Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MONA - Anti-bullying legislation for Missouri schools

Sara Lampe is pushing for this, and PROMO, Missouri's LGBT advocacy group, is also behind it.

There was an article in the News-Leader yesterday, on the front page, and of course, it looks like there's backlash in the comment section of the online version of the story. There are 16 pages of comments. I don't know if there good or bad, since I haven't read them yet. I'm having too good of a day to ruin it with ridiculous Ozarks hate, but if you would like to go talk some sense into anyone who is being hateful, that would be awesome. Since that's what we do.

http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081229/NEWS01/812290347&s=d&page=13#pluckcomments

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rick Warren should also shampoo my crotch

As everybody knows, Rick Warren, the homophobic fraud pastor of the Saddleback Church (yee-haw!), will be giving Obama's invocation.

Rick Warren: "I believe no such thing. I never have. You've never heard me once in thirteen years talk about that."

He's talking about equating gay marriage with incest and pedophilia. He said this last Sunday.

And now, Rachael Maddow, take it way.



And that old gem, "I actually love gay people." I believe he's sincere when he says that, as are most religious people who say it. I believe Warren is concerned and trying to do right. The problem is that because he has blocked out reason from his worldview, his faith has poisoned his mind so that his genuine concern has become prejudice and bigotry that he, and many other religious people, have ignorantly branded as "love."

Hey, my god insists that punching Christians in the face thirteen and a half times will make it snow twenty-dollar bills, and that if they accept my god (let's call Her Fuckus Prejudus, in all Her holiness) as their Lord and Savior, then it will snow FIFTY-DOLLAR BILLS for for each new convert, and that they'll get chocolate pudding in Heaven forever. So I sock them right in the jaw as commanded because I love them and want them to have pudding.

Shit, I forgot to employ checks against my belief set to make sure I'm not espousing stupid ideas that would make me an obtuse son of a bitch if I were wrong. Oh well, how important can that be? These are my beliefs.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bush is a gay rights douche bag. Who knew?

The other day, still-president Bush and his administration took a break from not doing anything aside from watching the seconds tick down on their administration to refuse to sign a UN resolution urging the decriminalization of homosexuality world-wide.

In all, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the nonbinding declaration -- which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with any-gay discrimination. More than 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality, and in several of them homosexual acts can be punished by execution.

Let me take a moment to harp on precisely what this means. Our president refused to sign a measure that would encourage those around the world not to imprison or kill homosexuals.

But don't worry, we don't like it when human rights are violated:

Carolyn Vadino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., stressed that the United States -- despite its unwillingness to sign -- condemned any human rights violations related to sexual orientation.

Then put your money where your mouth is instead of condoning it with your signature and only paying lip service to human rights when you speak. Fucking liars and the fucking people who think this is ok.

PraiseMoves-The Christian Alternative to Yoga

Yeah, this thing really exists.

*sigh*


------EDIT------

I fixed the stupid link. Enjoy the crazy!

-----END EDIT-----

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama disappoints

Obama has selected Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

"As we've pointed out several times before, in 2004 Warren declared that marriage, reproductive choice, and stem cell research were "non-negotiable" issues for Christian voters and has admitted that the main difference between himself and James Dobson is a matter of tone. He criticized Obama's answers at the Faith Forum he hosted before the election and vowed to continue to pressure him to change his views on the issue of reproductive choice.

He came out strongly in support of Prop 8, saying "there is no need to change the universal, historical defintion of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about." He's declared that those who do not believe in God should not be allowed to hold public office."

Father makes a good point: we already have the "liberals" on our side, so we need to corral the "conservatives" (I use those words in quotes because I hate using them). If Obama has Warren do his invocation and then does great things for gay rights (as we know he would like to), fine.

Personally, I'm not sure where I stand on drawing in religious people by pandering to their delusions. If we get them, I would much rather it be because people believing in things without evidence have been marginalized to the fringe of society, and must abandon unreason in order to rejoin humanity.

I think it's a very thin rope Obama is walking, and though I'm not thrilled with the decision I really hope it works out.

Also, because everybody loves pictures:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parrenting FTW

Have you heard about the parents who are seeking legal action against a supermarket because they refused to write out their child's full name on his birthday cake? Did I mention the kid's name is Adolf Hitler Campbell?

Seriously. I couldn't make this shit up.

Oh, and he has two sisters. JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. How charming.

Craigslist Shenanigans

Lately, there have been some pretty stellar best-ofs on the craigslist website, so I thought that I would share them with you:

"Room for Rent -- Inauguration Day/ObamaCon 2009
Date: 2008-11-11, 11:45AM EST


In a search of a room in DC so that you can spend Jan. 20 standing in the bitter winter cold with thousands of like-minded souls watching the historic transfer of power from one Harvard grad to another? Look no further.

Me: Heartless, greedy right-wing oppressive type looking to make a buck.

You: Obama's election was Christmas/your first kiss/May Day all wrapped into one. You dutifully wore his button -- which you have yet to remove -- contributed money to his campaign from your non-profit job and chanted "yes we can" as if it were the 11th commandment. A strange void now exists in your life and -- like an old hippie looking to recapture the spirit of Woodstock -- you are undertaking a pilgramage to Washington for one last gulp of the Kool-Aid.

Along with my bedroom you will have access to the house's many amenities including cable television (not that you watch much TV) for viewing Keith Olberman's latest unhinged rants and CNN in high-def. Wireless internet means that the Huffington Post and DailyKos are only a click away on your MacBook. American flags and other patriotic paraphernalia in the room can be removed upon request.

The house is located in the diverse neighborhood of Adams Morgan with people of many different skin pigmentations that will allow you to revel in your tolerance. Rest assured, however, that this diversity does not extend to ideology and that you are sure to march lock-step with the prevailing sentiment ensuring that your most strongly held beliefs remain unchallenged.

Easily accessible subway and bus stops will help ensure a minimal carbon footprint while fair trade coffee is never more than a few steps away at any number of independently-owned establishments. Nearby non-chain bookstores similarly mean that tomes such as Mao's Little Red Book, Chomsky's latest masterpiece or additional copies of The Audacity of Hope can be easily purchased either for yourself or as early holiday shopping.

Rather than state a price I am requesting that you bid on this fabulous opportunity to ensure profit maximization on my part so that I can better weather the Bush Recession."

And then there's this:

"Lost: My Right To Marry
Date: 2008-11-05, 6:36PM PST


I went to bed early last night and when I woke up, I discovered I'd lost my right to marry. It's pretty easy to recognize--four California Supreme Court justices spotted it several months back, although it took them a long damn time to finally find it. It's in like-new condition--I personally haven't had a chance to use it yet, and was really looking forward to the opportunity. A couple of my friends and family still have theirs, and even enjoy it so much they've used it several times. If you can find it for me, I'd really appreciate getting it back. I'm not sure, but I think the shady gang of thugs who stole it were heading for Utah or maybe Fresno, so please keep an eye out. Thanks."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twilight Can Lick My Proverbial Balls.

Ok, yeah, I know, this post is a few weeks late, but, hey, I'm in school and it gets default priority. Right after mayhem. Anyhow....

Twilight. This new literary 'sensation' that rivals Harry Potter is just so outrageously bad I think I'm going crazy because not a lot of other people have spoken up about it. So, here it is, my reasons for hating Twilight and all of its bullshit:

  1. This book has a bazillion religous undertones. Did you know that the author is Mormon? Well, now you do, and boy does it show within her work. For one thing, the looks and actions of the main female character, Bella Swan, just so happen to fit into the constraints of the author's religion. She has long hair, doesn't have premarital sex and/or sexual thoughts until after she is wed, cooks and cleans for her apparently incompetent father, and is the epitome of your stereotypical housewife/good little girl which brings me to my next point:
  2. Bella sets an abominable example for young girls with her stereotypical and mostly anitfeminist actions and views. She constantly has to be taken care of by her male counterparts unless those actions happen to be cooking and cleaning, that stuff she can handle because of her innate delicate inner female nature. Well screw that, I say, let the girl freakin' fight for herself every once in a while, have her stupid Dad learn to cook a few things to break these characters from your normal gender roles and shake things the hell up. Plus, I am a hardcore feminist and to see that Bella couldn't really stand up for herself was frustrating to read. Women are very capable creatures.
  3. This story also greatly emphasizes physical beauty. I mean, I know that this is a vampire story and that they are supposed to be beautiful, but I swear to all that you find holy if I hear about how goddamned gorgeous whatshisnuts (Edward) is one more freaking time I am going to sock the first pretty boy I see on the street in the face. I really wish that there would have been less description of his 'golden eyes' and 'marbled physique' and more about his personality and thought processes. I am pretty sure that, if you cut out all the extraneous 'Oh my god you are so pretty *drool*' portions of the book, it would cut the books in half length-wise. We get that he is easy on the eyes, now let's move the hell on and get some action up in this bitch.
  4. This book supports rather unhealthy relationships. Bells sees Edward once, and BAM! She is hooked like a junkie on heroin, no questions asked. What about actually getting to know someone? It's like she just sees this really pretty boy and that's it, that's all she needs for a fulfilling relationship. Well, I've got sour news for you chum, it takes more than a pretty face to make a relationship work. And what about the obsessive stalking that Edward does? The obvious neglect and abuse suffered? Do we really want teenaged girls to seek out this glorified emotional dependence? I've got some news for you all out there who can't get enough of this 'love story.' Someone who loves you will not just up and leave your ass for whatever reason without an explanation. Someone who loves you will not stalk your butt at all hours of the day, even when you are sleeping. Someone who loves you will communicate everything, no matter how shitty, so that you can both work it out. Edward and Bella are two dumb teenagers who haven't even begun to learn what love is or can be.
  5. Sex. The sex thing bothers me. It's like Bella and Edward are asexual beings up until they get married. Then they just can't get enough of each other's goods. Someone please point out some other couple in the history of time in their teenage years that was able to have such self-restraint and innocence for a few weeks, nevermind a few years. Even Romeo and Juliet got it on! Now, I'm not saying that the book should be overrun by hormonal teenagers, but I felt as if I was reading nothing, absolutley nothing about the physical attraction these two had for eachother (minus the 'omgz you are so pretty *droool* shit) up until they got hitched. Then it was a free-for-all junkfest. That shit is just not normal. Again, what kind of example is this setting for youngsters and how realistic is this premise? Refuckingdiculous, I say.
So, there you have it, a few reasons why I hate these goddamned books and everything that comes with it. Sure, I am a chick and I have been known to like a good romantic story every once and a while but this book just has so many blatantly unfeminist aspects I find it rather repulsive and hard to stomach.

What about you? Do you like Twilight? *eyes narrow*

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Whopper Virgins

Am I the only one who thinks that BK's new ad campaign is outrageously exploitative and racist as hell?

The have these people (dressed as 'native' as possible, of course) eat a whopper and a big mac to see which one they like better. I can't help but think this is just a bit fucked up. I mean, going out and seeking normal Americans who haven't tasted either burger seems more acceptable to me, but to go out and find people that are obviously foreign and clueless to use as a gimmick seems rather heartless. Do these people realize they are being used for a stupid ad campaign? Are they OK with that?

It is entirely possible that I am just being overly sensitive here, but I can't help but feel as if it's innately wrong to use these people as a ploy. Using racist stereotypes has always been a part of ad campaigns, but this one just seems to get to me more than your average pizza commercial.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Why we should still lock your ass up... but not call in punishment... =P

Ok... as background for this post... I just had an assignment to write a short paper using the following prompt:

The traditional perspective of the criminal justice system is that people are individual agents whose actions are free-will-based conscious choices made on a rational basis, and consequently people can be held responsible for their actions. What is the dividing line between behavior for which the individual is legally responsible and the behavior that is not the defendent's fault. If one assumes, as this course does, that all behavior is generated by brain activity, where and how do you draw the line between behaviors the individual is legally responsible for and those which are beyond his/her control? Is this even the right way to frame the issue? If not, what is?

My response:

The justice system in the United States assumes that individuals are responsible for their actions. Sentences are intended to punish individuals who fail to conform to society's laws. However, this conceptualization of the justice system is inadequate in the face of growing neuroscientific research. For millennia determinist philosophers have dismissed the justice system's assumption that people are in control of their actions. In the last few decades, neurosurgery research has begun to find support for a deterministic perspective. Notable neuroscientists like Joshua D. Greene and Jonathan D. Cohen are now arguing that the justice system should reorganize itself to focus on deterrence, instead of the current goal of revenge (Rosen, 2007). This does not change the challenges that our society faces when dealing with society's deviants, but it does call for a new approach to the justice system. Instead of a focus on punishment, the justice system must focus on protecting its citizens from those who cannot, or will not, live their lives without unduly imposing themselves on others.

In the American prison system many felons are substance abusers. Their crimes are either simple possession of a controlled substance, or other illegal activities they participated in to support their drug habit. Addictive drugs directly (cocaine, amphetamines) or indirectly (opiates, heroin, nicotine) trigger activation of the nucleus accumbens within the meso-limbic pathway (PA Packet, text). The meso-limbic pathway is responsible for the activation of behavior seeking further reinforcement, known as the "Go Signal". All reinforcers activate the nucleus accumbens, although controlled substances often provoke a much stronger response. Once a drug that triggers dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is introduced, the "Go Signal" will be activated (PA Packet).

There is evidence that this can be avoided through the use of antagonist substances that stop the nucleus accumbens or other "upstream" structures from becoming activated by the controlled substance. For example, introduction of a DA receptor antagonist (Haloperidol, for example) can block the effect of the nucleus accumbens in projecting the behavior increasing "Go Signal”. However, there is little evidence that any other structure in the brain can simply override this signal. In fact, rats injected with cocaine will have a continuous activation of the "Go Signal" until the drug wears off (PA Packet). They will continually participate in species specific behavior. Similar behaviors are manifested in humans given cocaine, and the behaviors may be completely out of their control. More important, this is directly reinforcing, so there will be a continued drive to reactivate the nucleus accumbens using the same or a similar drug. This does not mean that individuals with a strong drive for cocaine or other substances should remain in society. They should be removed and placed in treatment facilities. When their behavior can be controlled, they can be released.

Another behavior that can have highly detrimental effects is an excessive amount of anger or rage. This can lead to assault or even homicide. Neuroscientists are finding many variables that may increase emotional reactivity, variables that seem to result in a chain of events outside of conscious control. Individuals who inject synthetic male hormones into their body will suffer from increased aggression. Additionally, a gene called the 5-HT (serotonin) transporter is responsible for the formation for serotonin reuptake in the brain (PA Packet). The homozygous long form of the gene leads to strong serotonin transmission, the heterozygous gene leads to weaker serotonin transmission, and the homozygous short form of the gene leads to a significant decrease in the transmission of serotonin. Low serotonin levels are linked to an increase in the reactivity of an individual to emotional events. This may lead individuals to respond with less control to stressful events in their lives, since the events actually create a stronger emotional reaction in them.

Violent crimes commonly occur when the aggressor is emotionally aroused. Negative emotions increase avoidance behaviors in an organism. One such avoidance evoking emotion is anger. Anger is aroused through the ventrobasal amygdala. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a brain structure that makes non-conscious assessments of the effects of environmental stimuli. Damage to the OFC can result in a decrease in the weight that long-term consequences are given (PA Packet). This would result in an increase in the amount of control that the emotion arousing ventrobasal amygdala would hold over an organism's behavior. The OFC can often be damaged or impaired in adults, and it may not even be developed at all in adolescents. The OFC is the non-conscious component of the prefrontal cortex, one of the last structures to develop in humans.

All this supports a more deterministic explanation of life, where emotions and behaviors are not controlled solely through a higher consciousness, but through the combined efforts of many smaller brain structures. This would not to say that behavior should not be controlled. Even if we are "moist robots”, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, the behaviors need to be controlled.

As the scientific evidence begins to give greater weight to the argument that people may not have a “free-will” to control their behavior, a reorganization of the justice system is in order. Instead of being based on a rubric of punishment for actions performed at free will, the justice system should switch to a pronounced intention to protect all members of society. The research indicates that people may not be capable of controlling their actions. No amount of pure punishment, be it incarceration or threats of penalties, will stop all crimes from being committed. For instance, long term threats of punishment mean nothing to an individual with a low functioning or damaged OFC. Treatment or removal of individuals from society, with no reliance on a concept of punishment, is a way to protect the society through the most productive means possible.

The goal of the justice system should be to protect society from those who do not behave in a way that is productive, and to protecting those same destructive people from themselves. This would require a complete overhaul of the system, with a focus on treatment. It also would require a much stronger focus on prevention, since many of these deficits are caused by exposure to negative environmental stimuli. It would also require people to give up the construct of "punishment" or "revenge" in favor of the greater good. This may not be something that is feasible at this point in our society, but it is the path that is supported by the scientific evidence.

Note:

All this is based on the assumption that the justice system is capable of acting in a purely rational way and seek out the greater good. The justice system in the United States is a collection of individuals. The prosecutors, the judge, and the jury are all individual humans, with the same susceptibility to dangerous behaviors as the citizens it rules.

Take, for example, the story of Zenos the Stoic and his slave. Zenos was a Greek philosopher whose views approached strict determinism. It is said that Zenos once caught a slave stealing from his home. He captured the slave, and was preparing to punish him. The slave, however, stopped Zenos. He quoted Zenos’ writings, where he argued that every action is predetermined through the Providence. If this was true, said the slave, his actions as a thief were predetermined, and simply a matter of fate. Zenos is said to have responded by agreeing that the theft had been a matter of fate. He argued, however, that his punishment of the thief was also predetermined. And with that he whipped the slave.

This isn’t to say that we cannot break out of the system we are currently within. We cannot, however, expect this to be a simple process. In a democratic state, the citizens in charge of the justice system are prone to the same neurological deficits that the citizens they prosecute are. We might very well expect that the justice system would have great difficulty breaking out of this cycle, since the crimes of others have the power to evoke great emotions within observers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Such a pretty little sign...




So...

It is the atheists who are trying to trample on others rights?

We are the intolerant ones?

Aaarrgghhsz.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lasers?

There is a really interesting post over at Seed, talking about camera vandalization.

You all should check it out. =)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I am thinking about it...


Don't I need my house exorcised?

It would be snazzy... anyone want to come down??

Monday, December 1, 2008

Since we all love female masturbation...

I hate to drag down the level of the posts again. JT's pimp article on the LHC is, well, amazing.

But I had to share this.

The F Word has an amazing post up on female masturbation in pop music.

Wo0T!

The Large Hadron Collider

An Astronomy student named Aron McCart recently asked me to review a research paper he was doing for a class. I loved the paper so much, I asked it I could repost it to my various blogs. Click on all images to biggify them.

Of course, it doesn't go after the jugular of faith as much as I'd like (it seems the only opposition to the LHC comes from a handful of religious scientists and a fair number of religiously-motivated layman) as a research paper shouldn't, but it'll do.

Science...it's how we know, bitches!

Abstract
________________________________________

The LHC is 7,000 more times powerful than any other particle accelerator ever created (LHC Safety Study Group). This has led to a renewed concern over the safety of high-energy particle collisions. This paper will examine the main safety arguments from both sides. The original safety concerns of high-energy particle collisions are the production of stranglets (stranglets will be described later in this paper) and micro black holes. Stranglet concerns have been disregarded because other particle colliders like the RHIC actually have a higher chance of creating stranglets (LHC Safety Study Group). In addition, most of the scientific community has dismissed micro black hole arguments with arguments centered on cosmic rays and Hawking radiation (Benjamin Koch). Many members of the scientific community, including the German Society of Physicists (KET), claim that lone arguments like Dr. Rossler’s arguments are based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. It is the conclusion of this paper that LHC poses absolutely no danger to the Earth or humanity, and furthermore, the research from the LHC could fundamentally change the way we understand the universe and could lead to science fiction-like technologies.

Introduction
________________________________________

Description of the LHC

The LHC is the largest, most expensive, most technologically advanced, and most powerful science experiment ever built by man. The LHC is a particle collider that physicists use to study the fundamental nature of matter by learning how particles behave during collisions. The LHC is designed to collide opposing beams of protons or lead ions and take extremely high-resolution pictures of those collisions. What makes the LHC so unique is that it is capable of accelerating particles to near the speed of light. It uses a huge series of the largest superconducting magnets ever built to shove particles though a metal 3.8-meter wide 17-mile circumference circle. It is located mostly in France and crosses the Franco-Swiss border at four different points. CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) began construction of the 8.2 billion dollar project in 1986. Construction was completed in summer 2008 and test runs commenced in September. However, during a test run one of the magnets failed and caused operations to cease until summer of 2009 (Large Hadron Collider).



Purpose of the LHC

In the standard model of particle physics, the last unobserved particle is called the Higgs boson. If the standard model is correct, the Higgs boson should exist. The Higgs boson is smaller than atoms, the protons and neutrons that make atoms, and the quarks that make protons and neutrons. It is theorized that Higgs boson is what gives all particles mass. However, since the Higgs boson has never been observed, the standard model is incomplete. It is hoped that during high energy collisions the Higgs boson will be created by breaking up other particles thus confirming the standard model. There are other less powerful colliders that have failed to create the Higgs boson, like the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York. It is the hope of physicists that accelerating the particles to 99.999% speed of light the LHC will finally produce the Higgs boson (Large Hadron Collider). However, the most exciting part about the LHC is the possibility of proving the standard model wrong or finding other particles predicted by highly theoretical extensions of the standard model. For instance, the first real physical evidence of extra dimensions predicted by string theory might be observed at the LHC, or the graviton might finally be directly observed. If we can observe, predict, and control gravitons, things such as anti-gravity, artificial gravity and floating cars will be more of a reality instead of science fiction. However, it is expected that LHC will fall short of creating the energies for these theoretical particles to form, and that the LHC will not even find the Higgs boson. In fact, Steven Hawking, a world famous physicist, has placed a 100 dollar bet that LHC will not find the Higgs boson. He added, “That [the LHC] will show something is wrong, and we will need to think again” (BBC).

LHC opposition

The LHC has been subject to opposition from within the scientific community. The opposition is primarily related to safety concerns, like stranglets and micro black holes; however, there are some moral and ethical concerns as well. The scientific opposition is isolated to a few individuals, and has largely been considered discounted by the rest of the scientific community (KET) (Plaga) (Benjamin Koch) (Rossler). The scientific opposition consists of a few individuals working alone to form what other scientists consider self-contradicting arguments. By contrast, the response to scientific concern is dismissed by CERN-sponsored studies and large groups of independent scientists working together. The ethical concern is why the LHC has received billions of dollars for its construction while there are other issues, like poverty, deserving of the funding (Rossler). Poverty and other issues are very deserving of the LHC’s funding, but the LHC’s potential impact on science and humanity certainly justifies the LHC’s large price tag.

The first objections to the LHC’s safety were brought before it was even close to being completed. Similar arguments were brought up at the RHIC in New York. Walter L. Wagner is an American botanist and a former radiation safety officer. He earned his Biology degree with a minor Physics from UC Berkeley. Wagner contended that the differences between high-energy collisions with cosmic rays and the upper atmosphere are different from the “at rest” collisions at the LHC and could potentially have catastrophic consequences in the form of an Earth-devouring black hole. He tried to stop full-energy collisions unsuccessfully in US and European courts (Lite). Dr. Otto E. Rossler has similar concerns about black hole creation, but his arguments are considered self-contradicting and fail to bridge gaps between his claims and evidence (KET). The most recent and convincing arguments come from a German astrophysicist, Dr. Plaga Rainer. Dr. Rainer believes that you cannot rule out the possibility, however unlikely, of Earth-devouring black holes and dangerous theoretical Hawking radiation (Plaga). Ultimately, all of the opposition has failed to stop the LHC from operating at its full capacity. In summer of 2009 the LHC will achieve energies five times that of any collider before it (Large Hadron Collider).

Stranglets
________________________________________

Stranglet properties

Stranglets are microscopic parcels of strange matter. In particle physics, normal atoms made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons are called nuclear matter. Nuclear matter is what the elements consist of and what gives them their unique properties. The individual protons, neutrons, and electrons are made up of quarks--specifically, up and down quarks. However, strange matter equally consists of up, down, and strange quarks while nuclear matter does not contain strange quarks. Strange matter more simply put is matter made of equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks that are more stable than nuclear matter, but for the purposes of this paper, negative stranglets are the subject for concern. Positive stranglets would be repelled by ordinary matter posing no threat. However, negative stranglets would actually be attracted to normal matter. It is theorized if negative stranglets were to come into contact with ordinary matter, it would instantaneously convert the nuclear matter into strange matter removing any properties it originally had. The concern is that a negative stranglet could convert the entire Earth into strange matter erasing at the atomic level every unique property about the Earth (Witten).



Evidence against stranglets

First, strange matter has never been observed anywhere. Strange quarks have been detected and created in laboratories for decades, but they have always decayed within a nanosecond, and more importantly have never created a stranglet. Strange matter is supposed to be the end product of nuclear matter if nuclear matter is not stable infinitely. It is also purely theory that strange matter could be more stable than nuclear matter. Regardless, the most likely place to find strange matter is neutron stars. Neutron stars are the end product of a star that is not quite massive enough to turn into a stellar black hole, but much more massive than our own star. At the atomic level, neutron stars are literally a gigantic nucleus packed so tight that individual atoms cannot form. Neutron stars are the focus of the search for strange matter and the focus of stranglet arguments (LHC Safety Study Group) (John Ellis).

If a neutron star contains strange matter it is called a strange star. However, there are many difficulties when it comes to finding these theoretical strange stars. Astronomers have been observing neutron stars for many decades, but the problem with detecting strange stars is that we are not sure what the observable difference is between strange stars and neutron stars. There are many great starting points, but astronomers lack the understanding of strange matter to form observational tests. However, observations of neutron stars have not demonstrated great cause to doubt they are neutron stars. In essence, we have not found any strange stars which when taken in context with the LHC, gives reason to worry about the formation of negative stranglets (Ghosh) (LHC Safety Study Group) (John Ellis).

Micro black holes
________________________________________

Black hole properties

Micro black holes are essentially black holes that have incredibly low mass. In astrophysics, we believe that the smallest star that can form into a black hole is estimated to be 25 solar masses or 25 times the mass of our sun. Normal black holes usually come in two types: stellar mass black holes formed from the collapse of super-massive stars and billion plus solar mass super-massive black holes at the center of most galaxies (Black Hole). The common understanding of black holes sucking up everything around it is incorrect. Except for the event horizon, everything is normal about the gravitational field. For instance, if our sun was to magically turn into a black hole right now, our orbit, Mercury’s orbit, Jupiter’s orbit, or any other gravity-dependent variable would not change in any way whatsoever. However, our solar system would freeze because black holes do not shine as our star does. Besides the fact that our sun will never be a black hole, the only difference between it and its theoretical black hole twin is its radius. In our sun’s case, the radius is much larger than its event horizon. The sun’s black hole twin has a radius that is smaller than it’s event horizon. The event horizon is the point where light can no longer reach escape velocity. On the other hand, micro black holes have been theorized to form when super high-energy cosmic rays collide with atmospheres or the surfaces of neutron stars. At this incredibly low mass, micro black holes are supposed to evaporate into bright flashes of dangerous gamma radiation, according to Steven Hawking. Almost the entire scientific community has regarded the radiation to be negligible because it would be such a small amount. The other concern about micro black holes are if this incredibly small black hole could begin to accrete. They have masses around the atomic level, so their gravity is very small. Not only would it be very implausible for micro black holes to accrete a significant amount of matter, they are expected to leave the Earth near the speed of light.



Scenarios of micro black hole formation

There are two main scenarios proposed for micro black hole formation. However, Dr. Plaga proposes a third scenario that he believes is the one to be concerned about.

• The produced micro black holes decay immediately in flashes of gamma radiation via Hawking radiation.

• The produced micro black hole would pass through the Earth in any direction near the speed of light accreting an infinitesimally small amount of matter, if any.

• Dr. Plaga believes that astrophysical evidence does not rule out the idea of a micro black hole accreting matter, and that a micro black hole could be stable and not escape Earth’s gravity because the particles at the LHC collide from opposing directions at similar energies while cosmic rays collide with much greater energies from a single direction.

Evidence against dangerous micro black holes

The main concern about micro black holes and the LHC is that when the LHC is colliding protons at its maximum energy of 7 TeV micro black holes could form. One of the main arguments against the black hole formation within the LHC is cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are high energy rays that originate from things like supernovae and black holes. These cosmic rays have energies that are literally 100,000 times greater than what the LHC produces. Throughout Earth’s 4.5 billion year history over 100,000 cosmic rays have struck the Earth. The basic argument is that if these much more powerful collisions that occur with cosmic rays happen all the time while the Earth still exists, then the much less powerful collisions at the LHC pose no threat (John Ellis) (Steeven B. Giddings).

Some people have rightly pointed out that the model of cosmic ray collisions with the Earth does not rule out dangerous micro black holes (Plaga). A much more convincing argument lies in astrophysics. As said earlier, neutron stars are essentially huge atoms because the neutrons are packed so tightly atoms do not have room to form. These neutron stars are the perfect target for cosmic rays. The fact that neutron stars are so dense exponentially raises the probability that a micro black hole would form from cosmic ray collisions. In observations of neutron stars, no micro black holes have ever been observed accreting mass from neutron stars (John Ellis).

Shortly after Dr. Plaga published his article making the claim that micro black holes could remain in the Earth and accrete matter at a runaway rate, Dr Steven B. Giddings and Michelangelo L. Mangano published a paper claiming that Dr. Plaga’s math contains basic inconsistencies. Also, another paper titled Exclusion of black hole disasters at the LHC was published summarizing all arguments made for black hole formation, and the paper concluded that the LHC poses no danger in any logical manner. The basic argument behind dismissing Dr. Plaga’s argument is if micro black holes can remain within the Earth’s gravitational influence, then it must occur in things like neutron stars where the gravity is much stronger. Also, if the black hole does remain within the Earth or neutron stars, there is no risk of the black hole accreting matter on timescales less than its natural lifetime (The Earth’s natural lifetime is estimated to be 13 billion years.). Essentially, because a neutron star has never turned into a black hole and that Dr. Plaga’s math is inconsistent, the last remaining scenario of a black hole disaster poses no danger at all (Benjamin Koch) (John Ellis) (Steeven B. Giddings).

Conclusion
________________________________________

The LHC represents the next great step in our understanding of how matter works. The standard model that physicists have been working on for decades could be proven correct, or it could send physicists back to the drawing board as Stephen Hawking predicts. If the LHC discovers extra dimensional particles, like the graviton, the LHC could shed light on string theory or even the multi-verse theory. Up until now, those theories have only consisted of elegant mathematical formulas with no physical evidence making them largely hypothetical. For the first time ever the LHC could turn them into real physical science. If the graviton can finally be observed, man’s future space exploration could greatly exceed the bounds of our solar system. Things like floating cars or anti-gravity enhanced spacecraft that could finally make space travel economical could exist. Graviton control could make things like moon bases and Mars bases a fraction of a percent of their current proposed costs.

Not only is it extremely exciting for particle physicists, it is also exciting for big bang researchers. The LHC will spend some of its operating time recreating energies that have not been seen in the universe since almost instantly after the big bang occurring. While the big bang theory explains the current observable evidence, it does not explain everything about how the big bang actually worked. The LHC could solidify or modify the big bang theory to a much higher degree increasing our understanding of the origin of our universe greatly.

After examining the current scientific debate about dangerous scenarios at the LHC, it becomes clear than neither stranglets or micro black holes pose any real danger. The proposed dangerous scenarios for stranglets already exist at places like the RHIC, and the LHC is actually less likely to produce stranglets than the RHIC. Also, all proposed scenarios for micro black hole formation have been examined in great detail by many in the scientific community, and there is a consensus among almost all scientists that none of the possible scenarios for micro black hole formation pose any threat to the Earth. This concludes that the LHC poses absolutely no danger, and it represents the next great leap in our understanding of the universe.



Works Cited
________________________________________
BBC. On the hunt for the Higgs boson. 9 September 2008. 19 November 2008 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7598000/7598686.stm>.

Benjamin Koch, Marcus Bliecher, Horst Stocker. "Exclusion of black hole disaster scenarios at the LHC." arXiv (2008).

Black Hole. 19 November 2008. 19 November 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_holes#cite_note-21>.

Ghosh, Sanjay K. "Astrophysics of Strange Matter." arXiv (2008).

John Ellis, Gian Giudice, Michelangelo Mangano, Igor Tkachev, Urs Wiedemann. Review of the Safety of LHC Collisions. CH 1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland: Theory Division, Physics Department, CERN, 2008.

KET. "The LHC is safe." Wuppertal: University of Wuppertal, 1 August 2008.

Large Hadron Collider. 19 November 2008. 19 November 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider>.

LHC Safety Study Group. Study of potentially dangerous events during heavy-ion collisions at the LHC: Report of the LHC Safety Study Group. Geneva: CERN, 2003.

Lite, Jordan. Judge scraps lawsuit over Large Hadron Collider. 9 September 2008. 19 November 2008 <http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=judge-scraps-lawsuit-over-large-had-2008-09-30>.

Plaga, Rainer. "On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantium-black holes produced at particle colliders." arXiv (2008).

Rossler, Otto E. A Rational and Moral and Spiritual Dilemma. Tubingen: University of Tubingen, 2008.

Steeven B. Giddings, Michelangelo L. Mangano. "Astrophysics implications of hypothetical stable TeV-scale black holes." Physical Review (2008).

Witten, Edward. "Cosmic Separation of Phases." Physical Review (1984).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I have some good news and I have some bad news...

Disclaimer: When people mess with the well-being of children, it makes my blood boil. As such, even the "good news" section of this note results in a pretty strong rant. If you're faint of heart, keep reading - it'll be good for you.

Let's start with the bad: one last time, science is going to suffer at the hands of the current President before he is finally (and mercifully) sent packing back to that shithole we call "Texas."

Before he leaves, Dubya is filling federal positions dealing with science policies with the same type of people he has always appointed: those who are grossly unqualified. Needless to say, AAAS President James McCarthy is pissed:

"It's ludicrous to have people who do not have a scientific background, who are not trained and skilled in the ways of science, make decisions that involve resources, that involve facilities in the scientific infrastructure," said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "You'd just like to think people have more respect for the institution of government than to leave wreckage behind with these appointments."


Ouch. This is coming from one of our most austere science organizations, and one that was slower than most to criticize ID for fear of offending people. Glad to see McCarthy pulling no punches over this.

So how bad could it be?

"In one recent example, Todd Harding -- a 30-year-old political appointee at the Energy Department -- applied for and won a post this month at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, he told colleagues in a Nov. 12 e-mail, he will work on "space-based science using satellites for geostationary and meteorological data." Harding earned a bachelor's degree in government from Kentucky's Centre College, where he also chaired the Kentucky Federation of College Republicans.

Also this month, Erik Akers, the congressional relations chief for the Drug Enforcement Administration, gained a permanent post at the agency after being denied a lower-level career appointment late last year.

And in mid-July, Jeffrey T. Salmon, who has a doctorate in world politics and was a speechwriter for Vice President Cheney when he served as defense secretary, had been selected as deputy director for resource management in the Energy Department's Office of Science. In that position, he oversees decisions on its grants and budget."


Can we please get this dangerous, simpering git out of Washington as soon as possible?



Ok, good news to balance that out. A Florida court has overturned the ban on gay adoption, and has included us a wonderful paragraph of sanity:

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."


Of course, we're already hearing "Judicial activism! Waaaaaaah!" from the religious other side. We're also hearing the same shit that came out of Arkansas a month ago:

"Everywhere in the law where children are affected, the standard must always be what is in the best interest of the child," said Stemberger, an attorney in Orlando. "What is stunning to me is that when it comes to dealing with gays, that standard goes out the window. Children do better with a mother and a father."


To quote my dad:

"They shovel that manure out as if leaving 2/3 of the foster care kids with NO HOME AT ALL somehow achieves that "best environment" and somehow doesn't "harm children in ways that show up later in life". How stupid and gullible can people be? Talk about shit for brains.

You have to hate and fear homosexuals a lot to pass a law that hurts both children and heterosexuals in order to "get the gays". I think it is both disgusting and pathetic that people would use children as expendable pawns in their culture wars."


You know what? Statistically, kids to better with rich parents than they do with poor parents. They also do better with educated parents than with non-educated parents and better with white parents than they do with black parents (statistically speaking), but any laws prohibiting those demographics from rescuing a child from a fucking orphanage would rightly look cruel and retarded (as long as we're talking about throwing standards out the window, jackass)

And as usual, what's the culprit? Faith. Not stupid people who happen to be religious, but faith. The culprit is the very notion that believing in things (and hence formulating your world view) without evidence and clinging to that belief no matter how ridiculous, discriminatory, or malicious is not only a good thing, but the best thing. It's the only way that people could divorce themselves from basic human empathy to such an extent as to harm children to get a group of people that want to help the children. And it's the only way people could so eagerly spit on the products of our 21st century understanding in order to do so.

Yet it's "disrespectful" for people like me to point out how indescribably stupid those beliefs are. Tough shit, your religion is false. Your religion, the only motivation there can possibly be to discriminate against these normal people given the findings of science is false, so you can stop believing it. There are no talking snakes, witches, or pernicious gods that get pissy when people work on the wrong day (and there never were), and dredging the moral imperatives of times before Christ into the 21st century based on believing such nonsense is the very definition of pious idiocy. At the very least you deserve to be mocked for being so gullible, even for the minority of voting Christian voices who don't let their credulity turn them into bigots.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sarah Palin Turkey Interview

Sarah Palin is a retard. Proof: she conducts an interview with local media right in front of a farmer slaughtering turkeys. *Warning*-Graphic turkey slaughter action.

Surfing teh Interwebs is Good for You!

A new study has proven that surging the internet is good for teenagers.

Not a teenager? Not to worry! It turns out that surfing the web is just as good for everyone else, too.

Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while performing web searches and book-reading tasks.

Both types of task produced evidence of significant activity in regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities.

However, the web search task produced significant additional activity in separate areas of the brain which control decision-making and complex reasoning - but only in those who were experienced web users.


Yay for not ending up like this guy!

If 'God' had a Facebook page:

Well, what do you know, College Humor actually comes up with something not involved half naked chicks or booze. Kind of.

Behold, the 'God' Facebook page!

Here's a little taste of what it's like (but I highly recommend going to the page and reading it all):

Sweet Map Action

So, I was listening to NPR the other day I learned about World Mapper. This guy, Mark Neuman, and his team of super nerds have come up with an alternative mapping method which re-sizes areas on a map according to a certain subject of interest.

For example, here is the normal election map that is sectioned out by state:



This map can seem somewhat skewed because it seems like, due to visibility alone, that Montana would have more influence over New York because it appears larger on the map. However, New York has more electoral votes because of the larger population, which this map doesn't show.

Check out Mark's alternate version:



Freakin' cool! The areas are skewed to properly show how much influence each red or blue state has.

More maps can be found on World Mapper and they are all pretty awesome.

Friday, November 21, 2008

They are Coming to Your Town...

I hate to pull down the level of the posts lately. JT has been doing a great job keeping the posts up to a high intellectual standard.

But this is just so funny...



You can buy the FIVE PACK TODAY!!!

Note: I just read a beautiful little piece over on the Friendly Atheist's blog on this video. Very well done. =)

Chuck Norris should shampoo my crotch

I've seen this letter from Chuck Norris circulating around the intertewbz, including the blogs of two good friends of mine.  So I figure I need to say something about it.

The first seven paragraphs are the Association Fallacy, trying to insinuate that a few isolated incidences are indicative or approved of by the whole of those supporting equal rights. 

No, almost all of us condemn violence.  If this logic works, then all Christians pray their children to death, hate science, and are members of the Ku Klux Klan.  If that sounds absurd to you, then Chuck is not off to a very good start.  Chuck's whole letter depends on asserting that something is the case when it's not the case.  The instances of violence are rare and are an exception to the rule - yet Chuck, for his spiel to work, has to invert reality and convince us that most protesters are shoving old ladies.  This is dishonest and wrong.  Rather, throughout the protesting we are seeing stuff like this:

"Throughout the entire event demonstrators were thanking the police," said Long Beach Police Sgt. David Marander. "It wasn't an adversarial event, except for the few who were there to cause trouble."

"Other than a smashed police car window, there were no reports of property damage nor injuries."

Or this:

"A similar protest took place in San Diego, where around 11,000 people demonstrated peacefully despite an attempt by anti-gay marriage activists to disrupt the march, police said. One man was arrested for attempting to incite violence before being released."

Afterward, he admonishes us to accept the will of the majority.  This is a means of circumventing the discussion about whether or not what the majority wants is moral.  Consider the following paragraph:

"The truth is that the great majority of those opposed to blacks marrying whites are not bigots or hatemongers. They are American citizens who are following 5,000 years of human history and the belief of every major people and religion: Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman of the same ethnicity. Their opposition to Loving vs. Virginia wasn't intended to deprive any group of its rights; they were safeguarding their honest convictions regarding the boundaries of marriage."

Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?  "We weren't trying to be bigoted, we just think you should have to abide by our tradition when choosing who you should marry."  That would be downright hilarious if people weren't serious when they used that argument leading up to 1967, when people of different races were finally allowed to marry.

First, it doesn't matter if it's your tradition - if your tradition is exclusionary, if it insists that others abide by your tradition while forsaking their own, it's bigoted and hate-mongering. 

Second, Chuck doesn't seem to know much about the history of marriage, even within his own faith.  It has not always been between one man and one woman.  Hell, if the tradition had never changed, marriage in the Christian faith would not even be about love. 

Third, Christian marriage is not the only marriage.  Many religions recognized by our government will, and always have, married people of the same gender.  To insist that people abide only by your ideal of marriage is, wait for it, ignoring and suppressing the traditions of other religions.  All the same, why does years of tradition matter?  I just fasted for 20 minutes and had a revelation that Zothar the Lizard King is the one true god (tm), and I am now forming a religion and starting my own traditions which include marrying people of the same gender and forbidding marriage to somebody of the opposite gender.  If my faith gets the nod governmentally, I'm not being a hatemonger - I'm just adhering to my own tradition.

Wait, my tradition is needlessly discriminatory?  Shit...

Or, try this paragraph:

"Nevertheless, bitter African-American activists simply cannot accept the outcome as being truly reflective of the general public. So they have placed the brainwashing blame upon the crusading and misleading zealotry of those white-skinned and religious villains: the Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and especially Mormons, who allegedly are robbing the rights of American citizens by merely executing their right to vote and standing upon their moral convictions and traditional views on slavery."

The fact that slavery was once the overwhelming will of the American public, endorsed by their moral and traditional views, never made it moral.  The majority was wrong then, and you can bet they used arguments like this to circumvent the argument of whether or not what they wanted was right or fair, even as they asserted that they were being moral, just like Chuck is doing.

Other people who have been unable to accept the majority's traditional views on morality have been Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Martin Luther King.  Yes, the majority had spoken, but as Dr. King once said (from a jail cell, no less), "It is the duty of every decent man to disobey unjust laws."

On protesting black churches, it's hard to protest a race.  A race is not a belief-set.  Even if 70% of voters with brown eyes had supported prop 8, protesting people with brown eyes would just be silly.  However, those people who attend churches (and voted for it by a clip of 86%) which donated tens of millions of dollars to the campaign to get prop 8 passed, they are clearly culpable and should be protested.  That being said, gay rights people should be protesting "black" churches - but because they are churches that contributed, not because they are "black."

The rest is more conflating those upset about losing their rights with "violent thugs," including Chuck's quote of Colson.  Yes, we are begging Americans, particularly those on the religious right, for tolerance.  You can't really be surprised when we don't buy your insistence that those of us being intolerant of the discrimination you voted for are themselves the intolerant ones.  Tolerance of intolerance is not tolerance.

The rest of it is Chuck pissing and moaning about violent protesters that make up a few isolated incidences and have been condemned by virtually every gay rights organization both in CA and nation-wide.  If you buy this, you are neither reading nor watching the news.

So, here's a brief recap of Chuck's arguments:

1.  Majority rules.

Yes, it does, and now we are bound by the law.  That doesn't make it right, and to invoke this is to avoid the argument about whether or not it was right.

2.  All/most of the protesters are violent.

Anybody who glances at the news in the morning will know this is bullshit.  Yet, people believe it when Chuck says it without doing any fact-checking.  These people vote.  Ug.

3.  We're not bigots, our faith is just different than yours and so you have to abide by ours.

...really?

The most overt Chuck Norris joke seems to be Chuck Norris himself.

On the notion of tolerating intolerance, as Chuck is asking us to do, Mark Morford once said it better than I ever could.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Space - we're tackling it a little bit at a time.

It's been such an exciting time for Astronomy lately. We've discovered water on Mars, which means that microbial life is probably there. The next rover we send over there should be able to determine this for sure. The Garden of Eden had quite the extended reach, it seems...

Also, we have our first images of exoplanets orbiting other stars. We have discovered over 300 planets now that orbit stars outside our solar system, and that number is perpetually growing. So far, we've found no Earth-size terrestrial planets, although there's the possibility of one around Gliese 876.





These images are huge news! And, if it's huge news in Astronomy, you know Phil Plait will have to have to weigh in.

You'll notice that not once did we ever have to pray our way to these results - nor is this information found anywhere in the bible between instructions on how to keep slaves and sacrifice animals. This is the accomplishment of mortals, period. Let this be a lesson to all of us: we can pray for things to change, or we can use that time changing them by taking in reality for what it truly, and beautifully, is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gay Marriage: the Arguments



This is a collection of all the arguments I have heard against gay marriage, and the reason why they are factually errant, logically vacuous, cruel and without empathy, or a combination of the three.

In order to get into some of these arguments, we all need to be on the same page about marriage's development. Historically speaking, the notion of marriage is a nebulous concept that changes constantly. While marriage traditions differ greatly from culture to culture, marriage within Jewish culture and subsequently Christian culture was seldom an issue of love, but rather a means of producing children, securing bloodlines, and managing property rights. This is why a widow was made to marry her husband's brother. Also, throughout much of it, women were considered chattel, which was a different way of saying "property" (the word itself being derived from "cattle").

The History

Polygamy.

"Although [polygamy] was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce." ~ St. Augustine, The Good of Marriage

Indeed, even Martin Luther, the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation from which we derive what would become our Christianity, wrote "I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture."

In 1650, the parliament of N├╝rnberg decreed that men could take up to ten wives for a brief period, and the Catholic Church adopted it.

Religious philosophers, starting with Augustine in the 5th century, debated the issue of polygamy for centuries. However, it was the Roman Catholic Church that put an official end to the practice in the 12th century.

Endogamy.

Marrying only within a particular social group (the opposite of exogamy, which is marrying outside your particular social group). Many Muslim groups still engage in this, as do some Christian groups. Until 1967, Christian groups opposed exogamy in the form of marrying somebody of a different race (thus supporting endogamy). Names for these types of laws were often similar to Virginia's "Racial Integrity Act," and they werejustified as defending the traditional meaning of marriage. They did this citing passages from the bible, the most frequent of which was Phinehas and the curse of Ham. It should be noted that these laws would have prevented the marriage of Barrack Obama's parents.

Arranged Marriages.

These have been prevalent throughout history. We owe arranged marriages to the Hebrew edicts that marriage preserve property rights, as well as the tradition of marriage to tackle primarily financial issues. Often these marriages were conducted by proxy, in which somebody stood in for the groom. It is this tradition of marriage as a financial matter that gave us the idea of a dowry.

It was the troubadors of the 12th century that introduced the concept of romantic love to the notion of marriage, and begun to emancipate us from marriage, both in the religious and political sense, as an economic institution.

The list of assundry changes to the idea of marriage could quite literally go on forever, but this should be sufficient for arguments I'm about to make.

The Arguments

It is plain to see that any argument against gay marriage is merely bigotry dressed up as an argument, and if we are to be moral, good human beings with sensible moral imperatives, we must oppose bigotry wherever it rears its devout, ugly head.

We cannot "redefine marriage."

We cannot redefine marriage for whom? Marriage exists in many cultures and many faiths differently than it exists in yours. There is not a single definition of marriage, and the United States government recognizes several faiths as legitimate religions that have a different definition than yours. Many of these faiths will marry people of the same gender. To recognize one religion over another legally is an abrogation of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

By saying that we cannot redefine marriage, you are simply saying that the country must recognize your idea of marriage and grant you the monopoly on the concept. This is flagrantly discriminatory and for no good reason.

We must keep the traditional value of marriage.

Again, you do not seem to grasp the notion that there is no "traditional" value for marriage. The term is broad, and even marriage in your faith changes constantly (historically speaking). You really just want to force others, with their own notion of marriage (which is just as legitimate as yours) from keeping with their tradition. So in reality, it is you who is ignoring other cultures by demanding that they adhere to yours.

Also, as we've seen, tradition is a very poor measuring stick for what is fair. Traditionally, the United States allowed you to keep slaves (until we broke from that wicked tradition). Traditionally, blacks were not able to marry a majority of the citizens in the United States who didn't share their ethnic minority. We rightly eliminated those laws - far later that we should have. Tradition should be eliminated if it conflicts with compassion. There is no need to maintain a practice from a dated society with different needs than our current one, that conflicts with modernity. To do so could only be called regressive and stupid.

My brother put it very well once:

"I hear there are some voodoo hoodoo tribes in Africa where it’s a passage to manhood to rip some poor sap’s still-beating heart out of his chest and eat it raw while prancing about on a bed of hot coals and whacking off with their free hand. I hope they get rid of that tradition – that one sucks.

Some traditions should be flushed down the proverbial toilet, or at least be given a few rigorous wipes to make them applicable to modern society."


Homosexuality is a life-style choice.

Even if it is...who cares? Your traditional marriage once forbid marriage to a non-believer, which is certainly a choice. Why should whether or not loving somebody of the same gender is a choice even matter?

The following is a non-sequitor, since whether or not it's a choice is irrelevant.

Our most prestigious batteries of medical minds say it's not a choice. This is from the American Psychological Association in response to the question of whether or not homosexuality is optional:

No, human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.


All credible medical bodies are in concert with the APA on this subject. In order to part ways from them, you must have a good reason to deny the consensus of the experts. What is it?

Marriage is for the production of children.

Your idea of marriage may be. But, once more, you do not hold all the rights to the notion of marriage. Nobody is insisting that you must alter your particular set of tribalistic rules to accommodate groups you want to exclude, so nobody wishes to alter your concept of marriage. It is you who wants to forcibly exclude other ideas of marriage from their protection under the first amendment because those ideas do not mesh with yours. If you can do that, what prevents others from doing the same to you?

If marriage were for the production of children, we would have laws against impotent couples (which make up about 15% of marriages), we would take away children from single-parent homes, and we would make procreation requisite for marriage. We do none of the above. We tried to do so in 2007 with Washington Initiative 957. Initiative 957 or the "Defense of Marriage Act" would have required a couple to prove they were capable of having children in order to be married, and it would have annulled their marriage if they did not produce offspring within three years. The measure failed and rightly so - because marriage is not exclusively about producing children in the eyes of our country.

If you want your definition of marriage to be about producing and rearing kids, great. Nobody is saying you cannot do this. But to insist that others forsake their traditions, religious or otherwise, and abide by yours is tyrannical and wrong.

Even if it were about raising children, adoptions happen (many of the orphans coming from straight-marriage homes), and gay people are certainly capable of handling that responsibility. The American Medical Association, perhaps the most austere medical organization on Earth, supports gay people raising children:

Our AMA will support legislative and other efforts to allow the adoption of a child by the same-sex partner, or opposite sex non-married partner, who functions as a second parent or co-parent to that child.


The American Psychological Association follows suit:

Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual and by heterosexual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in four critical areas: their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and popularity with friends. It is also important to realize that a parent's sexual orientation does not indicate their children's.


According to the Department of Human Services in my home state of Arkansas, on any given day there are about 3,700 children are in foster care with only about 1,100 foster homes ready to take them. So even if gay people cannot produce children (a fact that is irrelevant for the purpose of denying them marriage), they can still adopt and provide a child with a loving family they wouldn't have had otherwise.

If you are denying gay people familial rights that currently, in states like Arkansas, prevent them from adopting children, your policies are hurting children even as you pose as defenders of our progeny. If you are doing this, you should be ashamed of yourself.

The slippery slope argument.

The idea is that if we let gays get married we must also let polygamists get married. I have also heard other wretched comparisons used with this argument, like if we let consenting adult gays get married we must also let pedophiles marry their prey or let people marry animals.

This argument was also invoked by pious Christians leading up to the landmark 1967 decision to allow interracial marriage. If we let blacks marry whites, what next? The correct answer is, nothing. Each issue must be weighed on its individual merits and for fairness of its own account. If the slippery slope argument is to hold, what keeps us from slippery sloping in the other direction? What keeps the government from saying that you can't marry whomever you choose based on your income, or some other arbitrary measure?

In the case of gay marriage, you are not protecting anybody. These are consenting adults, who have found happiness in each other's arms. There is no harm. There is no danger. Why do we need to have laws against this? Who are we protecting by doing so?

The one-size fits all approach to marriage.

The idea here is that gay people have the same rights as straight people: they can marry somebody of the opposite gender. This is really just another way of saying that your particular idea of marriage (out of tens of thousands on Earth) should be the only one, and that people somehow have full rights because they can adhere to your sense of marital propriety.

That's just stupid.



Outro

This is a growing document, so I will be perpetually adding facts to it and addressing new arguments as they arise. If you have anything to contribute, please e-mail it to me at jteberhard@gmail.com or leave a comment.

All of us know what it is like to be discriminated against for one reason or another. If you would prevent that unpleasantness from being visited on perfectly normal and perfectly good people for no good reason whatsoever, speak out.

While life may not be fair, the unfairness does not have to come from us, as compassionate human beings. If you have a sense of justice, and want to wash your hands of unethical treatment of others, speak out.

If you want to be somebody who views us as a single race trying to share happiness on this rock we call Earth, rather than an agent of a balkanizing tribe, speak out.

In short, if you have empathy, and truly want to transcend the vagaries of our different cultures. to share yours and acknowledge others', you cannot sit silently on this issue - and you must not let any of the terrible arguments that allow people to ignore the well-being of others to advance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Am A Figher of H8

Fight the H8 in Your State
This Saturday, at 12:30pm Central time, people are rallying across the nation in protest to California's passage of Proposition 8. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in the state that only month's before had begun to allow same-sex marriages. 18,000 same-sex couples had been married in the state when the Supreme Court's decision was overruled by that Prop 8.

So, we're speaking out. There are rallies all over the country. Specifically in Missouri, there are rallies in St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and here in Springfield. I urge you to attend one of these rallies.

I, along with others of the Juggernauts, are helping with the Springfield rally. We need all the support we can get. It is a peaceful protest, so leave your angry words and Fuck You signs at home. Please come and support equal rights for everyone.

I Am A Fighter of H8
Nationwide Rally Against Proposition 8
Saturday, Nov. 15
12:30pm
Park Central Square in downtown Springfield


For other rallies in other cities or states, visit this website.

Keith Olberman rules all

And here's the proof:



Oh, and, p.s.-

"Country First" my ass...

The shrieking about Obama’s election has still not ceased from the losers of this last election. In fact, it seems as though so many of them are emotionally invested in the failure of Barrack Obama, even two months before he has taken office. This strikes me as odd, since President-elect Obama can only possibly fail if the nation fails. That is the measuring stick for Mr. Obama. If you want our nation to excel, you must want Obama to excel. Likewise, you cannot uncouple yearning for his failure from yearning for the failure of America. And we know which one you’re doing, you’ve made no bones about it. Country first…yeah, right.

No, if Obama succeeds, and the nation thrives, it means that you were wrong…and you can’t have that, even if it means the return of our nation to the prominence it enjoyed about eight years ago. It’s the same reason you can’t let gay people get married. If you do, and the world doesn’t crumble, it means you and your silly book were wrong.

I can think of very few people I know, especially “liberals,” who opposed our entrance into Afghanistan when Bush wanted to chase Osama Bin Laden. We may not have voted for Bush, but we stood behind him – we wanted him to be right, for the sake of our country. We turned on him when he turned on us with his ridiculous invasion of Iraq. We absolutely did give Bush a chance. We took on the role of the loyal opposition, and we stood behind him as our President when he rightly reacted to the horror of Sept 11th.

He asked America to put the sword in his hand and trust him, and that is exactly what we did. But we also expected him to do the right thing and he didn't. He said he would use the power we handed him only if it were necessary…and he lied. It was then and only then that we questioned his judgment and actions and started speaking out about it.

With that in mind, I call on those of you who opposed Obama to at least give our new President a chance. Refusal to do so is just not the American way, and it belies your giddy anticipation for each time the United States might stumble over the next four years – only because it would make you “right,” even at the expense of our country.

You droned it for over a year: “Country first.” Time to own up to it.

Thanks to my father and a friend for the inspiration, and portions of this blog.

Playing Chess With Pigeons

The Title of this blog made me giggle. I'm sure it will have the same effect on anyone who's ever attempted to debate a person of faith.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Umm...

Jesus-fuck-nuts.

Now we are blowing shit up in other countries, without telling them, who we claim we aren't at war with???

The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.


I knew this shit was probably happening. But it still is startling to see it in the Times today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Awesomeness

This should happen in Springfield

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/28/reverse-graffiti-activist_n_138621.html#

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh California...

After the rather shocking (to me, anyway) pass of Prop 8 (which bans gay marriage) in California, I was happy to learn that thousands are protesting and rallying against such blatant hatred.

Favorite protesting signs include, "Stop the H-8" and "Would You Rather I Married Your Daughter?"

Additionally, Arizona and Florida passed similar laws this past election. Arkansas banned gays from adopting children.

This proves that we still have a long ways to go, people.