snarky science

Okay, so I was scrolling thru my feed on Facebook the other day, and I came across this…

alien

I didn’t have time to follow the link, but I made a mental note to go back and see what the what this was about.

Today I backtracked thru the I Fucking Love Science site and found the article. Turns out this is the long-dead corpse of a legit 6 inch human being. How cool is that? And it’s not a baby, it’s a six to eight year old female child.

ata1

The article ends with this…

While we do know that Ata was human and most definitely not an extraterrestrial (no matter what the “documentary” Sirius has to say), that’s about the extent of what can be said for sure. More thorough genetic testing is still ongoing and researchers are trying to reconcile the base pairs that did not match up with the human reference. The only information that has been released so far has been preliminary, though the researchers have pledged that further results will go through the appropriate peer-review channels and be published in an accredited scientific journal.
I would just like to thank IFLS for mentioning the documentary Sirius, which I obviously immediately watched.

It’s actually really good. It runs the gamut from government corruption to forbidden knowledge, and tons more info on the tiny person. I’m left to wonder if the IFLS people dropped a mention of it in there to publicly ridicule it or draw attention to it? I mean, why would you bother referencing something you have such utter disregard for? Why even mention the alien angle at all? Possibly because there are still so many unanswered questions regarding the test results that instead of simply acknowledging that heaven forbid scientists don’t know something, you have to fill that void with preemptive mockery and snarky commentary. Maybe they’re just trying too hard to be “cool,” because snark is definitely in right now, and it’s ever-present in my Facebook feed. Very often from IFLS, but also from other sites. I have to make a conscious effort to read through the snark to get to the good stuff sometimes. I can imagine that some people are put off by the tone of some of these otherwise entertaining and informative feeds, because they make no pretense of being open to other points of view and freely mock anyone they deem unworthy of being taken seriously.

I actually think it’s getting to a point where it’s creating and feeding a societal acceptance of using snark and belittling of others’ views to cut off valid debate. Think about it…how often do you hear actual debate anymore? Two sides with opposing views willing to defend their view and listen as others do the same and then have a rigorous, honest debate. Other than on actual debate programs, which I’m probably one of the only people watching, you are not going to see it in the mainstream media. Mainly because of the format of “news” programs, to be honest. There isn’t the time for debate in a segment on CNN or Fox. Also, because so-called experts in the fields that we should be having the most public debate about just simply aren’t willing to publicly debate-willingly acknowledging they are intending to delegitamize the opposing view.  After all, if you accept that your opponent’s view is worthy of debate by having a debate, you’re ceding ground that you don’t have to if you simply move the starting point of the discussion in your favor. If everyone around you simply accepts the premise that your arbitrary starting point is legitimate, you’ve just saved yourself from having to answer potentially uncomfortable questions. Think: Al Gore. This guy’s out on a limb so far that he can’t possibly survive even a cursory search into whether what he’s claiming is actually true. Did you know Al Gore was sued in the UK over his movie being shown to impressionable young kids and presented as fact…

A British High Court judge this week exposed nine inaccuracies in former U.S. vicepresident Al Gore’s award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, labelling it “a political film” and calling many of its claims about climate change “alarmist” and “exaggerated.”

Justice Michael Burton had been asked to rule on whether the showing of the Oscar-winning film in British classrooms amounted to education or indoctrination.

He’s just one obvious example, though. What I do to counter the lack of debate is seek out opposing viewpoints. Anything I’m curious about, I’m going to look into it from all angles and then decide for myself. Take one part Al Gore, add a pinch of Bjorn Lomborg and a dash of Joe Bastardi and what do you get? The knowledge necessary to develop a well-informed opinion. Tada!

Sometimes you see a picture and it stays with you forever. Like this one of a young girl in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. I will never forget that little face peeking out of a burka. It makes me think of my little daughter and how it would make her feel to live without an identity. Just a shape covered in cloth.

PAKISTAN_(F)_0317_-_Swat_valley_sharia

Or this image from a documentary I watched about Saudi Arabia. In a sign of real progress, women are allowed to practice medicine now. That’s huge. It’s a public proclamation, validation of the fact that women are not just “allowed” but capable.

The only catch is that you have to basically wear a bag over your head.

saudi doc

In an interview, the female doctor pictured above says, “Before, the idea of a girl working in a mixed environment was totally rejected. Now it is welcome for a woman to work alongside a man. And this is a great thing.”

That simple statement along with the image of her, performing her duties as a physician with only her eyes exposed, really had an impact on me. Their society is transitioning from a time when women were not allowed to be doctors to a time where they are. The part of society that controls gender-specific dictates has not evolved to catch up to that same point yet, obviously.

But instead of feeling ashamed of having to do her job as a highly educated doctor without the dignity of a human face, she accepts the fact that she is entering into a grand bargain of sorts where she doesn’t rock the boat of the old guard and she can take advantage of the new opportunities being afforded to women.

 

in defense of marriage

I meant to post this back in June, when the profile pics on Facebook were updated to various and sundry rainbow accessories as well as brief yet self-important sounding statements in support of gay marriage notifying me that it must be some sort of official month of public support of the gays.

Personally, I view gay marriage the same way I view straight marriage. Or polygamy. Or whatever other form of marriage people choose.

Marriage is, after all, simply a legal agreement. Religious people will disagree, of course. But in modern times, in our modern world, that is what marriage is. In that light, consenting adults should legally be able to marry in whatever form they choose and society and “the system” will just need to catch up.

I can already hear the people who will rush right out with some nonsense about how people will want to marry goats or dudes will start marrying little girls, but this argument is just a distraction and an attempt to keep the status quo by making any alternative form of marriage automatically perverse. And it is based entirely on the belief that the historic tradition of marriage is the only legitimate one. Because it’s the only one they choose to accept. Well, they are stuck in the past and in complete denial that times have changed. And to these people I would pose one question: if marriage is such a wonderful institution, one which benefits families and children and society, why wouldn’t you encourage more of it, and not less?

I get that the answer will be that marriage under their narrow criteria is the only way it’s good for families, but that is ridiculous. If it’s a positive force for heterosexual families, how could it be somehow not good for other forms of families.

The truth is, it is good for all families. And that’s not even the argument. The argument against gay marriage is always framed as either a) traditional marriage is the only legit form of marriage because of religion or b) the slippery slope argument… letting two dudes or two chicks get married leads to letting three dudes and one chick or four chicks and two dudes which leads to some guy marrying his daughter and finally a woman marries a hat.  Or maybe a bunny.

girl-bunny-3

Honestly, this isn’t a topic I spend a lot of time dwelling on. I guess I have that luxury because I’m in a state-sanctioned heterosexual stereotypical socially acceptable legal spouse-pairing, aka marriage. And while I completely understand why this is an important issue with real-world implications, from adoption and parenting issues to spousal rights and support, and much more, I think the way to get more accomplished is to maybe take a different approach sometimes to get through to the people who are actively working against marriage equality.

Because I think the pop culture war has been largely won. It’s not the average person on the street who is actively fighting against gay marriage, although I guess it has been disallowed by some public referendums. But mainly, it’s politicians who pander to religious people who refuse to accept that the legal definition of marriage needs an update.

I  think it’s important and necessary sometimes to stop and appreciate the great strides that have been made in a relatively short period of time, because that is quite an accomplishment.

And if you are gay, be glad you don’t live in Russia.

I hate you, abc mouse dot com

I have a visceral hatred for abcmouse.com commercials. I actually use them to teach my daughter about how commercials are nothing but propaganda, and how you should never believe the shit you see on t.v.

The absolute worst award goes to “Shea.”

His mom is worried that he’s gonna become a t.v. kid. As she puts it, “a kid that just sits there and watches t.v.” Holy fuck, I sure wish there was some magical parenting tool that could keep 3 year olds from just spontaneously becoming “t.v. kids!” Like, oh, I don’t know, a mom who turns the fucking t.v. off once in a while. I apologize for the potty mouth, but I seriously hate this shit.

This bullshit website peddles their wares to kids as young as 18 months, and tries to convince parents and grandparents that their kids are going to be literally transformed into lovers of knowledge and learning if they simply expose their kids to this by-subscription-only website.

There are countless apps and website people can access for free. For free, people. This website might actually be a great website, I don’t even care at this point. I hate them for their shameless targeting of such young kids and obvious over-promising.

They marginalize the role of parents as teachers and show parents as utterly hapless in our natural abilities to teach our kids. It’s one thing to feel like you aren’t capable of teaching your child a particular topic, like math or something. But that’s not what you’re “teaching” your kids when they’re 18 months old! You’re teaching them life skills, mostly just by example, and hopefully providing them a safe place to spend their time – that’s plenty good enough.

This one gets a dishonorable mention for its use of sad pictures of a poor baby in the hospital. Somebody get that baby a laptop, stat!

 

I’d rather be an American idiot than a useful idiot

I have to admit that a certain amount of cognitive dissonance is required to maintain my love of America. Don’t get me wrong, there is nowhere else I would rather live, but that’s mostly because I’ve never lived anywhere else, and I don’t know of any other country where I could obtain a comparable lifestyle.

The more I learn about American history, the more I find I have to remind myself that America is literally just a set of geographical borders, a constitution, and a set of laws. What we do with it, as Americans, is up to us. And sometimes people have done some stuff that’s not so admirable. Often from potions of power.

But I refuse to acquiesce that that somehow negates or delegitimatizes the high ideals of our founding documents and the successes we have achieved as a free people. Instead, it makes me feel indignant, and inspired to do two things: expose it and shine a light so we can all acknowledge bad shit happened and move on, and also keep that light shining bright so we can keep bad shit from happening in the future. I don’t see any other way to deal with systemic corruption and the existence of evil.

One of my pet peeves is when people ask the question “how can this happen in America?” in reference to some bad thing happening. It isn’t as if America is some sort of perfect place where bad things can’t or don’t happen, but rather it is a place where we are expected to live up to a certain standard. And that is impossible if we aren’t all in.

There will always be people who benefit from the goodness, but in no way contribute; people who take it completely for granted and deny it’s even true; but there are lots of people who buy in and live good, decent lives afforded by our abundant freedoms and opportunities. But there are no guarantees. No guarantees that we all succeed to the same degree, and no guarantee that you aren’t born into shit circumstances-even in America.

It’s actually pretty amazing that America still exists, relatively intact, in the face of attacks on so many fronts. When I stumbled upon this video of a talk given by a former KGB agent defector back in 1983, I was blown away. What he says is relevant to this very day.

After I watched this I found a cool interview with him as well…

no hippie chick

My husband made an interesting comment to me last weekend. We were all piled in our Trailblazer driving for the first time to a farm on the outskirts of town to buy raw milk. I was super excited, because I had just watched this series of videos extolling the virtues of raw milk. My daughter was excited to see the actual cows that would be making the milk we were buying.

The drive was about 80 miles round trip, and on the way my husband said not to give our baby any of the raw milk. I kinda chuckled and said he already gets raw milk, because he’ still nursing. My husband wasn’t amused, and he made me promise not to give our son raw milk. He said not to “experiment on him” or words to that affect. He was referring to my recent, relatively drastic changes in our diet as an “experiment.” I don’t think he meant it as derisive as it sounded, and I understood what he was saying. After all, he doesn’t watch the videos I’m watching that are inspiriting these changes, but he does trust me to make these modifications with our family’s best interest at heart.

He also told me I was “becoming a hippie” the other night. I know he was just fucking with me that time. Mainly because I lean conservative/libertarian politically, and a lot of the things I’ve been talking about lately are often the territory of the left. Or at least it can appear that way. I told him that I don’t see or feel any contradiction in my various beliefs, interests, or pursuits. I’ve always had eclectic interests that could be perceived as potentially contradictory.

For example, I’m an atheist conservative. Probably not many of those around. Or are there? Think about the fact that the vast majority of people believe in some sort of deity. I’m already in the minority no matter where I fall politically. Both sides are mainly populated by believers.

What adds to the potential conflict within say the Republican party or any right-leaning political organization is that that side just happens to have as part of its base, the Religious Right, or Christian Coalition, or whatever you want to call various incarnations of religious fundamentalists. They are going to be right of center mainly by default; of the two main parties, the public platform of the Right is aligned more with their moral beliefs. Just as the base of the Left is coalesced around their shared beliefs in say bigger government (which as an aside I see as having become their “religion.”)

When I look at the philosophies represented by the two major political parties, I see the right as more compatible with non-theism. Conservatism advocates personal responsibility, rational thinking, results-oriented economic policy. Those ideas can definitely resonate with the non-religious. I actually see organized religion as harder to square with conservative ideology, but I think it’s a contradiction most conservatives are completely unaware of because they use their religion as a “moral compass,” it’s so entrenched in typical Republicans they don’t give it any analytical thought.