Friday, September 30, 2005

Alabama State Senator Explains God's Wrath

    You've got to watch this. I've never seen a senator say something as stupid as this on a major news station. Some religious fanatic sure, but a senator? It's interesting how the smile on his face doesn't seem to go away very quickly even when Scarborough is describing suffering children. With senators and other government officials believing stuff like this, it's perfectly logical for them to think that we're going to ward off future natural disasters by spending public tax dollars to build churches rather than levees. This is just absolutely sickening.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thoughts on Yesterday

    So the anti-war rally was very interesting yesterday. I have to say that it's the first time that I was ever involved in any sort of protest and I came away viewing it as a very positive experience and it made me think about some stuff that hadn't thought about before. So let me break down my thoughts in a few categories for organizational clarity.

  • General Overview

  •     Like I said yesterday, the anti-war rallies took place in Washington D.C., San Francisco, London, Vancouver, L.A., Seattle, and there were other smaller demonstrations going on in other cities. The rally in San Francisco that I attended gathered a total of 50,000 people (by estimates from organizers) that marched through the streets. It should be said that the police estimated the total gathered to be 20,000 people, so even though they may be biased or have poor estimation abilities, they did have helicopters so I think their estimate may be more likely. The amount that gathered in Washington D.C. was reported to be 100,000 people (by the police). There were people from all walks of life there, from anarchists to religious groups. Ages varied throughout the entire range. When the front of the march reached its destination point an hour or so after the start the tail of the march hadn't even started to move yet. At the park I happened to run into the founder of Choose Reality who was passing out bumper stickers, so that was pretty neat to meet someone who was another active online atheist in the real world.

  • On the Perception of Being A Powerless Minority

  •     We often talk in the atheist community about how we are very small minority and so the prospects for us getting a rational worldview being endorsed by our government to be something of an unlikely dream. I think this is incorrect and only plays into the hands of those who wish to control our government for their own purposes because for many of us, if we don't think we can win we're not likely to try very hard. Yesterday I saw many people who could see through the bullshit that not only the adminstration puts out, but also the bullshit the media puts out. And many of these people were not atheists. And I identified with these people and felt like we were a group of thinking, concerned citizens even though I knew they probably believed in a magical sky daddy or two. See, what I've come to realize is that there are many aspects of having a realistic outlook of the world. Some of us see through the religious bullshit very easily, but then we are still fooled by the non-religious crap that we were indoctrinated with at the beginning of our lives. These things, I believe, include strong feelings of jingoism, a strong commitment to free market capitalism and the associated economic belief that both the rich and the poor "earn what they get", as well as the inability to see that the corporate-owned media is, without exaggeration, essentially propaganda. However, there are some people who see the latter stuff very early in life but still believe in the ridiculous religious stuff. And I believe that which path you take depends on a variety of factors, from different experiences in life, stronger interest in either religious or political/economic/information reality, or a stronger indoctrination in the other category. Now there may be more categories of realistic outlook that I haven't listed here, and that's because it's very possible that I still have beliefs that don't reflect the truth and so I don't recognize it as such.

        Now personally, I came to the religious reality part very early in my life. It was what I was interested in thinking about. However, in the other sense I believe I was a total fool up to even 6 months ago. I was extremely patriotic, a fervent believer in capitalism and that freedom was incompatible with anything else, and guess what, I even voted for Bush--twice. I watched the mainstream news very often, and a year ago I even watched O'Reilly thinking that I was in the No-Spin zone and that he was "looking out for me". Luckily for me O'Reilly made a very negative comment about atheists one day on his program, and so I was able to use my liberation from the religious aspect of reality to free myself from his crap, and so I started watching CNN (whoop de fucking doop). Thinking back to how fooled I was so recently embarresses the hell out of me not only when I say it, but just thinking about it.

        So attempting to get back on topic. I am going to start evalutating people's grip on reality not merely as whether they are a theist or an atheist, but also to the extent that they believe in the other types of dogma that exist out there. And I really like it, because it gives me new hope when I think about whether or not positive changes can occur in the world. I know that there is a much larger percentage of the population which has at least a partial grip on reality, and hopefully I can help them come to grips with both that I've found. Of course, hopefully they will help me out in eliminating crap that I believe as well.

  • The Media's Coverage of The Rally

  •     Was actually much, much worse than even I thought it would be. I thought I would be able to see uses of words and emphasis that showed a clear bias, but I didn't even have to look that far. The coverage was pathetic, and I talked a little about it in the last post. That article that I linked to yesterday morning was the article that they ran on cnn, msnbc, and fox news. They gave most of the voice to the pro-war people, despite it being coverage of an anti-war rally. The voices of the rally that they did give voice to they felt compelled to mention that they were still Bush supporters and that they didn't think immediate withdrawal of troops was a good idea, but that we should do it gradually. So they effectively portrayed the anti-war position as being the same position that the president has. Fantastic. The news media will give a front-page story when a dog rescues someone but they can't give a voice to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who spent most of their Saturday protesting. Looking at the "Coverage" today upsets me also. They cover a tiny rally by "defenders of Iraq war" (which was chosen despite the much more brief term "pro-war", but whatever, the rally yesterday was "anti-" instead of "defenders of peace" or something like that). In the article today they give the police estimate for the D.C rally yesterday instead of using the organizers's estimate of 300,000. But for the pro-war rally they quote one of the organizers for the number they are preparing for, "just to be on the safe side". The article also makes sure to include a statement that the war supporters are "the silent majority" while having a photo from the anti-war rally showing young people with painted faces going crazy. Oh my, what a dream world this anti-war advocates live in...

    Update: Today I found reported that the pro-war rally had a total of 500 people in attendance, just a smidge lower than the 25,000 that CNN led us to believe would be there. Yet they still got equal media time with the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated across the U.S. on Saturday.

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Attending the Anti-War Rally Tomorrow

         Many of you may have heard about the massive demonstrations that will be taking place tomorrow in places across the country to protest the Iraq war and everything else that people are sick of. Rallies will take place in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, in addition to others that I didn't take the time to look up. Some have said that it may be the largest protest in America since the Vietnam War. I intend to go to SF tomorrow and take place in the festivities and will let you all know what it was like on Sunday. For those of you that attended or saw one of the rallies yourself I'd be interested in knowing what you thought, and I'd also be curious to get an idea to the extent that the media covered these events in your area. Saturday night I'll be in San Francisco playing a drinking game at a collection of bars with friends so let's just hope I remember what happened myself come Sunday morning....

    The SF demonstration starts in an hour, but looking at CNN so far, the coverage is worse than expected. Note how half the article is dedicated to talking to people who are for the war, despite the fact that they are vastly outnumbered. Also notice that a man they interviewed who is against the war, still supports the president on other issues. Another man against the war, is quoted as saying that the removal of troops needs to happen but that it needs to be slow. Well fucking great, that's the president's position as well. I really hope they do a better job as the other demonstrations get going.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    I'll have an actual post tomorrow hopefully, it's been a long week...

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    The Daily Show and the Evolution-I D "debate"

        For those of you that don't know, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is having a week-long special discussing the debate between evolution and intelligent design. The special hopes to shed some light on the following questions

  • What other theories are out there?

  • Who's on the frontlines of this debate?

  • Should your child's curriculum really be decided by experts in their respective fields?

  •     Last night's show was hilarious. This morning one of the videos was up on the web here. Just click on "History of Evolution" and enjoy. I'd also expect the special report by Ed Helms to be online sometime soon (maybe today?) which was even more funny than the one I linked to. Last night they also had Chris Mooney on as a guest to talk about his book The Republican War on Science. Tonight's guest will be Kurt Vonnegut. Last night's show will also run today around 7c/8p with the new show coming on tonight at 10c/11p.

    UPDATE: Ed Helms' report is up now as well. It's titled "Evolution Tour:Scopes Trial". I recommend you check it out.

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    Support Fact-Based Initiatives

        So I was over at Evangelical Atheist and made a comment about how a leader of the Family Research Council was trying to use the Katrina disaster to justify why we should divert resources to faith-based initiatives. Anyway, I wrote that the government should only be focused on fact-based initiatives, especially while we're running a deficit. Someone besides me thought it was a cool phrase so I made this banner to put on my blog. I googled the phrase and apparently it's been used before so I'm not the first to use it. Feel free to use the banner if you like.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    This is really starting to piss me off

         I have to admit that the first day that the hurricane hit I didn't really care too much about it. I figured it was going to be pretty much like all the other hurricanes. Sure, maybe a few people would die from being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but once put into context of all the death and destruction around the world, it would be insignificant. Well I was wrong. This truly is a horrible disaster and the way that the government has responded has been criminal in my opinion. And now there is no doubt in my mind that we are absolutely unprepared for any terrorist attack. They knew the hurricane was coming and look at the situation. Terrorists usually don't let you track them coming in through the Gulf.

        Here's a heartbreaking video from the President of Jefferson parish, Louisiana.

    Saturday, September 03, 2005

    The Best Video Clip I've Ever Seen

         I don't know if you all saw this, but last night NBC and other networks aired a Concert for Hurricane Relief which was hosted by Mike Myers and Kanye West. Kanye West took advantage of the event being live and spoke out against the response to Hurricane Katrina by the Bush administration and by the media, even saying that "George Bush doesn't care about black people". The reactions by Mike Myers are hilarious as well as the contrast you see between Myer's empty, politically correct statements and West's unscripted, candid views about the situation. This segment was censored however for those of us on the West Coast, so we didn't get the chance to see it. But the video is here.