freeptop: (Default)
One of the arguments I've frequently heard when it comes to things like paying for public education, or helping the poor, or, really, pretty much any social program, is frequently expressed as, "why should I pay for something that only helps someone else?" (And yes, I've heard it in almost those exact words). The answer is simple: because the whole point of "civilization" is that the stronger and wealthier help out the weaker and poorer. In return, we gain an overall stronger society, in that we can lift up those who are worse off.

Contrary to the claims of some, that isn't a "Communist" idea. Communism takes it to an extreme, but the basic idea of the strong supporting the weak is the whole foundation of any type of civilization. Otherwise, you end up with everyone fending for themselves alone. Which, incidentally, is the very definition of "Anarchy".
freeptop: (Default)
Wow. This is actually the most logical explanation of Fred Phelps and the so-called "Westboro Baptist Church" I've ever seen. It makes far too much sense to not be accurate. Which only makes Phelps and his family even more reprehensible.

(Stolen from [ profile] ls56)
freeptop: (Default)
Let's compare and contrast two different headlines for the exact same article:
"Obama shares dreams for his kids in book on 13 Americans"

"Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Defeated U.S. General"

If you didn't follow the links, I'll spoil the punchline for you: The first headline is from USA Today. The second headline was the one run by Fox, which then posts a brief excerpt of the USA Today article, and then provides a link to that same first article. For added fun, that second headline was "corrected for historical accuracy" - the original headline was "Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General".

That's what counts as "Fair and Balanced" news, apparently.
freeptop: (Default)
One of the GOPs talking points is always about how "activist judges" "legislate from the bench" instead of "strictly interpreting the Constitution" as it was written.

Well, here's an exchange between two "Constructionists" on the Supreme Court that I think does a good job of showing why that argument has always been a farce:

'"I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games," Alito said to laughter in the courtroom.

"No, I want to know what James Madison thought about violence," Scalia retorted.'

As society changes and technology advances, it simply isn't possible to only take into account what the original writers of the Constitution and its amendments intended. There are so many situations they simply never conceived that are now commonplace. One always has to interpret the Constitution in the context of the current times. Otherwise, we end up trying to figure out how James Madison felt about video games.
freeptop: (Default)

If you remember, get out and vote tomorrow.
freeptop: (Default)
I'm just about reduced to gibberish by this one:
'Mr. Palermo, also a math teacher, rehashed this point again before the board during the public comment section.

He pointed out that the existing policy could jeopardize students who might be in the running for athletic scholarships.

And, he said, it was unreasonable to expect every student to get above a D in math.

"A quarter of our students are special [education]. Do we honestly think all of these kids can get a D in math?" he said.'
(Bolded for emphasis by me).

I'm sorry, but yes, it is quite reasonable to expect every student to get above a D in math. If they aren't, then you aren't teaching it properly. And yes, that includes special needs kids. Special needs kids can learn, you just have to figure out how they learn, and help them.

I am furious about this. I'm just glad it isn't the school district I'm living in right now.
freeptop: (Default)
I'll let some other people do the writing, because they did a much better job than I can:

"As The Economist puts it:

Using the IPCC’s assessment of probabilities, the sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide of less than 1.5C in such a scenario has perhaps one chance in ten of being correct. But if the IPCC were underestimating things by a factor of five or so, that would still leave only a 50:50 chance of such a desirable outcome. The fact that the uncertainties allow you to construct a relatively benign future does not allow you to ignore futures in which climate change is large, and in some of which it is very dangerous indeed. The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction."

"Why are conservatives so radical about the climate?"
"John Raese, who is leading the Senate race in West Virginia and who says proudly that he was “a tea partier before the Tea Party existed,” recently declared that “one volcano puts out more carbon dioxide than everything that man puts out.” This doesn’t tell you anything about volcanoes. (Actually, humans emit about one hundred times more carbon than volcanoes.)"
"[T]here’s a kind of right-wing nationalism that demands we take no action until China, India, and the rest have played their part. But that doesn’t even make mathematical sense—China’s per capita emissions are one-quarter of ours. If leadership in the world means anything, then that imposes certain burdens on us."
"What missionaries and militaries have in common is that they have to deal with reality. In fact, that was always the trump card of conservatism: It refused to indulge in sentimentality and idealism, insisting on seeing the world as it was. But, at the moment, it’s the right that is indulging in illusion, insisting, fists balled up and face turning red, that the reports from scientists simply can’t be true."
(The whole article is worth reading, but I thought the above points were worth quoting in particular).
freeptop: (Default)
[ profile] kasra_c and I went to see Roger Waters perform The Wall live last night. That was, hands down, the most amazing concert I have ever been to. And I've been to some amazing concerts. Words simply don't do the concert justice.

It went at times from bombastic to melancholy, and all the emotions stirred by the album are simply magnified by the spectacle. From the opening pyrotechnics to the closing simple setup of the band members in t-shirts at the front of the stage, it was just an amazing show. Awesome, in the most literal sense of the word. Wow.

I've read before about how it was done 30 years ago, with the Wall being built up during the show, but until you're standing there at intermission with a giant 30 foot tall wall staring at you across the stage, you just can't get the impact of it simply from reading descriptions.

If you get a chance to see this show, you simply must take advantage of it.
freeptop: (Default)
"Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of [anthropogenic climate change (ACC)] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers."

Somehow, though, this concept is still debated (especially by politicians) like it is merely a matter of opinion. Sorry folks, but science doesn't work that way.
freeptop: (Default)
'Prop. 8 lead attorney Charles Cooper told the judge in closing arguments in June that marriage between heterosexual couples is "fundamental to the survival of the human race."'

This is the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard for banning same-sex marriage.
1) Banning same-sex marriage doesn't magically turn homosexual people into heterosexual people. If that were true, there never would have been a movement to make same-sex marriage legal in the first place.
2) Allowing same-sex marriage doesn't prevent people from having kids. Heterosexual couples (and lesbians who make use of a sperm bank) can still make children! With or without marriage, even!

Another argument I thought was pretty ridiculous:
'Prop. 8 backers said in court papers that a stay of Walker's ruling is "essential to averting the harms that would flow from another purported window of same-sex marriage in California."'

Yes, because there was just so much harm that resulted from the previous window of same-sex marriage in California.

I've never seen a single argument against same-sex marriage that wasn't simply discrimination. I'm glad the judge saw it the same way. Now to hope that the appeals courts see this blatantly obvious fact as well.

(All quotes taken from: )
freeptop: (Default)
"Mr. DeWeese later said he may have threatened to fire them in the heat of anger, but that he didn't mean it."

He actually tried to use "I didn't really mean it!" as a legal defense. In court. Wow. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

No, wait, scratch that, it's definitely funny, albeit in a dark humor kind of way.
freeptop: (Default)
The "birther" movement simply amazes me. For the simple reason that even when evidence is provided, repeatedly, that proves that President Obama was born in Hawaii, they simply refuse to believe that evidence has been furnished, and continue to claim that Obama "refuses to produce a birth certificate."

That birth certificate, along with newspaper birth notices from the time of his birth, have been made public, by the way.

I guess if you're never willing to actually take the time to do any research, or, in fact, learn anything, you can be convinced to believe all kinds of things. Sometimes I wonder if you could convince people that the sky isn't blue, just by not teaching them to never look up.
freeptop: (Default)
I'm a bit late on this one, but right now I've got the right combination of time and anger to write about it.
"The law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if there's reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally. It also requires legal immigrants to carry their immigration documents."

I'm glad the US Attorney General is not only fighting the law as being unconstitutional all on its own, but also going to keep an eye on making sure there is no racial profiling, because, let's be honest, the only way this law is going to be used is that the police are going to harass Hispanics. If anyone can tell me what would give a police officer a "reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally", without using their race, I'd like to know it (and no, anonymous tips don't qualify - those should be sent to INS, so the Federal Government can do its job. The law was designed to allow police officers to go after people they see on the street).

Here's an obvious problem with the law: while it requires legal immigrants to carry their immigration documents, it does not (nor can it) require natural-born citizens from carrying documents that prove they are US Citizens. So, what happens if an Arizona police officer decides a Hispanic person might be in the country illegally, and demands the papers of a natural-born citizen? They won't have them, of course, and suddenly an innocent person is going to jail, until they can prove they were born here. Don't think this won't happen, either.

This law allows police officers to assume people are guilty until proven innocent, with no more basis than their appearance. If it's not obvious how big of a problem that is, I suggest a review of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is in order.
freeptop: (Default)
"The court papers described a new high-tech spy-to-spy communications system used by the defendants: short-range wireless communications between laptop computers"

"In the papers, FBI agents said the defendants communicated with Russian agents using mobile wireless transmissions between laptop computers, which has not previously been described in espionage cases brought in the U.S.: They established a short-range wireless network between laptop computers of the agents and sent encrypted messages between the computers while they were close to each other."

Dear Associated Press,
This "new high-tech spy-to-spy communications system" you described sounds exactly the same as ad hoc wireless networks - which have been commercially available since at least 1999, if not sooner. Even if we're going to talk about the more modern encryption algorithms, we're still talking about technology that has been available commercially (and in the laptops your reporters write on) since at least 2004.


Quote taken from:
freeptop: (talbot)
Just as promised, Brent Sopel (formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks, now with the Atlanta Thrashers) took the Stanley Cup to the Chicago Gay Pride Parade. Outnews caught up with him and asked him a few questions on camera, which they posted on YouTube. The best part? The interviewer was trying to make innuendo, and it went completely over Sopel's head :)
freeptop: (talbot)
The Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL are making special arrangements to accommodate a request by the Chicago Gay Hockey Association's request to have the Stanley Cup and one of the Champion players attend the Chicago Gay Pride Parade.

Brent Sopel, a defenseman for the Stanley Cup Winning Blackhawks, and his family will march in the parade, with the Stanley Cup.,250390

It's also worth noting that the Chicago Cubs will also have a float in the parade.

Major League Sports are notoriously unfriendly for gay men. So it is good to see something like this happen. Hopefully, it will help break down a few barriers.
freeptop: (dj_freeptop)
[ profile] eustaciavye is trying to start a new meme that I think is pretty cool, so I'm passing it along:

Below is a list of all the live performances I have been to and a list of artists I haven't seen that I must see before I die. Artists I have seen also have a one word review. Reply in comments with your lists and, if you so choose, post it in your own LJ with a similar request.

Read more... )
freeptop: (Default)
The title is "Imagine if the Tea Party Movement Was Black":

I think it makes the point rather well.
freeptop: (Default)
Here's a random idea: if all these "Tea Partiers" and similar minded folks hate paying taxes so much, let's make a deal with them: they can stop paying taxes, and in return, they stop using anything supported by taxes unless they pay fees for their use (this may mean additional fees for some things for which fees already exist).

So, if they want to use any roads or sidewalks? They get to pay a regular fee. Otherwise they have to stay home. They want to call the police? There's another fee. They want to buy food? How about an extra fee to make up for the subsidies they aren't paying into. Oh, and there will be a regular fee charged just for breathing and drinking water, since taxes pay for enforcing pollution laws. If they want any emergency services, they'd better be ready to pony up as well. They'll probably need to get an extra surcharge on most of the goods they buy, since taxpayer money helps the rail industry as well.

Oh, and they'd better be willing to start paying a regular fee for GPS use, and extra fees for any sort of telecommunication. Satellites aren't cheap after all.

Huh, I guess that sounds suspiciously like taxes. Only, you know, more expensive. Funny how that works.
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