Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let's Throw a Party! Raise Your Tea Glasses High in Celebration!

It's time for a celebration!  Yes, 150 years ago, South Carolina officially seceded from the United States, throwing into motion the events that led directly to the Civil War.  While some people might view this as a not-so-joyous occasion, others are jumping into it with abandon. 

The Confederate Heritage Trust and the Sons of Confederate Veterans organized the Secessionist Gala yesterday, where people gathered to celebrate the start of the bloodiest and most violent episode in American history. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

It's that time of year again -- figuring out if you've been good enough all year to deserve presents and love, or too naughty and all you'll get are rocks and coal.  But why is it that we threaten naughty children with those things?  Could there be something else that is forgotten in the history of the most well known versions of the holiday tales?

Why, yes!  There is something missing!  The Krampus!

It's one thing to be told you've been naughty and won't get any presents.  Imagine getting whipped and kidnapped from your house for punishment by this guy, instead!

Sleep tight, little ones!  Better be on your best behavior this week!

Have you heard the one about going to watch a fight and a hockey game broke out?

In this case, it wasn't a fight, but a charity donation -- an incredibly funny and happy one.  Watch as 23,000 stuffed animals descend upon the ice while the players, refs and coaches look on.  It took over 40 minutes to clear the ice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Prayer study shows most Americans think God is involved in their lives

In a study that should be filed under the label "No Shit, Sherlock", a sociology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that most people think god is loving, powerful and caring presence that's always around.

Gee, it probably would have been cheaper, easier and faster to simply look at the religious demographics of the USA and realize that over 80% of the nation is religious.  Who would've thought that a majority of the population would believe in and pray to a god ?

The study's author, Shane Sharp, said "If they vented their anger to that abusive partner, the result was likely to be more violence, but they could be angry at God while praying, without fear of reprisal." 

What a surprise (again).  Getting angry and yelling at a violent, abusive partner might get them beaten.  But yelling at an imaginary friend doesn't.  Of course, for those who are not religious, Sharp said, the findings of the study may not apply unless they look to another "virtual" friend, such as a celebrity, in times of crises.  Gee, I wonder why?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here?

All that talk about the earth cooling over the last several years can now be put to rest.  NASA just released the latest data for November, and it makes the period from Dec 09 - Nov 10 the hottest ever recorded.  It's hotter than 1998, 2005, 2003 and every other year in the 130 year history of NASA's records.

The ice is getting thinner and less extensive over the poles. The glaciers are receding from the mountain ranges.  Methane is apparently leaking from the permafrost and shallow seabeds at a much higher rate.  Our CO2 emmisions continue to grow nearly unabated. 

But, of course, it can't be humans causing it all!  It must be the sun (or not).  Or El Nino (or not).  Or something else (or not). 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who's Going To Defend the Pope Now?

The Catholics have spent years denying that the Pope and the Vatican knew about or covered up the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church and put many diocese in financial terouble from legal judgements, hush money and bribes. Now Wikileaks comes alnog and confirms that the corruption and coverups reach the absolute highest levels. The Pope himself was more worried about the reputation of the church than the safety, health and well-being of its most vulnerable and innocent members.

Benedict refused to let investigators talk to Vatican oficials about the abuses taking place in Ireland. Apparently, it was more important to make sure the Catholics didn't get a bad reputation just as they were trying to sway the British Anglican community to convert to Catholicism. According to the Catholics, it seems, it's better to hide your dirty secrets and obstruct justice so you can grow your membership, and to hell with those poor, raped and sbused children.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Missile Fired in the War on Christmas

Last night, the Daily Show had a segment that is absolutely spot-on in skewering Faux News and the hypocritcal indignation they spew about the supposed "War on Christmas" every year.  Not only are Fauxers digging around into deep archives to try and find even the most obscure, irrelevant and old news to get mock-pissed about, but they can't even be honest about it.  John Stewart explains, far more brilliantly and clearly than I can, how absurd and foolish these people are. 

The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas

Not to mention, they've got the budget and video engineers available to make a "holiday special" out of old Christmas specials (Rudolf, Santa, Frosty and the rest).  It's absolutely hilarious, and destroys (again) any claims that there is a "war". 

So, in the spirit of the season -- "Happy Holidays"!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Follow-up to yesterday: Apparently, being a Dick is un-Christian

The American Family Association (AFA) doesn't like it when people and businesses are open and welcoming to all faiths, traditions, and creeds.  They want just their own religion granted a spot of reverence and privilege, and no one else gets any recognition.  That's why they are one of the groups persisting in persecuting this fictious "War on Christmas". 

Yesterday, I discussed the "naughty or nice" list that the AFA has, and the ones getting a "naughty" recommendation are those that don't pander to just the Christians, and recognize that there is a substantial percentage of their customer base that isn't Christian and doesn't celebrate Christmas.  They've just put in a news flash - Dick's Sporting Goods is the "naughtiest of the naughty".

So, if you want to be a real dick about not saying "Merry Christmas" this year, maybe you can do all your holiday shopping at a large sporting goods store.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are you "Naughty or Nice" this year? It depends on what you say...

When I think of the phrase "naughty or nice", I picture an idyllic scene of a jolly fat man in a bright red suit (with or without the jacket - but when without, having bright red suspenders, too) perusing a long scrolling list of names and laughing heartily to himself as the snow flies lightly outside the window.  I picture the "nice" kids as polite, well-rounded and eager to please, while the "naughty" kids are pulling obnoxious pranks, cursing everything in sight and dressed like a Goth nightmare.

Of course, that's just in my imagination, and I know that all kids have a bit of "naughty" and a dash of "nice", and often you can't figure out which side of the equation the kid falls into. But have you ever heard of labelling a corporation "naughty"?  About the only ones that I could think of would be like Halliburton, Enron and BP, whose offenses against humanity and the world are legendary.  But according to the American Family Association, all it takes for a company to be "naughty" is to not say "Christmas".  That's right.  They can have all the holiday decorations, reindeer-pulled sleighs, nativity scenes and betwinkling lights covering the entire store, but if they don't mention the word "Christmas" in their advertisments, they're waging "War on Christmas".

You can see the list of companies that the AFA has rated here, in three festive colors (Green, Red and Yellow).  It also lists the criteria for making each of the three lists, and how a company can protest which list it's on (they've got to provide written documentation of their inclusion of the word "Christmas" to the AFA).

So, who's on the "naughty" list so far? 

Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Dick's Sporting Goods
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria's Secret

Of all those, the only one I'd consider placing on a "naughty" list is the last one, and in that case I actually think being "naughty" should be considered a bonus. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The stronger the denial, the further the fall?

Well, it's happened again.  Another anti-gay preacher has "come out of the closet".  And this time, it's not just a local celebrant, but one of the higher up muckety-mucks, a full blown bishop (pun intended).

Yet, and this is what surprises me (not really), there are other Christians who are now denouncing him as not a "True Christian(tm)".  I wonder if they've ever heard of the logical fallacy called "No True Scotsman"? 

Peter LaBarbara of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) said "This so-called 'Bishop' Swilley is a very confused man.  He thinks he's being honest about -- quote -- 'who he is,' but actually, he's compromising the Word of God and he's Christianizing sin, which is impossible."

I've got to wonder how long it will be before Mr. LaBarbara himself announces he has to be "who he is", too. 

I'm sorry, Mr. LaBarbera -- the last time I checked in the Bible, there wasn't a clause stating that sinners of any kind couldn't be Christian.  Maybe I'm reading a different Bible than you are?  Maybe AFTAH publishes it's own version, complete with graphic depictions of those heinous acts they condemn.  I'm sure Mr. LaBarbera stays up late at night studying it hard.

They let crooks, thieves, liars, bigots, cheats, philanderers, and adulterers stay in the pulpit.  Sometimes even after multiple offenses.  In fact, one of the defining positions of Christianity seems to be that everyone is a sinner, but that shouldn't disallow them from being Christian. But touch one member of the same sex, and you are no longer in the club.  Guess they should make a new "log cabin Christian" church?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I'm reading this week

I'm an avid reader.  On average, I probably read at least one full novel per week, along with an assortment of nonfiction, biography and technical writings scattered throughout the year. I've usually got my nose (metaphorically) in at least one, if not three or four, separate books at any one time.  Lucky for me, technology has made it easy to carry around an entire library in the palm of my hand.

This last weekend, I finished the latest book in my To Be Read (TBR) pile, The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan.  I needed something to go along with the Clan of the Cave Bear, which I'm also in the middle of re-reading.  And then I saw this:

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas

And joy of joys -- it's only $1.01 on Amazon for the digital edition!  What an amazing deal!

So I've been reading it on and off for the last few days, and it's an insightful and entertaining collection of essays from 42 atheists around the world (well, mostly Great Britain) about what Christmas means to them.  From stories of childhood wishes to farsical comedic takes on the holiday, it's a blast to read, and an very uplifiting set of tales.  And one of the most entertaining things about it is the British colloquialisms and jingo that is peppered throughout the essays, often quite unintentionally funny to a Muricun like me.

If you've got a chance and some interest, I highly recommend this book (especially the Kindle version, which is only a buck).  If you don't have a Kindle, there are a lot of other ways to read it -- on your computer, on your iDevice, or get the hard copy (go ahead, kill a few trees while you're at it!).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So, who thinks it's going to be a cold winter?

It's finally starting to cool down around here (I saw the first frost on roofs this morning). But just because the local weather is cooling doesn't mean the world is.

So far, this year is matching/exceeding 1998 as the hottest ever recorded. So much for the claim by deniers that the last ten years show a cooldown. Not even close!

Anyone want to bet on how much snow KC will get this winter?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Old Friends and New Commenters: Free-Fire-Zone #1

Well, it looks like the gang's all here!  I don't know why the conversations from KCFS and the old Tammeus blog are congregating on my humble little patch of internet space, but here we are.

I don't really care all that much about what goes on at other sites and discussion forums -- this blog is my own little place to voice my opinions, comment about news and provide links to stories and events I think are interesting, humorous or important.  So I find it difficult to figure out why "junomilgram" has just shown up and acts like Iggy is the owner of this blog.

Hint, "juno" - he isn't.  Has he commented here?  Yes, but he usually keeps his comments applicable to the topic of my post.  You, on the other hand (and several others of the "Goldstein" cabal) prefer to ignore any topicality, avoid actual substantial discussion, and veer directly into insults and ad hominem attacks.

Here's what I'm going to do.  I hate censorship.  So I'm not going to shut down comments or screen anyone's words.  I'm going to give you a place to argue, attack, insult, and ad hominem to your heart's desire (I might even read some of them now and again).  Starting with this post, once a week I'll put up a new "free-fire zone" post that you can use.  Reference other blogs, discussion forums, people, places, things, etc as much as you want.  Carry on your own conversations, free from any fear of censorship from me.

All I ask is that you refrain from spilling over into the other posts.  If you've got a specific comment or something to say that relates to the other posts, feel free to comment on it.  But if your comments have absolutely nothing to do with what I've written, why comment at all?  Go to the "free-fire" post and do it.

Hopefully, everyone can be at least mature enough to follow this simple request.  Otherwise, I may have to consider some sort of comment screening, which I really don't want to do.

Fire away!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And I Thought Tiger Woods Had A Hot Swing!

But he's got nothing on this guy, who singlehandedly started a massive brush-fire with one mighty stroke of his club.

It's almost too strange to believe, but given the dry conditions in California, and the high winds, I guess anything is possible.  And I have seen sparks fly from a metal-headed wood (isn't that an oxymoron?) before, so this could happen.  Of course, it could also be that the guy was trying to hide his clandestine smoking habit, and didn't stub out his cigarrette butt properly when he tossed it into the kindling.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Don't Think I'm Going To Complain About KC Traffic Again

There have been some frustrating times on the KC highways for me, when I've got to get somewhere and run into construction zones, rush hour backups, and accidents that slow everything to an absolute standstill.   But even in my worst nightmares, it never ends up lasting for days.

The same can't be said for Beijing, where a traffic jam has been ongoing for nearly two weeks. 

It's gotten so big, there's actually a mini-economy that's started up, selling food, water and other necessities to the stranded drivers as they wait interminably long to move even a few feet an hour.

Did You Know There Are Non-Christians In The Army?

Apparently, some evangelical captain thought all his troops should get a bit more Jesus in their training, so he ordered the entire group under his command to attend a concert by an overtly Christian rock group, BarlowGirl.  When between 80-100 troops refused to attend (mostly because they recognized it was a Christian evangalization event), they were ordered back to the barracks for what can only be described as punitive action.

While not often this blatant, I did see a lot of this sort of ignorance and bigotry by the senior leadership when I was in the service.  Rarely did soldiers get punished for refusing to attend a religious event or service, but they often felt ostracized and ignored -- not a good feeling in an organization that depends on camaraderie and teamwork to function and survive.

This type of proselytization and religious indoctrination is highly illegal and irresponsible, and there is absolutely no place for it in the US military.  Several of the punished soldiers were Muslim, so I have to wonder if there was an additional bias in the application of punitive action on their account.  We've spent years overtly declaring that the war actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were against specific terrorist and radical groups, not Islam in general.  Actions like this, as well as the protests for the Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, show what liars and hypocrites the people pushing to continue the wars are.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Are You Going To Commemorate September 11th This Year?

I wonder if there is a lot of sentiment towards making 9/11 a national "Bash Muslims" day?  It can certainly seem that way, especially in the wake of the controversy over the Islamic community center being built in Lower Manhattan, as well as the vileness and hatred expressed in numerous polls showing the bigotry is rampant.  I'd even be willing to bet that fear and hatred of Muslims is now greater than the previous "most hated" group, atheists. 

So, on top of all that cold and prickly vehemence against Muslims, why don't we just throw a little more gasoline on the fire?  How ready are you for an "official" Koran-Burning Day

Now, I have no problem with people expressing their freedom and right to protest, but this seems to be a deliberate attempt to not only mock and deride, but provoke and incite.  After all, it's one thing to make a statement about free speech and protesting religious favoritism, like when Dr. PZ Myers stuck a rusty nail through a communion wafer (and trashed a copy of the Koran and Dawkins' God Delusion, too).

Instead, this "church" is promoting this book-burning celebration because they proudly feel that "Islam is of the Devil" and "the Koran is leading people to hell".  This sort of blind, bigoted, ignorant and destructive anti-intellectualism simply increases the discord and disgust that most Islamic people feel about Americans, which puts our troops, our civilians and our culture at risk.  While I don't believe in any gods, I don't disparage and intentionally insult over 1 billion other humans simply because I disagree with them.  I may single out individuals for my scorn and wrath, but I don't extend prejudice against entire nations and groups.

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I love good animation.  Not just pretty pictures, but a story that I can relate to on multiple levels.  Here's something I found online that shows just how futile and frustrating some programs can be when they get a little too "smart".

Animator vs. Animation

If you like that one, there's a sequel here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Want To Bet the Teabaggers will Jump On This As More Evidence Obama's a "Secret Muslim"?

It's been a while since "Obama's a Muslim" was a mainstreamed Teabagger talking point, but there's a good chance this news will resurrect the meme.  That proposed mosque that's going to be built a few blocks from the Ground Zero location in Lower Manhattan has gotten the nod from our President.

Obama outlines the freedom of religion aspect of our cultural heritage, and the inclusion and acceptance of immigrants and outsiders as strengths of our national identity.  He makes all the right statements, and justifies his support for it by appealing to our Constitution and our humanity.

And the Teabaggers will be all over him for it.  I can't wait.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Literary Classic Turns 50

Believe it or not, one of the most beloved books of childhood memories is now half-a-century old.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess turned 50 years old today, and I think it should be turned into a celebratory weekend.  We should all have green eggs and ham for breakfast, make sure you eat it wherever you are (in a box, on a train, in a car, in the rain).  And if anyone tries to beg off and claim they don't like them, just remind them to "try them, try them, and you'll see!"

Some People Are So Desperate To Play Video Games, They Sell Their Souls!

You know those annoying disclaimers and legal statements that you have to scroll through and click "accept" before you can even install a simple program or game?  Yeah, those long, boring and totally irrelevant screeds that no one ever reads or bothers to care about (other than getting rid of it to get to the game or program)?

Maybe you should read them, after all. 

A computer game store put an extra couple clauses in their disclaimer statement that might make a few people upset -- because by opting in (which was the default option), they granted the company the right to claim the victim's soul. 

Yes, over 7,500 people sold their soul to play a video game.  And based on typical percentages here in the United States, that would mean over 5,500 Christians just lost out on their chance at a piece of heaven.  I wonder if the flashing lights and funny noises that gave them a few minutes of fun were worth it?

And for those of you who aren't religious and don't give a damn about your immortal soul, there was a materialistic justification to read the whole thing, too.  If you had opted out of the clause, it would have netted you a quick £5 voucher for the online store.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I learned a new word today, and it fits perfectly


"government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power."

Doesn't that sound similar to what some people are claiming about the US government, and have for the last several presidencies (different sides accused the government of this for each one, of course).  

Of course, I don't think even in the days of W. that we ever descended into kakistocracy - but that might have been closer than just about any other time.  No, I think kakistocracy applies more to groups like the Taliban, Khmer Rouge, North Korea, etc.  Those extreme dictatorships that have a cult-of-personality-like stranglehold on their populace, and use violence, propaganda and extreme measures to enforce and maintain their position and power.  

Those are the true kakistocracies.  in contrast, we've just got to suffer from rule by the incompetent and ignorant.

Gee, I feel so much better knowing I live in an idiocracy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Global Warming -- Man, it's hot outside today!

I know there is a big difference between local weather and the global climate, but with the massive heatwave frying the air around Kansas City, I can't help but make the connection in my head.  Of course, the local talking-head teabagger, Chris Stigall (710 KCMO AM) made some comments about it this morning, too.  He said he hadn't heard any news or commentary about what he calls a "fraud and coverup". 

Hmmm, I do seem to recall a number of stories, articles and reports about it -- and all of them have indicated the global climate is warmer this year than just about any other.  2009 ended the warmest decade ever recorded.  2010 had the warmest January.  2010, the warmest March, April and May.  The hottest spring ever just ended in June.  June was hotter worldwide than any previous year.  We're on pace to have the warmest August worldwide.

The Arctic ice is thinner and less extensive than ever.  A 100 square mile chunk of Greenland's glacier just broke off this weekend.  

It sure seems like there's been a lot of news and information out there about the climate and how warm it's getting.  Of course, since Chris apparently only gets his news from Fox, they must not be reporting it.  Oops -- I guess he wasn't reading very close:

Global Warming Continuing
Climate Report Reaffirms Global Warming

Of course, there isn't much else about global warming on FauxNews, probably because they don't want to admit when they're wrong.  They've spent so much time over the last couple years touting the short-term slight downtrend in global climate, they forgot to notice that even during that timeperiod, the global temps were still higher than ever before. 

I wonder if Chris will read this and comment? 

Friday, August 6, 2010

An Anniversary That Should Never Be Forgotten

65 years ago, the US committed what would be the first of two final acts in the last brutal chapters of World War II -- dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't Forget to Get Out and Vote Today

It's that time again -- Primary voting season!  Yup, today is the day we all (well, about 15% of us) run to the polls and cast our ballots for the least repulsive, ignorant and pandering politicians we can stomach.  Get out and do your civic duty, and try not to vomit on the touchscreen voting machines -- they've got to last until November's general election!

Oh, and if you want a hint as to who I'm going to vote for in the Kansas Governor's primary race, check this out.

Another Step Towards the Ground-Zero Mosque

About two months ago, I wrote a post about the proposed Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque that would be only a couple blocks from the 9/11 Ground Zero site.  Well, it looks like another barrier to building it has fallen. 

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission denied granting landmark status to the building on the location the developers want to use.  If this had been approved, it would have significantly altered what was planned -- although it woudn't have stopped the development completely  -- they just would have had to keep the entire building intact (and possibly renovate it in the process), instead of demolishing it to build a brand-new building.

OK, so is this going to change anyone's opinion of things?  I doubt it.  The Teabaggers will continue with the parade of ignorance and isolationism, screaming that this is "insulting to the victims of 9/11" and a "provocation" to the Christians of the USA.  One of the main reasons the teabaggers say they're opposed to is how close it is to Ground Zero - but if you quietly ask them how far away the mosque should be built, the answer seems to be "nowhere within the borders of the USA". 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Maybe There's a Way to Prevent a "Governor Brownback"

During the 2008 campaign, he was asked (along with the rest of the Republican field) some questions about evolution and creationism - and he sided with the creationists.  He's a TeaBagger and a darling of the ultra-conservative movement.  And he's probably going to be the next Kansas governor.

I know the prevailing sentiment is that no matter who the Democrats put forward in the November election, they'll get smashed by the Republican powerhouse of Sam Brownback.  He's been a very popular senator for our state, and has not done too much stupid to get himself unelectable in this extremely Red State.

But maybe, just maybe, there's a way to stop this whole thing before it ever gets started. How, you ask?  By beating him in the August 3rd primary race with someone even crazier, stupider, and more nutty than he ever could be.  If only there was a Republican candidate that could fit the bill, one that would have enough "conservativism" to get the Republican Right Wing excited, but just a bit too far removed from sanity to actually have any chance of winning in November.  Who could possibly manage that?

Joan Farr Heffington

She's a perfect candidate to upset Brownback in the primary, but be completely humiliated in the November general election.  She's very Christian (notice the little crosses as bullet points).  She's a widow and mother of three.  She started her own business.  She's self-educated.  She's the daughter of an Air Force pilot. 

She's almost perfect for the Republicans!  Call her the Sarah Palin of Kansas!  Annoint her as the next (first?) great female Republican, possibly line her up for the vice-presidential nomination in 2012!  What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, wait -- she's a completely insane nutbag.  Not only is she for the Fair Tax (a Republican Right Wing favorite), but she also believes the US government's been trying to kill her for 10 years.  She thinks every bill the governor signs should be put to a public poll.  She wants to teach Young Earth Creationism in public schools.  She thinks the governor of a midwestern state should have the authority to override Congressional and Presidential laws.  She says the third partner in her business venture is God (not figuratively, but literally).

On second thought -- maybe she's not too crazy for the Republicans.  Can you imagine how silly the State of Kansas would look with this person in charge?  Can you imagine how easy it would be for the Democrats to defeat the Republicans in November with this woman on the ticket? 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Reason to Hate Vuvuzelas

Vuvuzelas, those tremendously loud, obnoxiously droning, 120 decibel, ear-shatteringly-loud cheap plastic horns that are driving soccer fans crazy in South Africa, are spreading.  I've seen them at KC Wizards games, I'm sure they'll make appearances at many NFL stadiums this fall, and now...

They've invaded MiddleEarth

I had already figured out that vuvuzelas were bad, but apparently, they're the demonic creation of Sauron!

I Want One!

When I was a kid, Legos were fun, cool and creative.  My kids are now into them, but the variety and shapes available today far exceed what I had to play with.  Still, it's fun to see what imaginations can inspire.

Who needs a fancy, multicolor, 1200dpi, wireless multifunction copier/printer/scanner/fax machine when you can have LEGO PEOPLE PRINTING FOR YOU!

Now, if they can just make an iPad out of Legos...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I don't know if anyone reading this (both of you) have been watching the World Cup, but for an American fan, it's been an absolutely, nail-bitingly, infuriatingly, exhileratingly terrific first round.  The US team has been robbed of at least two goals by the officials, had dozens of near-miss shots on goal, and took the third match down to nearly zero-time before a fantastic finish by Donovan to seal the win. 

Now, after Germany beat Ghana in Group D, we're in great position to advance to at least the semifinal round, if not the quarterfinals.  That would match the best result the USA has ever managed in World Cup play -- the quarterfinals in 1930.  Yes, it's been 80 years since we finished in the top four, and it's time to go back.

Not only do we get the easier of the two Group D teams (I'm not saying Ghana is going to be an easy test, but certainly not more challenging than Germany would be), but each day another "mighty" team falls.  Yesterday, last tournament's runner up, France, failed to move on.  Today, the winner from four years ago fell (Italy).  England looks beatable, and so does Germany. 

Better yet, our side of the knockout bracket looks a whole lot easier than the other side.  If we beat Ghana, we face the winner of Ukraine-Korea.  Win that, and we're in the Final Four!  Of course, at that point we'll probably be facing either Brazil, Spain or Portugal -- all of them extremely powerful and talented.  But even then, we've got a chance.  The US squad beat Spain last year at the Confederations Cup, and in the finals of that tourney, we led Brazil 2-0 at the half. 

It's been an amazing ride so far, and I think this US team's got a long ways to go before they bow out of it. 


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The question's been asked -- Are you a troll?

So, you've taken the time to wander through a certain blog or website, and you see something that ticks you off, and they've got an open comments section.  What do you do

If you're a reasonable, sane and normal person, you might make a comment directly relevant and factual as an attempt to correct and/or address an issue.  Or, you could take the easy, obnoxious, juvenile path and blast out a non-sequitur laden, grammatically incorrect and ignorant bucket of blargh -- i.e., be a troll.

It's a good think there aren't any trolls lurking around this blog!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bears must believe in the Christian God -- They do his work for him

Apparently, the reason grizzly bears maul humans occasionally isn't because we intrude on their habitats, destroy their living spaces, drive off their prey, and push them ever closer to extinction.  Nope -- it's because the USA doesn't believe in the Bible anymore (or not enough), and the bears are God's enforcers

Just like the story of Elijah and the Two Bears, when the Christian deity gets angry, he sends cuddly teddy bears out to maul the offenders.  Or in this case, half-ton, angry, intoxicated, dazed and violated male grizzly.

Of course, the actual particulars of this case are more reasonably looked at as negligence (on the part of the scientists who left a tranquilized bear without observation) and carelessness (on the part of the man who wandered into the woods just after the bear woke up).  

The "next generation" of technology?

What would you do if you could time travel?  Would you want to meet famous people (or even your own ancestors)?  Would you try and influence major historical events, like assasinating Hitler before he came to power?  Or would you be a selfish, greedy opportunist who takes advantage of modern technology for your own personal gain?

One artist imagined what he'd do with a time travel device, and I think it's pretty ingenious. 

Imagine how popular you'd be at parties with an ALT1977 Pocket Hi-Fi:

Or how jealous all the neighborhood kids would be if your parents got you a Microcade 3000 for your birthday?  That snotty rich kid with his brand-new Atari 2600 would keel over in a dead faint if he saw it!

 This is some serious fun!  What sort of technology or ideas would you take back in time?  When would you take it to?  Would you be someone who wants to "save the world", or would you try and make some fast money?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Called Third Strike on "Touchdown Jesus"

For a while, it made a small town in Ohio famous.  It was the "Touchdown Jesus" statue rising over 60 feet above the ground outside a megachurch, overlooking the nearby I-75 highway. 

It was ridiculed by comics, parodied in song, and derided as excessive by many.  And now it's gone.

Yes, what scoffing and mockery couldn't do, good old Nature took care of.  Struck by lightning, the massive statue burned to the ground.  I wonder if the hyper-religious who see "god's hand" in natural events (hurricanes, earthquakes, oil spills, etc) will say about this?  Was it the Christian deity striking down a forbidden graven image?  Or maybe it was Zeus trying to show he's still relevant? 

Or was this just another example of the inneptitude and inaccuracy of the Biblical creationist god -- he was probably aiming at the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic, or the dozens of strip clubs just a few miles in that haven of iniquity -- Dayton, OH.  After all, if that "god" can't hit Houston with an oilslick the size of Florida, why should we expect him to nail the right town with a lightning bolt?  And who can blame him if the miss causes damage and destruction to the completely innocent?


Quick update on what might have been the actual target (which was clearly missed): There's a Hustler Hollywood store directly across the highway from "Burning Man" Jesus, where all forms of smut and pornography are legally sold.  Given the vast array of immorality and vice surrounding the Solid Rock Church (henceforth to be known as "Flaming Styrofoam Church"), it remains a mystery why only the 60' tall "Terminator" Jesus was struck down.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup Fever!

What an opening weekend for the biggest sporting event in the world!  Amazing skills on display from the best players in the world, tremendous saves and shots all over the pitch.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've set my DVR to record every single game -- and I'm planning on watching as many as I can before the harddrive overloads and starts deleting the oldest ones.  I've managed to watch at least parts of every game, and three full ones.

The USA-England match was phenomenal.  I was worried when England scored in less than 4 minutes, but the US defense clamped down and forced a draw.  Tim Howard -- what a monster in the box.  Even with a ball that provides some very "interesting" bounces and bruised ribs, he still put on a clinic for every keeper in the tourney.

Watch out, world!  The USA is going to make some noise this month.  Next up, Slovenia on Friday.  My prediction: USA 3, Slovenia 1

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Parade of Moronic False-Association Just Doesn't Stop!

There's a pastor in Macon, GA that's just aced the "deluded beyond belief" test.  His post, The Parable of the Gulf Oil Spill is an absolute gem of lunacy and nutbaggery.  This moron thinks that God works by creating natural disasters that decimate huge expanses of humanity just to send "warnings" about things the poor pastor doesn't like (homosexuality, abortion, and prosperity gospel).  The trouble is, he is too busy preaching about it to notice his sense of direction is all wrong.

Yup, the guy claims that the Gulf oil spill centered south of Louisiana and generally drifting to the east is retribution from God for the iniquities and sin in Houston, where Planned Parenthood is building a new clinic.  Add to that the fact Joel Osteen's church is headquartered in Houston, and Pastor Joe goes ballistic. How dare Houston have such disrespect for his god!  

Has anyone else noticed the absolutely terrible aim the god of these morons has?  Every time I think they can get more absurd, another one (like this guy) jumps up and shouts his idiocy to the rafters.  Pat Robertson asserted Disney World would be hit by a natural disaster because they allowed a Gay Rights group to visit -- and then his own hometown was hit by a hurricane.  Another bozo claimed that Hurricane Katrina was retribution for all of the excesses of the French Quarter in New Orleans -- but Katrina didn't do much damage to that hotbed of sin, preferring to devastate the 9th Ward and numerous churches, instead.

Look, I'm not saying people can't have a personal belief in whatever deity they choose.  Most are fine and normal and not complete nutjobs, and I get along fine with them.   But it is absolutely insane to think that (a) any god would be so inept that he couldn't hit a city the size of Houston with an oil slick the size of Florida, and (b) that an omnipotent deity that created the universe would care about idiots like Joel Osteen bilking millions by pandering to the basest survival instincts of lonely people, or that (c) such a deity would use a massively wasteful, overdone and inaccurate method like an oilspill, hurricane or earthquake.  

Clearly, these guys aren't thinking right.  They're thinking too small.  If they want to truly get "biblical" on the Osteens and Planned Parenthoods of the world, a worldwide conflagration that consumes everything (humans, plants, animals, bacteria, etc) is more God's style.  Can't do a flood -- 'cause God promised!  But all out nuclear holocaust -- you betcha!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This is simply awe inspiring!

Check out this video that a French freediver made.  I have to admit, I've done my share of swimming and snorkeling, but to simply drop into a blue hole like that is insane! 

All I can say is, wow.  I'm impressed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Take a walk on the Faith side

As all of my regular readers know (both of you, most likely), I was the first non-mainstream-religion writer for the KC Star's FaithWalk column back in 2007-2008.  I wrote a total of 5 articles, which were all well received.

Now, it's time again for someone else to take up the challenge.  The Star is again recruiting people to write for their column, and they're looking for just about anyone, of any religious persuasion (or none at all).  I would love to see a wider variety of perspectives from the community.  I think it would be interesting to read from a much younger viewpoint, especially for those still searching and questioning how beliefs and faith fit into their lives. 

The last couple years have seen a small increase in the diversity of views, but not enough.  Almost all of the writers have been Christian, most of the mainstream variety, and none of the overtly fundamentalist types.  There has been the obligatory atheist each year, but no real agnostic or lapsed religious types.  A single Pagan/Wiccan for that fringe.  Only one non-Abrahamic writer. 

If the point of the FaithWalk column is to provide a broader insight into the diversity and views of the greater KC area, I would hope that the Star makes the effort to recruit from the less common religious groups -- Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc, as well as the non-religious.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Urban Dictionary isn't the right tool for getting defintions of common terms

OK, so the Urban Dictionary is pretty good for us "old timers" to get a grasp on the latest lingo and slang out there.  But when it comes to more standard terms and words, it fails completely.  PZ Myers mentioned it in regards to the term "atheist" today, so I thought I'd go check it out.  He's right -- almost all of the "definitions" are idiotic insults hurled by ignorant religionists.

One thing I noticed while laughing my way through the first couple pages of "atheist" definitions was the links to other terms that were related: Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.  So just for curiosity's sake, I clicked of "Muslim" first.  Wow -- what an even worse display of ignorance, prejudice and hatred!  Calling all Muslims terrorists, claiming that Muslims are all fantatics and intent on destroying Christianity.  Misrepresenting sections of the Koran.  Pages and pages of this stuff.  It's horridly absurd and would be laughable if this wasn't the attitude of many Christians I know.

So then I clicked over on the "Christian" definition, just to see if the same level of bigotry, hatred and vehemence was shown there.  Nope, not a chance.  Christians are all fluffy bunnies and rainbows, if you were to believe that site.  Hardly a single negative about the whole thing, and the whole lot of them whining about persecution and misunderstanding by the rest of the world!  Oh, my -- you're only 75% of the US population, how sad for you to be in such a tiny minority!  Sheesh!  The arrogant hubris was so thick, I almost choked before I could hit the "back" button.

I'm sick of hearing how downtrodden and stripped of rights those poor Christians are.  I'm so sorry that you've lost some of your unconstitutional privileges that you've enjoyed and lorded over the rest of us for decades.  I'm almost (but not really) sympathetic to the travails and hardships of the majority now that you can't beat down the minority as easily.  I know how hard it must be to swallow the fact that putting your "god" on our money and in our Pledge of Allegiance has been challenged as illegal in the courts.  It must be so difficult for you, having all that tax-exempt land overflowing with massive, overly ornate places for you to go prostrate yourself before your chosen mythos. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Should a Mosque be Built Near Ground Zero in NYC?

The NYC Community Board voted last week to approve plans for the building of a 13-story Islamic community center and mosque only a few blocks away from Ground Zero.  The USAToday article has an online poll question that asks "Do you agree with the board's decision? Yes or No".  Right now, it's running at 86% saying "no".  That's disturbing and offensive, if you asked me.

I know how tempting it would be to say "absolutely not" to that question, but think about the consequences of such an answer.  From what I understand, this mosque is being built by private financing, on privately owned land, only a couple blocks from the sight of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.  It's being vilified and attacked already by the teabaggers and bigots as "insensitive", "evil" and "disgraceful".   But what is insensitive, evil and disgraceful (as well as stupid and ignorant) is the sheer arrogance of these people to openly attack their cherished Constitution. 

While it's true that the attackers on 9/11 were Muslim, they do not represent all of Islam.  And unless someone can show that this Islamic cultural center (and mosque) are being financed by illegitimate terrorist organizations, I don't see how anyone could possibly say it should be stopped, unless they want to dismantle the essential freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution

The First Amendment states that we have the freedoms of religious expression, assembly and speech.  The calls by the bigots and teabaggers to stop this planned construction violate every single one of those freedoms.  Can't they figure that out? 

  • If you say we shouldn't allow the mosque because it's not "our" religion -- that violates the free expression clause. 
  • If you say we shouldn't allow it because it would let Muslims congregate and organize near the site of the attack, that violates the free assembly clause. 
  • If you say we shouldn't allow it because the imams might preach something you don't agree with, that violates the free speech clause.

If these ignorant savages had any sense at all, they'd realize that what they're doing is calling for a theocratic dictatorship.  If that's what they want, I suggest they all move away, because this country was founded and has remained (mostly) a secular representative republic that is founded on the principles of personal liberty and freedom, not draconian Christian Dominionism.  That sort of theocratic, authoritarian dictator-led government has been tried before, and is still functioning in many nations around the globe.  Maybe the teabaggers would feel more comfortable over there -- like Iran, Yemen or North Korea.  Personally, I wouldn't mind shipping all of them off to someplace like that.  Maybe after a few months under those governments, they'd understand the need for the freedoms and liberties that are ascertained by our Constitution.

Come on, America.  Be a bigger, more inclusive, more tolerant, and more honest nation.  If you truly cherish and respect the Constitution that our nation was founded on, don't let the bigots and idiots run the place. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

What'choo Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?!?

Gary Coleman, the cute kid actor from TV's "Diff'rent Strokes" died today at age 42.  While he didn't get much in the way of acting opportunities after he grew up, his role as the younger brother on that show bridged a lot of gaps in the presentation of racial differences on mainstream television in the 1980s. 

He was a lot of fun to watch while I was growing up, and it saddens me to see someone so talented die so young.  Heck, I'm only a couple years away from 42, myself. 

Selecting the wrong answer on a Facebook Poll can get you fired!

A teacher at a Catholic HS in Iowa was fired because she answered a poll about personal beliefs in a way her employer didn't like.  Apparently, Abby Nurre was surfing around Facebook last summer (before she started her job at the Catholic school) and decided to answer a poll question she found.  The poll asked whether she believed in God, angels or miracles - she answered "no".

Now she's out of a job because, as the school board put it, she violated "a policy that prohibits employees from advocating principles contrary to the dogmatic and moral teaching of the church." 

Wow... just, wow. 

It's funny that Catholic schools will let non-Catholic (even -- gasp! -- ATHEIST) students enroll and graduate, but if any teacher gives even a whiff of independent thought or questioning of their rigid dogma, they're publicly stripped of their job, kicked out the door without a second thought, and humiliated and shamed for even attempting to defend themselves. 

Of course, the non-Catholic students have to pay for the privilege of attending the school, but the teachers take money away.  Clearly, though -- there's no financial bias going on in this case, right?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Synthetically Created Artificial Life Made by Humans

It is finished...


OK, so maybe that line from the Bible is a bit over-the-top, but the implications of the announcement are far from tiny. Click the above link to the abstract from Science.  The full-text article is available free, so go ahead and read the whole paper.

Craig Ventner's group has managed to put together a completely human-synthesized bacterial genome, then actually gotten it to work inside a cell. The cell has metabolic activity exactly as expected, and it reproduces itself faithfully.  The only DNA in the cell is from the manufactured genome -- complete with unique markers and polymorphisms to identify it.

While this isn't a 100% synthetic organism, it is by far the largest step taken towards that goal.

Cue the creationists saying "See, it took someone intelligent to make this happen."

Of course, one could respond that since it only took a human level intelligence, then maybe the Intelligent Designer isn't all that smart to begin with.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Freedom of Speech really means

Read it and weep, motherf--kers! The US Supreme Court just bitchslapped the s--t out of censorship and bulls--t! Even the oldest damned Supreme got into the act:

Go stick that in your peace-pipe and smoke it. Or, as Justice Ginsburg is quoted as saying, this is "a bitch-slap in the face of all those uptight limp-dicks."

Free speech isn't just free, it's the f--king Law of the Land!

(hint: read the linked article if you are concerned about the language and tone of either this post or the SCOTUS decision)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Whitewashing the Fence - Should Bible Verses Be Painted On?

A Casper, WY man caused a minor controversy in his hometown when he painted a short Bible verse from Leviticus on his fence. It would have been bad enough if he had just painted on Leviticus 20:13, but he had to go and add injury to insult with his own interpretation.

Not only is this guy an outright bigot, but apparently the people in town aren't much better. Apparently, the city council has decided that because this fence is on private property, they can't do anything about it. Although I usually applaud when people try to defend "free speech" and the rights of the individual to express themselves, there are always limits to what can (or should) be said. Just like shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater is considered non-protected speech, this sign is a direct threat to anyone who dares to be non-heterosexual in Casper.

Even sadder is that this fence sits along the road to the local high school, so on many days over 100 students have to walk past it. This offensive, prejudiced, obnoxious and ignorant display of biblical literalism just shows again how backwards, anti-social and evil some people can be. I'm sure Mr. Turnbull is a nice enough person. But as Steven Weinberg said, "For good people to to evil things requires religion."

Friday, April 16, 2010

It Must Seem Like the World is Ending to the Fanatical Believers

Earthquakes, volcanoes, meteor showers, global warming -- and now...

The National Day of Prayer is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

Yes, believe it or not, the Congress-approved NDoP has been ruled by a Federal Judge to violate the Lemon Test, the 39-year-old landmark case that set the precedent and three-pronged requirement to determine legitimacy of a law or decision when touching on religious matters.

Especially after the massive hype over yesterday's "Tea Parties", where the scalding mugs of teabagged hosts whipped up a frenzy of hysteria over government involvement in things they feel shouldn't be regulated - like caring for the sick, housing the homeless, taking in the orphans and providing safe, clean, reliable food and water to all. You know, all those evil, socialist, demonic things that no "True Christian" would want to see.

I can't wait to listen to the talking heads explode with indignant anger and pumped-up piousness. I can only imagine the tears that will be streaming down the face of Glenn Beck and his cronies. I just know this is going to be appealled to the highest court -- and unless the religious right gets some sort of Divine Miracle, it's going to be confirmed.

And the great part is, many of the arguments used to promote and "justify" the NDoP are the same ones that have been cited in support of the "Under God" clause that was added to the Pledge and "In God We Trust" on our money. Take note, godly believers - NOT ONE OF THESE THINGS WAS ENACTED BY THE FOUNDERS!! In fact, all three were started during war, and pushed almost exclusively by prominent religious groups as a means of separating the "righteous" from the "godless enemy".

Oh, and that whole "tradition" argument that many have tried to claim? You know, the one that goes "but we've been doing it since the founding, so it must be good." Try substituting "slavery" for "prayer" and see if you can justify your morals with that. Good luck with that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Man, the universe is FRICKIN' AWESOME!

Seriously, how can anyone NOT consider it incredible, from the multitudinous scales and levels of the entire universe, from the teensiest bits of quantum foam to the utter-mind-blowing-immensity of the universal sight horizon? And the thought that even those depths, 14 billion light years away, is still not the ultimate limit of just our universe - it's just the fact that we couldn't see any further away, even if we tried.

Here's a fantastic site that gives a good scalable view of everything (and I mean everything) from strings vibrating at Planck length, all the way through the entire width of the universe. I advise you not to view this if you are too wrapped up in thinking the universe is less than 10,000 years old -- it will quickly disabuse you of that error.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I've seen the light! I've been converted to a new religion!

I've been a PC/Windows user for over 20 years. The last time I spent any time on a Mac was in college, and that was multi-generations ago in computer years. I graduated from Win 3.1 to 95, through 98 and XP, dabbled a bit with Vista before falling in love with Win7. I use MS Office regularly at work and home, and although there have been some difficult and trying times (BSOD, virus/spamware bloating the system, peripherals and 3rd party software not wanting to work, etc), I was basically satisfied and content with where I was. I’d played with my daughter’s iTouch, and I’ve even got an iPod nano (tiny little green thing that I can play all my 80’s hair-band rockers on). But I’ve never really been interested in the Mac computers, and I had all the excuses to justify it – to expensive, too fancy, not compatible enough with Windows, don’t need it, etc.

Then my world was turned on its head.

I got my new 21.5" iMac exactly one week ago, and I am amazed at how fast, easy and brilliant it is. It runs circles around Win 7 (and I was truly impressed with Win 7 as a massively wonderful upgrade to the MS-OS). I hadn't realized how much better the MacOS is -- Windows is probably still several generations behind the curve. I remember in college how easy the Macs were to use, and even though I do recall when Win95 came out that it looked like the last MacOS I had used 5-6 years prior, I didn't want to shell out the cash for a Mac. Besides, Windows and Office were "good enough" for my needs.

Some people say that you can get "more bang for your buck" with a All-In-One (AIO) Win-PC (bluray, more USB slots, HD tuners, etc), but what do you sacrifice for those options (and they are optional)?

Speed, memory, power, finesse, and pure artistry.

My iMac has a 3.06Ghz Core Duo chip (I wanted to get an i5 system but I didn’t need the 27” screen – no matter how big and beautiful it is), an ATI Radeon 4670 HD chip, 4GB of RAM, a 1TB HD, and a 21.5" full-HD 1920-by-1080 display, wireless keyboard and mouse. Even your own tests show that the iMacs are by FAR the fastest AIO computers. This system is a graceful and speedy gazelle in a field of lumbering, clueless water buffalo.

Not only is the Mac OS faster, sleeker and more intuitive than even Win 7, my Mac didn't come bloated with all the adware and "trial" programs that bog down nearly every PC. The software it does come with is amazingly useful and feature-packed. I've got more memory, HD space, processing power and screen resolution than any of them. I can (and have) installed a virtual PC complete with Win7 and all the MS Office bulk, and it runs faster and smoother in a virtual window than it did on my old PC.

All of this luscious, tasty goodness is then packaged in a console that looks like it belongs in an art museum. Seriously, have you looked at the iMac compared to a Windows desktop or laptop? Brushed aluminum, slot drive DVD, crystal-clear front, a black bezel that hides the webcam, and only one cord needed to operate. It’s a perfect synergism between minimalism and function, uniting in what could the one of the most beautiful technology pieces ever made.

Oh, and I've got to say something about the keyboard/mouse combo. I thought the keyboard was undersized, and the lack of a 10-keypad initially bothered me. I even considered buying the wired Mac keyboard (same elegant, minimalist design, but included a 10-key and extra USB port). But not after using it for a week. This tiny little sliver of aluminum is rock-solid and smooth, and it's a breeze to type on.

As for the mouse -- WOW! The addition of the touchpad on the top makes it so innately simple and joyous to use. Set it so I can "right-click", and I can two button, three button, scroll up/down AND left/right without moving my hand. I can move back and forth between webpages (or documents) with a quick two-finger swipe. Tracking is phenomenal and precise. It's a combination of art and technology that simply isn't found in the PC world. Sure there are wireless keyboards and mice (and trackballs, pads, etc) for PCs, but the Mac stuff is so far ahead, it's not even fair.

Add in a copy of iWorks 09 (to go with the phenomenal "free" iLife suite), and you’ve got a genuine superstar of a system that will run rings around nearly any PC you want to compare it to. I paid just over $1700 for the entire system (software included), with a 3-year comprehensive warranty and service plan. That may seem like a lot, but just try and piece together a WinPC with comparable specs for that price. And don’t forget the software – Windows 7 and MS Office to match MacOS and iWorks, not to mention a decent photo and video suite to compare to the iLife suite that comes gratis with every Mac.

I think you'll be hard-pressed to find an AIO or laptop which is even capable of being upgraded to this level. I know it’s possible to match it with a full desktop PC, but then you’ve got this big, ugly box to find a place for. Oh, and a monitor that will match the size and performance of the iMac. Add it all up, and the cost of a comparable feature-set will easily equal or exceed what you'd pay for a Mac. I know – I tried it on Dell, HP, Best Buy and Tiger Electronics websites. Last but not least, don’t forget the comprehensive three-year service and support warranty.

At best, you can get a little cheaper (maybe 7-10% less) if you skimp a bit on some of the parameters. But then you have to factor in the elegance, aesthetics and overall clean integration of the Mac, which does count for something (if not in real dollars).

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m a Mac-convert. In less than a week, I’ve committed myself to a long-term relationship that will probably never end. Or at least, won’t until I fall in love with the iPad.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do Methane Burps Give You a Warm Feeling?

Climate change, global warming, AGW -- whatever you want to call it, whatever you think the cause of it is, I don't care. It's happening. The planet has warmed significantly in the last few decades, and coincidentally, the human emmissions of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) has also increased at a tremendous rate.

I'm not going to argue one way or another about the causes of it all. I personally think it's a combination of a lot of stuff (yes, including human actions). But the effects are going to be significant and potentially devastating to civilization as we know it. Changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, disruption of crop cycles, etc will all create chaos in the world as we know it.

But what happens if the methane bursts loose?


It looks like it might be starting, and that's a bad thing. Carbon dioxide's a greenhouse gas, but not a very efficient one. Methane, on the other hand, is a blockbuster. There is enough methane trapped in the frozen hydrates beneath the Siberian sea and other oceanic shelf systems to more than double the atmospheric carbon if it all came out. And it's starting to melt and leak.

Right now, things are not perfect, but we can manage. But if the methane breaks out it will start a feedback chainreaction of warming the permafrost, releasing even greater amounts of methane, causing even more warming, etc. And then all that excess carbon has to go somewhere -- and it will go into the oceans.

Great idea, right? Wrong! That much carbon forced into the oceans will increase the acidity levels to the point of destroying the carbonate shells of the sea critters - including the diatoms which are at the bottom of the overall oceanic food chain. And what happens, boys and girls, when the bottom drops out of a food chain? Starvation and death all the way to the top -- which means all of the world's humans, too.

Yup, anthropogenic global warming might be wrong, but whatever the cause it's getting worse, and if we can't slow or stop the rise in temps soon, it won't matter a bit who caused it - we won't be here to argue about it anyway.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Apparently, some people think we ARE in a Holy War

Get this, a company that makes the sighting system for the US Military's most common individual weapons has been putting Biblical references on them for probably close to 20 years. I've used these sights, and they are pretty damned good, but that's got nothing to do with the Bible verses. I personally don't care whether there is a reference to some mythological belief on my personal rifle. But I do worry about the message it is sending to our allies and our enemies.

We're involved in military action in parts of the world that are definitely not predominantly Christian. In fact, in some of those nations, discussing any religion other than Islam (even showing someone a Christian Bible) can be a crime. Yet here we are, on a supposedly sectarian nation-building endeavor, and even our weapons are screaming out "Jesus saves"!

I have to wonder what the Islamic terrorists will make of this revelation. Does anyone think that they'll ignore it and this story will end up swept under the proverbial rug? Not a chance, IMNSHO. This is a tailor-made recruiting dream for OBL and co. Not only are we having an occasional mishap where innocent civilians (all Muslim) are killed by various weapons, but now it comes out that those same weapons are marked with sectarian verses.

I worry that this revelation will fuel further indignation and outcry from the terrorists, and put our soldiers, civilians and everyone else in more danger. How many Iraqi and Afghan soliders who are being trained on these very weapons will refuse to use them now? Who will pay to have these sights replaced (an not-so-insignificant cost)?

The head of the company's sales and marketing division said "the inscriptions have always been there" and that there was nothing illegal about it. In a legal sense, he's right. This is a private company, and they've got the right to inscribe whatever nonsense they want on their wares. But the image it sends of our soldiers carrying weapons explicitly prosetylizing for Christianity while on a supposed secular mission in Islamic theocratic societies is chilling. The USA isn't on a Crusade, and we're not trying to be the new Empire of the world -- but stupidity like this sure gives the impression of just that.