Monday, November 8, 2010

Gone and back again

So for people who were not aware (understandable due to the short duration of this incident) Keith Olbermann was suspended Friday for having donated to three of the campaigns this year, which is a violation of NBC's policy for journalists.  Well, as of last night per ABC news the suspension is already over.  Now if only we could see some of the Fox idiots suspended there would be justice in the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Storm is Over and now...nothing gets done

Well the 2010 midterms are effectively over and what have we gotten?  A house controlled by climate change deniers and ultra-conservatives who want to start impeaching the President (no real reason why) and shut down the government; A senate that is now narrowly controlled by the democrats which will only be able to pass legislation if the completely abandon the filibuster; and a white house that is going to be spending the next 2 years trying to do stuff with people who are insane...

Yeah we are all screwed.  The republicans have already laid out their strategy for 2010, which is blame the Dems since nothing they pass will get out of the Senate then take us back to Bush-anomics.  They'll probably try to defund Health care, which won't pass then force a shut down when no budget they do will be acceptable.  The only way anything will get done is if they suddenly become sane and actually end up being willing to compromise so they can govern, a change in behavior I do not expect.  So what are we Progressives to do?  I don't know yet, but I'll be thinking about it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Appologies

Sorry for the recent lack of posts.  Unfortunately I actually have to have a job and October is literally the biggest month of the year so I've barely been able to do anything beyond go to work, work, come home from work, and go to sleep; fortunately this should be the last week of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just Poor Enough

So I was listening to an interview with Noam Chomsky yesterday when I heard him comment about how people in America are not so bad off that they can't get involved; how they are far better off then people who do get politically involved in other cultures.  I think Mr. Chomsky is missing a key concept of the conservative principals of control in that observation.

Some people think that it is the objective of the filthy rich and conservatives to make us all dirt poor, but that is not the case.  Rather, they want us all just poor enough.  If the populous is too well off (ie middle class) then they have excess time and resources to commit to being politically active.  Conversely, if they are too poor, so poor that they cannot fulfill the lowest level of Mazlow's hierarchy of needs, then they have no choice but to foment political opposition.  But if they are just poor enough that they can barely meet their basic needs, if they are just able to survive in their society, then they will not revolt.  They will continue to slave away striving to fulfill those basic needs and desperately trying to achieve some of their safety needs.

Sadly, in America right now many people are just poor enough...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christine O'Donnel is an Idiot

So if you haven't seen it yet Christine O'Donnel was in an event with her opponent in front of a bunch of Lawyers and was shocked to learn that Seperation of Church and State is in the first amendment.  Now, for those people who don't know the constitution, the First Amendment begins with "The Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion;"  Now Conservatives love to say that this doesn't say what it says, that somehow this still allows the government to be Christian, but willful ignorance does not make it true.  I only wish that every republican candidate was so proudly and voiciferously stupid, if they were it might turn this election around.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Case for the Justice department Appealing the DADT strike down

So I'll be the first to admit that when I first heard about the verdict ruling DADT unconstitutional, I thought that Justice should abandon tradition and let it stand.  Then last night on Rachel Maddow I heard a very good case for why they SHOULD appeal it, and I have to convinced me.

Basically, the argument goes that by setting the precedent of allowing the lower court to over turn it without pro-forma appeal then it would encourage some right wing loon to shop around something they didn't like, such as health care reform, till they found a judge who would rule it unconstitutional when another Republican becomes president.  Having the justice department move the case up to the supreme court for a definitive ruling will keep congress from reinstating the ban or something similar and will provide a deterent for future conserva-nuts.  Now if, when they defend it, Justice doesn't just come out and say that they think its unconstitutional and that all they are doing is appealing pro-forma then I will be royally pissed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I hate having to choose the lesser of two evils

So two years ago I voted for my congressman, Gerry Connolly, for several reasons; one of which his campaigns response to my question to his campaign concerning seperation of church and state especially in regards to science education.  Now, 2 years later, all I see from him are adds touting his anti-tax conservative bonafides.  Now I know it's too much to ask for a progressive in Virginia...but really must my candidate campaign in a way that makes me completely unexcited to vote for him?  If his opponent wasn't completely bat shit insane I would actually be worried.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The case for agressive Atheism

This morning PZ Myers posted the remarks he made at the Secular Humanism conference stating his case for confronting religion.  It's a very good read and he makes a strong case for why we shouldn't try to accomodate religion.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Global warming is a losing arguement.

Do I accept the science that says the Earth's climate is warming? Yes.  Do I accept the countless studies that show that its anthropogenic? Absolutely.  Do I think Global Climate Change is a winning argument in getting Americans to reduce their fossil fuel use? Not one fucking bit. 

The problem is that, unless you are a scientist or a nerd, global climate change doesn't work on a scale that most people can understand.  It's the same problem you run into when trying to explain evolution or the problems with most science fiction.  The human mind just isn't conditioned to perceive the world on those kinds of scales.  This is why so many people look at things such as the 3 blizzards that hit the DC area last winter and say 'See, the planet can't be warming!  There were blizzards in DC!'  Now you can try and educate people, and you may even succeed with some of them, but most people just can't wrap their minds around those kinds of scales.  You just start running into what I like to call the Murder Paradox.  1 murder is a horrible crime.  2 murders is depravity.  1000000 murders is a statistic.  The only way to get people past this is to shrink the scale of what you are talking about to a more human scale.  Go through any history class where they talk about how many Jews were killed in Nazi Germany or how many Cherokee died on the trail of tears and the numbers just don't trigger the same response as the first hand stories of the horror do; and look at how few people at the time could accept the reports they heard out of Europe till the first videos of concentration camps brought it home.  Similarly, when you talk about climate change and how it will affect things 20, 50, 100 years or more down the road it just is beyond what the human mind can easily envision.

Now add to this the fact that science is an area that values "flip flopping" and encourages its practitioners to reevaluate their beliefs and you are running into a disaster waiting to happen.  Right wing loons just go and point out that scientist changes, that it isn't set in stone and use that to discredit the argument.

So what's the solution?  Well I would suggest that instead of using global warming as an argument we instead focus on stuff that's harder to deny, such as the limited supply of fossil fuels.  It becomes harder to refute that and it works to achieve the same goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is it possible to declare independence from my state?

So for those who aren't aware, my states Attorney General is an idiot.  He's on a witch hunt trying to discredit climate science, forcing an already hurting state budget to pay for both his prosecution and UVA's defense of the professor.  This ranks right up there with his decision to challenge health care reform with state money and his attempt to change the 234 year old state seal because it "inappropriately" showed a bared woman's breast...

I understand that living in a southern state means dealing with these kind of loonies, but really this is too much.  Let Ken Cuccinelli be a warning to every liberal out there who is disappointed in Obama and the democrats and is thinking of staying home November 2nd...BEWARE!

Dreams really do come true

So I recently started listening to a podcast called Citizen Radio, and on Monday while sitting there at work, listening I heard them make some jokes about zombies not listening.  Now, total geek that I am, I took this as a sign from His Noodlieness and decided to write them an email playing on their Zombie talk...and low to my surprise I was listening today to hear them reading my email as one of the Viewer/Listener Mails they read aloud.  Now if only they would promote this blog...

As an aside to anyone who reads this, while I find Citizen Radio funny and informative they are significantly more liberal then I am and I don't agree with all their views; still I recommend them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When will conservatives tell the truth about the deficit?

While watching Discovery Channel tonight I saw a commercial for a new "documentary" that conservatives are putting out blaming Democrats for the deficit and calling the President a socialist...yeah right.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. If you look at the past 40 years what you will see is that whenever a Republican is in charge the deficit increases, whenever a Democrat is in charge the deficit decreases. The reasons for this lay in what the two parties believe about government. Republicans don't believe that government can function and therefore they want to sabotage it whenever they can, such as by "starving the beast."  Democrats, on the other hand, believe that government can and should function so they want to balance out their spending with tax increases.

The trailer for this movie is so bad I couldn't even watch it all without getting sick at the patent dishonesty (if you must go see it you can find it at

Life in Conservative America

What would things be like if America was run by conservative ideals?  Just look at what happened in rural Tennessee last week for a glimpse.  Now I don't know about you, but to me fire fighters and fire departments aren't supposed to be in the buisness of deciding whether or not to stop a fire form burning on the basis of whether the owner paid a fee.  This isn't the first time in our history that this kind of barbarism could happen.

Prior to the civil war this was the norm; fire departments where for profit and they would commonly forgo saving a house that had contracted with a competitor or who hadn't contracted with anyone at all.  We figured out from that failed experiment in capitalism that certain things shouldn't be optional and shouldn't be for profit.  Those functions are for the good of all of us and should be instead reserved for the commons, with everyone paying for the cost with their tax dollars.

These types of policies are the model for how conservatives would run things.  Are you a poor farmer living outside of city limits?  Can't afford to pay an extra fee to keep your house protected?  Guess you're SOL then buddy because the fire department only protect the well to do.  Can you imagine if they used the same system for the police?  Or paramedics?

Think about that, and if when you're done you still like the idea of fee based fire protection then I have just the place for you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Supreme Court Term Day!

Ah, the start of October, the changing of the leaves, the final countdown for the election...and most importantly the start of the Supreme Court term.

This years term brings two particular cases of importance to me; Snyder v. Phelps and Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association.  Both are free speech cases and both test our willingness to protect speech even if it isn't speech we approve of.

Snyder v. Phelps concerns whether or not Phelps's anti-gay protestes of funerals, especially soldier funerals, is constitutionally protected from civil damages (for more details see  I'm split on this as I believe that Phelps every right to spew his toxic waste of a viewpoint.  However, there is an arguement that protesting funerals, specifically, forces the attendess to see this poison and they deserve some protection.
Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association is a bit more straight forward.  The question here is whether it is constituional for California to dictate whether a video game is too violent for your children.  This seems to be a blatant violation of the free speech clause, the only question is whether or not the justices will view video games as speech on par with movies or books.  If not, expect to see many other states pass similar laws and a massive chilling effect in what video game publishers are willing to put out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's About Time!

For those who haven't heard the Federal government has finally had a burst of sanity and is funding something other then Abstinence-only Sex Ed.  It's taken 10 years of increasing teen pregnancy rates and increasing STD rates, but finally someone with the ability to actually look at evidence rather than their ideology is making these funding decisions.  Now we just need to not have the GOP fail to take over congress and maybe we won't see this reversed in the next budget year.

Stuff Like This is What Ruins Science's Reputation

So, I just saw a news story that showed that the U.S. Public Health Services intentionally infected Guatamallans with STDs 60 years ago.  Stuff like this just fuels the Anti-science crowd who are convinced that science is out to get them.  Now I know it happened 60 years ago, but the fact is that this will just be used as more evidence that scientists NOW can't be trusted.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Secret to Passing a Bill in the Senate...

Is apparently to have it be a regulation to stop something so annoying that even Republicans hate it.  I of course am talking about the fact that the volume of commercials is higher than the volume of the TV show you are watching.   This alone it seems is offensive enough that even the free market republicans felt they could vote for it...welcome to America in the 21st Century.

The Problem with Libertarianism

I personally have a fair amount of respect for libertarians.  True libertarians, like Ron Paul, tend to stand for some clearly identifiable and understandable positions and even to a large extent stay true to those principals.  The only problem is that libertarianism is based on a terrible faulty assumption.  Just as its ideological counterpart, communism, assumes that all of us are selfless noble creatures that will gladly reduce our own well being for the well being of other, libertarianism assumes that everyone is an all knowing individualist.  They cling to the ideal espoused by the objectivists (Ayn Rand, etc) that everyone is out only for themselves and that if everyone behaved in accordance with their "enlightened self interest" everything would be hunky dory.  We are neither entirely individualistic nor are we entirely community driven; rather these two forces constantly coutner ballance one another in our societies, and any political ideology that ignores one for the other is just as delusional as the other.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Do Atheists Know More About Religion then the Religious?

So as some of you may have heard, The Pew Forum on Relgion & Public Life recently released the results of a survey that found that Atheists know more about religion then believers.  Now some people may have found this rather surprising...and I am not one of those people.

So why are Atheists so knowledgeable about religion?  Well, for starters how people become Atheists partially explains this.  Unlike believers, Atheists are generally not indoctrinated from childhood; rather they come to their Atheism gradually over years and years of self exploration and questioning.  Part of this exploration involves learning about all the different religions out there and realizing how ridiculous some of their claims are.  Then add onto that fact that Atheists tend to be people who value intellectualism and learning and it makes perfect sense.  When you take a subset of the population that represents, almost in it's entirety, people who are highly educated and who tend to have a questioning mind that is always seeking to learn more you are invariably going see results like this recent survey.

Now if only this survey would silence all those people who are convinced that Atheists are only Atheists because they don't know anything about the "virtues" of faith...yeah I'm not holding my breath either.