Today I ran across a very interesting video on YouTube. It was a rant about politics, politicians and the government by Judge Napolitano on The Plain Truth. Now I do not watch Fox news, however I have to admit, for something that aired on Fox news, it was remarkably insightful.
Not surprisingly, Fox dropped his show, however I thought I’d share the clip in questions here with you. Much of what he is saying makes a lot of sense. they are things that I have often wondered about myself, but this is the first time I have heard anyone in a good position to talk about it, lay it all out there like this, much less someone from the Faux News camp.
Anyway the video is below:
This piece raises some really, really good questions: Why does our political system revolve around the segregation of the American populace? What possible benefit could that have? To whom? And more importantly, if our government system is supposed to operate the way we the people want it to… Why can’t we change anything? Chew on that for a bit…
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (a rock in a cave, deep underground, beyond the realm of even the mole people), you might have heard about two new bills being muscled through congress, as fast as the big entertainment industry corporations can muster, in the name of fighting piracy. The U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). These are bills aimed to curb online piracy, however they do so not by targeting actual pirates, but rather by targeting avenues by which a potential pirate might operate. These bills also give the government the ability to shut down sites based on criteria that the Entertainment industry will define.
These bills will effectively allow the government to censor the internet, and will put this loaded gun squarely in the hands of the big entertainment industry execs, giving them the ability the pull the trigger at will at whoever they want, whether it is justified or not. What gets me even more is the that these kinds of bills, that violate the very constitutional rights of all American citizens, are difficult for me to agree with even when they are used to stop terrorism, and save lives. And yet here we are, having our right violated simply to line the entertainment industries pockets! It’s absolutely disgusting.
And to cap it all off, none of these bills will actually prevent piracy. The vast majority of the cases that these bills will end up be used for will be to squash competition, freedom of speech and expression, and to bring ridiculous lawsuits against innocent Americans and their families. These bills will do nothing more than allow the Government to censor the internet, stifling our freedoms, and will just give Big Entertainment industries more ways to control the media and line their pockets. And that, my friends is not right. We need to fight these bills with everything we’ve got.
Please visit AmericanCensorship.org to learn more, and fight these bills. They are wrong, they target the wrong people, they give the government unconstitutional rights, and they are flat out un-American. Fight them. Tooth and Nail, Fang and Claw. We can beat them.
Go to this site.
Do it. Do it now.
You’ll thank me for it later.
There are some parts of the world where community child rearing is a common practice. Where the guardians of another family can, and would be reasonably be expected to, discipline the children of another, were they to behave in some socially unacceptable fashion for the culture in question. In fact, in some of these cultures, should the parents of the disciplined children ever find out, the other parents/guardians, etc would get an apology, and kids would be disciplined again once they got home for disgracing the family in public.
The US of A, however, is not such a culture, which is a fact which seems to have completely escaped the subject of today’s post. I’d like to introduce you to Mr Roger Stevens:
This man, took it upon himself to silence a crying, two year old girl, Paige, daughter of Sonya Matthews, at a local Wally World, in a rather unusual way. By slapping her across the face. Not once, but several times. Now it doesn’t take a genius to realize that if a complete stranger walks up to a kid and starts smacking them around, the complete opposite will occur. The kid should be reasonably be expected to actually get louder. Not quieter. A fact which apparently seemed to have completely escaped captain sourpuss over here, since he then tells the mother “See, I told you I would shut her up!”. No, really. The police report is below if you don’t believe me. What an absolute moron…
HOWEVER, it must be said, that Mr Dourface is not the only one at fault here. His actions were absolutely despicable, but, there is yet another person who was, at least partially at fault, for this incident. Paige’s mother, Sonya Matthews. I have said on many occasions how I see so many parents let thier kids get away with murder, and as much as I hate the circumstances that lead to the ridiculous events of this case, this is no exception.
We do not see anything in the report about what happened between the first time Mr. Stephens accosted Ms. Matthews, and the point at which Mr Stephens apparently lost it, but my question is, why was she not held accountable for her childs behavior? It seems like parents nowadays simply allow their children to do whatever they want. I have seen many, well behaved two year olds. Well perhaps not exactly “well behaved” but much better managed.
But they are not “impossible” to train, and there are numerous excellent printed and Internet guides for dealing with the “Terrible Twos” and lots of strategies for dealing with temper tantrums, crying fits, stubbornness, etc. But what I see are parents taking the easy way out. Letting them do whatever they want. Ignoring them, etc. And before any parent starts dropping the “Parenting isn’t easy” line, I must remind you that (in most cases, anyway) it was *your* choice to have kids, or to engage in activities that could result in having kids.
You cannot turn around after the fact and use it’s difficulty as an excuse to burden everyone else with the consequences. You should have thought of that before you decided to take your little roll in the hay. But once that baby pops out, It is YOUR responsibility, as a parent, to avoid imposing the difficulties of parent hood on society at large. And as much as I despise people like Mr Stephens, he did *not* deserve to have to sit there and listen to someone else’s kid wailing who knows how loud, and for how long, and probably giving him a migraine, just because Ms. Matthews did not or could not, figure out a way to quiet her child down.
I have often gotten flack for stating that childbearing should be considered a privilege. A privilege that not everyone deserves. I would almost go so far as to say if there was a way to do so without it being abused, parents should be legally be REQUIRED to at least take classes to help them understand how important raising a child is, learn the responsibilities they take on when they do so, and ways to handle the problems, like these, that invariably occur in the child rearing process.
There is no formula that works for every child, but if parents had more options, more training, perhaps a better understanding of what is happening and how to handle it, incidents like these could be avoided, and more importantly, society would be better off, because we would be raising more well adjusted kids.
This video is a prime example of what I consider a positive (or at least Neutral) attitude about Theism, Atheism and Agnosticism. Unlike many of the folks who feel the need to rant and rave about the evils of one or the other, Penn Jillette has managed to distill the issue into simple, practical, and more importantly, logical and unbiased/objective questions.
I do not always agree with his view points on things, since I find he sometimes does make flawed assumptions that weaken many of his otherwise strong arguments. But in this case, his attitude and reasoning is something that I wish we would see more often from supposedly rational, logical and unbiased people, as opposed to the hostile, prejudiced and irrational approach so many people often seem to take on both sides.
So I was moseying around on YouTube a couple of days ago, and I ran into an interesting video. Obviously the guys in the vid were trying to make some point about gun control. However I think their perspective is entirely irrational. Here’s the video in question:
The comment I am talking about occurs at about 1:20. And I quote:
So this is the deal right, this is why there is so much instability in Somalia. The NRA’s got it wrong, like, guns don’t kill people, AK-47′s kill people.
Orly? I am constantly amazed by how much misdirection is fed to the general public by the gun control lobby, and those who claim that guns are the source of many of societies ills. AK-47s are the cause of instability in Somalia? So how about poverty? How about greed? Corruption? Apathy?
If any of these folks had actually lived in a poor developing country, gotten to know the people, and made even a token effort to understand how the economics of the country affects the people of any country torn by poverty, civil war and strife, they would realize that these guns are simply a means to an end. Survival. Protection. Control. Nothing more, nothing less.
And if you argue that the proliferation of “cheap” weapons makes it difficult to stabilize the region, then you are simply advertising your own ignorance. Before there were cheaply obtainable firearms, there were machetes, cutlasses and knives, and exactly the *same* amount of violence. If not worse. It is the poverty, the need to survive, or to fight the oppression that results from corruption and greed, that creates instability. Not the firearms.
In fact, if we look at firearm ownership in the good ‘ol U.S. of A, you can clearly see that it is not simply the presence or abundance of firearms that cause problems. There are an estimated 250 million firearms in the country. And that is not counting military, law enforcement, unregistered, or black market firearms. Now here’s the thing. As of the time of this post there are an estimated 350 million men women and children in the country.
If we count every single gun in the country, that would easily make one firearm per household. In actuality, surveys show that most gun owners own multiple guns, who are estimated to make up anywhere between 25% to 50% of the US populace. And given the recent surge in gun ownership, my guess is that number is probably closer to 50%.
In contrast, in Somalia, for instance, over 60% of a population of roughly 10 million, live well below poverty. They couldn’t afford to buy a gun even if they wanted to. And I would be willing to bet that, out of the remaining 40% living above poverty, only a fraction of them make enough to own a firearm. But even if each and every Somali that could afford it owned a firearm, that would still mean that at most, 40% of Somalis own one.
So given the 10% greater (and that’s conservatively speaking) percentage of the American populace owning firearms, If firearms cause these problems, and lend to political instability, why are we not constantly engaged in constant civil war? Why is America relatively stable? Well, I’d argue that it’s because the guns themselves have no influence on the nature of the people. If the people for any reason, are moved to violence, then it doesn’t matter what weapons are available.
Somalia, and many countries like it, are in civil strife because of the environment, and the people. Not the guns. Poverty, religious beliefs, cultural strife, political power, greed and hatred are what motivate them. And they will continue to war with themselves until the learn how to overcome those internal conflicts. Regardless of whether they use AK-47s, machetes, or sticks and stones.
The truly observant will notice that the kinds of violence we see in poor developing countries only exists in isolated pockets of America. It is seen only in areas where the same level of poverty, strife, corruption and cultural tension exists. It is an easy pattern to spot, if you are really looking to solve problems, rather than chasing ghosts and looking for quick fixes or scapegoats.
It is always disappointing to see how much time, energy and cash the gun control lobby pumps into trying to get weapons off the streets, when the real problems are poverty, lack of education, prejudice, etc. These people are not about making the world better. They might believe that they are, however they are simply trying to eliminate anything that scares them, anything they do not understand. Regardless of how it might affect anyone else.
It is really a shame.
For the last few days I have kept running into an interesting study. Interesting, because it supposedly makes the act of swearing OK, under certain circumstances. Now I’m not going to try and argue whether swearing is either good or bad, because it is, at it’s core, a subjective argument. A person who swears is not automatically the scum of the earth, nor is a person who never swears the epitome of goodness and decency.
However I did have some reservations about what I heard the media spouting, and did some research on my own. What I found supported my doubts about what I had heard and read so far, and more importantly, the tone and interpretation of the many of articles I read demonstrated, rather plainly, the difference between truly objective reporting, and just being someone elses mouthpiece.
The article in question (which echoed the vast majority of the others I read) was this one. And I quote:
Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain. – [Scientific American]
What? Swearing could be good for me? Really? NO WAI!!In essence, these folks are saying that *swearing* by means of initiating an elevated physiological “fight or flight” response in the body, may serve the function of pain relief.
My thoughts? No. Just… No. Before the potty mouthed among you nod your head and say “I knew it!!” I think I ought to mention that the above conclusion is utter and complete nonsense. Why? Because that conclusion ignores all the other things that can trigger a “Flight/Flight” response, and derives the misleading conclusion that *swearing* is good for you.
However it is not that simple. Just because there is a correlation between action A and result B, does not mean that action A caused result B. To explain a little further what I am talking about here is an excerpt from a much more objective article on the study:
Scientists have discovered that uttering swear words can help to lessen the feeling of physical pain. – [UK Telegraph]
Some of you may be thinking… “Now hold on a second there… Those two articles are saying essentially the same thing.” Are they? I’d beg to differ. Here’s the difference: The first article is telling us that bad language is “good” for you. The second article, in contrast, makes no subjective statement (neither good nor bad) about swearing at all, and simply states the observed facts. That uttering swear words can help lessen the feeling of pain. See the difference?
Why is this important? Well I’ll tell you. It’s because it is not the swear words that initiate the fight or flight response. That’s why. That is just nonsense. Human beings have a natural tendency to cry out when in pain. *That* is natural. That response, is what initiates the fight or flight response, which in turn increases the bodies heart rate, adrenaline levels, etc, which allows us to tolerate greater pain levels. HOWEVER, that response could be accompanied by any number of things, yelling, screaming, stamping ones feet on the ground, clenching ones fists, punching walls, etc, etc, etc.
In fact yelling “GREAT BIG BUCKETS OF FUDGE!!!” at the top of your lungs would get you the same effect, and while it would be rather annoying to those around you, I don’t think that would be considered swearing. The key here is that it is healthier to let it out, than to bottle it in. Again, the key word here being “healthy” not good or bad.
But another point to remember is that the more you swear, the less effective it is at initiating a fight or flight response to any given stimuli. So if anything, people should not be so quick to swear.
As a side note, I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere, that swearing is what people do when they don’t have the words to say what they are feeling. I can’t argue that point. But I think perhaps swearing might not really be necessary if more people had a larger vocabulary to draw from.
I’m just saying…
It comes as no surprise that, everywhere I turn, I see a gazillion Michael Jackson related articles, tributes, and videos on YouTube and such. But one of the more interesting phenomenons I have noticed about many of these vids is that commenters either do the YouTube equivalent of spitting on his grave, or seem to try to avoid speaking badly about the late and great King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Not that I think that he should be being badmouthed or anything, but I’ve always found the glorification of the dead a rather unusual practice. I suppose it may have something to do with sparing the feelings of family and friends, but as I see it, if a person was a tool while they were alive, being dead doesn’t make them any less so, and the ones negatively affected by their toolishness have just as much right to express their emotions about it, at the very least for closure, if not for anything else, as anyone else. But I digress.
The thing is, there are some folks who go the extra mile with the glorification, going so far as to defend the deceased even in the face of a very poor reputation. One particularly interesting video I came across was that of the popular YouTuber Kev Jumba, in which he decided he was going to find ways to negate the negative press MJ has received over the years. The video is below if you are interested.
While Kev made an admirable effort in that endeavor, his approach seemed to make little sense to me. Or more to the point, it was hardly what I’d call an objective review of MJ’s actions. Simply put, if you go out looking for reasons to demonstrate a persons benevolence, then more often than not, you will find them, whether they are there or not. Kev Jumba, in essence, made the same mistake the press, and many others have made, which may have brought them, prematurely, to the negative conclusions that they all still hold today about the late Michael Jackson.
Case in point. Was he generous with his money? Yes. But with the kind of money he was making, it could easily have been for free positive publicity, than for any altruistic reasoning. Did he molest little boys? Well, while there is lots of circumstantial evidence, and a mountain of testimony based on a lot of hearsay, that says he did. But there is now way to know for sure whether or not those kids were coached, their parents were being over protective, or it was just part of an elaborate smear campaign designed to get so cash out of the King of Pop.
Did he bleach his skin because of a skin condition? Again, only MJ, and the doctors who treated him know the truth. But claiming vitiligo might have just been positive spin intended to mitigate the negative reaction from the public about his changing his skin color. Was his nose surgeries because his dad called him “bignose” when he was a kid? Possibly. But if we buy that logic, then why dismiss the idea that he bleached his skin for similar reasons, instead of medical ones?
The list goes on and on. Now don’t get me wrong. I am actually neither defending nor attacking him. I am simply trying to demonstrate that for every positive explanation, there is a negative one. And since I do not personally have sufficient information to either confirm or deny either position, I simply cannot make any kind of informed judgment call on the man, and simply don’t understand how people can form such a visceral hatred of a person based on what is largely hearsay.
From my perspective, it would make a whole lot more sense to make inferences based on factual things that we do actually know about him. For instance, we know he did not have a normal childhood. And we know for sure, that he had a far from normal adulthood. And the one thing I know, from lots, and lots, of demonstrated and documented case histories on the books, is that leading a life so far isolated from societal norms can lead to a skewed set of values, and a lack of understanding of what is socially acceptable. And this this manifests itself in many ways.
Take, for instance, the hanging of his baby off the balcony of his hotel room. I don’t really think he was cognizant of the horror it would inspire in others. The same could be said of sleeping with young boys. (And when I say sleeping here, I mean sleeping, in the literal sense… Get yor mind out of the gutter :/ ) And if memory serves, I beleive he did actually admit to sleeping with them.
But whether that was simply another faux pas simply due to his misunderstanding of societal norms, or whether there were any actual sexual acts involved, we just don’t know. Given his eccentric nature, it cannot be absolutely ruled out, however it was never proven in court, so imho, we can not really say with any kind of confidence either way. Ironically, it almost seems like dumpster babies and babies killed by shaking by moms and babysitters got less press than this. Which in the grand scheme of things, is really messed up. Go figure.
But here is the other side of the coin. We also know that he was a terrific dancer, singer, and all around entertainer, whose influence is felt even today. And from all accounts, he seemed to be a nice person. I’m not saying that this should negate any bad habits he might have had, however, these are concrete things that we have definite proof of. I figure if someone was going to form some deep emotional schema about someone, from a logical perspective, it should be based on the concrete things, not the gray area.
But such is human emotions. In the end, I cannot really know what was going on in Michael Jackson’s head. Nor, I beleive, can anyone else. So from my perspective, it seems to make the most sense to simply celebrate the great things he contributed to our society, and not dwell on the possible negatives. He’s gone now, no matter how misguided he may have been, or how he may have hurt people, he can do no more harm. It takes a whole lot more energy, and in the long run is much worse for our emotional health, to hate, than it is to forgive and forget. I say we put it all behind us and move on…
But that’s just my opinion.
You know, people have given me a lot to think about. It is becoming more and more obvious that for many of you, the debate about religion vs atheism has little to do with actual rights, intelligence, violence, or anything of any relevance whatsoever, and more to do with being right, people trying to feel better about themselves, and, of course getting their own way.
I’ve heard some really stupid religiously motivated garbage. Non-believers should perish. The believer is more important than the non-believer. God told me to kill those people. God’s wants me to persecute them. It is impossible for a non-believer to be good. Associate with sinners and you’ll go to hell.
Dancing is of the devil. (no, I kid you not – life is stranger than fiction.) I’ve read a lot of religious texts. And I’ve realized that what many people get out of them is what *they* want to take from them. They are all written in a metaphorical style, and as a result, they are all highly subject to interpretation. And this is where, in this humble bloggers opinion, people go wrong.
That’s not to say that the other side is blame free. I keep hearing Atheists talking about having their rights violated by religious zealots. For things that are ridiculously just trivial. And then gleefully sliding down that slippery slope to whatever conclusions gets their knickers all a-twist. Yet the same people turn around and say that *nobody* should not be allowed to pray in schools, as if it’s an infringement of their rights if someone should dare say a few “Hail Mary’s” in their presence, or say Grace before a meal. Meanwhile, a person can cuss up a storm, regardless of who may happen to find swearing offensive, then stick their nose in the air and say “Freedom of speech!” and everyones lips snap shut.
And then theres things like this: “Why are atheist mad? Because it’s religions people are pretentious! It’s as if they think they are better than us!” Yes, I’ve actually heard that said. Meanwhile, The very same atheist are calling religious people stupid for believing in what they believe to be the equivalent of the tooth fairy. As if belittling anothers belief system was not at all condescending in any way. Yeah. Right.
It’s one thing to say that everyone should be given the choice whether to pray or not, but I hear some of you saying that ALL RELIGION must be removed from schools, hospitals, etc, and that is just going to the opposite extreme. Might as well ban cussing, swearing, spitting, eating red meat, smoking, drinking, etc, etc, etc. Yes it sounds extreme, but this is exactly the same type of legislation many atheists would like to see with respect to religion. And if that happens, you can all just call me Plissken.
Who is really looking down on whom, I wonder? My personal take? Both camps are being selfish, pretentious, illogical and intolerant. Religious folks cannot blame “sinners/nonbelievers” for all that is wrong in the world. I know many nonreligious folks who are much better, higher quality people, than quite a few Christians I know.
Conversely, atheists cannot blame “Religion” for everything either. The acts of a few fanatics do not represent “religion” as a whole, and and even if they did, proposing complete religious prohibition would still be prejudice. “Because it could possibly offend someone.” is not a good rational to make something illegal. Why do people not get that? Everyone is offended by something these days. If we follow that train of thought, everything would be illegal.
It seems very few people these days seem to truly understand the meaning of balance and tolerance.
With the recent bruhaha in the US about oil prices, reliance on foreign oil, and the finite nature of our natural oil an coal reserves, there has been an inordinate amount of energy being expended in trying to find new energy sources. Now the good news is, there are lots of naturally occurring phenomenon that we could harness to generate energy, such as sunlight, wave, wind, and geothermal energy.
Sadly, however, there seems to be so much misinformation about energy, where it comes from, and how it is generated, the concept of over unity, etc. that sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out when I read some of the articles people come up with claiming to have discovered the secret to perpetual motion, and “over unity” motors, the proverbial fountain of eternal youth, (Yes, yes, yes I know there is no proverb about eternal youth, I’m just improvising here, so put a sock in it. ) so far as energy is concerned.
Some of these guys make religious fanatics seem perfectly rational. Lets take, for example This one vid i found on YouTube, claiming to have invented an over unity motor that is breaking the laws of physics:
Seriously? First of all, none of the inventions I have seen on YouTube have been “over unity” motors. None. Not a single one. Wanna know how I know this to be the case? Neside the fact that all of the explanations they give for how their “over unity” motors work either make absolutely no sense, or describe a conventional motor with high efficiency modifications? All you have to do is really understand what “over unity” means. An “over unity” motor is one that generates more power than is put into it. The idea of an over unity motor is the key to the perpetual motion machine. A machine that, once started, will continue to run under it’s own power, into perpetuity.
Now any seasoned physicist will tell you that over unity motors, and consequently, perpetual motion machines, are physical impossibilities. And for good reason. For starters, there are no motors in existence today, that are over 100% efficient. In other words, you always get less energy from any given fuel than you put into any given motor, because you lose some energy along the way, be it to friction, heat, light, sound, air resistance, etc.
This means that an over unity motor would have to extract more energy from it’s power source, than the power source actually possesses. A motor that would have to be in excess of 100% efficiency. Just not possible. The motor would have to be frictionless, silent, have zeros mass, ect, etc, etc… Clearly something that makes not sense whatsoever. Of course the proponents of over-unity motors just throw those terribly inconvenient laws of physics away, and make claims that are akin to saying that you could power your car forever using the pink flatulence of technicolor unicorns.
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I obviously don’t buy into the idea of perpetual motion. However, what I do buy into is the idea of free energy. Not from “over unity” motors, but rather, from natural, “under unity” power sources that are currently just being wasted. The problem is, some people don’t know the difference. Look at the information in the text of this vid (you can skip the actual vid if you want, the quote below is where the laughs are to be had ):
And I quote:
If you don’t believe in free energy think about this: The sun is radiating all its energy into the vacuum, all stars, galaxies, quasars, everything is radiating energy. This means the vacuum cannot be empty thus containing a lot of “hidden” energy which can be extracted by means of certain devices, breaking the laws of (the present-days) Physics.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on there partner… I was with you until you started talking about breaking the laws of physics. Energy from the sun is indeed free energy, but the sun is not a perpetual motion machine, and therefore harnessing that energy can not, I repeat *NOT* even remotely constitute a possible violation of the laws of physics. If it did, then every solar calculator, every solar powered garden light, every single solar powered device, heck, even photosynthesis, would be a violation of the laws of physics.
Harnessing naturally occurring sources of energy has never required breaking any of the laws of physics., because each and every one of these abundant supplies of natural energy, wind, water, sunlight, even geothermal energy, are all natural phenomenon that themselves obey the laws of physics, and can be tapped, utilizing those same laws.
They are not perpetual energy source. They are finite. They WILL eventually run out. Yep, even our great and glorious Sun is a humongous ongoing fusion reaction will eventually run out of fuel at some point and eventually die. It is a terribly efficient reaction, yielding massive amounts of energy, yes, but it will still run out. We are just taking advantage of them while they are still alive.
That’s not magic, it’s not perpetual motion, it’s not over unity, It’s just a good, abundant source of free energy, like wind, wave and geothermal energy, that we really ought to be taking advantage of while we still can, instead of dreaming about energy sources that are no more concrete than gunpowder made from the dehydrated gas of a flatulent ogre, no matter how potent that may sound…
Famous Last Words
The Time Machine