Anti-Hatriot comment of the day

March 25, 2010

They probably refer to themselves as ‘Freedom Fighters’ | MetaFilter

I am particularly disgusted by the hypocrisy of these Tea Party/Republican/right wing lunatics, who demand that a Republican President (such as George W. Bush) must be respected by people of all political persuasions as the legitimate and duly elected President of the whole country, and who believe that laws passed by a Republican administration or a Republican dominated Congress must be respected by all Americans as the legitimtate law of the land, but if Democrats get elected, then loyal Republicans must oppose their actions by every means possible including armed revolution of all else fails. Republicans never believed in democracy in the first place. Democracy exists precisely so that people of differing political opinions do not have to settle their differences by violence, because they can have elections instead. If these nut jobs have their way, all political arguments in the future will be settled only by coups d’etat, and no one will even bother with elections anymore.

Why do the Teabag Terrorists hate our freedom?

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Making your laptop battery last longer

March 25, 2010

Battery University explains how to help your laptop battery last as long as possible:

How to prolong lithium-based batteries


Do magazines really want readers?

March 23, 2010

My subscription to The New Yorker runs out soon, and … well, I think they like me better than I like them. Or is it the other way around?

I know things have changed in the magazine business, but the renewal offer I got in the mail is one I can definitely refuse. I’m used to getting a decent discount from them in exchange for my not letting my subscription expire.  This time they offered me the same rate anybody can get by going straight to their web site.  There’s no reason for me not to let it run out, because if I change my mind later I can get the same deal any time.

Besides, $40 for one year is a little more then it’s worth to me, and $70 for two years isn’t much better.

So what am I supposed to think?  Are they taking my loyalty for granted?  Or are they giving me the hint that I should just go away and keep my money for pedestrian needs like food and shelter?


The Crazy Soaks In

March 23, 2010

After years of reading about crazy people and their crazy beliefs, I was beginning to wonder if I was wasting my time.  Did it really matter if some people believed the earth was being visited by space aliens?  Was it a big deal that some people follow astrology so closely?  Should I just shrug it off when people tell me that witches with magic powers, or ghosts, or shapeshifters walk among us?  People believe crazy things.  I imagine that every single person believes at least one thing that is completely unhinged from reality, and the most interesting part is that we are really good at it.  It seems we are hardwired by evolution to believe things that make no sense.

I should just get over it.

Or I thought so for a while.  That was before crazy went mainstream.  Today when you read or hear the news — the actual current-events type news — it’s full of controversies and conflicts of interest that have at their heart a belief by somebody that (a) bears no resemblance to reality and (b) is doing someone tangible harm.

I have a few favorite cases in mind:

The state of Texas is trying to systematically scrub their school textbooks clean of science and historical facts when they create an uncomfortable contrast with the school board’s political beliefs.

People have allowed their children to die from lack of medical treatment because their religious beliefs don’t allow it.

People spend piles of money on homeopathic remedies and chiropractic treatments when there’s no evidence they work (and therefore no reason to believe they do).  Some people will try to argue about this and cite evidence, even though there isn’t any.

And politics … oh jeez.  Politics is a special case.  Being a politician means you are required to form an opinion on an assortment of topics that you may or may not be completely ignorant about.  For many politicans that is not so much a requirement as a natural inclination.  And it doesn’t help that so much of the news comes from TV, and TV is very crazy-friendly.

So as it turns out, The Crazy does matter.  It matters that people are wasting time and energy ghost-chasing, giving money to psychics, looking for Bigfoot, and waiting for the saucers.  Because The Crazy propagates.  It spreads over the popular culture and it soaks in like a stain.  People suffer because of it.

It is not a waste of time to keep an eye on The Crazy.

Here’s a simple guideline to follow.  When the facts clash with your beliefs, think about what that says about your beliefs, and consider whether it’s time to drop your beliefs and stick to the facts.