Your Opinion Please: Should We Have a Carnival?

Update: Postdated to stay up here a spell.

PZ just threw out a call for volunteers to host the Tangled Bank. Got me to thinking: along with that, why not throw a carnival of our very own?

I’ve a few ideas:

Carnival of the Media Clowns – wherein we bash the wretched state of the modern American media.

Carnival of the Elitist Bastards – wherein we enjoy the novel fact that we use our brains for thinking and we know stuff.

Political Sideshows – wherein we unleash our rapier wit and scathing satire upon those politicians who have proven themselves no better than circus freaks.

I know a majority of you are excellent writers – I read your blogs, and you blow me away. I know a good number of you enjoy bashing politicians – otherwise, you wouldn’t be dropping by for Happy Hour Discurso. I know you’re smarter’n all get out, because your comments here are always insightful. And being that all of the above are true, I know you’re probably frustrated to death with the overwhelming stupidity of our nation’s mainstream media.

So what say you? Up for the challenge? Ready to create our own three-ring circus? Any of the ideas above catch your fancy? If so, let me know, and we’ll put together the greatest show on earth.

Or at least one that’ll pass for it given enough alcohol. The Cantina is open!

Tequila and Great Music, Anyone?

Post-dated to stay up here awhile.

My darlings, I’m not sure how many of you may be near Seattle, but if you’re in town April 25th, so are the Peacemakers. We should go.

Never heard of the Peacemakers? No problemo. You’ll still have a great time. I’d never heard a Peacemakers’ song before I went to my first show. I enjoyed it immensely anyway.

Don’t like that kind of music? Doesn’t matter. Neither do I. I’m a symphonic/power/black metal person myself, the occasional foray into my sordid Western/80s New Wave distant past aside. But the Peacemakers transcend normal tastes.

Besides. You’ll be drinking. A lot.

Don’t like tequila? For shame That’s perfectly fine. There are plenty of other beverages that will compensate.

And you can hang out with Dana. Really in real life Dana. How cool is that?

It’ll be pretty cool. I’ll be pissed, plastered, smashed, hammered, and not to put too fine a point on it, pretty damned drunk. People tell me I’m fairly amusing when I’m sloshed, snookered, or otherwise intoxicated. You’ll at least have that for entertainment value until the Peacemakers take the stage.

So drop on by Neumos on April 25th. I’ll be there. You know what I look like. Same hair, same hat. Just look for the drunken black metal chick in the black straw hat screaming “Roger!” at the top of her lungs.

Go Forth and Encourage, My Darlings

Brian Switek over at Laelaps is having a bad moment. My fellow writers, and interested readers, we need to troop over there and give him some love:

Given all the false-starts and struggles I’ve had as the concept of this book has evolved in my own head, it’s not unreasonable to ask why anyone needs another book about evolution. There’s presently a glut of books talking about evolution and why it is important, so what can I really hope to achieve? I have no idea if the finished product will be popular at all, but I think it’s important to try and express why I find evolution so fascinating.

I think so, too. Let’s all tell him so. There’s always room for one more, and Brian has the potential to be one of those science writers who fires up the next generation of evolutionary biologists. Don’t let him forget that.

A Nation of Idiots

That’s what Bush & Co. want. Stupid people can be led. They won’t ask for evidence, because they’ll believe arguments from authority. They’ll swallow any lie because they don’t know better. They’ll talk endlessly about the outrage of ordering orange juice instead of coffee, because they’re fucking clueless about the outrage of war crimes.

George “What the Fuck Do People Need to Read For” Bush has now decided that $26,000,000 is too much for a children’s literacy program.

Reading Is Fundamental was eliminated from the President’s proposed FY2009 budget. Congress can save it.

Congress can indeed save it, and so can you. Write now. Takes about 30 seconds, sends a note to your senators and Congressman, shoves the old British two-fingered salute firmly up both the Bush nostrils. What’s not to love?

A lot of us were lucky enough to have parents who could give us houses full of books. A lot of kids aren’t. Reading Is Fundamental does something about that:

Founded in 1966, RIF is the oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.5 million children with 16 million new, free books and literacy resources each year.

A book of their own. Every kid should have their own book, and someone to read it to them. Now Bush wants to take even that away from kids.

John Lynch over at Stranger Fruit puts things into perspective:

Consider: an F-16C/D fighter will set you back $19 million and B-2 bomber can be yours for between $737 million and $2.2 billion. The USAF has ~200 of the former and twenty of the latter. Twenty-six million just doesn’t seem that much, now does it?

No, John. It doesn’t. Especially not when those numbers are compared to these numbers:

By age 17, only about 1 in 17 seventeen year olds can read and gain information from specialized text, for example the science section in the local newspaper. This includes:

1 in 12 White 17 year olds,
1 in 50 Latino 17 year olds, and
1 in 100 African American 17 year olds.
(Haycock, p5)

You want to know why we’re having to wage such a pitched battle against creationism? You want to know why otherwise intelligent people might get snookered by Expelled’s pernicious lies? There’s your answer. Kids who can’t fucking read turn into adults who can’t fucking read, and those adults turn into uninformed victims of the first snake-oil salesman who comes along. They have no way of understanding the information that would tell them the assclown’s full of shit.

So get on the ball, my darlings. Write your own dear representatives. Let them know that this country can afford a few more books and a few less bombs. Let them know we don’t plan on becoming a nation of idiots.

*This, the 71st post of En Tequila Es Verdad, is dedicated to 71-Hour Ahmed. If you haven’t met him yet, now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of Jingo by Terry Pratchett. I think you’ll find it has plenty to say about what’s going on in America just now, for all it’s written by a Brit and set on a flat world carried through space on the backs of four elephants standing on a turtle…

Skeptics Unite! Take Back Your TV!

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer himself, could become a TV star!

The pilot episode of the Skeptologists has been filmed, and it’s time now to shop it out to the networks in hopes that they’ll nudge aside enough pseudoscience, bullshit, mindless yapping, and otherwise pure crap to make room for a nugget of pure gold.

You can find more information on the show here and here. You can throw your weight behind the show thusly:

Also, if you want to support the show (and given how many people responded to the call for a transcriptionist, I see that y’all do!), you can send an email to You’ll get an automated reply, but we’re collecting emails to show networks that there is a demand for quality shows for intelligent people who don’t buy into all the nonsense being aired right now.

Wanna see Phil & Crew on TV! Wanna wanna skeptical show! So do you. So start bawling with me in hopes we get fed. Mmm, tasty fun skepticism!