Monday, February 22, 2010

Unpleasant surprises

Lately, I've been thinking about the whole idea of blogging and internet actions with others in general and it made me think of some recent unpleasant experiences on FaceBook.

A few months back, I was cleaning up some stuff and I came across my 6th grade yearbook. Unlike the people I went to middle and high school with who I wouldn't want to have anything to do with even if I could remember their names, I actually liked the kids I went to elementary school with, this school in particular. I went to 1st grade at one school, then I think 2nd through 4th at another, and 5th and 6th grade at the last one. I thought it might be interesting to see if I could find some of the kids from the last school on FaceBook. Big mistake.

One of them turned out to be a hard core right winger, which would have been hard enough to deal with, but she was a Jesus freak too. She posted something in her status about people having a Merry CHRIST-mas and about the reason for the season (which, as I've mentioned before, isn't what people think it is) and so on. I replied back that while I didn't agree with the religious part of the celebration, I could get behind the rest of the good things about it she mentioned. This initiated a back and forth that involved some of her friends, one of whom posted a comment about how God had put this "challenge" in front of her and that this person would be praying for her to which I replied to her friend that she should save her prayers for all the starving children, the women who are being abused, etc, etc, all the things that her great savior Jesus hadn't gotten around to taking care of yet (and, yes, that's how I put it) to which her friend replied and I quote "MAY GOD BLESS YOU !!!!!!!!" which, of course, is the Christian way of saying F.U. Basically, it was clear that she and her friends considered anyone who wasn't Christian Un-American and that they needed to be "saved", etc.etc., so I unfriended and blocked her.

Before that, there was another woman who I knew back then who put up a status post saying that we needed to get God (specifically Christ) back in this country. I commented that I didn't realize he had left and wondered if she was saying that Jews, Buddhists, and other non-Christians should NOT be in this country and pointed out that we don't live in a theocracy. She responded by saying that wasn't what she was saying at all. But it became obvious through my back and forth with her that it was EXACTLY what she meant. She's one of these people who believes that if you don't accept Christ as your savior, you're not getting into Heaven, one of these people who believe a man who spends his life raping little boys would be allowed into Heaven if he accepted Christ on his deathbed and asked forgiveness while a man who lived a pure life, went out of his way to do good, never even had an impure thought, but didn't accept the divinity of Christ would go to Hell. Needless to say, she got the "unfriend and block" treatment as well.

It goes on (although without the drama, so far). There's a guy who I remember liked wearing an AC/DC "Highway to Hell" T-shirt who, according to his profile, is a Baptist. There's another guy who joined one of the "Causes" on FaceBook, this one intending to keep the phrase "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance. I've had to resist the urge to point out to him that those words were only added in the 50s at the height of the "Red Scare" as a way to distinguish us from the "godless Communists", that it's ridiculous for a democracy to have a "Loyalty Oath" at all (it's something they have in dictatorships and other repressive regimes), and that again, this is not a theocracy.

The ultimate irony is that, based on the pages listed in her profile and the FaceBook groups she belongs to, the one person from back then who seems to share my political and possibly my religious views is the one person from back then who REALLY didn't like me. Of course, the reason she didn't like me is really silly. I won't go into it here, but if anyone is interested, I'd be willing to share. I tried to be the bigger person, sent her a message on FaceBook, said that I had never really had a problem with HER and that it was a long, long time ago and I thought it would be nice to be able to talk to somebody from back then who hadn't turned into a right wing, ultra-religious individual. Never heard back from her. I've thought about trying again. The thing is, in the e-mail, I told her if she wasn't interested, that she didn't have to write back and I wouldn't bother her again, but , of course, without a response from her, I don't know if she read it at all, so maybe I should.

Bottom line, if you're thinking that it might be fun to look up someone on FaceBook who you haven't been in contact with for awhile, remember the words of Dr. Zaius, "You may not like what you find."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hey, Dick !

First of all, I want to say that I appreciate Dick Cheney supporting repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

As for the other stuff he said this weekend :

1) I'm really tired of pundits on the Right forgetting their history. The "Underwear Bomber" hasn't been treated any differently than the "Shoe Bomber" was under the Bush administration, so either Obama is right for the way he's handling it now or you were wrong then. Which is it ?

2) Refusing to torture people doesn't make Obama weak on terror. It would be nice if things worked in the real world the way they do on "24", but they don't. In real life, innocent people are tortured. And it's not as if torturing those who aren't innocent accomplishes anything. Someone who is being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop. Most importantly, regardless of the effectiveness of torture, America is supposed to be better than that. It makes it hard for us to hold ourselves up as an example for the rest of the world if we torture. Even worse, it makes it pretty much impossible for us to complain if any of our citizens are tortured overseas. Torture is wrong, period. Furthermore, even if you sincerely believe that this administration is weak on terror, do you really think broadcasting that to all the potential terrorists out there is a good thing ?

Frankly, Mr. Cheney, if you're this interested in still being involved in politics, I wish you would go about it the same way you did while you were Vice-President. Go to your "undisclosed secure location" and SHUT THE HELL UP !

Friday, February 12, 2010

Darwin Day

Just a short note to point out that Charles Darwin was born on this day 201 years ago. There are those who think today should be a national holiday. I support this idea myself, but frankly, I would be happy just to have this not be the sad state our country is in :

It both saddens and infuriates me that this country lags so far behind Japan and most European countries in acceptance of the Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Gravity, The Theory of Relativity, The Germ Theory of Disease, these are all Theories. For those who don't know, a Theory is not a guess or an opinion. When something is given the designation of Theory, that means it's been tested over and over again and found to be true, so when you hear people dismissing Evolution by saying it's "just a theory", you should know that they're hoping you don't know the difference between a Theory and a hypothesis (which is an idea that either hasn't been tested or hasn't been tested enough to reach the level of Theory). 99.99 % of the population have no problem with those other Theories, but The Theory of Evolution is different. It seems that people are willing to accept scientific facts as long they don't conflict with their religious beliefs. There is some good news. Recent polls show the number of people who don't belong to any particular religion (or, in some cases, aren't religious at all) is growing. So hopefully, at some point in the future, we won't be the laughingstock of the civilized world due to the willingness of a large segment of our nation's population to give more credence to a book full of fairy tales than to scientific facts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A few TV notes

Want to make another science on TV comment. This time it's not about shows that are presented as fact, but that are nothing but BS. This time, it's something that a lot of dramas on TV (and some movies as well) do, which is to take liberties with science in service of the plot, either because a writer isn't skilled enough to work with the facts or is just too lazy. It's on my mind now because I am watching the 1st season of Dexter on DVD and I recently watched the next to last episode of the season. Near the end of this episode, Dexter is trying to confirm that the guy he thinks may be a serial killer really is by comparing a couple of blood samples. He gives them to a lab tech, tells her it's a rush job. In less then an hour, she tells him that these two blood samples are definitely from the same person. The problem in that in less than an hour, you could determine if the blood types are the same (heck, you could do that within a couple of minutes), but you couldn't do a DNA test, and just because two samples have the same blood type doesn't mean they're from the same person. But, of course, someone Dexter cares about (if that's the right term to use when talking about him) is in danger and if he had to wait until the next day, it might be too late to save this person, so the show did what a lot of them do and presented a DNA test as taking a lot less time them it does. The mangling of science happens in the movies too. The movie "Alien Resurrection" is enjoyable as a horror/action flick (though nowhere near as good as the first two movies). At least it is if you don't know anything about cloning. The movie makes it very clear that a character in the movie who is a clone has the memories of the person she was cloned from. People, cloning doesn't involve putting someone in a copier and pushing "Start". DNA from the person to be cloned is put into an egg which develops normally (hopefully) just like any other. The person who is eventually born is a whole new person with no memories at all, much less the memories of the person they have been cloned from. This kind of thing bothers me because A) Since I know something about this stuff, it takes me out of the show (or movie). It's as if they flashed the words "YOU"RE WATCHING A SHOW" on the screen. and B) because science knowledge in this country sucks enough as it is. I really wish there would be more of an effort to portray science as it really is.

Finally, I don't know if this totally fits into the whole TV theme, but I just want to say that I really wish that we could do away with weather forecasters. Certainly, there should be people monitoring the weather and letting you know if a major storm or a tornado or something like that is in or getting near the area where you live. But the regular forecasts should be done away with. All the meteorologists should just admit that weather is a chaotic system and that it's pretty much impossible to know what it will be like a few hours from now, much less a few days. I bring this up because in the area where I live, this past weekend, we had a snow storm, probably got 3-4 inches. This was after being told that very morning that we weren't going to get any snow at all ! Again today, all the forecasters were saying this morning that we would get maybe an inch, two at the most this evening. Just a couple of hours ago, a Winter Storm Warning was issued for the state and they're now calling for 3-6 inches ! It's just ridiculous. I think they should get rid of the weather forecasts in news broadcasts, and maybe use that time to delve a little deeper into the stories they cover in such a shallow way now, which is a potential topic for another post in the future.