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📌 Science is more than a body of knowledge

[S]cience is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996) at p.32.

Extreme are Back, Baby!

Extreme, one of my very favorite bands of the 1990s, and, at the time, one of the last bastions of pre-Grunge rock*, are back!

Jonathan Horsley reporting for MusicRadar:

Extreme have announced their long-awaited return with the release of new single, Rise, and a new studio album titled Six, which hits stores and streaming on 9 June. But right now it is all about Rise, a track that offers a reminder, if needed, that there are few players more capable of manipulating the electric guitar than Nuno Bettencourt.

Rise was released on the first of March. Check it out:

Oh man! That is fire! Can’t wait for the album!

yeah, in a minute…
* Not that I didn’t come to love Grunge, too…

It’s Time to Ban “Right Turn on Red”

The dangerous maneuver is allowed thanks to a flawed idea about emissions from the 1970s. We don’t need it.

Abigail Weinberg reporting at Mother Jones:

It’s an obsolete relic of the 1970s oil crisis. It’s dangerous to pedestrians. And, if you drive a car in the United States, you likely do it every day. It’s time to get rid of right-turn-on-red. […] sometimes drivers fail to yield to pedestrians who have the right of way in the intersection. The data on right-turn-on-red crashes might be scarce, but the existing studies suggest that these types of collisions—while rare—frequently involve a pedestrian or cyclist. Cars, instead of hitting other cars, often hit humans. Now, there’s a growing movement for cities to do away with the traffic law altogether.

Yeah, it’s the pedestrians and cyclists who pay the price.

So, why do US cities allow RTOR in the first place? Blame the oil crisis.

A provision of the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act said that, in order for states to receive federal assistance for mandated conservation programs, they had to enact “a traffic law or regulation which, to the maximum extent practicable consistent with safety, permits the operator of a motor vehicle to turn such vehicle right at a red stop light after stopping.” The reasoning was that RTOR would lower emissions by decreasing the amount of time that drivers spent idling at red lights.

As is so often the case, RTOR didn’t come about organically from some forward-thinking city planner having a great idea that was implemented in one city first and eventually caught on across this great nation. No, the Federal Government had to strong-arm states and cities into implementing RTOR.

But transportation engineer Bill Schultheiss tells me that RTOR isn’t as efficient as 1970s lawmakers would have you believe. “The savings in emissions and travel times has always been wildly overstated because it never assessed the reality that most of these drivers are immediately stopped at a signal on the cross street or stuck in traffic in urban areas,” he said in an email. “The total trip of the user was never part of the assessment.”

So you see, even putting aside the fact that a growing number of cars today are electric and/or hybrid vehicles, the savings and advantages of RTOR were never really what lawmakers suggested.

Let’s end it.

Tucker Carlson texts reveal he hates Trump “Passionately”

Cameron Joseph reporting at Vice:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson privately torched then-President Donald Trump in text messages made public on Tuesday night, saying he “passionately” hated Trump and calling Sidney Powell, Trump’s conspiracy theory-spewing election attorney, a “fucking bitch.”

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Tucker Carlson said in a text on Jan. 4, 2021. “I truly can’t wait.”

“I hate him passionately,” Carlson continued. “What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

Wow! I never, ever, ever, never, never, ever, ever thought I’d have anything in common with fucktard Tucker Carlson!

The texts, released as part of a massive tranche of documents from Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit against Fox News, are the latest to show how privately skeptical many Fox News hosts were of Trump’s increasingly wild claims that the election was stolen from him—even as some of them parroted his claims on-air. The $1.6 billion defamation case is set to go to trial in April.

End Daylight Saving Time and switch to Standard Time all year

Beth Ann Malow, M.D., Director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Division and board certified in Neurology and Sleep Medicine, wrting a guest OpEd at The Tennessean:

Changing our clocks abruptly also results in an uptick in heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents. Many wish to return to Standard Time, and as a sleep physician, I stand with these Americans and with multiple organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the National Safety Council, and Start School Later.

I simply could not agree more. Any suggestion that we make Daylight Saving Time permanent is asinine and uninformed.

Oh, and any suggestion that ‘it helps the farmers,’ is just as asinine and ignorant: The Real Reason Why Daylight Saving Time Is a Thing:

But the policy also had its opponents […] and none more powerful than the farm lobby. That farmers advocated for Daylight Saving is a common myth. In fact, Daylight Saving Time meant they had less time in the morning to get their milk and harvested crops to market.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

End the insanity now. Revert to Standard Time all year long. Enough is enough.

Trump Visits East Palestine, Conveniently Forgets Own Record

That’s right folks, the Orange Moron himself visited East Palestine, Ohio yesterday to donate pallets of Trump-branded water to residents. Haven’t these people suffered enough? I mean, you fucking know that this Trump-branded water is the cheapest shit that the guy could possibly find, and probably tastes like shit to boot.

And lest anyone be fooled by his professed concern, let’s just remember that he rolled back significant regulations concerning railroad safety and hazardous chemicals! Not to mention the fact that he absolutely slashed environmental protections.

Most notably, he rescinded a 2015 proposal (as in, Obama-era) to require faster brakes on trains that were carrying highly flammable or hazardous materials. Trump’s Department of Transportation justified the rollback with a 2018 analysis arguing the cost of requiring such brakes would be “significantly higher” than the expected benefits of the update.

Ah yes, it always comes down to money, doesn’t it?* “Sorry you can’t fucking breath folks, but I wanted to spare the railroad from having to install better brakes.”

How do you think the residents of East Palestine feel about the “benefits” of faster brakes on trains carrying hazardous materials?

What a fucking guy.

yeah, in a minute…
* Reminds me of the wisdom on not installing seat belts on school buses due to the expense, which of course is less than $50 per seat. What kind of parent is so concerned about their property taxes that they aren’t willing to have their city or county school system spend $50 on their child’s safety?

The Q-Dropped Podcast: Stories of Families Ripped Apart by Qanon

I’ve only recently discovered this podcast, and it is excellent! Hosted by the Godless Mom Courtney Heard (Follow her on Mastodon), the show is touching, and at times poignant.

The Q-Dropped podcast is a show dedicated to telling the stories of families that have been torn apart by the Qanon cult and Qanon-adjacent ideas. Most of us know someone who has been affected by the deeply concerning beliefs of Qanon adherents. Many of us have had rifts form between us and people we care about. Unfortunately, however, not many of us are talking about the toll Qanon is having on average, everyday families in countries all over the world. This podcast aims to raise awareness about this issue by telling the stories of people who have lost someone they care about to Qanon.

Well worth a listen. Check it out.

My votes for best Super Bowl LVII commercials

Okay, so I watched a couple of YouTube videos to remind myself of the commercials we all saw last night, and the following are my favorites:

  1. Popcorners (Breaking Bad)
  2. Workday (You’re a rock star)
  3. Avocados from Mexico (Adam and Eve)
  4. Planter’s Peanuts (Roast of Mr. Peanut)
  5. Crown Royal (Dave Grohl / Thank you Canada)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Pepsi (Steve Martin / Ben Stiller)
  • Squarespace (Adam Driver / Website that makes websites)
  • Hellman’s (Brie and Hamm)
  • Busch Light (The Busch Guide “Shelter” with Sarah McLachlan)

Bonus Credit: The YouTube videos linked above both show their own commercials…

Billy Gibbons Tells the B.B. King Story

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame tells his B.B. King story which details how it was Billy wound up switching from heavy strings to light strings.

The Day the Music Died +62 years

On this day in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa in Rock ‘n Roll’s first tragedy.

Thanks to Don McLean’s 1971 hit song, “American Pie,” the event has come to be known as The Day the Music Died.

Buddy Holly on stage at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on 2 Feb 1959, along with Waylon Jennings and Tommy Alsup. Believed to be the last photo taken of Buddy Holly.

I try to note the day every year.

Wake Up, Parents! Christian Nationalists Are Trying To Take Away Your Child’s Right To Read At School

Americans United:

Most parents want their children to be readers. Parents are urged to set a good example by reading to their children and letting their kids see them read. Public libraries sponsor summer reading programs with prizes for kids who read the most books. Public schools extol reading. Celebrities and sports figures often join campaigns urging youngsters to pick up a book. The Reading is Fundamental campaign has been going strong since 1966.

In light of this elevation of reading as a good thing, it’s especially ironic to see stories in the media about how many public school libraries can’t stock enough books these days. It’s not due to budget cuts; rather, the problem is censorship.

We definitely wanted our kids to be readers! We read to our kids before they could read, then encouraged them to read… just about anything! My daughter loved fantasy novels, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, and would devour not only those but just about any book she could get her hands on. My son was a little tougher case, but I learned that he’d read any sort of gaming magazine cover to cover so, problem solved. I didn’t care what they read — I mean, so long as it was more-or-less age appropriate — just so long as they were reading!

Not surprisingly, the books most frequently targeted deal with LGBTQ or racial issues. But fantasy novels and even history books are sometimes attacked by Christian Nationalists. Several librarians told The Post that students are clamoring for new titles, but the cupboard is bare.

Christian Nationalists would rather our children be indoctrinated than educated. And while they’d be happy for kids to read the Bible, they fear wide reading in a variety of subjects because exposure to a world of ideas leads some people to challenge the narrow religious and political views of Christian Nationalists.

What’s the old saying? Science is questions without answers, whereas religion is answers that you’re not allowed to question. Seems about right.