We are the 99%

October 31, 2014

October 29, 2014

What Are Conservatives Gonna Do NOW??

From The Independent, some news about The Pope:
The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not “a magician with a magic wand”, Pope Francis has declared.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”.
Up until those last half dozen words, I was completely cool with Il papa argentino.  But let's set them aside and talk about the faith-based scientifically illiterate folks here in the USA.  What are they to make of the fact that Pope Francis did not declare evolution "just a theory"?  What are they to make of the fact that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church did not appeal to the secular authorities to "teach the controversy" in order to nudge Intelligent Design into the public school curriculum?

My guess is that they'll call him a communist who doesn't understand The Bible like they do.

Which is probably what they'll do when they read this:
Pope Francis delivered an off-the-cuff, mini-encyclical on the rights of the poor, the injustices of unemployment, and the need for environmental protection Tuesday, saying he's not preaching communism but the Gospel.

Francis' remarks to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, delivered in his native Spanish, ran for more than six pages, single-spaced. It was one of the longest speeches of his pontificate and a clear sign that the issues are particularly close to his heart.

Francis said the poor need land, a roof over their head and work, and said he knew well that "If I talk about this, some will think that the pope is communist."

"They don't understand that love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel," he said. "Demanding this isn't unusual, it's the social doctrine of the church."
Truly a communist, see?

October 28, 2014

A Sad Juxtaposition

Today is Jonas Salk's 100th birthday.  He was born today in 1914 and he was instrumental in the fight against polio - with a vaccine.

And now the sad:
A growing anti-vaccination movement, coupled with ongoing difficulties in reaching underserved populations, is taking a global toll on efforts to eradicate infectious diseases, new data from the Council on Foreign Relations suggests.

Polio, measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough are all preventable with safe, low-cost vaccines. Yet the council’s Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks Map shows hundreds of thousands of cases of those diseases worldwide from 2006 to the present day.
More specifically:
Within the United States, where access to childhood vaccines is almost universal, measles outbreaks in May 2014 reached a record high for the past two decades. A vast majority of those afflicted had not been vaccinated for religious, philosophical or personal reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17,325 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, were reported in the U.S. from Jan. 1 through Aug. 16 this year -- a 30 percent increase from the same time period last year.

A recent report by The Hollywood Reporter revealed the consequences of Los Angeles' plummeting vaccination rates: The city has seen more than 1,300 cases of whooping cough this year alone, and some of the hardest-hit areas are LA's most affluent neighborhoods. Lower vaccination rates have also been linked to recurring measles outbreaks in Great Britain, with more than 2,000 cases reported since 2013.

“One terrible truth stands out: Misinformation and rumors from just one persuasive voice, delivered effectively, can derail entire immunization campaigns and persuade millions of parents to shun vaccinations for their children,” [Laurie Garrett, the Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for global health]  wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed last week. “Every baby who has died of pertussis in California, been paralyzed by polio in Pakistan or suffered from measles in the United Kingdom represents a tragedy that might have been prevented.”
This is one of the things that happens when science is displaced by non-science.

October 25, 2014

Oklahoman Ten Commandments In The News

From KFOR in Oklahoma:
A man has been taken in for mental evaluation after allegedly vandalizing the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

U.S. Secret Service Agents say it all started after a man walked into the Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City Friday morning making strange threats against the President and Federal Government.

Agents say he then admitted to them that he crashed his car into the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol, then left his damaged car and walked to the Federal Building.

The Secret Service says the man told them that Satan made him crash his car into the statue.

He also told agents that Satan told him to urinate on the statue.
As much as I am against the placement of the Ten Commandments on public property (any public property), a private citizen taking it upon him or herself to demolish the monument is quite simply the absolutely wrong way to go.  A very bad idea.  The legal process must be respected and it must be allowed to play itself out to its inevitable end: the removal of all religious monuments from all public properties.

Turns out the urinating Decalogue deconstructionist has some larger issues:
According to investigators, the man says he is bipolar and had been off his medication for quite some time.
But this incident does raise some interesting theological questions.  Setting aside all of the details regarding the accused's bipolar state and so on, what if he was a Satan worshiper and held the sincere religious belief that he was working under Satan's instructions?  That demolishing the monument was simply, for him, an act of faith?  On the flipside, what if there were a Satanic monument somewhere and someone else, acting under a similar set of divine instructions, were to destroy that one, would they get away with it?

I mean, if we indeed live in a post-Hobby Lobby America, where corporations can "refuse to obey laws they don't like" as long as it's based on a conflict with it's "sincerely held religious belief", why couldn't an individual do the same?  If demolishing a Ten Commandments monument was an act of sincere faith (and I am not saying that it was in Oklahoma, we're still talking hypotheticals here), wouldn't any law pre-emptively banning such an act be a violation of the First Amendment?

Back to reality.  If the guy who ran over the monument is bipolar, it's absolutely necessary for him to get all the help he needs to get as healthy as possible.

And demolishing the monument is still a very wrong act, regardless of its inevitable unconstitutionality.

October 23, 2014

Tracking Teh Crazie - WND

More data to consider when we're considering the source - World Net Daily's Joseph Farah.

At birther-central, head birther Farah published this on biblical creation day:
Was the world created 6,028 years ago today?

That’s a question that will drive fans of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking up the wall.

I don’t know that it was. I don’t think anyone but God knows the actual day of creation.
Yea, but still it probably wasn't.

Here's Farah's evidence for a Young Earth:
But one of the greatest biblical and historical scholars of the 17th century, Archbishop James Ussher, meticulously calculated all the data he could find about the day of creation, and that’s what he came up with in his famous “Annals of the World,” a great companion to your reading of the Bible.
That's it.  That's Farah's evidence.  And the evidence for a very Old Earth?

All of physics - in this instance, radiometric dating:
Spontaneous breakdown or decay of atomic nuclei, termed radioactive decay, is the basis for all radiometric dating methods. Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel. By 1907 study of the decay products of uranium (lead and intermediate radioactive elements that decay to lead) demonstrated to B. B. Boltwood that the lead/uranium ratio in uranium minerals increased with geologic age and might provide a geological dating tool.

As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent. The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. This probability of decay is the decay constant. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.
If it's wrong, where is it wrong?  The rate of radioactive decay?  Where's Farah's evidence that it's wrong?  To that question, Farah has the Bible and that's all he needs:
I take the Bible literally – and seriously. And the Bible strongly affirms a date in the neighborhood of 6,000 years, at least for the age of man, who was created on the sixth day, according to Genesis. If that’s not true, it calls into question the rest of the Bible’s accuracy.
Well, yea.

It also calls into question the rationality of someone who takes it so seriously and literally that he's willing to abandon all of science.  Look, if you want to believe the literal Bible, that's fine.  We live in a free society and you're free to believe what you want to believe,  But simply believing it doesn't make it science.  Nor does it make anything you believe to be true, to be, in fact, true.

Birther Central is now just a little more infected with teh crazie.

October 20, 2014

And Now...A Message From The Pentagon

A few days ago the Post-Gazette editorial board published this:
Conservative members of Congress may not be ready to acknowledge the reality of climate change, but the Pentagon sees it for what it is — a threat to national security.

On Monday, the Pentagon issued a report assessing the immediate dangers of climate change.
And here's the report itself.

And this is from Secretary Hagel's forward:
The responsibility of the Department of Defense is the security of our country. That requires thinking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies.

Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.
And so on.

While the other, smaller, and far more ideological (in this case rightwing) paper in town, the Tribune-Review did reprint this AP piece that said:
The report — described as a Pentagon road map — identifies four things that it says will affect the military: rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels. It calls on the department and the military services to identify more specific concerns, including possible effects on the more than 7,000 bases and facilities, and to start putting plans in place to deal with them.

More broadly, the report warns that as temperatures rise and severe weather increases, food, water and electricity shortages could cause instability in many countries, spreading disease, causing mass migration and opening the door for extremists to take advantage of fractures in unstable countries.
However, our friends on the Trib's editorial board are still looking to disprove the science with this:
Wattsupwiththat.com , which bills itself as “the world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change,” says the water temperature of the Great Lakes is more than 6 degrees colder than last year at this time and 3 degrees colder than normal. Experts say should the trend continue, the lakes could freeze over earlier. And that could impair Great Lakes shipping. This global warming stuff is getting ridiculous.
So, I guess, because a rightwing science denying website says the Great Lakes are warmer this year than last year the Pentagon has to be wrong,

Hmm...ponder that for a bit because that's what the braintrust wants you to believe.

October 19, 2014

Corbett Replaces Photoshopped Web Site Image with New Reality-based Image

As you've surely all heard by now, PA Governor Tom Corbett was caught with a Photoshopped stock image of a smiling black woman standing next to him as the footer on his campaign web site:

 After the ensuing brouhaha, the image was replaced with one that better reflects the reality of the support for his campaign:

Well it has in my head anyway.

Here's the real replacement in case you're interested: