No, not a Republican

This is my response to a friend who assumed that because I am a small business owner with some strong views on personal responsibility and liberty that I was a Republican.


Ha! I’m no Republican. I neither believe in trickle-down, voodoo economics (supply-side stimulus), nor that a bronze-age fairy tale is the literal truth of the universe and the proper basis of a system of morality upon which many laws governing people’s private lives should be passed… the only two solid planks in their platform. Oh yeah, and “Drill Baby, Drill” is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, since the proof of global climate change is extensive and incontrovertible, and the urgency with which we must react by moving as rapidly as possible to carbon-neutral renewable energy doesn’t leave room for the foot dragging of those in the pocket of Big Oil, if we hope to not poison ourselves and our entire planet. And, although I bought my first firearm at 9 years old, and have owned several over my life, I don’t believe the second amendment should be used to justify private citizens owning assault weapons. I also believe we should place limits on handgun ownership. Countries with fewer guns have fewer gun-related homicides. Go figure. The NRA, and the Republicans they control, are way past the line on this issue justifiable by the twin arguments of hunting and home defense. I also think that the only way to fix our obviously broken health care system in this country is to adopt a single-payer model for basic health care, emergency room, check-ups, etcetera. Supplemental commercial health insurance, offered in a competitive national market (like car insurance), and subject to the normal anti-trust laws, should be available to individuals (with no employer obligation) to cover additional, extraordinary, or more extensive health care needs and costs. For-profit health care is directly at odds with patient well-being and since it bears a burden of having a profit margin (which are at record levels currently) at multiple levels (insurance company, medical practice, hospital, private ambulance service) the end costs to the consumer are dramatically inflated. That profit margin is a weight which will bring the whole shaky structure down if we continue on the current Republican-designed model, especially with our rapidly-aging, Baby Boomer-heavy, increasingly obese and diabetic, population. Also, unlike the majority of Republicans, I believe in the evolutionary explanation of the origin of species, even us humans. Why? Because the evidence for the Theory of Evolution is more extensive than that for the Theory of Gravity. They are both, in a non-scientific sense, facts, which is what the scientific word “theory” actually means in a lay sense, a subtlety that the uneducated and downright stupid Republicans don’t seem to be capable of grasping. I don’t believe that humans are somehow “special” in the history of the universe, or even this planet, although our accomplishments (global war, climate change, slavery, pollution, causing the extinction of numerous other species) speak for themselves, and that some Sky Daddy god created us in His image, not the other way around. I also believe that all Americans… Nay!… all humans, deserve to be treated equally under the law, be they black, white, male, female, straight, gay, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, or even, gasp, atheist, and that the best way to accomplish this is via a color-blind, strictly-secular government Of, By, and For the People, which is a belief that the Republicans, with their incessant attempts to destroy public education by injecting Creationism into Science classes, marginalize and disenfranchise gays, blacks, women, and other minorities, and otherwise making Of, By, and For ring hollow (e.g. Citizens United), clearly don’t share with me. I think their “Shining City on a Hill” is populated by selfish shallow greedy racist holier-than-thou misogynist assholes, and overlooks a valley filled with the carcasses of the rest of us whose dead bodies they stepped over to make their fortunes. Basically, I think Reagan, with his outrageous levels of Defense spending (Which is the real root cause of our current economic woes because you can’t run a wartime economy forever. It’s guns or butter, not guns and butter), was a terrible president, and Ayn Rand, with her gratuitously laborious plots and complete disregard for the hard work and sacrifice of everyone in her stories but her protagonists, was neither a good author nor an honest philosopher. Frankly, they were both full of shit. I think Grover Norquist, while well intentioned, has an influence over the Republicans completely disproportionate to the complexity, accuracy, and maturity of the philosophy he promotes through his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”. I think the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and that ilk are, in fact, morally bankrupt, and have destroyed our political process and poisoned the national dialog on important issues with straw man arguments, false comparisons, and religion-based manipulation of their weak-minded Republican pawns in Congress. I think that the black-and-white view Republicans form of every issue from health care (“Socialism!”) to foreign policy (“Axis of Evil”, “You’re either with us or against us”) betrays a lack of sophistication of thought necessary to comprehend and deal with the problems facing the world today in a rational and effective way.

To review… Yahweh, American Exceptionalism, John Galt, Constitutionally-protected individual rights of corporations, “clean” coal, God-given index-beating profit margins, and supply-side stimulus are completely fictional, and a group of people like the Republicans, who display such a complete inability to differentiate fact from fiction, much like small children or the mentally retarded (clinical usage of the term), should not be considered as serious candidates for the post of County Dog Catcher, much less U.S. Congress and President of These United States.

No, not a Republican.

Nor a Democrat, although I think that Democratic policies in general cause far less damage to the Republic, and the people living in it, primarily because while there are legitimate arguments on both sides of most issues, the Democratic Party is today a centrist party, while the Republicans have been dragged further and further to the right by the loudest and most obnoxious among them, such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News (ha! “Journalists”, forsooth), and other buffoons with little knowledge, understanding, or intelligence, no compassion for their fellow humans, and an iron-clad belief in the absolute evil of all things socialist, and the absolute good of all things profitable.

Nifty art tools in the cloud

Do you often find yourself away from your workstation, deprived of access to CS5, or even GIMP, but with a burning need to edit some images, stat? Then you need to check out the tool suite at Aviary. I stumbled upon these guys when I was looking for a browser plugin to do some screen clipping. They have a product called Talon that does screen clipping well with easy access to cropping and annotating. Exploring further I was playing with some of their other tools and produced this picture from a Windows sample picture by applying a color filter using their Effects Editor. The filters offered didn’t have anything I thought particularly unique but they did cover all the ones you’ll need most of the time. The nifty thing about the bitmap editing tools though was a graph based user interface. You can drag and drop image resources and filters onto a canvas and wire them up. This is different from the stacked filters UI paradigm I’m used to and I thought it was pretty cool. I commend their UI designer for thinking outside the box of established paradigms for this kind of functionality. I’d have to spend more time with it to become proficient but I liked the approach. It definitely wasn’t a flop as departures from well established UI paradigms so often are.

Martian landscape.egg  on Aviary

They also have a vector editor, color palette creation tool, and even a multi-track audio editor. It’s all Flash-based and seems pretty well thought out. Your work can be stored in their cloud and even published directly from there. They may not be fully professional tools, mostly because large file operations are one of the worst candidates for cloud computing, but they can color me impressed. Sorry. I had to.

Go check them out. It’s nifty stuff, and you can’t beat free.

Assisted suicide poll

As I mentioned in the post regarding the passing of our family dog I’m surprised that there isn’t more discussion in our society regarding the morality of assisted suicide. That’s why I was surprised to see this poll on CNN’s home page.

Assisted suicide quick poll

I’m even more surprised that these poll results are so lopsided. Of course, just as it says on it, “This is not a scientific poll.” But still, I think this may be indicative of the popular sentiments on this issue. Very encouraging.

Tim Minchin – Pope Song (Mirror)

Here are the lyrics, in case you don’t speak Austraaaalian:
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucker,
Fuck the motherfucker hes a fucking motherfucker.
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the fucking fucker,
Fuck the motherfucker hes a total fucking fucker
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucker,
Fuck the mother fucker, fuck him, fuck the motherfucker.
Fuck the motherfucker, fuck the motherfucking pope.

Fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker
If you think that motherfucker is sacred.
If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie-fucker,
Fuck you, you’re no better than the motherfucking rapist.
And if you don’t like the swearing that this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys

I don’t give a fuck if calling the pope a motherfucker
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate.
This has naught to do with other fucking godly motherfuckers
I’m not interested right now in fucking scriptural debate.
There are other fucking songs and there are other fucking ways,
Ill be a religious apologist on other fucking days,
But the fact remains if you protect a SINGLE kiddie fucker
Then Pope or Prince or Plumber, you’re a fucking mother fucker.

See I don’t give a fuck what any other motherfucker
Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother.
Ive no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers
While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others,
But if you build your church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society,
Then you, you motherfuckers, can expect some fucking wrath
When it turns out you’ve been fucking us in our motherfucking asses.

So fuck the motherfucker, and fuck you motherfucker
If you’re still a motherfucking papist.
If he covered for a single motherfucker who’s a kiddie-fucker,
Fuck the motherfucker, hes as evil as the rapist.
And if you look into your motherfucking heart and tell me true
If this motherfucking stupid fucking song offended you,
With its filthy fucking language and its fucking disrespect,
If it made you feel angry, go ahead and write a letter,
But if you find me more offensive than the fucking possibility
The pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly
Then listen to me motherfucker – this here is a fact,
You are just as morally misguided as that motherfucking,
Power-hungry, self-aggrandized bigot in the stupid fucking hat.


I think this video by Tim Minchin and Fraser Davidson is the most eloquent commentary on the Catholic Church’s ongoing child abuse scandal that I have heard to date. I found it posted on YouTube after it was featured on Pharyngula, PZ Myers blog. If you’re unfamiliar with Tim Minchin prepare to cancel your schedule for tomorrow so that you can watch all of his videos on YouTube. Has has two channels, TimMinchin and TimMinchinLive. There’s enough content out there to keep you occupied for a good while so get some popcorn and a drink before you settle in. Tim is a comedian and musician originally from Perth, Australia who is now living in London. I’m a big fan of how he can wittily point out the irrationality of some of humanity’s strangest beliefs. The combination of humor, music, and percipient social commentary that he consistently turns out is just sublime. Tim, please put Albuquerque on your list for your next U.S. tour.

I was unfamiliar with the work of Fraser Davidson before this video but he is clearly a very talented “motion graphics” artist and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. Mr. Davidson has a YouTube channel called fraserdavidson which showcases some of his other work. Be sure to check out their channels and support these artists who I believe are very effective voices for the Rationalist perspective.

As of this writing this video is still available on YouTube, and I believe Vimeo, but I’m a little concerned that those sites will receive enough pressure to remove it because it could be very offensive to people who are fans of Pope Palpatine, er, Benedict XVI. That’s why I have downloaded the video and am hosting it locally here, just in case. My server can’t really handle the volume of traffic that YouTube can though so check there before trying to watch it here please. I’m just hosting it here so that this very important message isn’t lost to censorship. If the embedded version from YouTube at the top of this post isn’t working you can download the video as MP4 from the link after the jump.

Also, you’ll notice that I included this post in the category Angry Voter. That’s because the Catholic Church, which now it seems has institutionalized the practice of protecting naughty priests from the law, is a tax-exempt organization in my country. This is just as ludicrous as the Italian mafia being granted tax-exempt status. I can’t think of any rational, constitutionally-valid reason for churches to be tax-exempt, especially when they so flaunt their apparent immunity to the laws of the countries in which they operate. This must end.

Continue reading

Death in the Family

This past week was a tough one in our house. We had to euthanize our 9 1/2 year old German Shepherd Dog after discovering he had an advanced case of lymphoma. Yes, the full name of the the breed is “German Shepherd Dog”; no I don’t know why. Weird, huh? The Wikipedia article on the breed, and some other sources I have seen, put the upper weight limit of males at 88 pounds. Our big boy was 105. That is, before he got sick. In just two weeks he lost over twenty pounds and began to look emaciated. That’s what caused me to take him in to see the vet. After an x-ray we were counseled that the chances of a positive outcome from an intervention were very low. Especially since the x-ray showed he also had advanced arthritis in his spine.

Considering his age and the low chance of extending his life appreciably we decided to spare him as much pain as possible. After we made the decision to euthanize him I planned on a date a week away in order to give us a little more time with him. Perhaps this was a little selfish of me, but I thought he might get some enjoyment out of his last week and we’d get a little more time to get used to the idea of not having him around any more. Due to the location of his tumor (deep in his intestines) though, he wasn’t able to eat. This meant his rate of deterioration was accelerating. Sadly, after one more day of watching him drag around with none of the pep that was his hallmark his whole life, I decided to take him in that evening.

It’s an extremely difficult thing to decide when to end the life of a loved one. I agonized over the decision for days knowing that there would be no way to know if I had made the right choice in the end. I feel terrible about not trying a surgical intervention first, but looking at that x-ray even I could see that it didn’t look good. In the end we did what we thought best for him, and in a way, that’s all that matters.

Going through this experience caused me to ponder on the ethical issue of euthanasia. I find it very interesting that it is a widely accepted practice when it comes to our animal friends but is considered unethical by many when applied to humans. I can’t think of any rational justification for it to be ethical in one case but not in the other. Any defense of the status quo on this issue in our society must be predicated on some fundamental difference between humans and other species. I don’t think there is a fundamental difference though. I don’t believe in souls, or that we were created in some god’s image, or that some supernatural boogie-man gave us “dominion” over the other species on this planet. I think we should move this debate in our society beyond a blanket prohibition on euthanizing humans and start discussing in what situations it’s appropriate. The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek roots eu- (good) and thanatos (death) and I, for one, would prefer a good death to a long lingering painful one. Death is sad no matter what, but for us biological types it is inevitable. Euthanasia can allow people who choose it a way to face that inevitability with dignity and on their own terms. Think about it.

Goodbye Loki. We loved you dearly, and will miss you terribly. You made us laugh and made our home safer. You protected my family whenever I was away from home. A truer heart I’ve never known… nor likely ever will. I hope we were able to repay a fraction of your loyalty and friendship by giving you a good death. Voran!

Oh Arizona! You crazy!

Americans I meet that aren’t from the Southwest often seem to conflate Arizona and New Mexico and, for example, compliment me on the beauty of the Grand Canyon, when they learn I’m from New Mexico. Not surprising, they’re immediately adjacent, roughly squarish, similar in climate, sparsely populated, etc. To tell the truth, I do the same thing with Vermont and New Hampshire. The two states though have very different cultures, but in ways that are sometimes difficult to explain to people who know little of the history of this corner of the world. And then Arizona goes and does something crazy and makes the difference crystal clear. The law that the Arizona legislature just passed that requires police in that state to ask for documents proving a person’s right to be in this country when they have a “reasonable” suspicion that person may be in the country illegally would never, ever, ever, be passed in New Mexico.

For starters, our largest ethnic group is Hispanics. Last I checked Hispanics and Caucasians were around 40% each with Hispanics having a slight edge, and Native Americans with around 15%, with some room left over for “Other”. A law like this that is just a civil rights violation waiting to happen would be unthinkable in New Mexico, especially one that targets Hispanics. It’s actually quite helpful, when running for office around here, to be Hispanic. At the very least, in most precincts, you have to demonstrate a knowledge of and concern for the Hispanic community to get a nomination in either of the big two political parties. We do have some counties bordering Texas and Arizona that are a little more redneck than the rest of us would like, but for the most part we’re quite different culturally from our neighbors on either side. The joke that is the Texas School Board is lunacy we are fortunately spared here as well.

We’re a poor state with a lot of social issues ourselves but Arizona makes us look really good. Thanks Arizona! By the way, if you’re looking to boycott Arizona and still want a Southwestern vacation, I can’t think of a better place than here. We have terrific mountain resorts, art communities, shopping, excellent but inexpensive golf, casinos… and a very tolerant and welcoming population. Come on, spend your tourist dollars here instead! Arizona doesn’t want them, especially if you’re Hispanic!

Intelligent Apologetics?

As a proponent of Reason it is sometimes really frustrating, and thoroughly unenlightening, to watch debates with religious apologists because they continue to trot out the same lame grade school arguments. Every time I watch the Atheist Experience I’m amazed at the assertions the xtian callers make, seemingly with a straight face. These are your average run of the mill believers that, while they are interested in the subject, they don’t know anything about the 2000+ year history of the debate. They advance arguments that were shot down convincingly by Socrates or Plato. I find debates with such people to be an utter waste of time. They should be told to go do some independent research and come back when they have at least learned the vocabulary. I understand why the guys at Atheist Experience engage these folks, and I value their efforts; I just feel sorry for them for having to do so. It would drive me crazy.

Sorry Justin, I don’t mean to pick on you specifically, I just needed an example of someone convinced by Mr. Comfort’s lamebrain arguments, but…

On a side note to Justin (and others who agree with him), removing the coke can from the video was done for brevity, not to change the argument, which it does not. You are still arguing that the banana had to have been designed, which it does not. The argument is the same with or without the coke can. The fact that you think this changes the argument demonstrates your inability to think logically, nothing more. This is a very elementary mistake. You are exactly the kind of person I am talking about that is a waste of time debating. If you really are interested in this debate go do some more reading and then come back to it. Right now you’re just embarrassing yourself. Sorry.

There are apologists though that do have a grasp of the subject matter and from whom we can actually learn something. One of these is Dinesh D’Souza. Dinesh is well read on the subject and presents his arguments eloquently. By comparing his perspective to that of atheism we can actually see where the difference lies between the believing mind and the non-believing mind. This is quite a breath of fresh air compared to the usual Ray Comfort variety of apologetics, from which the only thing we can learn is the power of brainwashing.

I do believe that early childhood indoctrination is the primary reason that people believe the ridiculous claims of religion, but that’s pretty obvious and therefore not worthy of further study. I think it’s safe when confronted with such arguments as the famous banana proof, or even Ibn Sina and St. Anselm’s ontological arguments, to dismiss them as obviously flawed and move on. Clearly these arguments convince people, such as Justin of “Christian in College” for example, but only those with too little education or too much indoctrination.

The “cure” for people convinced by such garbage is simply better, and more, education in history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, world religions, and science. But what makes someone like Mr. D’Souza, who isn’t convinced by these arguments either, continue to believe in the infinitely improbable? I’m going to go through the following interview with him from FORA, and see if I can find out. Will it be something profound or is he just making the same mistakes the “Joe Six-pack” xtians make, only using bigger words? Anyone taking bets?

Here are the arguments he advances for Christianity, or against Atheism:

Darwin’s ideas were used to justify eugenics

Um, no they weren’t. Eugenics is the just the application of the techniques of artificial selection applied to humans in an effort to improve the species in the same way those techniques had been used for thousands of years to “improve” other species. Artificial selection is just the process of choosing the animals from a group that you most like, having them reproduce, and preventing other animals in the group from doing so. By this process humans have been able to produce dairy cows that produce copious quantities of milk, dog breeds that can perform particular jobs such as herding, draft horses of immense strength, and so on. These techniques were known long before Darwin’s day and it was in part reflecting on the change in species over time via artificial selection that led to his development of the concept of natural selection. As of this writing some Wikipedia contributer has added the bald assertion that one of the early proponents of Eugenics, Sir Francis Galton, was inspired by “the recent works of his half-cousin Charles Darwin”. Ha! Someone else has astutely put a [citation needed] tag on it.

We hear much talk of “Social Darwinism” from people like Dinesh when they are trying to stain Darwin and the rest of the scientific community with the sins of the practitioners of Eugenics, namely Nazi Germany. Darwin never advocated eugenics; he only described the natural processes he observed which would lead to changes in the characteristics of species over time. Using his name in any other way is disingenuous and depends on the audience not being really familiar with “On the Origin of Species”. This is one of the weakest argument we regularly hear from the Christian apologist camp and by making it Dinesh has not elevated himself very far above Ray Comfort.

Human dignity, the sacredness of life, human equality, human liberty are accretions of Christianity and have no place in human society in the absence of Christianity

Wait, what? Has this guy read the bible? This is the same damn assertion that atheists have no morals. The only one I’ll concede is the “sacredness” of life since by definition sacredness is a religious concept. However, I will assert in it’s place that we atheists find all life precious and consider it the responsibility of humanity, because of our position in the global food chain, to protect and preserve all forms of life on this planet. In a real practical sense we tend to treat all life as though it were sacred, while many Christians believe they have “dominion” over all other species and can use them as they see fit.

As for the rest of it it’s just plain garbage. Is he saying that concepts of human dignity, equality, and liberty were unknown before there were Christians, or are unknown today where there are no Christians? In order to believe this he cannot know anything about any ancient cultures or any other non-Christian cultures today. He doesn’t back this statement up with anything; simply calls them “accretions of Christianity” and moves on.

Dumb, not Comfort-level, but close.

The conclusion that the cause of the universe is supernatural is scientifically valid

OK, I’ll give him credit for blowing Ray Comfort’s mind there. It’s way beyond poor Ray to think in these terms but this argument is also puerile tripe. Just before making this assertion at about 18 minutes in he does a very good job of describing why science is methodologically atheistic, meaning that in a scientific exploration of some phenomena it is not acceptable to say “God did it” and leave it at that. Even scientists who are religious, if they’re good scientists, will want to know the natural mechanisms that resulted in an observation, so that they can say that that is how “my god(s) did it”.

“The universe can have a natural cause or it can have a non-natural cause. It seems unlikely that the universe could have a natural cause given that the universe itself is all of nature. We would be in effect saying that nature caused itself. Therefore it seems reasonable that the universe had a non-natural, or we would say, supernatural cause.”

He goes on to say, in so many words, that the “mode of reasoning” demonstrated in the above quote is scientific in nature. This is way too easy! Dinesh, by way of refuting your argument, allow me to refer you to… the words which just came out of your mouth. Methodologically atheistic, remember? Also, allow me to point out that the universe is not “all of nature”, just that region which we are able to observe. The two are not synonymous. Since it is all we can observe it may seem like picking nits to point this out, however mechanically it matters because we cannot say what occurred prior to or spatially relative to the Big Bang. Our universe could exist in parallel with many others, or it could be contained by a larger system of universes. There are astrophysicists today who know far more math than either Dinesh or I who believe both of these things. Dinesh may deride the proponents of the Multiverse hypothesis by claiming that they have very little empirical evidence but I can tell you that they have at least as much as he does for a supernatural cause.

For the sake of argument I’ll grant the synonym for a moment to point out that a supernatural cause of the universe who is thereafter undetectable is not the Christian concept of “God”. Yahweh has to be interested in our daily lives and have to ability and willingness to intercede or the whole guilt trip to heaven thing doesn’t work. The bottom drops out of the whole religion if you assume the deist version of the “watchmaker god”. Whose god are you defending the existence of, Dinesh? It isn’t yours.

Besides, if he’s going to insist on going down the “each effect must have a cause” road I must point out then that his God must also have had a cause. I’m not sure he’s thought it though but this argument doesn’t actually get him anywhere but further away from the Christian conception of Yahweh. He’d be better off to turn around and head for the safety of Gould’s “Nonoverlapping Magesteria” (NOMA), or some similar argument. When a philosopher ventures out into space he’s bound to be at a disadvantage against astrophysicists. It’d be better for him to hide behind the old “well you can’t prove there’s no god” screen.

In the absence of any evidence the supernatural explanation is equally valid with the skeptical poisition

When describing a previous debate with Michael Shermer he takes the position the since neither of them can either prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife then both conclusions are equally valid. He then has the sheer gall to accuse Shermer of holding his non-view of the afterlife as a matter of faith. This is more extremely juvenile reasoning. Shermer is not the one making the assertion of the existence of something, Dinesh is. If one asserts the existence of something, whether it’s an afterlife or a correlation between education and atheism, and one does not want to be laughed out of the room, one must present evidence to support the assertion. Dinesh needs to read up on Russell’s Teapot before his next debate.

Atheists support evolution because it liberates them from “traditional” morality

This is the conclusion he comes to when pondering why the idea that humans are just another animal doesn’t bother atheists. Speaking for myself, I don’t find that evolution makes me “gleeful”, it simply is. Just as gravity simply is. It is how life on the world I inhabit came to have it’s current set of species. This is no more a cause for glee than the celestial mechanics described by Galileo. Although, I must say that both are incredibly beautiful, once you understand them.

I wonder if by “traditional” morality he means the slaughter of innocents, stoning of adulterers and homosexuals, owning of slaves, etc. prescribed by the Old Testament, or maybe something more up-to-date. This is just the same old canard that “atheists have no morals” in another guise. Flat dumb. If you agree with him I suggest you look up the fields of Sociology and Ethics, for starters, and maybe even take a class.

Conclusion?

I’ve followed along halfway though the video and that’s all I can take. I’ll leave it to you to pick out the rest of his gaffes. He speaks well, understands the philosophical issues better than a Ray Comfort-type, and he even understands the value of the scientific method, but that’s about the end of my compliments. Beyond that his reasoning skills are sketchy, his grasp of his opponents’ positions is tenuous, his knowledge of evolution is flawed, his knowledge of history seems strangely narrow, and his conclusions are laughable. After his eloquence is stripped away there’s really very little difference between him and a “lesser” apologist. The arguments are the same, just clothed in more elegant language. Nothing that he said would pose any trouble for one of the “New Atheist” spokespeople such as Dennett, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, or Myers. Dinesh would be like a babe in the woods faced with any of these debate opponents. I don’t see any reason for them to consider him a more worthy adversary than Ray Comfort.

His single biggest problem is that he believes that he can successfully defend his position using reason and empirical facts, indeed he believes this is his mission. This is utterly preposterous. He needs to try to understand why Stephen J. Gould went and hid in NOMA-land. He’s no intellectual, or scientific, equal of Gould and should look more closely at why Gould went where he did. It’s a shame Gould is no longer with us because it would have been interesting to see him play dueling lecterns with Dinesh.

In the final analysis I have to say I’m disappointed. I had hoped to be confronted with arguments that I hadn’t heard and thought through years ago. I had hoped to have to stretch some intellectual muscles that have atrophied through exposure to Ray Comfort, Pat Robertson, Ken Ham, William Lane Craig, et al. But it wasn’t to be. Dinesh D’Souza is just more of the same although he has somehow managed to convince himself that he’s different.

Constellation Cancelled?

Orion crew capsule

Unfortunately, due to the horribly managed Federal budget the Constellation program is on the chopping block. President Obama, in an effort to decrease costs by refocusing NASA and trimming fat, has proposed cutting the entire Constellation program but appears now to have been talked down to just the crew launch vehicle, Ares I. This sounds horrible but I’m not sure it’s the death knell for manned space exploration that it sounds.

Continue reading

Collateral Murder

If you haven’t seen this yet you need to watch it. Very NSFW, or kids.

The U.S. military claims the Apache pilots in this massacre were following the appropriate rules of engagement. Holy cow, wait…what?! I can’t see how that can be true. If they were the rules of engagement governing our troops in Iraq need to be changed immediately. Firing on unarmed civilians who appeared in no way threatening is unacceptable. There’s no other way to say it. Simply unacceptable. Go to the WikiLeaks site CollateralMurder.com for details, the full length video, and analysis.

To Massachusetts Swing Voters

As an independent voter who agrees with that portion of the Progressive agenda that seems well supported by facts I appeal to the undecided and independent voters of The Commonwealth to not fill Teddy’s seat with a Republican. If you are considering voting for the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, allow me to point out that as reasonable as he may seem now he will surely be subsumed into the national Republican madness. Republicans serving at the state level are allowed the freedom to vote their consciences and make decisions based on facts, at least part of the time. For this reason it may be tempting to those who favor conservative economic policies, and still believe that Republicans have any interest in delivering on this part of their platform, to vote for Mr. Brown. Aside from his comments which show him to be appealing to the worst in voters by toeing the national Republican party line regarding health care reform, I believe you should most seriously consider the condition of national politics before voting for any Republican. In the current situation there is only one Republican senator who dares vote against the party line if she decides that the facts don’t support it, Olympia Snowe of Maine. Every other Republican senator votes with the party line every time regardless of the facts involved in any individual vote. This behavior by Republican senators is reprehensible in the extreme. They have ceased to represent their constituents and now solely represent their campaign donors.

Regardless of how reasonable Mr. Brown’s decisions may have been (I have no idea not living there or knowing anything about him) while serving in the state senate he will quickly be absorbed into the senate Republican caucus and that will be the end of him representing your interests. From that point forward he will vote with the increasingly more extreme platform of the national republican party as represented by such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Michael Steele. I’m not appealing to those voters who believe that Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck, and Ann Coulter have more than two brain cells between them. If you can’t see through their transparent selfishness, fear, greed, and paranoia… well I can’t help you. Try a psychiatrist. If however, you’re not a Fox News fan and just would really like to see this country turn away from debt spending, I’m talking to you. I’ll not debate which party is more likely to reduce the national debt in this article; it deserves a whole post, or ten, of its own. Just know that a vote for Mr. Brown would be a vote for the politics of fear, mis-aimed preemptive military strikes, trading hard won civil liberties in exchange for the appearances of security, theocratic tendencies, and denial of existence of empirical facts. Martha Coakley may not be an adequate replacement for Teddy Kennedy but your interests are a damn sight more likely to be represented by her than they are by Scott Brown who has sold his soul to the RNC.