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The South Park Issue-Rant

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I haven’t watched South Park in awhile, the show never really grabbed me to the point where I would tune in specifically for the show. Once in awhile I will go through these periods where I will watch it for several weeks at a time and then months without. Few of the episodes I have seen really made me laugh where as most of it, was well done but didn’t appeal to me. Comedy Central seems to prefer rerunning the movie than it did any of the really good episodes that I always seem to miss.

Yet people that tune in to the show and find themselves shocked because the show has insulted something that they hold dear still surprise me. For a show that was developed from a short which pitted Jesus fighting Santa Claus over control for Christmas people seem to have a very short memory over the series’ draw: it’s shock value.

It’s shocking to hear the foul mouthed kids tackle concepts that are way over their heads as the clueless town folk run about as a polarizing satire on whatever issue the show may be addressing. It had gotten to the point where in 2004, the phrase “South Park Libertarian” was coined to apply to people who didn’t trust the right but also didn’t believe that the left was at all practical.

That Muslims are offended should come as no surprise, they can get in line behind Christians, Jews, Scientologists, and Mormons for the religions that the show has skewered. So the Muslim website that “warned” Trey Parker and Matt Stone to watch what they produced lest they become another Theo Van Gogh must have really been looking to be insulted. It’s not like Parker and Stone hadn’t done it before when they skewered Family Guy doing a cut-away gag with the prophet Muhammed and Peter Griffin getting lemonade. Even then he was behind a black box. I remember that episode quite clearly because their criticism of Family Guy hit so close to my main problem with the show and the fact that it came so closely to the Danish newspaper issue.

Someone is always going to be offended by the show. It’s the same people that thought all the children were so scarred from seeing two frames of Janet Jackson’s breast during the Superbowl (I wonder how those kids are doing) but cut from a different cloth.

The thing that really pisses me off are the calls from people who think that Parker and Stone should engage themselves in a bit of self-censorship so that people don’t get to the point where they are using thinly veiled threats on their lives. This is saying that the real problem isn’t with a guy who would make death threats around a poorly animated cartoon show, but with the people who made it. That isn’t even close to being the correct way of thinking in the post-renaissance age.

Asking them to censor themselves in some fit of being ultra-politically correct isn’t the mark of enlightenment, it’s the mark of being so afraid of the reaction that it violates the basic freedoms we base our modern societies on. Since everyone seems to be agreeing that this was a complete overreaction to the show, why can’t we agree that it’s the reactor that is wrong?

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Categories: current events, rant

Subjugation (The Twilight Walkthrough Pgs. 179-197)

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

We are backtracking a little bit this week because two issues popped up during the last section and due to space constrictions* I felt that I would break it up into two posts. Sometimes doing these only once a week can be quite frustrating. The first issue was obviously the vampire powers that Edward possesses, I deemed that more important because the great nerd rage over Meyer’s work is partly based on the fact that these aren’t real Vampires…as opposed to the “real vampires” that actually exist.

The second post concerns the new revelation of Edward’s stalking of Bella. So many people seem to idolize their relationship** that it’s very troubling to me to see his actions toward her being deemed not only acceptable but desirable. Simply described this relationship is not based on mutual respect. The surest sign of this is that Edward behaves like a controlling abusive boyfriend by constantly reminding Bella that she is in danger and will surely be in mortal danger without his presence. Another is that the entire relationship is dictated by him, if you take a look at the sections we’ve read so far you’ll notice that every conversation and action is on his fiat. He gives permission for her to ask questions, he determines when they will interact, ask yourself this: when does she determine anything in spite of his wishes?

We are back in the car driving from Port Angeles to Forks, and Edward has consented to answering a couple of questions after the absurd accusation and confirmation of ESP. He’s permitted Bella to ask a couple of questions, which is odd in itself since what he is telling her would necessitate that she ask many follow ups. She asks the question regarding why he can’t read her mind and, “he sighed.”

See what I mean? He sighs impatiently like she’s pestering him with questions about some trivial matter that she’s making up in her head…the waitress from earlier perhaps, however since she is asking him about an ability that he possesses on everyone on the planet but her the question should have been anticipated. This might be excusable if he were actually 17 and not over a century old. This may, in fact, be the problem with the legions of fans of the relationship between the two. At seventeen we might cut a boy some slack because hormones are driving their actions, but at a certain point it ends, and certainly after a century he should behave somewhat better toward women.

The relationship has never been that good to begin with. Edward makes it worse by reminding Bella that he’s her guardian angel, only Edward can keep her safe, not even Bella can stay out of trouble without him. This sets up a one-way dependence relationship where if she begins to believe it (and she does) she will begin to understand that she’s completely helpless without him. This is the same mentality that keeps abused women going back to their husbands/boyfriends. Defenders might comment that Edward is correct, he has saved Bella twice so far.

That might be the case, we know that he did save her from the car accident. We don’t know what the four men were planning but up until Edward pulled up, all they had done was harass her. Yet, Edward reinforces the danger Bella is in by driving excessively fast. When she freaks out he explains that he’s never been in an accident nor ever gotten a ticket. That’s not the point though, the point is that Bella is obviously scared, Edward in true form argues before slowing down to 80. Every chance he gets Edward reminds her that she’s in danger and that it is only his will keeping her alive. He keeps her in a state of subjugation.

What’s worse is that she makes excuses for him, “Your eyes. I told you I had a theory…I’ve noticed that people-men in particular-are crabbier when they’re hungry.” He’s not angry because she’s asking questions, it’s because he’s hungry…silly blogger, I guess I have the whole thing wrong. Men get upset when they are hungry, not because some silly girl is asking pertinent questions about the nature of their being. Edward doesn’t need to relax, he needs to eat…which is worse considering what it is that he eats.

Edward goes on to reinforce his role in their relationship, “I suppose, being you, it could have been much worse–and that possibility tormented me the entire time I was away.” He feels panged when he’s not around her to protect her from herself. That is the “it” that he is referring to? The fact that she fell and scraped her hand a tiny bit. Something that was deemed to be of so little importance to Bella, that this is the first time that she is mentioning it. I don’t know what scenario he’s envisioning but unless her fall took place while she was walking on coals while juggling running chainsaws I don’t think that it really could have been much worse.

Edward then moves back to the much more dangerous situation of the four men. Bella didn’t run because she was trying to remember how to fight off an assailant, her brilliant plan, “I was going to smash his nose into his brain.”

Which is a profoundly bad idea for two important reasons. The first is despite what we all learned from the movie “The Last Boyscout” it isn’t actually possible. The nose isn’t made of bone, it’s made of cartilage, a substance that is significantly weaker than bone and tends to snap instead of driving like a nail into the gushy brain anyway. Breaking the nose is a good defensive move since it bleeds a good deal and will cloud the other person’s vision as their eyes reflexively water up. It won’t be fatal though. The other reason is that unless she was going to perform the maneuver in rapid succession four times in a row she was still in danger. Probably more so, after harming one of the attackers, as the awe factor would last approximately a second before one them grabbed her.

Another minor reason that this was a bad idea, is that Bella would have to overcome that clumsiness that she always reminds us of. Making a decent upward palm strike on an attacker is an action that requires coordination from a person that can’t play Badminton without falling down. In no way was Bella going to get out of this by herself. However, it is noteworthy that she at least had enough confidence to come up with something. The trouble is that Edward showed up and she didn’t have to assert herself in anyway.

Before she gets out of the car, Bella is told to take Edward’s jacket. He doesn’t want her to catch a cold, it’s a nice sentiment and odd coming from someone that has been reminding (and then proving although not in the way he intended) that he’s dangerous. I wonder what the gesture is motivated by, in Psychology one of the things we learned about sociopathy is that those people pay out like slot machines. They are good every so often making their victims think that there is some hope, Bella’s repeating over and over again to herself and to Edward throughout the book thus far that, “he’s not bad” is illustrative that this method has already worked on her.

The next day Bella awakes, her father gone, and she notices that Edward is in the driveway waiting for her in his shiny Volvo. He asks her if she would like to ride in his car to school. I wonder if this is Mormon second base, but he does ask which is a nice change of pace from his usual orders.

Maybe I’m being hard too hard on the whole thing. She’s young, he’s playing a seventeen year old, and this is how some teenage relationships are without ever turning into actual abuse. Surely the overly intelligent Bella, fan of Jane Austen, the girl who viewed Chaucer and Shakespeare as basic, who had to turn to books in Arizona because she was such a social outcast would see the signs and determine what she was getting used to. She couldn’t willingly engage in a dominating relationship, she knows better right?

 “He was really giving me a choice–I was free to refuse,”

Since this is viewed by her as a surprise, I guess she doesn’t.
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*i.e. I can only make these posts so long before people stop reading and just start skimming.

**Do a google search on Twilight and take a gander at some of the websites. You’ll see what I mean.

SB 1070

April 26, 2010 1 comment

I was teaching my very first course, Introduction to Ethics, and some time that Spring a huge immigration rally was being held in California. Being honest, it wasn’t about people of immigrant descent it was about the current immigration issue, which is politely put as “undocumented immigrants” in other words-illegal immigrants.

I decided to shelve the boring lectures on Kantian ethics (he’s so wrong it’s really hard to teach him) for something on illegal immigration by way of “applied ethics.” I was also unaware that I would be able to teach “Political Philosophy” the next semester, or else I probably would have waited until then. The point of the story is that when dealing with the topic of illegal immigration, in this society, we are talking about people coming in from Mexico. It’s foolish and disingenuous to even pretend that it’s another ethnic group that we are concerned about.

One of my students was of Mexican descent and he asked me why people were so concerned with keeping Mexicans out of the country. My reply, “Well, it’s your turn.”

I got the look from most of the class. The, he might be right but he shouldn’t say it, look. In either case I stand by the comment because it really is their turn, and after awhile this country will find some other group to try and keep out. American History is full of a wave of immigrants being resisted by the other immigrants who had been here longer. The fact that this Arizona state law passed, and then was enacted, shouldn’t be a surprise. The Republicans under Bush were going to do something like this (hence the rally that year) but the GOP split on the issue. I wasn’t sure what the split was about, only that the Democrats claimed it as a victory.

If you look at history, and your ancestors come from either African, Europe, or Asia chances are good that they were discriminated against. Lincoln wanted to send the former slaves back to Africa, Millard Fillmore wanted to not only stop Irish immigration but send them back as well, Germans-Japanese-Italians were put into camps in the 1940s, and the natives were continually exiled, contained, reserved, and then exiled again. The fact that recently the Mexican immigrants have come under fire is not a surprise that it is happening but only that they drew the short stick. In time it will be someone else’s turn. There are no new arguments, as even the whole issue regarding language was brought up by Theodore Roosevelt in regard to German immigrants not speaking English.

The Arizona law, makes sense from the standpoint that it is at least from a state that has the problem. Unlike some of the GOP Senators from Minnesota (Bachman) that probably is only aware of Mexican immigrants as a theory rather than a day to day issue.

The police provision is what I think the lamest, I also think that the first time that this goes before the courts it will be struck down, since it taxes the police with yet another task that is not what they signed up for. Now, in a state with a huge hispanic population, they can ask about immigration status if there is sufficient cause.

The cause issue is what will probably get the provision labeled “unconstitutional” since it will undoubtedly lead to cries of racism since it’s not like the Arizona State Troopers will be asking for my paperwork or if I’m a legal citizen of the country. It’s kind of a “if the shoe fits” law, the odds of someone being in this country illegally and being from, Russia, are a lot less in Arizona than from Mexico. Since you also have to “randomly screen” air travel instead of just screening people from high profile terrorism/drug countries because one doesn’t want to be politically correct.

If you disagree with the Arizona law you might better yourself with the understanding that the only reason that it was proposed is because the federal government (whose job it is to monitor and maintain the borders) doesn’t seem willing or able or both to do so. Arizona had to do something, and I didn’t hear one good argument against it. Which was odd I suppose.

Categories: current events, politics

Red Faction: Guerrilla

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I picked up the original Red Faction game back in ’01, it looked promising as it featured a program engine called “GeoMod” which allowed for a destructible environment. The promise behind “GeoMod” was that you could go through the wall blocking your path instead of having to go around it or spend hours and hours looking for an obscure key card. My previous experiences with First-Person-Shooters having been with Id Software’s Doom/Quake series and Duke Nukem, I thought the game would lend more to action than object hunting.

The game did deliver on the promise. Most of the structures in the game could be blown apart. Walls could be demolished, and more importantly enemy cover could be erased leaving the juicy inside ripe for the plucking. The game was too linear for the GeoMod to really make a difference though. The character, Parker, pretty much walked in a straight line and sometimes walls couldn’t be blown up because you aren’t meant to go there. The game did show promise.

And the third game in the series, Red Faction: Guerrilla, delivers on that promise. Taking place fifty years after the rescue of Mars by the Earth Defense Force (EDF), supporting the original hero, Parker from the evil Ultor Corporation, Red Faction: Guerrilla puts you into the shoes of Alex Mason. Mason, arrives on Mars to work with his brother as a miner who is subsequently killed on suspicion of terrorism by the EDF.

The saviors of the last game have become the villains of the new one, as they have adopted the very same oppressive tactics that Ultor had done in the past. As Alex Mason you are tasked with the oldest of motives: vengeance to subvert the rule of the EDF by blowing up barracks, ambushing convoys, rescuing prisoners, and destroying buildings. With the exception of the landscape of Mars, everything can be blown up in this game.

The best comparison I can give is to think of it as Grand Theft Auto: Mars. It’s open world, you can just drive around and explore the area collecting salvage instead of performing your missions until you think you are ready enough to advance forward. As you get better and better at being a freedom fighter, the population will begin to support you. This means that civilians will start fighting along side you when you inevitably run afoul of the EDF troops. Like all revolutions it cannot succeed without support of the population, and neither can you.

The game features many different types of vehicles as well, most of them are utility trucks for use in the mines (which we never actually visit), some are modified with weapons, others are cars/vans in the residential sectors, but you will clamor for the military vehicles as they feature better weapons and armor. The technology the game features seems advanced enough the player knows they are in the future but not so far as to destroy immersion. The Red Faction’s weapons all have the look of being cobbled together from other things while the EDF weaponry is clearly military issue.

Aside from the basic rundown the game play consists of large story missions and several different side missions designed to liberate each sector in the colonized area of Mars. These side missions get repetitive after awhile, consisting of stealing a vehicle, rescuing POWs, raiding EDF installations, defending civilians, or causing general mayhem with Jenkins (an environmental terrorist). The repetition arise mainly from the straighforwardness of your attacks. Sneaking around is beneficial to get the layout of barracks, but you can’t just plant demolition explosives and then run out to detonate them as any guard spotting either you or an explosive will begin shooting.

What the game needs is the ability to recruit fellow Red Faction members, and plan an assault. There were numerous times that I felt a hit and run on a satellite installation would be helpful in drawing away guards from the vehicle storage that I wanted to level. Even if you start the first attack the population that will sometimes help you out in a gun fight won’t stick around, they just blindly follow you even if it means they are walking while you are driving an APC.

Entertainment is offered as well in some side puzzle missions where you are given a couple of explosives and a time limit to bring down a building. These are fun giving you such mission objectives as, “Any idiot with enough explosives can bring down a building, the question is, ‘do you want to be that idiot?”

The story about freeing Mars gets pretty thin at times. One mission involved stealing a high value piece of equipment and then delivering it to a truck then escorting the truck, but you are never given the reasons why. Clearly the main character would be considered a terrorist, and I think the plot of the game would have been much better served if there was some ambiguity as to who the bad guys really were. Perhaps future sequels will put in choices, or make the game more of a mystery.

Finally, for fans of the original there are several nods to it in this game. Two of zones are named after characters from the first, “Parker” and “Eos.” The best is playing through the rusted remnants of Dr. Capek’s lab that looks the same as it did on the PS2 which even brought back the memory of playing it for the first time.

I highly recommend the game, it’s great fun and lends toward expressing that destructive impulse that I’m sure I can’t be alone in feeling from time to time.

Categories: reviews, video game review

One from the Left and One from the Right part II

April 22, 2010 2 comments

No, I didn’t forget. So the Right wing gets their due attack for bat shit over reaction. The thing about this story is that it isn’t impossible for their allegation to be true.

The story is that on April 9th, the chief fundraiser for Bobby Jindal (governor of Louisiana) was involved in an altercation that resulted in a broken leg. If you read the story it sounds like Allee Bautsch (the fundraiser) stepped in to break up a fight between her boyfriend and approximately 3-5 other people. The fight was provoked by the men who made derogatory comments that so far are of an undisclosed nature.

I first encountered the story on Saturday while my Dad was watching Fox News. The program was taking the stance that the attack was politically motivated, it went so far as to call Allee’s mother making that accusation over and over again in the form of a “what if” so that they can remain free of being sued. To her credit the victim’s mother never took the accusation as anything more than a possibility. But the desk reporter for Fox News kept saying what if, what if.

The police report says 3-5 men, and that the fight started after Allee’s boyfriend turned towards the men. I ask, what is more probable; that the men made a lewd comment toward Bautsch and that her boyfriend turned toward them in a “what did you just say?” attitude, as the fight begins Bautsch steps in to break it up, causing the injury. The report is clear that Allee Bautsch was not attacked, there was a scuffle involving her boyfriend (broken nose, concussion) which she sustained an injury after attempting to break it up.

Or: these men hung around the fundraiser until she left, made a comment designed to provoke the boyfriend, hoping that Bautsch would step in so that they could injure her?

I’m not saying that the second scenario isn’t possible but that it is the far more improbable of the two. Given that it’s unlikely that anyone would know who Governor Jindal’s chief fundraiser is it would mean that these attackers got lucky in their attempt to harass random people coming from the fundraiser which was being held at a New Orleans restaurant, a town not exactly known for its low crime rate. I don’t know what purpose it served to jump to such conclusions other than adding to an otherwise full atmosphere of fear.

Categories: current events, politics

The Powers that Be (The Twilight Walkthrough Pg. 176-188)

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This section is a lot like the final Episode of Lost is going to be: it’s satisfactory which disappoints in a way because I wanted so much more. I don’t know exactly what I wanted so I’m not too disappointed but the feeling is still there. We are still in Port Angeles, where it is revealed that Edward is a stalker. Following Bella to keep her safe from the inevitable danger that surrounds her even though she’s only been in two dangerous scenarios (and that’s being generous).

It’s been established that Edward has telepathic vampire powers. Instead of playing with the powers Bella goes on to be jealous of every woman that is smiling at Edward at the Italian Restaurant where they are eating. What I don’t understand, and it is a continual complaint regarding her, is why she claims that she is so smart and inquisitive when she doesn’t express a single characteristic of that personality type. Let’s take a look at this ESP.

Bella basically tells Edward that he has it, it makes no sense that she would draw this conclusion, but he confirms it anyway because he is such a good secret keeper. Instead of following up with some obvious questions she just accepts it and moves on. For example when they leave the table Edward pays the waitress setting up an obvious inquiry line for Bella: “He didn’t look away from me as he thanked her. I suppressed a smile.”

Bella is suspicious of the waitress because she thinks that the woman, who needs to smile and be friendly so that she is tipped well, has the hots for Edward. Instead of asking Edward to read her mind she just smiles because he possibly snubbed her. Anything to display the powers that he has would work here, but Bella, just isn’t as inquisitive or intelligent as she would like us to think she is (it bears repeating…often). A normal person, when confronted with the claim of ESP would seek to test it, the more intelligent the person is the more they are going to be skeptical and ask for proof. Blind acceptance isn’t a trait that Bella should have if we are to believe her.

The whole section is about Edward’s powers and it’s done as a “tell” violating the rule of “show don’t tell” that anyone who has taken a creative writing class should know. In this case, I’ll leap to Meyer’s defense since she has to explain Edward’s nature in the confines of a restaurant and then a car, so most of it works. It’s not bad writing, but it’s not great writing either; it’s competent which is much more than I was led to expect before I began this project.

Leaving the restaurant, Edward in an unusual display of courtesy opens the door of his car to let Bella in. He shuts the door and walks around the front, “I watched him walk around the front of the car, amazed, yet again, by how graceful he was.”

Here is where Meyer should be following the “show don’t tell” rule. Edward is walking a maximum of 7 feet what kind of grace can he exhibit? More importantly, why is he so graceful? I don’t know how people walked one hundred years ago but I can’t imagine that it was any different than it is now. What is also important is whether or not Bella unlocked his door for him, or even tried. This is a rule explained by Sonny in the movie A Bronx Tale. You let the girl in, and walk around the car, if she has unlocked the door she is a keeper*, if not she’s selfish and you should dump her.

In the car, Bella grills Edward more about the telepathy, “‘How does it work-the mind reading thing? Can you read anybody’s mind, anywhere? How do you do it? Can the rest of your family…?’ I felt silly asking for clarification on make-believe.”

The questions are very pertinent, although the timing is completely wrong. She asks them in the car on the way back to Forks. Again, the restaurant would have been better. I would also like to know if he could read an Infant’s mind, since it would settle an old philosophical debate concerning Rationalism v. Empiricism. The explanation he gives is good. He explains that, “It’s a little like being in a huge hall filled with people, everyone talking at once.”

It reminds me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Genertaion, where the most useless person on the bridge, Troi, takes in a Betazoid prodigy who has been telepathic since birth and is unable to shut out the voices (Season 3: Tin Man). Edward just lets them buzz around like white noise, something it doesn’t seem that the inept Troi** ever suggested.

The next line of inquiry is pretty relevant too, Bella wants to know why Edward can’t read her mind. Again, Edward explains it well as a guess, he thinks that Bella’s brain is different and it’s like her’s is on Am but he only gets FM. Nice explanation but Bella takes it the wrong way, “My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?’ The words bothered me more than they should–probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.

Well unless by “work right” Bella means, falsely superior, lacking all confidence, prone to lying to itself, then yes it doesn’t. This is all based on Edward’s guess, and we can assume this is the first time he’s encountered it. If he hasn’t then in a hundred more years he’ll probably have a better one for the girl he’s stalking then. The other thing is that Bella has so far been spending her time bragging about how different she is, then becomes upset when that is confirmed. It further adds to the confusion as to whether I’m supposed to identify or pity her, instead leading me to being disgusted with her.

Aside from the ridiculous, but apparently true, theory of Edward’s telepathy Bella has the theory that he’s a vampire. She confesses the whole story to him, which is unnecessarily summarized, although she does skip the part about the internet research (as would I). Edward doesn’t reply to any of it but it’s unclear whether this is out of loyalty to his family, embarrassment, or reluctance to admit his essence. All we know is that his knuckles tightened around the steering wheel.***

So finally, the nature of Meyer’s vampire: burning in the sun? “Myth.” Which is fine, because Stoker’s Dracula walked in the daylight as well. It’s addressed in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula that this is not true either but that the powers of the vampire diminish.

Sleeping in a coffin? Again this is wrong, but not in the way you are thinking. These vampires don’t sleep at all. I will give her credit for this, because it’s at least creative. However Bella has the ability of the Warren Commission to ask follow up questions the most obvious being, “So what do you do all day?” As it is literally, all day. He should be incredibly intelligent, pop-culture savvy, or his gamerscore on XBOX Live is through the roof. Having all that extra time doesn’t seem to be helping him any, unless that’s how long it takes him to get ready for school.

You aren’t concerned about my diet?’ he asked sarcastically.” I don’t get the adverb in that sentence. For someone who is so concerned about her safety, this shouldn’t be a glib comment. She isn’t, because she’s already decided he’s the one despite the fact that his personality reminds me of Ted Bundy and he is a blood drinker.

Since this is a modern Vampire story, we have to do away with the Vampire preys on humans angle because so many people, especially the book’s intended audience, actually want to be Vampires without all the mess of having to eat people. They can live off of animal blood, well that is still life they are leaching so it’s not so bad and what I do like is how he explains the difference, “I can’t be sure, of course, but I’d compare it to living on tofu and soy milk.

So refraining from drinking human blood is like being a vegetarian? Does this mean that the other Vampires in the world regard the Cullens as smug, pretentious, holier-than-thou douche bags who ruin every meal they are invited to? Probably, I’ll bet that Volvo has an Apple sticker on the back as well.

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*It actually is a good indicator, in my experience. Although I do amend the rule so that it is whether or not she attempts to unlock the door. It can be hard to find the button nowadays and you can’t fault anyone for that.

**Before you Trekkies go all crazy on me let me ask you this: has she ever contributed anything to an episode other than stating the completely obvious?

***He does get upset, but I’m saving that for next week because there is a larger issue concerning his stalking present along with it.

One from the Left and One from the Right

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been an explosive weekend for batshit conspiracy accusations. Both having to do with ordinary natural events given a much more sinister explanation than is necessary. I’m happy to announce that I can get one from each end of the political spectrum’s choice of media for this, NPR and Fox News, which makes me both giddy (as a blogger) and sad (as a human being).

A coin toss has determined that we start on the left side of rainbow and get to the right later in the week.

Taking a long car ride to my parent’s house on Friday I listened to the Diane Rehm show on the local NPR station. It’s a round table discussion with three guests and the host, Rehm, who sounds like she’s on the wrong end of being centennial. Her picture suggests that she’s much younger than she sounds, but I digress. The Friday show is the one that I listen to because I’m usually driving in the car for a long period of time, but it’s also the political news round-up where they spend one hour on domestic and the next on foreign affairs. As far as I can tell the panelists are pretty well balanced, it’s better than Real Time and most of the discussion goes to the issue rather than the color celebrity’s batshit crazy opinion, and there isn’t an entirely left wing studio audience to make the right wing guests feel uncomfortable.

The problem for the show occurs when they open that air for phone calls from the listeners. It is consistent that there must be one crazy person to call in and this week was no disappointment. The caller asked about some of the recent natural events, Earthquakes in Haiti, Peru, China, and the Eyjafjallajokull* eruption, the caller believed that global warming was to blame.

I’m all for conservation of resources, recycling, environmentalism, and such. I’ve mentioned it many times before and stand by it. It’s tough some times but I like to way the balance of doing what I feel is good for the planet as being more important than my convenience. However, I am not a fan of Al Gore’s movie nor am I a panic-driven doomsayer. More than being a neophyte environmentalist, I am a skeptic who believes in the rational. The scientific method will always trump my desire to believe things.

Also, I am not any of the following: geologist, meteorologist, seismologist, climatologist. I do have some knowledge however of how the planet works and can honestly say that Earthquakes are the result of plate tectonics and not weather. Just because the quality of the quakes has ramped up a bit, and I’m not even sure that they have, is not indicative of changes in the global temperature as a result of pollution. “We” are not responsible for the shifting of plate tectonics, nor for the pressure build up that results in the eruption of a volcano that is probably named after one of the creatures guarding Norse Hel (and that is spelled correctly). Now I see that MSNBC (who else?) is putting articles on their website saying that this is the case.

To their credit, they are at least finding scientists to make claims. Even though they are claiming that the current eruption of Eyjafjallajokull cannot, because the volcano is too small to be affected. They also miss the words “apparently” and “could be” as weasel words that cover the author’s ass in case they are wrong.

The great irony is that it is mother nature herself that is contributing to global warming since this huge cloud of ash, which is shutting down air traffic from England to Africa, will have the same effect as all that smoke coming from coal power plants, SUVs, and cow farms. It’s like trying to save the Panda, damn thing won’t save itself so at what point do we just quit?

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*Here’s a fun fact, I have yet to hear one anchor or reporter even attempt this name.

Categories: current events