Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

January, 2010:

I’ll pass, thank you very much.

No. No, I don’t think so. Thanks for the offer, though. I’m going to have to pass.

Head Cheese - No, no, no.

Kitty is a very BAD Mystic

Really goofy, but it cracked me up.

Courtesy of Felicia Day via Twitter (@feliciaday)

Bottlenose Dolphins Mud-ring Feeding

Dolphins amaze me.

Video description from Youtube:

A pod of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Florida have developed a remarkable hunting strategy in order to catch fish. Another awesome thing about this technique is that only one female in the pod can create this ring.

From the first episode (Challenges of Life) of the new BBC series Life. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lbpcy

Those are some clever animals.

The RNC’s “Purity” Resolutions

The Republican National Committee will be in Hawaii this week for its annual meeting to discuss its agenda. One of the items on the agenda is a series of ten statements dubbed the “purity” test by the media. The actual name is a mouthful: Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates. The idea is that Republican candidates must agree with at least eight of the ten statements in order to qualify for campaign contributions and/or an endorsement from the RNC.

It seems it was originally proposed in November of 2009, but wasn’t taken up for consideration. Reportedly, it will be this week.

I’ve read mixed reactions about the proposal. Some think it’s a good idea. Some think the Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot. Of course, the RNC can do what it wants, and though I can understand their desire to have a sort of litmus test for candidates, this seems somewhat draconian.

Here’s a link to the entire document (it’s a PDF), and below I have a list of each of the ten items along with my commentary on each one.

We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

I’m onboard with that… except for the wording. It seems silly to include the final clause “by opposing bills like Obama’s ‘stimulus’ bill.” Not only are the scare quotes overly dramatic and laden with unnecessary sarcasm, but wouldn’t it be more constructive to give a more positive suggestion about how to reach the goal?

We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

Again with the unnecessary “Obama-style” word choice. Why not just “We support market-based health care reform?” I think a simple approach to health care reform would be a good choice, but of course there needs to be regulation. There is some good in the current healthcare proposal… no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, for example… but something leaner would be better. On the other hand, if the current proposal doesn’t pass, healthcare reform will be essentially dead for another few decades. I suppose I can say that I, too, support market-based health care reform, but it really depends on what is meant by “market-based health care reform.” There’s plenty more to say here, but I’ll just leave it at that, since the statement is so vague.

We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

This statement is mostly meaningless in what it supports, but says more about what it opposes. Republicans are notorious for being climate change deniers, and it almost seems that their denial stems from their dislike for any solution that costs money. I don’t know what is meant by “market-based energy reforms” but gauging from what I hear from many Republicans, it means letting companies pollute all they want, drilling for more oil, burning more fossil fuels, and flipping the bird to the environment… and to science.

We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

Hooray! This is one that I support 100%!… and it’s strangely specific compared to most of the other statements. The union push to eliminate anonymous voting is basically giving them free rein to use precision bullying and intimidation tactics. They complain about corporate intimidation of employees, but the fact is that, with secret ballots, neither the company nor the union knows how any individual voted. That’s as it should be.

We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

I’m of mixed opinion here. I support legal immigration and assimilation into American society. The rest of the statement is a non sequitur in reference to the first part. You don’t support legal immigration by opposing amnesty. The two are related but not dependant. I’m undecided on the amnesty issue.

We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

“We support victory.” That’s meaningless tripe. Everyone supports victory. It’s not a question of whether someone supports victory or not. It’s a question of whether victory is even possible… which it probably isn’t in any meaningful way. Invading Afghanistan was understandable and (mostly) warranted. Invading Iraq was not. That aside, these people have been fighting amongst themselves for longer than our country has been in existence and suddenly we think we can resolve all their problems? Not gonna happen. Waste of money. Waste of time. Waste of human life.

We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

Yes. I support this as well, but the caveat is that it depends on what they mean by “effective action.” The recent Republican track record on this is less than stellar.

We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

The Defense of Marriage Act is nothing but blatant rights-removing, religion-based bigotry and homophobia. No… I don’t support this statement in the least.

We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion;

This statement is laughable because our current system is all about rationing and denial of health care. Are they suggesting that everyone should have unlimited health care coverage? Isn’t that… *gasp!*… socialistic? As for government funding of abortion… I don’t care if it’s government funded or not as long as the right to have an abortion isn’t restricted. However, I do support protecting the lives of “vulnerable persons.”

We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership;

I’m okay with this statement, too, assuming it doesn’t mean that Average Joe and Frank the Felon can stock up their houses with automatic weapons and RPGs. The statement is vague on that point. I think existing regulations are fine for the most part… waiting periods and registrations are nothing insidious.

So, overall, the statements are a bit too vague to just accept unconditionally… and a few of them are vague to the point of meaninglessness… and at least one is reprehensible. It doesn’t seem to be a collection of statements on which the Republicans want to hang their future, but it will be interesting to see what they decide.

However, it looks like I would pass the test because I support at least eight of the statements. In most cases, my support is conditional, but given the vagueness of some of the statements, I think it’s only fair that I add the necessary detail on my own. But even though I’m not a Democrat, I don’t think I’ll be calling myself a Republican any time soon.

They still have a long way to go.

These few things aside…

I was watching some news commentary shows this morning and it just reinforced my view that, from a fiscal standpoint, I agree so much more with Republicans than I do with Democrats.

Regardless of stripes, it seems that politicians can’t seem to answer simple questions. So much so that when one actually does answer a question directly and clearly, it seems like the fabric of space-time has been torn asunder.

That aside, I would almost consider myself a Republican if it weren’t for their blatantly anti-science positions… and their love affair with the religious right…  their disdain for education and intelligence… and their tendency to spout disinformation when it serves their purposes (okay… Democrats do that, too, but Republicans are just better at it).

But I like the way (generally) the Republicans (used to… pre-Bush) handle money.

Those stupid scientists!

Calamities of Nature - Hot Debate From Calamities of Nature comes this comic (the image here is just the first panel). I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I’ve heard a similar argument made by Sam Harris concerning the word “elite” in a Newsweek essay about Sarah Palin and politics last year. Not exactly the same argument, but related.

The comic brings up a valid point (though highly simplified to fit into three panels) and I’ve commented on it before… with no small amount of disdain. The point is relevant to more than the topic addressed and I’ve encountered the same seeming inconsistency-of-thought regarding evolution, the age of the Earth, cosmology, and a few other science-related topics.

It’s an attitude that science is great… unless it conflicts with your political or religious ideology… that it’s better, in that case, to trust someone who’s not too educated, not too intelligent, not too well informed, not too “elite”… rather than someone who is highly trained in the related field.

Here’s the excerpt from Sam Harris’s article (to save you the time of searching the Newsweek article for it):

Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.

It’s a huge problem in this country today.

Tonight…

Tonight there will be two fewer testicles in the house than there were last night. Just sayin’.

Pat Robertson Voodoo Doll on eBay

eBay - Pat Robertson Voodoo Doll to benefit HaitiPat Robertson, as you probably already know, decided to rant about Haiti making a deal with the devil to get free of the French which, according to Robertson, is why Haiti has such problems… like earthquakes.

Nevermind that Haiti didn’t make a deal with the devil (or that the devil doesn’t exist) or that devil-deals are supposed to make things awesome (until you die) or that the cause of earthquakes is pretty well known or that thousands of people have died and thousands more are injured and at serious risk of dying… Robertson decided to take the opportunity to peddle his nonsensical, self-righteous bigotry instead of doing something to help those in need.

Well, johnnyvoodoo on eBay has decided to take matters into his own hands and is auctioning a Pat Robertson Voodoo Doll with 100% of the proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders to help with relief efforts in Haiti.

After an exclusive deal with devil, we are finally able to bring black magic into your very own home!  The lucky winner of this auction will attain the soul of Televangelist PAT ROBERTSON in a handheld figurine comprised of the finest straw, cloth, and other organic natural materials!

Ever wanted to cause Pat Robertson a massive headache?  give him back pain?  jab him in the crotch?   Of course you have!  Well then BID NOW to own your very own pysical representation of the dark, dark soul of Pat Robertson.

Accessories included with the doll are Pat’s very own “HOLY” BIBLE and BAG OF MONEY taken from real Americans!  WOW!

The bidding started at 99 cents and, at the time of this writing, was up to $1,200… with 73 bids! (see updates) The idea is awsome, but as johnnyvoodoo says, “the truly awesome people are the bidders.”

In addition, there’s evidently been enough requests that he’s also offering a Rush Limbaugh Voodoo Doll which includes a microphone and a bottle of Oxycontin. The high bid is currently $338.33 with 29 bids.

Each auction is a perfect combination of fundraising, humor, and (well deserved) smackdown!

(via)

Update (1/19/10 @ 11:00am): It seems the Pat Robertson auction has been removed. The Rush Limbaugh auction is still up. I sent a message to johnnyvoodoo asking what happened. I’ll post here if I get an answer. I’m very disappointed.

Update (1/19/10 @ 12:30pm): johnnyvoodoo said that the Red Cross had asked for the auction to be removed… I assume so it wasn’t associated with the dissing of Pat Robertson… so the new auction is to benefit Habitat for Humanity. New auction here. Links have been updated. Sadly, the auction had to be restarted.

Update (1/19/10 @ 9:30pm): Evidently, the new listing was taken down as well because it offered something for sale that didn’t exist. I think it was Pat Robertson’s soul or something, the existence of which johnnyvoodoo admitted he could not prove. So it’s been relisted at this URL. Sadly, again the auction had to be restarted and is without the funny commentary in the description. It also now benefits Doctors Without Borders. The Rush Limbaugh voodoo doll auction has also been removed. eBay has made me sad. That was quite a bit of money that was going to go for charity.

Update (1/20/10 @ 1:40pm): The Rush Limbaugh doll has been relisted. johnnyvoodoo is a hero for perservering through all the item removals and eBay policy issues.

Palin gets welcomed into the fold

Sarah Palin is joining Fox News as a regular commentator, according to this MSNBC article (and every other news agency on the planet, it seems). It’s a perfect fit, of course, and she can pal around with the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, people who mimic her own thin grasp on reality.

Of course, the money quote from Palin is…

It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.

I read that and almost burst from the monumental absurdity of it.

Oh, it’s SO true!

Oh, so true.

Indexed - Squeal!