November 6, 2012
Politics, religion, and sex are the three most taboo topics in the world. That might explain some of the weird searches people use to get to this site…
I’d be lying if I said I felt really terrible for not posting as much the last two months, but the truth is that the website has really take its toll on me. Yes, it kept me writing. Yes, it’s been a blast hearing from all my readers, your wonderful comments on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, everywhere. At the same time, it’s exhausting. The research, the cross-checking, everything.
I was in Washington during the last presidential election. I remember receiving the first batch of “Obama is from Kenya” emails at the office. I remember walking into the chief of staff’s office and asking if he’d seen this. The “WTF” look on his face as he realized these people were serious is something I’ll never forget. I asked, half-in-jest, if it was acceptable to write an email to send back to these concerned citizens and call them the frakin’ morons they rightfully should be called.
I was told to be as polite as possible. And I was.
But I never forgot how I had to sit there and write a letter that was the equivalent of telling a charging rhino to sit. The whole time, I just sat there and thought of what I really wanted and needed to say:
I’m sorry, I agree that you have concerns, but I can’t really say that you’re the biggest fucking idiot I’ve ever met since my job depends upon my boss making everyone happy at the expense of not showing any spine or actual conviction. However, I understand you like to believe reality is a big conspiracy against you and the scary black man is going to take away Jesus and apple pie, and while such a scenario is about as likely as me gaining the powers of the Q Continuum just because I’m bored, I have to hold your hand and tell you that you’re right. Why? Because while liberals may have mistakenly latched on to the idea of relativism, the Right took it even further and declared that reality itself is so subjective that tangible, verifiable facts do not matter if you believe strongly enough. They believe that they can change reality by simply stating a bald-faced lie. Sure, I’ve been working in this office for only a few months, but even I know that both sides stretch the truth, exaggerate, and so on. However, I would present to you the following analogy.
Both of us are asked how to better move a couch up the stairs. My side suggests getting a bunch of people together to lift it, move it over the railings, and getting a few people inside to maneuver it through the door. Unwieldy, sure, and perhaps inefficient, but at least it worked. Your solution? Empty a gun into the sofa and hope God pulls it up.
I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be tactful, right? Positive? Okay.
Dear sir and/or madam, I am quite positive you have a massive learning disability, possibly self-inflicted from years of watching Fox and listening to Limbaugh. But just because you’re offended, you’re not right. Just because ten thousand people say it, it doesn’t make it true. Dismissing science, logic, and maturity does not make you quaint and homey. It makes you a child.
But I’ll be nice to you. Because it’s mean to be mean to children. Unless they’re idiots and refuse to learn from their mistakes. You know what? Forget it. You’re an idiot.
I’m pretty sure that was the moment I decided to try to reach out and educate people, maybe get a discussion going. I know some people will never be swayed by facts and experience, but I’m thankful for the things I’ve taught and for the things I myself have learned.
But frankly, the last year has been exhausting. I’ll be glad when the election is over. I’ll be more glad when I can finally tell myself I’ve edited Charcoal Streets as much as it’s going to get edited.
Good night. See you tomorrow, and remember…
Stories don’t tell children dragons exist. Stories tell children the dragon can be beaten.
July 25, 2012
The shootings in Aurora, Colorado have once again brought up the debate about gun control, and once again, the Right is shrieking that it’s being persecuted all because someone used the laws they passed and killed a dozen people.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first.
I am pro-second Amendment. I believe it’s a good idea to be able to own guns. I understand hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage and can exist without animosity or hate towards others. However, I also have the capacity for critical thinking.
And the NRA and pro-gun lobby are dangerously wrong on a lot of points. And poor me, all I have is documented evidence instead of calls to fear and persecution.
“If there had been another person there with a gun, this could have been stopped!”
Really? Holmes was wearing ballistic armor (which you can apparently just buy online) and had thousands of rounds at his disposal. Unless the other person inside the theater was a crack shot and managed to shoot an area without protection, handguns would have been near-useless. Assault weapons might have done the trick, but then you’d be advocating we should be allowed to bring rifles into places like movie theaters.
The idea that some lone hero could stop these tragedies lies with our romantic notion of the lone gunslinger, the brave soul who steps up and solves the problem before it starts.
Consider this. Katie Pavlich was in a church when an armed assailant went in with the intent to kill. She put him down before he initiated a massacre. Sounds like a great argument for being able to own guns and take them anywhere, right? One problem, though. Pavlich was an armed security guard hired by the church. Yes, a gun stopped the massacre, but that’s because she and her team knew who was and wasn’t supposed to have a firearm inside. Plus, they were on watch. In the middle of a chaotic shooting, if more than one person is firing, how are bystanders going to know who to shoot at?
Also, remember that human reaction time is roughly a third of a second, but if everyone had a gun, this might offset that sort of delay, right?
A few years ago, an armed assailant got the jump on four police officers. Who were armed. And MAYBE managed to hit him once before he ran off. You can only react so fast. You’d have to be actively looking for trouble, but even then, having more guns on the scene is not a good thing.
During the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last year, multiple civilians had firearms on the scene. It didn’t stop the shooter, and one of the supposed heroes almost got shot himself. Joe Zamudio rushed someone else that had already disarmed the shooter… and nearly killed the wrong man. By Zamudio’s own admission, it was a stroke of pure luck that kept him from executing an innocent bystander. A lot of people made a big deal that Zamudio had a gun and he helped stop the shooter. True, he did, but he didn’t use his gun. The gun had no direct impact on his actions. In fact, the gun just made him more confident he would be safe and he wasn’t shot at. In the end, it wasn’t the firearms that helped stop the shooter. It was sheer guts and courage. The gun almost resulted in MORE death.
Let me put it another way. This is a loaded example, but follow me on this. When we developed nuclear weapons, we didn’t say that every country should have them. We still don’t think some countries should even THINK of developing them. We didn’t go out and give everyone the plans to make sure we could police each other. I don’t think ANYONE thinks giving North Korea or Iran is the best way to make sure we’re safe. A nuclear weapon is designed to kill. A gun is designed to kill. I don’t see a huge difference in why we want to limit one but not the other.
“Banning guns will just keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.”
First of all, I’m not saying we should ban guns. I’d just like to know that people with guns are not convicted felons. Take cars, for example. In order to drive, you have take a test, show you are capable of maneuvering a ton of steel of flammable fuel, and get insurance and registration in case anything should happen. Last year, we had 32,000 automotive fatalities in this country. Compare that to roughly the same number of gun-related deaths in the same time period. How much lower could that second number be if we actually forced people to receive proper training and get licensed?
When people died in car accidents, someone realized we could build a strap to help keep people from flying out the window. Then someone came up with the air bag. Then someone thought about including crumple zones and all manner of technology. Now, we can’t legally text and drive. With cars, we’ve made the machine safer and instituted penalties for reckless usage.
It’s not like we say we need more drivers on the road to corral bad drivers if they get out of hand. We don’t ask soccer moms in SUVs to push drink drivers to the side of the road. Why are we asking everyone else to be cowboys when it comes to guns?
“We need to trust our citizenry to get trained and be responsible. It’s up to the individual to make these choices.”
The right to own a gun is not the same as magically acquiring responsibility, much like turning 21 doesn’t automatically mean you know how to drink responsibly. It’s the reason we don’t allow things like drunk driving and go after drunk drivers HARD. We’ve shown time and time again that left to their own choices, people are outright stupid. I’m not advocating government control of our lives. I don’t think Big Brother should be monitoring our love lives, our search history, or whether or not we just mouth the pledge of allegiance. I don’t think the government should have a hand in every business…
But I also think we need monitoring and regulatory agencies to make sure companies don’t dump poisons into the air and water and pay fair wages while not abusing employees.
There’s a reason we enacted these laws, and yet when it comes to technology that allows one person to shoot one hundred people in a crowded theater, we don’t bat an eyelid. We just say, “Oh, the people who were shot should have brought guns too.”
“Americans don’t want more gun control!”
Yes, America wants more gun control and restrictions. The NRA is the one that wields a megaphone, but being loud and being right are not the same thing. This isn’t an appeal to the masses, either. If the question comes down to a vote, the majority wins and we get more gun control.
“Even if we change the laws, we can’t round up all the guns out there. It would be impossible.”
There are a lot of guns out there. There are people who have purchased extended magazines for pistols. There are people that bought assault weapons. There are collectors who have a dozen or more guns in their homes. They bought all these things legally.
Changing the law won’t mean they have to give them back if we word this right. The easiest thing would be to outlaw the sale of certain magazines and weapons after a certain date. Those bought before that date would still be legal, but perhaps restricted. Possibly transporting them or re-selling them would be an issue, but the point is to not keep making the same mistake just because we can’t undo the past.
This is like saying, “Well, we can’t pay back all these people for slavery, so why get rid of slavery?”
Small changes add up.
“Gun control is not the issue. We need to address drug regulation/ fear/ mental health/ etc.”
Banning certain types of firearms or making it difficult for someone to stock up on 6,000 rounds of ammo and enough guns to take on a Terminator may not stop the whackos, the lunatics, the crazies, and the criminals from finding them through less legal means… but it will certainly stop other, less-determined idiots.
Yes, we should address the root causes of this violence, but in the meantime, we can make it harder for one lunatic to wipe out a room full of people in ten seconds. It’s like saying we shouldn’t focus on AIDS treatments since we should be looking for a cure.
“The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. How dare we interfere with this fundamental right?”
Because, as we all know, the US Constitution is unchangeable and sacrosanct… except for all the changes we’ve made over the years.
I’m always dumbstruck by people who fall back on the argument that the Founders did this and the Constitution says this so it must be right. Why? What made the Founders these pillars of wisdom and common sense? They had some wonderful ideas, but they were a very diverse lot. Some wanted more state’s rights. Others thought the federal government should have final control over the states. Others thought only white men should vote.
Looking back at the fact that Americans in the 1770’s could own flintlocks and using that as the basis for allowing every citizen to buy assault weapons, extended magazines, or who knows what else misses the point. We’re all adults. We can ask if freedom of expression should protect people who yell “Fire” in a crowded theater.
That means we can also ask if we should allow everyday citizens to purchase weapons that can empty a thirty-plus round magazine in two seconds. I seriously doubt deer have equivalent firepower.
And, on another, note, people like the gentleman in this article that says he would feel naked without his ammo and guns scare me. They’re basically saying that they feel wrong about something, so it must be true. That’s not an argument. That’s an opinion. Give me facts, damn it!
Look, Obama is not coming for our guns. The United Nations is not going to ban firearms. Hunting will still be allowed. I and people like me want background checks. We want a red flag to go up whenever someone buys thousands of rounds of ammo. At the very least, we’d like to know the people who purchase and own a handgun are competent, well-trained individuals who can be punished for misusing their newfound power.
In the end, though, this debate comes down to fear. The NRA and extreme gun-nuts are afraid they won’t have their dick-extenders to hold on to while they watch Fox.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say that out loud?
July 10, 2012
Someone recently told me that by pointing out all the things Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, and others like them do and say and by showing how the contradict themselves, I’m actually feeding into the problem of a biased media. The media, this person said, was extremely liberal and I was ignoring the skewed reports and lies of the left, thereby getting nowhere.
I’m calling bullshit.
Let’s get one thing straight first. The idea of the “liberal media” is just plain wrong. Ask yourself this. How much favorable press has Obama gotten in the last few years? I mean, really good press. How did the press cover the drone strikes? Has Obama really gotten to slide on policy blunders or has he been hammered? What about the Occupy protests? That one’s closer to fifty-fifty, but they didn’t get the kind of fanfare you’d expect from a truly liberal, BIASED media.
The truth is that everyone has a bias. The whole deal with Fox News, their “Fair and Balanced” slogan, is a joke and a lie. The idea of a perfectly balanced story hinges on the idea that both sides of the story are equal. Creationism and science are not on equal footing. Radical right-wing groups don’t have the same kind of point as groups like the Southern Poverty Center or the ACLU. Fox’s years of lying and misleading and giving a voice to the most radical conservative and regressive elements in this country in the name of money are NOT equal to whatever bias the left may have perpetrated.
Think of it this way. Fox has a long history of sexism and misogyny. Limbaugh routinely goes on the air and speaks of women like one would speak of a yapping dog. The Left comes out and says that Romney’s wife doesn’t understand the plight of the middle class because she’s raising children while married to a multimillionaire… and suddenly the left attacked for supposedly attacking a mother.
Things are NOT equal. Yes, the left has its demagogues. As much as I enjoyed listening to Olbermann, for example, he’s not exactly level-headed sometimes… But I dare you to find anything Olbermann has said that is as inflammatory or misleading as anything in the average one-hour block on Fox.
The idea of a liberal media is a myth. The Left is constantly pointing out all the lies of the Right. The Right, one the other hand, can only whine that they’re being called out for being wrong and take this to mean everyone is to blame.
“Fair and Balanced” is a myth. Liberal media is a myth. I go after these clowns because they’re doing real damage to this country. They promoted the Tea Party. They’re influencing policy. Large sections of the population listen and believe them.
Can you say an Olbermann rant or a Maddow segment has done the same thing?
And now, while you ponder these things, please enjoy the ONLY adaptation of his work Alan Moore has gone on record as saying he not only approves, but enjoys.
February 8, 2012
This whole YouTube vlog has really opened a lot of avenues of critique and condemnation. I’ll admit I was nervous. People are more active in places like YouTube that, say, a blog like this. More people are willing to comment and criticize a vlog than a blog. That being said, I got a chance to engage in one of my favorite pastimes.
The troll is a skittish creature. It jumps into a comments thread and leaves a badly-spelled jumble of words that should probably be an argument to what you’ve just written or said. The traditional strategy for dealing with trolls is to ignore them. Feeding a troll is like giving food to a stray animal. That animal will stay and love you. In this case, the troll has found a new source of food and you are its unwilling vending machine.
Of course, I feed the trolls. I leave little morsels of comments for them. I let them have a taste.
Then I poison them and burn their bodies behind the shed. Sort of.
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The recent video on Sarah Walls got a lot of attention, but a percentage of the comments on the video were by people who comically missed the point of calling out a racist for being a racist. They insisted she was right. They brought out things like their own dislike of Mexicans, how being a Navy veteran meant you could not be dumb, and how Mexicans are the real racists because they refuse to admit they come from a culture of violence and rape.
And no, none of those are exaggerations.
I answer back. I ask questions. I poke holes in their theories. After all, THIS little ol’ Mexican-American never killed or raped anyone and, as far as I can tell, is eloquent and can string together a coherent, logical argument. Faced with this and other facts, a troll will usually try and justify his or her prejudice and previous observations. This backs them into a corner. They get defensive. At this point, the troll will do one of two things.
It will end the conversation (sometimes launching one last volley of self-righteous anger), or it will launch into a full-blown attack.
Either one is a good thing. If it leaves, game over, but you had the last word. It if attacks, it shows its weakness. It exposes its hatreds and prejudice. The angrier it gets, the more it shows what it really thinks. It’s your job, though, to keep a level head. Maintain composure. Don’t give in to the hatred.
Focus it. Like a laser. Powered out of spite. That targets the idiot.
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I enjoy answering trolls. I’ve got three heads on my wall from the last three days. One admitted he was racist but claimed he had a good reason. Another insisted he couldn’t have an intelligent conversation with someone unless his opponent could speak English because Mexicans can’t think critically. The third basically said I was racist for pointing out a racist critique.
I do this for two reasons. Bursting people’s racist world-view and exposing them for the angry, ignorant pricks that they are brings me infinite joy. I can’t stand someone trying to justify prejudice, no matter how good their “rationale” may be. For anyone who stands by and lets this happen in the real world, there’s one more bigot who gets away with demeaning entire cultures. Secondly, it’s good practice. Even though, as the saying goes, you should never argue with idiots because they will take you to their level, it’s good practice for my teaching job. Every class, there is at least one person who wants to try and make a point and relies solely on hearsay and bad evidence. Quickly pointing out the holes in arguments like this keeps me sharp.
Besides, do you honestly think I’m going to let some closeted bigot get away with insulting my friends and family and try to justify it with “science?”
Oh. Hell. No.
That being said, I’m going to wash away those thoughts with a beatboxing baby.
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October 8, 2011
If there’s one thing I hate as much as I hate sloppy or lazy writing, it’s the inability of some people to grasp BASIC science. Things like the definition of “theory” or the scientific method, for example, are not so difficult that you need a doctorate to understand. We teach them to kids, so they’re obviously simple enough, right?
Enter Robert Bryce, a man who can’t seem to tell the difference between experiments and the gum he stepped on.
He wrote an article for the New York Times where he attacked green initiatives, clean energy, and environmentalism. He went so far as to say that, even if we knew carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases were harmful (they are), what can we do? We’re making more and more useful energy-draining devices. Emissions are down. What else are we supposed to do?
Past all the willing blindness to reality, however, is this little gem of a sentence. See if you can spot where Bryce shows us he’s replaced his brain with assorted change and dull spoon.
The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.
What exactly are neutrinos, anyway? They’re an elementary subatomic particle like neutrons and electrons. However, neutrinos have no electrical charge and are only affected by the weak sub-atomic force. They’re also TINY. If an electron is the mass of a battleship, a neutrino is the size of an apple. This means neutrinos can pass through ordinary matter and we would never know unless we’d developed EXTREMELY sensitive equipment to verify theoretical models. In fact, that’s why, as you read this, you’re getting hit with something around one quadrillion neutrinos emanating from the sun. And no, that’s not a typo. That’s a 1 with 15 zeroes after it.
As for traveling faster than light, that’s a bold claim. Nothing can accelerate past the light barrier, but some scientists think matter might exist on the other side. These little darlings are called tachyons and do not violate Einstein’s theory because they did not ACCELERATE past light. They already started on the other side. It gets into really funky science after that, but the point is that the numbers on paper say tachyons MIGHT exist.
Did CERN find neutrinos traveling faster than light? Well, it’s doubtful.
But let’s go back to Bryce for a moment. He says that scientists reported on an anomaly that may show regular matter traveling faster than light. This, he says, means we should question climate science as well, right? If we can question Einstein of all people, we can question Al Gore and his silly little movie, right?
Well, yeah, he’s right. Except he forgot the second and third parts of his logical argument.
We can question Einstein and we can question climate science. Questioning something, however, does not equate into proof that runs counter to what the established theories state. In other words, if I went out and I said I ran an experiment in my own home to see if carbon dioxide causes warming and it showed the gas did nothing, that would not b e evidence climate change is not real. That experiment would be dissected by the scientific community and I would have to show how my new data explains the currently observed behavior or greenhouse gases.
And here’s the kicker. Just because we have a debate, it does not mean there is a legitimate second point of view. When creationists try to claim that their point of view is legitimate because not everyone believes in evolution and people question Darwin, it does not mean the creationists are right. You have to show verifiable data. And do you know what happens to all that “data” creationists put in to defend their views?
It gets put through the scientific peer review process and is usually found to be lacking, a fluke, or fabricated.
Likewise, the claim that neutrinos traveled faster than light is being looked at by other scientists. It may turn out to be that equipment was faulty or someone forgot to carry the one. If it can be repeated, then we have to look at the underlying theory.
You can question climate science, Bryce, but that doesn’t mean you have a point. It just means you flunked middle-school science. Oh, and fifty points to anyone who tells me the joke in the title.
And now, here’s a short documentary of the Aperture. They build the future so we don’t have to.
September 28, 2011
Compassion is perhaps one of the greatest characteristics anyone can have. It’s what helps us build communities beyond our family. Compassion allows us to empathize with others, to see past our own greed and self-interest, and give help to those who need it.
As you can imagine, the Republican Party wants none of that.
And I’m not talking in hyperbole. Republicans genuinely believe that compassion for others is a sign of weakness. For a party that is so entrenched in American religious demographics, they have a funny way of showing it. In Texas, one of the most red states in the union, we’ve done away with last meals for death row inmates. Why? At first, it seemed as if it was a cost issue. After all, the last straw seemed to be an outlandish meal served to a man convicted of a hate killing.
Of course, the rationale had nothing to do with cost. It was about principle, said Texas Senator John Whitmore. I’ll admit that giving this particular inmate any sort of accommodation irks me, but there is enough uncertainty in the practice of executing prisoners that the smallest bit of compassion should be ruled out. Enough people have been found innocent at the last minute. Texas has executed prisoners and is proud of it. Our own governor got cheers when he said he never loses sleep over an execution.
And people wonder why we didn’t actually put our state motto on the license plates.
It’s “Friendship,” by the way, but good luck actually finding a Texan that knows that.
On the other side of things, Republicans seem positively giddy at the prospect of people dying from a lack of heath care. Ron Paul received cheers when Brain Williams asked if people should be allowed to die simply because they cannot afford insurance. The audience cheered and Paul didn’t give an answer so much as he went on and on about not giving people aid is the most compassionate thing we could do.
Let that sink in. Not offering aid to people, doing things like taking away social security, Medicare, and Medicaid so the poor and elderly die on the streets, is the best thing we could do for them, because letting them die like dogs lets them live the full extent of the choices they made regardless of external factors.
But then, of course, you have Rush Limbaugh. The man is an institution. Or he has enough mass for orbiting satellites. Either way, he takes the cake. Listen to this:
If you skipped it because you were afraid the sound of Limbaugh’s voice might curdle all the milk within two hundred feet of you, he flat-out said that compassion has crippled us as a society. Then he went into full projection mode and claimed Democrats want an ignorant, poor society, ignoring the fact that progressives often champion things such as more education.
Seriously, though, if you can, just listen to this man. Compassion hurts us because we give to those who have nothing and make them dependant. I’m sure Rush would also argue against life guards since helping someone who is drowning robs the victim of the chance to really learn how to swim.
There are times when it is appropriate to show compassion. Being humble, knowing that we might be wrong, is what keeps us grounded. Allowing someone to die when we can, as a society, help that person is cold. It may seem “rational” to give everyone the freedom to die if they lack the thousands of dollars it takes to treat a disease, but it’s not freedom. “Compassion” is not a weakness. It’s what seperates us from animals that just hang around for the sake of survival.
And even though I don’t know if this guy is a Republican, I’m just going to thrown him in with the rest of these evolutionary throwbacks. Why? He explains why traders actually look forward to the economy collapsing and how they don’t want a balanced economy; they want chaos to make more money.
September 19, 2011
I’m officially designating Michelle Bachmann Target Alpha and Perry Target Bravo. Perry has said and done some truly horrific things, but it’s the nature of Bachmann’s insane rants that wins her this week’s coveted Head Up Your Own Ass for the Warmth Award. And who doesn’t want to win the coveted HUYOAW Award?
On top of claiming that global climate change is not real because carbon dioxide is natural, Bachmann has gone ahead and claimed that HPV immunizations cause mental retardation. Which means that, if she’s right, she and Palin and everyone who follows them has already been injected.
What is the proof? Where is the study and years of data that show that mental faculties sharply drop after receiving this vital immunization?
Well, it’s like this. Someone just told Bachmann.
No, really. According to Bachmann, some woman approached her after an event and said her daughter had been given the vaccine and became mentally retarded as a result. Did Bachmann present numbers? Do research? Consult her staff?
Actually, that last one’s kind of funny. According to her former chief of staff, Bachmann doesn’t actually consult with her staff before she says something. She writes her own speeches, something I can tell you requires a full job position. Even better, while she does read a lot, she seemingly glosses over a lot of information. Basically, Bachmann hears something and fits it with her preconceptions and whatever works.
I don’t doubt that some vaccines have adverse effects. However, the CDC reported that out of 35 million HPC vaccines handed out to women all over the country, there were 18,727 adverse effects. Ninety-two percent of these effects were not-threatening. That means that only about 1,500 patients had severe effects. And out of those patients with serious side-effects, it’s the same percentage of people in non-vaccinated groups that would have suffered the same effects so…
There is nothing to link the vaccine to any of these symptoms.
Are vaccinations dangerous? No more so than being afraid of seatbelts because you’re afraid you might break your collarbone if you crash. Parents have every right to dictate how they raise their children, but they become irresponsible when they deny said children potentially life-saving treatments on the off-chance a currently unknown disease or symptom crops up. Vaccines have helped wipe out diseases or push them to the brink of extinction.
A does not follow B all the time. If you give a baby a vaccination and said baby develops autism, it’s not necessarily the vaccine’s fault. Said kid could have already had the disease. Or had Sarah Palin for a mother, in which case the kid has a whole other set of problems.
Bachmann has said a lot of really stupid things, but this is the first time, I think, she could genuinely cost lives. She’s an idiot, and I bet good money it didn’t take a shot to do that to her.
August 18, 2011
Ever get the feeling that life is just too stiming with all its rules, regulations, and silly things like social norms and boundaries? Hey, if you’re filthy rich and want to start over, why not pitch in and start your own country out at sea?
That’s just what an intrepid group of libertarians are doing. They’re going to set up artificial islands and start new societies outside of the reach of other nations. Basically, these places will have all but the most basic laws, regulations, and even then, it sounds like they’ll be free to build, do, and conduct themselves however they want.
For my part, I’m going to just wait for the first pig head on a stick to appear.
It’s not that I don’t think humans can function without rules and regulations. It’s that those rules and regulations are there to keep the people who would abuse the system in check. Minimum wage? That kept me fed for several years. Gun laws? They keep the nut down the street from saving up and buying an M60 to put on his roof. Building and health codes? They make it so that people have to make sure offices and homes won’t catch on fire and our food isn’t filled with yummy lead.
But, I can hear the libertarians say, people are smart enough to not sell products that kill, build buildings that won’t collapse, and buy guns responsibly.
Really? Is that why so many Right-wingers and libertarians want these rules taken away? Because they think they’re redundant? I got news for you. Libertarians want these rules taken away because THEY DON’T WANT TO FOLLOW THEM.
Things like minimum wage and health codes are things that lower the bottom line. Business cares about profit. I wouldn’t be surprised if these islands collapse under the weight of human greed and self-centeredness within six months.
The idea, though, did make me ask myself what I would do if I was given a small island to make civilization. I think I’ve narrowed down my list of rules to a few choice rules.
- All people are free to worship or not worship as they see fit. They do not, however, have the right to use their religious views as facts and must still base all arguments on things other people can verify.
- Any performer that lip-synchs or auto-tunes during a concert will have to refund every ticket. And no, you can’t just put a disclaimer on the ticket.
- There will be NO political parties.
- Librarians, teachers, and educators will be heavily sought-after and will be compensated accordingly.
- School policy will be decided by teachers and educators. Parents and politicians can stay out of the final decision.
- Students will be held responsible for their work.
- Parents will be held responsible for students once said students leave the school.
- Happy Hour will be like Siesta. Everyone gets to go out for a few hours and just relax.
- If you own a truck with aftermarket shock-absorbers so that the whole thing is fifteen feet tall, you MUST own a ranch or otherwise justify having your headlights at eye-level with everyone else.
- High-speed internet is a right.
And what about you? What rules would you institute in your little island nation? See you tomorrow!
January 7, 2010
This… this is why we need better teachers and schools. We can debate. Yes, we can. I may have an opinion vastly different from yours, but I’m willing to listen to your side of the argument, and, if you present good evidence, I’ll probably change my mind.
I’m sure that Bill O’Reilly has a bet with Beck to see who can break the most logical fallacies in one segment. Behold. The entire “Is God real?” question is about to be solved by O’Reilly at the 1:51 mark. Be prepared to be amazed.
Did you catch all that? God is real because the tides go in and out all the time, without fail, and we can’t explain it.
God is real because we have tides and we can’t explain it.
God exists because the water rises and falls and no one knows why.
I’m tempted to write it one more time just to hear how stupid that sounds. Yes, we know why the tide works, and if Bill here spent more time in science class as opposed to reading on why it’s wrong to be charitable, he’d know it’s because of the gravitational pull of the sun and moon. We’ve known this for, I don’t know. A long time? A really long time? This is basic science you learn in middle school and just because Bill doesn’t get it, he thinks God is the only explanation?
I spend a few classes in my writing courses going over logical fallacies with my students, so let me break this down in case you don’t know exactly why that statement actually makes your neurons die as you hear it.
If something is not explainable, that doesn’t mean that one explanation has to be right. For example, if a man is killed in his home and we don’t know who did it, we don’t assume it’s the neighbor just because we don’t like the neighbor. Likewise, if you are Christian, you can’t assume, “God did it,” just because you don’t understand something.
We could go on forever. I say gravity causes the tide, and Bill could say, “But where does gravity come from?”
Gravity comes from mass, Bill. Current models say that mass bends space-time, sort of how a bowling ball would warp a trampoline.
“But why does it do that? Why not bend up? This is proof of design!”
And right there is where we get into intelligent design, which is really what Bill-O is getting to. No, we don’t understand every mechanism in the universe. No, we don’t fully comprehend matter at the quantum level. No, we cannot account for the existence of sentience or explain what we would call human life as it exists…
But guess what? To say, “God did it,” makes as much sense as saying, “We live in a simulation within a giant computer,” or “The universe exists because Tork, the space bunny, demands it.”
Look, science is not your enemy. Yes, science changes its mind, but that’s because new information becomes available. Science DESCRIBES. That is it. When we see more of the tapestry of creation, we need to describe it was well, and it may show that what we knew previously is not as accurate as we described it. But that’s the nature of science. We get a more and more accurate picture each time.
Just because you can’t understand the explanation, it does not make it supernatural. Simply because you can’t grasp size and astronomy, it does not make the asteroid belt “God’s potato bar.”
Let’s forge ahead with some links, shall we?
- Ellen may just have the ultimate party in a bottle. Personally, I’m shocked it took someone so long to come up with this.
- Speaking of science gone wrong, it turns out that SHOCK! Vaccines do not cause autism. The report many have been using as proof was fraudulent. Go figure…
- The Tea Party made a big deal out of going back to the Constitution… as if we somehow forgot about it. But, lo and behold, when the Tea Party-owned Republican Party read the Constitution aloud in the new session of Congress in a costly publicity stunt… they left out certain parts. As in the three-fourths compromise. As in a section of the Constitution that shows that, while a mighty document, it is not perfect and can be made better. As in evidence that destroys their conservative arguments.
- Have you ever been so excited you forgot was was going on around you? Well, so did this kid, but at least he bounces.
- Id’ never thought of totally redesigning the keyboard for a new generation of technology like hand-held devices, but it looks like someone’s taken a crack at it.
- Ashton Kutcher apparently gets not just Demi Moore… but women Moore brings home for the two of them. Bruce Willis must want to kill the little punk.
- Think you’re cool? Maybe, but you’re not grandmother cool!
- And finally, in what I can only describe as extreme parenting, watch what happens when a kid makes claims of being a thug and a gangster online and is caught by his uncle. Someone give that man a trophy! See you Monday, and don’t forget to link back!