Archive for January, 2012

One Small Step Too Far
January 27, 2012

One of the tragedies of the US’s broken political system is that the 2-party system results in every issue dividing itself among the 2 parties, no matter what that issue may be or how it may affect all of us. This is particularly exacerbated by the current angry partisanship which pervades Washington, where not only do you have to disagree with anything said by the other party, you have to ridicule it or label is as anti-American, and evil to boot.

Recently, Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has made big headlines with his comments about NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and space exporation itself. The candidate, known for making grandiose promises and claims, promised to have a permanent American base on the moon by 2020, with an eye toward eventual statehood! A state on the moon? Yep, that’s what he said. Now bear in mind, these comments were made in Florida with a political agenda to get the vote of those working for NASA in and around the famous Air Force base at Cape Canaveral.

Unfortunately for Gingrich, something funny happened on the way to the American viewer. His words hit a media bifurcated by the same political divide that exists in Congress. And the crowd on the left went wild. MSNBC talking heads labeled him “bonkers”, “ridiculous”, Rachel Maddow discussed it while wearing an astronaut suit, and of course the inevitable graphics of Gingrich himself in a space suit, jumping across the moon were not far behind.

To me, the most hypocritical of all was the claim that Gingrich (and the entire right) were “overcome with nostalgia” over the promise to land on the moon made by President John F. Kennedy. That is rich, given MSNBC host Chris Matthews has been hyping his own book, “Kennedy: Elusive Hero”, non-stop for the past month.

Don’t get me wrong: I can’t stand Newt Gingrich. His use of divisive terminology is one of the main reasons we’re stuck in this bipartisan gridlock to begin with. He’s the guy who decided in the 80s and 90s that it was fine to characterize your political opponents as “sick”, “despicable”, and “disgusting”. There is a certain satisfaction with seeing him hoist by his own petard, a victim of the very mud he’s been slinging his entire career.

And he’s wrong. We’re not going to be able to sustain a moon base by 2020, or anywhere near it. Not only that, his own philosophy of small government and gutted domestic spending reveal a cognitive dissonance here: How exactly did he think any of this would get paid for in his Conservative Nirvana of defunded arts and science programs? It makes no sense.

But what I hate to see is my own side, the liberals, the progressives, the supposedly pro-science leftists, and the ostensibly wooly headed dreamers of politics, turn against space exploration so readily, and greedily at that. These champions of reason turned on Newt Gingrich, and by extension of their jokes Neal Armstrong, like lions going after a gazelle in the middle of the savannah.

Space exploration is important. Stretching the boundaries of human knowledge is important. Getting to the moon was one of the biggest steps the human race has ever accomplished. We were born here, we have adapted and evolved to survive here, but together we created a way to leave here and land in a place where we were never intended to set foot. We walked in a place that is entirely hostile to our survival and came back to tell of it. That is a marvel unmatched by nearly any in human history. The things Mr. Gingrich is proposing are not stupid. They are not bonkers, or ridiculous. They are amazing steps in a voyage of discovery that we simply cannot afford to end.

One day, this planet will be lost to us. We must leave it or perish. And that will never happen if we don’t keep taking one baby step after another, one small step into this universe after another. The Moon, then Mars, then Europa, then parts unknown.

We can’t keep letting this ridiculous political climate blind us to the things which unite us, which create one people out of millions of individuals. E Pluribus Unum: “From Many, One” as it says on the seal of our United States. We have to start thinking this way, recognizing those issues which confront us all, not half of us. Our national defense, our crumbling infrastructure, the state of our economy, and indeed our exploration of space, should bring us together as a people, not tear us apart.

If we don’t do this, we will stop taking steps forward, and then, invevitably, we will begin to take them backwards.

One small step at a time.

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January 24, 2012

After disappointing showings in IA & NH, Newt’s campaign looked terminally ill…which is generally when he moves on to something better.

Stephen Colbert


January 22, 2012

So if the big game is New England v New York, is it the Newperbowl?

wilwheaton:
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has looked at tomorrow’s “Internet blackout” in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—and it sees only a “gimmick,” a “stunt,” “hyperbole,” “a dangerous and troubling development,” an “irresponsible response,” and an “abuse of power.” “Wikipedia, reddit, and others are going dark to protest the legislation, while sites like Scribd and Google will also protest. In response, MPAA chief Chris Dodd wheeled out the big guns and started firing the rhetoric machine-gun style.  “Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.”
Can I interrupt for a moment? Thanks. When you complain that opponents didn’t “come to the table to find solutions”, do you mean that we didn’t give NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to congress like the MPAA? Or do you mean that we didn’t come to the one hearing that Lamar Smith held, where opponents of SOPA were refused an opportunity to comment? Help me out, here, Chris Dodd, because I’m really trying hard to understand you.
“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.”
Oh ha ha. Ho. Ho. The MPAA talking about “skewing the facts to incite” anyone is just too much. 
“A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”
Except for the part where this is completely false, it’s a valid point.
“It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
Riiiiiiight. Protesting to raise awareness of terrible legislation that will destroy the free and open Internet  is an abuse of power, but buying NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS worth of congressional votes is just fine. I’m so disappointed in Chris Dodd. He was a pretty good senator, wrote some bills (like Dodd/Frank) that are genuinely helping people, and is going to be on the wrong side of every argument as head of the MPAA. What a wasted legacy.
I totally agree with Wil. What happened to Chris Dodd?
January 17, 2012

SOPA lives—and MPAA calls protests an “abuse of power”

Reblog if you think gay marriage should be legal.
January 15, 2012

angellust155:

jaxtheripper13:

allthesetales:

jealousyreport:

damessiah:

lovehhurts:

is it even possible to get that amount of notes?

Holy shit. The notes. I love humanity sometimes.

HOLY FUCK THE NOTES.

oh wow those notes! Let’s get to 190!

wow, definitely worth the number of notes, but wow

let’s make the notes votes.

That’s a lot of digits .

Basically reblogging because of the shit ton of notes! And because, well, I agree.

How the New England Patriots Saved the World
January 15, 2012

Lord knows, I love me some football.

I love the gridiron, I thrill to the long bomb, my pulse pounds with every touchdown, and despite my beliefs (or lack thereof) I’ve said more than my share of Hail Marys.

But even I, who pray at the Church of the Pigskin devoutly every Sunday, never saw the game in the light of those who worship football’s latest idol, Tim Tebow.

You know the image by now: Denver Broncos quarterback Tebow, before, during, and after every game, down on one knee, black stripe under each eye stenciled with the numbers 3:16, praying to his God before one and all.

And so what? What’s wrong with that? We are each of us endowed by our creator, and all that. Why shouldn’t he believe what he wants to believe, and pray to whom he wishes to pray, you may ask. And you’d be perfectly right to ask just that.

Except that Tebow, and his fans, don’t just believe in God. No. They believe God is *influencing the outcome of the game.* Get down on your knee and the Holy Fix is in, Tebow Time will come on God’s command, and all he will do, all he ever does, is win.

This week, a poll found 42% of Americans believe that God is behind Tebow’s success on the football field. Nearly half of all of us. Drink that in for just a moment. If you don’t believe it, the person next to you does.

God is purportedly the creator of the entire universe, which contains billions of galaxies and (potentially) a number of habitable worlds too numerous to count. But let’s leave that aside. He created our world, with its billions of human inhabitants, all races, all cultures, every man, woman, and child. And we’re not all of us sitting comfortably in air conditioned and heated domed stadiums, eating hot dogs and drinking a frosty beverage. People are starving to death in the streets. People are slaughtered wholesale for what they believe, the land where they live, the precious stones under the ground, the color of their skin. Babies are stillborn. Women are systematically raped and mutilated. Children die of cancer, or are born with birth defects, or AIDS.

Now, none of this invalidates the existence of God. He could still have created this world, where each person has the freedom to choose their own path, as long as they know that in the end, when at last they reach their destiny, they will answer for those choices before him, and be punished or rewarded as they deserve.

But what Tebow and the 42 percenters would have us accept is not that world, but a world in which God allows all of the above to go on with one hand, but with the other he helps Tim Tebow win a game. If you believe these are God’s priorities, you believe in a world wholly beyond reason. The God of that world is a monster, and that world is HELL.

Tim Tebow cannot be right.

For the sake of us all, and all our sanity and well being, Tebow must be wrong. And so it was that I watched my beloved game in such joy as I can’t begin to describe, as the New England Patriots racked up point after rapturous point, garnering unto themselves a victory, not for them…well, not ONLY for them…but for us all.

The world is a better place this morning, because outcomes are decided not by an invisible hand, but by the hands and feet and powerful forms of those men on the field. And we can all rest easy knowing that Tebow Time, if and when it comes, will come solely at the command of Tim Tebow himself.

My guess? Next season.

Atheist Sunday!
January 14, 2012

If anyone wishes to join, I’ll be attending services at the North Texas Church of Freethought (http://www.churchoffreethought.org/) tomorrow morning at 10:30AM in Grapevine, Texas. Details found here:

https://www.google.com/calendar/event?eid=X2NscjZhcmprYnRsNzJvcnFkcHNuMm9yMmRoaDQwcmI1Y2xxN2FzMWVjZG5tcSBsNDg4NjlvYmNuOTVuZmVpM2MwdmQ3YzByM2FmbzY4Z0Bp&ctz=America/Chicago&gsessionid=OK

If I have time, I’ll also be going to the open business meeting of MetroplexAtheists.org in Irving in the afternoon at 1PM. Details here:

http://www.meetup.com/Metroplex-Atheists/

This will be my first time attending either, and I’d be glad for friendly company. Atheists, Humanists, Freethinkers, whatever you may call yourselves, you are not alone. We have a community and I think it important that we embrace it and make it a welcoming place for anyone. That is the best way to spread the message that it is okay not to believe.

goddessofcheese:
cognitivedissonance:
Seriously. Here’s how The History Channel works: Launched in 1995, The History Channel spent quite a bit of time on World War II, leading to “The Hitler Channel” as a sarcastic moniker. Realizing Nazi Germany can only be so profitable, The History Channel began expanding its chosen topics. The shift to reality TV came in 2007, as they began airing Modern Marvels. That show spun off Ice Road Truckers. The History Channel also changed their slogan to “History made every day” – perhaps realizing they were beginning to ignore their original mission of actual history. In 2008, The History Channel simply became “History”. As The New York Times explains: Its biggest show for the last two years has been “Pawn Stars,” about a family that buys and sells watches, necklaces and artifacts. Just last week, History scheduled a spinoff, “Cajun Pawn Stars.” But the channel is also considering shows that may seem suited for TNT or even ESPN, like a “Hatfields and McCoys” mini-series and a jousting competition. The goal, it seems, is to steal market share from the other big boys. History has been able to declare its “best year ever” for five years in a row because it took what could be seen as a radical turn away from its brand nearly five years ago. Summary from Cracked: Nat Geo, owned by the News Corporation, launched in 2001 with lofty goals. A news release from National Geographic proclaims “the 21st century would prove to be the real age of discovery as the pace of scientific research and technology accelerates” and that the new Nat Geo channel would bring these discoveries to life. The new channel originally planned to recap science news in an “All Things Considered” format, and to produce shows in-house using the National Geographic Society’s explorers-in-residence. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Well, in order to keep up with History, Nat Geo began adding reality television shortly after its launch. This included programs like Border Wars, Swamp Men, Rocket City Rednecks, and Knights of Mayhem. Instead of the quality illumination of scientific discovery, in its quest for ratings and keeping up with The History Channel, Nat Geo is morphing into a knock-off of History. The latest tragedy taken up by Nat Geo is Killing Lincoln, Bill O’Reilly’s book about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination that is so riddled with factual inaccuracies, the Ford Theater’s in-house bookstore refuses to carry it.  So thanks, History. See what you’ve done? History is choking the life out of history, science, and whatever else it can set its grubby corporate hands upon. And this, kids, is why we need PBS.
This pisses me off so much because when I was growing up, I used to watch it along with Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. I loved that stuff! It really peaked my interest in other cultures and history and other places. To see it change so much in the past years is just upsetting and depressing. Slightly OT, but when I went to Wiki to see what year it aired, I laughed when I got to this:  For some unknown reason the History Channel rarely airs shows actually relative to History, rather many programs compare contemporary culture and technology with the past, while some programs have an unfortunately more esoteric focus such as conspiracy theoryreligious interpretation, UFO speculation, or reality television. EVEN WIKIPEDIA SAYS IT, YOU GUYS. EVEN WIKIPEDIA. AUUUGH.
YES! It drives me inSANE. I used to watch The History Channel, NatGeo, & Discovery all day and LOVED the educational programming. Now it’s all “Finding Bigfoot” (deceptive title) and “Ancient Aliens”. Fuck that crap. Fuck that crap RIGHT IN ITS STUPID FACE.
January 13, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance: History is destroying history

Remember the scandal over Janet Jackson’s boob during the Super Bowl?
January 11, 2012

newwavefeminism:

redlightpolitics:

Super Bowl Viewers Will See Graphic Anti-Abortion Ads With Pictures Of Bloody Fetuses

America: where nothing we believe in actually makes sense… smh…

If this is not stopped, count me out of watching the Superbowl.

Skip Scarlet Spider to Stop SOPA
January 11, 2012

Like many Marvel fans, I’ve been highly anticipating the new Scarlet Spider series. As you may know, it hits stores today. However, it recently came to light that Marvel, like its parent corporation Disney, supports SOPA.

“Stop Online Piracy Act” sounds good, but it contains provisions that would prevent activists such as Occupy Wall Street or similar groups from using the Internet to organize. It also represents the first attempt by the US Congress to censor the Internet, a common practice in totalitarian states like China.

I’m asking that you boycott Marvel and Disney until this measure passes or is defeated, to send a message and pressure them to drop their support.

This means skipping the Marvel books on sale today, including the Scarlet Spider. It won’t be easy, but sometimes action demands sacrifice. Please consider doing without a few comics today to stop something that could have dire implications for our future. Thank you.