Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Come Now, And Let Us Scream Together, Saith The Conservatives...Isaiah 1:18

As the author of the article points out, there are plenty of things to be discussed with conservative friends, just as long as it's not about anything which is actually important. It's not that we don't like to talk about these issues and even desire to have intelligent conversations which include disagreements. It's just that we don't like being screamed at.

What today is labeled a "conservative" is a terrified reactionary, dreaming nightmares of glories past and disasters yet to come.  They live in a state of constant terror and endless rage, because they find these feelings comforting. Having lost the culture wars, they have nothing left with which to define themselves except their sense of abandonment and betrayal.  The past must have been glorious because then they were in power. The future must be a dystopian disaster because they will no longer get their way.

This means that reality and the facts which construct reality are an existential threat to them.  In a spiritual, philosophical, psychological sense, to use facts in a discussion with them is the equivalent of pointing a loaded gun at their body.  I feel great pity for people so trapped by fear, but that does not mean I make excuses for them.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Never Say "Dwarf"!

In response to the post, I posted:

While determined to declare both Ceres and Pluto to be planets, the author admits, --And the Kuiper Belt may contain hundreds of other planetary worlds like Pluto.--  which would mean teaching our children that our solar system has not eight, but 352 planets?  789? Who knows how many? The term dwarf planet keeps the precious word 'planet' in play while differentiating the major eight from everything else.  I predict the term will remain in place.

Wrestlemania! Hawking vs Pinker! The Death Match!

In response to a friend's Facebook post:

Hawking's point is well taken.  Some believe that the answer to the Fermi Paradox (if there are so many alien civilizations out there, where are they?  There should be lots of clear  evidence of their existence) may be, they acquired advanced technology and used it to exterminate themselves.

Then again:

Channeling Fascisism

A Facebook post:   Watched episode one of KanColle.  Not very impressive, but when the intro referred to girls channelling the spirits of famous warships, I thought, "They wouldn't!  Would they?"
They did.

The two girls channeling aircraft carriers were Akagi and Kaga (no mention of Soryu or Hiryu).  Both carriers were instrumental in the attack on Pearl Harbor and were sunk at Midway (ditto for Soryu and Hiryu).  

So what's the problem?  I can't imagine a German cartoon channeling the spirits of Nazi warships, like the Bismark or Graf Spee.  While Germany has come to terms with the horrors of their fascist past, Japan is still bitterly divided by her own history

It is important to note that even Americans who fought against them regarded both the Japanese and German navies as honorable enemies, unlike the armies in question.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Edjahmuhkation of Word Recognition Programs

Voice recognition systems. What a wonderful idea. I depend on them heavily to do my blogging.  But quite often some strange things happen. For example, I was dictating an otherwise quite readable blog post, but when I said "education" I got, among others, the following two responses: 'you Cajundid' and 'you Keeshan'. Other wierd word sets followed.  I finally got so angry I shouted "edjahmuhkation!"  The program printed out, "education".  I give up. I hope voice recognition continues to improve, and that it does so very soon. In the meantime, it remains a useful if unpredictable tool.

How Much Money??

Republicans are fond of hysterically screaming that the United States is in desperate trouble due to a seemingly eternal list of threats. One of the dangers which most terrifies them is the idea of the rich paying higher taxes than they currently do. But what impact would it actually have if we went back to the distribution of wealth which was normal in America's past? How much would it help the middle class? How much would it really hurt the ultrarich? Here are some answers:

Larry Summers was being interviewed by Charlie Rose. He is former secretary of the treasury and a key economic advisor to Pres. Obama, and former president of Harvard University.

"Think about this: if the income distribution of rhe United States were the same as it was in 1979,there would be $1 trillion more in the hands of the lower 80%…1 trillion, or $11,000 per family inthe hands of the bottom 80% of the population and there would  be $1 trillion less in the hands of the top 1%.  …that would be $750,000 less on average, per family for them.

So there has been a big  redistribution that has worked to the detriment of the middle class."

He then went on to point out that as this assault on the middle class is occurring, the government is providing less and less support for the middle class in many areas ranging from infrastructure to education costs.  "So there have been a variety of changes that  have exacerbated the inequality."

Rather than believing this is inevitable, he states, "… There are countries, Canada and Australia are two good examples, that, by focusing on these basic investments, by empowering workers, by strengthening education…through healthy regulatory mechanisms...have succeeded in having rising standards of living  for  the middle class."

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fact Checkers' Fantasies (Sorry, Susan!)

 I'm currently reading 'The Globe--The Science of Discworld Book 2' by Terry Pratchett with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. The series is quite enjoyable, interleaving tales from disc world with science from our world, but Stewart and Colin are not as careful with the facts as they should be. Several statements they have made are simply inaccurate. For example, they state that "To the ancient Egyptians, cats were tiny gods on earth, personified in the cat goddess Bastet."

Wrong! Sorry Susan and fellow cat lovers. This tale is much beloved by those who love their cats, but is historically and factually incorrect.  There were many animal headed gods and goddesses in Egypt. That did not mean that the animals were regarded as actual living gods.  Much has been made of the many mummified cats often found in Egyptian tombs. After all, modern cat worshipers argue, would the expensive process of mummification be applied if cats weren't gods?  But cats are not the only animals so mummified in large numbers. No one suggests that the Egyptians  worshipped ibises, spite of the many ibis mummies found. This is probably because very few people keep ibises as pets.

Furthermore, studies of those mummies have shown that most of the cats were killed by having their necks broken.  Odd way to treat your gods, isn't it? The answer is that it's ridiculous way to treat your gods. Even we Christians didn't sacrifice Jesus, the Romans did that for us.

Clearly, the cats and the other animals were killed as offerings to the real gods. Not gods, just symbols of the gods suitable for killing and mummification to appease the actual celestial gods.