On the Origin of the Feces

30 06 2008

On the 1st day of July in 1858, members of the Linnean Society– a fellowship of amateur naturalists and biologists- met and heard the results of two naturalists’ work: Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin had independently come to the conclusion that species evolved over time as a result of natural selection.

This was not the bombshell most people today seem to believe. The reading of both mens’ works took quite a long time (Darwin had been compiling notes for two decades), and the membership left slightly stunned by the sheer amount of information. Outside of those interested amateurs and the two principals (neither of whom were present), no one seemed to notice.

All that changed a year later when Darwin completed the work for which he is best known: On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection. Darwin had deliberately written the book to be understandable to the average person- unusual at a time when most such works were written in elaborate technical jargon indecipherable by any but those with a lifetime of study on the subject. This “popular” format (although modern readers are frequently dismayed at the wordiness common to the era) allowed Darwin to present his research to a vastly wider audience- ensuring (he thought) a healthy debate. Debate there certainly was, but healthy is not a good description.

We may justifiably refer to this milestone in scientific progress as the Origin of the Feces. The religious authorities of the day, until then secure in their positions as arbiters of the Human Condition, rapidly devolved into their chimp-like ancestors and began hurling excrement at the book, the ideas within, and Charles Darwin. It would be lovely to think that he had his shining moment before the Inquisitors where he could let slip a great quote like Galileo (“nonetheless, it still moves“), but Darwin wisely retired behind a screen of enthusiastic supporters and let his work do the arguing for him. The arguments culminated in a famous debate between Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce at the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford, which ended in a draw on points. Strategically, however, the debate was a win for science, because science was now increasingly seen as the authority on the natural world, supplanting religion.

Due to the nature of the book and the arguments and ideas within, Darwin and Russell’s revolutionary idea rapidly swept the scientific community around the world. One hundred and fifty years of observation and testing have verified and confirmed evolution and natural selection as a viable scientific theory. Genetics, the discovery of DNA, and the developing resistance of many bacteria to antibiotics (among other things) have all served to confirm this theory. Evolution and natural selection have met the scientific standard for accuracy.

But that just isn’t good enough for some people. The philosophical descendants of the religious authorities of Darwin’s day are still squeezing out dung and hurling it at all and sundry. To no one’s surprise, these chimp-like creatures are all deeply religious (although I hesitate to call most of them deep). Completely immune to logic, reason, and evidence, these mentally-devolved primates have decided that a bunch of desert-dwelling ungulate-herders figured the whole thing out a couple of thousand years ago. Any deviation from the beliefs of those long dead, barely-literate nomads is heresy. One wonders how often the modern religious whackjobs stone their children to death for failure to observe the Sabbath, but that would be a digression.

By itself, the rantings of the mentally-devolved followers of a semitic storm god would be of little import to scientific endeavors. Unfortunately, these devolved simians gather in large groups to collectively throw their excrement, and their chattering and screeching and feces-hurling is very distracting to slightly more evolved primates .. such as politicians.

Most politicians are incapable of thinking of anything past their next election, so the distracting antics of the feces-flingers makes the politicians try desperately to shut them up and make them go away. And so it is that the retarded ideas of semi-sentient religious shitslingers is making a serious bid to derail scientific research.

In a rational world, science would be left to scientists. A world where people like Pat Robertson is considered politically influential is not rational. So the shrieking and chattering of the devolved chimpanzees is taking the place of reasoned debate, and the hair-mantled, flint-hurling australopithicenes who constitute the religious extremists have become the barbarians at our gates. In the name of their non-existent deity, these vermin would have the rest of the country turn back the scientific clock and deny the evidence in favor of evolution by natural selection. Because it makes them feel bad.

If you wish to follow a religion made up by desert-dwelling animal herders a few thousand years ago, be my guest. If you want to believe that a Jewish zombie will save your soul, knock yourself out. If you want to deny the demonstrable facts of evolution, I say- go for it. But you have no right to force the rest of the planet to deny reality in the name of your Angry Invisible Skyman.

Of course, hoping for such reasonable behavior is illogical. The religious australopithicenes among us cannot successfully argue against the scientific evidence, so all scientific evidence must be deemed heretical and silenced. In lieu of arguing on the evidence and the scientific method, the religiously indignant resort to screaming and hurling their dung at any who dare gainsay them. These luddites do not belong in a civilized society. They apparently long for the mythical “good old days” of the 1950s … or maybe the 1350s, and are willing to drag the rest of us down into the abyss with them.

I declare these people to be my enemies, and the enemies-general of all men, to be dealt with as wolves are. They are a threat to our modern, technological civilization. We cannot allow the religiously deranged among us to destroy what has taken millennia to develop. They must be stopped at every turn.

Remember the Four Boxes? There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty in the following order: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo.

Since the religious fuckwits I mention are a minority- even among their co-religionists- we can defeat them using the first three boxes. Do not permit them to spew their luddite hatred without opposition. Speak up and counter their venom with evidence and reason. Vote them out of office at every opportunity- their religion has no place in public policy. Sue the bastards when they try to force their beliefs upon others. We must oppose them before they gain the political power to suppress and drive underground all dissent. Once they succeed in this, our only option will be that fourth box.

Once we resort to that fourth box, the fecal material will definitely encounter the oscillating atmosphere agitation device.

Current status: Perturbed

Current music: Mandelbrot Set by Jonathan Coulton

The Unbearable Green-ness of Being

22 06 2008

Lo, these many moons ago, the big buzzword was “mega“. This was followed by “turbo” and “laser” and a whole host of others. Now we have a new buzzword: “green“.

You can tell when a buzzword has officially arrived when everyone and his Madison Avenue Marketroid is flogging their product and/or service with the word. And so it is today. Everything is green these days- even when it ain’t.

I have no problem with people wanting to buy cars which get better fuel economy. So long as the pursuit of fuel efficiency does not sacrifice things like safety or functionality, this is simply a logical reaction to the rising cost of fuel. That said, I am continually bemused by the fact that many of these so-called “green” vehicles don’t actually get very good mileage.

Because of various and sundry physical infirmities, I drive a Buick. It’s a large behemoth with all the bells and whistles, and yet I get 23 MPG in town and 33 MPG on the highway. Please compare these figures with the latest so-called “green” vehicles being flogged by the various auto makers. I’ll wait.

A casual perusal of ads on TV reveals a lot of vehicles being declared “green” with advertised fuel efficiency far worse than my 4 year old Buick. Furthermore, many of these “green” vehicles are tiny little plastic boxes which tend to fare poorly in collisions due to the Law of Gross Tonnage- unlike my car, which gets very good ratings from the Insurance Institute.

I am also continually disgusted by the average environmentalist’s complete ignorance of engineering. Those little econoboxes which are the darlings of the environmental movement for their fuel economy are generally less safe than larger vehicles and are manufactured with large quantities of plastic. For those of you who might now be foaming at the mouth in outrage at my words, plastic is made from petroleum. Those little green cars aren’t all that green after all.

I think electric cars are kinda neat. It’s really cool to watch someone get into a car and drive away with only a slight buzz from the motor and the crunch of their tires on pavement. That said, I won’t be buying one anytime soon. I’m an engineer, and I know that the batteries in those vehicles will need to be replaced one day, and the cost of battery replacement will probably exceed the cost of buying a new vehicle. They may be fuel efficient, but are not cost-efficient in the long run.

Here’s what it will take to get a lot more electric vehicles on the roads:

1- They will have to be less expensive than the equivalent gas guzzler- both long and short term.

2- They will need to be capable of recharging quickly and cheaply.

3- They will need to be capable of maintaining highway speeds for more than 200 miles without needing a recharge.

Battery technology is currently not capable of delivering these requirements. Batteries will need to become lighter, less toxic, and cheap.

This constant push by environmentalists to “go green” has a tendency to backfire. Preaching at Americans isn’t very effective- especially when it would cost them money. If you want to get Americans to change, don’t appeal to their love of nature. Don’t try to frighten them into believing the End of the World is Nigh! The best way to get a response from Americans is to appeal to their self-interest.

There are a lot of ways the average person in this country can be more environmentally friendly that do not involve dramatic changes in lifestyle or adherence to unproven science. Keep your car in good repair. Keep your tires properly inflated. Car-pool when possible. Plan your driving to reduce travel time and redundant trips. Buy an electronic thermostat for your home to reduce energy consumption. Once Americans figure out how to get more out of their paycheck, the changes start happening.

The current frenzy of “green” advertising has convinced me that the Environmental Extremists have lost. Once the Marketroids get their hands on a concept, it will quickly and permanently be warped and twisted until every last penny has been wrung from it, after which the concept will be discarded. The religion of Environmentalism will start to fragment into orthodox and reform camps- each of which will be more interested in destroying the other than in the core tenets of their religion.

Maybe then we can start listening to some sane people about the environment. Someone like Bjorn Lomborg. I have to admit that my primary reason for liking Mr. Lomborg is the fact that Environmentalists start screeching and foaming at the mouth whenever his name is mentioned. Then I read some of his work and listened to him talk. I think he makes a lot of sense.

But what do I know? I’m just an engineer.

Current status: Not “Green”

Current music: Asshole Song by Dennis Leary

Lesser Evil?

14 06 2008

The death of Tim Russert has had one good effect on the nation: we’re spared the endless spewing of partisan douchebaggery for a few days while the media indulges in the Life and Miracles of Saint Russert retrospective. As annoying as this will be, it will still be a welcome break from the political burlesque that is the US General Election pre-game show.

I generally try to ignore the political campaign season, because I value my freedom. If I were forced to endure the shameless pandering and barely-veiled slander of the various campaigns for long, I’d go berserk and end up in a mental institution or prison- maybe both.

This particular campaign season has been particularly difficult to ignore. It apparently started back when the Earth’s crust started to cool, and won’t end until the Supreme Court rules on the inevitable challenge to the November election results in mid-December (of this year, I hope). The hysteria surrounding this election has not flagged one iota. If anything, the followers of the respective candidates have grown ever more rabid with each passing day. McCainiacs shriek endlessly about the death of American civilization as we know it should the Antichrist get elected, while the disciples of the Obamessiah literally flagellate themselves into bloody lather about the many miracles He will perform if we only pray into a voting booth to Him.

A pox on both their houses.

I will not try to tell anyone which candidate is best. Every election is a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche, so the word best doesn’t really apply. I’ve looked at both candidates, and neither one of them strikes me as being good for this country. Furthermore, the most vocal followers of both candidates are generally certifiable whackjobs. This does not inspire confidence. Since neither candidate seems to be a good choice, I refuse to vote for either one.

This is becoming a pattern with me. I wrote in Jon Stewart for the last presidential election. In 2000, I voted for Xenu. Some time back, I mentioned that I would be voting for Ralph Wiggum and Lisa Simpson, but I’ve changed my mind, having found a candidate who fits my requirements far better.

Why Vote for a Lesser Evil?

Yes, that’s right. I will be writing in Great Cthulhu for President of the United States in November. What’s not to like? Unlike either of the current candidates, Cthulhu is straightforward and open about his intentions. He will not discriminate against any race, religion, or gender. Cthulhu will reward his followers with cosmic powers, so the Earth will be engulfed in cataclysm from the resulting bacchanal of riotous freedom.

The Servants of Cthulhu are notorious for their selfless diligence in working toward the resurrection of their dread Master- destroying those who discover their secrets, conversing with creatures from beyond the sky, and holding eldritch, clandestine meetings to pass on the knowledge of the Great Old Ones. When you think about it, they’re enormously preferable to the followers of McCain or Obama.

Why choose the lesser Evil?

Here’s a little filksong on the subject:

(to the tune of Wichita Lineman, by Glenn Campbell)

I am a follower of Cthulhu, and I lead a mad horde

Searching everywhere for our vanished Overlord.

And though we need him more than want him

Still we’ll have him for all time

When his city of R’lyeh

Ascends from the sli-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-me!

You see, I met this mad Arab, and he showed me his book.

I thought it couldn’t hurt just to have one little look.

And though I couldn’t read the language,

it did something to my mind.

Now I’m searching for something

I’d rather not fi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-nd!

Current status: Nauseous

Current music: The Future Soon by Jonathan Coulton

Police State

4 06 2008

As an amateur historian, I was under the impression that the Gestapo had been destroyed back in 1945. I was also under the impression that the KGB had perished with the USSR, along with internal passports.

Sadly, I was wrong. Both organizations seem to be alive and well and working for the government of our nation’s capital.

The Mayor of Washington DC seems to be Hell-bent on maintaining the city’s reputation as the Logic-Free Zone. The latest iteration of the consistent levels of Weapons-Grade Stupid from the Mayor’s Orifice is the creation of Neighborhood Safety Zones. The DC police will seal off parts of the city and demand to see the identification of everyone who tries to enter. “You vill show us your papers!

Since when do free American citizens have to show identification just to travel to and from their homes and places of work? What could possibly induce any government oafishal to come up with such a violation of basic civil liberties and then follow it up with an Orwellian Newspeak name?

Four boxes.

The first three boxes should be marshalled at once to combat this tyranny. There is no excuse for this sort of Byzantine exercise of power over allegedly free citizens. What’s next- forcing everyone to wear some sort of marking identifying their political and religious affiliation? How about requiring everyone who works or lives in the Logic Free Zone to wear clothing which identifies his or her pay status? How about using the Star Trek job task identification uniforms? So long as everyone who works in the City government had to wear red shirts, this wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Everyone who lives in the Logic Free Zone should immediately start a recall petition drive to remove the mayor. Start now, and keep it up despite all the bureaucratic obstacles in your path. This alleged person needs to be removed from office forthwith, and then ridden out of town on a rail. This sort of stupidity needs to be nipped in the bud. Immediately. Every single person in the city’s government who voted for or approved this idiotic measure should be drummed out of office so thoroughly that every politician in the country will start to worry about his or her job. Make this happen as soon as possible, and perhaps the rest of the so-called “political class” will start to remember that they are our servants, not the other way around.

Current status: Locked and loaded

Current music: Eyes of a Stranger by Queensryche