Question of the Day (but not every day)

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Is it hypocritical for Republicans, or more specifically Anti-Government Teabag types, to take a government job?


Straw Man

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If we are going to start to be civil in our discourse, I really really have to STOP seeing articles like these:

A List Of Barely Socratic Questions To American Progressives


7 Nonpolitical Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives.

Click the links if you wish your head to explode. Entitling the first link "barely Socratic" is an understatement. It is exactly and specifically un-Socratic. And the 7 non-political differences are, as you can probably guess without clicking the link at all, completely and totally political in every way.

I really want to post every "question" from the list and answer each one. It's easy. Instead I'll pick a few of my personal faves.
Why do those demanding "equal pay for equal work" never protest against "equal pay for little or no work"? A: Um, because that is universally recognized as a really stupid idea. Nobody would do that. Straw Man.

Why has no politician ever run on men's issues or promised to improve the lives of males? A: Because we are still, for better or worse, the top of the work world's and social world's food chain.

How did the "war on poverty" end? Has there been a peace treaty or a ceasefire? Who is the occupying force and who are the insurgents? A: It will end at the same time as the "War on Drugs." And probably cost less.

If capitalism makes some people rich without making others poor, who will benefit when capitalism is destroyed? A: Nobody will! Hey! We agree on a point here! Since nobody here wants to destroy capitalism, we can shake hands on this one!

If cutting out the middleman lowers the price, why are we paying the government to stand between us and the markets? A: Yawn. Straw Man. Like above, since nobody wishes government to stand in the way, I guess we'll be seeing things like lower insurance rates now, won't we??

If racial profiling is an abomination, what do you make of the last presidential election? A: I think you missed the definition of racial profiling here...

If diversity training benefits everyone, why do those classes mostly consist of white heterosexual males? A: Because...we are still the statistically largest group in employment?

Why is a huge poisonous cloud over a volcano considered magnificent - but a smokestack over an American factory is ugly and harmful? A: Wait...who said a poisonous volcano cloud is magnificent? I don't recall that ever being said.

How many Kyoto Protocols are rendered pointless by one medium-sized volcanic eruption? A: Oo! Oo! I know! ZERO!! The Kyoto protocols don't stop the earth from doing what it does naturally because we can't! Just what we humans add to it.

Why is burning gas in my car hurting the planet, but setting fire to housing developments in California is saving it? A: We...purposefully set fires to housing development in California??

How come Hollywood can always find a good side in thugs, but never in businesspeople? What was the last movie that pictured a self-reliant, industrious man as a role model? A: Umm, the movie Tucker comes to mind...

Why do those who decry modern civilization never live far from shopping centers and why don't they grind their coffee with a stone ax? A: I am at a loss to whom you are referencing. Oh,'s a Straw Man!

If describing terrorists as freedom fighters is justified by the journalistic principle of neutrality, what is the name of the principle that justifies describing U.S. troops as rapists and murderers? A: Ah, the old left-over Vietnam stuff. Nobody recently has described a terrorist as a Freedom Fighter, unless it is to quote what one of the terrorists say about themselves. And I haven't seen any news reports in decades that have described American troops as rapists and murderers.

How come industrial logging is a crime against nature, but the destruction of forests by wildfires is a natural cycle of life? A: See above, regarding volcanos.

If Al Gore is right and our consumption of the planet's resources is a moral issue, doesn't that make genocide an ethical solution? How about an artificial famine? What would Al Gore choose? A: Ahhh, the false choice. I love the smell of Fail in the morning.

Why is there never a media story praising capitalism for the booming economy? A: There are plenty. Just ask The Google.
Whew. That's a bucket of dumb.

But even worse are the "7 Differences." These are so horridly misaligned and completely devoid of actual fact that I hope, for the human race, that the publisher either meant these as ironic humor or felt a tinge, however small, of shame when he hit the "publish" button:
1) Conservatives are more patriotic than liberals
2) It's socially acceptable for liberals to lie about conservatives
3) Conservatives are results-oriented. Liberals are not
4) Conservatives care about the Constitution. Liberals don't
5) Liberals are much more misogynistic than conservatives
6) Conservatives are happier people than liberals (Editor's Note: after reading especially this blog article, the author may be on to something here...)
7) Conservatives are better Christians than liberals
I think our good buddy Streak has been doing a banner job of late pointing-out the fallacy in #7. But in the end, a refutation of any of these 7 points is an exercise in futility; they're all opinion-based, and this guy's effort smacks of blind dogma and base incitement rather than an honest attempt to engage in information or debate.


Fear and Loathing

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From the web site The Beast, I bring you The 50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2010.

#1 is no surprise and I saw it coming. Much-used literary device. It's still funny, though, if not somewhat accurate. And #50...I think they could have been harsher on her.

[h/t Balloon Juice]


Don't Let Facts Get in the Way...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smitty's post about people warning Congress not to be distracted by "studies" reminded me of a fairly recent example of a similar event. There are people so entrenched in their beliefs that they refuse to accept anything else. A few weeks ago, Andrew Wakefield's study that linked vaccinations to autism was shown to be an outright fraud. As it was said in the article, there were plenty of warning sign and the research overwhelmingly showed that Wakefield was wrong. Despite this, there were an increasing number of parents that were buying into this and using it as the main reason for not getting a vaccine.

Over the course of my professional career, I have run into a number of parents that believed as Wakefield believed. Strangely enough, this was a very diverse group, from hippy, tree huggers, to super evangelical, conservative Christians. In some cases, these people were of the type that just didn't want to be bothered by doing the research and just heard it from someone they respected and let it go unchallenged. In other cases, these were very smart people, so I don't know why the believed what they believed. The author points out:

The most mindboggling aspect of this dangerous game of chicken is that it's being played by earnest, well-intended parents looking out for their children's best interests — in the face of dubious scientific data. After all, no other credible scientist or researcher could duplicate Wakefield's work over the past decade, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and just about every other credible scientist working in the area of childhood diseases have all said in various ways that there's no discernable link between vaccinations and autism. No fewer than 14 studies involving millions of children in several countries have found no meaningful difference in autism rates among kids who were vaccinated and those who weren't. Remember, Wakefield's study involved only 12 kids.

And yet the anti-vaccination crowd pushed on, its traction already firmly established.

Why does this happen?


This Can't Be Real

My brain refuses to allow me to believe that this actually exists in the real world.


Facebook Fail

From a Facebook update on a group I "friended" out of morbid curiosity:

Members of Congress: Don't be distracted by "studies" and "findings" put out by Obamacare apologists as you get closer to doing the right thing: repealing Obamacare.

Yes! Members of Congress! Never mind inconvenient "facts" and "truths"! SOCIALISM!! YAAARRRGGHH!


Monday Righteous Indignation and Retort

Monday, January 17, 2011

My parents are hosting some vegans tonight for dinner.

This is very foreign to my parents. Despite the fact that each of them are very tiny people**, they are died-in-the-wool omnivores who cherish their grill and smoker, each tool thoroughly stained and seasoned with the drippings and spatterings of various and myriad carcasses.

My mom, whom we will henceforth call Matriarch Smitty, visited Web MD to find out exactly what the rules are for this strange type of diet; what is forbidden and what is allowed. On her search, she found a review of the book Skinny Bitch, which Web MD describes thusly:

If you've always dreamed of having a model-thin body and are willing to adhere to a hard-core, low-calorie vegan diet, you may want to join the legions of women following the sassy, smart-mouth advice doled out in the book with the unprintable name: Skinny B****.

A drawing of a pencil-thin model type in a skintight dress graces the cover of "Skinny," which -- with a tone that's part girlfriend and part foul-mouthed truck driver -- is not for the faint of heart.
OK, says Matriarch Smitty, I dig it. Girl power, blah blah, been there done that from the beginning in the 60s, but I'm game.

The idea of this book and of the whole vegan diet quickly fell apart for Matriarch Smitty when she stumbled across this phrase in the article:
The long list of forbidden foods includes all animal products (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish), soda, beer ("for frat boys"), alcohol, caffeine, foods with chemical additives like artificial sweeteners, and anything with refined flour or sugar.
Woa. Woa. Wait a is forbidden in this diet? Because it is for frat boys??.

Matriarch immediately called me on my cell with this emergency news that vegan diets are unacceptable, especially in light of the rip on beer. Bad enough, she reasoned, that beer - which is an organic product - is off the list; the reason they chose is crap.

I went to the Skinny Bitch website (link above), but couldn't find a comments page so I could flame it. Thus: the blog.

A few seconds' worth of searching Teh Google brings us to:

There you have it, Skinny Bitch.  Aptly named.  Typical elitist bullshit and a lack of understanding of the beer industry, unfairly lumping all of us into the "beer swiller" category.

I am hoping to find a way to email Skinny Bitch. If I can find her contact info, I may send her to this YouTube Channel, which, by the way, is so fucking great it actually inspires me. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the vegan's nightmare: Epic Meal Time.

**My mom is 5 feet tall exactly, and I believe she is less than 100 pounds, or right around it. My dad is 5'7 on a good day with big shoes on, and hovers around the 140-50 ballpark. By comparison, my brother and I are just a tad shy of 6-feet, and each of us 200 pounds or more. See folks? You can be small and have a healthy weight and not be a self-righteous vegan. Or you can also be me, with slightly-out-of-whack cholesterol and a need to drop 10-15 pounds...but hey, I'm pretty happy.


What is a Leader?

Monday, January 10, 2011

What is a leader?

I think most would agree that a leader is someone who tries to guide or produce some sort of action out of others. 

A leader may organize and motivate employees to make a business succeed.  A leader may seek to convince you to vote for them or another candidate.  A leader may work to galvanize people around a cause, such as giving blood at the Red Cross, donating food to the local food bank, or encouraging you to swing a hammer for Habitat for Humanity.

No matter what cause a leader wants you to support, a leader uses words to try to drive others to action.  A moral leader motivates their followers through responsible, inspirational speech.  

While the average person might be motivated to vote or take up protest after hearing a metaphor promoting violent action, there are those who will take these calls-to-arms literally.  There are those who will be inspired to take violent action against communists, socialists, Grannie-killing bureaucrats, or the illegitimate holder of the oval office.

Yes, words matter.  Yes, words can get people killed.  


The N Word: Too Bad for Literature?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

From NPR yesterday, an English professor has proposed a new edition of Huck Finn which removes the "N Word" from the book entirely.

English professor Al Gribben, from Auburn in Alabama of all places, believed that many K-12 schools were missing out on one of America's greatest books, and the lessons we learn from it, by refusing to add Huck Finn to their curriculum because of the use of the word "nigger" some 200 times throughout the book. This is his way of reviving the critical piece of American literature in schools.

But there are apparently plenty of groups, including, a multicultural and multiracial journalism society, believe that removal of "nigger" from the book, no matter how abrasive the word, "shortchanges schoolchildren because it skirts the lessons they need to learn." The American Library Association also opposes the move, calling it censorship:

Ms. BARBARA JONES (Office of Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association): To remove a word from a book is just a real insult to the author's wanting to, in this case, express how people spoke in that part of Missouri in the 19th century.

Professor Gribben's response:
Professor Alan Gribben is undeterred by all the criticism. He says those emails have just demonstrated how much we need this book. He says even though they all argued for leaving the N-word in "Huckleberry Finn," none would use the word itself.
I think the whole notion of school districts' banning of books is a failure of the educational system. It is an attempt from nervous, lazy, or ideologically extreme parents to shield their children from what the world looks like in all its forms. That schools ban Huck Finn is the school's fault, not Mark Twain's.

A great American work like Finn teaches us a lot about how we grew up. A responsible parent can teach their children what's right and wrong in a work of fiction. But to hide our eyes from how books like Finn addressed the topics and people of its day is wrong-headed and silly, in my opinion.

I think professor Gribben's heart is in the right place; he wants to make an important classic more accessible to students, and that he chose the word "slave" instead of "African American" or "negro" or whatever shows he at least was trying to keep the sentiment the same. But instead of censoring the book, I guess I would prefer that he spent his time arguing against school censorship than in censoring a book himself.



Jesus Needs New PR, Part Deux

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

From The Atlantic Wire, Unicorns, Dinosaurs and Dragons were aboard Noah's Ark.

The $150 million Creationist Museum in Kentucky (of which roughly $40 million is in taxpayer-funded tax breaks, according to one angry blogger...not me...) will suggest that indeed, as supported in the bible, unicorns and dinos walked aboard the Ark.

From the article:

The Ark Encounter, will allow visitors to explore a literal interpretation of the Bible's story of Noah and the ark. But pseudonymous liberal Kentucky blogger Media Czech raises two important questions about that interpretation and how it will be manifest in theme park form. First, were there dinosaurs on the original ark? Second, what about unicorns?

Answers In Genesis, the official blog of the group behind The Ark Encounter...says "yes," to both, which implies that their creationist theme park will include dinosaurs and unicorns on the Ark. Here's Answers In Genesis explaining why dinosaurs were on the Ark, although the group prefers to call them "dragons":
Click the link. Their reasons are priceless.

Oh, but I just have to show you their unicorn reason.
The biblical unicorn was a real animal, not an imaginary creature. ...To think of the biblical unicorn as a fantasy animal is to demean God’s Word, which is true in every detail.
I am gonna laugh about this for a long time.

The punchline to the whole article makes me smile:
See??  Perfect!  Unicorns and Rainbows!
Kentucky will now be known as the state whose governor endorsed and gave $40 million in tax breaks to people who want to tell children that science and history explain that a 600 year old man herded dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragons and unicorns onto a big boat 4,000 years ago.


Jesus Needs New PR

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Related to the idiocy of yesterday's post is yet another example of why, if the ultimate heavenly goal is to assure there are more Christians in the world, God and Jesus really need better PR people; from a viral Facebook post of late (the screen capture has also gone viral, given the response, which is typical Facebook 1) total bullshit; 2) big pile of reasonable facts that show what bullshit your idiot claim is; 3) you insulted me, how dare you!):

FACT - if the earth were 10 ft closer to the sun we'd all burn up and if it were 10 ft further, we'd all freeze...God is great!

The answer is of course in the screen capture linked above, but just in case you're lazy (and the screen cap is slightly off):

1) If God put the planet here, and did it do perfectly, why would He allow for any variance? Wouldn't he make it exactly perfect with no allowance for variance? But let's escape the nonsensical argument of trying to guess God's motives, and instead just go with what we know.

2) The earth's orbit is, as people who wear big pants know, elliptical; decidedly not circular. Thus, at certain points in the year, the earth is 3,000,000 miles closer to the sun (or, conversely, at opposite times of the year, 3,000,000 miles further). This is, at last glance, significantly more than 10 feet. By a mere 15,839,999,990 feet.

3) Let's look at habitable zones. Habitable zones are self-serving to begin with, because they relay on the existence of liquid water, which sustains life as we know it. But our sun's habitable zone is between .95 AU (an AU, atronomical unit, is the mean distance of the earth from the sun, or about 93 million miles) to 1.35 AU. This is, roughly speaking, Venus to Mars. The earth, then, could be 88,350,000 miles from the sun or 125,550,000 miles from the sun and still sustain life (granted, life that would like a bit different than it does now, but who's to say it wouldn't be us, just dressed perpetually in parkas or bermuda shorts). That's a 37,200,000 mile variation (196.4 billion feet), or, from our current mean distance, a variation of 4,650,000 miles (24.5 billion feet) closer or 32,550,000 miles (171.8 billion feet) further...and life, as we know it, is sustainable.

But none of that matters, all those fancy facts, because these damn nerdy science atheists are fat.

Note: I started to read the article about atheist obesity in Conservapedia...but the sheer immensity of the stupid therein prevented a full reading. Perhaps someone with more intestinal fortitude than me should finish reading it).


There Goes The Neighborhood

Monday, January 03, 2011

Well, great.

According Marie Exley, the world will apparently begin to end on May 21, 2011. On that day, true believers will be enraptured.

If there had been time, Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead, the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she'll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.

Exley is part of a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin on May 21, 2011.
I love the sanctimonious part of the article:
"A lot of people might think, 'The end's coming, let's go party,'" said Exley, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq. "But we're commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it's so much better to know that when the end comes, you'll be safe."
This all comes from Cult Leader minister Harold Camping. He has thus far convinced people to stop working and join RV caravans to drive around the country telling people just how screwed we are and they aren't, unless they believe Camping's prediction.
Camping, 89, believes the Bible essentially functions as a cosmic calendar explaining exactly when various prophecies will be fulfilled.

The retired civil engineer said all his calculations come from close readings of the Bible, but that external events like the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 are signs confirming the date.

"Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he said.

The doctrine known as the Rapture teaches that believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time. Camping believes that will happen in October.

"If May 21 passes and I'm still here, that means I wasn't saved. Does that mean God's word is inaccurate or untrue? Not at all," Warden said.
I love that last paragraph above. Just because it looks like I'm wrong, I'm not wrong. I'm right.

For me, it'll mean Smitty Jr has a really really shitty 6th birthday 22 days later, which is total bullshit. It also means that I will certainly lose the deposit on whatever venue we choose for Smitty Jr's 6th, which is also bullshit.

But I do have hope. Rare ATK Contributor Joel got me this book for Christmas, so at least I can survive the apocalypse. I assume Joel will too, who will certainly demand I lend him back the book he gifted me. So the blog will live on, even if it's not in cyberspace. So we have that going for us. And that's nice. I wonder if Jesus reads this blog...


Happy New Year

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Happy New Year to everyone at Around the Keg!



Potential Drunks

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