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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.

Happy Festivus

Happy Festivus!

Don’t Talk on Cell Phone While Driving, Just Don’t Do It

Remember folks, talking hands-free on a cell phone while driving is JUST AS DANGEROUS as talking in a cell phone you’re holding while driving.

Hands-free is NO SAFER!!! The MythBusters proved it.

Trump Contradicts Himself Regarding Sidney Powell’s Role

After Sidney Powell pled guilty this week to election interference, Trump claimed she was never on his legal team. That’s not what he said in 2020.

No surprise. “Character? Integrity? What the fuck are you talking about?”

R.I.P. Jimmy Buffet

Jimmy Buffett, the easygoing “Margaritaville” singer/songwriter who transformed his no-worries, beachy lifestyle into a five-decade endless road trip as a performer and entrepreneur, has died at age 76.

Project Street Vet

Project Street Vet is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit public charity that provides free veterinary care, treatment, and support to the pets of individuals experiencing homelessness and/or housing vulnerability.

The Best Way to Spot an Idiot: Kindness as a Signifier of Intelligence

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker’s commencement speech at Northwestern on 12 June 2023 (excerpted by John Gruber of Daring Fireball):

The best way to spot an idiot? Look for the person who is cruel. When we see someone who doesn’t look like us, or sound like us, or act like us, or love like us, or live like us — the first thought that crosses almost everyone’s brain is rooted in either fear or judgment or both. That’s evolution. We survived as a species by being suspicious of things we aren’t familiar with.

In order to be kind, we have to shut down that animal instinct and force our brain to travel a different pathway. Empathy and compassion are evolved states of being. They require the mental capacity to step past our most primal urges. I’m here to tell you that when someone’s path through this world is marked with acts of cruelty, they have failed the first test of an advanced society. They never forced their animal brain to evolve past its first instinct. They never forged new mental pathways to overcome their own instinctual fears. And so, their thinking and problem-solving will lack the imagination and creativity that the kindest people have in spades.

Over my many years in politics and business, I have found one thing to be universally true: the kindest person in the room is often the smartest.


Wasn’t even a Nazi in his youth.

Frank: This thing is kind of mesmerizing since Mr. Judd lit it up.
Spike: Oh. See that right– Look at right there, it looks like a burrito. Huh.
Doug: Where?
Spike: Right– See? It’s moving.
Doug: I actually see a face there, kind of. Maybe…
Frank: John Paul.
Spike: Beatles or Getty?
Frank: I see the pope’s face. Pope John Paul II. He was in at the turn of the century, and fallible, obviously, but great at apologizing for historical bad stuff.
Spike: All I’m seeing is a lot of shiny excrement, I’m sorry guys.
Frank: JP was one of the good ones, too. Wasn’t even a Nazi in his youth.
Doug: I– I’m just not sure a pope would choose to appear in shit. Wouldn’t he pick like, motor oil or pancakes?
Frank: Honestly, I see his face. Maybe I’ll see you later, Mr. Pope, since, I guess I’m the only one who can.

–Avenue 5, S1E7 “Are You a Spider, Matt?” (HBO 2020).

Twitter Limits Backfire


[T]his change completely broke Twitter itself — some part of the Rube Goldberg-ian machine that assembles users’ timeline feeds was itself subjected to these rate limits, so Twitter wound up DDOSing itself. It’s like a gasoline company instituting rations that stranded its own fleet of tanker trucks.

Hilarious. Just fucking hilarious! What a fucking shitshow!

So glad — so very glad — I left Twitter for Mastodon.

Oh no! The “Woke” Police are Going to Have to Cancel Their Precious Chick-fil-A

Nikki McCann Ramirez reporting at Rolling Stone:

Not Even Chick-fil-A Is Safe From Anti-‘Woke’ Right Wingers
The Christian-owned fast food giant is under attack for its corporate diversity policies

Oh man, when the self-appointed “woke” police go after Chick-fil-A — the fast food restaurant that was hailed just a handful of years ago for being so openly anti-gay — well, it’s clear that Chick-fil-A has become the flavor-of-the-month in the arena of manufactured outrage.

FRESH OFF A siege against Target for the crime of releasing a Pride collection, far-right influencers have been roving the digital countryside looking for the subject of their next meltdown and have landed on a surprising choice: fast food chain Chick-fil-A.

Why are conservative accounts attempting to gin up outrage about Chick-fil-A? Because the company has (gasp) a diversity, equity, and inclusion program. The fervor over the famously Christian chain has reached the point that lawmakers are now getting involved. RawStory pointed out that Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) called Chick-fil-A “abhorrent” while speaking to Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk on Wednesday.

“That’s where we’ve got to certainly stand up for the principle and the truth where the abhorrent conduct comes from a putative ally, someone we’ve relied on,” he said, referencing how conservatives can’t depart from their values.

First of all, let’s be clear: these people are “so-called” conservatives, at best1. I mean, you can call youself anything you like — hell, Donald Trump can call himself “not overweight” — but the fact of the matter is, if you aren’t practicing Conservatism2, you ain’t a Conservative.

You see, we have real problems in this country, and they don’t have anything to do with “wokeness” or anything else the so-called conservative crowd just loves to bitch about.

You want to know what’s wrong with our society? One of our biggest problems is that we live in a society that no longer values the concept of not sticking one’s nose into other people’s business. We have increasingly become a culture of “nosy nellys”, and this from a culture originally founded upon the principles of freedom!3

Make no mistake about it: the desire to tell other people how to live their lives is a character flaw. It is a personality defect. Our grandparent’s generation would have considered it a social “faux pas” of the highest magnitude, and so should we.

One of our other biggest problems is that we, as a culture, are simply addicted to outrage. Far too many people just love to manufacture outrage so that they have something — anything — to bitch about so they can feel superior. These people will jump on any “rage bandwagon” with no information whatsoever, like the sheeple they are.


yeah, in a minute…
1 See: On Conservatives and Conservatism for more on what I mean by “so-called” conservatives.

2 For as long as anyone reading this post has been alive, the foundation of Conservatism has been character — unquestionable, unimpeachable character — and the cornerstones of Conservatism have been: (1) maximizing individual freedom, (2) limiting government, (3) financial responsibility, and (4) free markets. If that doesn’t describe you “to a tee”, or at least come pretty damned close, then you just ain’t a Conservative, no matter what you call yourself.

For a brief explanation of what “character” actually is, see ibid, footnote 6

3 The simple example of freedom is this: if you don’t like something, don’t do it. But as soon as you try to prevent others from doing the thing you don’t like, that’s no longer freedom.

I explain it like this. I don’t care for asparagus. Just don’t like it. So, I don’t eat asparagus. But, I don’t tell my wife that she can’t have asparagus. I don’t try to get laws passed outlawing the manufacture, distribution, possession or consumption of asparagus. I just don’t eat it. That’s freedom.

Why Prince May Have Been the Greatest Guitarist Since Jimi Hendrix

Jack Hamilton writing at Slate:

There’s a famous tale that’s floated around for years and has enjoyed a resurgence since last Thursday. The story goes that sometime during the 1980s, Eric Clapton was asked how it felt to be the best guitar player in the world, and responded, “I don’t know; ask Prince.” The story is almost certainly untrue (what the hell sort of interviewer would ask someone that question in the first place?), but the vaguely awestruck reverence with which it circulates, like some divine validation of Prince’s greatness, is irritating.

Personally, I would have thought any questions as to Prince’s greatness on guitar would have been put to rest after his blazing solo to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the 2004 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for George Harrison. Or, his incendiary February 4, 2006 appearance on SNL performing “Fury” from his album 3121.

Prince was an incredible singer, keyboardist, and drummer, too, but as a guitarist he leaves behind a truly singular body of work. There are so many spectacular performances, but one I keep coming back to is one of his earliest. “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?,” the second cut on his 1979 self-titled sophomore album, was Prince’s first single that found him working in a “rock” vein, all snarling guitars and thumping backbeat. It failed to make the Top 40 upon its release, but it’s one of the finest compositions in his early catalogue, a pristine love song whose heartsickness is belied by its near-impossible musical exuberance. “I play the fool when we’re together/ but I cry when we’re apart/ I couldn’t do you no better/ Don’t break what’s left of my broken heart,” sings Prince going into the first chorus, lyrics that sound simple but couldn’t articulate their sentiment any more perfectly.

And then at the end of the song the solo happens, a solid minute of sustained instrumental greatness. The guitar is saturated in distortion but it warms rather than scalds, tearing through beautiful melodies and exquisitely crafted phrases. It has blazing 16th-note runs; it has sustained, soaring vibratos that absolutely sing. It’s all here, everything from Mississippi John Hurt to Sister Rosetta Tharpe to B.B. King to Revolver to Hendrix to Clapton himself, pouring out of the fingers of a 20-year-old kid. There’s a sort of joyous fury and defiant reclamation to it, like someone who’s just heard his generation flip out over Van Halen’s “Eruption” (released the previous year) and is letting anyone within earshot know that he could do that, too, but chooses not to. To paraphrase another Minnesotan out of context, it’s the sound of when he was hungry, and it was their world. But they were wrong—it was always his.