RCimT: Stuff to be mad about

As I implied yesterday, there’s far too much going on in this world right now that deserves my ire. I have to mete it out carefully or I won’t have enough to go around, because the meds for my Stretch Armstrong leg are seriously putting a damper on my ability to draw from my bile reservoir. For you though, my faithful readers, I’ll do my best. (I love you both!)

Egypt did a grand thing in ousting Mubarak. The military made many overtures of solidarity with the protesters over the last month, and they installed a “transitional leader” in Vice President Omar Suleiman. Suleiman however has absolutely no intention of transitioning Egypt to a democracy. The military is now singing a totally different tune than during the initial protests — claiming that they will start to move against strikers if they don’t get back to work soon. So Egypt traded one tin-pot dictator for another. Hooray.

Meanwhile, a CBS reporter was violently molested while covering the Egypt protests, and because she happened to be a woman, people are throwing their careers away to snipe at her for daring to try to do something in a dangerous place. Because, you know, being raped and beaten in public and having to be rescued by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers just isn’t enough damage. Lara Logan knew exactly what kind of danger she was in by daring to do her job while in possession of a vagina, thank you very fucking much.

I’m sad to have to report that being right about the “God question” (e.g., being an atheist) does not mean you’re right about other stuff, like gender politics. How a thread can go on so long where so many men think it appropriate to discuss amongst themselves “how to get women into science” while wholly and completely dismissing the women in the conversation, is beyond me. People in positions of privilege discussing how to get the unprivileged into the conversation should, obviously, not dismiss the same unprivileged. DUH. There are a few shining beacons of truth and level-headedness in the Pharyngula thread about the original talk, but they are a cool drink in a vast expansive desert of retardery.

Meanwhile, the Republicans who were swept into power recently with promises of rebuilding the American economy with jobs-a-plenty are enacting several laws on their real priority: shrinking government to only small enough to legislate every vagina in the country. While the House has failed at their attempt to redefine rape, they succeeded in passing an amended version of HR3 to ensure no federal funds are ever spent on abortions. They have also defunded Planned Parenthood, the last line of defense against teenage pregnancy, for daring to refer to abortion doctors the 2% of their visitors that need them — never mind that this means more teenagers will get pregnant and need abortions to begin with. And South Dakota is busy legalizing the murder of abortion doctors. These idiots are decidedly not “pro-life”. They’re “pro-fetus”. Once the fetus grows to the point where they might be born (whether they survive, or not; whether they kill the mother, or not), they obviously couldn’t give a shit about them. I’m sure there’s gotta be a Bible passage somewhere that justifies allowing both mother and baby to die just so a medically indicated procedure doesn’t happen that’s supposedly contrary to some vague interpretation of some arbitrarily chosen translation of some arbitrarily chosen “holy book” out of the thousands that one could choose from.

And there’s always more bullshit when you get religion involved, it seems. Why is it every one of the things I see today that is detrimental to the betterment of humankind as a whole, is inspired by religion? Seriously. It’s getting to be too big a trend to ignore. A new investigation shows that children are still in peril and clergy are still stonewalling investigators even ten years after the scandals in some Roman Catholic dioceses were uncovered and supposedly stopped. If they weren’t in the positions of power they find themselves, children wouldn’t be imperiled by this overriding demand, handed down from the top, to protect Catholicism from its own chief practitioners.

Or how about the religiously inspired Wedge-strategy-approved tactic of sowing disinformation about evolution by legislative fiat? Never mind that there’s no scientific controversy about the theory of evolution — only a controversy in that the theory of evolution apparently runs afoul of some very small-minded provincial interpretations of certain religionists’ ideation of their deity and how special humankind is in the grand scheme of things. No, scientists are well aware that all the evidence available shows evolution is a fact, and that the theory of evolution is merely an attempt at describing the mechanism behind that fact. Any controversy at the moment is in exactly how much influence natural selection, epigenetics, genetic drift, etc., have on the “big picture” of evolution. If this law were aimed at teaching THOSE controversies, I’d be fine with it and others of its ilk, but you’ll invariably find it espoused by people who unironically claim in court that the Earth is six thousand years old.

Canada’s got its own shitty little legal squabbles going on, too. For instance, the Tory-held senate rejection of this bill:

Bill C-389 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgender or transsexual citizens. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” or “gender expression” in the workplace or elsewhere, and would amend the Criminal Code so that crimes committed against people because they are transgender or transsexual would be treated as hate crime.

Their grounds? That people might try to go peeping-tom in opposite sex bathrooms and defend themselves by claiming they’re really transgendered.

And the CRTC’s raising people’s suspicions lately about the partisan nature of some of their decisions — like that pesky law they’re suggesting we eliminate that prevents broadcasters from presenting lies as truth in news media.

“It’s totally bizarre. Nobody in the industry has called for it,” Mr. Murdoch said. “Where is the motivation for change that would lower the standards of truth and fairness in broadcast journalism?”

NDP MP Charlie Angus noted that the proposed change precedes the start of Sun TV, a network that has been shepherded in large part by Kory Teneycke, the former director of communication to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“We all know our Prime Minister well enough to say we don’t have to be in the realm of conspiracy theory here,” Mr. Angus said at a news conference on Monday. “We can draw our conclusions and they are pretty clear.”

It’s no conspiracy. It’s no coincidence. That law is preventing Sun TV from being everything that Fox News is to America: a trojan horse in the news media, intended to pull people’s understanding of reality, and the Overton Window, ever-further to the right. Truth be damned, we need our propaganda, sayeth Harper and his cronies.

That’s it. I’m spent for the moment. I’m sure I’ll find more to rage about soon though.

RCimT: Some stuff I missed while I was down and out

In the wake of Scio11, I was sick. Very sick. Two different kinds of sicknesses with different incubation periods and symptoms. My immune system is shot all to hell, and I strongly suspect I’m becoming allergic to my cats, which would explain my sinus problems for the past year and a half, and my sudden downturn in ability to fend off any sniggering little monocellular malcontent that happens by. Got an allergy test eventually – at least, that’s what the doctor tells me, though I’ve not yet heard from the local allergist to actually make an appointment. Meanwhile, work’s been pretty much insane, so I haven’t had nearly as much time to blog as I’d like. So, I had a hell of a lot of tabs in my to-blog-about queue, and now’s as good a time to dump and run as any.

Apparently there’s 1023 protests going on this weekend all over Canada. Given my current state of health, maybe going out in public and overdosing on homeopathic remedies to protest the fact that they’re selling sugar and water is a good idea. I could drink homeopathic echinacea or something.

This is nothing short of awesome. A Dreamworks storyboard artist blogs some of his storyboard brainstorms, and in his latest, he turned Carl Sagan and his Spaceship of the Imagination into something like an interstellar woo Star Destroyer.

The Onion covers the recent Republican repeal of the bill to destroy an asteroid that’s going to hit Earth, sending a strong message of rebuke to Obama and his administration’s big spending ways.

Gawker publishes a handy guide to all the right-wing nonsense that’s being spouted by the usual suspects lately. Great if you need to catch up on your conspiracy theories and you don’t have Fox News.

There’s a row going on right now between Canadian consumers and ISPs — the ISPs have been pushing to move to usage-based billing (to squeeze more blood from a stone, and simultaneously kill competitor Netflix in the video streaming market), and a grassroots effort called OpenMedia.ca has gained enough momentum that politicians are actually forced to overturn at least one decision by the CRTC that would prevent small competitors from offering unlimited usage plans. I may have more to blog about this later. You should probably sign the petition, and visit the website, if you haven’t already.

I hate Ayn Rand and her self-centered, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps (regardless of your lot in life) philosophies. Just saying. So I had to smile when I found out she received Medicare benefits — under an assumed name no less.

I also missed more and better proof that Ratzinger covered up pedophilic abuse. Wow. Seriously.

Reuters reports US government officials admitting privately that the Wikileaks leaks aren’t actually that damaging. Yet they keep beating the wardrum for Assange’s hide, even though lawyers pretty much admit Wikileaks broke no US laws.

The Tea Party is apparently demanding sanitized history, asking that textbooks cover up slavery and the extermination of the natives, because they “make past leaders look like hypocrites”. No… shit.

And finally, this past CES had two pieces of exciting news that add up to one very important and excellent piece of news. That one very important and excellent piece of news is that Microsoft’s computer hegemony is cracking. Significantly.

RCimT: Religion/sexuality link roundup

Been a while since I’ve done one of these! I have to get some tabs off my Firefox and I don’t really have a lot of time to blog them individually, so here you are.

In case you haven’t seen it, Stephanie has weighed in on the hilarious conflation of sex-positivity and pedophilia a theist has accused Justin me of recently. As is her wont, Stephanie did not address the hilariousness of the religious apologist’s claims. Instead, she posted an essay, and a suicide note, that will cut you to the quick, no matter where you believe the source for morals might be. Hopefully the apologist will simply shrivel up and blow away at this. I mean, I doubt it, but I can’t help but hope so.
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RCimT: Weekend science-related coolness

Just a few things in my tabs that you should probably know about, if you care about the progress humanity has made in understanding this universe. Plus my snide comments.

The moon is falling! Wait, no, not falling. Shrinking. Very very slowly, mind — only 100 metres in recent geological history, as its core cools and contracts. But the escarpments on its surface are age… err, I mean character… lines.

More fearmongering is going on in Barrie, Ontario about wifi signals that are supposedly responsible for the vague and ill-defined sickness that children are complaining about. The kids aren’t in school yet, mind you, but they’re evidently getting sick from the very idea of returning to school! Naturally, it must be the wifi network.

Scientists have an idea what caused the sun’s prolonged solar minimum this cycle: it was cool on purpose, out of spite for the global warming denialists that tried to use it as an excuse for the earth’s rising temperature. Or plasma cycles, you know. Whichever works.

Some rocks preserved in the Arctic may give us a better snapshot of what exactly the initial conditions of our planet were shortly after forming, as they date back to 4.45 billion years ago. The planet’s 4.54 billion years old (doesn’t look a day over 6000, though!).

And as predicted, genetically modified crops have escaped into the wild, with both Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science’s proprietary-pesticide-resistant strains of transgenic canola escaping the confines of their approved labs. Monsanto will reportedly sue the planet for stealing its intellectual property and not paying its licensing fees.

Any science news strike your fancy, that’s worth telling me about, folks?

Atheist blogospherics, and beating creationists at their own game

I haven’t done any atheist posts recently. I’ve been so wrapped up in the astrology nonsense that I just haven’t had the concentration to split off onto other topics, like my rampant heathenism. This is a sin, in my books, so I aim to rectify that — by pointing to a few other people’s interesting posts.

Greg Laden discusses the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Minnesota Museum of Science, which Jodi and I had the opportunity to see but opted not, given the high price and the low level of interest we had in the actual archaeology behind it. A few jokes were made about the religious folks who would flock to it only to discover that most of the stories in the Bible took a much different form in their original incarnations. None of the jokes were anything to do with the authors being ignorant shepherds.

A while ago I asked on my Facebook page whether anyone had seen the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. As one might expect, a couple of people, who possibly thought I was joking, noted that the Dead Sea scrolls were part of the bible, and all that stuff was implausible stories handed down by ignorant shepherds over the generations, etc., etc., etc.

My first reaction to that, as an anthropologist, was this: “Hey, Imma let you say that now, but if you diss my Pygmies like that I’ll kick your ass.” In other words, I do find it rather condescending when western occidento-hetero-caucasoido-normative types take it on themselves to make blanket statements that some other group of people of which they know nothing are stupid. I understand the whole being annoyed at the bible thing, but this is where modern-day new atheists can be thoughtless when unpracticed in their philosophy and its application.

Interested to see where he’s going with this? Of course you are!

Elsewhere, on the intertubes, a blogger writing under the name of Overscope has a post up titled Poisoning the Well, wherein he discusses the recent-slash-neverending “schism” discussion between atheists and skeptics. And he makes a number of truly excellent points.

I want to point something out that I don’t think many skeptics familiar with this discussion have paid enough attention to: nobody (save some career civil servants in the Bush Administration and Dr. David Nutt in the UK) ever lost their job due to skepticism. Nobody’s been threatened in the US military because they didn’t believe in Bigfoot. There is no wording in US state constitions prohibiting people from holding office if they don’t believe in reflexology. People don’t pound on your door at 8am on a Saturday trying to convert you into believing NASA didn’t really land on the moon. No US president has ever said that people who don’t believe in UFOs aren’t really citizens. Dowsers are not trying to prevent women from consulting with geologists. Chiropractors are not taking over state boards of education to ensure subluxation theory replaces the germ theory of disease in high school biology class. Spoon-benders did not spend tens of millions of dollars trying to deny non-psychokinetic Californians their right to marry.

And occasional commenter and an ex-roommate of mine, Mitchell, sent along a link to a brilliant application by paleontologist Paul Senter of the techniques that creationists use to show that the various “kinds” of life, or “baramins”, are correctly classified, in order to prove that dinosaurs and birds share a common ancestor.

I used a statistical technique called classic multidimensional scaling, which creation scientists use to quantify morphological gaps between species. I wanted to determine whether morphological gaps separated Archaeopteryx – the earliest known bird – from the various non-avian coelurosaurs, the group of predatory dinosaurs ranging from tiny Microraptor to giant T. rex. I showed that within this group there is too much similarity to indicate separate baramins. Contrary to the previous creationist view that these animals were separately created, their own pet technique shows that these animals shared a common ancestor (Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol 23, p 1732)

The technique could theoretically be used to systematically show a common origin for most, if not all, life, thus forcing creationists to either accept a common origin or abandon their technique of classic multidimensional scaling. It would be a small victory, but an amusing one nonetheless.

So, what interesting news in atheism do you have to share?

Some bullshit to be angry about

A woman was included in a Girls Gone Wild video where someone pulled her top down against her will. She sued, unsuccessfully, as a jury of her peers decided she’d implied consent to being on camera topless by virtue of having danced in front of the camera. No release forms were signed, but evidently none are necessary when you’re a woman (and therefore slutbag) and you’re aware there’s a camera present.

The planet is most definitely, most assuredly warming, given that all ten indicators studied say so; and its causes are most definitely, most assuredly anthropogenic. Not that that’ll matter, while people are still spouting tired lies as “rebuttals”.

Thinking that he got the Mark of the Beast somehow, a man lopped off his own hand then microwaved it before calling for an ambulance. While mental illness is scary and sad, mental illness coupled with religious dogma can be downright horrifying.

Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum, is butt-hurt over “becoming the villain for doing the right thing”. I guess we’re supposed to ignore the facts that his company was responsible for numerous violations of safety and ethical considerations, or that he has lied to the media repeatedly, or that he has been characteristically more interested in self-vindication than the other, tangential concerns like control and clean-up of the spill.

The UK has made some recent inroads against homeopathy, but some idiots in power have fetishized “choice” about medicine and have released reports that cloud the matter of whether homeopathy should be treated as medicine. The report claims that homeopathy should be considered medicine and people should be free to choose it, but it shouldn’t be regulated like medicine (lest its unproven claims would scuttle it — not that the report ever spells that out for you!).

There’s absolutely nothing racist whatsoever about Tea Party Comix. So long as you ignore the art straight out of the 1920s. Though, thankfully, Marvel has a riposte.

And our Prime Minister Stephen Harper evidently has a pair of seemingly fascist quotes to his name. I am shocked.

Three resources in fighting the skeptical fight

In the afterglow err… aftermath of the non-debate discussion had on my last post demolishing astrology’s foundation, there are several posts you would benefit from reading, for various reasons.

First, What You’re Doing Is Important, by Surly Amy of Skepchick.

We skeptics are not contrarians, we try to make the world a safer place and to encourage advancements in technology and medicine. We strive for intellectual enlightenment not solely for ourselves but for everyone. We are one-part science communicators and one-part consumer protection advocates. But even with these idealistic good intentions we are often times the odd woman/man out at parties or around the water cooler. We are looked at as naysayers and argumentative, faithless, curmudgeons out to ruin fun and hope for everyone else. We are called know-it-alls or incorrectly considered close-minded. We are after all the ones that stand up and speak out when the majority wants to believe in homeopathy or angels or some sort of warm and fuzzy magical thinking. We burst bubbles, we dispel myths and sometimes we squash the fun of irrational fantasy. We explain how things really are. This outspoken bravery in the name of rationality often places us in the minority and that can be a very lonely and difficult place to be.

There’s also an anecdote about how a woman’ life, and the lives of her soon-to-be-birthed twins, were directly saved by medical science, and how if the couple had believed in natural childbirth, homeopathy, the power of prayer, or any of a number of other pseudosciences, all three of them might have died. Spreading skepticism is not JUST about bursting people’s bubbles. There’s a tangible utility factor.

Also, at Quiche Moraine, Mike Haubrich discusses the fundamental incompatibility between science and religion in Knowing the Problem of Induction, and a pullquote is relevant to the astrology discussion if you only replace “religion” with “astrology”:

In order to maintain confidence that a causal relationship between natural phenomena has been established, one scientific method that I learned was to disprove a null hypothesis using statistical tools to analyze my data. If the null hypothesis is not disproved, that means that the proposed hypothesis probably establishes a causal relationship and my investigation has yielded a good answer within a specified confidence interval. In other words, by following a scientific process, an investigator has come up with a good explanation for why something is so, or how something works.

This is only one of the methods that scientists use to discover how things work, one of the ways that people discover “how the world goes.”

Religion promises knowledge based on non-verifiable acceptance of authority, resignation to “mystery,” and the record of inscripturation. Apologists for religion promise to provide “other ways of knowing” that aren’t limited to verifiable, positivistic methods. Religion, in general, tells people that we can know for certain that the supernatural exists and interacts in measurable ways with the natural. Religion explains, in its “way,” the creation, miracles, interventions in personal lives and through catastrophic natural events. The explanations are authoritative but not testable nor replicable through any reliable means.

The post is an excellent primer on the problem of induction, as the post suggests, to boot. Do read it if you have any inclination to argue that science is compatible with religion.

And finally, given that much of the astrology argument devolved into netiquette (thanks in no small part to anonstargazer’s tender sensibilities), it’s good to know that Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds (aka Our Lady of Perpetual Win) wrote On the Utility of Dicks. Therein, she explains why it’s acceptable to be aggressive about defending rationality, regarding the recent fight the Twittersphere tried to spark between Phil Plait and PZ Myers over Plait’s talk at TAM8.

Then a friend gave me Flim Flam. James Randi told me how people had lied to me under the guise of nonfiction, under the guise of science. He was, in fact, kind of a dick about it. That’s not a very nice book by any definition of the word. It uses name-calling. It sneers.

But oh, it was exactly what I needed. I needed it both for the information it gave me and for the anger and vitriol. Without Randi’s vitriol, I wouldn’t have been able to make the clean break in thinking that I did. If he hadn’t been so clearly and visibly and sometimes nastily angry about the perversion of systems that were meant to uncover and convey the best knowledge we can have, I’d have been faced with the choice between a more classical skepticism, doubting everything that came my way, and clinging to the idea that what I believed had to be true.

The fight rages on many fronts. Sometimes being a dick WILL win you a convert. The fact that so many people seem to have such a vested interest in telling others that are ostensibly “on their side” to stop doing what they’re doing because they’re “not helping”, is rather galling. Especially since the assertion is made without proof, and there’s empirical evidence that some people respond better to an aggressive defense of rationality than to a milquetoast, wishy washy one.

Tomorrow we’ll do something a bit less heady, I promise. Keep fighting the good fight, in the meantime.

Activist judges, money for oil, and a blatant disregard for reality

Funny how the right-wing complains about judges being “activist” whenever they overturn anything they like, such as gay marriage bans or laws that tip the scales heavily away from individuals and toward big businesses. When they declare Obama’s deep drilling moratorium on new leases deeper than 500 feet to be unfounded and lift it, however, they apparently cheer, wholly oblivious to their hypocrisy.

Oil companies should get back to the business of drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a U.S. federal judge ruled, declaring President Barack Obama’s six-month ban “arbitrary and capricious.”

As crude oil continues to gush from BP’s catastrophic blowout, Judge Martin Feldman said Tuesday that the Obama administration had failed to provide an acceptable rationale for imposing a six-month moratorium on all deepwater drilling in the Gulf.

His ruling came even as BP said the industry needs to change its operating procedures to reduce the risk of another such accident.

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That incident, which was seized upon by Republicans and conservative pundits in the U.S., “caused some apprehension” about the process by which the moratorium was enacted, the judge ruled.

He said the administration investigated the BP disaster and then concluded all deep water drilling was unsafe – reasoning he found deeply flawed.

“If some equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? … That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed and rather overbearing,” the judge wrote. The moratorium also threatened to devastate the local economy around the Gulf, the judge noted.

Meanwhile, despite being in effect since the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the moratorium has not done a damn thing to stop 198 new leases in the Gulf, 10 of which being granted to British Petroleum.
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A few blogospherics before bed

Just a few quick, interesting things (a short RCimT, if you will) before I hit the hay.

Monocle-Cat

I bet Russ looks something like this.

If you haven’t already seen it, check out Jim Gardner’s multi-part review of Joe Cienkowski’s tract really-short-book Atheism is a Religion – Evolution Is Their ‘Creation’. As an added bonus, I clash with some random anonymous dude here in part 2 over some specious claims about the ability to be “true-agnostic” like True Neutral in D&D. Amusingly, later in the same thread, a steady-stater named Russ shows up to talk about how light can get tuckered out, and how he knows better than the scientific consensus through his self-education in particle physics and cosmology over the past 41 years. And guess why there’s a scientific consensus about the big bang cosmology? That’s right, a global conspiracy for money! Of course!

Our Lady of Perpetual Win, AKA my evil overlord, has a fantastic meta-analysis post about how alliances are formed and maintained on the blogosphere, and what can be expected from allies — and conversely, what CAN’T be expected in any fairness. And here I just thought you went around collecting minions from willing subjects. Suffice it to say, expecting a nascent community of otherwise outcasts to act monolithically is pretty counter-intuitive. Though I guess if you were really supposed to collect minions, you could expect at least some measure of uniformity in action. Stephanie also reposts a salient piece from last year about allies, containing this most-choice quote:

The people we need to reach, in the mainstream or in other marginalized groups, are not monolithic. We need as many ways to reach them as there are people to be reached.

So, again, quit elbowing the people on your side of this argument. Just because they do things differently, doesn’t mean that method is inherently wrong or will damage “the movement”, if there even is such a thing.

And finally, George W, a frequent commenter, takes it upon himself to enter dialog with someone that confronted PZ Myers, PZ ignoring him, and the Pharynguloids going rabid over him thereafter for his troubles. While I don’t personally care for the whole tone debate, this is exactly what Stephanie means by that pullquote above. There is some utility to the slavering hordes at Pharyngula. There is also utility to my making fun of, say, the more fundamentalist Sunni Muslims for believing some fan-fiction about their prophet and threatening people for drawing him as the logical extension to that belief. Likewise, there is utility to those cases where someone honestly, and without malice, offers their hand to the person on the other side of the debate, hoping to educate them about how the universe actually works and how splendorous it is unfiltered through religious dogma.

Mind you, there are some cases where the person you’re trying to lift out of dogmatic belief has no intention of ever leaving it. Sometimes you have to live and let live. It’s why I do not argue against the sillier beliefs on other people’s forums unless the owners are known quantities and, well, already proven allies (so to speak). I advertise, instead, hoping people with sincere beliefs will come to me seeking enlightenment. Or sometimes, just seeking a fight. You get some depraved and tenacious loonies this way (search for Zdenny on this blog!), but every once in a while, you get a genuine discussion with someone that genuinely wants to know more about the universe, and those make it all worthwhile.

Crude lies

People evidently don’t understand just how bloody deep we went to get oil, without adequate mitigating technologies to be used if something went wrong. BP’s technology for getting at extremely remote oil has increased in a manner not dissimilar to Moore’s Law, but without any sort of oversight, without anyone to tell them to invest some of their profits in stopping spills, their leak-stopping technology has stagnated since the 70’s. This infographic shows just how far down we managed to get. It’ll hopefully put the scope of what we were attempting into perspective.

The main reason this spill is so difficult is that it’s so far beneath sea level. This didn’t stop the drilling efforts, of course! The fact that we don’t really have appropriate technologies or plans for stopping this leak, suggests that we never should have been attempting such a deep drill. But even if it was 100% necessary to outstrip our Plan-B capabilities, it’s pretty obvious Plan-A, a safe and successful well, was not in the offing from the outset. Rig survivors have accused BP of ordering several shortcuts, including the use of sea water instead of mud to speed the drilling process up on the day of the blowout, as it was already five weeks behind at that point. The heavy mud was used to keep the drill’s pressure down. The lighter sea water would have meant increased pressure. Increased pressure could have caused the catastrophic failure of the cement in question.

We’re already well aware that nobody wants to take the blame in this disaster. I almost can’t blame the parties involved for wanting to dodge the brunt of the public outcry over the whole debacle, honestly. One would basically have to own up to the fact that they’re personally responsible for killing almost everything in the Gulf of Mexico. Whether we’re talking humans or animals, that kind of swathe of destruction would weigh heavily on any man with the least shred of conscience, even if you discount the humans whose livelihood depends on the ocean’s bounty. You’d think that anyone who knew they had that kind of blood on their hands would be running damage control on the actual DAMAGE, rather than stymying the media coverage of said damage. But the latter seems to be the case in this particular situation. It’s rather galling that there would be a request to avoid pictures of dead animals. I’m assuming BP knows how damaging they would be to your public reputation.

The rig survivors are demanding that BP be held responsible. I believe they are innocent until proven guilty, but I also believe that in clamping down so hard on the media, BP is being allowed to control the flow of evidence that they are, in fact, guilty. These lies need to be exposed. And the liars — such as BP Bob — need to be held accountable for their obfuscation and bluster.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Are you outraged yet?