Saturday, June 27, 2009

Poor Farrah

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson via

Farrah Fawcett died 2 days ago on June 27th. You all heard about that, right? Or did you miss it? I heard a brief mention and then all the news shows were only about Michael Jackson's death because of the unfortunate and incredible event of both of them dying on the same day. What are the odds?

OK, Michael was the bigger star and touched more lives in more profound ways than Farrah, but hell, a person only dies once. Too bad she didn't get her due. She had that film of her dying shown on TV, twice, so I guess she's gotten some.

Of course, I never liked Michael - or Farrah either for that matter. Still, Farrah fought cancer and took a long time dying, showing courage in the face of adversity. Michael just lived badly and that bad living knocked him off in an instant. But in all of this the one person who really ticked me off was Ryan O'Neal. On TV he had to say in a mournful voice; "Why did they have to take MY girl?" Fucking publicity whore, stick a camera in his face and he can't resist milking it for all it's worth, even if it means using his girl's agonizing death struggle to make himself look like the noble victim.

Hey, they took MY girl too, Ryan, but I never tried to say that to anyone, even myself.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Favorite Pharyngula Post

PZ Myers in LondonImage via Wikipedia

I'm a regular reader of Pharyngula because PZ Myers is a fun writer. One of those guys who makes a story or idea interesting because he is almost always writing with a sharp, sarcastic wit - a lot like me! Also, I almost always agree with him. But he has written his best post so far, and that is on the subject matter not the style of writing: He compares the incompatability of science and religion! This is the kind of thing I've been ranting about for years, but who reads me?
But in a debate about the compatibility of science and religion, we have to put the argument in an appropriate context and define a specific shared purpose for both science and religion — it's the only legitimate ground for discussion. In this case, what we're trying to do is address big questions (remember, the Templeton Foundation says they're all about those "big questions") about the nature of the universe, about our history, about how we function, and then we encounter a conflict: religion keeps giving us different answers. Very different answers. They can't all be right, and since no two religions give the same answers, but since science can generally converge on similar and consistent answers, I know which one is right. And that makes religion simply wrong.
Ah, that is so satisfying to see someone with READERS say "religion is simply wrong". Stephen Jay Gould tried to be nice to religion and called it nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA). Essentially trying to say that science and religion operated in very different realms and therefore could not be judged the same way. That science was about reality while religion was philosophy. This would be fine if religion stayed over in it's designated territory but it never, ever has, Christianity has even attempted to do science using the bible, which is how we get a 6,000 year old Earth. Gould's idea is so obviously wrong I always thought it was just a desperate attempt to placate the theists. PZ attacks the different methods:
We have to look at what they do to see why. In order to probe the nature of the universe around us, science is a process, a body of tools, that has a long history of success in giving us robust, consistent answers. We use observation, experiment, critical analysis, and repeated reevaluation and confirmation of events in the natural world. It works. We use frequent internal cross-checking of results to get an answer, and we never entirely trust our answers, so we keep pushing harder at them. We also evaluate our success by whether the end results work: it's how we end up with lasers and microwave ovens, and antibiotics and cancer therapies.
To put it simply, science is self-correcting. There are a number of excellent methodologies (which PZ outlines briefly above) that are employed in the self-correcting process. Over time various hypothesizes converge in the closest thing we humans have to truth. I've often said this is the difference between science and religion; over time science converges from splinters to solidity, while religion is the opposite, it simply keeps splintering more and more. Look at all the sects of any one religion, this is because all that is needed in religion is a charismatic leader and you have a whole new set of answers and there is no way at all to check anyone's answers.
Religion, on the other hand, uses a different body of techniques to explain the nature of the universe. It uses tradition and dogma and authority and revelation, and a detailed legalistic analysis of source texts, to dictate what the nature of reality should be. It's always wrong, from an empirical perspective, although I do have to credit theologians with some of the most amazingly intricate logical exercises as they try to justify their conclusions. The end result of all of this kind of clever wankery, though, is that some people say the world is 6000 years old, that it was inundated with a global flood 4000 years ago, and other people say something completely different, and there is no way within the body of theology to resolve which answers are right.
"Religion uses a different body of techniques" - oh the depth of meaning over that one. Their methodologies are crap and never yeild any accurate answers about the nature of reality. They end up with ridiculous conclusions, the Earth being 6,000 years old is a favorite to look at because it is SO absurd and so easily demolished. But the hard core fundies can't say that their religion is wrong and science is right so they start making up things to make it seem like science is crap, the end result of this is an American society that is frightfully ignorant of even the basic scientific answers about the world. Or about the basics on how science finds answers.

I love that PZ talked about this in detail - and I highly recommend following the link and reading the entire posting - because he has a lot of readers and this message will reach many people. Unfortunately he is probably preaching to the choir for the most part, but I'm sure there is a fair number sitting on the fence, trying to make up their minds. PZ gives them some tools to work with for judging things.

If religion stayed in it's own territory along the lines of Gould's NOMA I would have no complaints about it. But when it ventures into sciences realm it needs to be prepare to defend itself.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Public Health Care Option

Legendary transplantation of a leg by Saints C...Image via Wikipedia

Well, it looks like Obama and the Democrats are going to let us all down again, no single payer plan will even be talked about, they are just going to try and have a public option. This means that most likely people will be able to sign up for Medicare since that is already in place.

Darcy had Medicare and she got the best treatment of any of her online lung buddies, who were all told their private insurance didn't cover organ transplants. Darcy never had a problem getting anything covered in 16 years while her friends had to fight tooth and nail over and over again just to stay alive - and not all of them succeeded.

The idiot Republicans keep trying to stop a public option while telling all of us how horrible government run health care is. What are they worried about? If government health care was so bad they should welcome the public option so we can all experience how bad it is. If the Republicans are even slightly right then all a public option would do is let private insurance win the competition hands down and end the argument.

So why aren't they all for it? Because they are lying like crazy and every one of them knows it. They know that the public option will blow private insurers out of the water, that over time everyone will get tired of paying big bucks for inferior care and will move over to Medicare and all those fabulously wealth CEO's of private insurance companies will lose their billions of dollars in bonuses and salaries.

Yes, it's true. They are willing to let you and everyone else who can't afford health insurance die from cancer and a dozen other serious illnesses, and let everyone else pay for the most expensive health care in the world, just so their friends can make some big bucks and will then give some to them as campaign contributions. 20,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have insurance and it's been happening for nearly 20 years, since the last time they pulled the wool over the public's eyes and shot down health care reform in 1993. All that blood and suffering is on their hands. And you know what? They are laughing all the way to the bank. Laughing at all of the public who fell for their crap last time and will do so again this time.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Photos

Still packing to move and running across more photos. Found some real gems today I had no idea I had, mostly of Darcy and Nikko. I don't have time to scan in very many, got to pack like crazy! I'm running out of time.

This one is a great family portrait of Darcy, Nikko and me. Look how intent Nikko is, she was so full of personality. And unlike most cats she loved for me to hold her, but only me, no one else could do it.

The second one is Darcy and Nikko sacking out. I love this one. It has to be 16 years old at least. We were still living in Fullerton but I can see Darcy is already sick because she's showing the weight gain from her medications. She was skinny before she started taking prednisone.

I'll be very glad when this move is over. I will finally feel like I can move on, being in my own, post-Darcy place, rather than the one we shared for 10 years. It will be very nice having Ally right next door, too, she came over last Sunday to help me paint.

I hate to think how the current cats, Aki and Cead, are going to react to the move. They've never lived anywhere but here, and cats hate change. I won't even be able to let them outside for at least a month so they won't try and head back to the old place.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I'm a real cat person and a real sucker for cat cuteness. Here is a tiger cub looking incredibly cute. Thanks to Pharyngula for the link.

It's amazing how housecat-like he is. All the same moves, even the "cute" looks like when they cuddle into the bed and show their stomach. I swear that my cats practice those cute moves when I'm not home, probably critiquing each other. I can read his body language because of my familiarity with house cats. He feels warm and safe and comfy.