Yeah, every sunday school!

Stu: C'mon, Teach--isn't that a myth anyway? I thought we were doing science?

ap Morgen: According to the school board ID is a valid scientific theory.

Kathy: Since when? If it's science, why do the fundies in the school board have to cram it down our throats?

Stevens: I mean, what's the deal? God played with some mud and BOOM! we're here? I didn't believe that even when I was a kid.

Clark: I know! Let's do a class experiment with some clay and see if we can make a human.


Stu: Hey, Walker! You were telling us about some website that had biblical Hebrew and something about the "mist" in Genesis was actually "semen"?

Walker, hiding his face behind his text book, turns beet red.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

Here is an excellent lecture on evangelists and the far-right and their efforts to reshape America--and the threats to all our civil liberties.

Chris Hedges: Who Are the American Fascists?

For those wondering what is going on about Xtian Reconstructionism and why there is so much concern this lecture provides an informative overview of this political movement and it's irrational goals.

I've often wondered at the extreme reaction of the far right to Obama's upset election by a large majority and the conservative hysteria afterwards. Now I see it's the nut jobs believing how evil (literally) has triumphed over good.

Masterful Summary

This is taken directly from the Swift Forum at

Why Evolution is True.

But the ending quote from Jerry Coyne's book is such a masterful summary of evolution's validity I had to include it here:

"Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. Despite innumerable possible explanations that could prove evolution untrue, we don't have a single one. We don't find mammals in Precambrian rocks, humans in the same layers as dinosaurs, or any other fossils out of evolutionary order. DNA sequencing supports the evolutionary relationships of species originally deduced from the fossil record. And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptations that benefit only a different species. We do find dead genes and vestigial organs, incomprehensible under the idea of special creation. Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right. That is as close as we can get to a scientific fact." --Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne pp. 222-223.

A Shred of Decency

I can't help but wonder about the many people in America who are "conservative" in outlook, who do what they can everyday to make their world a better place, to help others, to improve our society and enrich our culture--and who facepalm everytime Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich or Ann Coulter appear as a talking head and groan, "Oh, god, not again!" Can you imagine being saddled with such cretins? Everytime they try to propose fiscal responsibility, up pops Rush Limbaugh? Or when debating educational reform there arises from the crypt Newt Gingrich? Or examining the value of social services Ann Coulter fouls the well? It may be the real danger of these neo-con icons is not regression but paralysis. Stagnation.

The Time Machines of the Right

As the ultra-conservatives flounder and flail, a disturbing trend emerges: Having failed to convince the American people their social maladjustment is normal and patriotic, they now regress to rewriting history. Since our education system has been in trouble for some time, many people in their 20's and 30's have a poor knowledge of history and can't make informed decisions about this. Is this true of most journalists as well?

Media Bi-assed

Can we please stop arguing whether the media is liberal or conservative? The media is corporate, with all that entails. Whatever raises the bottom line.

Arguing media bias is like arguing whether they're going to stab us in the back with the left hand or the right. We've become blasé over the fact we're being stabbed in the back.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poor Editing?

I always had the impression news editing had to be clear and concise; to use the fewest words possible. Then I ran across this news blurb in Yahoo:

"AP - President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for harsh, painful interrogation of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods."

Tsk, tsk. Using several adjectives where only one is needed. Let me clear this up for them:

"AP - President Barack Obama absolved CIA officers from prosecution for torture of terror suspects Thursday, even as his administration released Bush-era memos graphically detailing — and authorizing — such grim tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods."

There. After all, torture is just a word--isn't it?