Monday, August 29, 2005

FYI to all those on the right who keep saying that y'all "support the troops":

Part of that is supporting them when they come home. And that doesn't just mean "Hey, welcome back! Thanks for rescuing us from those WMDs/killing those terrorists/giving Iraq democracy" (choose your own personal justification).

No, that means taking care of them when they get home. That means health care, that means education. You can't cut health insurance, close hospitals and try to drown out veterans when they and their children suffer from illnesses and deformities related to depleted uranium that you weren't completely honest about.

So, don't say you "support the troops" unless you darn well mean it.

More on this later--kind of enraged at the moment.

Saturday in Crawford

I know I've been neglecting you for a while. But, I have good excuses! First school started the week before last... and then I was in Crawford this weekend. I'll give you some pictures, though, in lieu of a real update, for now:

Ema and I on the bus to Crawford! We were glad we took the bus, not only because of gas prices, but also because we met some really cool people along the way.

This is Ema and two of those cool people: Carol and Carol.

"We demand accountability..."

And this is the super-exciting Joan Baez.

Too bad he can't take a break from his vacation...

"Before one more mother's child..."

Some people had some really cool shirts. This is one example, and I think I have a few pictures of some other ones, if you're interested.

The obligatory pictures of the ever-exciting counter protesters:

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Bill Hemmer's moving over to FOX?

I didn't mind Greta (good riddance, I say!), but, Bill....?

Assassins for God

Radical Christianist cleric Pat Robertson, on August 22, issued a fatwa against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling upon American "covert operatives" to "take him out."

"And I don't think any oil shipments will stop," Robertson added, indicating the main interest that the United States has in Venezuela.

Nevermind, of course, that President Chavez is the duly elected leader of a sovereign nation. During the recall, international observers judged that the election was fair (which was more than happened in recent U.S. elections!).

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. " Because, clearly, that is the role the of the United States in the world: to start wars to get rid of dictators in oil-rich countries. According to Rev. Robertson, at least.

Someone should get this man a Bible! :-)

And--dictator? Um. Well, besides that fact that the U.S. props up and supports dictators all over the world (including people like our previous buddies Saddam Hussein and the Taliban!), a fact about which Mr. Robertson is apparently indifferent, Hugo Chavez is the elected president of a country.

But, heck, let's send some people over there to take him out. It's all just a game, anyway, isn't it? Whoever gets control of the most oil wins!

Problem is, of course, that they lose in the end.

It's kind of fitting that on the list of books the President is "reading" on his vacation there's that book on the world history of salt. It kind of fits. Like oil, salt was a necessary commodity that wars were fought over and people died for. Now we kind of laugh at the idea of salt wars. Let's take a lesson from history here, Mr. President.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Arson analogy

I was just listening to the Laura Flanders show on Air America Radio, and a caller gave a very apt analogy that may help some people make sense of the Cindy Sheehan situation, or help explain to people who just don't get it.

I have heard many people say things such as "Casey Sheehan signed up for the military; you take that risk when you commit to that." Sure. But that is similar to saying that if a firefighter dies while fighting arson, that the parents and loved ones have no right to go after that arsonist and demand accountability and responsibility. Yes, a firefighter accepts the risk of death, but that does not absolve the public of its responsibility not to start fires for, say, insurance profits!

Similarly, Casey Sheehan did accept the risk of death, but that does not absolve us of our responsibility (in which we, the public, and the media, failed spectacularly) of holding our leaders accountable and not going into a war for reasons unrelated to national security.

So, please, stop saying "he accepted that risk." YES, HE DID. But that does not make it right. Precisely because so many young (and not-so-young) people in our society accept that risk, we have a responsibility, a duty, to only send them into harms way when it is necessary. We failed them. And we, along with the media, and the Bush administration, and the Congress, should be forced to answer for it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A real, live movement

As I'm sure many of you have seen, Cindy Sheehan's mother has had a stroke. Cindy has left Camp Casey to go take care of her, leaving a message to her supporters:

I'm going to take care of my mother right now, but I hope to be back before the end of August. Meanwhile, keep the camp together, and keep your spirits high. I may have started this camp out, but I'm counting on you to continue the movement. The call to end the war must be made by everyone.

This, of course, is tragic, and the thoughts and prayers and wishes of thousands all over the country go out to Cindy's family tonight. Certainly mine do! Cindy has been a wonderful and compassionate mother and we can see that she is just as devoted a daughter.

But, in the midst of this, I can't help but think that this is an opportunity for this new movement that has started. Until now, right wingers and the mainstream media have gotten away with portraying this as "one woman's crusade." Of course, with this logic, if you attack the one woman, you attack the movement. Without Cindy standing up out front for us (and thank goodness she did! and started this movement!), the media and the pundits will finally be forced to confront the fact that this isn't just a lone grieving mother. She started it, and she deserves all possible credit for that. But she has thousands of people behind her.

You can no longer ignore or discredit this because it's "just a crazy lady." These are mothers, fathers, spouses, friends... these are the American people... who have decided that they've had enough and that they want answers and accountability. And that's going to be hard to smear, discredit, or ignore. But, trust me, they'll try.

Edited to add: I don't mean to suggest that Cindy Sheehan is no longer involved in the movement. Not at all!! What I meant was that it will be harder and harder to dismiss this movement as just a crazy leftist radical, a grieving mom being used by the left wing, or something that is simply "fake" (shout out to Rush Limbaugh!). With Camp Casey going strong, even without Cindy there, that sends a real message. And that message is harder to attack.

I *heart* unbiased media...

If only I could find it!

Pro-troop rally planned near Crawford

A pro-troop caravan that supports soldiers' mission in Iraq says their rally next week in Crawford, called ‘You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy’ will proceed, despite Sheehan's departure.

Move America Forward is planning a trip from California to Crawford. The organization says service members and their families have not had their voices heard during Sheehan's vigil.

The rally is planned for Saturday, August 27 from 1:00 to 3:00.

The organization also announced Thursday it has produced a new anti-Sheehan television commercial that will air nationally.

Pro-troop? As opposed to...?

Pro-war, maybe... but pro-troop? Really?

Anyway, I hope someone will be there handing out enlistment forms!

And, just so you know, Cindy Sheehan has never claimed to speak for anyone but herself. Others have latched on to her message, but that's only because, well, it's an important one.

Ben Sargent cartoon

Wow. Such a powerful and stark cartoon. Just a bit of context: when asked about meeting with Cindy Sheehan, Bush said "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

Let's not forget--

Bush took time out of his vacation for Terri Schiavo...

(night-before-school starts sleeping update-- 5:20 am and still no luck!)

You know how you can't sleep the night before school starts?

yeah... 3:19 am and counting...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What to do when you're down?

You know, it's funny 'cause it's predictable. Every time Bush and Co. are threatened, they send out the attack dogs.

Push-polling and smears on John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

Attacks on Joseph Wilson (who had served this country for 20 years, honorably) and his wife because he came back with a report from Niger that didn't support the Bush admin's claims about the war.

Sponsoring Swiftboat Vets (who were later proven to have been totally lying, too bad the mainstream media didn't care to look into their claims until after the fact) against John Kerry.

These are just the very, very well-known ones.

And the media and America has pretty much accepted them, not questioned them.

But, the Rove-ites may have made a crucial error this time: Americans may not care or question when you and your right wingers smear politicians and public figures, but they will and do care when you smear a mother who has sacrificed her son for this country.

Last week we heard the whole "she changed her story" spin. Unfortunately, a little research proved this one wrong and they've dropped this line of attack. Now, the idea is that she is a left-wing radical and does not support the troops. Or, if you're Rush Limbaugh, that the whole thing is fictional and supported by the liberal media (what liberal media, you may ask). She's been called a terrorist, a traitor, a whore, etc etc. By the people who claim to support the troops.

I honestly think that this is going to backfire on them. It's ok when you're trashing and smearing and spinning about politicians or people who spin and smear themselves. It's somewhat worrisome when you ruin lives like you did to Valerie and Joe Wilson. But people are going to be outraged about this smear by the right-wing on Cindy Sheehan and other relatives of fallen soldiers.

Tonight, across the nation, over 50,000 people went to over 1500 vigils in support of Cindy. They lit candles and have, I believe, begun to ignite a revolution. It's awful to think of the situation our world and country are in right now, but it's exciting to think about the fact that we are at a turning point that will go down in the history books. With almost 2,000 American soldiers dead and thousands more Iraqis, I believe we've reached a tipping point. And Cindy Sheehan came at just the right moment.

So, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove, etc: go ahead, put your media machine on her. Bring it on. But, you've underestimated one thing: people.

Back in the day they whistled a different tune...

*via dailyKos

Quotes from when Clinton committed troops to Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Funny thing is, we won that war without a single American killed in action.*

*edited to add: Luke pointed out that it's not a great victory just because Americans weren't killed. Luke: "We bombed the heck out of a country with somewhat of an infrastructure until they had none and innocent civilians were killed." No, he's not talking about Iraq. I totally agree with your point here, Luke. My point, however, was that, even without American casualties, Republicans were very willing to oppose a war. They weren't called traitors. Now their side has no problem call people who raise the very concerns they have traitors.

Is there a moral difference if Americans vs. others die? No, I don't think so. I'm glad to see Luke agrees. But, unfortunatley, there is a political difference, as well as a public opinion difference.

Limbaugh: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.

Bill Burkett, of course, is the guy who forged documents about Bush's service and sent them to CBS. What, exactly, is Sheehan's story? Um, her son died and she wants to know why. And she is demanding accountability, answers, and truth from this administration. I think one could independently verify the death of her son. Clearly Rush didn't try; he thinks it's all fake.

If he had been there he would have to know that the emotion isn't fake, that the spirit and courage of those at Camp Casey isn't fake. But he hasn't been there. I have.

So, I'm not entirely sure what he's saying isn't real.

Oh, and "the coordinated left"?? LOL. I wish.

Sometimes it helps to put faces on the names

This is the response of one soldier who was in Iraq to the plowing down of the crosses erected at Camp Casey. Yes, clearly you care about the morale of the soliders:

Mr. Northern:

I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.

While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3rd ID. Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.

Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.

Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)

Stupid people make me sad.

But the people who tell them lies make me mad. The people whose hypocrisy shines through blindingly, who have no regard for the truth and only for political gain and popularity--and they can be found on all sides of the political spectrum--are giving me no end of frustration at the moment.

I'm going to have to stop listening to talk radio...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Another Gandhi quote

"First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win."

--Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, August 15, 2005

Supporting the troops?

I am literally shaking as I type this.

But before I editorialize, I'll tell you what's going on: crosses that had been set up in Crawford, Texas to commemorate and remember soldiers who have died in the war on Iraq were plowed down by a local Crawford resident on Monday night. This is added to the fact that while people at Camp Casey sang "God Bless America," a group led by a right-wing radio host chanted "We don't care; we don't care."

If nothing else has become abundantly clear since Cindy Sheehan has been in Crawford is that many right wingers simply don't care. They don't care about the troops. They care about and support the troops when it's convenient, but when they or their families begin to question why they're being asked to sacrifice, suddenly they're painted in the media as "radicals" or "left-wing" or "communists." I've heard all of these (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and John Gibson, respectively).

I've been to Camp Casey. I've seen the grief and the courage that is everywhere there. I've seen, if nothing else, that these people are not radicals (not that there's anything wrong with being a radical). They are people who have broken hearts, who shouldn't have broken hearts. They are people who care so deeply about the troops that they have volunteered their time and their money to demand answers. Many have broken the military code of silence to come and support this cause.

The memorial wasn't partisan. It was to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by each and every one of those soldiers. Cindy Sheehan met earlier with a father who lost a son in Iraq. They disagreed on the war. But, after seeing their childrens' memorials, they could both share a hug and a prayer for the troops in Iraq now.

So, just because people voted differently than you did, you have the right to desecrate a memorial for all Americans? How dare you. How dare you claim to support the troops, while having no problem desecrating a memorial to them and their sacrifice? I was at that memorial. I cried. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of a sacrifice that I can't even begin to understand. Yet you have no problem disregarding it and what it means to grieving parents, grieving friends, worried loved ones, and all Americans. Because that's the message you, and Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and others like you are sending: You don't care.

So, yes, enjoy it. Laugh it up. You got those Camp Casey idiots good! Just remember that those are real people you're driving all over, those are real families you're disrespecting and disregarding. People and families who've given up something for this country that most of us can't understand. Every one of those crosses represents a person, and each person represents a family. Yet you just drove over it, crushing them like so many weeds.

I don't want to paint all conservatives, or all war-supporters, with the same brush here. I know many would not approve at all of the desecration and disrespect shown today. These are most likely the same ones who respect Cindy Sheehan and other families who are demanding answers, though they disagree politically. I'm not referring to you here.

But to those who did this: Do not claim to support the troops and on the other hand show by your words and your actions that you "don't care." Because America does care. By committing this act, you've shown your true colors. This is only going to help this movement. Your actions will simply serve as an illustration. If the mainstream media picks it up, that is.

I'm going to leave with a few pictures from Camp Casey (thanks TexasLady from DU):

Crawford Pictures

I'll give a more comprehensive follow-up to Crawford later, maybe tommorow. For now, I'll show you some of the pictures I took:
Click to see them larger. Some are pretty big!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Audioblogging Crawford: Heading out...

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Random rants on signs, shirts, and stupidity

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Feeling American

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Getting the car off the road

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Stuuuupid signs

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Post-rally

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: Wandering Aimlessly

this is an audio post - click to play

Audioblogging Crawford: On the Way

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Crawford or Bust

As I'm running late this morning, I can't give a comprehensive post on my reasons for going to Crawford, but, rest assured, it's coming. As soon as I hit the "send" button, I'm outta here. Gotta be in Crawford by noon for the rally at the Crawford HS stadium, and I want to get there a little before that.

Now that I've discovered audioblogger, you should expect a few posts-by-phone. If you wanna know how it's going down there, give me a call... 903-271-7605.

Otherwise, have a great day!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

'Our kind of people'

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.
Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

That absolutely offends and disgusts me. But, it doesn't surprise me. We're more than happy to "support the troops" and support the war when we or our children are not the troops and not at war. We, as a country, send working class kids to fight our battles. And that's no problem. It'll only be when it starts to affect the middle class, the voting class, that we will see real change.

If my parents were forced to send their children to war, I bet they would fight to see the end of it. Especially if they knew we were lied to and that there was no "noble cause." But, it's easy to support something when you don't have to sacrifice, isn't it?

That house was all decked out in American flags. But, her son, join the military? No. "Our kind of people" simply don't do that!


this is an audio post - click to play

President Cheney

The Denver Post is reporting that Bob Woodward believes that it is "highly likely" that Dick Cheney will run for President in 2008.

Now, granted, he already has a lot of experience at being President, but...

I think it would be hard for him to win. Bush and Cheney made a great team because Bush could be the front man, bringing in the Religious Right and the social conservatives. Sure, he had massive ties to big business, but Cheney was the real assurance to corporations that a Bush/Cheney administration would leave no multinational corporation or billionaire behind.

Cheney, by himself, out front, rather than out-of-the-spotlight as a constant representative of big oil, energy, and money, will be a hard sell for social conservatives, I think. Even if Pat Robertson ran as VP. After all, he has a gay daughter, as KE04 so often reminded us last fall.

Friday, August 05, 2005


So, I have a honking huge library fine at UTD because I have lost a book and they finally decided to charge me for it. They also put a hold on my records. While this is bad, there is was no pressing need to go pay the $80 until after I got my loan money for the fall. After all, I'm already registered for classes. But--summer class grades are up now. I logged into the SIS, where it said that the grades for the term ("Summer 2005") I was looking for were unavailable.

I was sad. On a lark (never heard anyone in real life use that phrase... it sounded cool) I decided to try to look at my "unofficial transcript" on the SIS. It totally let me see it, and totally had my summer grades on it. HAHAHA, UTD suckers!

Sorry, I'm a dork. And happy about my grades.

Faith vs. Fact

I've been thinking alot about science and religion, faith and fact, and how they (ought to? should? do?) interact. We often try to make them fit together in a nice theory-of-everything. That's a western obsession of ours, trying to make all of our different knowledges and ways of knowing the world compatible.

The Bible tells us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Science, on the other hand, is a weaving together of logic and empirical fact. Faith-based and fact-based views of the world are necessarily different, yet often in our society we try to make them fit together. They dont NEED to agree with each other in order to individually be valid and useful in their different purposes. The primary difference between faith-based views of the world and science is that science relies on empirical, or experiential and observable, evidence to support its claims while faith relies upon that which is inherently unknowable or observable. These two views of the world are mutually exclusive; you would not want science to answer questions about the meaning of life any more than you would expect religion to provide a satisfactory explanation for the phenomenon of gravity.

Empirical evidence requires facts. Facts are mutually agreed upon experiences that can be simultaneously observed or experienced in any place at any time by any number of people. The appearance of an angel to a person or group of persons cannot be described as a fact: the event cannot be experienced again by anyone at any time. To believe this requires an act of faith. Science, on the other hand, is completely shareable. If I say that water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, this could be proven by anyone, anywhere.

Science also must be able to be disproved. Just as I cannot scientifically say that an angel appeared, neither can I say that an angel did not. The existence and appearance of angels, therefore, is not a matter in which science can concern itself. I can, however, prove that the Earth is not 10,000 years old by using carbon dating, or by counting rock layers. Because faith requires no evidence, it cannot be disproved. This is why science cannot answer the question of the existence of a God: it is ultimately and completely a question of faith, not one of fact.

Faith deals in absolute truths; the very nature of science does not allow it to deal with such issues. Science is about probabilities, the probability that a certain event will occur in the future given conditions and variables x, y, and z. Faith-based ways of knowing the world search for absolute truth and make absolute statements of Right and Wrong. Science cannot answer these questions, and we would not want it to.

Through history, people have always tried to make science and faith agree with one another, but often both suffer in the attempt. Pythagoras and others, when describing the universe, tried to make it conform to their faith-based views of the world. Their faith was tied up in the perfection of the universe, and thus the universe and everything in it was seen to be spherical or circular, the most perfect geometric form. When ideas about Beauty and Truth overshadowed ideas about science, the result was statements such as this by Plato: “This was the method I adopted: I first assured some principle which I judged to be the strongest and then I affirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether relating to the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed, I regarded as untrue."

To make his science fit his faith-based views of how the world ought to be, Plato and his students introduced the concept of retrograde, explaining away apparent irregularities in planets’ paths while retaining perfectly circular orbits. Claudius Ptolemy, in his observations of the universe, was also determined to make his ideas about perfect harmony and order in the universe conform to his observed data. As we can see, when empirical observations are interpreted through the lens of a faith-based view of the world, science cannot accurately describe the present or predict the future.

A major breakthrough was made in rescuing science from faith-based ways of knowing when German mathematician Johannes Kepler, after working with Tycho Brahe’s meticulous data and attempting to fit it into both the Ptolemaic and Copernican models of the universe, decided to let the data simply speak for itself, finding that empirical facts simply did not fit with a faith-based view of the world that insisted on perfection and sphericity. Empirical facts were able to describe the shape of the universe more accurately than ever before; no longer was a certain view of the world and how it worked necessary to understand and accept the science: it became more universally shareable. No longer relying on faith-based ideals, theories could be disproved by empirical facts.

Yet we still try to make faith- and science-based views of the world agree with each other. Creationists try to find scientific evidence to support a 10,000 year-old Earth. The Archbishop of Canterbury sought out Einstein to ask how his theory of relatively would affect religion (his response: “None. Relativity is a purely scientific matter and has nothing to do with religion.”). We can see not only that these two different views of the world are designed for different tasks, but that when we try to make them agree we get perfectly circular orbits and impossibly young planets, both bad science and bad faith. Faith does not need evidence. Science can be shared and universally applied precisely because it can only be based on empirical facts.

If you can't take the heat...

Yesterday was not a good day for right-wing ideologues. They're all losing it.

I guess I should have figured things like this would start happening after President Bush, the head of the Republican party, started flipping off the press corps last week.

But, not to be outdone in immaturity, today Bob Novak walked off the set of Inside Politics, yelling at James Carville that "This is bullshit!" One might guess that the only thing that would provoke the usually nasty Novak to go to such extremes would be a mention of the Valerie Plame affair. But, no, they were talking about Katherine Harris (see below). He just kind of cracked up. Maybe he knew what was inevitably coming soon. Maybe he was tired of the glare from James Carville's head. Who knows. He's got a lot going on, that's for sure.

In other conservative blowing-up news, Rick "man-on-dog" Santorum, Pennsylvania Senator, got a little hot under the collar when talking about homosexuality on the Brian Lehrer show on NPR. According to Crooks and Liars, "Santorum reiterated his assertion that gay sex is never consensual and that it is a kin to bigamy, polygamy, incest, or adultery. At that point, Lehrer let loose and brought up the fact that Santorum's Chief of Staff just came out of the closet. Santorum was pissed off that Lehrer brought this up."

Between Bush, Novak, Santorum, and Dick Cheney ("Go fuck yourself!" to Patrick Leahy on the senate floor, remember?), it's sad (but not all that surprising) when, back last fall, the biggest story for a few days was the fact that a candidate's wife had told an intrusive reporter to "shove off."

Doctoring photos?

Katherine Harris, former Florida Secretary of State (who, in her dual role as Chair of the Bush for President Committee in FL and the SoS, certified the election in 2000) and current Congresswoman from Florida, claimed on Sean Hannity's talk radio show on Monday that certain (unnamed) newspapers of doctoring her photo back in 2000 to make her and her makeup look ridiculous.

Yes, Ms. Harris, the newspapers had nothing better to do than try to make you look silly. Don't you know, that's their goal?

Now, on the subject of doctors... someone's had a makeover since 2000:

Virtual Quote Book

So, I just picked up Sarah from the airport. And since I no longer keep a proper quote book, I figured this was an apt a place as any to record her random comments.

On the quality of Canadian water: "When I fill up the tub with water, it looks like someone had diarrhea in it."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another random rant.

Oh, for an anonymous blog where I could truly rant and rave. I might start one.

(If you think this is about you, it's probably not.)

Dorkiness, cont'd...

Your Geek Profile:

Academic Geekiness: Highest

Music Geekiness: High

SciFi Geekiness: High

Geekiness in Love: Moderate

General Geekiness: Moderate

Movie Geekiness: Moderate

Fashion Geekiness: Low

Internet Geekiness: Low

Gamer Geekiness: None

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who have a split personality - cold as ice on the outside but hot as fire in the heart.

In love, you feel the most alive when your partner is patient and never willing to give up on you.

You'd like to your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.

Your ideal relationship is lasting. You want a relationship that looks to the future... one you can grow with.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something that will confine you. You are afraid of marriage.

In this moment, you think of love as commitment. Love only works when both people are totally devoted.

The True You

You want your girlfriend or boyfriend to be more relaxed, calm, and composed.
With respect to money, you are a bit stingy.
You think good luck might come your way, but if it does you'll be so surprised you'll burst out laughing.
The hidden side of your personality tends to be reluctant to accept things as they are. And you are prone to think negatively.
You are tend to think about others' feelings a lot, perhaps because you are so eager to be liked.
When it comes to finding a romantic partner, you are not too worried about finding someone right away. You're kind of laid-back in such matters.

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

You Are 54% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

You Are 70% Left Brained, 30% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Must...stop...quizzes taking over...

"How to Prevent Homosexuality in Boys"

A recent series of events has caused me to happen upon several websites purporting to give parents advice on how to "prevent homosexuality." Not only does this take the view that a child being gay is something that a parent can "cause," but also treats such occurrences as quite possibly the worst thing that can happen to a parent.

"Don’t wait until your daughter’s masculinized behavior or your son’s effeminate preferences get any worse. Remember that for many prehomosexual boys and girls, some of the characteristics may be more subtle...Call to make an appointment with a professional therapist who believes change is possible. Work patiently with that therapist in redirecting your child’s prehomosexual behaviors. "

This website gives a series of tips. I've found that most of the online literature addresses boys becoming gay. Apparently daughters turning lesbian is not as big a concern.

1) The best prevention of homosexuality in boys is a strong father/son relationship in which the father affirms the masculine identity of the son... This relationship should include rough and tumble play between father and son... The mother may try to intervene, but in a healthy situation the father ignores her protestations and the son learns independence from the mother. If the mother prevails and the activity ceases or never begins, the father/son bond is not firmly established. There is evidence that being tossed in the air and rough-and-tumble play in the first 3 years of life builds brain connections which lead to confidence in physical activity and may effect later coordination.

So, let me make sure I've got this right: boys won't become gay if their fathers ingrain in them not only a love for physical activity but also the idea that women are to be ignored and are overly worried. The father/son bond is dependent upon the mutual rejection of the mother. This "confidence in physical activity" is something that boys in particular need. What about girls? Don't they need confidence and coordination? Or might that turn them gay?

2) Second, it is absolutely essential that all adults and older children unequivocally affirm the boy's masculine identity, and show disapproval toward stereotypically girly activities and cross dressing. A simple "Boys don't do that" on the first occasion is sufficient.

Yes, it is vital that not only do we force boys to conform to stereotypically masculine behaviors, but we must also impart in them a homophobia, a disapproval of boys doing "girly" things and the idea that "boys don't do that." Yeah, that's healthy. For all that women get short shrift in society as a whole, I do think that both men and women, and particularly boys and girls, suffer from being pigeonholed into traditional ideas of femininity and masculinity. It reminds me of the song When I Was a Boy by Dar Williams, where she talks about the fact that she used to be a tom boy but when she grew up, she couldn't play outside, couldn't ride her bike without her shirt on, etc. And then a guy tells her that he was once a girl, that he helped his mom in the kitchen, that he could cry, etc. It's not just girls that are being hurt by our rigid gender-typing of children.

3) The mother must encourage her son's competence and mastery and teach him how to overcome his fears and anxieties.

But not her daughters', right? Also, if he's fearful and anxious... that's what'll turn 'em gay!

4) The mother must affirm her respect for manhood and men, particularly if the father is clearly deficient or absent.

Yes, we absolutely must reinforce the absolute wonderfulness of traditional masculinity. If those boys start to think that the women don't respect him... well... that might just make him be attracted to men... right? Yeah, this one makes little sense.

5) The boy must have a chance to observe happy marriages close up and understand that love between husband and wife is a beautiful thing.

I would be curious to see a study about gay males to see whether most lived with married parents or not.

6) The boy needs boy playmates who share his interests.

If he plays with girls will he turn out gay?

7) The mother should be modest in front of her children and respect their modesty. Children should not observe sexual acts.

I agree. But I also agree that fathers should be modest in front of children, too. But--most importantly, I don't see that this has anything to do with creating homosexuality.

8) Children should be protected from sexual molestation by adults or other children, with a yearly admonition from their parents that if anyone tries to touch their private parts or asks them to touch his parts they are to tell immediately and that people who do such things are usually liars.

I agree...? Again, not seeing the link...

9) Parents need to teach children to forgive those who injure them, to reject envy and self-pity, and to practice virtue. The difference between boys who become homosexual and those who do not is not simply that the former were traumatized and the latter not. Almost all children experience traumas of one sort or another. The difference may be that for the homosexually attracted the trauma remained unhealed. In many cases bitterness, envy, unforgiveness, and self-pity were either allowed to fester or subtly encouraged.

Any evidence for this?

All this should begin immediately after birth. The critical period for gender identity development is 8 months to 4 years of age .

So, basically, the "problem" is that people are gay because they are having gender identity confusion? See, and here I always thought it was because they were attracted to the same sex! I know several gay people, and I don't believe any of them are confused about their gender or want to be the other gender.

See, if you start with the assumption that homosexuality is a result of gender confusion, all the "remedies" and "preventions" begin to look the same. There is a focus on instilling, or learning, traditional masculinity (or femininity, when they actually address females!). Focus on the Family's article that addresses preventing homosexuality in children gives us a few tips on how to recognize signs that your boy may become a homosexual:
  • A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.
  • A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.
  • A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.
  • A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”
  • A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

*Sigh* These "prehomosexual" tendencies simply mean that a boy is not accepting what is told by their culture, their society, their toys, their t.v. shows, and everything else about what is "normal" or how a boy ought to act. Possibly it could be a sign of good parenting? But, no, it is a sign that a boy is confused about his gender and will probably be gay. Because, of course, gender confusion=homosexuality.

That was the underlying theme running through all of these websites that I saw. That the "cure" and "prevention" for homosexuality is a recognition of very firm gender role boundaries that should not be crossed by men or boys (or women or girls, but we're less concerned about them, really).

I'll stop rambling now, as it's 2:30 in the morning. But I was just upset at reading these things. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's kind of funny. But it's sad to think about the real people that these ideas hurt.

Edited to add: Some of you may think that I have simply made fun of their arguments and not really addressed them. You're right. Partly because some of them don't need to be addressed, they're that stupid. And partly because it's my blog and I'll whine about idiots if I want to. This blog is called Random Rants and Ravings, not Well Thought Out Ideas and Arguments. Please feel free to respond, however, with why I am ridiculously wrong, spot on, or somewhere in between.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Because I'm a dork...

Want to Get Sorted?
I'm a Ravenclaw!

Nothing too surprising there. I'm totally in Ravenclaw. Apparantly, however, most U.S. adults would place themselves in Ravenclaw (they would put Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush in Slytherin and would guess that Laura Bush would be a Hufflepuff.)

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

I am an INTJ (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging on the Meyers-Brigg personality test), I always get that result (well, sometimes I end up with ISTJ), but never have I thought of myself as having a similar personality to Severus Snape. Oh well. That reminds me, now that I am back in the blogging state of mind, I will soon treat you all to my (possibly lengthy) essay on why Snape is totally innocent. I know you can't wait.

Edited to add: I looked at the ISTJ result: Hermione. Yay.

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

I like that one better than Snape. And I kind of think it fits better.

Overall, Your Observation Skills Get: C-
You tend to notice the big things in life...
But the details aren't exactly your forte

Too true to be funny. Alas.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Should I be sad?

Let me start off by apologizing. Not only have I not posted all summer, but I promised at one point that I would, only to not follow up. Not that anyone reads this. But I still feel guilty.

So--having finished my job and summer classes, I thought I'd kick-start the new blogging season with a kind of funny/kind of sad thing I found:

Next year (starting this fall) is my senior year, so I am beginning (kind of late, I think) to look at graduate schools, not just in Sociology, but also in American Studies, Women's Studies and other interdisciplinary programs. After looking at a few, I decided to simply type in a few of my interests into Google to see what I would find. Maybe I'd find some exciting sociologist/interdisciplinarian with similar interests, or maybe I'd find a department with similar focuses.

It probably would have been more effective to have only searched for a few at once, but, either way, I searched for about 10 or so (as many as Google would let me!), and of the 7 results, all but 2 were about the awful state of American higher education and the liberal bias found on college campuses. The top result, found here, is from the Young America Foundation, and details courses that unsuspecting college students have been forced to take. How awful! Our youth are being corrupted! (Should I be sad that most of the courses they listed sound pretty interesting to me?)

This gets me to the broader issue of liberal bias in the academy. I'm not really going to discuss it in general, but I am going to complain about an editorial I read a few months ago, which bemoaned the fact that surveys show that more college and university professors identify themselves as liberal than conservative. (As my roommate Ema just pointed out: shouldn't it say something that the most educated among us tend to be liberal??) Who is going to want to go into a career that requires a great deal of education and investment for little monetary return? I would venture to guess that conservatives are less likely to make that choice. I would say that, more than anything, there is a great deal of self-selection going on rather than discrimination based on political affiliations or beliefs.

There is alot, alot more that could be said about this. And, if I were a good blogger, I probably would. But, if nothing else, the past few months have demonstrated that I am an incurably bad blogger, so I'll just leave it at that.