Friday, June 09, 2017

making america great again

updated for today’s conservatism in the age of trump, here’s a modern version of one of my all-time favorite comic stories from psychedelic sixties underground master robert crumb, originally about a form of mental awakening.

(the original story “meatball” can be seen at “classic crumb”.)

maga panel
maga page 1maga page 2
maga page 3maga page 4

(original story & art by robert crumb, 1967; updated by aarrgghh, 2017)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

ya gotta kill some pigs

if FOX news were a liberal outfit ...

mike huckabee pig rant
At Iowa's "Freedom Summit", Mike Huckabee declared war on the police

des moines, iowa — folksy former arkansas governor and faux news commentator and current 2016 presidential potential mike huckabee dropped a bombshell during the closeout speech of saturday's republican party "freedom summit" in iowa. outlining the principles of his radical agenda for the country, huckabee exhorted his talibangelical legions everywhere to massacre law-enforcement officials in washington and beyond.

"we need to do some pig-killing!" huckabee declared, pumping his fists in a gang-salute to a boisterous crowd, where nevada cattle rancher cliven bundy was overhead saying: "we're about ready to take the country over with force!"

however, not everyone at the summit agreed with huckabee. fellow speaker, new jersey governor, rival contender and perennial porcine punchline chris christie nervously called the plan "a solution in search of a problem."

police officers quickly voiced their displeasure with huckabee. "what police officers felt yesterday after that speech is that they were thrown under the bus," said new york police union president patrick lynch. "that they were out there doing a difficult job in the middle of the night, protecting the rights of those to stump, protecting romney's sons and dollars, and huckabee was behind microphones like this throwing them under the bus."

despite some resistance among traditional conservative ranks, huckabee remained committed to pushing the GOP down a new and militant path. "ya gotta kill some pigs," he said. "and folks, there are a lotta people ... that don't wanna kill any pigs."

faux news logo

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

of course you're not a scientist

conservative lawmakers of late have taken to adding a certain disclaimer to their climate change denialism so they can continue their paid endorsements of inaction on global warming without having to cite facts and evidence:

washington — gov. rick scott of florida, a republican who is fighting a democratic challenge from former gov. charlie crist, was asked by the miami herald if he believes climate change is significantly affecting the weather. "well, i'm not a scientist," he said.

senator mitch mcconnell of kentucky, who is locked in a tight re-election race, was asked this month by the cincinnati enquirer if he believes that climate change is a problem. "i'm not a scientist," he said.

house speaker john a. boehner, when asked by reporters if climate change will play a role in the republican agenda, came up with a now-familiar formulation. "i'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change," he said.

if you're wondering why we should listen to anyone disqualifying themselves from having an opinion, remember that this is only a one-way conversation.

and since scott and mcconnell were both reelected, it obviously works. so why should craven congresscritters have all the fun?

not a scientist - bypass

not a scientist - brakes

not a scientist - lawyer

not a scientist - vermin

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

if only the shadow knew ...

... a little more about physics. can you spot the errors?

the shadow - midnight in moscow 1
the shadow - midnight in moscow 2

(story and art by howard chaykin, colors by jesus aburto)

where lamont cranston a.k.a the shadow a.k.a. author/artist howard chaykin talks about density, he clearly should be referring to mass. shrinking an object in the manner deduced by the shadow would actually increase its density, since the same number of atoms would now occupy a smaller volume. what would remain unchanged is the object's mass and gravity's effect on it. the ingots would weight exactly the same as they always have, which means the shadow and his cohorts shouldn't be able to handle them with just their fingers and pass them around like peanuts.

on the other hand, the shrinking machine has yet to be revealed. it's possible back in 1949 some fugitive evil nazi genius actually discovered how to warp space itself, which would allow him to shrink an object by shrinking the space between its atoms, instead of merely moving them closer together in normal space. voila! smaller ingots, same density. (same mass and weight, however.)

in any case, one wouldn't use a spectrometer to measure density. (but one can use a mass spectrometer to analyze an object's mass.) in order to measure density, one need only weight it on a scale and divide by its total volume.

from the shadow: midnight in moscow #1, may 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


one reason to check out this month's thor, god of thunder #23 — my handle gets a workout in this time-hopping, bashing & brawling smackdown. the other reason would be artists esad ribic's and ive svorcino's romanticist stylings:

thor god of thunder 1

thor god of thunder 2

thor god of thunder 3

thor god of thunder 4

thor god of thunder 5

thor god of thunder 6

thor god of thunder 7

(story by jason aaron, art by esad ribic & colors by ive svorcina)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

the plague

a tale set in the far-flung year 2000 from marvel comics' tales to astonish #44, june 1963:

hunted 1
hunted 2hunted 3
hunted 4hunted 5

(story by stan lee & art by steve ditko)

*** warning: spoiler alert below ***

for some historical perspective, in 1964 guns killed 5,473 victims, a homicide rate of 2.9 per 100,000. by 2010 guns killed twice as many: 11,078 at a rate of 3.6. a decade and a half past the once-imaginary future, the "plague" is thriving. that open-carry is at least starting to look like a disease may be one prediction marvel got right.

stan "the man" lee, never one for subtlety in storytelling, seems to have pulled his punch in this twilight zone inspired tale; his unnamed "plague-carrier" not once inflicted his disease upon his apparently defenseless pursuers. while shooting unarmed police would have effectively demonstrated the terror of firearms, it's clear lee didn't want to give up any element of surprise before the final panel.

certainly the terror of firearms has been long self-evident, making demonstrations unnecessary, but perhaps the sacrifice of some drama was also unnecessary, since the reader, already inured to countless gun chases, would be unlikely to guess too soon that the gun itself was this parable's "mcguffin" and not merely the protagonist's means of escape.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

it's called "natural selection" for a reason

evolutionary biologist jerry coyne @ whyevolutionistrue:

one reader wanted to know if i was going ask [dr. eugenie scott, former head of the national center for science education (NCSE) and known as "genie" to everyone] about theistic evolution — the view that evolution happened, but was somehow guided by god. they wanted to know if she considered that "real" evolution.

i responded on this site that i hardly wanted to get into a kerfuffle about the issue with genie in public. after all, i know her position on it (theistic evolution is okay), she knows mine, and i didn't want to do battle in public, particularly when she was giving a keynote talk.

but this website is a different matter.

in fact, the question of theistic evolution did come up in genie's Q&A, when one of the audience asked genie whether she considered theistic evolution "science."

the question clearly discomfited her a bit, but i knew how she would answer. she said, correctly, that there are a huge variety of positions falling under "theistic evolution," ranging from pure deism (god created the universe, and then evolution proceeded purely naturalistically) to other forms in which god intervened to a greater or lesser extent. as we know, those interventions range from subtle ones (god tweaked certain mutations making it more likely that they would be more likely to be adaptive, or more likely to create human features), to less subtle (god inserted a soul in the human lineage) to pretty drastic interventions (god let some species evolve naturally, but brought others into existence ex nihilo).

theistic evolution is in fact the most widely accepted form of evolution in america, at least for the evolution of our species. a gallup poll in 2012 showed that 46% of americans thought god created humans ex nihilo within the last 10,000 years, 32% thought that humans evolved, but with the help of god, and only 15% thought that humans evolved without any intervention by god. in other words, roughly one in seven american accepts evolution in the same way scientists do. for every american who accepts naturalistic evolution, more than two accept god-guided evolution. (i think accepting that "god guided the process" rules out pure deism.)

genie said something like this (i didn't write down her words), "what we care about is getting the science accepted, and yes, all of these positions are compatible with science, so i have no problem considering them as science." in other words, she'd be okay if she or the NCSE could simply make religious people accept theistic evolution. for, in her view, they'd be accepting a scientific view rather than a religious one. and then they might be our allies in keeping straight creationism out of public schools.

and here i think genie is wrong — dead wrong.

theistic evolution is neither science nor scientific. while it may help some religious people oppose the teaching of strict creationism in schools (the real goal of the NCSE's accommodationism), it inculcates people with the idea that god and his supernatural acts can work hand-in-hand with physical laws to bring about a process that scientists think is purely naturalistic.

further, we have evidence against certain types of theistic evolution. there doesn't appear to be any telelogical forces driving evolution in a certain direction; there is no evidence that mutations are more likely to be useful when the environment changes, so that mutations for longer fur in mammals would occur more frequently when the climate becomes colder (this is what scientists mean when we say that "mutations are random", although "indifferent" is a better word than "random"); and we don't see violations of darwinian natural selection, that is, we don't see natural selection creating "irreducible complexity," as intelligent-design advocates maintain.

as far as we can see, then, evolution, like all things that occur in nature, is purely naturalistic; it does not require or give evidence for the intervention of a god. as laplace famously said, "we don't need that hypothesis." theistic evolution says otherwise. and that's unscientific. there is, after all, a reason that darwin called his best idea natural selection, not "divinely-aided selection."

think about it. saying that theistic evolution is scientific is equivalent to saying that yes, chemical bonds form between sodium and chloride ions, but those bonds are formed with the help of god. why not have theistic chemistry? or that the universe is expanding, but god is helping it expand. why not have theistic cosmology?

those hypotheses are unscientific because they not only posit an intervention that isn't observed, but invoke a superfluous and supernatural intervention to explain a process that can be explained adequately using pure naturalism. god is a useless "add-on" here, and that's not the way science works. science works best when we make theories that assume no more than we need to. while it's logically possible for god to be guiding particles and directing evolution, we have no evidence that this is true. theistic evolution is not required by science; it is, as we must admit, simply something tacked on to make religious people feel better about a process that, if purely naturalistic, is taken as a direct attack on their worldview.

further, theistic evolution is, to use genie's own term, a "science stopper." if you say that god is making mutations, or expanding the universe, then we need investigate no further. what we don't understand can simply be fobbed off on the will of a divine being. there's need to look for that elusive naturalistic explanation.

the tactic of considering theistic evolution as "scientific" is a purely political one. the NCSE and others (viz., the american association for the advancement of science and the national academy of sciences), feel that to get evolution accepted and taught in schools, we need religious allies. and to get those allies, we have to accept their view that evolution was guided by god, even though we don't believe it ourselves.

science makes progress only when it doesn't evoke a god. even the NCSE accepts that "methodological naturalism" — the rejection of divine hypotheses — is the way that science has progressed. so why reject god when you're doing science, but then admit on the sly that he might be in there working away subtly and, perhaps, undetectably? that is a political view, not a scientific one, and it dilutes and pollutes the scientific enterprise. it also gives the public the false idea that theistic evolution is somehow okay with scientists.

it isn't. no evolutionary biologist puts in her scientific papers a note to the effect that god might be involved in the process she's studying. anyone doing that would be laughed out of the field. so if scientists reject theistic evolution in their own work, why accept it when the public believes it? it's pure hypocrisy to do so, and a blatant attempt to coddle believers.

i'd rather stand up for the purity and naturalism of science than accept forms of science that invoke god. yes, i'll be glad to work with religious people to help expel creationism from schools — and theistic evolution is a form of creationism!. what i won't do is give my imprimatur to a form of evolution that includes the supernatural. until we have some evidence for the supernatural in science — and we certainly don't at this point — let's not grant it simply to gain allies. that is a false alliance that, in the end, creates a public misunderstanding of science.

it is ironic that the national center for science education is willing to include theistic evolution as "scientific." it is wrong, it is hypocritical, and it's a cynical political tactic unbecoming to scientists. the NCSE has done terrific work in keeping creationism out of schools. but in saying that theistic evolution is "scientific," as genie did on sunday, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. what is science profited if we help evolution get accepted more widely, but in so doing lose our own scientific soul?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

this is the song of cliven bundy

cliven bundy
deadbeat on monday
rebel on tuesday
fox news hero on wednesday
racist on thursday
doubled down on friday
cast out on saturday
forgotten by sunday
and here ends the song
of cliven bundy

Friday, December 27, 2013

quote of the day

isn't it curious that despite the fact that virtually every sentient being on the planet these days is now carrying around a hand-held device that can instantly record at least a few minutes of video, we haven't seen a single second of persuasive evidence that alien beings are zipping around the atmosphere in their jazzy, souped-up, silent-as-midnight "flying saucers"?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

GOP gotta lotta splainin' to do

remember november 2012? (and who doesn't!) back when the new buzzword in republican punditry was "outreach"? if the last two presidential elections taught them nothing else, conservatives learned that they need to channel the coming demographic tide in their direction or be swept by a horde of icky brown people into irrelevance. to that end, frustrated red-staters, sick of slogans and spin, think they can woo hard-to-get traditionally democratic voters with blunt and honest "straight talk" — that is, by "splainin'" to people (whom they'd prefer to keep ignoring) just how dense and gullible they are for not believing the grand old party has their better interests at heart. all it takes is the right message to penetrate the fog. i mean, what else could account for the inexplicable blindness of women and minorities to the grade-A 100% all-american awesomeness of the "right" wing?

1) manSplainin':

i'm no dummy. i see what i see EVERY election cycle, and what i see is the same OL' SH!T. the democrats HYPNOTIZE the females against the 'traditional old white guy' party republican candidate and IT WORKS.

i feel like this is the TOP ISSUE which republican candidates must confront, and that will require OPENLY DISCUSSING THE MANIPULATION OF FEMALES BY DEMOCRATS. [VA governor candidate ken] cuccinelli needs to proclaim "you females are smarter than subjecting yourself to being USED by the PROVEN LIAR democrats!.. DON'T FALL FOR IT. YOU FELL FOR OBAMACARE, HOOK LINE AND SINKER. YOU WERE LIED TO, LADIES, AND THEY'RE LYING TO YOU AGAIN!! THEY AREN'T WHO OR WHAT THEY SAY THEY ARE."

i'm F'ing SICK AND TIRED of watching females huddle together with marxists, totally clueless that they've put their children's futures in jeopardy in exchange for a totally bogus emotional catharsis of the moment. i cannot stand this anymore. i'm SICK of it.

2) whiteSplainin':


3) gringoSplainin':

latinos need to be taught that the democrats have been lying to them, and bankrupting the country, since before most of them were born. somebody has to pay for those free school breakfasts, and even the white billionaires don't have that much money; the money is either borrowed (and your children and grandchildren will pay it back), or it's taxed out of the pockets of working men and women. they need to be taught that the GOP way gives the workers more money because they keeps more of their wages, rather than paying more in taxes; and that the GOP way creates more jobs, and better jobs for everyone.

most of all, they need to be taught that as reagan said, the best welfare program anyone ever invented is a job. get a good job and you can buy all the education, health care, and housing you and your family will ever need. and the way to get good jobs is to get the democratic party's enormous government out of the way, and let entrepreneurs create the jobs.

[democrats] pander to them with the same lame promises they dupe the african americans with.... hope that we can get enough votes to redistribute all the advantages your way.

the flood gates were left open and now we must deal. i agree the black vote will not leave obama so the latin vote looms a bigger prize. as conservatives we MUST start to court the ideas of family and religion to this voting block. when the latinos wake up to the fact that the liberal mind wants to crush their spirituality they will revolt. i say just run some bill maher episodes on secularism as your ad campaign....

republicans need to quit playing defense. they need to find a couple of good telegenic spanish speakers who will go on telemundo and univision look straight into the camera and ask — "we're just wondering ... are latins the new blacks?"

4) gentileSplainin':

when asked how the [messianic jewish bible institute] managed to secure [former president george w.] bush to keynote its fundraiser, [alisa] stephenson [MJBI director of events and partner relations] cited its track record of drawing influential speakers, pointing to the appearance by [right wing ideologue glenn] beck.

at last year's event, members of the MJBI's board of directors explained the organization's mission of converting jews to an audience of hundreds who were seated on a professional football field, wearing formal clothes, and eating pork barbecue. rabbi jonathan bernis, a leading messianic jew and televangelist who chairs MJBI's board of directors, maintained that "our numbers are growing and growing," because "the bible predicted that the day would come when the blindness would come off the eyes of the people it all began with." he was referring to jews.

the first step towards solving any problem is, of course, admitting that the problem exists. as far as the GOP's concerned, the problem isn't that the party's constructed a series of strawmen, scapegoats and bogeymen to serve as red meat and chew toys for its shrinking reactionary base. no, the real problem is getting all those icky strawmen, scapegoats and bogeymen to agree that they're idiots for not voting republican. but something tells me, however, that their hearts just aren't into it — or you.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

not the civil war they dreamt of

hostage-taking 101: time is not on your side! — especially when your confederates chase different goals, expect different ransoms, serve different masters and respond differently to stress. should the theatrics play out too long, hands at each others' throats may be your only reward ...

salon: appearing on MSNBC on friday, congressman peter king continued his epic verbal assault on ted cruz — and, to a lesser extent, rand paul — by describing the texas senator as a "RINO" (republican in name only) and a "fraud."

speaking with MSNBC's andrea mitchell, king called the ongoing government shutdown "the strategy of ted cruz" and wondered aloud "why more republicans around the country didn't join me in denouncing ted cruz" before the shutdown began. "we cannot allow our party to be taken over by the likes of ted cruz and rand paul," king continued, describing cruz and paul as "isolationists" and "RINOs" who "don't represent traditional republican principles."

"ted cruz, what he did here, was lead the party into a dead end with no strategy, somehow convincing a number of house republicans that we just sent this to through senate as far as defunding and closing down the government, he would manage to get harry reid and president obama to back down," said king. "he never had a plan. it was fraudulent from the start. and we have to cut this guy off now."

TPM: mccain's appearance on fox came shortly after sen. ted cruz (R-TX), the leader of the movement to defund the health care law, spoke at the values voter summit. maccallum asked mccain how he felt about cruz "representing" republicans at a meeting scheduled for friday at the white house.

"first of all, martha, please, he's not representing us there" ...

daily kos: [tex rep louis gohmert:] "when it comes to the shutdown that's going on, i heard just before i came some senator from arizona, uh, a guy that liked qaddafi before he wanted to bomb him, a guy that liked mubarak before he wanted him out, a guy that's been to syria and supported al qaeda and rebels, but he was saying today the shutdown has been a fool's errand. and i agree with him. the president and harry reid should not have shut this government down!"

TPM: tensions are flaring between house and senate republicans over how to defuse the crisis ahead of an oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline. house GOP members expressed concerns during a private saturday meeting that the senate GOP would undercut and jam them by striking a deal with president barack obama that conservatives dislike.

... "they're trying to cut the house out, and trying to jam us with the senate," a fired-up [WI rep. paul] ryan told reporters after the GOP meeting. "we're not going to roll over and take that."

breitbart: on his radio show on friday, fox news host sean hannity said house speaker john boehner (R-OH), along with the rest of the republican leadership in the house, had to be replaced.

"i do think leadership in the house needs to change," hannity said. "i don't think john boehner is equipped for the job. i don't think he has the stomach to negotiate. i don't think he has the ability to communicate the positive, solution-oriented vision for the country."

... he said the GOP has a "communications problem" that has been reflected in the party's bad poll numbers.

hannity also ripped republican leaders in washington for "alienating" the tea party. hannity named senators like john mccain (R-AZ) and bob corker (R-TN) for being the top offenders and said their "unwillingness to stand strong" and constant bashing of the tea party is "irritating every conservative i know."

AP: "we're not saying obama is right. we're saying what republicans are doing is wrong," said matt cox, a former executive director of ohio's cuyahoga county GOP.

TPM: erick erickson, prominent conservative blogger, said on his blog friday that he will be donating to the primary opponents of house speaker john boehner (R-OH) and senate minority leader mitch mcconnell (R-KY) because of the way both leaders are approaching negotiations on the continuing resolution and debt ceiling.

"republican leaders in washington, DC are signaling they will cave on the fight against obamacare," erickson wrote. "GOP leaders, by caving, are signaling they want us to primary them."

erickson blamed the GOP's sinking approval ratings on boehner and other republican leaders.

"[n]ow that john boehner and the orange man group of capitol hill are the faces of the GOP, obamacare's popularity is going back up and the GOP's popularity is going back down," erickson wrote.

redState: but john boehner, eric cantor, mitch mcconnell, and john cornyn will ensure that obamacare is fully funded and give the american public no delay like businesses have.

in doing so, they will sow the seeds of a real third party movement that will fully divide the republican party.

washington post: conservative groups that advocated for a standoff spoke openly about their motives. at a breakfast with reporters wednesday, michael needham, chief executive of the conservative group heritage action, freely admitted that he was "pretty optimistic" that we will soon see a crackup of the old republican order.

thinkProgress: as the government shutdown enters its eleventh day and the nation races towards a possible default, a growing number of republican lawmakers, leaders, and voters are publicly blaming congressional republicans for the budget impasse. ...

"it's time for someone to act like a grown-up in this process," former new hampshire gov. john sununu (R) told the associated press. michigan gov. rick snyder (R) agreed, remarking on monday that "this is not how we should operate. it shouldn't be about people fighting and yelling.' "the bottom line is we need that money in our economy to save rural hospitals and jobs in the rural areas," arizona gov. jan brewer (R) told the arizona daily star on thursday, criticizing the GOP'e effort to defund the affordable care act.

the criticism comes as an associated press-GfK poll released wednesday showed that "three-quarters of republicans nationally said their party in congress deserves a moderate degree or most of the blame for the shutdown" ...

in yet another sign of trouble for the GOP, business interests are also showing signs of discontent, signaling a possible rift with republicans ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.

iowa republicans "are recruiting a pro-business republican to challenge six-term conservative rep. steve king (R), a leader in the push to defund the health care law," the associated press reports and party establishment leaders in michigan are threatening to recruit and fund challengers to rep. justin amash (R) and other tea party aligned candidates.

TNR: "the business community has got to stand up and say we are not going to back the most self-described conservative candidate. we are going to back the candidates that are the most rational," says john feehery, a former aide to delay and hastert who is now president of quinn gillespie & associates, a washington lobbying firm.

what washington business lobbyists say on-the-record about the house republicans and about tea party activists pales before what they are willing to say if their names aren't used. one former republican staffer says of the anti-establishment groups, "they want to go in and fuck shit up. these non-corporate non-establishmentarian guys — that is exactly what they are doing. and the problem with that is obvious. what next? what happens after you fuck shit up?"

conservatives went looking for fresh plunder from the administration in a raid that was supposed to pit republican vs. democrat — not GOP vs. GOP and certainly not along every conceivable fissure:

house vs. senate.

extreme vs. moderate.

upstart vs. established.

ideology vs. money.

anarchy vs. order.

none of them came prepared for a suddenly resolute president or a unified party behind him. no one expected to run into a veritable stone wall — against which the GOP, to its own horror, seem incapable of thwarting the urge to batter itself delirious, in what historians might one day call the "republican war into irrelevance".

what a difference a week makes

freeperville, oct 4:

lol. the plan is obama caves.

what don’t you understand?

we are on the verge of an historic CONSERVATIVE victory.

what’s not to like?

(by st_thomas_aquinas)

oct 11:

[texas congressman louis] gomert [sic] on beck’s show today, just before noon EST, saying that boehner is now in a meeting with obama, and is “giving up on 98-99% of obamacare, so they [RINOs] can say that they got something from obama.”

so yeah, the cave is in progress.

i guess the NBC/WSJ rush is talking about spooked them.

as beck says, it's time to defund the GOP. tea party candidates only. no collaborators need apply.

(by st_thomas_aquinas)

RINOs = "republicans in name only"

Monday, September 30, 2013

u.s. v. g.o.p.

atul gawande @ the new yorker:

this kind of obstructionism has been seen before. after the supreme court’s ruling in brown v. board of education, in 1954, virginia shut down schools in charlottesville, norfolk, and warren county rather than accept black children in white schools. when the courts forced the schools to open, the governor followed a number of other southern states in instituting hurdles such as “pupil placement” reviews, “freedom of choice” plans that provided nothing of the sort, and incessant legal delays. while in some states meaningful progress occurred rapidly, in others it took many years. we face a similar situation with health-care reform.

Friday, June 21, 2013

a short quiz on big brother

  1. if there were a clickbox labled "allow gov't surveillance", would you click "yes"?

  2. do you believe anyone else would click "yes"?

  3. if not, then why is there unlimited gov't surveillance?

our all-seeing eye of government

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"better guilty than impotent"

sometimes there is no third option to use, you can't get out of a situation without making yourself look bad. so your best option is basically to take the lesser of two evils.

the catch is that the options that gives you the least problems is also the ones that makes you look like you had no idea what you are doing. so instead you make yourself look guilty in an effort to keep up your reputation.

named from the film version of the sum of all fears, where the russian president takes responsibility for a military strike done by a general acting without orders so it doesn't seem like he was incompetent.

"better guilty than impotent",

the sum of all fears 2002this trope's been rattling around in my head since obama's chosen to vigorously defend the wholesale rifling of all domestic messages by the nsa. in "the sum of all fears" (2002), newly minted and wholly innocent russian president nemerov, after ordering the rogue generals responsible "disappeared", defiantly defends the atrocity as a legitimate response to "a nation of criminals" attacking innocent russians, in order to not appear not in control of his own military. the hero, cia analyst jack ryan, to the derision of washington's defense and intelligence chairs, correctly surmises that nemerov isn't the hardliner he pretends to be and didn't order the attack — ultimately helping both countries avoid being manipulated into global thermonuclear war.

it's difficult to reconcile a constitutional scholar and government transparency proponent defending, much less overseeing, a massive ongoing violation of the fourth amendment. but it's not hard to imagine the nsa (with profiteer booz allen) doing what they're paid to do, in secret, and in the name of the war on terror, simply deciding they could and would eavesdrop on everyone. these are not revelations of new ambitions. so we're left to scratch our heads and wonder if obama chose the lesser of two evils rather than plead ignorance and admit that our intelligence agencies are out of control. or maybe a movie is just a movie. perhaps we'll find out in fifty years or so after the papers are finally declassified (or even sooner if wikileaks or anonymous ever gets hold of them).

eat shit or look like a pussy?

Monday, May 27, 2013

no thanks, wolf

the wolf and the atheist
(art and story by tom tomorrow)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

as is man, so is god

god man, rebooted
(story and art by reuben bolling)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"better than science"

after forty long hours in the desert and forty long hours on the mountaintop, indefatigable texas birther rudy davis descends unto youTube to deliver the gospel:

... i probably spent about eighty hours, maybe more, so far researching this, reading books, going to various websites, using the knowledge that i've gained in my physics class — lemmee share a little bit about my background and this isn't me like braggin' on my background, there's nothin' to brag about. y'know, when you ask me about my credentials are, i know how to use a shovel and, uh, i can clean a pretty good litter box, but i did go through four years of college and obtained a electrical engineering degree, with a minor in mechanical engineering, and, um, i passed my calculus classes. i loved calculus, i love math. i, uh, passed my trigonometry, geometry, analytical geometry, um, y'know, physics, uh, thermodynamics — i loved all that stuff. i love, y'know, mathematics and science since it was one of my favorite topics.

i'm not, um, completely ... uneducated. but i'm not the smartest guy in the world either. i'm not here saying i'm smarter than anybody — i think, for these things, the lord has to lead you into this, sort of, belief, uh, and you have to have a biblical perspective in order to understand what i'm about to say ...

and after a short digression into 9-11 trutherism:

... so i want you to think back, y'know, when somebody first told you that, t—, your reaction. 'cause what i'm about to say, i'm not sayin' for shock value. i couldn't care less if you like me or you din't like me, i could care less about, uh, how many subscribers i have. what i'm about to say i'm telling you because i believe it's the truth and i know 99.99 percent of you are going to reject it. i rejected it when i first heard it, until i started lookin' into it more, 'til i started reading my bible, 'til i started, uh, understanding, uh, a little bit more about the things that we've been told, and, uh, i would just ask you to look into it before you jump to the conclusion that i'm an absolute nut. and, again i'm just telling you this because there are — there's gonna be point-zero-zero-zero-one percent of you that, uh, is gonna receive it, just like, just like i received it and just like, y'know, there, there's a few, there's a few that can weed through all the BS that we've been told in this world and see what's goin' on.

but i wanna declare, uh, that i am a geocentrist. and uh, what a geocentrist is, is someone who believes that the earth is the center of the universe and does not move. lemmee say that again. the earth does not move, it does not rotate, it does not revolve, it does not, uh, go around the sun and it does not wobble. the bible says the earth cannot be moved. and, uh, that's what i'm goin' with.

and, y'know, when it comes to copernicus, galileo, uh, kepler, uh, carl sagan and einstein, all of 'em are flim-fam— flam artists. i believe they're all con artists and they're basically in a satanic deception that put forth satan's very, very first blue-ribbon lie. y'know — well, uh, you could go all the way back to the garden of eden, so i wouldn't say it's his first, but, uh, satan's blue-ribbon lie, at least one of them, is that the, uh, earth moves around the sun. okay? that absolutely is not true and i believe it with all my heart.

... now do i believe that carl sagan, einstein, kepler, uh ... uh ... copernicus and galileo were in some, y'know, plot where they communicated with each other? no, i don't believe they were communicatin' with each other through the centuries but what i do believe is, uh, that satan allows certain people to be puffed up with pride an' this world promotes, uh people and they get too smart for their, for their own good an' they just put out absolute BS. i mean we've just been lied to upon lied to.

... some people say that y'know, uh "the bible does, does not say how the heavens go, but the bible tells us how to go to heaven." in other words, they're tryin' to say that the bible is not a sci— is not a science book. but i would say that the bible is better than a science book. the bible is better [chuckling] than any science book ever written. and if it says the earth doesn't move, then it doesn't freakin' move. and uh, that's one thing you need to know about me. and, and you may be a christian watching this thinkin' i'm an absolute kook, but know this: when i read that bible, the difference between me and other christians is when i read that bible i believe what it says. i don't try to fit into my little, uh, box of how i think god should be or how the universe should be. if the bible says it, that's the way that it is. and i don't believe the king james bible has any errors.

that's right, folks, a hardcore wingnut conspiracy theorist who never doubted a rumor found in his yahoo inbox is calling a satanic hoax on the last 500 years of scientific discovery. eighty hours of what passes as deep thought in rudy's mind and the bible (king james version only, accept no imitations!) is all any right-thinking patriot needs.

to supply the perfect counterpoint to rudy's admitted defiant anti-intellectualism, enter working physicist sean carroll, someone who's certainly spent more than eighty hours on the subject. sean casually explains what real scientists and real mathematicians already know — the "known knowns", so to speak, wherein neither god nor satan nor any other strange supernatural, metaphysical or paranormal beings, forces or powers are anywhere to be found:

so, the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood. the reason why i emphasize this is because scientists, and skeptics for that matter, love to go right to the unknown things. there are many, many things that are unknown, from dark matter to quantum gravity to finance, okay? but there are also things that are known. and among the things that are known are how the matter around us in our everyday life actually works. and it's not just "we have a theory that works." it's better than that. we know that there are no new parts of nature that we haven't found yet that could exert a substantial influence over our everyday lives. there are no new particles or forces that could be relevant to your everyday life that science hasn't found yet.

... so we've looked. there could be plenty of new particles of nature, but they must be either weakly interacting, too heavy to create or too short-lived to detect. what that means is that they can't possibly be very relevant to your everyday life. they cannot affect your consciousness, you cannot blame them for being in a bad mood. you and everyone you know is made up of the standard model of particle physics and nothing else.

... we've ruled out every possible force that is both long range and strong enough to notice.

... the conclusion is that as far as the immediate world of experience is concerned, as far as what you see and touch and taste and feel as you go through your everyday life, we have the theory. we're done. that does not mean that we understand everything, but the underlying laws that describe what baseballs are made out of, or tables or living beings, we understand that. it's electrons and quarks with masses from the higgs field interacting via those forces. that's the everyday world.

... when it comes to the everyday world, we have figured out what the pieces are and what direction they can move in. that does not make us good world players or chess players. it does constrain the kind of games you can play. if someone has come up with a new chess strategy that involves the rook moving diagonally, you know that you can rule that out without listening to their elaborate presentation on it. likewise, if someone has a great new theory of living their lives that involves homeopathy or astrology, you can tune them out without listening to the details. because just knowing the fact that the standard model of particle physics is the right theory of the matter that makes up the everyday world is immediately enough to rule out a whole host of possible phenomena. anything you can't do with electrons, protons, neutrons, gravity and electromagnetism, you can't do in your basement.

... you cannot bend spoons with your mind — unless your mind tells your other arm to go out and bend the spoon. but you can't just do it with a new force emanating from your cortex because there are no such forces. you cannot predict the future, see around corners, the position of saturn when you were born sadly irrelevant to the rest of your life, blah-blah-blah ...

and in fact we known there is no life after death. sometimes even atheists and skeptics like to be open-minded about this because we haven't done all the right double-blind experiments, blah-blah-blah ... forget it! if you believe in life after death, tell me what particles contain the information that moves your soul from place to place. is it electrons? 'cause those would be easy to notice cause electrons are electrically charged and it's actually quite a lot of charge. is it atoms? but the atoms don't move very much when you die. if you believe that there's some way that you have an immortal soul that travels from place to place, then you're not just saying we don't know how it works, you are saying that our current knowledge of the laws of physics is wrong. which means you better give me a good reason to believe that our current knowledge of the laws of physics is wrong, because it's not, and i'm going to move on to more interesting things.

most of science's work, certainly that part which concerns everday human experience, has been done. science can explain through natural causes everything we do and everything that effects us between waking and sleeping, including waking and sleeping. whatever important unknowns remain lie beyond john q. public's quotidian concerns.

sean argues that even gravity, one of the universe's most ubiquitous, constant and far-reaching forces, can be ignored as "utterly, utterly irrelevant" to our lives since it is also one of the weakest. air travelers might quibble, but his point is that the activity of any purported forces or beings that supposedly affect or manipulate human lives on any regular and significant level would have to be stronger than gravity — and therefore, like gravity, noticable and provable. so we would have already noticed by now if any undiscovered entities were regularly intervening in the world by stopping bullets from hitting people or picking sides at sporting events. and we certainly know enough to ignore out-of-hand rudy's entreaties for us to "educate ourselves" by following up on his so-called research since it defies everything real scientists have discovered.

to justify itself, every religion claims to be not just relevant but inseparable and indispensible to the human experience — all while hiding just beyond reach in the supernatural. but science has yet to find any human activity that can't be explained by some combination of the natural forces we've thus far discovered. despite or because of the worst abuses of religion, the history of science has been the inexorable balkanization of gods and ghosts onto smaller and smaller islands of possibility. sorry rudy, but as of today, atlantis is sunk — even the king james version.

isaac asimovthere is a cult of ignorance in the united states, and there has always been. the strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge".
issac asimov

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

you'd be surprised

turning to world domination, 9% think fluoride is added to drinking water for sinister reasons, and 28% believe a shadowy elite are conspiring to form world government.

sleeper 1
sleeper 2sleeper 3
sleeper 4sleeper 5

("sleeper" #4, story by ed brubaker, art by sean phillips, 2002)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

stuff i don't believe in

  1. religion and the supernatural
    • gods and deities
    • angels, demons and the semi-devine
    • heaven, hell and the afterlife
    • ghosts and poltergeists
    • reincarnation and past lives
    • etc
  2. prophecy and fortune-telling
  3. witchcraft, magic and talismans
  4. monsters and weird creatures
    • vampires
    • zombies
    • werewolves
    • fairies and elves
    • big foot, yetis and sasquatch
    • etc
  5. pseudoscience and superstition
    • astrology
    • numerology
    • palmistry
    • dowsing
    • deepak chopra
    • etc
  6. the paranormal
    • psychic powers
    • clairvoyance
    • telepathy
    • telekenisis
    • astral projection
    • etc
  7. science fantasy
    • ufos and alien visitations
    • time travel
    • faster-than-light travel
    • etc
  8. conspiracy theory
    • too numerous to list
  9. etc

or in other words, just about anything left on the history channel.

while i enjoy speculation as well as anyone, ultimately i believe only in reason, the power of logic and the empirical method of acquiring facts and knowledge through the gathering and testing of evidence. if you come to me professing a belief in ghosts or ufos, don't expect me to take you seriously and do expect me to be skeptical of everything else you say.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

carnival cruz

ted's cruzin for a bruisin
ain't i just the devilish thang?

CRUZ: Would [Senator Feinstein] deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing to the Second Amendment, in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment? Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights? Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures, could properly apply only to the following specified individuals, and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the law?

FEINSTEIN: Let me just make a couple of points in response. One, I'm not a sixth grader. Senator, I've been on this committee for twenty years. I was a mayor for nine years, I walked in, I saw people shot. I've looked at bodies that have been shot by these weapons. I've seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered.

Look, there are other weapons. I've been up close — I'm not a lawyer, but after twenty years, I've been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it. This doesn't mean that weapons of war, and the Heller decision clearly points out three exceptions, two of which are pertinent here. And so I, you know, it's fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I've been here a long time, I've passed on a number of bills. I've studied the Constitution myself, I'm reasonably well educated and I thank you for the lecture.

Incidentally, this does not prohibit. You used the word prohibit. It exempts 2271 weapons. Isn’t that enough for the people of the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high powered weapons military people use to kill in close combat? I don’t think so — so I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

never let 'em hear you gulp

talk of 2016 so soon after november is really just election porn addiction but since the opposition's response to state of the union address is seen as a proving ground for presidential hopefuls (with two on deck this time as continued evidence of GOP disarray), i'm going to have to indulge in a little dirty talk ...

now granted, rubio was under enormous pressure between a party desperate to fill the vacuum ripped opened by internecine squabbling around him ...

rubio time mag cover

... and an acknowledged parade of failure behind him:

at wingnut watering hole free republic rubio could count on at least a few sympathetic ears ... before less appreciative (and more access-privileged) ones pulled the plug:

made him look like a human being. i think he hit a home run. (DManA)

also too, bawling like a child can make one appear human. apparently, merely maintaining the facade of membership in our species is quite a hurdle for many in the GOP — just ask unskewed president mitt romney.

however, we ask a little more of our leaders and nervousness under pressure at once visible, loud and vicariously painful is not a quality that inspires followers and movements, especially when the enemy is known and even mocked for his vulcan cool even while in the lion's den.

still, as i said, 2016 is two entire election cycles away, so rubio at the very least could use this opportunity to take a refresher course in public water management policy. couldn't hurt, if it's not already too late for him.

rubio gulp gif

Sunday, February 10, 2013

the venn of birthers

rotting away in jail for fraud? well, this could be your lucky day! birthers are once again fishing for clients and anyone convicted under any laws enacted under an illegal president can apply for a get-out-of-jail-free card — at least according to their latest sure-fire usurper-slaying scheme, passed along by birther debunker blog obama conspiracy theories: reports the story that sibley has created a motion template for people convicted under the 2009 fraud enforcement and recovery act (the act makes it easier to prosecute cases of mortgage fraud and predatory lending). they can petition the court to have their convictions overturned because obama isn’t really president, forcing, sibley believes, the courts to adjudicate the president’s eligibility.

wherein i made the following offhand remark:

finding plaintiffs should be rather straightforward since, as with tax protestors and sovereign citizens, one cannot toss a birfer across a citizen grand jury without hitting a convicted fraudster.

which prompted the reply:

someone should make a birther/lowlife venn diagram.

which got me thinking ...

the venn of birthers 1

this first one requires a bit of nuance since one can argue that many if not most birthers fall into all three categories.

the venn of birthers 2

in the wingnuttosphere, even those that reject birthers (breitbart, beck) still feed into their mania.

the venn of birthers losses

odd duck birther martyr and former army surgeon terry lakin doesn't fit into my standard model but i came up with this just for him and his fellow high stakes losers.