Who the hell is reading this thing!?
A lot of you, apparently.
Mr. Rasmussen posted this video as a comment on my profile, and I repost it here, because I’m going to comment on it:
Watch it. You might get through the whole thing. I consider it a triumph of human will that I did.
The show is called The 1/2 Hour News Hour, a lame joke that MTV beat them to about twenty years ago begins with a Mary Sue fantasy of Rush and Coulter as President and Vice President, a sight which is sure to draw pulsating, orgasmic exaltations by its conservative viewers. It was unpleasant to watch Rush mug and Coulter stagger through poorly-written dialog and unflatteringly predictable jokes (“Nancy Pelosi? How did she get this number?!”). Though I’ve never done it, I imagine that this is what it’s like watching Sean Hannity masturbate.
The bland hosts then fart out a bagful of standard anti-Democrat jokes, and then cut to commercial with a fake ACLU advertisement. This fake ad mockingly celebrates the ACLU for pushing all the way to the Supreme Court the right for hate groups to march in public. Nobody who claims to support the Constitution would find that to be a negative thing – it’s a victory for free speech, which comes in as, yes, the very First Amendment (you know, the one that comes right before the guns one).
My issue with this show has nothing to do with politics. Conservative humor can actually be very funny, when it’s done by funny people. Though I do have to say that I find strident Conservatism and its frequently-lame attempts at humor to be a mui macho back-slapping sort of cruelty, the kind I used to see at junior high dodge ball games when the jock-sucking fucknards would high five each other after nailing one of the geeks.
No, my problem with the 1/2 Hour News Hour is that it just isn’t funny.
Part of me thinks that partisan leather-sniffers on the right side of the aisle so desperately need constant reassurance that they’ll laugh at anything that makes fun of a Democrat, even if it isn’t funny. A smaller part of me hopes that even those folks will see that bad comedy is just bad, no matter what the political affiliation of its writers happens to be.
Of course, it’s Who’s the Hottest Oscar Nominee?
My vote? Helen Mirren.
Even though Mirren is in her early sixties, she’s still got it. Seriously.
I’m a participator. Not in real life, mind, but on the internet.
I join lots of services, and some of them are pretty fun.
Here is a rather exhaustive list of everything I’ve joined, and you might have joined some of them, too.
I’d also like to chide everybody I know for not using Facebook.
It’s way better than MySpace. Try it out and you’ll see.
So some lady had her laptop stolen, and her husband tracked it down using the SETI @ Home software running on it.
SETI @ Home is this: you download a little program that uses your computer to crunch numbers for the SETI project, which scans radio signals from deep space in hopes of finding an intelligent alien species.
The Project has a lot of raw data collected from radio telescopes and not enough in-house processing power to go through it all. Thus, tons of people download the client, and when their computers aren’t being used, the SETI @ Home software kicks in and uses their computers to process the information. After it goes through a few chunks, it sends those chunks back to SETI, which compiles it all into data that actual humans can analyze.
Because the client software running on this lady’s computer talks to the SETI project on a regular basis, its IP address can be tracked back to a physical location. Thus, as soon as the thief puts the computer on the internet, the computer can be found.
I went through all that stuff to make a point:
This is the only application of the SETI @ Home project that will ever be useful.
Not only that, but this is the only application of SETI itself that will ever be useful.
I differ from most people (especially from most science fiction fans and writers) in that I don’t think there are intelligent, tool-using alien species elsewhere in the universe with whom we will be able to communicate.
Here’s my reasoning:
In the few billion years of evolution on this planet, only one (1) species has ever emerged that uses tools the way we use them. Not only that, but only one species has ever come close: us.
Human-type intelligence is not a common thing on our planet. There are very few species on earth with one distinctive trait that is not shared by at least one other species, but human-style intelligence is one of them. With that in mind, how likely is it that this same sort of intelligence evolves on other planets with wildly different ecosystems?
We humans got here after a series of progressive genetic mutations. These mutations made us ideally suited to survive in our environment, after billions of years of evolution from our ancestors who were also evolving to survive in their environments.
In the end (us), you have a very tall stack of traits, genes and developments that grew from branches and trunks that preceded them, building on what came before and modifying them to suit new systemic pressures.
Compare our intelligence to, say, winged flight. There are thousands of species on earth that have developed winged flight. While many of them share close common ancestors (the many varieties of bird), some species, like the bat, evolved winged flight by themselves – a case of what’s called convergent evolution. Winged flight was a do-or-die development; it was so important to the ancestors of bats and birds that they independently evolved the ability to fly.
intelligence is most definitely not one of those do-or-die mutations. Human intelligence exists in its current state because our ancestors were more likely to survive if they were smart – the ability to recognize patterns, to think in abstract terms, to communicate with language, to use numbers and tools and technology. These things might also exist in some other species (ravens, for example, are really, really smart), but not a single one of those species has all of them at the same time.
I see it as a kind of hubris – the idea that intelligence is the end-all be-all of life. It’s not that I don’t think that life exists on other planets, because I’m quite certain it does. But rather than find a space ship of some benevolent alien species, we’re probably just going to find planets full of tight, well-balanced, constantly changing ecosystems. Some of those species we find might be smart; some might be really smart. But if in the long, long, long history of life on our planet, where one species already evolved intelligence and no other species ever did, how likely is it that such intelligence evolved on these planets, too?
In this video, he says that somebody has to have faith in order to run the country.
He says this as a response to a Christian in the audience who tells Mitt that he doesn’t “know Jesus,” because Mitt is a Mormon.
Mitt Romney’s response to intolerance is more intolerance.
When is the rampant distrust and demonization of atheism going to end in this country?
Yeah. Probably never.
Reason Magazine is a fun read. Even if you don’t agree with its Libertarian point of view, it’s hard to argue with their primary concern: freedom is good, and America needs more of it.
They recently posted an excellent entry on the coming elections, and how journalists of all kinds frequently lob soft balls at candidates.
Included in this entry is a list of 20 questions that the frontrunners of both parties need to be asked. These are questions that should make the candidates think, and on topics that the candidate probably doesn’t have talking points to crutch them through answering them.
I’m going to repost the questions here, but you should still check out the article.
1) Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
“When you were mayor of New York, you made two attempts to extend your term in office. You opposed a term limits bill that voters passed; you publicly speculated over staying in office after September 11, and only reluctantly stopped a third party from nominating you for a third term after the state legislature made it clear they wouldn’t allow it. Given that the last six years have seen a vast expansion of presidential power, how can Americans trust you not to abuse the office and seek more and more personal authority?”
2) Arizona Sen. John McCain
“You’ve backed off on some campaign finance reforms, and you yourself are opting out of public financing for 2008. Could you explain why the other candidates should abide by the old campaign finance reforms, and by McCain-Feingold?”
3) Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
“When Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a mildly hawkish speech about Iran but opened the possibility of engaging with their leaders, you blasted her. ‘Advocating engagement displays a troubling timidity toward a terrible threat. The right strategy is not engagement, but economic and diplomatic isolation.’ Please enumerate which other countries you want to threaten instead of engage.”
4) Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback
“You opposed President Clinton’s 1999 action in Kosovo, and said at the time ‘I continue to implore the Clinton administration to present a clearly thought-out exit strategy from the hostilities in Kosovo.’ Why didn’t you apply this standard to the Bush administration over the last six years?”
5) Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
“Your successor as Arkansas governor, Mike Beebe, is considering dropping the ‘obesity report cards’ you introduced. As president, what mandatory, federal programs would you introduce to schoolchildren to get them in shape?”
6) Texas Rep. Ron Paul
“You want to abolish the Federal Reserve. What is your plan for grappling with the international financial instability – if not panic – that would follow this move?”
7) Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo
“Five years ago you said ‘China is trying to export people’ and continued, ‘It’s a policy for them, a way of extending their hegemony. It’s a government-sponsored thing.’ As president, what measures would you take to stop Chinese people from breeding so energetically and dominating the world – and by extension, this country?”
8) Former HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson
“Could you briefly explain why every American should get a computer chip implant?“
9) Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
“In 2001 you signed a proclamation celebrating European-American Heritage and History Month, only to rescind it when it was pointed out that David Duke lobbied for the holiday. If it was proposed by non-racists, would you support a federal European-American heritage month?”
10) California Rep. Duncan Hunter
“You’re perhaps the leading advocate for a fence on the Mexican border, as you won the funding for a border fence in California. However, that fence was a boondoggle that went far over budget and poured illegal immigrant traffic over into the Arizona desert. Does this call into question your solutions on illegal immigration?”
11) New York Sen. Hillary Clinton
“Defending your vote in favor of the Iraq resolution, you said: ‘As a senator from New York, I lived through 9/11 and am still dealing with the aftereffects.’ What was Iraq’s role in the 9/11 attacks?”
12) Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
“In your 2004 campaign for Senate, you approached the issue of a nuclear Iran this way: ‘Us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in. On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse.’ How far along would Iran’s nuclear program have to get before an Obama administration launched missile strikes?”
13) Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
“You have said you were mistaken to vote for the 2002 Iraq resolution. But you did more than that: You were a co-sponsor of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s war resolution, along with Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and Zell Miller. Given the arc of your flip-flop, why should anyone trust your judgment on foreign policy?”
14) Delaware Sen. Joe Biden
“You were the author of the RAVE Act in the Senate. Can you explain why glow sticks should be considered drug paraphernalia, and as president what you might do to prohibit them?”
15) Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd
“When you were a congressman, you argued for ending funding to South Vietnam by saying: ‘The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now.’ With that in mind, don’t you have a credibility problem when you talk about ending the Iraq war with minimal repercussions?”
16) Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
“Did making English the official language of Iowa cut back on the state’s influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico?”
17) New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
“Could you defend and explain your conduct in the Wen Ho Lee case, and why it doesn’t disqualify you from holding another job that would deal daily with issues of national security?”
18) Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
“As a congressman, and now a committee chairman, you have made ‘media reform’ a priority. What do you see as the president’s role in regulating and limiting the media available to viewers?”
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel
“If you were prohibited from appearing at any debates or candidate forums, would you still be in this race?”
And the 20th question, a bonus question for any candidate who wants the extra points:
“You have to abolish one cabinet position. Name it.”
Yes, that’s more of a demand than a question. Easy to forget, but we’re allowed to make those, too.