Archive for: February, 2009

Conservapedia Tonight

Feb 27 2009 Published by under Accidental

I know, I know, I really should stop going to Conservapedia, but it's got that train wreck thing going. Every time I go back, I think I'm not going to find something worse than the things I've already turned up. And every time I'm wrong. But I might just be right tonight.

Today, I found the "Liberal Denial" page. It's not one that you're going to want to read with your mouth full.

The page starts out by defining liberal denial:

Liberal denial is the tendency of liberals to conceal, deny or censor the truth for ideological reasons. A list of the top dozen common instances of liberal denial are the following:

The page then goes on to list 13 items.

Included in that list are a few massively hysterical items. In no particular order:

liberals deny how they deify government officials, similar to how communists deified Stalin and Lenin and still deify Castro

In denial that Hitler and the Nazi party were in fact Liberals (anti-Semitism is a well-documented characteristic of Liberal Christianity as is the PETA-like Green wing of the Third Reich

the strident promoters of evolution generally have weaker credentials than advocates of intelligent design

The most spectacular of the baker's dozen has to be:

liberals deny they are liberal, and that most of the media are liberal

But - as the television dude says - wait! There's more!

Continue Reading »

13 responses so far

Jindal, Katrina, Boats, and Bureaucrats: The Slander Is Worse Than The Lies.

By now, you've probably heard that there's been quite a bit of controversy over a little story about bureaucrats and rescue boats that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told during his response to President Obama's speech earlier this week:

Let me tell you a story.

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!' I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, 'Sheriff, that's ridiculous.' And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens. We are grateful for the support we have received from across the nation for the ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes - and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.

When I heard Jindal tell that story, my first impression was that he was down there with that sheriff when rescue operations were going on, fighting the bureaucrats right in the thick of the crisis. As it turns out, that wasn't the case. Jindal didn't visit the sheriff until days after the event. His staff now claims that he never even meant to imply that he was there when the sheriff was fighting to put boats in the water, and that allegations that Jindal told a lie are "liberal blogger B.S.".

Frankly, I don't give a rats ass if Jindal was lying. An elected official exaggerating his role in events ain't exactly a shocker. No, I'm not worked up about the dishonesty in that account. It's the defamation that's pissed me off.

There are three government employees in the little 'story' Jindal told - Jindal, the Sheriff, and the bureaucrat. Two of those three employees were there when people needed to be rescued. Yes, assuming that the rest of the story is true, the bureaucrat was demonstrating a tremendous lack of understanding of circumstances when rules should be bent, but the bureaucrat was there. The Sheriff had a better concept of what needed to happen, and he was also there.

Bobby Jindal was not there. He was in Baton Rouge.

He can talk about the "compassionate hearts" of American citizens all he wants, but he damn well better not try to exclude "bureaucrats" from that group. We have - fortunately - no shortage of bureaucrats who have compassionate hearts and who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect others.

Earlier this week, I talked about a little lie Jindal told about "something called volcano monitoring". Right now, I'd like to talk about volcano monitoring and bureaucrats.

800Px-Msh80 David Johnston At Camp 05-17-80 Med

(source: Wikipedia)

That's a picture of a bureaucrat named David Johnston. As you can no doubt tell from his casual attire and posture, that's actually a picture of that particular bureaucrat at work. Twelve hours after the picture was taken, he was still there, and still working. An hour and a half after that, he was dead.

Johnston was a USGS volcanologist. The morning of May 18, 1980, he was on a ridge near Mt. St. Helens, monitoring the volcano. Although it was thought that the site Johnston was using was far enough away to probably be safe from the immediate blast, it was certainly understood that the site wasn't exactly safe. In fact, the morning of the eruption another geologist was out trying to get the Army Reserve to agree to lend them an armored vehicle to improve the safety of the site.

But bureaucrats, and the government, are always the problem.

5 responses so far

Inhumanity in the Colorado State Senate: Words Simply Fail

Remember that Colorado State Senator I talked about yesterday? The one that voted against the HIV testing bill because he thought it would encourage humanity? It turns out that he really, really doesn't know when to stop talking. He gave an interview to the Rocky Mountain News after the vote. Reading the things he said, I'm well and truly past appalled. This man, who currently holds elected political office, clearly does not understand the concept of what it means to be a human being.

What he said afterward:

"What I'm hoping is that yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that.

"The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.

"We can't keep people from being raped. We can't keep people from shooting each other. We can't keep people from jumping off bridges. There are a lot of things we can't do that have negative consequences in our society. People drink and drive and they crash and kill people. Poor behavior has its consequences."

When I read his statements yesterday, I hoped that he just hadn't considered that the proposed HIV testing would help the children. It had not entered my mind - not even remotely - that this creature might actually think that having the kids get HIV would actually be some sort of benefit.

If this man is not evil, I don't know what evil could possibly look like.

18 responses so far

I guess they meant well...

Feb 26 2009 Published by under Accidental

Henry Gee's wife Penny is participating in The Race For Life (remember that name - especially the last word - it'll be important in a second) to benefit Cancer Research UK. Someone sent her a message saying that they're not comfortable donating to a charity that supports animal research.

That's fair enough. I don't have a problem with animal research myself, but it's a complex issue, and I can see how someone could have a different view. Sadly, however, the correspondent failed to quit at that point. Instead, the unnamed would-be philanthropist went on to ask if there was an alternative organization that he or she could donate to.

Specifically, Mrs. Gee was asked if she could instead recommend a charity that supported palliative care.

I certainly wouldn't want to cast aspersions on palliative care in any way. It's a tremendously valuable field, staffed by people with enormous dedication and far more emotional strength than I'll ever have. Organizations that provide palliative care are absolutely worth donating to in and of themselves.

It's just that somehow or another asking to fund palliative care instead of research doesn't quite seem to fit that whole "Race for Life" thing. It's not that it's inappropriate - it's not, really. It's just that it seems to suck all of the optimism out of that whole "I'm going to do something to help cure this disease" thing.

By the way, if you want to donate to Mrs. Gee's race, Henry's got the link in the post I linked to above.

19 responses so far

If I shouldn't say they're anti-science, what should I call it?

Matt "Framing Science" Nisbet has some more advice for scientists on things we shouldn't be saying:

Another frame to avoid is the same type of "war on science" and "restoring science to its rightful place" rhetoric that was used on the campaign trail and in the early days of Obama's administration.

While during the Bush era this public accountability frame justifiably mobilized liberals and many scientists, now that Obama is in office the same message likely alienates Republican segments of the public that the president desperately needs to rally around climate action. The frame provides the heuristic that science is for Democrats and not for Republicans and focuses on conflict rather than consensus.

Let's think about this one for a minute or two. In fact, let's try something radical: let's assume for a minute that Nisbet's actually right. We'll ignore his use of the phrase "likely alienates Republican[s]" and assume that he's got solid data that says that Republicans are definitely alienated by recent uses of "war on science" and "rightful place" in public discussions.

If that's actually true, then I might have messed up yesterday when I (twice) discussed Bobby Jindal's speech. I might not have directly accused Jindal of engaging in anti-science behavior, but I definitely implied it. (I hope I did, anyway, because I was sure as hell trying to.) If I shouldn't have taken that approach, what should I have done?

Continue Reading »

16 responses so far

Tonight's Conservative Stupidity.

I'm going to take a break from my semi-masochistic browsing of Conservapedia tonight. Instead, I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight some much more malignant views.

There have been two separate incidents of hateful speech and behavior, involving two separate Colorado State Senators, in the past week.

The first incident took place on Monday. Republican Scott Renfroe took to the floor of the State Senate to speak in opposition to a bill that would (OH NOES!) give some benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. Renfroe apparently started off by informing the crowd that Eve was created to be Adam's "helper". He followed this up by quoting from Leviticus, and then declaring that government shouldn't be "taking sins and making them to be legally OK."

He went on to very helpfully clear up the sort of things that he was talking about:

I'm not saying (homosexuality) is the only sin that is out there. Obviously we have sin -- we have murder, we have, we have all sorts of sin, we have adultery, and we don't make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal. But what I'm saying that for is that all sin is equal.

As offensive as that was, it pales next to what Republican State Senator Dave Schultheis said today on the State Senate Floor:

I'm going to be a no vote on this. I'm trying to think through what the role of government is here. And I am not convinced that part of the role of government should be to protect individuals from the negative consequences of their actions.

Sexual promiscuity, we know, causes a lot of problems in our state, one of which, obviously, is the contraction of HIV. And we have other programs that deal with the negative consequences -- we put up part of our high schools where we allow students maybe 13 years old who put their child in a small daycare center there.

We do things continually to remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior, quite frankly, and I don't think that's the role of this body.

As a result of that I finally came to the conclusion I would have to be a no vote on this because this stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part, and I just can't vote on this bill and I wanted to explain to this body why I was going to be a no vote on this.

The bill that he was voting no on? It will require HIV testing for pregnant women.

That's right. This twisted excuse for a human being is not only against letting 13 year olds who have kids finish school, he's also in favor of letting the children of HIV-positive mothers get sick and die, because the HIV testing would "remove the negative consequences".

The Senator apparently believes that knowing one is both pregnant and HIV-positive is a positive consequence of promiscuity.

17 responses so far

Volcano Monitoring and the Stimulus: Cost Effective and a Clear Public Good

I've already talked about the basic dishonesty Bobby Jindal exhibited when he took a swipe at the mention of "volcano monitoring" in the stimulus - Jindal claimed that there was $140 million in there for "volcano monitoring", when it's actually only one of a number of projects listed under that line - but there's something more important that I didn't discuss. I took a swipe at the messenger, but what about the message? Jindal may be a liar, but that doesn't make him wrong.

He is wrong, of course. He delivered the argument dishonestly, but the argument still fails on the merits. Volcano monitoring is a legitimate governmental function, and it would still be a good investment even if we were spending the entire $140 million on nothing but monitoring.


Before I get into the public policy questions, let's take a quick look at the costs. Volcano monitoring is (as many others have already pointed out) something that needs to be done if you want to avoid losses of life and property in a volcanic eruption. Unless you're near a Hawaiian-type volcano, with it's picturesque slow-flowing basaltic lavas, you really need to get out of the way before the mountain goes boom and falls down. If you want to be able to get out of the way before the insanely hot wall of burning rock, mud, and ash hits you, you probably want to have someone monitoring the thing.

The best example we've got of a case where volcano monitoring has worked really well is the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. The Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology had been monitoring the volcano for a while, and when it started to show signs of life USGS geologists came to assist. The US Air Force, acting on the advice of the USGS scientists, evacuated Clark Air Force base.


(Source: Wikipedia)

Continue Reading »

18 responses so far

Fact Checking the Republican Response: No, there's not $140 million in the stim for volcano monitoring

Feb 25 2009 Published by under From the Right

A few minutes ago, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal finished delivering the Republican response to President Obama's kinda-sorta-but-not-really State of the Union Address. During his reply, Jindal took aim at some of the items contained in the stimulus package. One of the remarks, in particular, caught my attention. Jindal claimed that the stimulus included, "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'"

The reference about volcanoes might have given Jindal an opening for an attempt at snark in his next sentence ("eruption of spending"), but it wasn't based in reality. Here's what the stimulus law actually has to say on the issue:

US Geological Survey

For an additional amount for ''Surveys, Investigations, and Research'', $140,000,000, for repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects.

It's very hard to read that statement and honestly conclude that the law is spending $140 million on volcano monitoring. They do mention volcano monitoring, but it's clearly not the only thing that's being funded. Jindal was clearly ignoring the truth in his attempt to paint the bill in the worst light possible.

57 responses so far

Today's Conservapedia Brain Twister

Feb 24 2009 Published by under Accidental

Tonight's Conservapedia fun comes courtesy of their entry for "Moon":

Atheistic theories of the origin of the Moon, widely taught for decades despite lacking the falsifiability requirement of science (see Philosophy of science), have been proven false.

If you want to comment on this one, feel free. But I'm really not sure what you can say to this one.

11 responses so far

Diversity in Science

Feb 24 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

The first Diversity in Science blog carnival is up over at Urban Scientist. This one is truly a must read - particularly if you're unfamiliar with the subject.

2 responses so far

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