Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jason Collins

Jason Collins has just announced that he is gay. What makes this remarkable is that Jason Collins is a professional basketball player for the Washington Wizards of the NBA,

This makes Collins the first openly gay active player in a major professional team sport in North America.

Other players have come out after they retired but no one, before now, has done it while still playing.

Let me tell you, that took guts. A sports locker room is not the place for the faint of heart with all that testosterone and adrenaline flying around.

So far the reaction from politicians, the media and other players has been either positive or silence. Folks from Kobe Bryant to Bill Clinton have expressed their support. The usual suspects on the religious right are, of course, going even more bat-shit crazy than usual but that's no real surprise.

Jason, you the man. I hope this all works out for you.

Now we wait for the 1st gay baseball, hockey and football players to come forward. We all know they're there and it's just a matter of time.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jets cut Tim Tebow

After one year the Jets have decided to part company with Tim Terrific.

To say the stint in New York was a disappointment would be an enormous understatement. I do not understand why, late in the season, with Mark Sanchez struggling they didn't at least give him a chance.

Now with the draft of Gino Smith from West Virginia, I'm betting we're going to see another circus.

I have an idea, how about the Jets send Rex Ryan packing. I'll bet that would help.

As for Tim, I have no idea. The Jacksonville GM says he doesn't see any scenario where Tebow ends up with the Jaguars and I've always thought that might be the best fit.

So, at least for the moment, the saga of Tim Terrific and the NFL is at a lull but I'm betting we haven't seen the last of this soap opera yet.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Meanwhile, over on Pluto

In case you missed it, the "Awakening" conference, sponsored by Liberty Counsel, was held last weekend at a half full First Baptist Church in Oviedo Florida just outside of Orlando.

As reported by Right Wing Watch headliners included Michelle Bachmann, in person, and Marco Rubio via video.

Right Wing Watch observed that the major themes of the conference included the following, with commentary.

America is in spiritual decline and on the verge of total destruction at the hands of dictator-emulating, jihad-enabling socialist President Barack Obama and his religious-freedom-hating allies in the radical homosexual lobby.

In other words they won't let us force our morality on everyone else and they won't let us persecute everyone who looks different, acts different or thinks different than we do. Oh yeah, and we don't know what the hell socialism is but we know we're 'agin it.

Conservative America, is at war – at war with militant Islam, secular humanism, abortionists, a “radical homosexual activist movement,” and with Satan, who inspires these movements.

So, where's you "god" in all this? I thought he was all powerful? Did he decide to sit this one out?

President Obama is leading America down the road to socialist tyranny.

This despite a Republican house, a conservative supreme court and the fact that you idiots clearly don't know what constitutes socialism. I notice you're not crying about the still improving economy anymore are you?

Public schools are left-wing indoctrination centers and there’s no excuse for Christian parents to send their students to a public school.

In other words, they're teaching the kids REAL math, REAL science and REAL history instead of the delusional conservative crap these folks like to make up.

Christian educators should treat public schools as a mission field.

Aside from the fact that "Christian educators" is an oxymoron, I don't know WTF this even means.

Conservative political losses among Hispanics and youth are due to lousy public education, media bias, and bad messaging by conservatives.

No, its because Hispanics and the young recognize that conservatives are bat-shit crazy and have no handle upon reality whatsoever.

Political action alone will not be enough to save America – only a religious revival and Great Awakening will turn America around.

First of all, what YOU consider to be "America" doesn't deserve to be saved and it won't be. You're not going to be able to reverse the progress of the last 50 years. If anything, it's about to accelerate so get used to the idea.

Therefore conservative preachers need to be much more aggressive in their preaching.

I can't think of a better way to dig your own graves than to let these bat-shit crazy morons be more aggressive. Hey, I have an idea. How about you split off and create a separate political party focused on the themes of this conference?

Yeah, that would work.

Rhode Island Senate Approves Gay Marriage

By a vote of 26-12 the Rhode Island senate passed the gay marriage bill.

The bill needs to return to the house for what amounts to a procedural vote, the governor is expected to sign the bill and gay marriages could start being performed as early as August 1.

Rhode Island will become the 10th state to approve gay marriage. Next up are Delaware and New Jersey.

I'll be at an ACLU Cinco de Mayo event supporting gay marriage.

The dark days of late 2009 seem far away today don't they? Now if only the supreme court has the courage to do the right thing. I'm counting on John Roberts to realize and accept the flow of history.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rhode Island Gay Marriage Bill Moves to Senate Floor

The Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee moved two bills legalizing gay marriage to the senate for debate and vote while rejecting a bill to have a gay marriage referendum that also allowed broad discrimination against gay couples.

Opponents are expected to propose amendments to delay the bill but it looks to be just a matter of time now. Governor Lincoln Chafee has promised to sign the bill into law.

A recent Brown University poll showed 60% of Rhode Islanders support gay marriage while 26% are opposed.

Rhode Island would be the 10th state to approve gay marriage and the approval couldn't come at a better time with the Supreme Court poised to decide on DOMA and Prop 8.

France Legalizes Gay Marriage

Despite some significant opposition, especially from the Catholic Church, France became the 14th country today to legalize gay marriage by a vote of 331-225 in the lower house of the National Assembly.

The law also allows gay couples to adopt children.

Can you hear the walls crumbling? Can you hear Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia calling for cement and trowel to shore it back up?

The Rock Pocket Mouse

The hallmark of a good scientific hypothesis is its ability to make accurate predictions. One of the things that makes the Theory of Evolution so powerful is its ability to make specific, accurate predictions.

The rock pocket mouse is native to the New Mexico desert and has been a research interest of Dr. Michael Nachman of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The pocket mouse is a lover and not a fighter. Dr. Nachman refers to the little thing as the "Snickers Bar" of the desert. It's on just about everyone's menu. Snakes, foxes, owls and even the occasional hawk love to munch on the pocket mouse.

His only hope for seeing another day is to not be seen by the predators that are looking for a quick snack or a light lunch. The mouse's light tan, sand colored fur is its best defense.

Now about 1,000 years ago there was a lava flow in the desert that, when it cooled, turned areas of the ground black. A pocket mouse on a black surface might as well put up a "free lunch" neon sign.

So, if evolution is correct, mice living on the lava flows should have evolved darker fur. That's prediction #1.

Sure enough, pocket mice that live on the lava flows are actually black and not sandy colored.

Prediction #2, there should therefore be an identifiable genetic change that causes the mice to have dark fur and, sure enough, that's precisely what Dr. Nachman and his associates found.

But what about the fact that there are black furred mice on different lava flows hundreds of miles apart? The probability of the same genetic mutation occurring in all of those cases is very, very small. Therefore, prediction #3, there should be different genetic mutations that caused darker fur in different groups of pocket mice and, sure enough, that's exactly what was found.

But wait a minute. The lava flow only occurred about 1,000 years ago. Isn't that too short a time for a genetic change to work its way through an entire population?

Nope, because mice have lots of offspring in a short period of time. Even a slight advantage of 5%-10% allows the change to propagate in a couple of hundred years.

Now granted this is what creationists call "microevolution." There's no speciation involved but so-called "macroevolution" is simply microevolution over a very long period of time. There is no known factor that limits evolutionary change.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Boston Suspects Press Conference

I just watched the press conference and I have three observations.

(1) It appears this is going to be a Federal prosecution which means the death penalty may be on the table.

(2) Why does everyone focus on fear? Yes, there is always concern when this sort of stuff happens but people did pretty well. I didn't see anyone shaking in their boots. Calm and courage seemed to me to be the order of the day.

(3) Did we really need 12 different people putting in their two cents? One spokesman would have been sufficient.

I'm also not impressed with those people that talk about prayers. If your "god" is all-knowing, prayer shouldn't be necessary.

The Boston Marathon Suspects

Well the first phase is over.

After a firefight last night in which one of the suspects, 26 year-old Tamerlane Tsarnaev, was killed, the second suspect, 19 year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested hiding under a tarp in a boat behind a Watertown house.

Apparently the police and FBI spent the whole day searching a 20 square block area a block and a half from where Tsarnaev was actually hiding.

Maybe now Glenn Beck and the other right wing assholes will stop with the nonsense about a conspiracy to protect a Saudi-Arabian student who they were so sure was involved despite repeated assurances from authorities that the man was innocent.

It's too much to hope that this fiasco will finally demonstrate to Beck's audience that the man is a lunatic unworthy of taking seriously.

On the reality front, I wonder when the criticism of the police and FBI will begin? Despite hundreds of police combing the area they couldn't find him because, essentially, they were looking in the wrong place.

They had even given a preliminary "all-clear" when someone supposedly reported seeing blood leading to the boat. The blood may have been the result of Tsarnaev being wounded in last night's firefight. Maybe if he hadn't been wounded he would have been halfway to Wyoming while the keystone cops were searching everywhere in the town except where he actually was.

Ok, that wasn't nice. Four days to get them both is pretty impressive.

As for the media, I understand they can't sign off when something could happen any second but boy can they talk about nothing. If I had heard one more "neighbor" tell an incoherent story about nothing I would have blown a gasket.

Of the networks, NBC was the least annoying and next was CBS. Fox was doing OK until it brought on Geraldo Rivera who started spewing unsubstantiated crap but, by far the worst, was ABC.

There was this woman who was annoying beyond belief. My daughter thought it might have been Diane Sawyer. I don't know who it was but I would have paid big bucks to dump a bucket of ice water on her to shut her up. Instead I used the channel changer. Great invention that.

Now we move on to phase two. Growth of the right wing conspiracy theories and persecution of the innocent.

Michelle Bachmann will probably blame in on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Glenn Beck is already focused on that poor Saudi student and will probably throw in Common Core somehow.

Matt Barber and Linda Harvey will blame homosexuality and gay marriage and last, but not least, Pat Robertson will blame it on demonic influences allowed to creep into American society because prayer was removed from the public schools.

Boy Scout Gay Resolution

The Boy Scouts apparently, after reviewing responses to its questionnaire from members and sponsors, are proposing to split the difference on its gay ban and allow gay scouts but not gay leaders.

A spokesman stated that the resolution, if passed in May, would insure that "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

No mention was made of atheists so I assume that ban would remain in place. That means that personally I will most likely continue to withhold support. Practically speaking that means I get to buy more $4 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

The problem of course is this perpetuates the idea that gays cannot be trusted around children. A idea, based upon the existing evidence, repeatedly labeled as false by the professional psychological and psychiatric organizations.

This is a step in the right direction, but its not good enough in my opinion.

Gay rights organizations have already begun to criticize the decision which is no surprise. The big question is whether groups that have withheld support will continue to do so or accept this as an acceptable compromise.

I guess we shall see what we shall see.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Zealand makes 13

New Zealand became the 13th country to legalize same sex marriage joining Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay. Vietnam, originally was to address the question in the spring of 2013, has delayed action until 2014.

There are 13 jurisdictions in the US, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, the District of Columbia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Washington, Iowa and three Tribal jurisdictions, in which same sex marriages can be performed, 10 jurisdictions in Brazil and two in Mexico.

The wall is crumbling and the forces of darkness are in retreat but the war isn't over yet.

In France opposition to same sex marriage is becoming increasingly vocal as legalization creeps forward and in the US the SCOTUS is poised to pass judgment on two critical same sex marriage cases. The current conservative court could turn back the clock by a decade with a bad decision.

Victory is certain. The only questions are how long will it take and what will be the cost? The SCOTUS could help things enormously by, if not coming down in favor of gay marriage, then at least rendering neutral or benign decisions.

Unfortunately I don't have all that much confidence in a court that includes Scalia and Thomas.

Gun Background Checks

A poll says that 90% of the American people support expanded background checks before someone can buy a gun.

A Senate bill to extend background checks to cover additional situations such as including checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows can't get 60 votes for closure to take it to a vote.

This is a disgrace. Our government clearly no longer works. This is utterly, totally and completely absurd.

Screw the Republicans and those Democrats that don't have the courage to do the right thing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bombing at Boston Marathon

Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. According to the latest reports there are 3 dead and 113 injured. Who planted the bombs and why is unknown. Law enforcement officials are treating the incident as a terrorist attack which seems reasonable to me.

New York has tightened security just in case and the media is going crazy.

Yes it's a big story but little is known right now and interviewing everyone that was in the vicinity of Boston isn't going to change that.

What do you want people to say?

There were two explosions and they scared the hell out of anyone in the vicinity. That's just plain common sense and a normal reaction. Repeating it thirty-five or forty times isn't going to change anything.

Stay calm, move out of the area and let the authorities do their job. I'm sure we'll all hear about it when they learn what's going on.

The US Media, especially television media, really need to put a lid on it. Speculating and going all loony tunes over things just encourages other nut cases to try the same thing. Remember that baseball long ago learned not to show field crashers on television.

So, who do I think is responsible? I have no clue and neither does anyone else right now so let's not prepare any declarations of war just yet.

The Scouts and Tax Exemption

In California a bill is working its way through the legislature which would deny tax exempt status to any youth groups that deny membership to gay, transgender or atheist members.

The bill is clearly aimed at pressuring the Boy Scouts to lift its bans on gays and atheists. The question is whether this is an appropriate action for the government to take?

The scouts are a private organization and as such have the right to establish membership criteria but they are not entitled to tax exemption.

I don't see anything wrong with this bill. It doesn't require the scouts to change membership policies. That would clearly be unconstitutional. What it does is not reward them with a tax exemption while they exclude members of the population that pay taxes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Uruguay Oks Gay Marriage

The lower house of the Uruguay congress approved Gay Marriage by a vote of 71-21. The president, Jose Mujica, is expected to sign the bill which passed the upper house by a wide margin as well last week.

Are you feeling like a 3rd world country yet?

It's humiliating that country after country does the right thing while we're still bogged down by extreme right wing assholes.

I'm ashamed. I really am.


I hate those damn things.

After 17 years of peace and quiet they are apparently ready to take up residence in my backyard once again.

They should begin to appear in May sometime and hang around for about a month. Yuck, I'm getting itchy just thinking about it.

They pretty much render use of the yard around my house impossible. They're big, ugly, loud but, luckily, harmless.

I'm all for mother nature but what the hell possessed her to make these things?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The God of the Gaps

At one time in human history a god or gods was credited with literally thousands of things.

Gods made the rain fall; gods made the sun rise; gods caused disease and gods flung bolts of lightening.

In other words, gods were credited, or blamed, with doing anything we didn't understand.

This great divine power is known as the "God of the Gaps."

As scientific knowledge has progressed, and we've found naturalistic explanations for more and more things, the kingdom of the "God of the Gaps" has shrunk until today there are really only two things left, the origin of the universe and the origin of life.

Is it possible that a god or gods are responsible for these things? Sure, however, based upon past experience, I suspect that it's rather unlikely.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

I met a Republican the Other Day

Meeting Republicans is not too hard to do in my neck of the woods. As a matter of fact, Democrats are a lot rarer.

He couldn't understand why I wasn't a Republican. After all, I meet the Republican profile. I'm mature, white and upper middle class.

I'm not a Republican for two fundamental reasons.

First, too many Republicans are bat-shit crazy. They deny the science of evolution; they deny the science of climate change; they believe homosexuality is a choice; they want to restrict a woman's access to birth control and abortion; they reject the separation of church and state and believe Christianity and Christians deserve special privileges; they want to gut the public education system and replace it with a voucher hodgepodge that will benefit religion and the wealthy and leave everyone else lucky if they can get a minimum wage job.

Given they're bat-shit crazy, we usually don't even get to the economic questions.

Even if somehow we got past the bat-shit crazy aspects, and could talk about economics, we have a problem. I agree that the budget needs to be balanced so we can begin the task of reducing the national debt.

But the Republicans think you do that by giving rich people tax cuts and ask the elderly, widows, orphans and the working and middle classes to pay, not only for the budget balancing, but also for the tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Republican myth is by cutting taxes for the wealthy you grow the economy, you provide jobs and you grow tax revenues.

The problem is there is no evidence that tax cuts for the wealthy do any such thing. George H.W. Bush had it right all along. It's voodoo economics that accomplishes nothing other than making rich people richer and providing the government with a loss in revenue.

How you accomplish something matters. We could eliminate the budget deficit by nationalizing the oil and natural gas industries especially given the boom on the way from new drilling technologies. We could probably also provide universal health care by nationalizing the insurance industry and introducing a one payer system.

But we're probably not going to do these things because most Americans would be opposed. So HOW you solve a problem matters. We're NOT going to balance the budget by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Welfare even if that would solve the problem. That' not to say adjustments to these programs shouldn't be considered, nothing should be off the table.

So, while I agree with most Republicans that we need to get our financial house in order, I disagree with them on how we should do that.

And that's exactly what I told the Republican I met so now he understands why I'm not a Republican. However he's now confused as to why he's one.

The Arms Trade Treaty

Although it was almost ignored by the American media, yesterday the UN passed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

After 20 years of negotiations, 154 nations voted for the treaty that restricts the sale of arms and ammunition to nations racked by conflict. Three nations, North Korea, Iran and Syria, voted against it and 23 abstained including China and Russia.

The treaty has been opposed locally by the NRA and conservatives in general with a ridiculous barrage of misinformation and, to be honest, flat out lies.

There is nothing, and never has been, ANYTHING in the treaty about confiscating guns. The treaty only applies to the export of weapons and would have absolutely no affect on US domestic  gun laws.

As a matter of fact, the treaty is less stringent that the federal Arms Export Control Act (AECA). In other words it won't even impact US arms manufacturers.

My daddy used to say that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. In addition to the NRA, the biggest critics of the treaty were Iran, Syria and North Korea who expressed a fear that exporting countries would use the treaty as a weapon to restrict their access to weapons.

Yeah, that sound to me like another reason to support the thing.

In a last ditch effort to derail things the NRA proposed that what it called "civilian weapons" be excluded from the treaty. I suppose the NRA thinks it matters if you get shot by a 9 mm military sidearm or a 9 mm "civilian" Glock.

Who thought excluding "civilian weapons" might be a good idea? China, Iran, Egypt, Venezuela and Iran. Refer back to previous paragraph to see what my daddy said about the company one keeps.

Now we'll move on to the senate where we'll hear more NRA, Republican and conservative crap about the treaty repealing the Second Amendment and confiscating guns. Which of course it doesn't do but no one seriously expects the NRA, Republican Party or conservatives to deal with facts.