Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interesting Things

Sometimes when I am crawling through the tubes of the interwebs I encounter an article that I think would be great for this blog. One course of action would be to post that article onto the blog. An entirely different, and perfectly valid, course of action is to leave that particular tab open until there is time to post the article later. This way I will have time to think of insightful and interesting commentary to go along with the post.

On what might be a slightly related note, the top of my current browser window is a jammed full of tiny unreadable tabs. So now I'm going to dump on give you these wonderful and interesting links. Here we go:

Sometimes People Hate Science:

Here is a long, insane video on why the earth is not rotating on its axis. Fortunately the video is accompanied by a short summary of the highlights. The summary of the summary is that a guy made a 30 minute video to explain how the earth is not actually rotating on its axis. This video was made in order to prove that the bible is accurate when it states "the earth is absolutely not moving." (citation needed . . .)

This video is a particularly extreme example of someone trying to defend religion from the evil of science. There's a sad irony in these attempts, as they are founded in a depressing lack of faith and divinity. A very smart and scientifically savvy Christian I know summarized the way anti-science Christians undermine their own faith with these arguments with a simple quote:
God is not afraid of science
Separate from the religious motivation for the video, the video itself raises a cool science question: how do we know the earth is rotating on its axis? I mean, we can kind of see it from outer space, or we can see that other planets are rotating and assume that earth is rotating as well. But, in space, all motion is relative. Is it possible that the earth is perfectly still in space and everything else in the universe is spinning around use in a zany way, making it appear that the earth is rotating? While the relative nature of motion is a fun though experiment, the answer is still no. We can actually measure the earth's rotation very simply using something called Foucault Pendulum. Click the link, it's cool stuff.

It Really is about Keeping Women in the Kitchen

This is a great short article arguing that birth control is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. The basic notion is that without reliable birth control women were always second class citizens, and men could claim that it was a requirement of biology. In fact, men still claim this, even with reliable birth control. The article argues that the hard line against birth control is a recognition that it allows women to break the shackles of a sexist society. Now, we're seeing a backlash against contraception itself by organization steeped in traditional male authority, like the Catholic Church.

The point that birth control may be the most important invention of the 20th century, and yet it's something that the reader (and myself) has never seen on a list of great invention of the 20th century is fascinating. Birth control has fundamentally changed a social dynamic that has existed as long as humans. What we're seeing now in politics (and yes, I include the debate over choice and abortion) is the fight over the dramatic social shift that comes from gender equality.

Humor Break

Politics is depressing. Watch these amazing cat gifs for a break.

Romney As Sociopath?

Cruelty to animals is something that connects on an emotional level in a way that cruelty to humans often does not. It's why the story about Romney's family dog, Seamus, is the kind of story that sticks. It is likely to stick to Romney as an indication of his uncaring nature, even more than his quote about not caring about the very poor (because they already have a safety net).

The summary is that when his family moved, he put the dog in a carrier and strapped it to the roof of the car. At some point during the drive the dog shat itself. Romney hosed it off at a rest stop and kept going. Ever practical. It demonstrates a certain heartlessness that fits with the image of Romney as a rich calculating machine. There are indications that this story will continue to linger:

Here is a humorous web video which pokes at the issue.

Gingrich even used the issue in one of his ads.

Oh, Santorum . . .

You didn't think you were going to get out of this link dump post without a healthy dose of Santorum did you? It feels like he spews crazy faster than even the internet can keep up. Here's the small sampling that ended up on my tab bar:

Rick Santorum needs to be President to counter the influence of Satan. Even more than the Satan stuff though, this article points out a Santorum quote that could cause more damage to his campaign than any of the crazy that he's spewed out:
of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.
When your run for President relies entirely on turnout among protestant evangelicals, in might not be a good idea to say that they aren't Christians .. .

Santorum may want to remove the plank from his own eye before worrying about the splinters in the eyes of American Protestants, seeing as review of tax returns has revealed that he gives a minuscule fraction of his significant income to charity. Many people would say that a foundation of Christian belief is charitable donation, especially when churches count as charities for such giving (Which I believe represents a huge part of Romney's significant giving).

Of course we know that being the "Christian" candidate in today's politics isn't about being kind to others, forgiveness, or giving. It's about trying to turn the clock back to a time before the United States provided any services or legal protections to anyone. So Santorum is putting forward his conservative chops by attacking that scourge upon humanity: public education. If you don't have the stomach for the whole article, here's the money quote:
"Yes, the government can help, but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic."

(Aside from schools for the children of military personnel, the federal government does not actually operate schools. Most U.S. schools are supported primarily by state or local funding, or a combination of the two.)

Santorum said the public education system was an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, "when people came off the farms where they did home school or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories … called public schools."
Not as Conservative as It Seems

Conservatives make a lot of noise in our society. The noise itself can be fairly frightening, but it's important to remember that polls continually demonstrate that the populace is not nearly as stupid or conservative as the echo chamber makes it seem. Unfortunately, the importance of voting turn out, and the primary system, tend to make politicians more extreme than the generally populace. A recent poll in Virginia indicates once again, that where the state government is doing crazy things, the people who live there are far more moderate in their positions on these issues.


  1. Fantastic link dump. And I believe the citation needed above may be Santorum 3:18, an excerpt from one of the lesser-known books.

  2. Interesting indeed. Apropos Romney dog story, it's even worse: http://www.dogsagainstromney.com/2012/01/urgent-crate-gate-update-did-mitt.html