Saturday, February 28, 2009

on a lighter note...

burien cop beats unarmed teenage girl

fuck. i don’t even know where to begin.

that boys don’t hit girls is the first thing i remember learning. it’s a hard and fast rule. period. end of fucking story.

to say i am disgusted only scratches the surface. and not just at that shit-eating cunt of a cop, but at the strain of the american mentality that underwrites this kind of behavior. i understand that being a police officer is incredibly difficult, and requires not only the judicious use of violence but also dealing with the worst that our fucked-up society has to offer. but it also seems to attract some of the worst kinds of people, and then hides them behind a badge and gun and sets them loose on the rest of us, this rotten sonofabitch being a prime example (there’s also the grandma-shooters in atlanta, the speeder-tazing state patrolman in utah, and the execution-style killer of the oakland bart, just to name a few examples off the top of my head).

i realize that many, even most, police officers are genuine public servants who do an incredibly difficult job, and i’m grateful to them for doing so, but this culture of impunity must end.

the worst thing is that, even if he’s convicted, the most he’ll get is a year. one year. disgusting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

a theory about theories

according to this week's poll watch in the week magazine, only 39% of americans believe in the theory of evolution. part of it certainly has to do with the religiosity of americans and the christian right's insistence on creationism and/or 'intelligent design,' but i think a good chunk of it has to do with the different uses to which the word 'theory' is put in and out of the world of scientific inquiry.

in everyday language, to say you have a theory about something is to say that you have what seems to you a rational explanation for whatever phenomenon you're attempting to describe, whether or not you have put said 'theory' to any sort of test at all. it is, at best, an educated guess and, more generally, just a regular guess that fits both the facts and the way that your worldview inclines you to see them.

were you a scientist, you would call such a thing a hypothesis, and you would then attempt to devise a test to see if your hypothesis stood up to scrutiny. then you would repeat the test, and repeat it again, and again, and so on, until you were pretty sure that you had reliable data which either did or did not back up your hypothesis. then you would publish those results, and other scientists would see if they could replicate your results without you there, going through a number of iterations, over and over, until they reached a conclusion, whether or not it was the same conclusion you reached or not.

this sort of testing would go on and on, and be carried out many, many times, by many, many different scientists, and be published and reviewed many, many times. and it would all have to come out the same, meaning all those experiments, all those tests of your hypothesis, would have to come to the same conclusion.

then you could call it a theory. and even then your hypothesis/theory would only stand until a better explanation of whatever phenomenon you were trying to describe was posited, tested, reviewed, etc.

so, in the world of scientific inquiry, for something to be called a theory implies many years of rigorous testing and failed attempts at falsification; it means the idea has been tested and stood up to that testing, and that noone has been able to come up with a better explanation.

in regular life, a theory is just a reasonable explanation somebody came up with, but that lacks the key evidence that would make it so.

to put it in regular people parlance, my theory about why fewer than 4 in 10 americans believes in darwin's theory of evolution, one of the most tested, tried, and true of all scientific theories, one that's been tested, over and over again, for a hundred fifty years, and stood up to those tests, is that most people hear the words 'theory of evolution' and mistake the scientific meaning of the word for its more colloquial usage, and assume that it's just some explanation some guy thought up a hundred years ago but that is equivalent to, say, the theory that brad pitt left jennifer aniston for angelina jolie because angelina has bigger boobs.

maybe i'm wrong, but, as the saying goes, nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the american people.

Friday, February 06, 2009

just found this on balloon-juice. click on it. it'll make you feel better. i promise.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

i have to say, i wholeheartedly approve of the wage cap president obama is seeking to impose on executives at banks and other financial firms that receive federal aid. given that most of these guys are the ones responsible for the financial straits that not only their companies but the whole fucking economy are in, it seems that the very first belts to get tightened should be theirs.

in fact, i'll go obama one better. i think that, as a condition of receiving federal bailout money, every upper echelon executive at said firm oughtta be fired, with no severance, and that the next tier of people oughtta get moved up the ladder, with the salary cap in place. if they can pay the money back and take the company back to the private sector, where it can stand on its own two feet and compete, then let their boards pay them however much the market dictates. but the bums that got us into this situation oughtta be thrown out on their asses and left to survive on their measly hundred of millions in compensation they took before their companies went ass-up because of their mismanagement.

actions should have consequences. they done fucked up, and oughtta pay the price. it's not like they're gonna starve.

update: goddamnit.
tom daschle can eat a big fat dick.

sorry to be so nasty about shit, but seriously, who outside the beltway thought this guy was or is anything but a joke? i mean, he makes harry reid look like a freakin' action hero. he got rolled as majority leader. he got rolled as minority leader. look up 'hapless' in the dictionary, and he's the noun in the example sentence.

this is the guy who was supposed to push comprehensive health care reform through congress? the guy who couldn't even articulate a rationale against going to war in iraq?

i dunno. all the inside baseball players seem to think he would have been super-effective at making it happen, but i just don't see it. i mean, the guy couldn't even get it together to threaten a filibuster, or invoke cloture. and he's supposed to get the republicans (or even the blue dogs) on board for a giant rewrite of our totally-fucked-from-top-to-bottom health care system? i'd laugh if i wasn't one of the umpteen million americans who're just one serious injury or illness away from being a debt-slave for the rest of my truncated life.

i mean, he knew this would come up. and he didn't even see fit to tell obama, not until a month after his nomination. he knew there was supposed to be a new sheriff in town, and that things were supposed to be different. that lobbyists weren't gonna be running the show anymore. but he just wanted back in soooo bad, he just couldn't help but clap his hands and believe in fairies, just like he did when he was in office. i mean, for an incumbent to lose his seat, much less a guy who holds a position in the senate leadership, does not bode well for the guy's judgement or effectiveness. seriously.

and while i'm at it, what the fuck is up with the democratic bench? i mean, i expect republicans to be dirty-ass motherfuckers. it's kind of their thing; they only enter government so as to help the private sector screw the public more effectively, at least anymore (i think once upon a time conservatism actually stood for something, but that time is long past). but are there really not enough capable folks in the democratic party to fill one branch of government who don't think and act like the rules that apply to everyone else don't also apply to them? i mean, nancy killefer was one thing, that kind of oversight i can understand: it's complicated stuff, and she was only off by a few hundred bucks. but tom daschle (and tim geithner, who i don't even want to get started on) was on the senate finance committee. they write the fucking tax code. and he owed a hundred-odd thousand dollars in back taxes, which means hundreds of thousands in undeclared income, which if i did it would land my ass in some seriously hot fucking water.

as for obama, i'm somewhat less upset. as john cole at balloon-juice pointed out, in this case, the system worked. obama set high standards. daschle didn't meet them, and he didn't even make it to the senate for confirmation hearings. obama's people should've vetted him better, and he shouldn't have put his name in the hat in the first place, and though it's a bit of a shiner for barack, it ain't all that bad, as these things go. what i really wish is that the who's who could learn how to keep their fucking noses a little cleaner. the same rules are supposed to apply to everybody.

what's the old saying? they come to washington to do good, and they stay to do well.

think we're gonna have to do something about that.
this is awesome.

cheers to the agitator for laying it out so clearly. everybody oughtta leave michael phelps the fuck alone. if brother wants to smoke a little pot on his own time, then that oughtta be his business and not ours.

enough with this demonizing the demon weed. it's so much less harmful than all kinds of legal shit, including most of the pharmaceutical drugs america's all heffed-up on, and the current conventional wisdom is bullshit, a fucking snow job perpetrated by harry anslinger because he was in bed with dupont, who wanted to make nylon rope, but couldn't break into the market, because hemp had a lock on that shit.

ps: what ioz said.