Monday, September 25, 2006

Is it all or nothing?

While reading a fellow blogger's post about a documentary on bible focused children's camps I came across a statement that made me think.

In one interview a camp mother shares her thoughts about science and evolution. She explains how science really doesn’t explain anything and is a big waste of time. She was doing this on tape, in a house powered by electricity, with a television and the comforts of modern life in the background. If science is so fucking bad, go back and live in a cave. These people often forget that the people they are throwing stones at usually are the people either saving their life or at least making it more entertaining.

Let me first say that I've not seen this movie, but I plan to. For that reason, for the time being, I will have to accept Lady M's description of the scene as being accurate. With that out of the way, Lady M's statement got me thinking. Is science an all or nothing thing? Can someone reasonably at the same time accept the fruits of science while rejecting the basis under which they were developed? Having said that let me pose this question: Is it right to deny the fruits of science to those that actively work to destroy its basis? Yes, yes, I know that Ayn Rand's ghost is jumping for joy. (Ayn Rand was a fool. Not because she was wrong for wanting the kind of society that she wanted, but because she thought that sort of society is possible. But I digress.) Rand's idea was for the human engines of society should not be coerced into supporting those individuals who are unwilling to work for themselves. Her story "Atlas Shrugged" portrays the near collapse of society when these engines decline to participate anymore. Since they were the ones holding things together for so long, without their efforts society begins to collapse. Can and should a similar principle be used in relation to the anti-intellectual movements afoot in the world today? Is it morally wrong to turn the lights off on someone who actively tries to destroy the basis for scientific research in society? Some might say that the point is a bit too obscure and that those that are affected would fail to see the point. I can concede that. I realize that this is all really just ridiculous, but it is fun to run the gedankenexperiment and imagine the anti-intellectual religious zealot attempting to pray the lights back on. So to answer my own question, "Is it all or nothing?" probably not, but I can dream can't I?

Update: To make the thought experiment more relevant I'll change the conditions. Rather than turning off the lights let's deny access to the fruits of modern genetics. Since the field of genetics (by way of neo-darwinism) is dependent upon the principles that many of these anti-intellectuals rail against it makes a more appropriate target for denial. This would include the field of molecular biology and the advances that are likely to be seen in disease control and prevention. Advances in the treatment of Diabetes, Alzheimers disease, Cancer, Haemophilia, Leukemia and a number of other disease that have a genetic component. How would people react if they were told that they couldn't have access to these lifesaving advances? Most of those advances are still hypothetical but will be available in the very short term. Even closer would be the genetically created products like human insulin and human growth hormone and the hepatitus B vaccine. OK. I'm done.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


A pearl of wisdom from The Office:

You don't call retarded people retards. It is bad taste. You call your friends retards when they are acting retarded. -- Michael Scott (Steve Carell)

A pearl of wisdom from My Name is Earl:
Do monkeys worry about their looks? -- Randy Hickey (Ethan Suplee)
If monkeys worried about their looks they'd wear pants.-- Earl Hickey (Jason Lee)

In other news, today was my company's day to attempt redeem our collective souls for the damage that we do to our society. Today was the day that my company donated it's employee's time to Christmas In October. We were told that it was going to be organized chaos. That was the truth. I'm not sure exactly how many houses we did, but I think we took on a total of eight houses. I spent some time working on two of them. The first was a large family's house. We spent most of our time painting. I hate painting so I looked for something else to do. The bottom two of their basement stairs were loose and likely to kill someone if they didn't know it. Me and a coworker spent most the morning patching together new bottom stairs. When they were done, they were functional, but by no means pretty. Fortunately for us the whole mess was covered by carpet. After we'd finished with that, most of the painting was done, so I wandered off to find something else to do. The other four houses in our neighborhood were in about the same shape. There were just a few jobs and in most cases there were twice as many people as needed working on them. Most of us were just standing around picking our noses. At about that time, the organizer of the event drove up and asked if anybody had a hammer. I raised my hand and they asked to borrow it. They said they needed it to rebuild a porch. I told them that I had a screw gun and a bunch of decking screws. At that point they nearly dragged me into their SUV and whisked me off to the other house. That is where things got pretty miserable. The rest of the day was spent pounding together a porch for a little old lady. It was raining the whole time and we were all wet, tired and miserable by the time it was over with. The little old lady ended up with a very nice astro-turf covered porch and bead board wainscoting on half of her kitchen. I then spent about 45 minutes trying to retrieve all of the tools that I'd brought to the house. One of the things I hate most about these types of events is that if you have tools you are always asked to bring them. On top of that there is the expectation that you will allow other people to use them. People are never as gentle with your tools as you'd be. I'm now missing one extension cord and am now the proud owner of three stripped driver bits. Oh well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

An empty house

I'm faced with a novel prospect. In about a month's time I will be living alone. My roommate of two years has decided to move out. What is odd is that this is going to be the first time in 13 years that I've lived alone. I have mixed feelings about this. It will be nice to have the place to myself. Not having to worry about walking around the house in my boxers. Being able to schedule something on TiVo and be sure that it will be there where I want to watch it. I only have half the mail to bring in. I will probably have a third of the trash to take out. ;) There won't be any more cat hair tumble weeds rolling around the house. I will be able to start working on the house without worrying about cramping someone else's style. Those are all the good things. There are a few things that I will miss too. I will miss having someone who will always go to Chipotle with me. I will miss having someone to talk to at all hours of the night. I'm going to miss someone to steal rice cakes from when I've managed to run out of food. Pretty soon I will have nobody to tell me that I'm dead on the inside. Her words, not mine. It will be really weird living in an empty house.

On a house related note, I'm sitting here watching the movie Life as a House. It pisses me off that a movie like this can choke me up. I have two things to say. First, Mary Steenburgen is smoking hot for being 53 years old. Second, Hayden Christensen is still a horrible actor who's voice is a perpetual whine.

Barry Goldwater

I just watched an interesting documentary on Barry Goldwater. I find it fascinating that one of the patriarchs of the modern conservative movement would likely have been vilified as a Liberal today. Pro choice? Pro gays in the military? Scared of the Religious Right? To bad he's dead along with the spirit of what he stood for.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Meth Addicts

I'd like to send a big giant, "FUCK YOU, YOU MOTHER FUCKING METH ADDICTS!!!!" It is your fault that I can't get enough allergy medication to last me a week. I have allergies. Bad Allergies. Spring and Fall are miserable for me. My immune system goes about rejecting any and all contact with the outdoors. The only thing that helps me is drugs. I've gotten experienced enough with the phenomenon to know more or less what helps me. I've come to rely upon a triple cocktail of pharmaceuticals. I'm lucky that two of the three are prescription and are easily obtainable in quantities to get me through a month without a return trip to the drug store. The third just so happens to be Loratadine combined with Pseudoephedrine Sulfate (Claritin-D). The pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient. It is what keeps me sane and it means the difference between a snotty slobbering miserable monster and the normal grumpy Aaron. Believe me, by taking this stuff, I'm doing society a favor. This was all well and good until three things happened. First the FDA made it so that you could get Claritin-D over the counter. This has good and bad effects. Good is that I can now get it without a doctor's prescription. Bad is that my insurance will no longer pay for it. The second thing that has happened is that many/most state governments have implemented a limit to the amount of drugs that contain pseudoephedrine that you can buy and they require that you provide identification when you buy it. Finally, you can now only get this medication in packages of 5 - 10 days worth. All of the restrictions around this are due to the fact that pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the making of meth. Meth labs will grab tons of this stuff and brew up a big giant toxic batch of methy goodness. Our government wants to protect us from ourselves, so it is trying to make it more difficult to get access to these meth precursors. I'm a victim of this new setup. Every five days I have to make a trip to the pharmacy (my dealer), hope that they have some claritin-d in stock, prove that I'm not a criminal and then skulk out of the pharmacy with five measly days of my life giving drug. FUCK! I'm sure that I should probably read and spell check this post, but I'm too pissed to care. You get it in its full unadulterated misspelled angry glory.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Please just assume that I've written a heartfelt and or sarcastic goodbye to Steve Irwin here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Twelve Angry Men and the Benny Hill theme song.

I'm sitting here watching one of my favorite movies of all time. Twelve Angry Men. I love this movie. Henry Fonda and E.G. Marshall are incredible in this. Jack Klugman is also pretty amazing as well. I love this movie because it depicts such an awesome story. The triumph of reason over emotion. There are also some great quotes:

Juror #11: I beg pardon...
Juror #10: "I beg pardon?" What are you so polite about?
Juror #11: For the same reason you are not: it's the way I was brought up.


Juror #10: Bright? He's a common ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English.
Juror #11: Doesn't even speak good English.


Juror #11: Oh Come on, you're like everybody else. You think too much, you get mixed up. You know what I mean.

This movie is such a fascinating exposition of our prejudices and how we can so easily be lead by our emotions.

On a happier note, I got back earlier this week from visiting my family in Portland. I always feel refreshed coming back from Oregon. Seeing my niece Abby and listening to her shouting for me to play the Benny Hill theme song again. "Play the Silly Song! Play the Silly Song, uncle Aaron!" She'd started calling it that after I'd played it on my cell phone. I think we spent about four hours bouncing on the air mattress that I was sleeping on. By Tuesday night, it was nearly deflated. It was such a privilege to be able to read her a story before she went to bed. I got to hold my new niece Charlotte a couple of times. She's so new that she is still mostly a giant screaming poop factory. I suspect that by Christmas she will be much more interesting.

Just before watching Twelve Angry Men tonight, I watched the last bit of the Buena Vista Social Club. I got a chuckle out of the fact that the Cuban musicians couldn't identify a JFK doll while wandering around New York, but new about and could identify the Statue of Liberty.