Sep 18, 2013

Rally for Science, in Texas, Results in Sign that Made Me Chuckle.

Yesterday, hundreds of Texans, including People For the American Way members and members of Texas Freedom Network, rallied at the Texas State Board of Education hearing to stand up for science and keep religious creationism out of biology textbooks.

I think that is awesome, but mostly I like this guy's sign.

Sep 11, 2013

My Increasing Love for Urban Wildlife

Story of the day! (This is not a thing, don’t get your hopes up).

Turns out I missed the part of school where I was supposed to learn to write humorous creative non-fiction. That being said, I had something happen to me that I felt was blog worthy. If this is unbearable let me know and I'll go back to complaining about things but I'm hoping at least one person finds it entertaining. Also, this story is true but it happened almost 2 months ago now.

I had to go to the post office this morning because a bill had gotten lost in the mail and was significantly past due. The post office is about 7 or 8 blocks away from where I work and I needed to go quickly and get back so I could prepare for a meeting. So with only 2 or so blocks to go I am stopped at a normally busy intersection. Normally busy, but at 7:45 in the morning it was completely devoid of cars. Stressed because of the rush and the late bill, but also feeling pretty good because of my new pink shirt and grey wool tie I was wearing, I contemplated the red hand that stared at me from across the street.

Pedestrians in Seattle seem to follow traffic laws when they feel like it. Most use the cross walk and wait their turn, unless of course they don’t want to or are in a hurry. It’s not that we don’t want to obey the rules and so we do most of the time, but we draw the line at our own inconvenience. I could very well be wrong about this, but it is how I myself feel about traffic laws and from my observation most Seattlites share my lack of strong conviction.

I decided to cross the street probably because I was in a hurry and, there weren't any cars. A couple of people decided to follow my example but not till I was a couple of yards ahead of them. Out of nowhere a motorcycle cop pulled up in front of me and blocked my path. Where did he come from you ask? Not sure, but I was surprised how quickly and how close he came to me in his motorcycle. (I wondered then and still do now, if his pulling in front of me on a motorcycle was actually more dangerous than me crossing the road when I wasn't supposed to).

(correct intersection, but bad angle and not the same motorcycle)

I was then asked by Officer Chin, a 5'5" Asian SPD officer in a snappy clean blue uniform, if I could see the orange do not walk hand. He didn't ask if I had seen the sign, but if I could see it. I guess I could have been blind, but wearing no glasses and having no cane it felt significantly more like being shamed than being asked a serious question. Of course I responded yes. I kind of wish I had said something else, anything else really, but authority makes me nervous. When confronted by authority I automatically comply with any and all instructions like a shamed puppy.

Officer Chin muttered something under his breath about there being too many accidents here. He then turns on the lights on his bike and pulls me over.

I got pulled over by a motorcycle cop... while walking.

And he felt it necessary to put his damn lights on and thereby announce to the world that I was an idiot.

Being self-conscience and wonderfully insecure, I was horribly embarrassed. Being publicly shamed on one of the most pedestrian heavy corners in Seattle is not great. Don't recommend it.

Now on the sidewalk I gave Officer Chin my ID and he started writing out my ticket in silence. Frustrated that I was being punished for something as insignificant as jaywalking, I eyed Officer Chin hoping that my ticket would be small.

Then the unexpected happened. In fact, it was so amazing and unexpected that the ticket was almost worth it.

A pigeon shat all over Officer Chin.

It got his shoulder, his arm, the front of his uniform and his shoe.

Barely keeping myself from laughing in his face I take a step back and try not to stare. Officer Chin looks pissed and takes an inadequate slight step to his right. Not 20 seconds later a pigeon shat on him again. The damage was equally extensive as the first strike.

This wasn't a small smudge but enough bird shit to realize what it is from a significant distance. It was past the easily cleanable level. It required washing. That made it so much better.

Officer Chin was obviously perturbed. I was dying inside. It was virtually impossible for me to contain my luck. True, I did get a $56 ticket that for some ass backwards reason goes on my driving record (jaywalking is considered a traffic violation here). On the other hand, I was given immediate and amazingly satisfying revenge without having to lift a finger. It is the kind of story that one reads in a David Sedaris book or hears on This American Life but don't think will ever happen to you. OK maybe it's not, but I'm gonna pretend it's that good.

One question still bothers me though. What does a police officer do if they get bird shit all over their uniform? Does he have to go back to the station and change or does he try to wash it off and after failing, walk around with a now wet and bird stained uniform for the rest of his shift? Either is fantastic.

I like to think about all the times he ran into a fellow officer and had to tell the story. He almost certainly described me as young, entitled and irresponsible. Frankly, he's probably right. Whatever, I just hope he also described me as a well dressed young professional instead of as a dumbass kid in a pink shirt.

OK now its the summing up, moral of the story part. (Cue music with partially relevant lyrics and JD's end of episode monologue voice).

At the end of the day, I guess this is yet another example of why you've got to obey the white man.

Or maybe just that pigeons are awesome.

Aug 28, 2013

Why do we care about Snowden?

I wrote this a few weeks back when Snowden was all over the internet. I forgot about it and now it is behind the times. I'm posting it anyway. If you've forgotten who Snowden is already go Google him for a minute and then come back.

Am I the only liberal who doesn't think that Edward Snowden is a hero? Am I the only democrat who heard about the NSA scandal and thought that it was simply no big deal? I’m not even sure it is that partisan. There has been so much support for Snowden across the internet and the only people I hear condemning him are politicians, FBI, NSA, etc. which is expected. But does Snowden really deserve folk-hero status?

I admittedly am not very well informed but what I do know is this: if you have even glanced over what the Patriot Act does and have watched Enemy of the State then I have no idea why anyone is incensed. We all really should have known that the Patriot Act virtually guaranteed this kind of spying. It is my understanding that Title II of the Patriot Act gives federal agencies the right to search just about anything they want, whenever they want, using just about any means they could want. That may be slightly exaggerated. But probably not by much. Who wants to bet that congress will find the NSA's actions legal under the Patriot Act?

If you've watched Enemy of the State you know that everything anyone ever does is being recorded and will eventually be used to ruin their lives. I’m just kidding. I’m not paranoid. But seriously, if you've watched that movie and then are surprised that the NSA is tapping phones I don’t really understand.

The NSA phone scandal shouldn't be a scandal. We really should have assumed they were doing this and so much more a long time ago, and if we are obviously not really worried about it. If we were, we would try to do something about the Patriot Act.

Snowden isn't a hero. He is a guy who actually did risk compromising US security to “reveal” something to the public that they should have already known. This scandal is almost certainly going to result in a couple of people getting fired and very little else. I expect no change in policy, no change in law, no prison sentences (apart from Snowden of course), and little to no change in public opinion.

And that is the only interesting thing about this scandal to me. Public opinion seems to be that the NSA should not spy on people. Well maybe policy and law should be changed to reflect the opinions of the people.

You may have noticed that I haven't actually taken a stand against the NSA spying on people. Mostly because I don’t think it is nearly as big a deal as so many people are making it out to be. Personally, I don’t care if the NSA spies on everyone. It isn't something that worries me about our government. What I do think however is that we should be thinking more about the will of the people than anything else.

The people obviously don’t want to be spied on. We have an Act that allows the government to spy on the people. Maybe the people should affect the government in such a way as to cause the changes they desire. Frankly that doesn't seem very likely. Maybe the government we have already voted in should spend some time listening to the desires of its people.

Either way, this shouldn't have been a scandal, because it isn't a surprise and is barely stretching a document that significantly affects the freedoms of US citizens. If we insist on making this into a scandal, let’s not praise the idiot who may have actually harmed national security and has effectively made the rest of his own life hell. And if we really must have something to have a scandal over, how about weighing the public’s reactions against that of elected officials. If we elect them to do what we want and their reaction is so very different from what we want, maybe WE the PEOPLE should do something about that. No NRA gun nuts I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to everyone. STOP VOTING FOR POLITICIANS WHO DON’T DO WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT.

According to a recent Gallup poll Congress’s approval is now down to its lowest ever at 10%. A lot of these people have been elected for term, after term, after term. At some point we have to realize that we are responsible for Congress’s approval rating. We have to vote different people into office. If we do, then perhaps we can change the Patriot Act or stop the NSA spying on us. I may very well be wrong about all of this, but I think the burden of this scandal falls on the voters. That is, if the voters still have the power to elect representative persons who, to the best of their ability, obey the will of the people. (The cynical side of me says that if our government ever worked that way, that time has come and gone).

Don’t blame the NSA or the administration or the Republicans or Democrats or even the Tea Party. We the people elected congress. Congress passed the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act allows the NSA to spy on who they will. BUT, we the people can vote to change who is in congress. This NSA scandal is our fault. If people want it to change they are going to have to do some work. I’m not talking about complaining on the internet with clever memes about how bad the NSA is or how good Snowden is.

What if we actually start considering who we vote for? I’m talking about demanding that our congress persons listen to the people for fear they won’t be reelected and then following through. We have a system that should provide us with representation. If we aren't being represented we should do something about that.

This scandal shouldn't have anything to do with Snowden. This scandal should be about the fact that U.S. citizens don't trust their government and that our government doesn't seem to care. This scandal should be about the fact that we don't approve of our representatives. But the real scandal in all of this is that we'd rather sit back, point weak and harmless fingers at the government, watch one guy get the fame and take the fall, and do nothing rather than engage in our own political process.

Here are some resources:

Aug 12, 2013

Click thy mouse and follow me

Hey! There has to be more than one of you that are repeat readers of my blog. You should follow it! That way you get email updates when I post and my one lonely follower will have more company. So, if you have read my blog more than once and found it even slightly interesting FOLLOW IT. You'll only regret it a little.

Thanks I appreciate it.

God sends spammers straight to Hell!

So I got really excited to day because my hits were through the roof. Then I discovered that I have been targeted by a site by the name of vampirestat. I have over 80 hits today just from them. They generate a lot of hits on your blog in order to trick you into putting their links on your page and then they give you and your readers malware etc. So FUCK those guys. They are spamming, phishing, malware assholes and they got me all excited. So again, FUCK those guys.

EDIT: Oh and adsensewatchdog. They do the same thing FUCK those guys too.

Just as an FYI. I am always interested in reading new blogs and if you want me to give a shout out and link to your blog send me a link and I’ll check it out. Also, I am totally happy to post guest written things. If you want to write something somewhere else besides your own blog or Facebook etc. let me know and we can connect.

Atheists in the Military

I posted this on Facebook a couple days ago, and I got some but not a whole lot of reaction from it. I’m interested in finding out if people disagree with this article and if so why?
Here’s a link here and there is another one down below:

This is the preface I put on the article on Facebook.

So everyone probably knows how big I am on separation of church and state. (I know the specific phrase isn’t in the constitution, I know where it came from, and no, I don’t want to argue over which founding father said what about religion and politics).

This is one of those places where they have been linked inappropriately. 
Think what you will, but please bear in mind that EVERY citizen has just as much right not to believe in God as you have to believe in God (or vice versa if you’re an atheist). This goes for other religions too, but that isn’t the point of this article.
Please remember that freedom of religion does not mean freedom to be a Christian.