September 08, 2015

Message to a Facebook Friend of a Facebook Friend

You know how I knew your facebook post was going to be partisan talking-point bullshit? Because you started out with "I've read the entire deal with Iran..." I'm not sure what kind of free time you've got on your hands, but I find it difficult to believe you spent any of it wading through 150+ pages of legalese about reactors, heavy water, and enriched uranium. And even if you did, you'd have to have a "rather particular set of skills" (to paraphrase Liam Neeson) to fully understand it. But I don't know you; maybe that's right in your wheelhouse. However, then you had to go and add "and spoke to many others who have also read it." That, my friend, is a bridge too far. You might be able to convince me that you had read it. It's available online. I even skimmed through it myself. And by skimmed, I mean I read the first couple of pages, and then scrolled through it, looking at random sections. You might even be able to convince me that you fully understood it, even though people who are experts in the field have had some trouble with it. But the idea that you know "many" people who have accomplished a task only slightly longer and less interesting that sitting through a Russian film festival strains credulity.

I actually just felt bad for you when you came up with the howler, "and I was talking to my friend who's an expert in international law...." Oh, of course there are experts in international law out there; most people just call them "lawyers," which makes me wonder why you didn't. This smacks of that faulty appeal to authority, whereby we're supposed to give more weight to your argument because you referenced someone (an unknown someone, in this case) who you've claimed is an "expert" (again, without actually giving any real credentials). I'll bet you were one of those guys who had a Canadian girlfriend, too.

August 14, 2015

Yeah, It's An Old Meme. So What?!

I had some time on my hands, and hadn't seen anyone else do it yet, so...

"Hitler Finds Out About Hillary's Poll Numbers"

March 09, 2015

Never Look a Gift Course in the Mouth.

I fully agree with a student body's right to self-govern. If the students at UC Irvine feel that flying the flag of the country in which they are located sends the wrong message, and endorses American "exceptionalism and superiority," then by all means they should completely separate themselves from that. Completely. I eagerly await, then, the next resolution, which divests UC Irvine from all that dirty, dirty American federal funding as well as federal student loan opportunities. Because clearly, taking that money sends the wrong message, and might lead people to think that one who accepted that money, even tacitly, through attending a school funded in part by that money, was lauding themselves (with an exceptional, superior attitude, I guess) over others.

In case any of you out there don't recognize sarcasm when you read it, let me just say that I do actually applaud those who have strong convictions. But if you feel that strongly about them, live by them. Attend one of the many other universities around the world that don't feel any need to tout American values, including "exceptionalism and superiority." Otherwise, you just seem like a petulant child, throwing a tantrum, telling mommy and daddy how much you hate them, even as you ask to borrow the keys to the car.

I'm not even going to address the "freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible, can be interpreted as hate speech" line of the resolution, because if you think that, even a little bit, then you don't really understand the concept of "freedom of speech." Or possibly language.

December 03, 2014

Yes, But Stephen...

You shouldn't go calling it "world hunger" when you miss a meal or two, either.
Apart from the fact that I haven't ever heard someone argue (except in jest) that global warming isn't real because one person was cold one time, this is just kind of stupid. He's using a "begging the question" fallacy (among others), where one assumes the very thing one is trying to prove has already been proved. Here, he's attempting to prove global warming exists by comparing it to the already established problem of world hunger, hoping we'll conflate the two. It's like if I tried to say "Bigfoot isn't real because I haven't seen him. Also, my dog doesn't exist anymore because I haven't seen him either." I already know that the dog exists, so I can logically guess that my failure to find him at the current moment doesn't mean he's blinked out of existence. On the other hand, since it's the actual existence of Bigfoot that's at question, the burden is going to be on those who claim he exists to produce the evidence.

Another problem I have with this is reflected in my line above the pic. Clearly, Colbert is insinuating that one single person's experience for one day is not enough to invalidate what he feels is a global problem. If one person is not enough to do so, then are a few years of rising global temperatures in the grand scope of the age of the Earth enough to declare a Global Warming problem? Is missing a meal and declaring "I'm famished" enough to declare world famine? And just how many cold people/days does it take to invalidate the Global Warming theory? There must be a number that would satisfy him, right? After all, to use his own analogy, if everyone "just ate" day after day after day after day, then world hunger would be over, wouldn't it? A theory must be falsifiable to be a good theory. So, I ask again: how many cold people/days (think of it as a unit of measurement, like foot/pounds) would it take? Everyone in my neighborhood? In New York? In the U.S., where recently all 50 states were below freezing? But that's just the U.S. What about Russia, which has been seeing some record cold? And how long? According to some, there's been a pause in global warming for a while now. If true, how long of a pause will be enough?

Sure, Colbert is witty, but wit has little to do with scientific accuracy.

July 10, 2014

Absolutely DisKosTing

Like so much of what is spewed forth by Daily Kos (and posted on facebook), this image is mostly bullshit designed to trash a politician simply because he has an (R) after his name. That's not to say that many on the right don't do the same sort of thing to the (D)s, but this is the one that's currently pissing me off.
There are a couple of KEY points which this image is not being completely truthful about.

1. He didn't "propose" the bill in the usual sense we think of. In Massachusetts, where Ross is a state senator, they have something called "the right to Free Petition":
In Massachusetts all citizens have the right to petition the state legislature. This procedure is called the right of free petition. A citizen drafts and files a Petition and accompanying Bill. A legislator sponsors the Bill in the General Court. If a legislator disagrees with the contents of the Bill, he/she may indicate this by placing the phrase “By request” after his/her name.
If you take a look at the Bill here, you'll see that there is a "By request" after Ross's name. He has also stated that:
State government is not reserved solely for those who have been elected. It belongs to every citizen of Massachusetts. For that reason, when a constituent requested that I file a free petition on his behalf, I did so. While the proposal is not one that I support, I do support his right to participate in state government. This petition is now in the hands of my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the democratic process will allow for it to be considered and voted on by the Legislature. (emphasis mine)

2. The picture makes you think that somehow this bill discriminates against women. It doesn't. The bill applies to both women AND men. Funny how they somehow forgot to put that part in, almost like they wanted you to think...oh, I don't know...that this guy is some kind of evil misogynist.

3. The picture leaves out two other very important pieces of information: it would only apply in divorces where children are involved and living with said parent, and it would only apply (based on the wording) to dates or sexual relations taking place within the house. Now those may not seem like important distinctions, but I think most of you are empathetic enough to put yourself in a concerned parent's shoes, and smart enough to see there's a great deal of difference between "a wife can't date or have sex during a divorce," and someone not wanting his or her ex to be getting busy in the bedroom while the kids are down the hall. Hell, I wouldn't want that happening, even if I was the parent getting busy.

I don't want the government in my bedroom, so I find this bill to be misguided, but I can see why a parent going through a divorce might want this in place. My feeling is that someone came up with this, thinking they were protecting children.

You can debate whether or not the bill is appropriate, but do it with all the facts, not the lies of both commission and omission that Kos is handing you. And don't kid yourself--they knew the truth. But that doesn't play into their narrative. They don't want you to revile the guy for creating a repressive, misogynistic bill (because he didn't). They want you to revile the guy because of his political party.

June 16, 2014

Try Not To Lose THIS One, Lois.

Perhaps we should email this little gem from Consumerist to Lois Lerner?

How to Not Suck at Dealing with Old Paperwork

It's good advice for anyone, actually. Especially this part:

"If you prefer digital to paper, you can download account statements and keep the electronic versions, but make sure they have a place to live that’s beyond your hard drive.


If your computer ever gives you the dreaded blue screen of death, you need to be sure you still have access to your documents."

The Dog Ate My Computer!

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything. It's not that I haven't had a lot to say; it's just that most of it has been said in rambling emails to close friends. I need to get back in the habit of sharing my discontent with all of you.

That said, I had prepared a post on the missing Lois Lerner emails, but then I realized that Dan Mitchell said nearly everything I said, and probably said it better. So I'll link to his post on it. The only thing I would add is to ask you all one question:

If it were you or I that claimed--to the IRS--that the emails they requested for our audit just happened to be lost due to a "computer crash," how do you think they would respond? And take a second to realize that, unlike organizations such as the IRS, most of us likely don't have any kind of backup or redundancy for our home systems.

I can make a pretty good guess how they would respond.

"Computer crash" is the modern equivalent of "the dog ate my homework!" I hear it far too often from students who are looking for a deadline extension. Of course, most of them don't realize the extent of my computer skills, and are stuck when I begin asking them for further details, or just call them on outright fibs.

We ought to handle the IRS with a similar technique. That is, have the Justice Department and/or FBI confiscate all computers related to the missing emails--all servers or clients that created, transmitted, or stored the emails--and have them run through by forensics experts. They may not be able to recover any, but it might be worthwhile trying to find just what happened to them. And if the drives turned out to have been wiped? Well, that in itself seems a bit suspicious, don't you think? It's like a crime scene where they found no forensic evidence of an intruder, but also no evidence of the residents (which you would naturally expect to find in the place where they lived). The logical conclusion would be that the scene was cleaned and sterilized on purpose.

People keep calling this a "scandal," but it seems at this point to be more than that. It's beginning to look, in toto, like a crime, and we ought to begin investigating it as such.

November 15, 2013

"No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To....Ow, That Smarts!"

I'm sure someone has pointed this out already, but doesn't Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford look like Chris Farley and Auric Goldfinger had a kid?