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.

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I don’t know.

E: I have a feeling we’re in the same boat Marshall. You owe a lot?

Marshall: This woman– she… follows me everywhere, won’t leave me alone. [waitress brings his drink] Thanks.

Waitress: You’re welcome.

Marshall: Just… can’t believe this is actually happening. Two days ago, I had a good life, and now I’m being fucked by some shit that I didn’t even do. I’m losing my wife, my house, my daughter.

E: I don’t know.

Marshall: Didn’t fucking do anything.

E: [moves closer to Marshall, speaks quietly] As I was sayin’, I don’t know.

Marshall: What?

E: I don’t know. My grandfather used to tell me how his father built everything we had from the ground up; pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, you know? Turns out, he didn’t. Turns out he had a lot of help. And a lot of kids. [laughs softly] Maybe it’s only right.

Marshall: E, we don’t deserve this.

E: Well, what do they deserve? We were treating slavery as if it were a mystery, buried in the past, something to investigate if we chose to. And now that history has a monetary value. Confession is not absolution. And in the case of this person… What’s her name?

Marshall: Sheniqua.

E: To Sheniqua, to them… slavery is not past. I mean, it’s not a mystery. It is not an historical curiosity. It is a cruel, unavoidable ghost that haunts in a way we can’t see. None of us are perfect. So now you’re what? You’re separated from your wife? She’s taking your kid? Now she has to be raised without a father? She has to build wealth and success from the ground up, right? It’s similar to the position we put them in. But we’re gonna be okay. You daughter’s gonna be okay. The curse has been lifted from her. All of us– we were running from it, but now we’re free. [taps Marshall’s leg] Excuse me. [stands and leaves]

— Atlanta, S3E4 “The Big Payback”, (FX 2022).

Election Deniers Were Among the Biggest Losers of the 2022 Midterms

Halle–fucking–lujah.

Charlotte Alter, reporting for Time:

The stakes could not have been higher. Across the country, Republican candidates who falsely say Donald Trump won the 2020 race ran for offices this year that would have put them in position to oversee elections in 2024. If an election-denier won an election-oversight job in a battleground state, they would have the ability to sow chaos, promote conspiracy theories about results, and potentially allow a candidate to seize the presidency in 2024 even if they weren’t chosen by the voters.

But in a series of key states, pro-democracy candidates came out on top. In Minnesota, incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon defeated Kim Crockett, who questioned the results of the 2020 election. In the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro defeated election denier and Stop the Steal organizer Doug Mastriano. (If elected Governor, Mastriano would have appointed a Secretary of State, the role that oversees the election in the commonwealth.) And in Michigan, incumbent Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson handily beat back Trump-endorsed Kristina Karamo, who pushed baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 contest.

For everyone’s sake*, let’s hope that reason, rational thought and critical thinking always — ***always*** — prevail.

yeah, in a minute…
* Including those sheeple who just blindly believe whatever the “liberal” or “conservative” news media tell them to believe…

By the way, speaking of news, let’s be clear about one thing: if you do not have at least one news source that you refer to regularly, with which you routinely disagree, then you are not practicing news-gathering but rather confirmation bias. And that, in case you are unaware, is bad.

Life’s this game of inches

I don’t know what to say, really. Three minutes till biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today. And either we heal as a team, or we’re gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished. We’re in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or, we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell, one inch at a time. Now I can’t do it for ya, I’m too old. I look around, I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that’s, that’s — that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losin’ stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game — life or football — the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it; one half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winnin’ and losin’! Between livin’ and dyin’! I’ll tell you this, in any fight it’s the guy whose willing to die whose gonna win that inch. And I know, if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that’s what livin’ is, the six inches in front of your face. Now I can’t make you do it. You’ve gotta look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. Your gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it, your gonna do the same for him. That’s a team, gentlemen. And, either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys, that’s all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?

— Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato, Any Given Sunday (Warner Bros. 1999) at 1:28:43.

#MovieQuotes

Don’t Blame Migrants and ‘Open Borders’ for Fentanyl Entering the Country

Fiona Harrigan, writing at Reason.com:

When politicians and pundits on the right call for the U.S.-Mexico border to be secured, they often point to rising fentanyl overdose deaths among Americans as justification.

[…]

Despite the idea’s sticking power in certain circles, it’s inaccurate to say that undocumented immigrants crossing an open border are chiefly responsible for fentanyl arriving at the country’s doors. In reality, U.S. citizens carrying the drug through legal ports of entry are primarily to blame.

[…]

Discussions of border enforcement often mash together fentanyl overdose deaths and unauthorized border crossings with little eye to how they actually relate. That’s bad enough, since it often leads politicians to condemn migrants for an issue they have little to do with. Even worse is the fact that scapegoating foreigners only helps to obscure the factors that are truly driving overdose deaths in the United States.

Steve Jobs died 11 years ago today

Every year on the anniversary of the visionary Apple leader’s death, I can’t help but remember The Onion’s take: “Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies”

“We haven’t just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we’ve literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on,” a statement from President Barack Obama read in part, adding that Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas—attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen.

God Damn It !!!

Jumpin’ Jesus!

It’s International Blasphemy Day!

The Greatest Run of Super Bowl Halftime Shows

I may be showing my age, but there’s no question that the greatest run of Super Bowl Halftime Shows happened from 2005 — 2010 (Super Bowls XXIX — XLIV). This run included the following artists:

  • Paul McCartney
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Prince
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
  • The Who

This run followed the now-infamous “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show: Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, P.Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and Justin Timberlake with special guests Spirit of Houston and Ocean of Souls marching bands, and was followed by The Black Eyed Peas with special guests Usher, Slash, Dallas/Ft. Worth area high school drill teams and dancers, and the Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm.

It’s easy to see that the greatest run features quality, and the preceding and following shows feature quantity, which is unfortunate.

Remembering the ‘Faith-based Initiative’ we call 9/11 (2022)

I essentially re-post this every year:

Those in authority should take appropriate precautions to protect our citizens. But we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms. (emphasis added)

–George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, remarks made during press conference/photo opportunity with the National Security Team, Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 10:53–10:56 AM EDT.

 

Sadly, it didn’t take long for us to ‘change our way of life’ or for us to allow the government to ‘restrict our freedoms’, did it? And of course, today those freedoms have been restricted more than ever…

 

Good Times! 😉

 

FRONTLINE: The Power of Big Oil

In an epic three-part documentary series, FRONTLINE investigates the decades-long failure to confront the threat of climate change and the role of the fossil fuel industry.

Part One charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate change and investigates industry efforts to sow seeds of doubt about the science. Part Two explores the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy, even as evidence about climate change grew more certain in the new millennium. And as leading climate scientists issue new warnings about climate change, Part Three examines how the fossil fuel industry worked to delay the transition to renewable energy sources — including by promoting natural gas as a cleaner alternative.

Talk about “eye opening.” This documentary is revelatory, and a great example of why we still need — desperately need — long-form investigative journalism.

Some States Could Tax Recipients of Student Loan Relief

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reporting for the Washington Post:

People in line to benefit from President Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans could be taxed on the one-time relief depending on where they live.

Mississippi, North Carolina and Indiana plan to levy state taxes on federal student loan forgiveness, while decisions in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Minnesota, California and Arkansas were in flux as of Friday, according to the state’s respective tax agencies.

We are taxed enough in this country. Any way you want to put it, this is low-down, shitty politics.