Monday, August 17, 2009

Start Happy

I've got some ranting to do so before I get there I want to start with something cool. So here's a link to a living bridge.

Beyond that I'm closing one chapter in my life and hopefully starting a new one. This week is my last with the non-profit I've been working for these last 4+ years. It's been a great place to work but as anyone who knows me is well aware it was always a dead end job and I should have left about 3 years ago. So thats the chapter thats closing.
The new one (hopefully) is that I'll be going back to school full time at Elmira College. I say hopefully because I'm actually still in the process of applying, the transcripts should be in by now or very soon and so I'm hoping to hear if I'm in by the end of this week. Luckily the school starts a little later than most so I've still got a couple weeks.

So thats my news, I'll also warn that I'm going to have much less time to waste online so expect my posts to get even less frequent, although I can now blog from my phone so maybe I'll keep it up to date.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Seneca Falls by The Distillers

I should play this for my former, and possibly future, history teacher. I can't say the lyrics entirely make sense but at least they are trying. Also one of few female singers in a punk band I like, of course she doesn't have a very feminine voice.

Founding Fathers

If there's an afterlife, and I really really don't think there is, then the founding fathers would be haunting the shit out of some motherfuckers. Thomas Jefferson was given an rough draft of the Constitution, he immediately criticized the lack of a Bill of Rights and then listed some important ones such as freedom of religion, speech and the press. Those probably sound familiar, wanna know another one? He wanted to make sure the Government could not create a standing army. Think how that would change this country....

Oh and James Madison wanted to make a set of laws limiting luxury and conspicuous consumption. Again think how that would change this country. Protection of property had already come to be an major part of our idea of freedom at this point so it probably wouldn't have tried to prevent individuals from owning large amounts of land or large companies (although what constituted a large company at that time was a very very different thing) but would have prevented unnecessary luxury in keeping with the way americans lived simply during the revolution in order to free themselves of the binds of europe. I'm not opposed to international trade, but I'm hugely in favor of living more simply.

Taxpayer Status

This is an interesting case, the issue of the actual case is fairly humdrum, a muslim charter school funded with taxpayer is in violation of the establishment clause. The interesting part is the fact that it's usually not possible to sue the government for spending your money in an unconstitutional manner. There is a loophole allowing lawsuits for violations of the establishment clause but only if the money was directly allocated by the Legislative branch. So if the president or you governor spend your money illegally there isn't shit you can do about it. That seems reasonable.... or not. I'm assuming that the theory is that if these lawsuits were permitted then people would be suing every time their money was spent on something they didn't like. I can just picture the teabaggers trying to sue of their money being used to save lives. So I'm kinda torn on this, I think it's terrible that an individual is barred from suing the government for breaking the highest law in our land. Thats fucked. But I can understand how big of a pain in the ass that would be. Then again if the government didn't break the law their would be no lawsuits. If they do break the law they need to be held accountable and thats the point of the judiciary branch, ya know the whole checks and balances thing. But the judiciary can't just strike down an illegal law, someone must bring the case, if were aren't allowed to start the case then how can the judiciary do their job? I guess I'm not as torn about this as I thought I was.

And the fact that the loophole only applies to the legislative branch and not the executive seems particularly odd to me. Why should the executive branch get a free pass to spend my money illegally? The article sites the Hein case where the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the white house over things related to the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, but seeing as the White House spent it's own General Funds (which are still our dollars) and wasn't appropriated by Congress the FFRF couldn't sue. WTF? How does that make sense in any way? Grrr... That seems like the most egregious violation of the Establishment Clause which they didn't claim was legal, the simply said there is nothing you can do about it. Fuck that shit.

Illegal is illegal, no one is above the law. At least thats the theory...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

the British Chiropractic Association

If you happen to have read the last post you'll see that if you're going to make scientific claims you need to be able to back them up. You need evidence that supports your views or else someone is going to come along and tell you that you're wrong. If or when that happens you start by checking if they are correct in their assertion, if they are you can change your hypothesis or throw it away. So what do you do if that hypothesis is that Chiropractic methods work and you've just had your ass handed to you by someone who simply pointed out that none of your claims are backed by evidence? Well if you happen to be the British Chiropractic Association, and I hope you're not, then you sue the shit out of that person for pointing it out!

This is a horrible precedence if it stands. It's ok to promote unproven medicine, but if you point out that said medicine is unproven and possibly dangerous you can be sued for libel. Holy fuck batman, glad I'm not living in England.

Aww... we weren't swimming apes

Ok theres a fringe hypothesis that at some point in our evolution one of our ancestors spent a bit of time in the water. It's known as the Aquatic Ape Theory or ATT for short, but in keeping with scientific norms it should be called a hypothesis and not a theory as it is far from an established theory. I know very little about serious biology but I know more than most people, which isn't saying much at all, hell I'm not even sure if "most" know that evolution is real. Anyway I heard about this theory, er hypothesis, at some point and found it interesting. It seemed to explain a few odd things, such as why aren't we covered in hair like other primates? From the view of a layman it seemed possible and interesting. But it appears that from the view of someone who knows something about biology it's not a very convincing argument at all. This is how and why science works, anyone is welcome to come up with a hypothesis, and anyone is welcome to try to prove it wrong. Contrary to what the haters think taking down an established theory is what makes the greats the greats. You've heard of people like Einstein and Newton right? It's important to note that Einstein was not a famous scientist who proved Newton wrong, he became a famous scientist BECAUSE he proved Newton wrong. When he proved Newton wrong the second time he was famous.

Anyway the point is that if you are going to venture into science then you'd better have skin thick enough to stand some criticism because it's going to happen, thats how science works, its why science works. I bring this up once again because if I get to it this will be an important part of the next post.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Alternative Medicine" vs Science/Reality

This isn't exactly breaking news as the report came out several weeks ago, not to mention the fact that the study only confirmed what should be obvious. Alternative, Holistic, Unconventional, Complimentary, Unorthodox, or whatever else you want to call it, Medicine does not work. Shocking right?
"But come on man they've been using this for thousands of years, western medicine doesn't know everything."
And what was the life expectancy for those thousands of years, and what is it since western medicine has taken over? I know it sounds like crazy talk but sometimes it's a good idea to see if things actually work, a great case for that would be medicine right? Maybe apply the scientific method and, oh lets really get crazy, test that shit? So the government spent a decade and a few billion to see if maybe there was something to all this mumbo jumbo. The only one they found to work was Ginger helps prevent nausea associated with chemo.

Here's a short little article on the matter and I think this sums up the biggest problem with "alternatives."
Any treatment that has proven to provide reliable benefit, is automatically added to the canon of ‘western’ medicine. Therefore the only treatments left available for ‘alternative’ to claim, are those that are unproven, or worse, treatments known to be actively harmful.

I could have quoted that entire article, seriously read it. To me this whole thing is just another part of our societies problem with science. Our society thinks that faith is a good thing, our politicians are forced to pander to the masses and say, "Yes, I think that things are true despite a complete lack of evidence" and the crowds cheer. Why is faith a good thing? I just don't get it. I much prefer knowledge to faith but for some reason I'm in the minority on that one. So how do we know something as opposed to just thinking something? You test it, you try to prove your own guess wrong, if you can't (and it's an idea that can be proved wrong) then it's probably right. Makes sense right? Hey that fucking science! And its the reason we Know some shit, we don't know everything and no scientist would claim we do, if we did they'd be out of a job. To tie this back in with the original part, the government is also looking into some even kookier ideas like distance healing, spiritual energies and prayer. Not that I put much value on case studies but here's someone who decided to use prayer to cure their child of Juvenile Diabetes. God came through and she is doing much better, doctors are now prescribing two teaspoons on god for all sorts of illnesses... oh wait that isn't what happened? The child died a slow and agonizing death because the parents refused to give her a shot of insulin? Hmm... well at least they'll have some time to think about their choice while they sit in jail for Second Degree Reckless Homicide.

So yeah western medicine has its problems, for one it's not available to everyone, it's regulatory agencies are too deep in the pockets of big pharma, Doctors are too overworked to spend enough time with their patients, and with the incredible amounts of money being made it's no surprise that there are some shady dealings and outright corruption. I think this is another reason why people are nervous about trusting the guy with the PHD who has $200,000 worth of college loans he needs you to help him pay back. So they go to the nature loving hippie who only smells a little and is in touch with your individual life energies and wants to simple help refocus your chakras. Of course it should be noted that the bullshit sales of alternative meds is a 34 Billion dollar industry, with no proof at all that any of it works.

Obama Birth Certificate

Seriously folks? There are still people talking about this? He has shown his birth certificate and two birth announcements from local papers, what more can you ask for? Seriously if you asked any American to prove they were born here what more could they have as proof, hospital bills? They're just sippin the Haterade and can't stand that some of his shit is working, like the Cash for Clunkers program.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

50 miles!

Woohoo! My first fifty mile ride! Ok well actually it was like 23 miles to watkins, that part was awesome as it's almost all downhill. Then I got some grub at the Italian festival which I didn't even realize was going on. The way back was a whole lot slower but otherwise fine. It was a great day for sure.

I couldn't help but think of vonegut at this point, "if this isn't nice then I don't know what is."