“Straight Pride”: disrespectful, hate-filled, bigoted, and probably not what your god wants

Via Jezebel, apparently some heteronormative kids in the majority have taken to wearing t-shirts showing those minority gay kids how proud they are of being in the majority and position of privilege:

One unnamed official’s words explained that the students weren’t punished because the incident was a way to show kids that “while there are two sides to an issue, you can hold onto your side of the issue and advocate it, but you also have to be respectful of people who hold the opposite opinion.”

When the opposite opinion to “I am proud of who I am” is “you should die for who you are”, that’s in gross violation of that “respect” clause, and is therefore less so much a matter of being two sides to the issue as it is a matter of attempting to cow a minority into silence. And yes, THAT Bible quote is in fact present on the “straight pride” t-shirt. Frankly, that doesn’t pass muster to me. I don’t think the mere fact that some Arabian goat herders disliked homosexuality enough to say “put to death people who ‘lay with women as with men'”, is some kind of excuse for your own rampant bigotry — not with over 1600 years since the words were written. These words didn’t come down from on high, they came from some bigoted people in a very nomadic and insular part of the world, and even if your creator deity exists, those words (and probably every word of the Bible) were put into its “mouth”. That means you’re worshiping a decidedly evil parody of your own divine postulate, and choosing hatred over love in direct opposition to the very morality you claim a monopoly on.

2012 Doomsday: Wrong on more than one level.

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now (seriously, how could you not be?), the Mayan long count calendar is due to roll over on December 21st, 2012, as it does every 394.3 years (1 B’ak’tun). December 22, 2012 will mark the first day of the 14th B’ak’tun since the Mayans’ mythical creation date in 3114 BC. And since humankind likes to pick rollover dates for apocalyptic predictions, and thanks to the silly way this approaching landmark has been portrayed in the media, it’s only natural that the year 2012 would accrue a disproportionately large amount of fuckwittery about it. This world is rife with gullible people with fears (or hopes) for doomsday, and seeing a rollover on any timekeeping device is always a jarring experience for them, it seems.

The Earth is on fire... a fire made of numbers!!!

The real mystery about 2012 is why the Earth would be on fire, and why that fire would drip out of it 'south'-ward in space as though there's gravity. Oh, and why the fire is made out of numbers. (From kaheel7.com)

But as it turns out, the rollover may not be 2012 after all. A number of prominent researchers, including Professor Gerardo Montana in his upcoming book “Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World”, have disputed the GMT, the generally agreed-upon conversion factor between Gregorian and Mayan time. Montana suggests it may be off by 50 to 100 years.

The ABC article’s headline, in typical fashion, blares, “Phew! 2012 Doomsday Date May Be Wrong”. As though it was a narrow miss by an asteroid, or some other potential catastrophe barely averted or postponed. Really, all that’s been done is the target has been moved, so the doomsayers have another, more fluid moving target when 2012 comes and goes with nary a hiccup prophesied from ages past.

In actuality, the Maya made no prediction whatsoever that there would be any sort of calamity at the end of the 13th B’ak’tun, and would (if they are culturally extant today in any analogous way to the ancient people) very likely mark December 21st with a huge festival. You know, like how we partied like it was 1999, and yet the world didn’t end when it rolled over to 2000. Jesus didn’t even show up to have cake and champagne, which is a shame because I hear he could turn water into wine, and if he could manage that party trick, he could probably turn champagne into whiskey.

Anyway, the world didn’t end in 2000, despite it being a full 418 years since Pope Gregory XIII invented the Gregorian calendar which has since become accepted internationally. While it was a landmark in reforming the calendar to mathematically match our actual planetary orbit much more closely than the former Protestant calendar, its Year Zero is again based on a wholly mythical moment in the popular religion of the culture at hand.

There is therefore nothing especially significant about the year 2000 when viewed in relation to the existence of the Earth — roughly 4.54 billion years, plus or minus 1%. Since we’re very unlikely to be able to tell the age of the Earth to any degree of accuracy, and since the rest of the universe cares not one whit for the amount of times that a planet has whipped around its star, and there is absolutely no math inherent to the universe that necessitates working sums out in Base-10, any prophecies predicated on the rollover of a wholly human-created numbering system is egocentrism on a grand and lamentable scale.

Not to mention the idea that the universe works on the same math that we do, or that it works on math at all, or that it hates big round numbers as much as we do, or that our chosen starting points for these big round numbers are anything like accurate outside the limited experience sets our cultures grant us.

Maddow’s uncut interview of Jon Stewart

This is an absolutely excellent interview in a lot of ways, and I can’t help but wonder what today’s political arena would be like if every discussion was even within the same ballpark of rationality as this discussion.

I side more with Maddow — the false equivalence meme has more traction than it deserves by rights of how untrue it is. But Stewart is great at articulating, and clarifying, his positions. And not just that, but making sure that HIS words are understood correctly, rather than trying to reinterpret Maddow’s. It’s ultimately a discussion I’d like to multiply by a billion. That would be political nirvana.

Remember the veterans, and the civilians

If you’ll remember, George W. Bush lied the US and its allies into war with Iraq, under the false pretenses that Al Qaida was present, and/or that Saddam Hussein was building WMDs. Prior to this, while Saddam’s reign was brutal, sectarian violence was extraordinarily low. In other words, it was not a war-torn area until Iraq War 2 deposed the dictator in record time and installed practical anarchy in his place.

When Wikileaks released 100,000 Pentagon papers regarding the Iraq war, these papers included statistics about the number of people killed in each operation. Someone at infosthetics.com went through the papers and culled out the relevant data, aggregating all the deaths into one image, color-coded by who was with what faction.

In this image, every pixel represents a death. I need to reiterate — every pixel represents one human life. One fully viable human being whose time on this coil was snuffed out prematurely. On the left, the pixels are sorted by faction: blue represents coalition forces, cyan represents “host deaths” (e.g. Iraqi soldiers, governmental officials, etc), and greys represent enemy combatants. On the right, they are sorted chronologically.

The orange pixels represent civilian casualties, and since the numbers are culled from Pentagon reports on US and Coalition operations, they likely represent at least in no small part civilians killed by “good guys”.

On the chronological side, you’ll note that at first, it was mostly greys. Then it became mostly oranges and stayed that way through the rest of the operation.

We remember our veterans on the 11th of November, in Canada with Remembrance Day and in America with Veterans’ Day. We do so not only because they gave their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy, as the jingoistic nationalists might have you believe. We also remember them because in some cases, they gave their lives, and took others’ lives, for no valid justifiable reason. This latter fact is unconscionable. We must work every day to end the travesty that is the Iraq War, and likewise with the war in Afghanistan, and we must put what safeguards we can in place such that future wars of conquest or oil-lust or nation-building or misguided attempts at “spreading democracy” that merely end up killing civilians by the scores (whatever motives you want to ascribe to Bush), never happen again.

Climate science from 1956

You mean Al Gore didn’t invent it!? I thought they thought we were going into an ice age! You mean the climate skeptics are full of it all around, and not just on the state of today’s science??

People knew CO2 affects climate over fifty years ago, and it’s only recently that asshat denialists and climate cynics have succeeded in sowing disinformation. I think I might faint.

Happy belated Carl Sagan Day!

I’d love to blog about the major open-source project I’ve got going on for a company with which I’m affiliated, but frankly, I’ve been expending so much energy on it, that I have hardly any energy left at the end of the day to blog about what I’ve done. Suffice it to say, all but the administration web interface (which I’m writing myself — I love PHP coding, and get to do far too little of it) consists of existing open-source components, put together in infinitely clever ways and integrated into our existing ActiveDirectory domain. I’ll detail all the parts I’ve used in a future post, and how to glue them together. The code I’ve developed for the project probably can’t be released, but all the software that’s open-source is certainly fair game.

For now, I should point out that evidently I am not a particularly good apostle of Science Jesus, aka Carl Sagan, as I missed out on marking yesterday being Carl Sagan Day. It marks the 76th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s birth — if he hadn’t died at 62, he might easily have been alive to see the discovery of Earth-like exoplanets, and groundbreaking research on comets. And who knows what’s to come? The future is inscrutable, at least until it’s the present.

Maddow: Keith’s suspension proves Fox and MSNBC not equal

I don’t know that the rule is necessary at all any more. Not when the corporations paying the salaries of their employees are probably shelling out more money on lobbying than they do on those very salaries. And not when the false-equivalence meme rages on, painting the political operation known as “Fox News” and the legitimate news organization MSNBC with the same brush.

I agree with Rachel. Keith didn’t know of, or ignored, the rule in his contract. He was caught out. He was punished. That’s appropriate. Now, if the law is onerous or injust, change it, even if you have to apply it to people that shouldn’t necessarily be punished while it’s still in effect. Either that, or make it something that actually affects other organizations, like Fox Pravda, to fix the hypocrisy within the news media.

It’s Okay If You’re Joe Scarborough. Or Sean Hannity. Or GE.

As written into his contract with MSNBC which bars political contributions that may indicate a lack of journalistic integrity, for having made $7,200 of political contributions to three Democratic candidates, Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay. This is in marked contrast to MSNBC’s treatment of Joe Scarborough, who in 2006 donated $4200 to a Republican candidate and received no punishment when the fact came to light as Scarborough “hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter”. It is also in contrast to MSNBC’s chief rival FOX News’ treatment of Sean Hannity for donating $5000 to Mayor Crazy of Crazyland USA, Michelle Bachmann. And it is in contrast to MSNBC’s parent company GE:

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, GE made over $2 million in political contributions in the 2010 election cycle (most coming from the company’s political action committee). The top recipient was Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman from Ohio. The company has also spent $32 million on lobbying this year, and contributed over $1 million to the successful “No on 24″ campaign against a California ballot initiative aimed at eliminating tax loopholes for major corporations (New York Times, 11/1/10).

So the message here, from the execs at MSNBC: it’s okay if you’re a Republican, offering money to Republicans, or if you’re lobbying to keep from having to pay taxes (probably roughly the same as the amount you just spent on lobbying, coincidentally enough!) to the government.

Keith Olbermann, however, is held to a different standard. Despite being derided constantly as a “far-left Bill O’Reilly”, and thus nothing better than an opinion show host, by every asshole on the right that thinks there’s some measure of equivalency between the effluence coming from O’Reilly’s mouth nightly, and the occasional moment of actual journalism you get from KO.

Fair.org also provides ways to take action:

ACTION:
Ask NBC and MSNBC to explain their inconsistent standards regarding political donations.

CONTACT:

MSNBC President
Phil Griffin
[email protected]

NBC News President
Steve Capus
[email protected]

Phone: (212) 664-4444

I don’t have a dog in this fight, as a Canuck. But as an outsider looking in, I have no problem with pointing my American readers in the right direction.

George Takei is my hero.

And Clint McCance is indeed a douchebag.

Have to say I agree with carr2d2 though. There is no problem in this world too large or too serious that some idiot won’t make a We Are The World style song about it. And there is no end to the people who will love it, despite how utterly insipid and cloying it is. Or who will purchase it on iTunes to support the cause, then never listen to it again. If you were to spend that $1.99 on a direct donation to The Trevor Project, maybe people would stop making We Are The World songs.

Now how would I get the word out that We Are The World songs need to be ended? Hmm… Maybe I need to write a song of some sort…