Monthly Archives: February 2014

Not Dead

Yes, I haven't posted in a loooooong time, and it's very frustrating because some interesting stuff has been going down (the excuse is work — I'm covering for a sick co-worker and it has been time-consuming).

The MOST interesting story, as far as I am concerned, came from Arizona and SB1062, the "religious freedom" pro-bigotry bill which would permit businesses to discriminate against homosexuals for "religious" reasons.  Issues of religious freedom have been cropping up lately everywhere — see, for example, the debate about Catholic hospitals not providing insurance which includes birth control — but SB 1062 was a fantastic example of the rubber meeting the road.  It was brazen in its attempt to codify discrimination — bigotry, to be exact — in the name of religious freedom.

Arizona governnor Jan Brewer last night vetoed the bill.  Sadly, she didn't do it because it was morally repugnant.  She did it because of pressures from the business community.  The NFL was considering moving the Supre Bowl from Arizona.  Major League Baseball weighed in.  As did Intel and other large corporations.  Even companies that didn't reside in Arizona threatened to move their corporate get-away conventions from that state.  Suddenly, when it came to massive loss of business revenue, "religious freedom" didn't seem so important.

And Arizona's reputation had been further damaged.

Sadly, this is not over.  Georgia is looking to pass the same law.

Fools.

 

Nye-Ham Debate

So there was a debate between Bill Nye vs Ken Ham (founder of the Creationist Museum) last night on the subject of evolution vs. creationism.  It was fascinating to watch.  One of my key takeaways was that Ham actually admitted that evolution takes place.  He says it explains the varieties of "kinds" of animals.  Rather than say that Noah took thousands of kinds of cats on his ark 4000 years ago, he says that Noah took one pair of cats, and from those two cats, we get all the various cats (lions, tigers, pumas, domestic cats) today.

That's a startling admission, if only because it makes evolution work at a much faster pace than Darwin (or any other scientist) claims.

Now, obviously I am in the pro-Nye pro-evolution camp, because I think.  But even then, I was surprised at how BAD the arguments were for the creationism side.  They weren't scientific at all.  He admitted as much.  But I'll farm out the rest of my review:

When I first heard this debate was going to happen, I couldn’t wait.  I never thought as a child that somehow “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” who I watched on Saturday mornings, would one day become a leading figure in the political battle of science vs. delusion.

Keep in mind that I am a Christian, so I don’t discount everything in the Bible.  Though I’ve made it clear that I don’t put a whole lot of stock in the Bible as it’s obvious (to me at least) that much of it has been rewritten – and poorly translated – over centuries.

The dawn of the tea party brought about the attempted hijacking of the GOP by radicals, and science that had never really been up for debate previously (besides between people who were borderline insane) because it had always been accepted as scientific fact,  suddenly became a “debatable topic.”

Not because the science changed, but because insane people were suddenly given a voice in mainstream politics thanks to the tea party.

All of a sudden these people began pushing the ridiculous idea that climate change was a “global hoax” perpetrated by over 95% of the world’s scientists and that evolution didn’t belong in the classroom.  And if we were going to teach evolution in the classroom, creationism should be taught along side of it as another “scientific theory.”

Except, there’s just one problem with that.  Creationism isn’t a scientific theory! 

Which is what led to this debate.  Over the last several years, Bill Nye has been quite public with his assertion that it’s insane how certain people want faith-based beliefs to be taught alongside proven science in our schools.

Well, Nye wasted no time in asserting that he would make Mr. Ham look like a fool this entire night.

Going into this night, I had imagined giving specific quotes and a detailed examination of what I had just seen.  However, it didn’t take me long before I realized that wouldn’t be necessary.

Honestly, a quick summation of what I saw is enough to properly convey just how badly Mr. Nye embarrassed Mr. Ham.

There were questions, rebuttals, long presentations and scientific facts (well, from Nye anyway) that would make most of our heads spin.

There was talk of radiometric dating, bedrock layers, tree rings, the expansion of the universe, evolutionary patterns of animals, technological advancements of ships, common sense and all sorts of scientific data which has been proven by some of best and brightest over many years.

Then there was Mr. Ham’s argument.  Which I will summarize:

“Well, there’s a book which tells me…”

No, I’m not kidding.  That was honestly his answer for most questions.  Because the Bible says something, that makes it fact.  Because a book that’s been translated over centuries says something, that proves it to be fact. 

I’m really not lying, that was his answer to most questions.

Oh, that and, “Well, because we can’t see the earth billions of years ago – how do we know?”   Then Mr. Ham’s “proof” being not that he can prove what’s in the Bible in any way – just that it’s in the Bible.

Seriously, that’s what he used as “proof” for most of his argument, “Because the Bible says.”

Bill Nye used facts, logic, science, data, research and common sense while Ken Ham countered these arguments with, “Well, the Bible says…”

I seriously started laughing during parts of this.

But my favorite part came during the question and answer section when someone submitted a question for Mr. Ham asking if he took all parts of the Bible literally (citing a part about touching pig skin or having multiple wives).  That’s when Mr. Ham proved himself to be an absolute hypocrite.

While the whole night he confidently spoke about the earth being 6,000 years old because that’s what the Bible says, or all these specific things in the Bible which should be taken for their literal word, yet during this part he stumbled over what is or isn’t taken from natural parts.

Essentially saying, well – I guess you can’t take every word of the Bible literally because it doesn’t make sense.

Because as most of us know, the Bible is full of passages that give men the right to stone their wives and all sorts of other heinous acts that in a modern society would seem barbaric.

It was quite comical to see Mr. Ham suddenly start to “subjectively” interpret the Bible when it came to some of the more controversial aspects of what’s written inside.

This entire night showcased that Bill Nye (over and over again) proved with science that there’s evidence to support theories and beliefs of the scientific community based on quantitative data collected by some of the best and brightest this world has ever seen.

While Mr. Ham’s answers basically consisted of two things:

  • Well, we didn’t see the world during that time so how do we know?
  • The Bible says…

And that’s about it.  No proof, no evidence – just another guy reading the Bible trying to claim that as “scientific evidence.”

So, in this debate of Science vs. Creationism, science not only won – it wasn’t even close.

Bi-Culturalism and the Right

It was just last week when RNC chairman Reince Priebus threw a huge fit of fake outrage and got MSNBC president Phil Griffin to apologize and fire a staffer who tweeted "maybe the rightwing will hate it" about that new Cheerios ad with a biracial family. How dare MSNBC imply that the right wing doesn't support bi-culturalism, screamed the wounded right wing.

Flash forward to the Super Bowl, and guess what happens?

The right wing flew into frenzy of racism and nativism about a different Super Bowl ad — the Coca-Cola ad featuring a multi-racial cast singing "America the Beautiful" in many different languages:

The multilingual aspect of the ad drew fire from former Republican Congressman Allen West, who wrote a blog post saying, "If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing "American the Beautiful" in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition."

Conservative columnist and Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes tweeted his dislike of the ad, writing, "So was Coca-Cola saying America is beautiful because new immigrants don't learn to speak English?"

For awhile, the hashtag #BoycottCoke trended on Twitter, with some calling for a boycott of the soft drink for daring to desecrate the national anthem by using foreign languages. (It should be pointed out for anyone confused on the matter, that America's actual national anthem is "The Star-Spangled Banner.")

 

And there are gay people in it, too!  (Never mind the fact that America the Beautiful's lyrics were written by a gay woman).

Paul Whitefield atThe Los Angeles Times had the best response:

Frankly, I’m getting more than a little tired of hearing from angry America. I’m also less than fond of knee-jerk America. And when you combine the two with the Internet, you too often get stupid America, which is really annoying.

Face facts, folks: A lot of people came here not speaking English. We like to think that they all quickly learned it. Some did; many didn’t. But, their kids did. And their kids speak English; many probably couldn’t speak the grandparents’ native language if they wanted to.

So get a grip: We’re not being overrun by hordes of Spanish speakers. Just like always, we’re growing a new crop of Americans. They are enriching the country. They are working hard, paying taxes. And they will create future Nobel Prize winners and future presidents and future titans of industry.

In short, they will make America beautiful.

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on Sunday in his Manhattan apartment. He was 46.

Hoffman was steeped in his profession — in film, on stage, in the spotlight and behind the scenes.

In 2005, he won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Truman Capote. The movie focuses on Capote's interviews with two murderers on death row for his novel, In Cold Blood.

He was, to me, the greatest charactor actor of all time.  Astounding performances in Truman and Doubt.  I saw him off Broadway in 2007 in Jack Goes Boating, and even then – a memorable performance.

A big loss to both stage and screen.