People Believe Nonsense

I have discovered The Source for last year’s moron posts: Jerome Corsi. Although the first sources for each of the conspiracy theory bullshit stories seemed to come from somewhere else, Corsi filters all the nonsense down to one easy-to-swallow ball of crap.

  • Abiotic petroleum, which would allow us to continue to burn all the oil we want, since it’s not a finite resource? Corsi.
  • Merging the United States with Mexico and Canada, in some UN/EU-flavored paranoid delusion? Corsi.
  • John Kerry, decorated war veteran, is a craven coward who hates the military? Corsi.

And, now, Corsi has a new book, reaching #1 on the NYTimes bestseller listing almost entirely due to right-wing groups buying thousands of copies to share with their conspiracy-loving hordes. What might this new book cover? How evil Barack Obama is. Corsi is able to list the following “facts” about Obama:

  1. Obama may be currently using drugs.
  2. Obama is a practicing Muslim.
  3. Obama attended a Muslim madrassa school in Indonesia.
  4. Dreams of My Father is not dedicated to Obama’s grandparents.
  5. Dreams of My Father ignores the existence of Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.

And then there are actual facts that seem to not require much time to ascertain:

  1. There’s no evidence whatsoever of current drug use.
  2. How does he find the time, after spending so much time at the Trinity United Church of Christ?
  3. The only overtly religious school young Barack attended in Indonesia was Catholic.
  4. It is to my family, though — my mother, my grandparents, my siblings, stretched across oceans and continents — that I owe the deepest gratitude and to whom I dedicated this book.
  5. Page 47.

The list is quite extensive beyond these low-hanging fruit. Why does anyone read this crap? A guy who believes George Bush wants to merge the country with Mexico is considered someone to listen to about anything factual?  Seriously?

Update: In case you think Corsi is a good guy just because he tends to bash Democrats, check out this article: Corsi writes for WoldNutDaily and claims that McCain’s (wife’s) fortune can be traced back to mobsters.  Nice guy, this Corsi.

The Gummint Moves in Mysterious Ways

I’ve been working on military bases for pretty much my entire adult life.  In that time, I’ve been continually amazed and astonished at the utter inanity of the bureaucratic ninnies who are allowed to run much of the daily workings of the government.  For instance, we have a proxy server which blocks access to web sites deemed inappropriate.  Which sites are inappropriate and why remains a guessing game, as they have misconfigured the blasted thing to show a useless error message.  There are locations in the “Access Denied” template to display exactly what category of evil you were trying to access, as well as the usual boilerplate about Big Brother watching you and he’s gonna getcha.

Today, I discovered that RealClimate is blocked. Exactly how is a climatology site objectionable? Of course, the propaganda information sites they do allow are equally interesting. There has never been a day that drug abuser Rush Limbaugh or felon G Gordon Liddy has been blocked, to my knowledge. Comedian Al Franken’s Senate campaign site – blocked. Air America was blocked, then allowed, then blocked, and now it’s allowed again I believe. For the longest time, Little Green Footballs was allowed, while DailyKos was blocked. Now, they’re both blocked.  I can get behind that – neither of those sites is official use, I’d wager. Drudge Report and WorldNutDaily – always accessible.  Slate’s Video News – blocked. Go figure.

Seriously, RealClimate? Frack.

Expelled

The movie Expelled is coming out in just over a week. According to every reviewer who isn’t an right-wing fundamentalist, it sucks. Of course, I assume it will play here in San Angelo (as seen on “FLDS Watch”!), because we always get that stuff. Have fun with the reviews on Expelled Exposed – the reviews are pretty entertaining. Heck, even Fox News didn’t like it; I’m pretty sure that’s the target demo.

Didn’t take long

My most linked-to post ever, yesterday’s denialists missive, has attracted the usual suspects. Not surprisingly, Akismet’s spam filter blocked them and I don’t feel like unblocking them. Typical tactic of the denialists – overwhelmingly loud shoutdowns instead of actual scientific evidence. In lieu of opening up my blog to becoming another nutjob-infested place, I will address the “issues” that denialists like to throw out in defense of the lack of action toward anything like good stewardship of the planet.

More ice is forming in the Antarctic than is being lost. This is actually a predictable effect of the current warming cycle. More warmth equals more evaporation equals more precipitation, particularly at the poles (more at the South than North for other reasons). It also equals less precipitation in the tropics. These things are predicted, and they have happened.

Antarctica is cooling. No. It had a cooling trend over 60% of its mass, several years ago. It’s a lot more clear now, as the warming trend has become much more widespread. Also, Antarctica is susceptible to warming and cooling based on ocean temperatures, so it would be predicted to warm later than the Arctic region. This is predicted, and it is happening.

It’s cold in BC right now, so global warming is a hoax. Local temperature variations do not change a global multi-decade trend. See also, “it’s been a cool year all over” for more nonsense. Yes, it has been the coolest winter since 2001. But, it’s still the 16th warmest year on record. So, “cooler” than “really hot” is not much to go by. The warmest years on record are 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

The arctic sea ice came back big time this winter. Yes, it did. But, there are two types of ice pack in the arctic – perennial and annual. The annual ice made a nice recovery. The perennial ice, though, is still much decreased. The perennial ice covers about 30% of the arctic, where is had covered 50-60% of that area in the past. Perennial ice (which lasts 6 or more years) covered 20% of the arctic as recently as the 1980s, but now accounts for a mere 6% of the coverage. One year does not make a trend. In the past twenty years, 17 of them are the top 17 hottest in 150 years of records.

Sunspots are to blame for the warmer temperatures. Sunspots have not increased in 20 years, so how could they be to blame? NASA says solar increases do not have the ability to cause large global temperature increases.” The Sun is approaching solar minimum, yet global warming continues.

Calling people who deny the incredible mass of data about global warming “denialists” rather than “skeptics” is an ad hominem attack and I should be ashamed of myself. I am a member of the Skeptic Society. Skeptics don’t believe things contrary to masses of evidence, willfully denying the vast majority of experts and all the research, cherry-picking bits of contradictory evidence to support a tiny minority opinion. Nope. Doesn’t happen. I’m amazed that people can call themselves “skeptics” and yet retain such unwavering belief in something.

What are the denialists afraid of? If the global warming “conspiracy” has its way, we’ll get cleaner air, cleaner water, less dependence on hostile governments, more wildlife returning to their habitats, and a booming economy based on renewable rather than finite resources. Oh, please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

Denialists, Prepare to Deny!

When the Larsen B shelf collapsed in 2002, melting a block of ice the size of Rhode Island, global warming denialists said that a 12,000 year-old stable feature was just due to collapse anyway.  Nothing to see here.

Now, the Wilkins shelf is about to calve a block about the size of Connecticut.  Want to bet how the denialists will react? Liberal media conspiracy, anyone? Maybe a nice ad hominem attack on Al Gore? Pick your logical fallacy, and handicap the race for yourself!

American Torture – Be Proud!

I’m sitting at work, just trying to do my job, supporting our military intelligence professionals and all that jazz. Three of my coworkers, just on the other side of my desk, spend ten minutes discussing how absurd it is that anyone would be upset that our country is torturing bad guys to get information. One is laughing about blowing someone’s brains out to send a message to his compatriots that we’re not kidding.

Given that we’re not interrogators, we are all intelligence veterans, and we should all know by now that torture doesn’t work. I even printed out the recent 60 Minutes interview with Saddam’s interrogator, in which he described how true interrogation techniques do work. True interrogation requires lots of time, lots of controlling and ingratiating behavior, etc. – it is remarkably dissimilar to the way the world works on 24. You’d think folks with decades of experience in intelligence would know that the real world rarely resembles movies. After all, the satellites of the NSA sure don’t see through buildings and around corners like in Enemy of the State. Don’t even get me started on the black ops SWAT teams the NSA apparently has in the movies. Incredible lack of understanding of our capabilities there.

Yet, these knuckleheads are cackling about how great it is that our great country, shining light of freedom on the hilltop and all, is admittedly torturing people and keeping them completely cut off from all normal legal and ethical systems. I really wonder if I should have taken that other job after all…

Another nail in LJ’s coffin

As if the Livejournal abuse team hasn’t been useless (read: counterproductive) over the years, and the acquisition by SixApart has been anything but joyous and pain-free, now they are attempting to shoot themselves in the back of the head once again.

Community tagging of “offensive” content will allow complete strangers to make your LJ posts invisible to non-adult viewers.  Presumably, this means that your public posts will be restricted to logged-in LJ users with their over-18 age listed on their profiles.  And, how many people will just start sending packs of assholes to assault any community or user who counters their prejudices about the world?  I can see the leftie blogs being completely tagged as “child porn” if that’s an option the wingers could use.  And vice versa, there’s no end to the abuse that can occur when people think they are anonymous.

Naturally, to prove the point, the post that has started all this will soon be tag-bombed with “offensive” and “adult content” tags.  Wanna bet?  Wanna join the fun?

Willful Ignorance

Remember the chucklehead from martial arts class? I somehow couldn’t get it through to him by my reading while he was talking, that I don’t really care to hear his wacko far-right talk radio dittohead talking points. *sigh*

I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest trilogy, which hasn’t a name yet that I’m aware of but we’ll call it the Climate Change Series, absent anything better. I’m about 30 pages into the second book, and I do rather like to read books that I have open to read. But, chucklehead decided to regale me with more of his tales from the conspiracy side. Global warming may or may not be happening, and if it is it’s nothing we can fix anyway, blah blah blah. Of course, he admits that he has never read anything on the issue, and only gets his information from talk radio. Personally, I try to read the occasional article from an actual scientist, but I’m sure Laura Schlesinger is very well-read on subtle issues of climatology.

Last time I talked with this man, he told me about the evil Law of the Sea Treaty, which was going to give our sovereignty to some group of UN bad guys (it’s not). Ever notice how the far right has some sort of paranoia about the UN? Considering how completely ineffectual the UN has been in almost everything they’ve ever attempted, how scared could anyone be of them? So, this time around, his UN conspiracy is surrounding the IPCC, which of course he doesn’t even know the name of but just calls “them scientists.” There are some people who wrote pieces of the IPCC-4 report who don’t agree with the totality of that report. Surprised? Of course not. How many people wrote that document? Look up Richard Lindzen; I’m certain that’s the most prominent person that fits his description. Chuckles says that there are a lot, well, maybe a few, at least a significant number, of IPCC signers who want their names removed from the document. Let me just say, every large group has some nuts and publicity hounds. Doesn’t mean that the entire organization is wrong. The lack of any coherent alternate hypothesis to the prevailing one does not imply that there is a conspiracy which is repressing information. There aren’t a lot of coherent alternate hypotheses to the Earth being an oblate ovoid either; doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy against Flat Earthers.

Wandering farther off the path, chucklehead then had the insane notion that one should “follow the money” to find out who is benefiting from the climate change folks. Um, if we were to follow the largest streams of money surrounding this “debate” (not really a debate in the scientific world, no matter what politicians may think), we’d find it leads to the anthropogenic climate change deniers, as backed by the most wealthy corporations in the world, the petroleum industry. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but if you want to throw around “follow the money” tropes, maybe you should have a clue what you’re talking about first.

I tried to explain thermohaline circulation, and the fact that its disruption took less than a decade but caused the 1300 year Younger Dryas period of intense cold (5 degrees Celsius drop in the North Atlantic region), but I’m sure it was pointless. He’s also oblivious to the fact that our instruments get better each year, and so do our predictive abilities. The concept that theories are refined and perfected over time is foreign to him, of course.

Somehow, he even worked abiotic petroleum into his meanderings. Remember, this is someone who quite openly admits he has read nothing about the science behind all this, but just goes with his instincts on things. Our instincts are great for catching balls and shooting at slow-moving animals; they aren’t much good at megayear musings and thousand-mile discussions. I find it interesting that the majority of abiotic petroleum believers are in Russia, which is famous for such scientific breakthroughs as Lysenkoism (Lamarckian evolution).

Seriously, it’s not hard to learn enough to be halfway cognizant of the underlying science. Chucklehead is one of a depressingly large number of people who are willfully ignorant of things that they form strong opinions about. Just because you wish something were true doesn’t mean reality must bend to your will.

Online Oddities

It seems I learn of something new every day, and most of the time I’d just as soon never have known. Today’s example: BeastTube, the YouTube for bestiality fans. I thought BMEZine was twisted, but this is seriously messed up. I’m not going there and looking at anything, but just knowing that such a thing exists is enough to make me wonder about our long-term viability as a species.

In case you’re wondering how I came across this specimen, it’s all Joe Rogan‘s fault.

My Brain Hurts

At the Boy’s martial arts class today, I somehow didn’t avoid conversation with another parent. *sigh*

He started out with the usual stuff about Che Guevara being a commie – yeah, duh. Then it went downhill, with aspersions cast at those evil liberals. Apparently, the USA Patriot Act is not as bad as any rational person thinks, but it would be much worse if the liberals were in charge, as they’d certainly not have any sunset provisions. You remember the sunset provisions the conservatives have been so assiduously trying to extend into perpetuity.

The finale to this surreal trip down lala lane ended with a quick aside about how global warming is a crock. I have no response to this. Are other scientific findings equally suspect? Is germ theory also silly, since it makes no sense atavistically? I didn’t want to bring up evolution, but I think we can all guess where chucklehead would end up on that issue, eh?  He even claimed that Mount St. Helens has produced more greenhouse gases in one explosion than all of human historical input.  That’s incredibly wrong.  That’s orders of magnitude wrong. All the volcanoes in the world produce 130 million tons of CO2 per year.  Meanwhile, human activity per year produces 27 billion tons of CO2 per year.  For those of you who think math is hard, billions are larger than millions, and humans produce 200 times the CO2 of volcanoes per year.  That’s not Mount St. Helens, that’s ALL volcanic activity in the world.

There are days I’d really like to get out of this town. Fortunately, I can avoid these morons most of the time, and it is cheap here. Mostly. Anyone have a job in Monterey they need filled? Anyone? Anyone?

Ted Nugent, Right-wing Hero

Every so often, Ted Nugent shows up on Faux News or in a print publication, and he gets to hold the unenviable position of the Cool Republican. After all, according to conventional wisdom, most of the entertainment industry is filled with crazy lefties, but Nugent is the edgy guy in the GOP.

He’s so edgy, he brought a couple of weapons on stage (they appear to be M16s, so they are probably AR-15s) , and waved them around. Ooh, edgy. And then, he screamed obscenities about a variety of Democratic politicians. Edgy. He told Senator Obama (who he respectfully calls a piece of shit) to suck on his machine gun. Um, edgy? Senator Clinton, lovingly called a worthless bitch, is told to ride a gun into the sunset. WTF?

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Nugent spoke of Democrats (in response to a former Hustler writer saying he had dibs on Rush Limbaugh for conservative hunting season), “I find it just reprehensible that they would recommend violence, not to mention murder and shooting people and assassinating people. This is bizarre.”

You’re right, Nuge. It is bizarre.
You can find the video if you search online. I’m not linking to that crap.

Consistency?

Speaker Pelosi went to Syria Tuesday, and that made the Republicans scream that she was overstepping her authority and confusing the Syrian government. So, when Republican Representatives Wolf, Pitts, and Aderholt met with the Syrian president on Sunday, how was that different?

The Democratic-controlled Congress is talking quite loudly about finding ways to defund the war in Iraq, with the caveat that they will never allow the soldiers to be less defended than they are now. This, predictably, means they are Defeatocrats and are giving up, micromanaging the war, and otherwise overstepping their reasonable place in the government. In 1993, when the Republican-controlled Congress voted to defund the war in Somalia, with the caveat that the soldiers would be well-defended during their redeployment, how was that different?

Is it really so much to expect some sort of consistency from people in public office? Do they really think that nobody will notice? Do they forget about videotape? Astounding.

No chocolate Jesus for you!

If you haven’t heard of the controversial art show featuring a giant chocolate Jesus figure, posed as if being crucified but minus the cross, too late. It’s been canceled. The hotel where it was being shown says they cannot guarantee the safety of the show, as they’ve received threats of violence and even death threats against the artist and the show backers. That’s how you convince people you’re reasonable and have the power of right and goodness on your side – threaten them with death. So, are we going to hear anyone say that Christianity isn’t really a religion of peace, as we’ve been hearing about Islam?

Of course, the entire art exhibit would have languished in total obscurity if not for the protests against it. Apparently the protestors’ parents never told them, “ignore him, he’s just trying to get attention.”

AAAARRRRGH!

I was keeping discussion on this JoeUser article in a friends-only post on LJ, but I’ve stopped worrying about offending people who cannot listen.

To recap for those who didn’t read it already: someone posted about abortion. One commenter pointed out that the Roman Empire prohibited abortion, even though they mandated killing deformed babies. I thought that was unlikely, so I did a 20-second Google search, and found that the Roman Empire didn’t forbid abortion until the Third Century. Silly me, I thought pointing out that the Romans (and Greeks and other ancient cultures) allowed abortion would be an interesting but minor factoid in the discussion.

Somehow, I’ve been accused of saying that abortion is acceptable and that the Roman Empire is a fantastic role model for modern ethics.

You have got to be freakin’ kidding me!

Some People Don’t Listen

The folks over at JoeUser are a bit more right-wing than most large groups online, it seems. They’re not even, in general, libertarian but definitely a preponderance of Bush-lovers. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se; it does make for some interesting discussions at times. This post stimulated a lot of responses, most of them (to my mind) unthinking. The original poster is a retired Colonel and was sharing his personal economic status change over the previous year, as contrasted with the “great news” about the economy that is trumpeted on Fox News. He was, of course, attacked as an idiot on multiple occasions. The fact that few people on that board seem capable of spelling much correctly does distract me, but here’s one correctly spelled response that jumped out at me:

People don’t know if they are better off or not.

Oh, well, then. We’ll just tell people they’re better off, and even if their checkbooks tell them differently, they’ll believe us.

The Downfall of American Civilization

Congress just passed a bill to increase the maximum indecency fine by an order of magnitude. This is the same day they voted on the completely symbolic “we hate gays” amendment. Could the legislature possibly have actual work to do that could somehow assist the citizenry in any way? If not, maybe they should stay out of DC for a while, because they’re just wasting our tax dollars and causing more stupidity than we need.

Porter Goss

So Porter Goss resigned unexpectedly. Maybe it was to be expected, if he’s the person described as the “person who now holds a powerful intelligence post” who is also a former lawmaker, who just so happens to be one of the participants in that whole sex scandal. You remember the Poker Party story, right? C’mon, it’s only been a couple days! You don’t remember the sex scandal that was all over the news this week? Oh, right. It wasn’t all over the news. Of course, that darned liberal media kept it from you. Which is really amazing, considering that the only people implicated are Republicans, but that liberal media is wily. They must just be biding their time, waiting for the next thing they can attack the President with.

What I can’t figure out is why all this stuff keeps happening at the Watergate Hotel. You’d think people would stop going there, what with the whole “every scandal has a -gate” thing. They don’t even have to make a stupid “Plamegate” or “Iran-contragate” out of it – it actually is the Watergate!

Governor Perry and stupid design

The idiot governor of my adopted state says, Add intelligent design to teaching

From the article linked:

Marvin Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor who has written favorably on intelligent design

That pretty much says all that needs to be said about Intelligent Design. No scientist is behind any of this. The college professors trotted out to be the educators willing to back ID are all liberal arts types. Nothing against my liberal arts friends, but you’re not scientists.

When we need someone’s expert opinion on Chopin, we ask a music professor. When we need an expert opinion on Shakespeare, we ask an English professor. When we need an expert opinion on biology, we ask…a journalism professor?

Geeks are not Killers!

Monday

OK, so the whole damned country is going nuts about Littleton.  I don’t want to appear uncaring, but aren’t there larger tragedies that have gotten glossed over more quickly?  And, exactly why do all of the reporters have to mention the two psycho kids’ love of video games, as if that explains everything?  Now, of course, the clueless administrators of our screwed-up school system have gone on a witchhunt to root out any other weirdos that may be harboring homicidal tendencies.  Like, oh, pretty much anyone that I could stand from my high school.

I realize that people want to do something, but they can’t seem to understand that perhaps there is nothing they can do, nor was there anything most people could have done beforehand.  Obviously, there were all kinds of hints that these two kids needed assistance, not the least of which was the bomb-making factory in the garage.  Can you say, “What parents?”

Let me be a voice of common sense and reason in these troubled times.   My friends and I put together an amazingly cynical “underground” newsletter in high school, and very few of us ended up murdering our friends.  I owned a trench coat, I like to wear black (very slimming), and I listen to pretty obnoxious music (at least that’s what some people claim).  So, am I going to go crazy?  Did I murder a bajillion people and leave their bodies to rot in my basement?  Guess not.  So, maybe not everyone who is not a mainstream dork is homicidal.  If you actually look at the real stats, the level of teenage violent crime/murder is actually at a low point.  And, most people find violent games to be cathartic, not training aids. Ever felt like running over that pedestrian that jaywalked in front of you? Go play Carmageddon.  Wish you could design a town, to prove you’re smarter than the town elders?  SimCity.   Ever want to shoot down an airliner? Play any of a jillion flight simulators.   After being in the Army for ten years, and playing a lot of games like Quake and Duke Nukem, etc, my aim has still not improved on the firing range, nor do I have any desire at all to own a firearm.  Do I like blowing up aliens and evil zombies?  Sure.  Do I know the difference between reality and a game?  DUH.

Remember a few years ago when some kids burned their house down and the parents blamed Beavis and Butthead?  If your kids are able to get to matches while still not understanding that poorly drawn cartoons are NOT role models, perhaps the fault lies closer to home.

Of course, I could be wrong.