Sunday, November 28, 2010

How can you call yourself a skeptic if...

... you accept things on faith or believe in the supernatural? The answer is, I believe, you can't. And you don't get to call yourself a critical thinker either. What you would be is a hypocrite. Or, maybe a little more charitably, a part timer. At best, you'd be someone capable of fooling yourself.

Thinking about writing this post is what prompted me to write yesterday's post as well, and its all about getting my thoughts down on this whole silly shit about accommadationism and people trying to exclude atheism from skepticism, and those people trying to define who the real skeptics are and who gets to join in and how they should do it (this last I covered yesterday). So here goes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fuck you. And other thoughts on being 'a dick'

Not for the first time I am late to the party on this.

For quite some time there's been an argument raging around the skeptical blogosphere that comes down to, as Dr. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) describes it, "Don't be a dick." You can find the talk he gave on the subject on YouTube, in three parts. Basically, it's an argument about tone - why do we have to be mean? Why are we insulting? Why do we use bad words? Your demeanour gets in the way, why can't you be nice when shattering people's ignorance and delusions?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Really America? I mean, really?

The 2010 midterm elections in the USA have, at different times and with varying measure, filled me with despair, disgust and disillusionment. I've also been reminded of three quotes from two great men:

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
                                                                                                                -- Albert Einstein

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."
                                                                                                            -- Winston Churchill
And finally:
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
                                                                                                               -- Winston Churchill

Unfortunately, I don't see much of the right thing happening, plenty of the same thinking that got us into this mess and then democracy in all its horrendous glory.

One bunch of right wing nuts spent eight years fucking everything up, and then a large portion of the voting population of the USA gave the next bunch of slightly less right wing nuts just 2 years to turn absolutely everything around, and when that didn't happen instantly they went for a bunch of extremely right wing nuts as if that would fix things. Hence the ridiculous corporate entity referred to as the Tea Party, brought to you by the Koch brothers. Grassroots political movement my arse. Like everything else in this country, it's all about money. The Tea Party isn't fighting the establishment, it IS the establishment. Same shit, different name.

Trade deficit under Bush? Going up. Unemployment under Bush? Going up. Wall Street bailout that everyone was so angry about? Bush administration (although Obama added to it). The National Debt the Tea Baggers were so worried about? Doubled under Bush. Where was the outrage then? If it was the ideology of rampant free markets and relaxed regulation that contributed to the current economic disaster, how would a bunch of people even more fanatical about said ideology help? If all these economic woes are the cause for the backlash against Obama's administration then where were these champions of America when Bush fucked it all up in the first place?

If it looks like shit and smells like shit, it probably isn't chocolate.

How is it that problems that took 8 years to create under Bush and the Republicans are now being blamed on Obama and the Democrats after just 2?

The answer, it would seem, is that a large proportion of the American voting population is either irredeemably stupid or shamefully ignorant. Or possibly both. How else can politicians get away with campaign adverts that are blatant lies AND still have people vote for them? How else can people proclaiming their lack of experience make them seem like ideal candidates for the job? How else can a politician that doesn't know what the First Amendment is even get on the ballot anywhere, never mind be a serious contender? How else could a misogynist fascist prick like Ken Buck come a very close second in a race for a position in the Senate? OK, fascist might be an exaggeration, but not by much. How else can the people that caused this mess be exonerated and greeted like saviours?

But the Democrats have to accept some of the blame - they didn't vote or didn't engage their base and get them out. And of course, Obama couldn't ever live up to the hype, he's a politician. Business as usual. In the end what you had was old privileged white people voting for privileged white people. And privileged white people came out the winners. What a surprise. I thought a couple of weeks ago that the Democrats were being too soft but I was wrong. The Democrats basically just rolled over and died. If you don't vote, you get the government you deserve.

And as for it being about the economy? Fuck off. If it was, then shouldn't the $4 billion dollars spent on campaign ads be a source of shame? At a time when unemployment falls somewhere between 9 and 20%, depending on how it is measured, shouldn't that tell you that the political system here is broken? Politicians spend $4 billion dollars on TV ads packed with lies and slurs whilst also claiming to have the economic interests of Americans at heart? Never mind the secretive nature of the people behind most of the adverts - this campaign has all the hallmarks of being bought and paid for by big business. This was not democracy in action, it was the vested interests of big business and special interest groups doing what they do best. Buying people and buying votes.

As a non-voting resident I have one question: why do you put up with this? As a result of this election I have to ask:

What the fuck is wrong with this country, and how long will it take it to try everything else?