Democrats: Lose the pork!

I agree with ending the open-ended money and blood pit that is the so-called Iraq “war”. The free ride is over for Bush. Give us a plan or expect us to give you one. The notion that we can spend and die over there until “democracy” shows up is daft. We need more international involvement and less focus on this retarded notion that we are fighting an existential conflict over there. That is bullshit. There is no clear and present danger that the US will be wiped out of existence by terrorists. That’s a Republicans Biblical fantasy.

But, damn it, Dems, what the fuck are you doing putting pork in this fucking bill? As if it isn’t controversial enough to put a timetable on this thing. What brain dead retards thought it was a good time to load up on some pork. That is lame.

Democrats: Lose the pork!

Dennis Miller: Not Funny

I don’t care what Dennis Miller’s politics are. I don’t care what any comedian’s politics are. I can laugh at the Left just as much as I can laugh at the Right. Dennis Miller was on the Daily Show tonight and I just don’t think the guy is funny. He tried way too hard and…did I say yet?…he’s just not funny.

Can anyone name a single funny person on the Right?

Dennis Miller: Not Funny

You are going to die

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

–Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University, 2005

From 10 things you never knew about Steve Jobs.

You are going to die

Astrology is bullshit

Just stumbled on this Skeptico post from a couple of years ago about how astrology does not work.

People want to believe this stuff for some reason. I don’t believe it at all and yet I am still a Libra in many ways. I suspect that I just relate to those parts of my personality that are Libra-like when discussing astrology. If I were some other sign, I would relate to the qualities of that sign. People are complex and we all probably have attributes related to all of the signs of the zodiac.

This is why many people believe their horoscope as well. They ignore those parts that don’t ring true or don’t happen and remember those parts that do. So you read a horoscope that says a friend will have bad news and you’ll have a happy surprise. If those things don’t happen, you don’t really think about it, but if they do you say “Wow, my horoscope was true!”

One trick you can do is read someone their horoscope but actually read one for a different sign. Same thing: they’ll pick out the “true” stuff and ignore the not true stuff.

From an astronomical basis, astrology is bullshit as well. I did a little calculation comparing the gravitational force of the other solar system bodies with that of the earth. Here they are in decreasing order of influence:

Body    Force
Earth 100.00000000%
Sun     0.24077994%
Moon    0.00125292%
Jupiter 0.00001312%
Venus   0.00000752%
Saturn  0.00000095%
Mars    0.00000029%
Mercury 0.00000010%
Uranus  0.00000003%
Neptune 0.00000001%
Pluto   0.00000000%

So on average the Sun has 0.25% of the gravitational influence on you as the Earth does. The moon has 0.001% of the influence. And those are the STRONG ones. Jupiter, which is the biggest planet and fairly close, has 0.00001% of the influence as the Earth.

The notion that these minuscule forces are going to affect whether you have good luck today or not is daft.

Astrology is bullshit

Diebold: A new definition of "fucktard"

Diebold is suing the state of Massachusetts because it didn’t win a contract for voting machines.

“We want a judge to either order the contract awarded to Diebold, based on his review of the proposals, but if he does not want to go that far, to at least order a reopening of the competition”

As if we needed another reason to think these guys were evil, incompetent twits. Hello, free market?

This case should not only be thrown out of court, but Diebold should be liable for all costs by the taxpayers to defend themselves against this frivolous suit.

Further, we should pass a federal law that says all voting machines must be open source, period.

Diebold: A new definition of "fucktard"

Do your damn job

The Minneapolis Star Tribune (which retardedly deletes stories after a while, insuring the following link will break sometime in the future) has a story on Muslims who won’t scan pork at Target or give people rides in their taxis if they have alcohol. One person is quoted as saying:

“If a vegetarian refused to scan hamburger, that wouldn’t make the front page,” she said. “But because the word ‘Muslims’ comes up, suddenly it becomes news.”

I’m not sure this is true. I oddly agree with many right wingers on this issue because it is so damn simple: do not try to get a job which includes duties that you are unwilling to perform. This has nothing to do with Islam, in my opinion. I hold the same opinion of Christian pharmacists who won’t dispense prescriptions for religious reasons or vegetarians who won’t do their jobs. Either do your job or get a different job.

This is not any sort of infringement on religious freedom nor is it discrimination. The job is X and either you do X or you should look for another job. The same rules apply to everyone.

Do your damn job

That US Attorneys Thing

David C. Iglesias wrote an article for the New York Times explaining his view of his firing.

Now we all know that the President can fire US attorneys for no reason. They serve “at the pleasure” of the President and none of us would be asking questions if they fired people for poor performance or just fired everybody in a house cleaning. I heard that Clinton did the latter at one point.

The question is: are we comfortable with the President firing people because they did not serve his political interests? Do we want US attorneys to apply their work with a bias towards the party in the White House?

From the article:

…I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, “I am very sorry to hear that,” and the line went dead.

A few weeks after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of United States attorneys who would be asked to resign — even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate. (In one of the documents released this week, I was deemed a “diverse up and comer” in 2004. Two years later I was asked to resign with no reasons given.)

When some of my fired colleagues…and I testified before Congress on March 6, a disturbing pattern began to emerge. Not only had we not been insulated from politics, we had apparently been singled out for political reasons. (Among the Justice Department’s released documents is one describing the office of Senator Domenici as being “happy as a clam” that I was fired.)

Domenici is, apparently, a scumbag who was pissed off that the US attorney did not help them win elections.

Does that piss you off? It pisses me off. It also pisses off my lawyer friend, Mark, who had this to say:

The most disturbing
reason given for termination was a refusal to investigate and/or indict the administration’s political rivals prior to the last congressional election. The investigations and/or indictments at issue were not pursued because the US attorneys who were assigned to the cases did not believe there were grounds to proceed based on their review of the law and evidence. There were attempts made to pressure at least one of these US Attorneys into bringing what amounted to a groundless indictment, purely for political gain. Such action amounts to an abuse of police power and an attempt to mount a malicious prosecution. This action is unethical and dangerous to our representative form of government. US Attorneys, as prosecutors, are
supposed to operate independently of political influence. Their job is to determine whether a particular case warrants prosecution based on the laws of the United States and the evidence available. When the results of the “prosecutorial decision making process” are influenced or dictated by the political party in power, it results in a “police state”.

The Republicans, of course, are trying to claim this is all political theater even though the President himself admits “mistakes were made”. If you think concern for the justice system is “political theater”, you are a fucktard.

That US Attorneys Thing

A systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change

From the NY Times

A House committee released documents Monday that showed hundreds of instances in which a White House official who was previously an oil industry lobbyist edited government climate reports to play up uncertainty of a human role in global warming or play down evidence of such a role.

Before joining the White House, he was the “climate team leader” for the American Petroleum Institute, the main industry lobby.

He was hired by Exxon Mobil after resigning in 2005 following reports on the editing in The New York Times. The White House said his resignation was not related to the disclosures.

Raise your hand if you are cool with an ex- and now current oil industry lobbyists rewriting scientific reports to “play up uncertainty” in global climate change.

Your tax dollars at work.

A systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change

Biblical Literalism

I had a few beers with my pastor friend, Tom, last night. Tom is by far the most enlightened religious person I know. He is not at all threatened by atheism or even fundamentalism. His focus is on the good that people of faith can do and the richness of the lives they can lead. He is not in any way judgmental, he is extremely compassionate and caring and he takes no issue with science, humanism or rationale being applied to matters of faith. He thinks, in fact, that doubt, discussion and seeking are vital to an honest faith. He makes you Christians look good.

We talked a bit about my discussion with the young earth creationist. He said that he reads the historical parts of the Bible as history, the poetry as poetry, the metaphor as metaphor, etc. The Bible has all of these things. If you want to treat the Bible as absolutely literal you miss most of its teaching. He used an example that Jesus (or God or whatever) said “I am the rock”. So, is God made of granite? Is that the literal interpretation? Of course not, it’s a metaphor. Another example was that after God created Adam and Eve, the very first people, the serpent spoke to them. How is it that a serpent and these brand new people spoke the same language? A literal interpretation of the fall from grace is retarded — a metaphoric interpretation is rich in meaning and in teaching.

A little Googling led me to this article on biblical literalism and he makes some good points about the topic as well.

My point? It is literally impossible to interpret the Bible literally. Such attempts strip the teachings of their true meaning. The ass-backwards attempts of religious fundamentalists to interpret the creation of the universe, the creation of humans, the flood, etc. as literal, scientific truth are turning their backs on the Word.

The fact that I’m an atheist does not likely cause these people to agree with me, I’m sure!

Biblical Literalism

Evolution — what is so fucking hard about this?

Thought experiment: a bunch of people are stranded for decades on a deserted island. The children of one of the families all die from an unfortunate genetic trait. That family passes on no breeding heirs and their gene pool on that island ends. That unfortunate genetic trait ends with them, yes? While it is still possible the trait exists in some of the other people, the fact is, the frailty of that trait causes those genes to be weeded out of the gene pool.

We see this in the world. Sickle cell anemia is correlated with an increased resistance to malaria. People without the sickle cell trait were more likely to die from malaria. The survivors were more likely to develop sickle cell anemia.

Survival of the fittest is obvious. Natural selection is obvious. I’m no expert on these matters, but I just don’t see what is so hard to understand about this.

Evolution — what is so fucking hard about this?