Saturday, December 24, 2011
This is the latest in a series of scandals to have rocked the reindeer pen at the North Pole. From Blitzen's public struggles with alcohol abuse to Prancer's admitted cocaine addiction, it seems like the days when reindeer were all about innocence during Christmas are over. All eight of the females in the original team (and this is an interesting bit of trivia: female reindeer have antlers, and all Santa's reindeer, save Rudolph, are female -- which is part of why you put him in the very front; if you put him anywhere else, there could be a problem!) have come forward with tales of personal or emotional struggles that have made a simple thing like pulling a sleigh through the air at Mach 3 seem overtly complicated. Donner, who came out of the closet as gay three years ago, and still maintaining she's in love with Dancer, who refuses to speak with her, is not bowing to pressure from the American Family Association to recant her statement. Comet, a long-time opponent of global warming, who had her paddock fall through the ice last year, is still maintaining that was due to a fluke warm-water current.
And here we thought nothing would be more annoying to Santa than Cupid being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1987.
It's hard to fault Rudolph. He's even older than Brett Favre, and has to find some way to keep going year after year. And with all the young reindeer who have been showing up with the characteristic bright, shiny nose (which is a scandal in and of itself), there seems to be no shortage of potential replacements. Word is that with Rudolph out, Santa has turned to the Russian Caribou, Alexi Akhnigoyovich, to temporarily take point on the sleigh. There should be no language barrier with the new acquisition, as Santa himself, who wears a red suit and makes lists of people who are naughty and nice, is of course as fluent in Russian as any other Marxist-Leninist.
So here's hoping the best for Santa's reindeer. Hopefully, Vixen's gonorrhea won't attract a cruise missile over Afghanistan.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
If the PolitiFact meter were put on that one, it would say, "Pants On Fire!"
Shown above, is the shroud itself. It's not as large as I would have liked, but it will do. That white rectangle in the lower left is where scientists clipped a 2" by 8" section which could be atomized for the Carbon-14 test. It's pretty obvious that this section is contiguous with the rest of the cloth. And if that's not enough, there's a PBS documentary that filmed the section being scissored out, and anyone can see bloody well that it's not a "repaired section."
But just for the sheer hell of it, let's play along. Let's say the shroud breaks with every Jewish tradition in folding the body up in a single piece of cloth (not done) folded the long way (also not done) and leaving a narrow, two-dimensional imprint pattern, as if the ultraviolet rays emitted from Jesus upon resurrection only went in a single parallel, straight up or straight down, rather than in a dispersed, outwardly-radiating pattern (as you might expect) which would have created an unrecognizably darkened smear instead of a photograph. You then have a scriptural problem.
The Book of John, chapter 20, verses 6 and 7 clearly state that Jesus' burial cloth was in strips, not a single piece, and that a separate burial cloth had been around Jesus' head. So, logically, we have only three choices: 1.) This passage from The Book of John is fake, 2.) The Shroud of Turin is fake, 3.) They are both fake! The only option we do not have is that either of these things support Christianity!
So go on, you stupid reporters, and uncritically pass along this story without one, single guffaw. Oh, how I miss Christopher Hitchens at this moment. Hell, I miss H.L. Mencken!
Meanwhile, most high school graduates in America can't find Italy on a map, much less Turin. Now you tell ME which is the more important story!
Friday, December 16, 2011
It's time for a wake-up call!
Brrrrring! Here's your wake-up call regarding education in America. Iran has captured a billion-dollar spy drone. And why? Was it shot down? Lucky grenade-launcher shot? NO! It was captured because the Iranians, these backwater, third-world, religious hacks with nothing to offer but oil, out-thought us in computer software technology! They hacked US? Yes, THEY HACKED US! And not only did they hack us, they hacked the most cutting-edge piece of expensive-assed technology in our military arsenal! Imagine! On the eve of the era of robotic warfare, Iran, fucking IRAN, mind you, has up-ended us!
This happened because we have been lax in our education standards. Not enough boarding schools in the inner city, poor education quality, cutting of funding at critical junctures, teachers unions having incompetent leaders, and bringing down slash-and-burn Republicans down upon all of us as a direct result. Hell-LO! We'd better start thinking of high school as middle school and college as high school, or we're in big trouble! We'll end up getting more third-world hackers upending us! And when the inevitable day arrives when we have robotic drones defending our freedom, we'll find some Islamic terrorist hacking our own robots and turning them upon our own cities. Or worse, Israel.
Brrrring! This is your wake-up call regarding so-called American supremacy! The United States can no longer sit back on its haunches and assume that we are leaders in world technology. Hell, we're not even leaders in world economy anymore! And unless we want our military weapons built in China, with software designed in India, we'd better get off our asses and quit playing around! That means we're ALL going back to school. Not just me! It doesn't matter how old or young you are. We're all re-taking technology 101. Because right now, we're still believing that desk-top computers are cool. Hell, Bill Gates built his company when everybody else was still ga-ga over digital watches! No, our smart phones and iPads are going to take over, and that means any terrorist hacker will have immediate access to everyone's belt-clip and waistline! Unless we wake up!
Brrrring! No more playing around with science and technology! If we're going to survive, as a nation, as a people, if democracy is going to have even a snowball's chance in hell, then we've got to stop pretending that science isn't science, and learn what's really true. No more creationism being taught to kids in high school and hoping our colleges and universities eventually clean up the mess! No more failure to recognize the brain as defining the being by fooling ourselves into thinking that conception is the place to draw the line regarding new life. No more wishing, hoping, and yes, even praying, that global warming is a hoax. Science, people! Not politics!
And speaking of which... Brrrring! Here's your wake-up call regarding the general scientific ignorance surrounding steroids in sports. Oh, yes! There's a connection, here. We're all stunned over the Ryan Braun allegedly positive test for (it's assumed) anabolic steroids. But as I dealt with in a previous post, false positives for drug tests are a real danger in any profession. Especially with sports, because what makes a great athlete great is a naturally high level of testosterone, above and beyond what the normal person has. That means a false positive for testosterone is just one fluke chemical imbalance or incompetent lab tech away. And the best athletes will always be at the greatest risk.
Am I calling Ryan Braun innocent? He's innocent until proven guilty, yes! But what I'm really trying to say is, the same general scientific ignorance that let one of our billion-dollar drones get hacked is quite possibly the same thing that let our million-dollar athlete get jacked! One incompetent fool in the wrong place at the wrong time can cost us big! Having too few science professionals and too many incompetent technicians virtually guarantees it! And if having terrorists gain control of our military doesn't scare the piss out of you, then maybe losing our star sports hero for 1/3rd of an entire baseball season will.
Brrrring! Here's your wake-up call regarding how silly it is to put sports above the stuff that really matters!
Enough with the scientific ignorance already!
Finally, let's all say a non-prayer for a hero of fighting scientific ignorance, who came forward to shake up our culture at exactly the right time. Christopher Hitchens, the landmark journalist and unabashed atheist, just passed away at the age of 62. Let's face it, 62 is young, these days. If you haven't read Hitch-22, please do so. He gave us all a wake-up call.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The problem with holiday cards can best be summed up this way: Suppose I want to send people cards. I make out a list of people to send cards to, and send them out, thinking that I'm doing something nice. But, without fail, there are always a few inconsiderate boobs who end up sending me a card when I didn't send them a card, making me look callous and insensitive to those nice people. Meanwhile, all those who received a card from me who didn't send me a card in return feel guilty due to the fact that I sent them a card, but didn't get one in return. It seems like the number of people who got cards from me but didn't reciprocate, and who sent me cards when I didn't send them one, always outnumbers the people who got cards from me and sent one in return! So, to those few friends of mine who were nice enough to NOT send me a Christmas card this year when I didn't send them one either, I decide to reward by sending a card next year!
You know what? Screw that. Now you all know why I don't bother with Christmas cards.
I don't much bother with cards in general, either. The people who send them mean well, I know they do. It's just that they think they're sending me a little piece of paper to let me know that they're thinking of me, when in reality they're sending a piece of paper to convince themselves they're doing something nice to a person they probably don't know very well and to whom they can't think of anything to say in a meaningful letter or e-mail. So, I get this sappy little message which I didn't ask for, and don't particularly want, which is supposed to make me all warm-and-fuzzy, when all it really does is put me in an ethical dilemma over whether or not I keep this useless item in permanent storage in a shoe-box, there to be toted by me from apartment to apartment and residence to residence for all eternity, or whether I have to subject myself to permanent guilt by throwing it in the trash. This is doing something nice for me? I didn't ask for this huge responsibility to be thrown upon my shoulders!
For this reason, I dispensed with the feeling of guilt over cards a long time ago. They go out with the sale ads, un-clippped coupons, and overdue tuition notices. If I get one, I smile, then throw it away without a second thought. The nice person who sent me one isn't really going to police what I do with it by stopping over and asking where on the mantle her card is being displayed (unless she's a Jewish grandmother), so why should I mind getting rid of it? For that matter, why should anyone else, especially the sender?
Not that I don't, at some level, appreciate getting a card. As I say, there is some genuine good feeling behind the act of sending one. But if it's going to make my friend feel guilty about eventually throwing it out, why send it in the first place? My more rational friends realize this. They never send me cards, and I gratefully show my appreciation of this by never sending them cards either. Not for birthdays, not for graduations, not for holidays. It's quite a relief, actually, to have such understanding friends who are so good as to be pleasant enough to spend time with, but who will never stuff my mailbox with clutter. Life is good.
Sometimes I rather like getting a card. For example, I got one recently from the National Center for Science Education, signed by Dr. Eugenie Scott and her wonderful staff. Now THAT'S a card I intend to keep in my files for all eternity, not just because such a prestigious organization would bother with me, but because those are all people I really love over there. And if some future biographers feel that I actually merit attention, and want to go through my things, they'll find that card, and know how genuinely close I felt to all those kindred souls. Beautiful! A card, when given in the right way, and given for the right reason, at the right time, can be a good thing!
Nevertheless, there are always people who think that giving a card is some ubiquitous thing that is to be done whenever one wants to give the appearance of being nice, and that's hardly being nice at all, in my estimation. Just yesterday I received a card from the office staff at work, most of whom go about their business in a different building from me, and who haven't seen me in a little over three years. They all signed it. I know that this was meant as a gesture to make me feel welcomed, part of the team, one of the family, etc. But really it's just a corporate gimmick designed to make me feel happier in a job that is far beneath my talents and abilities, and pays me according to that standard. I'm certainly not the only employee to receive such a card. Everyone, from the janitorial staff to the cafeteria cooks, got one. So how really special is it then? I honestly don't know which is worse: that this supposedly nice gesture came about as a result of corporate edict inflicted upon everyone by the boss from on-high, or that a percentage of resources, which at least included purchasing costs and the five or ten minutes (at least) of each staff member's hourly wage that everyone had to sacrifice in order to sign all these cards together. I could think of far better uses for their time, and considerably far better uses for the money! I'm thinking, just to get back at them, that I should send them a huge glossy saying "Merry Christmas!" with an overtly flamboyant flower bouquet. That would certainly serve them right, wouldn't it!
On second thought, nah. They wouldn't understand. They'd probably just send me an even bigger card next year.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
So why the hell can't all this computer power make us smarter in economics?
With the competing ideas of economics in our ridiculously hyper-divided political "system," in full scale war, what we, the people, need more than ever, is a game-like computer model that shows us just how economics works, whereby we can see how a nation like the U.S. does using various economic approaches. In other words, you can play the computer game as the United States, tweak government-controllable factors like money spent on education, raising or lowering of taxes, raising or lowering of interest rates, raising or lowering of social programs, and then hit "fast forward" to see how the nation will look in the future.
What a great idea! Every citizen could simply plug in Mitt Romney's ideas vs. Barack Obama's ideas to see which one produces the better future! And with a tool like that, all the rhetoric becomes meaningless! What an essential tool! Every voter should have one!
Unfortunately, all we have is Simcountry.
Why is it that games that involve money and economics always need some sort of war going on? You harvest crystals, gather spice, tap lands, or do some other inane thing for money which has nothing to do with the real world. What a waste!
Such computer models exist. We know they're out there. Ben Bernanke, our current Fed Reserve Chairman, developed such a computer model back in the 1980's. The University of Chicago has one. M.I.T. has one. The University of Wisconsin, I hope, has one.
What I don't get is why we all don't have one.
All it takes is one, JUST ONE economist who has access to such a computer model to releasee it into the general public, maybe even make it into a game, and all this political bullshit we're enduring will go away. Even if a model which is slanted to one side or the other is released, it won't matter, because the opposition will respond in kind, and people will be able to evaluate for themselves.
JUST ONE ECONOMIST! Is that too much to ask? Anyone out there? Anyone?
When economic information is so very critical to our survival, both as a nation, and to ourselves personally, I guess I can no longer fathom why we all clamor with "angry birds" or internet cats.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I see how our culture sometimes uses designated drivers on assigned party nights during the weekend. Good thing, there, but not nearly enough of that's happening. And I was watching our Brewers win over the Cardinals last night (Har, har!) when I saw a commercial for Captain Morgan, where a single rower was towing the party barge back to the Captain's ship. The caption read, "Designate a driver. Captain's orders." But how lonely that one rowboat guy looked!
That's when it occurred to me: Most designated drivers happen to be male, and they're missing out on some of the party to be the driver. So here's my big thought, and remember, it could save lives! If you are part of a party with a male designated driver...
Make sure that driver gets laid!
Just imagine how many more guys will be willing to be the designated driver if our culture insists that we repay their invaluable service with some well-earned nookie! With more designated drivers lining up to get behind the wheel and get lucky, drunk driving will decrease dramatically, and lives will be saved!
So there you have it! Call it the "tushy for taxi" rule!
Oh, and female designated drivers get their feet rubbed by a tan, muscular athlete!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Television and film production
Now, at first glance, none of these things appear to have anything in common, other than they are so ridiculous that doing a parody would result in people mistaking them for the real thing. But why? Could there be some common element that links these seemingly disparate subjects together? Certainly hip-hop culture and country/western music are linked by low-brow, simplistic styles of music, and commercial advertising, politics and entertainment production all have the distinction of trying to sell sub-standard products to the masses. But what about the others? How do simple music styles and selling products relate? How do they both relate to fundamentalism? Or modern art? How to they relate to sports fans?
I believe the answer has to do with one thing. These ridiculous behaviors all come into play whenever there happens to be a large group of people following a trend or charismatic leader blindly.
It makes sense. When people follow blindly, rationality goes out the window, and with it, the sense of "Oh, my god, I'm really making an ass out of myself!" There's something about getting swept up in the mob mentality which appeals to our primal, animal brain, the core of which is, essentially, that of a rodent. Yes, there's a little bit of lemming in each of us.
Perhaps we might wake up to certain things in our lives as a result. We might say of hip hop culture, "You know, the music's only good because the Motown greats it raps over were originally good. These clowns have no musical talent." Or, "You call THAT art? My five-year-old could do that!" And it begs the question, just what OTHER areas are there in my life where I'm following blindly? Do I really have to tolerate commercials which announce "Omnaris, To The Nose!" by spending my money on their product? Indeed, can't we all just not buy any shit which REPEATS the same nonsense over and over again?
Homework assignment: Look yourself in the mirror and ask, "What am I doing in my life where I'm following stupid stuff blindly? And what can I do to change it?" We ALL have such areas in our lives, so no fair trying to insist that you've got no such areas. Go on, explore your life. Find that area where you're being led about by the nose.
And then eliminate it. Liberate yourself!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Bully for you, Barry. We knew you had a bit of fighter in you there, somewhere.
John Boehner, in response, said that he didn't feel "class warfare" was showing good leadership.
And with that "class warfare" comment, both Fox News and MSNBC have proceeded to fall all over each other in a comical effort to see who can miss the point the most. This is hardly unusual - we've come to expect this kind of partisan myopia from these sound-byte generators. And seemingly as always, I appear to be the only one in the Dairy State cursed with realizing what's going on.
The heads on the Right are insisting it's class warfare, while those on the Left are assuring us that it's not class warfare at all. Naturally, this is all an irrelevant tangent that both sides have gone off on. Even if it is somehow "class warfare," it does not follow that it would automatically be bad legislation as a result. Class warfare has often produced good legislation, such as the liberation of slaves, or the sufferage of women. So class warfare, if it is such, is entirely moot. The question we should be asking is whether or not it is fair legislation to ensure Warren Buffet's secretary gets taxed at the same percentage rate he does. So far, the public agrees that when Buffet highlights the discrepancy in taxation rates between low income and high income people, he's got a valid point.
That having been said, I wish to do something very rare. For once, I'm going to agree with John Boehner! That's right, I agree with him! This IS class warfare. And the Left is absolutely wrong in denying that. But it's not class warfare of the poor against the rich.
No, it's class warfare of the rich against the poor!
And those waging the war are the ones bent on denying anything remotely close to fair opportunity to the masses, and keeping the playing field as tilted as possible in favor of the super-rich at all costs. (Three guesses who.) In other words, it's not the poor waging class warfare against the rich, but rather it's the poor trying to get the rich to stop waging class warfare upon them!
And to those who insist "government spending has not created one job," I assign this homework assignment: Walk up to any police officer, fireman, teacher, highway-construction laborer or groundskeeper, and ask him/her if more government money has helped create his/her job. Yes, private industry creates most jobs, but some jobs are, in fact, government-paid, and we'd be very foolish to deny that.
It seems Our Trophy President's opponents are bent on a two-part plan: First, to keep Obama from being effective, and second, to then attack him for his ineffectiveness. (Brilliant, that!) Oh, and hope that no one fingers them as the cause of the ineptitude!
Here's a thought: How about for once, instead of making everybody suffer just to deny Obama one little victory, we let the President win one, and put people to work for once? We need jobs now! Not after 2012! I don't know about you, but I'm sick and damned tired of the scorched-earth mentality which is willing to sacrifice us all to the false idol of talk radio. Someone needs to come down from the mountain and put that particular golden calf out of its misery.
Come to think of it, I wonder if maybe the golden calf of the Biblical book of Exodus was not a cow's calf, but rather an elephant's calf?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
"Unless it is blatantly labeled as humor, no one can create a parody of Fundamentalism without someone mistaking it for the real thing."
What a brilliant thought! It illustrates so economically how religion makes one so incredibly blind to the ridiculousness of itself. At a stroke, it describes how wild-eyed religion is a joke that its followers don't get!
It is precisely Poe's Law which explains the success of shows like The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert simply acts like a Fundamentalist Conservative, and it's automatically a joke! It also explains the view that some conservatives have regarding the hyper-homophobic preacher, Fred Phelps, who is seen by them as being a "deep undercover" liberal, out to discredit the fight against homosexuality by parodying it.
This leads to my corollary of Poe's Law, which goes like this: "Unless it is blatantly labeled the real thing, no one can display Fundamentalism without someone mistaking it for a joke."
Classic example of this: Bibleman! The battle-armor-wearing superhero, portrayed by actor Willie Ames (formerly of Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge), is so face-slappingly insulting to Christians that one can't help but wonder if it wasn't invented by a bunch of atheists who were simply trying to make fun of Evangelicals.
So here's where my pondering of Poe's Law has me at a loss: It seems that one can come to the realization that certain beliefs one was raised on are silly, but it's a difficult process. It requires effort, courage, and enough receptiveness to new ideas to be able to change. In other words, you might finally get the joke, but when you do, you won't be laughing! I, for one, broke free of Fundamentalism, even when being so firmly committed to it as to want to enter the ministry and "save the world for God." But I managed to wiggle out of it when it stopped making sense. I broke my chains.
Why do I seem to be the only one?
I suppose I could try to pat myself on the back, assert to everyone that I'm of exceptional intelligence, and take all the credit. But while it's true that I happen to be a Mensa member, and probably am a little bit above average in the I.Q. department as a result, I refuse to be so narcissistic as to pass off my own liberation as "being gifted." No, I'm not a Mensa member because I'm especially gifted. I'm a member of this elite class of smart-cookies only because I kept pounding on the door of educational establishments until they finally let me in. I never declared my education "done." (And I never will.) If intelligence were likened to speed, I'm not a hare, I'm a tortoise. But I won the race, only because I refused to give up!
But even with that firm commitment to self-improvement, I still could very easily have remained a Fundamentalist. Suppose I'd married some nice, Christian girl, and become a father? I would have found myself in a situation where leaving the faith would have meant a messy divorce, or worse. And even if I'd done so, I would still have needed to put in extra work to pay for child support, and watch the kids on alternating weeks. It would have been so much easier for me to simply remain inside the faith, even if I felt it were stupid, just for the sake of the kids, and to avoid a bad situation.
The extra time I would have been able to devote to learning, would have been gone.
And here's where I sadly realize why I seem to be one of the lucky few to have escaped the confines of my childhood indoctrination: With no spousal ties to religion, I was free to explore, and to change my mind with few consequences. With no children, I was free to spend my free time furthering my education, both in college and in private study. I avoided the "two kids and a mortgage pitfall," and so was able to dig myself out of the hole that tradition and religious upbringing threw me down into at birth.
Okay, technically, I'm not the "only one." And there are plenty of people who, with kids and mortgage both, have freed themselves of their religious limitations to be able to think freely. To them, I'll grant the title of "gifted," for gifted they indeed are. But how insufficient their numbers are to make a difference! What a small percentage they make of the overall population! This leads me to another of my own new laws, somewhat a corollary of Poe's Law, but mutually exclusive of it. I call it the law of general stupidity. It goes like this:
"Humanity will always be doomed to general stupidity, because the most important years of cognitive exploration, one's 20's and 30's, are wasted on child-rearing."
By the time one has sufficient time to explore the complex issue of this world, one typically is in one's mid-40's or 50's, and by that time, the limitations of the human brain simply make it un-receptive to new ideas or radical changes in thinking. Any cognitive talents such a person has would then be spent, not embracing new truths, but defending old falsehoods. What a sad state to be in with this modern world, so full of science, and yet so populated with people ignorant of science. We are all trapped in a tomb of our own making, committed to populating a world already overpopulated, and consigning ourselves to ignorance as we do so.
It is a testament to the evolutionary power of the sex-drive.
To those reading this with kids and mortgage, let me not leave you depressed. My "law" is not necessarily a law at all. I strongly feel that by realizing this state more fully, we can likely circumvent it. The more we realize we are the prisoners of our own upbringing, the better prepared we are to break free. Explore the issues freely with your children! You will set the example of free inquiry to those who need it most. And when, in your 40's and 50's, you find yourself with free time to explore again, be willing to abandon your old ideas. Never mind about pissing off mom & dad, grandma or grandpa, your friends at work, at church, Father Mokehe, or whomever. Your mind is your own.
Commit yourself to truth, no matter what conclusions you must reach.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
What is the difference between liberal and conservative? Why is it that we tend to polarize into one or the other? Why, when this dichotomy so handicaps us, do we insist on lobotomizing ourselves and our culture in this way? These fundamental questions are ones I’ve obsessed over as I’ve watched, with increasingly nauseous horror, the transformation of our media from one where both sides were at least prone to giving token attempts at balance to one in which one-sided media remains entrenched on one channel, or the other – Fox news and talk radio on the right, and MSNBC and Comedy Central on the left. (And isn’t it odd that there is no comedy channel devoted to making fun of liberalism!)