Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Bots are Coming

For your visual pleasure and a bit of scare as the era of the bots is upon us, check out the videos here and here. We'll have robot servants before we know it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Disney: "It's Fast", not "a fact"

In my excitement recently from a recent trip to Florida, I erroneously posted this:


"It's a blast, its a fact, it's the past"

That's what you read when you enter the Dinosaur ride at Epcot Center in Disneyworld. Kudos to Disney for standing up for science. No dinosaurs with saddles here.


Well, as was pointed out below, that's not what it says. So apologies to Disney, but as I said below, they are still on the right side of this issue, as they unapologetically displayed the dinosaurs in a historically responsible manner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spector Switches to Democrats

Arlen Spector has switched to the Democratic Party:

"I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," he said at a news conference. He added, "I am not prepared to have my 29 year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate."

Republican reaction was predictably histrionic and out of touch:

Not long after Specter met privately with Republican senators to explain his decision, the party's leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said the switch posed a "threat to the country." The issue, he said, "really relates to ... whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or balance."

Well gee Mitch, here's a wild thought: instead of blaming your political opponents for having a more attractive position than your own, so much so that they are not only attracting the voters, but some in your own party as well, how about you lead in recrafting the GOP's platform to get more in line with the realities of the 21st century (or at least the 20th). If Americans elect Democrats in such numbers that you cannot muster a check on their power, it would be best not to assume they are ignorant of the effects of those choices. Perhaps you should give serious thought to the notion that most Americans have such a poor opinion of your platform that they'd rather give complete control to the other side.

Personally I think it would be just fine to leave the GOP to the Palinists, about 28% of the populace as I read the polls, and let the major decisions in the country be worked out in debate between the tree-hugging Euro-Democrats and the libertarian-leaning individualist Democrats. We have little to fear in the way of disciplined, unified dominance from majority Democratic control, for Will Rogers' wry wit stands as true today as it did then:

"I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat"

There's a 50% Chance They Understand What a 50% Chance Is

Here's a shocker: people don't understand the probabilities in weather forecasts:

...only half the population understands what a precipitation forecast means well enough to make a fully informed answer, a new study finds.

If, for example, a forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain, many people think it means that it will rain over 20 percent of the area covered by the forecast. Others think it will rain for 20 percent of the time, said Susan Joslyn, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Washington who conducted the study.

So much for no child left behind. Even the basics elude most of them.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Closer to Another Earth

We continue to get closer to finding another earth in another solar system.

"The Gliese 581 system delivers again. Giese 581 is a red dwarf star 20.4 light years away that until recently boasted the lightest extrasolar planet ever found. At 5 Earth masses, Gliese 581c was not exactly a second Earth, but it and 7 Earth mass Gliese 581d captured the worlds imagination as they seemed to be in the habitable zone of their parent star, where liquid water can exist.

Now the smallest mass planet ever has been discovered around Gliese 581, a 1.9 mass planet Gliese 581e, presumably rocky, that screams around Gliese 581 in a little over three days. At a mere 0.03 Astronomical Units from its star, Gliese 581e is a Mercury-like world, baking in the close embrace of the Red Dwarf."

I can't wait to hear what sort of rationalizations the creationists will come up with when we finally find the life on another planet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bill Murchison Gets Taken Down by his Commenters

Bill Murchison apparently didn't have much creative energy when he wrote this stinker of an article (reality by assertion anyone?): His many commenters take him down, the highlight being this point-by-point doozy courtesy of Jeff:

“The human race -- sorry ladies, sorry gents -- understands marriage as a compact reinforcing social survival and projection.”

A broad, sweeping statement that in no way undermines same-sex marriage.

“The supposed redefinition of the Great Institution is an outgrowth of modern hubris and disjointed individualism.”

Actually divorce got there first. Divorce redefined marriage from a life-long commitment to a “so long as it makes me happy” commitment.

“A marriage -- a real one -- brings together man and woman for mutual society and comfort, but also, more deeply, for the long generational journey to the future.”

As it does for same-sex couples, especially those that choose to have children.

“A gay "marriage" (never mind whether or not the couple tries to adopt) is definitionally sterile.”

Whatever that means. Whatever it means, post-menopausal women are sterile, as are some women at any age. Should they be prohibited from marrying? And why denigrate couples who adopt kids? Was that slam really necessary?

“The Iowa court's decision in the gay marriage case is pure nonsense”

Translation: I don’t like the legal decision all seven of the judges reached, even though I don’t really understand how government and the law works in this country.

“Hence the necessity of shooing away traditional marriage's derogators and outright enemies -- who include, accidentally or otherwise, the seven justices of Iowa's Supreme Court.”

And yet, it appears that all seven of the Iowa judges are, wait for it, MARRIED! Maybe they’re not quite the enemies of “traditional marriage” that the fearful rightwingnuts thing they are!

Another argument (and I'm elevating it by calling it that) against gay marriage crushed by facts and logic. It's going to be a long decade for these people as they watch the country move forward without them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Empty Storm

To see the vapidity of the anti-gay marriage arguments laid bare, you need look no further than the gathering storm video put out by The National Organization for (some) Marriage. All spooky implications, no substance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lightning Tornado Photo

Here's a great natural photo making the email rounds, with some not so natural stories. The top photo is the original, the bottom is a version I received. Something about the angle of the photographer relative to the storm and the oil derrick didn't seem right, so I went checking. Sure enough Snopes explains this photo has been around for almost two decades, popping up to give appropriate warning for whatever storms have been happening lately. It's another instance of humanity making up the stories it needs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Video Comparison on Gay Marriage Arguments

Yet another great video has surfaced on youtube which dismantles bit by bit all the examples bouncing around of how allowing gay marriage is somehow going to take people's freedoms away. These folks just can't handle facts. I particularly liked the supposed example that happened in a state (New Jersey) that doesn't allow gay marriage.

For more proof that the other side prefers fiction to facts, check out this unintentionally hilarious video about how gay marriage is going to silence all the children, and make them "sit in the back of the bus", complete with having their Bible's thrown away.

Just remember this, because when we are all old and gray, this will be just a humorous reminder of how far we still had to come in the early part of the century.

Hat tip: Ed Brayton and PZ Myers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Great Definition of Creationism

Courtesy of Stephen Wells:

"Creationism is biology for people who think the animal kingdom consists of horsies, doggies, kitties and fishies."

No details needed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to Attract Base Airline Employees: Give them a Security Peep Show

Here's a beauty of a scheme to attract new, lecherous employees to the airline industry: see through body scanners:

The naked body scanners are taking over.
When we first checked in on them two years ago, the scanners, which see through clothing, were being deployed at a single airport. A few months later, they were upgraded to millimeter-wave technology, which delivered similar images with even less radiation-"10,000 times less than a cell phone transmission," according to the Transportation Security Administration. At the time, TSA assured us that the scanners would be used only as a "voluntary alternative" to "a more invasive physical pat-down during secondary screening." Only a few passengers, the ones selected for extra scrutiny, would face the scanners. The rest of us could walk through the metal detectors and board our planes.

Surprise! Two months ago, TSA revised its position. It began testing millimeter-wave scans "in the place of the walk-through metal detector at six airports." At these airports, everyone - not just people selected for secondary screening - would face the see-through machines. Anyone who objected would "undergo metal detector screening and a pat-down." You might even get the "enhanced pat-down," which includes "sensitive areas of the body that are often used by professional testers and terrorists," such as "the breast and groin areas of females and the groin area of males." Show us your body, or we'll feel you up.

Now the plan is going nationwide. Joe Sharkey of the New York Times reports that TSA "plans to replace the walk-through metal detectors at airport checkpoints with whole-body imaging machines-the kind that provide an image of the naked body." All passengers will "go through the whole-body imager instead of the walk-through metal detector," according to TSA's chief technology officer, and the machines will begin operating soon after orders are placed this summer.

Now how is it that we are the freest people on earth again when we can't even maintain privacy and dignity boarding commuter jets? Let's hope that high speed rail system gets set up and running soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama's High Speed Rail Plan vs The Electoral Map

The conspiracy theorists are going to have a ball with this one. Check out the map of Obama's proposed high speed rail system (something that is long overdue btw):

Now compare it to the electoral map:

Aside from a few token gestures in the south (what, no Houston-to-Dallas line? Are you kidding me?) the program is almost exclusively a job-creator for Obama states. Notice how carefully it is to never get into Kentucky and West Virginia, but keeps bouncing off their borders. It can't have anything to do with mountains, bore me not with Colorado and New Mexico talk. IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!

Just watch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Darwin Award Trainee: Woman vs Polar Bear

If you haven't seen this film yet, it's pretty intense. A woman jumped into a polar bear enclosure and was attacked by them, receiving several bites. Polar bears are not to be trifled with, and she is lucky to be alive.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

James Dobson is Inadvertantly Right on the Culture War

James Dobson laments losing on all the big culture war battle fronts:

"The battles that we fought in the Eighties now, we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family and the definition of marriage. We fought all those battles and really it was a holding action.

That's adherence to Fundamentalist Christian morals like abstinence-only education, opposing abortion, and opposing gay marriage for those of you speaking English.

[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?

Yes James, you have lost (or are losing) all those battles, and you gave the reason yourself: the internet. Until very recently the churches always had a huge organizational advantage over their enemies. They met weekly to discuss philosophy and political strategy, and were able to move with one organized voice against the ever-bickering factions of the intelligentsia, a large part being unbelievers more suited to social anarchy.

Then the internet came along, which brought with it the ability to communicate and exchange information at a speed and efficiency never before conceived. The intelligentsia, the unbelievers, and everyone else interested in thinking about and researching subjects without the guiding hand of a church had found theirs. And since they were always more interested in information than the church groups, who preached faith instead, they came to dominate that forum and use it to its maximum. There's a reason the fact-checking sites inevitably come to be accused of a liberal bias.

Now we can quickly research any statement made for veracity, debunk any lie. Every evolution/creation debater now has the ability to research all information on his opponent and his likely arguments. School board members cannot keep their anti-education stealth agendas hidden for long. Political organization is redefined (eg Obama's revenue machine) in a way the old methods simply cannot keep pace.

The list goes on and on. Now that we can organize, the balance of power has shifted dramatically to the side of reason over faith. So get used to losing Dobson, cause we got a lotta mo for ya.

Hat tip: PZ Meyers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teabagging - It's Just Surreal

As I watch the news coverage of the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) parties, I once again find myself feeling like we are all being punked, like Alan Funt (for the old farts out there) is about to walk out and let us in on the joke. This makes the fiasco that was Sarah Palin look downright professional by comparison, dontchya know.

I mean, they called this protest "teabagging". They did this to themselves. How do you top that? It'd be like John Butt and Mike Sniffer starting a company called "Butt Sniffer" and not understanding why everyone is laughing at them. Well, I guess all we can do is laugh with Keith and everyone else. I wonder if a society can survive with 30% of them off their rocker.

Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam!

The good news is that the percentage of email that is spam dropped last year. The bad news? It's now 97.3%. What is it?

"Pharmacy and other product ads make up the lion's share of spam, accounting for 72.2 percent of all spam sent. Only 10 percent of the total spam share now involves sexually-oriented pharmaceuticals; that's a huge decline from previous studies, as apparently Viagra and Cialis are no longer that hard to come by.

Image-only spam, dating come-ons, financial spam, and fraudulent diplomas round out the remainder of the most common spam subjects."

It sure seems to me that in an era where our resources are limited, particularly those of money and time, this sort of tomfoolery should be eliminated. How about a national no-spam and certainly no-unsolicited-bulk-mailing lists like exist for telemarketers?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Tea Parties: Bad History, Bad Civics

The Tea parties continue to make the nonnews rounds, a moving tribute to poor education in America. Let's review:

In 1765, in an effort to help pay mounting debts related in part to their defense of the American colonies against the French, the British passed the Stamp Act, decreeing that certain goods and services (and the list was long) would be subjected to a tax. This ultimately led to the American revolution over, among other issues, the concept of being taxed without representation. You see, the American colonists did not have any representation in Parliament. While the Stamp act was repealed, it was eventually replaced by the Tea Act, a similar provision aimed at tea. The American colonists responded first by refusing shipments of British tea, even at cut-rate prices, and then ultimately dumped a shipload of tea into Boston harbor, an event long known as The Boston Tea Party.

As should be obvious by now, the current tea parties have none of the important attributes of the original article. Those protesting the higher taxes (and barely higher) on a small minority of people (and of the protesters) were eligible for full participation in the political process (ie they had representation) that led to the changes they are protesting. There was no tyranny, but an election, and they lost. They are akin to those in more developing democracies (say Iraq) who are all for Democracy as long as they think they will win. But have them lose, and then its load up the guns and take victory by force. It should scare the daylights out of anyone who believes in constitutional democracy. Without acquiescent losers, Democracy collapses.

Now that's not to say the tea-baggers (their name) don't have the right to protest. They have every right, and they should exercise it peacefully as far as their interest and energy carry them. But let's dispense with the notion that they have a lofty principle akin to what those first teapartiers had. They have nothing of the sort. They are simply unwilling to accept the political agenda their opponents were elected to enact, nothing more, nothing less.

A frequent commenter at Townhall named Lon summed it up well:

If people who have had their taxes cut under the new administration want to get together and have tea parties to complain about how their taxes were raised with representation, and how that is just like what the founders were rebelling against (except for the representation part) they can, and people can laugh at them...

If you are upset that legislators did not kowtow to your minority position and at the same time just did what they thought was best for the country, then you just don't like democracy. I suppose that is ok, but it is silly to pretend that that has anything to do with colonial discontent.

In a democracy there will be people with minority views. And in a representative democracy with principled legislators there will be times when legislators vote against the majority position because they feel it is wrong. It is silly to see either of those things as tyranny. And it is even sillier to see the objections to it in the form of "tea parties" as anything but temper tantrums.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Christopher Hitchens Plays the Lion to Christian Todd Friel

Todd Friel is apparently one of these slick smarmy evangelicals who likes to play pedantic "what if" games, and Christopher Hitchens is, well, the guy who writes "No, no, fuck you" on Nazi posters in full knowledge they are watching him do it. The combination has to be heard to be enjoyed (part 1, part 2). Here are some tasty tidbits:

Friel: Have you ever committed murder?

Hitchens: No.

Friel: Have you ever been angry with somebody?

Hitchens: Repeatedly..., justifiably and unjustifiably...

Friel: If you have been unrighteously angry, then you have committed murder in your heart because God examines our thoughts and our intentions, and our desires.

Hitchens: Oh well, you should have just asked me if I've committed murder in my heart, I've certainly done that.

Friel: What about lusting Sir? Jesus warned that if you lust in your heart...

Hitchens: All the time. All the time.

Friel: So you've broken the commandment of adultery, correct sir?

Hitchens: None of your fucking business.

Friel: Alrighty, so what we've basically done is determine how you would be doing on judgement day, it doesn't sound like you'd measure up at all to God's 10 Commandments.

Hitchens: Who gives a shit?

Friel: Well, we're just playing a little game of what if.

Hitchens: Yes I'm playing it right along with you. I'm glad you think its a game, by the way. I rather agree with you.

It goes on like that for about 12 minutes, like watching a marshmallow man jump into a mulcher. Friel could not seem to be able to digest the notion of someone out there who really doesn't see the point in all his religious flap doodle. The irony of it all is that Hitchens' was actually taking the scenarios far more seriously, and thinking them through far more, than was Friel, and Friel never seemed to catch onto this. Hitchens' unstated theme was "No, I wouldn't be happy and feel indebted for that, and if you thought about it for five minutes you should be able to see that." The section on the 10 Commandments was especially revealing, as Hitchens attempted to go through them in detail and Friel grew impatient with that. He didn't want to actually think about the answers he was getting to the questions, he wanted particular answers. He didn't get them, and now instead of thousands of converts, he has thousands of us laughing at him.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter: A Story that Needed an Editor

Easter is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is the complete implausibility of the story, and the extremely poor quality of the evidence supporting it. Practically every substantive aspect of the four gospel versions of the resurrection story, from the morning the woman (women) went to the tomb, contradict one or more of the others in nonsubjective and irreconcilable ways. The stories are relatively short and it takes little effort to mark each and flip between them. Here's a brief list of questions one might ask, and how the four Gospels answer them:

1) At what time did the visitors arrive at the tomb?

Mark: at the rising of the sun
John: when it was still dark

2) Who went?

John: Mary Magdelegne
Matthew: Mary Magdelegne and the other Mary
Mark: Mary Magdelegne, Mary the mother of James, and Salome
Luke: Mary Magdelegne, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women.

Who can resist the feeling when looking at this that we are watching a story grow?

3) Was the Tomb Open?

Luke: open
Matthew: closed

4) Who was found there?

Matthew: an angel
Mark: a man
Luke: two men
John: two angels

Many of the attempts to reconcile these contradictions is to brush them off as the inevitable differences one would expect from multiple witnesses writing their stories independently and making different choices as to who to name (say Joanna in Luke's story) or not (all the others). This situation with the men and/or angels blows that argument completely out of the water. For while it is plausible that one writer might mention Joanna, while another leaves her out and mentions Salome, it is not at all plausible that a writer might choose to mention meeting men at the tomb, but choosing not to mention angels. Even then, angelic appearances were not so common as to lack newsworthiness.

5) Was there an earthquake that morning:

Matthew: a great one
Mark: no
Luke: no
John: no

This is my personal favorite, and really seals the deal. There's just no way to rationalize missing a great earthquake. Someone is clearly making shit up.

Panicked GOP?

It's simply not possible to keep up with the lunacy emanating from conservatives these days, so I'll give you a two-stop shopping trip to catch up.

Here's an article making a very good case for the source of the lunacy, the slow realization that for the first time the time-tested strategies of Atwater and Rove won't work any more, and there are no other bullets in the holster.

And for the humor in it all, check out this collection of videos revealing the many humorous sides of this political and social meltdown.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gay Marriage Ban Trends: 2% a Year Progress

Leave it to Nate Silver of to do an analysis of the results of various gay marriage ban votes and come up with a general trend of 2% towards allowing gay marriage and predictions of when each state will do so:

It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables:

1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.

These variables collectively account for about three-quarters of the variance in the performance of marriage bans in different states. The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8.

Unsurprisingly, there is a very strong correspondence between the religiosity of a state and its propensity to ban gay marriage, with a particular "bonus" effect depending on the number of white evangelicals in the state.

Marriage bans, however, are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. So, for example, we'd project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year.

All of the other variables that I looked at -- race, education levels, party registration, etc. -- either did not appear to matter at all, or became redundant once we accounted for religiosity. Nor does it appear to make a significant difference whether the ban affected marriage only, or both marriage and civil unions.

Say what you want about the man's ideology, his election predictions have been a lot more accurate than those of his political opposition.

Gawker then picked up the data, made a map and spoke the unspeakable:

What gay activists say when they hope no one's listening: Winning same-sex marriage rights is just a matter of waiting for old people to die. Here's a map of which states will go gay next.

And people wonder why it's often said that the south is 10 years behind the rest of the nation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Teabagging Congress

Yes, believe it or not, that's what some are calling the little pretend rebellions called "Tea Parties". I laughed so hard I cried watching this video of Rachel Maddow talking about these little pointless gatherings of angry losers from the last election. As I tried to explain to the Teabaggers [snort], they aren't worrying anyone, they are just making us laugh.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Frank Gaffney's "Code Words" = Making Shit Up

Check out this video where Frank Gaffney claims that Obama told our Muslim enemies that we "are willing to submit to them", and when challenged to support his claim with little trivial things like evidence, responded with this:

"When he uses the word 'respect', in the context of a waist-bow to the king of Saudi Arabia, for example, and talks about respectful language, which is code for those who adhere to Sharia that we will submit to Sharia. We will submit to the kind of program...I'm telling you the code as they receive it in the Taliban headquarters and in al Qaeda's cave and in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They perceive this as submission."

In other words, he is making shit up, and doesn't have a shred of evidence for what he is saying. Any time someone uses the phrase "code words", that should translate to "I have no evidence for what I'm saying". Now if they present tangible evidence that indeed the person speaking is using specially chosen words to convey a deceptive message (like the Intelligent Design crew does), that's a different story. But this demand for evidence can never be put aside, because it makes lying willy nilly far too easy for people like Gaffney.

Hat Tip: Ed Brayton

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oklahoma Hermeneutics

Just how stupid can the religious right get? This stupid:

This week, a far-right state legislator in Oklahoma pushed a measure to have a Ten Commandments monument placed on the Capitol grounds. Asked which version of the Decalogue would receive the state's endorsement -- Catholics, Protestants, and Jews list the Commandments differently -- state Sen. Randy Brogdon (R) said, "Probably an Oklahoma version." I don't think he was kidding

Typical. I'll bet he can't even name the 10 Commandments.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fabulous Video on Open-Mindedness

If you are sick of people telling you that you are closed minded simply because you demand evidence before believing bizarre things, you'll love this video that goes through the classic bad arguments about open mindedness that amount to "accepting anything anyone else claims". And of course, notice this doesn't ever apply to them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Denials of Reality from the Anti-Gay Marriage Crowd

For the latest rational-defying, fact-free screed against gay marriage, check out this article from Ken Klukowski. It seems Iowa has joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in recognizing that disallowing gays to marry is a violation of the equal protection clause. The ruling came from a court with a mix of Republican and Democratic nominees, but that hasn't stopped the baseless, shrill, and often blatantly false screams from the social conservatives:

Klukowski said: "In a democratic republic, the people should rule through their elected legislators and executives. Judges decide cases of law, not of policy or morality."

Judges should rule on whether a law is violating someone's constitutional rights, which is what they did here, no more, no less. That the ruling may have policy or morality implications is trivial - practically any ruling will.

Kirk said:" affects children. Also you should care because it is wrong for judges to make law. Do you honistly think these judges have more wisdom the the last 6000 years of human history?"

How does it effect children? No one ever explains this. And 6,000 years ago polygamy was the norm, as it has been from most of the world for most of the time since then. Do the people saying this ever read any books, perhaps dare I say it, the Bible?

Mother of 4 said: "Reality will remain reality and marriage -- the permanent emotional, legal, and spiritual bond between a man and a woman by which two are made one upon which is built nothing less than civilization and the future -- will remain marriage, unequaled and inimitable. "

Marriage is permanent now? I guess the planet on which this mother lives doesn't have the extraordinarily high divorce rate that we have here on Earth. And how is a civilization built upon heterosexual marriage going to fall apart if homosexual marriage is allowed?

Cambermeister said: "...your [heterosexual] commitment is now slightly more diluted in the minds of America's children...It was always about the children. The gay community won't make up there own word for marriage because they WANT to confuse small children."

How are heterosexual commitments diluted? All the ones I know of seem as strong as ever? How does this confuse children? Why would gays want children confused?

Dan asks: "Why would a man want to marry another man? Sex? They do that anyway(sick). Kids? Impossible!
Marriage benefits?"

Yeah Dan, safe sex and marriage benefits, the same as any heterosexual couple who can't have kids. Oh, and you do know lots of homosexuals have children, right? And that your heterosexual sex is sick to many of them, right? Hello? Does reality penetrate your skull at all?

Cambermeister again: "In less than a generation, a tiny minority that practices an evolutionarily incomprehencible [sic]behavior first asked the majority to not persecute them. Then asked us to not descriminate [sic] against them. Then asked us to accept them. Now they are Demanding [sic] that we Celebrate [sic]them."

Oh this is rich: people who deny evolutionary science now attempt to co opt it for their purposes. Can you spell "hypocrite"? It's also blatantly untrue, since homosexuality appears all over nature. Indeed, for some species, it's the norm. Further, no one is asking anyone to celebrate homosexuality. They simply want to live their lives married to the people they are attracted to the same as the rest of us heteros. Really, it's not complicated.

Renny said: "Hetersexuality and homosexuality are merely behavioral practices of individuals. That some heterosexuals sometimes have homosexual liaisons and vice versa proves neither *class* is mutually defining or exclusive."

Sexuality is about orientation, not behavior. A homosexual man having a heterosexual sex act is like a vegetarian eating a piece of meat. It doesn't change who they are. Further, there is nothing about the protected classes our civil right apply to that requires them to be permanent, mutually defining, or exclusive. After all, religion is none of these things.

Retired Geek said: "The Marriage act NEVER had anything to do with sexual preferences but rather the protection of children - which Homosexuals cannot have by definition."

I'm sure the thousands of homosexuals with children would be shocked to hear that. And if people incapable of procreating (with each other) are to be forbidden from marrying, why doesn't this apply to sterile heterosexuals?

More from Retired Geek:"Animals are incapable of using facts, logic and reason to make choices i.e. sex perversion."

Many scientists have tested chimpanzees, dolphins, octopi, and many other animals who have demonstrated complex reasoning abilities. One more Christian myth bites the dust via data.

Bill Maher on Where Our Loyalties Should Be

Responding to his audience groaning over a zinger at Obama's expense, Bill Maher bottom lines it:

"We've got to be loyal to what we believe, not the people."

Indeed. One can be supportive of an administration and it's goals while still being critical of it when it missteps. In fact, it is crucial that we do so, since we need credible critics, and the GOP bloggers have pretty much given up on themselves filling that role with their ficus on minutia like the birth certificate, and teleprompter issues.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

John Shimkus: Idiot of the Month

At a U.S. House Subcommittee meeting on the energy and the environment, Representative John Shimkus (R-Illinois) denies global warming because of quotes from Genesis and Matthew.

Words fail me. The inmates are running the asylum.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jim Webb and our Flawed Prison System

Jim Webb has taken a politically courageous but obviously correct position that our prison system and drug policies are in serious need of an overhaul. It is nice to finally see a mainstream politician state what has been obvious to most of us for years:

Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have 5% of the world's population; we have 25% of the world's known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice. . . .

The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration over the past three decades. In 1980, we had 41,000 drug offenders in prison; today we have more than 500,000, an increase of 1,200%.

It's tough to digest those figures. America, the freest nation on earth? We take away the freedom of our citizens at a rate that dwarfs that of China or even Iran. Face facts America, we are the most imprisoned nation on earth, and all because we've made it into a commercial enterprise that cashes in on the hypocrisy of those who say "keep the government out of our private lives" out of one side of their mouth, while screaming to imprison anyway who uses a substance they don't like out of the other. Even President Obama, who should know better wimped out when he had a national stage to educate the populace on the issue.

We don't have the luxury of this level of waste, ignorance and hypocrisy any more.

hat tip: Ed Brayton

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coyotes in the Hood

Here's a nice article reminding us that we aren't outside of nature, we are in nature, and sometimes nature decides to get into what we consider our world:

A coyote ambling into a Chicago sandwich shop or taking up residence in New York's Central Park understandably creates a stir. But even here on the high plains of Colorado, where the animals are part of the landscape and figure prominently in Western lore, people are being taken aback by rising coyote encounters.
Thanks to suburban sprawl and a growth in numbers of both people and animals, a rash of coyote encounters has alarmed residents.

Wildlife officials are working to educate the public: Coyotes have always been here, they've adapted to urban landscapes and they prefer to avoid humans.

"Even though they live in urban areas and figure out how people work ... it doesn't mean they're necessarily becoming more aggressive toward us," Gehrt said.

They also haven't changed their diet. Gehrt expected to find urban coyotes eating a lot of garbage and pets. But their scat shows rodents are still the meal of choice, followed by deer, rabbits and birds.

Coyotes view pets such as cats and dogs as competitors, not food, Gehrt said. Most coyotes are submissive toward dogs, though some will stand their ground — especially during breeding season, when they may see dogs as rivals for mates. Mating season peaked in February, when some of the Denver-area incidents occurred.

I've personally had experiences with the effects of coyotes living on a nearby golf course. The city had them caught or killed due to some disappearing pets and the usual alarmist "they're gonna eat our kids" rhetoric. Subsequently, we were overrun by rabbits, who apparently bred like crazy in the absence of their primary predators, and proceeded to completely destroy all the neighborhood gardens. It didn't take long however for that (now) prime predator real estate to attract new tenants, and soon we had a healthy group of coyotes living on the golf course and eating rabbits. Apparently we weren't the only people to experience the futility of getting rid of coyotes.

Reducing the number of coyotes doesn't work, Rosmarino said, because the animals breed more and have bigger litters when their population declines. The U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services killed more than 90,000 in 2007 to stem livestock attacks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Simplicity in Action: A Townhall Exchange on the Economy

For those who think it is unfair that conservatives are characterized as having a simplistic unrealistic view of the economic world, I give you this typical exchange from Townhall:

Charles LPKY: "A person is in debt to where they are at the point where they can no longer pay their debtors....Should this person borrow and spend more?"

Hal Donahue: "Depends on for what purpose doesn't it. Like you start a new job in a month at a salary where you can pay; this would be legitimate. Or go deep into debt to service existing debt while you finish up medical school."

Charles LPKY: "Does not depend on anything, just simple yes or no...The bottom line is when my house hold has bills, we pay them, we do not borrow money with interest to pay our bills. Credit got the US into the economic crisis we are facing, Credit will not get us out. In my house hold we cut spending to get out of debt, we only owe on our house now. The federal govt. is using credit to spend, and not worrying about the increase in the National debt.
Logic dictates to cut spending, cut programs, and pay off our national debt."

Sure Charles, only if "logic" excludes the very real possibilities, a few of which Hal pointed out, where the returns on a borrowed investment exceed the cost of that investment.

But this doesn't wash in Conservoland. All must be simple, black and white, yes or no. And as if to make my point even more clear, here comes Walter Williams with another perfect example:

"Do you believe that it is moral and just for one person to be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another? And, if that person does not peaceably submit to being so used, do you believe that there should be the initiation of some kind of force against him? Neither question is complex and can be answered by either a yes or no. For me the answer is no to both questions but I bet that your average college professor, politician or minister would not give a simple yes or no response. They would be evasive and probably say that it all depends."

There's your mainstream conservative attitude towards all our complicated moral and other problems: concerning onesself with all the facts and the relevant context is evasive. No wonder they have no answers for an ever-complicated world. Today is their day.