22 Dec

We Won’t Fly – Homeland Security Trolling We Won’t Fly Blog

I was about to delete an offensive comment on this blog – one of the very few we get – and thought, hmm, I wonder where this guy is posting from? Because, really, it is quite unusual for us to get nasty comments. Lo and behold, the troll posted to our website from an IP address controlled by the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security! Here is the taxpayer-funded troll’s gem of a comment, for your entertainment:

Fuck you, Fuck all you cocksuckers, you wont change anything. ride the bus, TSA is here to stay there doing a great job keeping americia safe.

via We Won’t Fly – Homeland Security Trolling We Won’t Fly Blog. Apparently the Department of Homeland Security employees isn’t happy with We Won’t Fly. Perhaps even better is that comments are outlandish, stupid and rude. How do these employees think they are changing anyone’s mind with this sort of commentary?

27 Jul

Skepticblog – The Reasonableness of Weird Things

In my experience, the top reasons people believe weird things are not only understandable, but identical to the reasons most skeptics believe things: they are persuaded by personal experiences (or by the experiences of a loved one); or, they are persuaded by the sources they have consulted.

via Skepticblog – The Reasonableness of Weird Things. A both interesting and important point for getting quite possibly at why it can be so hard for people to dis-believe an other wise irrational belief.

24 Jul

Friendly Atheist – An Iowa College’s Response to Blasphemy Day

This is why Blasphemy Day is so important and why I’m now such a strong supporter of it.

It’s not about mocking religion or calling a believer names.

It’s about the freedom of speech and the idea that religion (along with other strongly-held beliefs) should be open to criticism.

No one should be able to silence you because they don’t like what you say.

via Friendly Atheist – An Iowa College’s Response to Blasphemy Day. Couldn’t agree more.

09 Apr

Calling Something Factual, Doesn’t Make It Magically Factual

Specifically, this is another time in which I call out Republicans for their lack of attention to basic logic and understanding of facts. I received an email tonight from the RNC regarding Obama, Congress and the organization ACORN. In this email the GOP makes the claim that “It seems the Obama Administration has plans to rig the Census results.” The way this will occur:

Why is this important? The U.S. population has shifted in the last ten years. States like Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania (all states Obama won in 2008) have smaller populations, and states like Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina (all states that John McCain carried) have gained population.

The trend illustrates that urban strongholds, which favor Democrats, continue to lose population to more decentralized areas in states more likely to lean Republican.

If the Democrats and their friends at ACORN have their way, the Census will only “estimate” state populations and therefore be subject to political calculations. And surely their estimate will be far higher than the actual number of people, and voters, present.

So if to be believed by the RNC, Obama and the Democrats through ACORN will manipulate the state population estimates to swing in favor of Democrats as opposed to what the estimate should actually look like.

Let’s start with a few things, first off the email never lists any facts, never links to any hard evidence demonstrating any manner of truth in the email. The only links are to unsubscribe, to the main GOP site and to donate to “help the Republican Party’s effort to spread the word about the Obama Democrats’ misuse of power and plans to end free and fair elections”. Also note this is the sort of classical conspiracy style formatting, this evil organization is doing something behind your back and we aren’t able to get our message out, but you can help us expose the truth.

The funny thing about the whole thing is that the Census Buera’s own estimates don’t prove the central point of the email, which is “States like Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania (all states Obama won in 2008) have smaller populations, and states like Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina (all states that John McCain carried) have gained population.”

Specifically looking at the 2008 Census Bureau estimates found here: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/GCTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-_box_head_nbr=GCT-T1-R&-ds_name=PEP_2008_EST&-format=US-40S

Let’s take a look at each state listed by the GOP in the email, comparing the 2000 Census results with the 2006 and 2008 estimates, shall we.

State 2000 Census Results 2006 Estimate 2008 Estimate
Illinois 12,419,293 12,759,673 12,901,563
Michigan 9,938,492 10,083,878 10,003,422
New York 18,976,816 19,367,028 19,490,297
Pennsylvania 12,281,052 12,388,055 12,448,279
Arizona 5,130,607 6,178,251 6,500,180
Georgia 8,186,812 9,318,715 9,685,744
South Carolina 4,011,809 4,324,799 4,479,800

Notice every single state listed in the email is gaining population from 2000 to 2008, and the only state losing population from 2006 to 2008 is Michigan, which given the state of the economy there, I’m not entirely surprised.

Now I’m not entirely sure what the GOP is trying to argue at this point, because at this point the argument just really collapses amongst itself. They could be talking about percentage change, but the talk about the population not a percentage fall or even that the rate of the states gaining population is going up.

Or I guess the Republicans could claim that the estimate itself is wrong, and they have no proof for it, because the Census Bureau has been manipulating numbers for years in favor of Democrats?

The next question for me becomes, how does a community organization influence the population census, that I’m not sure, since the GOP doesn’t link to any article talking about it or go into specifics, also how do you manipulate the census. Personally, I thought the census was performed by Census employees, maybe the GOP is thinking that the Census with outsource the collection of data to ACORN?

That makes some sense though it still seems silly to blame an organization whose actions are very much blown out of porpition: “Both claims are breathtakingly inaccurate. There’s a huge difference between voter fraud and voter registration fraud. And while ACORN, which hires part-time, $8-an-hour canvassers to go door-to-door and register people to vote, has had widespread problems with phony registrations invented by employees who don’t want to work, the problem has never been that it sent people to the polls using bogus identities or to vote in any other fraudulent manner.”

This winds up being my fundamental problem with political organizations, the media, and politicians, left, right and center. Wild accusations, conspiracy like talk with no real definitive proof or even an understanding of basic logic.

I will say though when MoveOn.org and some other organizations send out emails to pressure for something, they link to real authentic news articles to make a case for themselves. It helps so much it isn’t even funny. It’s almost sad to say that it is refreshing to get their emails which actually make a case for their point even if I disagree with them.

Also GOP, why do you always repeat yourself in the PS part of the email, it’s annoying and stupid. Learn from the Democrats and say something different. Seriously, I get really bored knowing that you are going to ask me for money in exactly the same way you did earlier.

11 Mar

My response to Glen Beck’s silly “We surround them”

Glen Beck not too long ago did a silly little thing in which he posted a list of 9 statements and said that if you believe in them to send in a picture for him to do display them or something.

This is my response to the list.

  1. America is good. Right a country is now a person and is good. And that person has never overthrown multiple governments that torture/murder/enslave/eliminate due process all so that they support us and not Russia? And what the heck does good even mean?
  2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life. – Please, I don’t believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny but I believe in a man 2,000 yrs ago that someone how died and rose again. And just happens that half of the belief structure of my faith has been written in the past 500 yrs. Or the now 15% who are atheists.
  3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday. Well at least more honest than the last time I cheated on my taxes or the last time I work on personal stuff while on company time.
  4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government. Right, I get to beat my kids, my husband gets to rape me and my daughter, control what my kids think, because I know better than thousands of other people that really having a house that is about to fall apart is good survival instict, oh and teaching my kids that the earth is the center of the universe is what I want to do. We wouldn’t want the government trying to provide for a more just and educated society, much more fun teaching kids to hate and not understand or listen to logic and reason.
  5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it. Except for the president, you know because he is allowed to break the law at will and not be held accountable for it. Oh and the people who help him break the law they get medals. Or if you are rich enough and have a really good reason for doing what you did, then it’s all cool.
  6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results. Except if you are gay, female, black, trans-gender, bisexual, or really just think or act different, then you have no equal freedoms and thus defiantly no equal results. Oh and just because you were raised in a poor school district and thus received a poor education means you should some how magically overcome a limited education expect there are no libraries for you to educate yourself at because:
  7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable. Yes they can it’s called taxes, and next time you feel reluctant to pay taxes because you want to hold onto what’s yours we’ll go back to pre-government days and let you fight to hold onto it and see how that works out. I really only want my friends to get the benefits of what I make and I really don’t want to try and help society advance by providing education, or help for people who are less well off than I am, unless they go to one of my pre-approved charities will they will be told they have to believe in God to get a warm bed and meal.
  8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion. – Unless you disagree with me, or with what America does or what the President (unless he’s a Democrat), or you can make stupid jokes about it and call the person fat, ugly, stupid, claim they should fail, etc.
  9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me. Unless they lie their way into a war, torture innocent people, tap my phone and record what I do online and where I travel overseas.
07 Jan

One isn’t Many and Many isn’t All

One of the arguments that I hear for why people express an -ism belief (racism, sexism, ageism, etc), is that they had this experience with this one person and you know that must be how everyone of that particular group is. I love this kind of reasoning it’s so illogical it’s almost funny and yet people do it all the time.

Venn Diagram: Subsets

Venn Diagram: Subsets

Mathematics will let you know that a subset is not always equal or the same as the larger set contained in it.

So why is that people assume that it is? Who knows, I suspect it has something to do with the same reason we are bad at assessing on an intuitive level risk.

Be that as it may, maybe it would be fair for people who make those sort of assumptions that a subset is the whole set to decide that white Americans are out to destroy America, or that Christians want to kill people and blow up buildings. Yet we don’t assume that because it just isn’t true.

So do you still think the one is the many and that many is all or is it possible that it just isn’t true?

06 Apr

Criticizing America

Recently there has been a political storm brewing over Reverend Wright. This man was Senator Obama’s former pastor and his sermons are to put it bluntly rather controversial. Here is a video of one them receiving the most coverage from the media outlets, at the end of which he says “God damn America”. This has understandably caused a great many people to have some major problems with Obama being associated with this person. My focus here isn’t on Obama and wether Obama should or should not have disowned him or what he should have done. Though I think we have something to learn from Obama’s speech, specifically to quote Avenune Q, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”. Rather I want to focus on the controversy surrounding the Reverend himself over him criticizing America.

This is a rather controversial topic in America and one that I am admittedly hesitant to write about. For several reasons, first off politics is a highly emotional and personal topic, this causes people to feel very intensely about their particular point of view and ignore other points of view. This is easily seen by both the parties here in America which will routinely criticize one party for doing something that they themselves did just a few years earlier. Also you can see it in the screaming heads we have on cable tv that are more interested in yelling at one another rather than working through an issue. The second reason is that my opinion on this matter is itself rather controversial but obviously I feel a valid opinion.

So should Americans criticize not just a particular opinion, political party or should they also criticize America as a whole? Personally I feel yes for several reasons. America as a whole is both a society, a culture, and a the government as a whole. There are times when the society, the culture and the government as a whole all agree on something that people may feel is wrong. Who then is left to criticize other than America as a whole? A lot of well meaning Americans consider it unpatriotic to criticize the country. There reasoning behind it is that no matter what it still is your country and to criticize America then why are you here in the first place? Which in all honesty isn’t a bad reason, but I think it becomes faulty logic. One doesn’t have to agree with everything that occurs in a country. Part of our citizenship isn’t a requirement that you pledge to never criticize America. Citizenship says that you pledge to follow the rules our society has put into place and to quote Wikipedia:

Responsibilities of citizens

Citizens have the duty to serve in a jury, if selected. Citizens are also required to pay taxes on their total income from all sources worldwide, including income earned abroad while residing abroad (regardless of the duration of the residence) – but only beyond the first $85,700 in this case because of the foreign earned income exclusion.[1] U.S. taxes payable may be further reduced by credits for foreign income taxes. The United States Government also insists that U.S. citizens travel into and out of the United States on a U.S. passport, regardless of any other nationality they may possess.

Male U.S. citizens (including those living permanently abroad and/or with dual U.S./other citizenship) are required to register with the Selective Service System at age 18 for possible conscription into the armed forces. Although no one has been drafted in the U.S. since 1973, draft registration continues for possible reinstatement on some future date.

Citizenship does not mean that you give up an ability to criticize another citizen of America, a political party, or even America as a whole. One of the many freedoms this country gives us is the freedom to criticize America as a whole, the society, the culture, the whole government. There are times when this is appropriate. That isn’t to say that this is something that I feel one should do, day in, day out. But there are times when even I have felt that our society as a whole is participating in something that goes against our foundation, our Consution or even just plain logic. Criticism of something isn’t my way of saying we should throw out whatever I am criticizing or that it shouldn’t exist. It’s my way of saying that such and such is a wrong action. The reason people criticize something is to correct a wrong or perceived wrong action. If America as a whole is undertaking what I perceive to be a wrong action, that isn’t it my place to criticize the action and criticize the country for going along with the decision.

I personally don’t agree Rev. Wright, for several reasons, I don’t think it is the society as a whole that needs to be criticized also I feel that what he is doing isn’t criticism so much as it is trying to stir up emotions around his topic of race relations in America. I feel that debates should be less emotional and more logical that simply saying “God damn” x. That’s not a debate, however to quote Voltaire “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” I will always defend someones right to freedom of speech, even when they disagree with me or even when what they say is controversial.