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31 January 2014

Once Again, Jon Stewart Speaks 100% TRUTH

I'm sure many of you are familiar with a study where people who generally get their news from The Daily Show tend to actually know what is going on.  I suspect that this is because Jon Stewart has no other agenda than reality.  Sure, he may appear "liberal" to many, but let's face it, compared to the rigid adherence to bronze age facts the mainstream conservative movement embraces, the 21st century must be a frightening place for them...  Hence, reality really does have a liberal bias.

So this bit of 100% truth just needs to be shared as often as possible:

If this video doesn't make you foaming at the mouth mad at the Kochsuckers in our government that call themselves the GOP, you aren't paying attention...The GOP specifically stated they would oppose everything a Constitutionally elected President proposed? Those fucking fuckwads have done more to betray the trust and goodwill of the United States than any Taliban asswipe hiding in a cave. The powers that be have been peddling this bullshit for too long, and people have been bamboozled by it for so long that they just eat the bullshit right up and never question why these assclowns haven't been given a one way ticket to Gitmo.

I have often wondered why there hasn't been more outrage at what these fuckwads have been doing. You can see the effects of their policies, and it's verifiable data. Yet people continue to vote against their common sense interests. As usual, Carl Sagan knows why: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

27 April 2013

We Are The Universe

Just going to post a video with minimal commentary.  Really, everything that needs said is said in the video itself.

Although, I can't resist also including a quote:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
- Isaac Asimov

11 April 2013

Here's Your Fucking Refund!

So today, science minded people are lamenting the lack of funding that NASA gets, and looking at the President's FY14 budget. I'll let Dr. Phil Plait discuss the budget and everything that it means. Instead, I'd like to make the NASA budget more personal.  A lot of folks may know what part of the federal budget is dedicated to NASA, but in case you don't know, it's around half a percent. A little more than half a penny of every federal tax dollar ends up at NASA. That means that a family with the median household income ($49,777 according to the U.S. Census Bureau), which pays $6,629 of federal taxes, pays the space agency...


Yeah, that's it. $33 measly dollars.  I bet you waste more than that on coffee in a single month. Every time I hear someone complain about NASA getting money, I feel that I should always carry $33 wrapped around a brick.  That way I can throw it at their head as I yell, "Here's your fucking refund!"

As a point of comparison (without making any judgements on personal spending), according to a November 2003 report by Barna Research Group and the Baptist Press, Americans are spending -- in ONE year -- an average of:

$586.5 billion on gambling;
$80 billion on illegal drugs;
$58 billion on alcohol consumption;
$31 billion on tobacco products, and;
$250 billion on the medical treatment for the above related issues

Additionally, during 2003, Americans also collectively spent:

$224 billion to eat out;
$191 billion on personal water craft;
$67 billion on frozen dinners;
$25 billion on gardening;
$22.1 billion on hunting;
$21.3 billion on extravagant pet products, and;
$15 billion on junk food snacks

Again, this is what people spend their personal money on, but if they think that because they contributed $33 to the NASA budget they can poo-poo the work, well, I am going to get angry.  Especially considering the return on investment we have received from NASA. A 1971 NASA study by the Midwest Research Institute concluded:

"The 25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 and will continue to produce pay-off through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent."

This statement is plausible since those were the years when NASA's spending on the Apollo program was at its height, but NASA also invested in other programs and they are included in the mix, so the conclusion is not as definitive as one would like.  Also, a 33 percent return on investment is not really big enough to make the normal venture capitalist go wild -- but for a government program, however, a 33% ROI is quite respectable. A short article in the prestigious British science journal, "Nature" (January 9, 1992, pgs. 105-106), reported:

"The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the source of their good fortune..."

So if you want your fucking refund you selfish bastard, I'd gladly deliver it with a brick up side your head...

31 March 2013

Lack Of Blogging?

A while back I was all happy about my new tablet. I figured it would allow me to blog and do a bunch of other things from various locations and maybe engage a bit more. Well, seems that didn't quite pan out. Sure, I can access a lot of different apps and do things that I couldn't do before. I just haven't got on to my Google app as much. Seems like I have been sharing my opinions and voice more on facebook than I have been blogging, tweeting, or anything else. I guess it's the easiest thing of all to do. And let's face it, facebook is a lot easier to share stuff on. Especially with the problem of typing on a tablet (and all the fun mistakes that result from autocorrect). I am involved still on Skeptics Stack Exchange, and still busy with facebook, but that's about it. The rest of my time is basically taken up by work, and that's about it. So while I would like to blog and share more detailed opinions more often, I may be restricted to facebook drive-by postings and sharing. Not that it's any great mystery what I generally share and post about. I will try to do one thing though. I'd like to keep this blog space alive (on life support?) for a while still. My goal/plan is to put something here at least once a month. In the meantime, follow me on facebook I guess.

03 February 2013

Too short an animation

I love all these science type videos, but I always have one complaint...

No, it's not the artistic license that the artist takes. No, it's not that they made it for the purpose of memorializing a friend or to raise money for cancer research.

No, my complaint is that these videos are too short!  I would love to see one done with these production values that have to use several pieces of music, and really get a roller-coaster ride of emotions and imagery.

30 January 2013

Religiosity and the numerous ills to society

The other day I posted this quote on Facebook and it got a lot of likes:
"Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority."
~ Amanda Marcotte
Which of course reminded me about a lot of other things regarding morality and atheists. 
One of my favorite papers is from the Virtual World project (which lists itself also as Moses Creighton, and appears to be an educational site because of the .edu extension). They have a Jopurnal of Religion & Society.  I suggest you read Volume 7 from 2005.

To say that it shows rather interesting data is probably an understatement.  So why would the quote I posted on Facebook remind me of this paper?  Well, the ills of society that for some reason are so disproportionately high  in the US, even though we are supposedly such a religious nation are aspects of morality.  Just read the abstract (emphasis mine):
Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favor of secularization in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the first world. Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health. Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and antievolution America performs poorly.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but after a while, you may start to wonder.  And this isn't the only data-point to consider... For instance, this article talking about our religiously motivate prudishness also mentions a lot of dysfunction.  They also note the correlation of (emphasis mine again):
“Prudes,” they would argue, should be upheld as exemplary role models because a sexually repressive society is also a society with fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer sexually transmitted diseases. But not only do the facts not bear that out, they also demonstrate that the exact opposite is true. Countries that embrace many of the things social conservatives detest (comprehensive sex education, pro-gay legislation, nude or topless beaches, legal or decriminalized prostitution, adult entertainment) tend to be countries that have  less sexual dysfunction than the United States, not more. And when one compares sexual attitudes in the United States to sexual attitudes in Western Europe, it becomes evident that there is a strong correlation between social conservatism and higher rates of teen pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.
Okay, so there is the whole societal ills thing, but what about some other measure of adherence to morality?  I think that maybe one measure could be prison populations.  What about them?  Well, generally Americans seem more inclined to believe a default position of christianity, but there was this one study that showed a much higher percentage of christians in jail than atheists.  Granted this is from 1997, and the past 15 years has changed the American landscape quite a bit.

Maybe a measure of morality that the religious would be more familiar with?  How about the so called "seven deadly sins"?  That may provide some insight?  The University of Kansas Geography department made a great info-graphic on those imaginary "sins" and how they stack up by region.  Although it would have been nice to overlay those maps with a measure of actual religiosity, however it is generally accepted that religiosity does run deeper in the southern US as supported by the Pew Forum. So AGAIN there is a correlation that is the exact opposite of what the religious claim regarding religion and morality.

Now in my opinion, I think the really telling part is that all religion does is give away a person's accountability.  Instead of someone actually internalizing their morality, they end up just following what is told to them by some authority figure with no supporting evidence.  Sound just like religion?  Of course.  Add to this the horrible morality contained in the bible and other holy books.  This is morality based on bronze-age misogynistic ignorant tribal nomads...  Seriously?

The worst part is that there are way too many people in legislative positions that think it's just fine to attempt to legislate these bronze-age misogynistic ignorant tribal morals on the rest of the population.  All in all it's abject failure, and then there is the whole problem that the people that actually believe the bullshit version of morality seem to have a problem adhering to it, while at the same time screaming about their freedoms.  And of course, they will gladly deny freedoms to groups they consider immoral just because of the same holy books, but in reality have no real bearing of morality

Well, I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  After so many correlations, I am starting to wonder if there is some causation here?  What do you think?

22 December 2012

Still Here!

Okay, by now it's the 22nd over most of the world, and nothing special happened.  This should come as no surprise to most people, but there were a few idiots and knuckleheads that did buy into it.  We all pretty much just laughed at them.

However, what makes your apocalyptic story any different?  (I use "your" in a collective sense of humanity, not any one person in particular that may be reading this.)  As I mentioned a couple years ago:
My issue is not really religion but irrational thought and belief without evidence. Religion is just the most evident, and for some reason respected, irrational belief system on the planet. If you really analyze religion, it's all about accepting the unprovable and non-existent as a matter of course.  You would readily scoff at someone who worshiped a giant flying space pickle, so why is your particularly strange deity immune from that rational examination? Have you examined homeopathy, power balance bracelets, new age, alchemy, astrology, tarot card reading, ghosts, UFOs, paranormal, mind-reading, tea leaf reading, remote viewing, spirit guides, bigfoot, etc. and made conclusions about those things? Why not examine the rest of things you "know" in the same way?
So let's check out apocalypse.  No matter what christians may proclaim, their religion is a death cult.  Just read the drug induced last chapter of their holy book.  It's bat-shit insane doomsday prophesies.  And for some reason, we're supposed to take that crap seriously?  Even considering the fact that they have been harping on about their doomsday for centuries, and have been wrong on every single one of their predictionsSeriously, they should be embarrassed at this point, yet they still cling to their very own apocalypse.  Which is what I find so fascinating about it.  So many christians scoffed at the 2012 nuttery.  They even scoff at the flavours of christianity that don't match up with their interpretation (or what their clergy tells them is their flavour).  Yet, they still think there is some truth in their book of fables, even though it contains one of the most disturbing and downright silly apocalypse predictions ever.

Is it any wonder that I really can't respect the intellectual integrity of someone who is religious.  Sure, they are compartmentalizing, and all those other lame excuses people put forth when you see someone who would normally be considered intelligent embrace a philosophy based on bronze aged myths, and believes in a totally unsupportable and indefensible position.  Why do we cut them so much slack?

06 October 2012

Distrust of Science. A conservative position? Why I can't vote for these GOP retards...

So I just saw this quote from someone who is as disconnected from reality as anyone can be:
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says."
Now normally someone having these thoughts wouldn't be a problem...  This person is Representative Paul Broun (R-GA), who is a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.  Yeah, you read that right.  This guy basically throws EVERYTHING we know about science, and throws it out the window to protect a bunch of bronze age fables.  Sorry, this is beyond retarded.  If anyone is interested in keeping the US as a technologically advanced nation, you need to vote out these fucking retards.  And yes, saying bullshit like that is a self inflicted mental retardation.

So why do these idiots say shit like this?  There has been a lot of speculation about that.  I will present you with a couple.  There is this scientific paper that states in it's abstract (PDF):
This study explores time trends in public trust in science in the United States from 1974 to 2010. More precisely, I test Mooney’s (2005) claim that conservatives in the United States have become increasingly distrustful of science. Using data from the 1974 to 2010 General Social Survey, I examine group differences in trust in science and group-specific change in these attitudes over time. Results show that group differences in trust in science are largely stable over the period, except for respondents identifying as conservative. Conservatives began the period with the highest trust in science, relative to liberals and moderates, and ended the period with the lowest. The patterns for science are also unique when compared to public trust in other secular institutions. Results show enduring differences in trust in science by social class, ethnicity, gender, church attendance, and region. I explore the implications of these findings, specifically, the potential for political divisions to emerge over the cultural authority of science and the social role of experts in the formation of public policy.
Which seems to agree with what we are seeing now, and is also the subject of this book.  And while it is a politically charged book perhaps, I think we all have seen the war waged in the past few decades.  Again, if these folks want to follow their bronze age fables, I suggest they only have access to bronze age science!  They seem to disdain that which we have worked so hard for.  Which is why as long as they take their fables as truth over reality not a single one of those fuckers will ever get my vote.  I'll vote for third party candidates before they get my vote.  I suggest you do the same.

21 September 2012

Fuck you GOP. Just fuck you!

I present this without comment...  I don't think I can really say anything that hasn't already been said, but this just disgusts me beyond reason.  Motherfucking assholes need to get their asses beat all the way out of Washington...

Vet jobs bill fails in Senate; caught in Hill battle

Legislation to put veterans to work preserving and restoring national parks and other federal, state and local lands was defeated Wednesday afternoon when Senate Republicans successfully blocked the bill’s advance with a budgetary point of order.