Creative Destruction

July 30, 2007

Man…

Filed under: Blogosphere — Robert @ 11:35 am

It’s a good thing my religious and political philosophies both forbid envy. (Attention venture capitalists: I also have a citizen journalist website. True, we have 120 contributors instead of 120,000; accordingly, I am willing to accept an investment of $10,000 instead of $10,000,000.)

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July 23, 2007

Seventeen, Not Ten

Filed under: Humor — Off Colfax @ 7:36 pm

Remember the Vatican’s 10 Commandments For Driving?

  1. You shall not kill.
  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
  7. Support the families of accident victims.
  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  10. Feel responsible toward others.

Someone just added to it. While normally I would be crowing with glee at the sheer sacrilege, particularly at that stuffy moralitese the Pontiff’s office spewed out, this time I crow with laughter. Particularly at Number 17:

17: Thou Shalt Give Pedestrians the Right of Way In the Crosswalk:

It says so right in the Bible: “Crosswalks are for pedestrians, o ye jerks! Let the two-legged go first or ye shall spend eternity in a fiery crosswalk being run over by a cabbie cackling on his cell phone.”

At least, I think that’s what it says.

Anyway, it should. And that’s the god’s honest truth.

O my brothers, can I get a “Heh. Indeed!”

[Walk Signal: TMV]

July 22, 2007

RIP, Tammy Faye

Filed under: Current Events,Popular Culture — Robert @ 1:24 pm

Tammy Faye Messner has died at 65, from the cancer which has ravaged her for the past few years. She was one of the sweetest and most genuine Christian people in the public eye. God rest her soul and comfort her family.

July 18, 2007

Creation Of Evidence

Filed under: Evolution — Off Colfax @ 11:37 pm

Something I just gleaned from the comment section of the “Payment Received” cuneiform tablet that Robert brought to our attention on Sunday, which goes hand in hand with my comment here, is this story.

“Fingerprints of Creation”

While most of the article is too technical for me to follow in the entirety, I was able to follow the conclusions themselves quite clearly. The existence of a single molecular formation in some types of granites is said to be proof of the instantaneous creation of the planet. Now, I am no geologist; theoretical, practical, amateur or otherwise, this field quickly gets beyond my comprehension.

Yet this article follows the same neo-Randite logic that is condemned from the highest hilltops by the Young Earth Creationist community: if all of the arguments are logically coherent and you agree with one point of the argument, you must therefore agree with all points of the argument as they are a direct continuation of the piece of evidence that is presented by using Aristotle’s Law Of Identity (A is A.) as the logical vehicle.

Just as with Babsy’s hailing of being able to “ride a dinosaur” as being complete and total proof of Creationism. A is A.

Anyone who prefers the evidence of evolutionary processes that has an intellectual honesty this side of Richard Dawkins will admit that there are plenty of holes in the theory, which is precisely why it remains a theory rather than scientific law. Yet there remain those, like Dawkins, who see the development of drug-resistant microbes and herbicide-resistant plants as being the necessary and sufficient proof for Darwinian processes throughout the history (and prehistory) of life on this planet. A is A.

Fact: There was not a single member of species Homo sapiens on this planet when the Earth was formed. Not even the most rabid Creationist can dispute that, as their major source of evidence, Genesis 1, clearly states that man came after the Earth was fully formed.

Fact: We have no way of establishing time travel, so we cannot go back to the year 4006 B.C.(E.) and see whether the world was here or not.

Fact: Therefore, we cannot know for certain precisely what is or is not factual about the establishment of life. There is no way to gather evidence. There is no way to record the sequence of events. There is no way to even determine which of the conflicting evidence sets is accurate.

Until these base facts change, there will be no absolute proof as to what really happened at the start of this planet’s existence. Until then, all we have are theories and hypotheses: testable yet inconclusive statements as to how life began on this rock.

We can support one over the other, yet we can never find the absolute truth. The only thing that can be found here is belief. And regardless of how we might wish for a simple yes-or-no answer to one of the most penultimate questions about human existence, it will not be so easy.

Presentation of evidence is one thing. Insistence that the most minor detail that confirms your belief system over another is conclusive and argument-ending is quite a completely different matter.

July 16, 2007

Where’s David?

Filed under: Blogosphere,Content-lite — Robert @ 12:56 pm

David plays the “where am I” game. I win…and now I feel like posting the bonus round. Here’s where he is, EXACTLY.

(Image below the fold.)

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July 15, 2007

I Should Give Up Trying…

Filed under: Blogosphere — Robert @ 11:30 pm

…trying to work on Sunday evenings, anyway. For the past two months, I’ve geared up for a productive Sunday evening grind only to be distracted by the seductively slippery banana peel that is the Evangelical Outpost’s “33 Things” weekly roundup.

This time, however, I am prepared. I will send YOU to do the reading while I bask in glorious productivity! Some highlights:

An interesting find in Biblical archaeology validates a throwaway reference in the book of Jeremiah.

I’m not sure what to make of this.

Christian environmentalism, and an acknowledgement of the first things.

Where are they now? “The Princess Bride” cast, 20 years down the line.

The other 29 entries are pretty good, too. Enjoy.

July 13, 2007

Michael Moore Debates Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Current Events,Debate,Health Care — Brutus @ 12:47 pm

In response to Vilon’s request for opinions about Michael Moore’s appearance on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, I finally found the time to chase the video at YouTube. Oddly, the same video direct from CNN wouldn’t load on any of the computers I use.

Both of the fellows have their specifical style and approach. Moore is a provacateur, whereas Blitzer is more nearly an announcer. So Moore presents lots of opinions and information and asks for commentary, apology, and response. He’s also generous enough to offer compliments when warranted. Blitzer merely facilitates transitions from one chunk of news to the next, or one question to the next. Blitzer assiduously deflects questions and avoids facing up to Moore’s debate, while Moore answers many (though not all) questions directly. Of the two, I’m much more inclined to trust Moore, despite his open partisanship — especially considering his partisanship is for the American people instead of monied interests. And besides, the slick production values and unruffled equanimity of news anchors gets tiresome after a while.

Even with a relatively long interview (by network news standards, almost 11 mins.), they don’t resolve any issues. Perhaps that’s not the role of the mainstream media (“MSM”), but Moore clearly went in asking for an apology, as well as why CNN, through its medical correspondent, was so intent on criticizing Sicko and the facts the movie presents. Moore believes that Sicko‘s presentation stands up to scrutiny, just as Fahrenheit 911 has stood up for three years now, but CNN’s muckracking doesn’t. The issue is largely swept aside by Blitzer, despite Moore’s repeated jabs and refocusing.

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July 8, 2007

Fox News Attack Dog

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Immigration,Personal Ramblings — Brutus @ 11:21 pm

I stumbled across Michelle Malkin on Fox News not once but twice in the past two days, which I take as a sign that I’m meant to blog about her. I’m unclear how long she has been appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, but it is clear after only a small bit of viewing that she’s been studying her betters — and learning. This excerpt on the subject of immigration is a good example:

At the outset, she frames the issue incorrectly, conflating immigration with crime and imploring her expert, immigration attorney Susan Church, to defend them as though they’re the same thing. Church’s initial response rightly unlinked the two issues and offered a better frame for discussing immigration, but things only went south one Malkin rejoined her. YouTube has another “debate” on the same subject with Geraldo Rivera, which I haven’t viewed. (Um, why was Geraldo Rivera of all people interviewed on immigration?)

I avoid watching Fox News, but on those occasions when it happens to be on in the room, I find it difficult to look away. Viewing Fox News is like seeing a train wreck as it happens, and the cult of personality surrounding some of its “journalists” is utterly astounding. Like Bill O’Reilly, Malkin routinely taunts, interrupts, baits, and insults her interview subjects. Why would anyone, knowing how interviewees are treated, be willing to be set up for such apparent slaughter?

As for presenting either news or commentary, The O’Reilly Factor fails miserably. Yet it succeeds as entertainment of the most base kind. On one side of the political aisle, folks gape in disbelief at what they’re witnessing. On the other side, folks jeer and hoot at the sight of the hosts’ “opponents” being eviscerated in debate. I’m still uncertain whether the Fox News hounds, yipping and nipping at everything and everyone, are simply chasing ratings. Can it be they really believe that the ideal of public debate is well served by the freak shows they put on?

July 7, 2007

Blogger Bash 7.0 – Pseudoanthromorphized Misunderstanding of Statistical Reality Edition

Filed under: Blogosphere,Current Events,Serious Drinking — Robert @ 1:31 am

Yes, for believers in “lucky 7” and other folks doomed to lose considerable sums at poker, except for the irritating and statistically inevitable outliers whose good luck brings them happiness all through life, we have Blogger Bash 7.0 – from 7:07 pm until they throw us out, at the Celtic Tavern, 1801 Blake Street, in downtown Denver. Come by and have a drink at David’s expense, and listen to me explain to you why you are wrong about everything.

Fortunately, through a prudent strategy of not making any bets, I don’t owe anyone any drinks this time, and I look forward to spending all my beer money on myself.

July 2, 2007

Brazenly Beyond the Law

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Current Events,Politics — Brutus @ 9:44 pm

The NY Times has a recent editorial that suggests says outright that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled so badly in three First Amendment cases that it no longer pays attention to precedent and is in effect operating beyond the law:

Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to reopen the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it ….

For the Times to identify a voting bloc that functions to contravene precedent in something as significant as the First Amendment is pretty astounding. The timing of the Court also reads pretty clearly as politically informed. The First Amendment isn’t a hotly contested issue, though certain instances (such as flag burning) may be. My take on bedrock principles of the U.S. Constitution — so basic and assumed back in the day that they were omitted from the first version and only added later as amendments — is that they should be protected slavishly unless some clear public interest is served by revoking rights. It is far better to extend protection in questionable cases than to infringe someone’s rights, not unlike the conventional wisdom (enshrined in someone’s famous quote, no doubt) that it’s better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict one innocent one.

In other news likely to become a political firestorm in the coming days (and then blow over in favor of some new revelation, as nearly all of Bush’s missteps do), Pres. Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s 2.5-year prison sentence. Leaving the fine, probation, and criminal record intact rather than a full pardon is nothing to these guys, which is say almost no punishment at all. Haven’t members of the Bush Administration also shown themselves brazenly willing to operate beyond the law? So much for accountability. Of course, it should surprise no one that the Prez steps in to protect one of his aides, but sheesh. Isn’t there even a sacrificial goat to quell the need for political balance anymore?

July 1, 2007

Human Nature

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 2:58 am

Sometimes it makes you feel a little down. On the other hand, there is room for optimism.

I have a small writing business that works on an outsourcing basis; you have a project, you contact me, I organize a team and do the job. One of my regular sources of new writers is to go on Craigslist and post an ad for a specific project. Since I don’t know any of these people from Adam, I only do this for projects where there is a way for me to test folks before I commit any work to them, usually by soliciting a small sample (something that might take five minutes to put together).

One recent project involves writing sentences for web content (commercialism at its finest) and for whatever reason, the response was absolutely enormous; I had approximately 2200 initial inquiries in the last week. Of that lot, perhaps 1500 requested further information and were offered the chance to submit a sample (one sentence, although it’s a little more involved than that, but a trivial amount of effort involved). About 700 of them did so, and of that 700 I’ve hired about 100 and sent another 600 “thanks but no thanks” messages.

When I started writing this post I intended to go off on a bit of a rant about some of the responses I got to the “sorry” message. I’m unprofessional. I’m a bastard. I’m a thief, stealing hundreds of samples from people. (Yeah, the 600 bad sentences I got – really, the 300 bad sentences I got and the 300 submissions from people who didn’t put their submission together properly and so got an automatic axe – are so incredibly valuable that I’m going to steal them. Because I couldn’t write 300 shitty sentences on my own.) I’m this, that and the other thing. I was going to talk about how these people are clueless and rude. And of course, they are clueless and rude.

But on reflection, typing this out, it occurs to me – I really didn’t get that many hostile notes. Maybe 10, at most. They had a large impact, emotionally – because I care about what I do, and I don’t like to be labeled bad things that I am not – but really, of 600 people who got bad news, not even 2% of them had negative reactions to the level of writing a “screw you” e-mail. Further, although I did not formally count or keep them, I got at least a dozen “oh well, thanks for letting me try out for the team, coach” messages. There were actually MORE mature and thoughtful responses than jerky ones.

So – sometimes it gets you down. But there is room for optimism, too.

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