Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Rush Limbaugh taught me about research

In High School I was a Dittohead (Rabid Rush Limbaugh Fan), raised in a good Lutheran home watching the 700 Club. I was also a computer geek, well versed in the ways of DOS.

During college I heard an episode of the Rush Limbaugh show where he was talking about the antitrust case then pending against Microsoft. I knew the issues inside and out, so I was excited to hear Rush's take.

Rush went on to talk about being a Mac user and how people were all upset that there was a Microsoft utility on his Mac that he'd installed but never used. He then proceeded to paint the entire issue as being about people installing Microsoft software on their computers of their own accord. He went on to completely ignore the actual issues raised in the antitrust case and instead paint a fanciful and inaccurate vision of the issue. His vision, which I would later learn was a perfect example of a straw man argument, was easy to mock and debunk, which he proceeded to do.

I realized that Rush was one of two things:

1. A liar trying to discredit Microsoft's detractors.
2. A moron with no understanding of the issue who insisted on pretending to be an expert.

Neither option appealed to me. Both interpretations meant Limbaugh was a manipulative fraud more interested in his pocketbook than in accuracy. I began to critically evaluate everything he said, researching the topics on my own. I soon realized that Limbaugh was not to be trusted. He was either lying to promote an agenda or was too lazy to do any research past collecting a few tidbits that could be twisted to support his existing beliefs. Research, I realized, was critical. You need to evaluate not just the sources that you agree with, but the ones you find objectionable. There's no such thing as a bias free news source, although some try to achieve that goal. Sticking to one source however will just ensure you only get the news with that particular bias, that you'll only ever see things from one, often censored, viewpoint.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

American Racists Take Obama To The Mat

Another notjob is running around pimping the claim that Obama was born in Kenya. These conspiracy theorists are of course gleefully ignoring the fact that Obama's birth certificate HAS been released.

It just goes to show that some people will never be swayed by actual evidence.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attacking the cost of the Oscars

Why does The Metro keep harping about the cost of the Oscars? The Metro is ignoring the fact that Hollywood actually turned a profit. The Oscars weren't paid for with tax dollars by companies who went to Uncle Sam looking for a handout. The Oscars were paid for by people who got rich selling a popular (if generally vapid) product.

If a failing company wants to pay it's executives and extortionate salary, that's between the board and the shareholders. The problems start when those same failed executives want to get obscene bonuses paid for with funds meant to bail their companies out of a catastrophic mess. If you screwed up your company so badly you need a government handout you damn well better not be getting a multi-million dollar bonus paid for with MY tax dollars.

It's clear the Metro is trying to tap into the anger and vitriol over the government bailout excesses. They fail to do so because they chose a profitable industry to attack. Yes, most of what Hollywood produces is useless, uninteresting garbage, but they make money doing it. If they want to throw an obscene party and air it on national television let them.

Now, if MGM came begging for a hangout like CITI or GM, it would be a different story. As it is, The Metro just comes across as a sour grape merchant who chose to attack the cost of the Oscars so they didn't need to bother watching or thinking about them.

Can anyone give me a good reason why Hollywood SHOULD cut back the Oscars because the economy is bad? Given their role in propping up national morale during the Great Depression I would think reducing the Hollywood spectacle is the last thing they should do.

A cute video to start the week

Friday, February 20, 2009

God must be a royal bastard if life begins at fertilization

Let's look at the facts. One estimate is that even without birth control about 80% of fertilized eggs never reach the end of the first month. They either never attach to the uterine wall or disconnect for any one of a variety of reasons. Discounting stillbirths and crib death, we're talking about 24 BILLION dead zygotes just for the 6 billion people alive today.

Now, since we are all tainted with original sin, this means if those zygotes have souls they go straight to Hell when they're passed by the woman's body.

This means our loving God who came to Earth and died for our sins has no problem with 24 Billion souls going straight to Hell without even having drawn their first breath or even had their first heartbeat. If you want to argue that life begins at fertilization then you're also stuck with a cold, heartless God who damns 80% of all humans right off the bat. Unless you're Catholic, and the Pope declares Limbo valid this month. In that case there's 24 Billion souls in limbo instead of Hell.

And that's just for the people alive today That ignores all the generations that came and went before us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't go away mad Eli, just go away

I'd gotten tired of the flood of e-mail from, so I decided to take advantage of their unsubscribe option. I was asked if I wanted to switch to their weekly newsletter instead. I thought about it for a second and then concluded that I wasn't really interested in getting any more messages from them. It had been so long since I'd read anything they sent I saw no value in a weekly missive.

An hour or two later I got the following e-mail:

from Eli Pariser
date Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 8:05 PM
subject Don't go!

Dear Matthew Miller,

You've been permanently unsubscribed from the MoveOn list -- if you take no more action, this'll be the last email you get from us. But please don't go!

MoveOn gets its power from its members -- we're just 3 million people working together to change the world. But we know some folks are too busy to follow every last email.

So, we've developed a once-weekly newsletter to keep those folks informed. We'll only send you the most critical messages, and we won't email you more than once a week in any case. Want to sign up? Just click here:

And if you didn't mean to unsubscribe in the first place(we hope so!), you can re-join the full list at:

Thanks for everything you've done as part of MoveOn,

--Eli Pariser and the MoveOn team.

Call me crazy, but when I try to unsubscribe from something I generally want to be left the Hell alone, not pestered with another appeal to come back. I'm terminating contact with a digital service, not breaking up with an emotionally crippled codependent. I want an unsubscribe to actually unsubscribe me. It's a clear and definitive message to leave me alone, not an appeal for you to come back begging to let you back into my inbox.

I reported the pathetic "Please come back pretty please" message as spam to spamcop and gmail. Since has demonstrated it's happy to keep pestering me even after I ask to be left alone, I'm also adding a filter to send any e-mail from their domain to the trash can.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dinesh D’Souza, dumb or deliberately trying to mislead?

Dinesh D’Souza recently had the following to say in Salvo Magazine on the topic of atheism:

“I don't believe in unicorns, so I just go about my life as if there are no unicorns. You'll notice that I haven't written any books called The End of the Unicorn, Unicorns Are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion, and I don't spend my time obsessing about unicorns. What I'm getting at is that you have these people out there who don't believe that God exists, but who are actively attempting to eliminate religion from society, setting up atheist video shows, and having atheist conferences. There has to be more going on here than mere unbelief.”

I have to wonder if Dinesh D’Souza is being deliberately misleading or is as dumb as the comment makes him sound. The unicorn comparison is a poor one, largely because no one is going around trying to enact laws or shape government policy based upon belief in unicorns. D’Souza blithely ignores the negative impact of Christian Fundamentalism on the US in recent years. Bush's abstinence only education push has resulted in an increase in teen pregnancy. The denial of the morning after pill to rape victims by fundamentalist pharmacists is ignored by D’Souza's comment.

Yes, D’Souza, there IS more going on than a mere lack of belief in God. People don't like being told what to do by fundamentalist zealots intent upon using cherry picked verses from Leviticus as a legal textbook.

If our last president had spent his eight years in office claiming to take orders from a unicorn, or using a unicorn as the basis for his foreign policy, if he'd been using unicorn related language to try and drum up support for his invasion if Iraq, then D’Souza's unicorn comparison might have been relevant. As it is, it's a vague and unrelated tangent that reveals not a crushing argument, but intellectual bankruptcy on D’Souza's part.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama Conspiracy Theories: Obama in the Bible

There are a lot of comical Obama themed conspiracy theories floating around. My favorite is the claim that Luke 10:18 refers to US President Barack Obama. Here's the "logic" behind the claim as stated by Sollog (John Patrick Ennis, born July 14, 1960), a self-proclaimed "New Nostradamus"

In Luke 10:18 Jesus states,

“I beheld Satan as Lightning fall from Heaven.”

How does a Jewish Rabbi, which Jesus is credited with being (John 1:38), say in HEBREW, that Satan is like LIGHTNING from heaven?

Barack, also transliterated as Baraq in Hebrew, is LIGHTNING (Strongs Hebrew word 1300). Even in Greek, Barak is LIGHTNING (Strongs Greek word 913) for the name of a person!

The ONLY WAY, a Jewish Rabbi can say in Hebrew that SATAN is LIGHTNING is, SATAN BARACK!

Let's set aside the fact that a self proclaimed Rabbi is spending his time quoting the New Testament. While we're at it we'll ignore the fact that Sollog is a convicted criminal. Instead, I'll point out that the article's cornerstone are similarities between the Hebrew word for "Lightning" and the name Barack. There's a small problem with Sollog's argument. The book of Luke was written in Greek and Jesus would have spoken not Hebrew, but Aramaic. While the Hebrew alphabet is derived from Aramaic, we only have a vague idea as to how it was actually pronounced. Ancient Aramaic recorded largely consonants, not vowels. As a result the vowels we assign to many ancient texts are based upon tradition and conventional pronunciation. This means we don't know how Jesus would have pronounced the Aramaic word for "Lightning." Sollog's claimed use of modern interpretations of now to pronounce Hebrew are irrelevant to his claim.

Without a Lightning / Obama connection, Ennis' claims fall flat. He no longer has a supporting argument.

Believing Ennis' claims requires you to play Mad Libs with the Bible, assuming words with vaguely similar pronunciations in different languages and time periods are meant as part of some kind of hidden code. Ennis' claim is just bit of Post Hoc mental gymnastics. Luke 10:18 is a clear reference to the fall of Satan and trying to claim that the verse is somehow related to the current US President is using the kind of contorted, theologically unjustified garbage dogma that lead to things like the claim that Gorbachev was the Antichrist.

Believing Luke 10:18 refers to Obama as Satan involves trivializing the Bible itself, turning it from divine revelation into some kind of encrypted and obfuscated horoscope. It's a claim fostered by people who are more concerned with reasons to hate a given politician than in actual scholarship. A lot of idiotic "rationales" have been spun around this stupidity, but in the end it's just a racist "theologian" looking for a reason to hate Obama while boosting his own readership.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I always found censorship to be absurd. Censorship makes a thing forbidden, it makes it tantalizing and draws people to it. A lot of the books on the "Banned books list" are, to be honest, drek. The ONLY reason some of them are still in print is because people made a fuss about them, canonizing an otherwise dull book because it had a few sexually charged or blasphemous scenes.

There was a TV show a season or two ago called "The Book of Daniel." It was slow moving, boring, poorly written and poorly acted. It lasted about half a season and would have died sooner had one of those religious parents' action groups not started a massive campaign to get the network to cancel it. I'd never even HEARD of it until they raised a ruckus. Something that would have died a quiet, quick death was prolonged and got a hell of a lot more exposure than it deserved because people were outraged.

Of course, that might have been the point of protesting that particular show. When something terrible is attacked and it dies the death earned by its low quality, the not jobs who were protesting get to claim credit for its downfall. It's kind of like the career of Andrew Dice Clay. I know people who claim it was moral outrage against his act that ended his career. The truth is that he isn't all that funny. The moral outrage against him prolonged his career.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Auto Industry Bailout

The Truth about Atlantis THEY don't want you to know

Atlantis was one of the fictional societies Plato described to illustrate his ideas. Before Plato, there was NO reference to Atlantis or an Atlantis like society. All such references since stemmed from Plato's obvious philosophical construct.

The hunt for Atlantis is, quite literally, as comical and laughable as people trying to find the "Real" Hogworts, Utopia or Mordor 5,000 years from now.

There was never an Atlantis, it was obvious from Plato's work he never expected anyone to think it was real. Despite this brain dead morons have spent entire lifetimes trying to manufacture "proof" of a fictional society created to illustrate philosophical ideals. While I first learned this startling truth in a college philosophy course, the Wikipedia article on Atlantis is a good starting point for those new to the topic.

It was a common convention in Plato's time to create a fictional society or city to illustrate a philosophical point or argument. No one really considered "Atlantis" anything more than a philosophical construct until the 19th century or so. Around that time some of the noteworthy flakes started merging assorted "lost world" myths in a desperate attempt to give them some credence. The general idea seemed to be if they took enough unrelated, unsupported legends and combined them, they could create something with a sheen of plausibility.

The fact that people are still discussing the possibility of an obviously fictional island is proof their patchwork creativity worked.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some notes on Colloidal Silver

Recommended by quacks for numerous symptoms of life, Colloidal Silver tends to turn people blue.

There's also the fact that Colloidal silver doesn't actually DO anything beneficial.

Then there's the list of Colloidal Silver's side effects.

* Argyria — an irreversible blue-gray discoloration of your skin, nails and gums
* Seizures and other neurological problems
* Kidney damage
* Indigestion
* Headaches
* Fatigue
* Skin irritation
* Drug interactions with penicillamine, quinolones, tetracycline and thyroxine medications

But hey, if one WANTS to be able to be a member of the Blue Man Group with minimal makeup, you can always make it at home.