Friday, April 19, 2013

Lambasting Liberal Looniness

I get criticized from time to time over the contents of this blog—bad language, dissing religion, mixed metaphors, behaving like an all-around asshole, you name it. One of the biggies, though, is that my conservative friends (yes, I have them) like to hit me with the “liberal bias” complaint. It would be easy for me to simply say: “Hey, I’m a liberal, the fuck do you expect?” but that answer seems lacking in, I dunno, consilience or something.

So, in the spirit of debunking myths, I’m gonna take a poke at some popular fallacies that are favorites among liberals. 

Except for me, of course. Cuz I’m spesh-ul.

El Nino

A number of years ago I went to hear Michael Moore speak. Now, I like Mr. Moore, not as much as some people do, but enough. He gets a little iffy with me when he gets a little iffy with his facts. That night at the University of Denver, Moore opened his talk with an extended diatribe against all things conservative, some of it on target. But then he really wandered off into the Land of the Fluffyheads, when he suggested that climatologists, and scientists at NOAA, were taking racist pot-shots at Mexicans by naming a troublesome, recurring weather pattern El Niño. The audience, made up mostly of college students, cheered and clapped their approval. I wasn’t one of them, however, for a couple of reasons. First, I was at least a decade older than the majority of the crowd. And, Second, I had spent less of my time looking for ways to demonstrate my unimpeachable moral bona fides, and more time doing wacky stuff like reading books. And it was in one of those pesky books that I had previously learned the origins of the term El Niño.

Contrary to Moore’s weird idea (where he found it, apart from up his butt, I haven’t a clue), the term was first coined by Peruvian sailors, and appears in historical documents dating back to 1892. The Peruvians who first described the phenomena to Spaniards and other Europeans explained that, since the effect occurred most often around Christmas, they had named it El Niño, which means “the boy,” and is a reference to Christ.

The El Niño effect is characterized by ocean currents with dangerously high temperatures that can spread around the Pacific and cause freakish and frightening damage to ocean life, tidal estuaries, and inland agricultural production. And not one of those things is the fault of a single Mexican.

I know, I know, proclaiming one’s moral superiority is such a freakin’ rush, dude! But get your facts straight first, otherwise your morality looks an awful lot like vacuous gibberish.

Osama bin Underrated

Returning again to one my favorite themes of late, I have a couple of quick points to make about the late psychopath, Osama bin Laden, both “facts” that liberals continue to spout about him, and which are simply not true.

As it happens, the first one was another favorite of Michael Moore’s, one he still tosses around the punditverse with gloating abandon. Not, mind you, that he was, or is, the only disseminator of this fiction. The story goes like this: Osama bin Laden couldn’t possibly have been hiding anywhere in Afghanistan, at any point after 9/11, because he was on kidney dialysis.

I’ve looked around a bit in an effort to find the birthplace of this thing, but it seems to have leapt into the conversation from several sources at once, and has gotten a huge amount of airplay over the years. The single piece of “evidence” cited by adherents is that bin Laden was known to drink a lot of water. Yes, dialysis patients often require serious amounts of H20, but there is another, simpler, explanation for bin Laden’s above-normal intake. See, when he was in Afghanistan in the 1980s, helping (sort of) the Afghan mujahedeen bitch-slap the Soviets, his encampment was hit several times by chemical weapons. He inhaled the gas, which does all sorts of nasty things to the human body, one of the biggies being a thorough frying of the victim’s throat and vocal chords. Bin Laden rarely spoke above a whisper. Not because he was being mysterious, but because he couldn’t, and he drank lots of water to sooth his throat, as well as to keep his body hydrated, chronic dehydration being another side-effect of damage by chemical weapons.

And if that’s not enough to get rid of the dialysis myth, consider the following. Bin Laden was an enthusiastic athlete. He played volleyball (which is an image I cannot get out of my brain), was a mountain climber, and he was an avid horseman, sometimes riding 50 miles or more on his outings. No one in need of dialysis is going to do these things, at least not with the vigorous regularity bin Laden did them.

The second bin Laden myth I want to talk about runs this way: America got what it deserved, because bin Laden was trained by the CIA.

Again, nope, so sorry, hate to disappoint, need a cookie…?

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the primary resistance they encountered, and which would eventually drive them out, was the Afghan mujahedeen, with special stress on the word Afghan. These were the fighters the CIA assisted with training and weapons, turning Afghanistan into another proxy conflict between the two Cold War powers. The anti-Soviet combatants that no party involved in the clash wanted much to do with, not even the native Afghans, were the Arab insurgents, many from Saudi Arabia (and including a much younger bin Laden), who showed up to “lend a hand,” but generally didn’t do much except get in the way and antagonize their Afghan hosts.

In numerous interviews conducted after the departure of the Soviet soldiers, Afghani mujahedeen spoke in detail, and unflatteringly, about the Arab mujahedeen. The Arab interlopers, it seems, looked upon their Afghani brethren as uneducated, incompetent, bumpkins, and set about constructing their own camps, plotting their own raids, hording their own money and weaponry, and refusing to interact with, or accept assistance from, the hated CIA. Then, after spending lots of cash to accomplish next to nothing, and after being repeatedly bombed and gassed, the Arabs packed up their stuff and hightailed it out of there.

Osama bin Laden was not “trained” by the CIA. More than likely, the first representative of the American government bin Laden ever saw in the flesh was the SEAL Team soldier who blew his god-poisoned brains out last year. It was a really short meeting.


Hope you enjoyed.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Misinformation Inoculation

Once upon a time, America was a scientific nation. We led the world in science education, scientific research, applied scientific discovery, and patents. We were home to 247 Nobel Prize winners (64 in Chemistry, 88 in Physics and 95 in Medicine). We all but completely eradicated polio and small pox. We put computers in most homes, revolutionized the world with the microchip, and made possible a little thing called the Internet. We were instrumental in decoding the human genome. We launched the first communications satellite. We put astronauts on the Moon and took close-up pictures of Mars. We had a reputation. We had scientific street-cred. We led the world in something that truly mattered.

We don’t anymore.

Increasingly, Americans distrust scientists and their findings, largely, in my opinion, due to their massive ignorance of scientific subjects. (The country’s infantile obsession with mythology is also a factor—we’re Number One on the planet for belief in angels—but I don’t have the time or the patience to get into that right now.) There is a level of scientific illiteracy in this country that continues to deepen and amaze. Some reports indicate that the nation ranks 34th in science education, world-wide. This means we lag behind every other economically advanced state, and enjoy the company of countries like Serbia, Uruguay and Tunisia. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of those countries, or countries like them, apart—yes—from the fact that their citizens are somewhat more scientifically ignorant than we are.

Perfect case in point: the nonsensical state of affairs surrounding the non-link between childhood vaccinations and autism. A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling suggested that 21 percent of Americans believe that vaccinations cause autism in children. Because of this uninformed hysteria, up to ten percent of American parents are refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated, according to the Journal of Pediatrics, citing a study published on March 29th, 2013. By not vaccinating their kids, and leaving them vulnerable to, among other life-threatening ailments, rubella, pertussis and measles, these parents are acting irresponsibly to a degree that should be labeled what it is—child abuse.

The nonsense began in 1998 when the medical journal Lancet published a study by Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London. Wakefield, et al, claimed that there was a direct link between vaccines and autism. It should be remarked that their study involved a grand total of 12 children. Even so, it triggered a global freak-out that has continued unabated, especially after noted American scientists Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump put their storied minds, and ignorant mouths, to work hyping the study to anyone who cared to aim a camera at them. When asked how she came by her special knowledge on the subject, McCarthy famously responded that she had attended the “University of Google.”

Since the Wakefield results were published, numerous scientists (including those famously slapdash nitwits at the Centers for Disease Control) have conducted dozens of studies, as well as detailed reviews of the original Lancet data, and concluded—unanimously—that there is not one iota of evidence linking vaccines to autism. Their findings, or lack thereof, unfortunately did little to debunk the myth, and even though most of Wakefield’s coauthors had their names removed from the paper, and Lancet officially retracted the study, the myth remains, tick-like, firmly the American psyche.

In 2011, the British investigative reporter Brian Deer put what should have been the final ten-penny in the myth’s coffin. Deer went back to square one, interviewing all of the original participants in the Wakefield study, and compared their medical records with those that accompanied the Wakefield data. And what do you know! It seems that Dr. Wakefield not only interpreted some of his data incorrectly, but…wait for it…he invented most of it. In short: he lied. (Follow this link to Deer’s article.) In the aftermath of Deer’s piece, the BMJ (British Medical Journal) had this to say:

Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal.

The BMJ concluded by defining Wakefield’s work for what it was. Fraud.

Lamentably, too many parents read Deer’s article, or overviews in other publications, shook their heads, and kept right on thinking junk thought. It comes down to one question. Who are you going to believe, Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump, or a bunch of “eggheads” who’ve done nothing with their lives but apply their education, intelligence and care to studying the issue? And not to put too fine a point on it, but your answer says a great deal about your level of education, as well as your overall credulity.

The world is dangerous enough without parents intentionally putting their kids in harm’s way. Anecdotes are not facts, no matter what you learned at the U. of Google.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

What the F**K?

Every so often you come across information that makes this world feel even more sideways that it usually does.


Pope Francis, newly…um…crowned Bishop of Rome, is now Tweeting. The most recent Pope Benedict, was the first Wearer of the Fancy Hat to expand into the social media world, when the Vatican opened the @Pontifex account in December, 2012.

It’s all very interesting, the Pope conducting his religious business in this way, but it does cause me to wonder: exactly how effective is a blessing after it journeys through cyber space? There is truly some mysterious god-stuff at work here…

President Satan

The History Channel recently aired the mini-series The Bible. Some people say that the actor who plays Satan resembles President Obama. While that may or may not be true, there is something far more disturbing afoot. It is this: why in the name of all reason was something called The Bible aired on the History channel?

Traveling Transgendered

Trinidad, Colorado, has long been a center for sex-change surgery. Does anyone but me think that this sign, posted on I-25 just at the town’s limits, is hilarious?

Hello Mullah, Hello Fatwa

Osama bin Laden was a fanatic of the first stripe. He refused to listen to music, lest it inflame his passions, and would not allow his family or followers to use ice because he thought it was too decadent. And yet—and yet—it seems that one of his favorite pastimes was…wait for it…volleyball. The crazy fuck loved to play volleyball.

Bacon Your Pardon

The bacon craze in this country simply has to stop. Every goddamn thing has bacon in it now. Denny’s has a hot fudge sundae with bacon crumbled on top. There is bacon-flavored chewing gum. There is bacon-flavored Cracker Jack. There is even  a company out there marketing bacon-flavored condoms. Just, please, stop it! Or at least show some logic, and make ‘em sausage flavored…

This Just In

On April 2nd, Public Policy Polling released the results of their poll on conspiracy theories. Feast your brains on a few of the highlights:

·         Seven percent of Americans believe the moon landing was faked.
·         29 percent believe in aliens/UFOs, and 21 percent believe that the government is hiding aliens in Area 51.
·         5 percent think Paul McCartney croaked in 1966 and was replaced with a double.
·         Another 5 percent think that the contrails left in the sky by jets are actually chemicals being sprayed on the masses for mind-control purposes.
·         Speaking of mind control, 15 percent of Americans believe that the media adds mind-control signals to radio and TV broadcasts.
·         20 percent think that vaccinations cause autism.
·         4 percent of Americans believe that an interstellar race of reptilian beings take human shape and control the government.
·         11 percent think the government allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen.


13 percent of Americans believe that Barak Obama is the Anti-Christ, while another 13 percent simply “aren’t sure” if he is or not.

My fellow Americans, could you please just take a few minutes out of each day and try not being so fucking American.

Sweet shit…