If you say I descended from a monkey I’ll throw my poop at you.
Sept. 1, 2009, 3:25 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
I just finished watching an [interview](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US8f1w1cYvs) (it is about 67 minutes long split into 7 parts), wherein [Richard Dawkins](http://richarddawkins.net/) interviews [Wendy Wright](http://www.cwfa.org/articledisplay.asp?id=2107) (perhaps a mismatching of wits). Dawkins puts her on the ropes pretty quickly, but in one of her jabs back at Dawkins, Wright asks, “Why is it so important to you that everyone believe in evolution?” She goes on “You seem to almost feel like it is dangerous for people to believe that human beings were created individually and with a distinctness, and created by a creator.” I would reply to Wright that it is absolutely not the case that it is dangerous for people to believe in a creator, but that it cannot be viewed as anything but dangerous for so many people to be able to deny the mountain of evidence supporting evolution. It isn’t dangerous in the sense that evolution might get mad and destroy us all, but instead that lacking the critical and abstract thinking skills required to process and potentially rebut the evidence presented is the danger. I am referring to the ability of Wright to ignore any evidence given by saying that it is insignificant in validating macro-evolution (evolution from one species to another).
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the willing and gleeful ignorance of the deeply religious, within the first two pages of the bible god damned man for finding knowledge that he (god) did not impart. Genesis 2:16–17 says “And the lord god commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.’” We all know the story: serpent convinces Eve to try a bit, Eve convinces Adam to try a bit, both are then ashamed of their nudity (neither dies that day, thus god is a liar), and the jig is up when god tootles back and casts the two from Eden (also god invents labor pains, and thorny bushes, and introduces a bunch of anti-feminist sentiment into the world… yayy god.). Given the troubles that the tree of knowledge caused for mankind, I can see why Christians are so apt to avoid seeking new knowledge when it comes to the creation story.
When presented with the various steps between ape an man which are present in the fossil record, Wendy claimed that the evidence is not material. As though the only way to “prove” evolution is to witness one species being born of another, this is as absurd as the “If man evolved from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?” argument. She claimed that if evolution were true then there would be an abundance of evolutionary evidence from pond scum up to humans, showing each discreet step in-between. Such a stance shows a lack of understanding in the scientific process and in the nature of scientific research. Despite her scientific shortcomings she insists that teachers should be allowed to “Teach the Controversy” of evolution, and present the shortcomings of Darwinism as well as present the evidence of intelligent design. I really do question the origin (and existence) of any evidence of intelligent design ([considering it is purely a matter of faith](http://thismatters.net/ramblings/comment.php?post_id=225)). It is true that the picture painted by evolutionary scientists is incomplete, and there is still much work to be done to reach the absolute fact of our evolution, but to my knowledge there is very little evidence of a divine creator (please, before you comment, the bible doesn’t qualify as scientific evidence).
Perhaps I’m being too rough on Mrs. Wright. She claims to respect us (by virtue of being evolutionists) and just wants the same from us, “I don't think that there should be as much dissension between our camps, that we can come to respect one another—in fact we do, we respect evolutionists for their beliefs—we would hope that there would be as much respect on the evolutionists part toward us.” It is difficult for me to feign respect for people who challenge widely accepted principles on faith and without evidence. I do appreciate skepticism of evidence because it is essential to the expansion of knowledge, but I refuse to show respect to the ignorant simply because they believe they are right. When Dawkins essentially called her (and her colleagues) ignorant, Wright replied, “It probably would be helpful to the dialog if the evolutionists were not so demeaning and degrading to others.” Which is true, but there really isn’t much of a dialog occurring when one side says “Here’s some dang ol’ evidence”, and the other side covers their ears.
When you hear Mrs. Wright’s reasoning behind rejecting Darwinism you find that it has nothing at all to do with science: “A philosophy that is drawn out of Darwinism would be extremely brutal, and in fact has been… Recognizing that there is a loving creator helps to build a society that is more than just livable but pleasant.” She is right and Dawkins acknowledges that, noting that if our societal structure was built entirely on constant competition for the scarce resources we require then it wouldn’t make for a very pleasant existence. However, the fact of the matter is that the sort of society we would _like_ to live in today has little bearing on how we as a species came into existence. Further, to say that we should stop seeking the facts of our creation (be it through evolution or otherwise) because of the societal implications of those facts is ludicrous.
If you want to believe that we humans were created by god, or even that a duck shat us all out into our mothers’ tummies, then you are welcome to do so. I have no call to stop you, nor would I care to stop you. However, I do have a problem with people who attempt to undermine scientific fact to protect whatever mental illusions they wish to maintain.
It’s time I expressed some outrage
Aug. 8, 2009, 3:49 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
That’s right, folks, it’s that time again. Those who know me best know that I am a full-on supporter of a single payer health-care system (something like every other industrialized country in the world employs), and I find it incredibly vulgar to profit off of somebody else’s health or lack thereof. Not only is it vulgar, it is morally bankrupt to [disrupt a person’s access to health care](http://cbs5.com/local/cancer.treatment.denied.2.1007394.html) after they have specifically and loyally paid for the guarantee of access to health care. Such practices are commonplace in the for-profit health insurance racket: allow somebody to pay ever increasing premiums until they actually need care, then pull the rug out and let them settle for substandard care. Never-mind what the patient and doctor have decided is the best course of action, it is too expensive so fuck you.
The truth of the matter is that insurance companies are not compelled to pay for expensive care because it hurts their profits, they are primarily responsible to the share-holders, not the policy-holders. The facts are pretty clear that this is the case, [if you file a large claim then your odds of being covered are the same as throwing tails in a coin toss](http://tauntermedia.com/2009/07/28/unconscionable-math/). It would be a different story if the company were to offer a refund of all the money that the policy-holder had ever paid to the insurance company in the case of a defaulted policy, but instead the policy as well as the money go straight into the corporate memory-hole. Imagine if a bank pulled the same stunt: you studiously deposit thousands of dollars per year into a savings account until you decide to retire, only to find your account emptied when you start to withdraw.
But what about socialism? Won’t Obamacare turn us into Soviet Russia? Why do you hate America? Why do you hate freedom? What are you, a terrorist? Shut the fuck up. If caring about my fellow citizens enough to prevent them from being defrauded in the name of the GDP is socialist then pass me that vodka, comrade. And oh by the way, we already have a system of socialized medicine in this country. It is called Medicaid, and it works pretty well if you are poor enough. In case you are unfamiliar, when you are on Medicaid you walk into a doctor’s office and you get treatment, the doctor doesn’t need to get pre-approved to offer care, the patient doesn’t need to be pre-approved for the visit. The patient walks in, the doctor treats them, the patient walks out, the doctor gets paid. If I could qualify for Medicaid I would apply today, because it is vastly better than the no-insurance I have now.
Also, let us not forget that the health care reform being discussed in congress could hardly be characterized as “Socialized”. It is not a government sanctioned monopoly like AT&T was back in the day, but instead an option that would allow people to opt out of private health insurance while still maintaining access to doctors. People enrolled in a public option would still be paying for their own health care, but they would be provided with some guarantee that their insurance would not be cancelled over a misspelled word on an application. The notion is that by ensuring that everybody has ready access to a doctor (insurance) many systemic problems can be alleviated: Improved focus on preventative care leads to less expense in catastrophic care, the free-rider problem which artificially inflates our health-care costs will be mitigated to a large degree. It will also push the doctor and staff focus back to caring for patients rather than ensuring that the patient can pay.
The thing that bothers me the most is the degree to which people are fighting against their own best interests. The system as it stands does not serve the individuals’ interests (unless they are stock-holders of any number of insurance companies), and by fighting to keep it they are permitting the potential for future dismissal of their own insurance policy. I do not wish to forcibly stop them from protesting, the First Amendment allows them to speak their mind, no matter how closed or ignorant it happens to be. I will say that the “Rabble Rabble” approach to protest does little to promote the effective operation of our Republic, but that is just one man’s opinion. Also, [this](http://intershame.com/on/Me/).
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this tactic, Limbaugh said from the get-go that he, “[hopes Obama fails](http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_011609/content/01125113.guest.html)”. He doesn’t want conservative policies to succeed, he just wants liberal policies to fail. If he can’t enforce his sick and twisted viewpoint on America then he wants to burn it to the ground. It is sick (and unamerican), but it is telling. He and other conservative hucksters have no interest in the greater good, they are only on the lookout for themselves and those who wash their backs. What’s worse is they are more than happy to use fear to get ‘the unwashed masses’ to back their agenda. I just hope that people come to their senses before one of them hauls off and kills somebody.
At the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Ben Franklin was asked what form of government America would have, he replied “A Republic, if you can keep it.” I submit that this fear-baiting is absolutely not the way to keep it.
Aug. 6, 2009, 2:05 p.m. by Lew
I am preparing a rebuttal to the following. Professor Cress covered this and I will try to not step on his toes. I am still doing some reading to build my argument. In the mean time I wanted to post these so y'all could mull them over.
> What follows are a series of slides, presented in order, from a lecture on science and belief that Dr. Collins gave at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008:
> Slide 1: “Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.”
> Slide 2: “God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings.”
>Slide 3: “After evolution had prepared a sufficiently advanced ‘house’ (the human brain), God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the moral law), with free will, and with an immortal soul.”
> Slide 4: “We humans used our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.”
> Slide 5: “If the moral law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?”
June 19, 2009, 9:31 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
There is an epidemic, nay a pandemic, spreading like wildfire across the globe, I speak of twitter: the blue menace.
“But Paul, why do you hate Twitter so much? You, yourself, keep a blog (as is evidenced by this bullshit post), how could you be so vehemently opposed to the notion of rapid-fire short and essentially meaningless online communication?”
Well, gentle reader, I’m glad you ask. The reason Twitter’s proliferation offends me so is because it perpetuates and even necessitates the bastardization of our language. Or to put it differently: “bcuz it kills r words”. With their 140 character limit they make it impossible to formulate and convey a coherent thought, to even try requires a loose understanding of phonics. There are those who claim that spelling, grammar, and usage are unimportant so long as the reader understands the central meaning of the text. If that were the case then why did we, as a species, progress past grunting and pointing at our genitals? (I suppose not all of us have, looking at you Long Island) Could it be because simple communication lacks the nuance that allows us to express complex or abstract ideas?
It was perfectly acceptable when this mode of communication was primarily employed by teenybopper girls and potheads who think they are blowing their readers’ minds, but when legitimate news outlets (the legitimacy of CNN is sadly dwindling at the speed of light) are using Twitter as a means of news gathering then it has gone too far, it is too mainstream. It must be stopped before irreparable damage is done to our common language.
June 2, 2009, 9:30 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
When I heard the news yesterday that General Motors had declared bankruptcy I was not terribly surprised, but when I heard that they were going to see $30 billion more in taxpayer money I was a bit disturbed. GM has never made any apologies about screwing the American people, from their plant closings preceding the collapse of several steel-belt towns so GM could find greener (cheaper) pastures, to their general disregard for consumers in continuing to produce outdated designs and hiding behind the “Buy American” banner. As far as I’m concerned the American public owes them nothing: disloyalty deserves disloyalty.
During this economic downturn we the people have given them $47 billion without even a whiff of a promise of them creating any new jobs (or rather, restoring any of the jobs they have outsourced). Instead they will take that money (amounting to 60% of their market value), restructure by selling off brands, close a slew of plants, and try to recapture some of their previous “America, fuck yeah” market share with increasingly foreign made cars.
At the risk of sounding like a “What America needs” liberal, what Americans needs right now are companies that improve the buying power of the average American consumer while offering products and services that consumers want. The only way to improve the buying power of folks is to reduce unemployment by ensuring a steady stream of new jobs that a layman is capable of performing. I’m sure many GM apologists will blame unions for causing the downfall of the American auto industry, but there is plenty of blame to go around; union greed is a factor, but it is not the straw that broke the camel’s back. Look at Toyota, they have several plants in the United States, and they have to deal with the same organized labor laws that GM has to deal with. Blaming unions for this failure is simply unacceptable.
As with most problems with the industrial economy the failures are due to inertia, companies that fail to innovate are doomed to failure, and GM is the worst of the bunch. I, for one, say let them burn. Let a strong and innovative company step up and take their place (FWI: I’m not talking about Ford, they—like GM—have failed to produce any significant innovations in auto technology since the single cast V-8).
Party like a Texas-Country Star
April 8, 2009, 10:08 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
I have a clear memory of the following, but should the accuracy of any of the following come into question my fellow blogger, John, can be contacted for corroboration: he was there and reliably sober.
For those who are unaware, an event by the name of [Chilifest](http://chilifest.org) occurred last weekend. Chilifest is a fairly large 2-day Texas-Country music festival, probably about 12 bands played, 70,000 fans watched, and each of them averaged about a 24 pack of beer. It’s a pretty big deal for this area, this year I elected to stay home and not get irreparably sunburned, and I’m certain I didn’t miss too terribly much. A fair number of local businesses try very hard to cash in on the obvious cash cow that is Chilifest, and [The Hall](http://texashalloffame.net) is no exception. Each year they throw an after-party to ensnare the group of people that didn’t quite get enough excitement—or that hate their livers a little more than most. This year The Hall brought in a great act, [The Doug Moreland Show](http://dougmoreland.com/band.htm). The show was outstanding, but poorly attended because about three quarters of the standard demographic for the hall had collapsed from exhaustion at this point. This post is not about Chilifest, The Hall, or The Dough Moreland Show, but rather the events that unfolded after the after-party. The names have not been changed: fuck the innocent.
### The Doug Moreland Show
Doug Moreland is probably one of my favorite Texas Country Acts, John, my fellow blogger, is also a fan. As you may know from reading this blog John lives in Houston, but he comes in whenever there is something cool happening, and the night in question was no exception. When he comes to town he stays with a common friend and dance partner, Mallory: an energetic, outgoing, and generally pretty fun gal, who joined us on this magical night. During Doug’s show we notice a small entourage in a nearby area, and one of us recognizes that [Stoney Larue](http://stoneylarue.com), a fairly prominent character on the Texas-Country scene, and his band are that entourage. Occasionally we would see them perk up their ears as John and Mallory would start putting on their Jitterbug routine, and we agreed that it was pretty cool that the performers were enjoying our performances.
After Doug finished up the show we resolved that it was time to go home, John went to close the bar-tab, I went to greet Doug and his band, and Mallory vanished like a fart in the wind. When John and I approach the empty table we both notice a distinct absence of Mallory and set out to find her, I find that she left her phone at the table leaving us incommunicado. I track down one of the other girls in our party and get her to check the bathrooms, no Mal is forthcoming, at this point I am a little worried. I asked the bartender, he has no idea. I decide that she must have gone out to the car, not there; at this point I realize that John is now missing too, I am very worried. The last place that hasn’t been checked is Stoney Larue’s tour bus, which is sitting in the parking lot.
### The Tour Bus
I snatch open the door to the bus and poke my head in to see Mal and Stoney’s bass player, Jesse, siting on the couch chatting, they notice me and invite me in where I find John sitting on the opposite couch. At this point my phone buzzes at me with a new text message from John: “In stoney’s bus” (1:50AM). Gee, thanks for the update. I sit next to John and we start in with some mindless banter. Stoney and his band are sponsored by Shiner, so Jesse offered us each a beer which we gladly accepted. There was general coolness going on as some of Doug’s band-mates and Doug himself came and went from the bus, aslo a couple groupie-type girls came on the bus and started pouring (horribly mixed) shots. Eventually Stoney himself emerged from the bowels of the bus and joined us.
There was a disposable pan on the counter that held about half a brisket—apparently donated by a fan—that Stoney was intermittently munching on and offering to the 6 of us on the bus (it is not an exaggeration when I say this is the best 2AM brisket I have ever had). At some point Stoney inexplicably took off his shirt (I think one of the groupie-type girls asked to see his tattoos or something stereotypical like that). While getting some more brisket Stoney impales the whole thing with the knife holds it up while making a pirate noise, it was pretty hilarious, but you could tell he was doing it to please himself (he was not looking at us, but rather the darkened window which was giving a small reflection). We continued talking about nonsense for a while; Stoney disappeared and re-emerged still topless but with a guitar. Now, I am not really a fan of Stoney’s music, I like it but I’m not going to go out of my way to hear it, but when he turned down the lights on the bus and started jamming out I really enjoyed it. It doesn’t come out in his stage shows, but Stoney is fairly talented on the guitar.
### The Brisket
Toward the end of Stoney’s solo jam he hits the wrong fret and everybody’s ear cringe, Jesse calls him out and the two of them start joshing with each other, Jesse takes off his shirt and they—while on all fours—start circling each other like dogs trying to sniff each others asses. The pair stand up—in the process Jesse’s pants fell down, and, not one to be outdone, Stoney loses his pants too. Stoney grabs the brisket and throws it at Jesse, hitting him solidly on the chest and falling to the ground. Jesse laughs it off and hugs Stoney, the both of them are now greased up, and Stoney picks up the brisket. I though he was going to put it back in the pan, but he has a different idea: throw it at the mirror (you can see the mirror in question in the picture at the top of the post, pre brisket stain). Stoney picks up the brisket a third time, I thought one of the other people in the room was going to get a brisket to the chest, but instead he takes a bite, tearing it like a lion. One of the groupie-type girls thought this was pretty gross considering the circumstances, but everybody else saw no problem with the consumption and Stoney held it in front of everybody (one at a time) to allow us to tear a chunk off with our faces. Shortly after partaking in the brisket, Stoney passed around the salsa (which can also be seen in the image above) for everybody to take a swig from, only Stoney, Jesse, John and I were manly enough to drink it though. Also John, then later Mallory licked the brisket spot on the mirror.
Soon after the brisket incident everybody calmed down and we parted ways at about 4AM. Waking up the next morning I realized that it was not all a dream because of the chunk of brisket that was on my glasses. I can honestly say that this night was one of the strangest and most unexpected events of my life, and walking away from it I will forever be a Stoney Larue fan.
Mountain Biking - Part 2: "The Wipe Out"
March 24, 2009, 7:58 a.m. by John
So yesterday afternoon my buddy and I went riding in Terry Hershey Park here in Houston. It's basically a 7 or so mile long park following a creek with a concrete path on one side and a mountain biking/hiking dirt trail on the other. About 20 minutes into the ride we decide to switch bikes just to see how the other rode. So my buddy and I are riding along the dirt path and get to this fairly steep 10' tall hill. Neither one of us makes it up the front side and have to walk to the top of the hill. He immediately jumps on my bike and makes it down no problem. At the end of the hill was a big tree lying across the path and so he jumps off the bike to get under it, just as I take off from the top of the hill.
So the path down the back side of this hill is covered in roots from rain water washing the dirt out and other mountain bikers. This usually is a bigger deal going up than down so I didn't think too much of it...yet. So I start off and go over a couple roots no problem and then I get to this one that's sticking up about 6" above the trail. I'm not sure if I didn't try to pick up the front wheel or as I did I hit the brake, all I know is that I hit the root and my front tire stopped immediately. So, this isn't the first time this has happened and usually I just jump off the seat, put my feet on the ground, and awkwardly walk down the hill. This would not be the case today.
As my front tire stopped I jump off my seat, put my feet on the ground, and said "Uh oh!," immediately catching my buddy's attention so he could watch the events unfold. As my feet hit the ground the rear tire lifted and I went straight over the bars. As I fell over the bars I tucked my right shoulder, I think I do this because of the number of times I jumped off my house and out of trees as a kid. Anyway, as I tucked my shoulder my left foot came up first and my heel caught the pedal of the bike, lifting it and sending it soaring in the air. As I landed flat on my back I looked up at a bike, that isn't mine, flying through the air. It landed about 4 feet away.
At this point my buddy is also on the ground, except he's laughing his ass off. He somehow squeezed out "are you OK?," and by this time I realized that I wasn't in too much pain. I got back up, checked his bike and our cell phones that were in my Camelback. Thankfully there were no injuries to the rider, the bike, or the phones. We continued our ride and got a solid 13 miles in.
My buddy swears it's the funniest thing he's seen in a long time. My shoulder's a little sore this morning.
don't just say google
March 7, 2009, 4:25 p.m. by Lew
I have something that matters to share with the internet. When someone asks a question don't just tell them to google it. A question is a way of starting a conversation. conversations are an essential tool for human survival and happiness. if someone asks you a question they are interested in you. they have some sort of respect for you and want you to share knowledge. we could just google everything but that isn't a society i want to partake in.
you're definitely doing it way wrong
Feb. 27, 2009, 6:06 p.m. by Trey
to kind of lighten up the mood of the blog for a change; i came across this motivational poster while i was being bored on the internet today.
it pertains in two ways:
a. you're doing it wrong
b. i like chickens
it made me giggle, thoughts?
Jan. 16, 2009, 4:40 p.m. by Trey
Two things to note in this picture...
1. The big ass "socks" word.
2. The "resealable bag" phrase in the middle of the picture.
lol really? i found this while opening up my new socks today. I guess they are worried about them spoiling now-a-days. any other thoughts?