Saturday, February 22, 2014

"I don't feel well and I'm not sure why."

"Yearly reminder: unless you're over 60, you weren't promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go."

"...we still have available the list of beverages served at a 1787 farewell party in Philadelphia for George Washington just days before the framers signed off on the Constitution. According to the bill preserved from the evening, the 55 attendees drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch. That's more than two bottles of fruit of the vine, plus a number of shots and a lot of punch and beer, for every delegate. That seems humanly impossible to modern Americans. But, you see, across the country during the Colonial era, the average American consumed many times as much beverage alcohol as contemporary Americans do...

Temperance propaganda has so suffused our consciousnesses that even the most liberated among us view alcohol and drugs as leading to the kind of addictive progression...

At the time Temperance held sway in the U.S., opiates were widely dispensed to men, women, and children in tincturated forms such as laudanum. Yet, today, we are convinced by every drug scare that comes down the pike that we cannot possibly control the effects of narcotics and other drugs, let alone alcohol."

"Murderers are all about making their lives better."

 "If I ever bore you it will be with a knife." - Louise Brooks

"...when two drunks have sex, who, ultimately, is responsible should one decide that she didn’t really mean it? Without current data at my fingertips, I feel safe in presuming that few males charge females with rape following a party. If the female decides at any point, including the next day, that she didn’t really want to engage in sex — no matter her own behavior at the time or the fogginess of her recollection, never mind the male’s own degree of inebriation — is the male entirely to blame? Even posing this question will get you banished from the kingdom in today’s confusing sexual arena. "

"Perhaps daylight does send the cockraches scurrying, after all. After a chorus of outrage over a Department of Homeland Security solicitation for bids to establish and maintain "a National License Plate Recognition (NLPR) database service," the feds now claim the whole project was unauthorized by DHS or by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in whose name it had been posted.  Damn those rogue federal solicitations."

More fake forensic "science" and irresponsible prosecutors - ‘Shaken baby syndrome’ and the flawed science in our criminal courts
"For years, expert witnesses told jurors that if a deceased infant has a series of symptoms—bleeding at the back of the eye, bleeding in the protective area of the brain and brain swelling—then the child died from vigorous shaking. Typically, they’d state that the victim couldn’t have died from anything else. Conveniently, the diagnosis provided the cause and manner of death (shaking), identified the killer (the last person alone with the child), and even gave prosecutors mens rea (anger). 

But a determined group of skeptics began to question the diagnosis shortly after that case. As the SBS prosecutions continued, the group of skeptics grew too. The skeptics now include Ronald Uscinski, a former student of Ayub Ommaya, whose research on monkeys in the late 1960s is thought to be the origin of the SBS diagnosis. 

New research suggests that most humans aren’t capable of shaking an infant hard enough to produce the symptoms in SBS. It usually takes an accompanying blow to the head. And in about half to two-thirds of the 200 or so SBS cases prosecuted each year in the U.S., there are no outward signs of physical injury. Indeed, this is the reason SBS is such a convenient diagnosis. It allows prosecutors to charge a suspected abuser despite no outward signs of abuse. But we now know that other causes can produce these symptoms, which means that some percentage of the people convicted in SBS cases are going to prison for murders that may have never happened."

"After three people try to break into her house, a mother of two breaks out a gun, starts shooting, and scatters the home invaders."

"Are you fucking kidding me, Austin Police Department? This is how you treat the citizens you’re charged with protecting? 

Gosh, I wonder why people don’t respect police authority."

"When you say that “rape is the exception” you betray something FUNDAMENTALLY BROKEN about your own argument. Because a fetus produced from sexual assault is biologically NO DIFFERENT than a fetus produced from consensual sex. No difference at all. If one is alive, so is the other. If one is a person, so is the other. If one has a soul, then so does the other. If one is a little blessing that happened for a reason and must be protected, then so is the other.  When you say that “Rape is the exception” what you betray is this: It isn’t about a life. This isn’t about the little soul sitting inside some person’s womb, because if it was you wouldn’t care about HOW it got there, only that it is a little life that needs protecting. When you say “rape is the exception” what you say is this: You are treating pregnancy as a punishment. You are PUNISHING people who have had CONSENSUAL SEX but don’t want to go through a pregnancy. People who DARED to have consensual sex without the goal of procreation in mind, and this is their “consequence.”  And that is gross. "

"I no longer think about the prospects of our fighting an ongoing war on terror in quite the same way. In particular, I no longer believe that a mostly covert war makes strategic or moral sense. Among the costs of our current approach are a total lack of accountability, abuse of the press, collusion with tyrants and warlords, a failure to enlist allies, and an ongoing commitment to secrecy and deception that is corrosive to our politics and to our standing abroad.

Any response to terrorism seems likely to kill and injure innocent people, and such collateral damage will always produce some number of future enemies. But Dirty Wars made me think that the consequences of producing such casualties covertly are probably far worse. This may not sound like a Road to Damascus conversion, but it is actually quite significant. My view of specific questions has changed—for instance, I now believe that the assassination of al-Awlaki set a very dangerous precedent—and my general sense of our actions abroad has grown conflicted. I do not doubt that we need to spy, maintain state secrets, and sometimes engage in covert operations, but I now believe that the world is paying an unacceptable price for the degree to which we are doing these things. The details of how we have been waging our war on terror are appalling, and Scahill’s film paints a picture of callousness and ineptitude that shocked me. Having seen it, I am embarrassed to have been so trusting and complacent with respect to my government’s use of force."


Friday, February 21, 2014

"Whatcha thinking about?"

"If we die and then we’re gone forever, if there is no punishment for our sins or reward for our goodness, then who cares? Why not just forget morality and do whatever the hell we feel like? If we allow the belief in science to spread, what’s going to stop things from descending into complete chaos? Isn’t that what we’re seeing in the world today? Isn’t it a provable fact that as the belief in religion wanes, crime rates go up, murders increase, sexual assaults become commonplace, people do drugs, fornicate with each other’s spouses, and so on and on and on? If there’s no good karma or bad karma why try to be good? It is a scary prospect. I think Ken Ham has a valid point.

But turns out he’s wrong about what happens when people stop believing in traditional religion. Steven Pinker demonstrates in his book Better Angels of Our Nature that as the belief in religions has waned, violence has actually decreased. It is simply that better communication systems have led to us being able to know more about the many horrible things people still do to each other, not that these things are actually happening more often than when we didn’t have access to flashy reports about them 24 hours a day. It’s fascinating. Fewer people believe that God will punish their sins and reward their good behavior, and yet that has been accompanied by a tendency for people to behave better towards each other. It’s hard to know if there is a direct correlation. But the facts are facts."

"Unfortunately, the global climate debate is polluted with myths and wishful thinking...

There is something unsettling about the global power elite jetting into an exclusive Swiss ski resort and telling the rest of the world to stop using fossil fuels. And their rhetoric is unconvincing. Yes, global warming is real and man-made. But creating panic and proposing unrealistic policies will not help in tackling the problem."