Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Newt's Active Retirement

So Newt Gingrich has come out to support Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin. Here's a report from The Guardian:

Gingrich came to Missouri on Monday to back Akin at a $500-a-ticket fundraising lunch, at which he addressed about 50 of the congressman's supporters – and earlier, the media.
At at a press conference at a train station in Kirkwood, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, Gingrich said Akin was running a winnable race and made his own prediction – that the national Republican leaders, including Mitt Romney, would reverse track and back the candidate once they "adjust to the reality" that he is staying in the race.
"If Todd and the people of Missouri prove it's a close race, what's the moral case for not backing the Republican nominee?" Gingrich said.
Gingrich told the crowd, made up of reporters and a handful of supporters that it all came down to a simple question. "Do you want to keep Harry Reid as the majority leader?" Gingrich said to shouts of "No" from Akin supporters.
Gaining McCaskill's seat is seen as vital if the GOP is to take over the Senate in November. "How do you go back to your donors and say: 'Let's throw the Senate away?'," Gingrich said.

I can imagine Newt added: "Y'know, these days I keep myself busy. In addition to convincing Republicans that I'm newsworthy, Callista and I play canasta."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Could Be Kinda Human

When a man's an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
And yet I'm torn apart
Just because I'm presumin'
That I could be kinda human
If I only had a heart.

- The Tin Man
from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

And now, this:

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Lost Message of Judge Jim Gray

Sadly, here's a message that you did not hear at either the Republican or Democratic conventions. It's a message that needs to be repeated, again and again, until we finally get it:

I've heard of Judge Gray for years. Apparently, he's Libertarian Gary Johnson's running mate.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Possessed by Ignorance

No bus bench ad has ever annoyed me more than the one I saw recently for The Possession, a new flick about some story of a girl and a demon, blah, blah, blah. The tagline reads: "Based on a True Story." Really? On what basis can we even say it's a "true story"? Well, maybe events like those depicted really happened to a girl somewhere; maybe she really acted crazy, and maybe objects really started to move seemingly on their own (I'm just assuming that that kind of stuff occurs in the film).

But "true story" misleads the credulous masses that the "possession" part of it is the "true story." It's really quite irritating. I once read the scare-mongering book Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. It was recommended to me by certain people I knew who actually believed in this demonic possession nonsense. But I approached it with an open mind; I was younger then and very interested in scary stories. Malachi Martin's writing itself convinced me that he was trying to convince himself that the only possible explanation for the five stories of exorcism in the book were, in fact, based on the reality of supernatural malevolence. Yeah, each of these tales was "based on a true story," too.

The Skeptic's Dictionary provides a brief sketch of the real evil, not of possession but of exorcism. Accounts of religiously motivated ministers beating, strangling, and otherwise killing or seriously injuring the supposedly possessed are numerous. And yet the actual evidence of what afflicts these poor souls points to this:

Most, if not all, cases of alleged demonic possession of humans probably involve either people with brain disorders ranging from epilepsy to schizophrenia and Tourette's syndrome, or people whose brains are more or less healthy but who are unfortunate enough to be sucked into playing a social role with very unpleasant consequences. In any case, the behaviors of the possessed resemble very closely the behaviors of those with electrochemical, neurochemical, or other physical or emotional disorders. [more]

Be sure to watch the video clip on the skepdic.com page, featuring a news story on some reality-television tripe called The Real Exorcist which follows around the antics of Rev. Bob Larson and his stunning dyed-orange beard. The actually great Joe Nickell is the skeptic in the segment. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Labor Day to 52% of Americans!

Labor Day is a given in our culture. I imagine that conservative, liberal, righty, and lefty alike don't want it taken away. It is a secular national holiday that everyone can celebrate regardless of viewpoint or creed. Even Phyllis Schlafly celebrates Labor Day because somehow it reminds her of Ronald Reagan's greatness.

Enter cognitive dissonance. We love Labor Day, but according to an August 31, 2012 Gallup poll, 48% of us disapprove of labor unions. Of course, it is only through the advocacy and agitation of labor unions that Labor Day exists as a federal holiday.

Take a look at this monumentally amnesiac "Labor Day Statement" from Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in 2011:
On Labor Day, we take time to celebrate centuries of American hard work and ingenuity. Since our country's earliest days, the American people have been innovators and entrepreneurs, building the most powerful economy in the history of the world. [more]
I had no idea that Labor Day was founded in order to honor "innovators and entrepreneurs." Oh, wait, that's of course because it wasn't. But every political hack who detests organized labor itself will still exploit Labor Day to pander to desperately struggling American workers. That is, if any of them pay any attention to what Priebus blathers on about.

So I say Happy Labor Day to the 52 percent of Americans who honor labor unions! To the other 48 percent, get back to work.