Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Protesters protest....uh....what?

My hope in the next sentence is that I can write a summary of today, Tax Day, without lapsing into a fatal depression.

So, here goes: Waving overtly racist signs and grasping desperately for relevance, a sea of Fox News viewers calling themselves "tea baggers" took to the streets on Tax Day, hoping to catch the spirit of the historic Boston Tea Party in which American colonists rose up against unfair taxation by the British. And somehow -- some fucking how -- that makes sense to every leading conservative commentator in America.

Well, apparently, this country is still rampaged by toothless idiots in Sarah Palin T-shirts who mistake racism for a legitimate airing of grievances. People who clearly skipped their high school history classes to smoke meth in the bathroom and hit each other in the head with hammers from the wood shop. People who wield the greatest power in the world -- freedom of speech -- to wave racially charged signs about Barack Obama's heritage at a fucking anti-tax rally. Huh?

The organizers of these protests probably thought the populist message would usher in some new conservative era, like a generational wave washing over America in some bullshit sea change of Republican politics. Instead, it made one thing clear: Nobody in the conservative movement knows what the fuck they're doing. I mean, what was the message of Tea Bag '09? You surely won't be able to tell from the signs. Was it that corporate bailouts are bad? Was it that Obama is a socialist/facist/Hitler/Kenyan/Jew? Was it that Obama wasn't born in America? Was it that income taxes are unfair? Was it that liberals want to kill your children? Was it that conservatives are just pissed off and aren't capable of collectively deciding what they're pissed off about? Please, somebody tell me; I'm dying to know.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, or enraged, by the fact that so many people are incapable of independent thought. This is the same schtick that's been running on conservative airwaves since Obama declared his candidacy. We aren't hearing anything new, and if this is the future of conservatism, I guess we can rejoice.

Oh, and how could I forget the best part of the day: Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Hopping on the hysterical rhetoric bandwagon, Perry toured the state with his new Texas-must-secede message. As if the possibility of Texas leaving the union is supposed to be some revolutionary act aimed at stoking populist rage and proud Texan independence. SNORE. Hell, it's perfectly OK with me. I hope the whole state breaks off from the continent and floats away into the Gulf of Mexico. The sooner Texas leaves the United States, the sooner we can kick their congressmen and senators to the curb. Not to mention that we can avoid any possibility of one of the Bush twins running for president.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Religion: The abusive drunk uncle that won't go away

I've reached the stage in the pre-paramedic program where the school tries to cram as much science into my head as possible in a 10-week period. The hope is two-fold: One, students will realize that it's way too much work and just quit, thus weeding out the slackers from the dedicated; and two, students will either learn or relearn how to think at the scientific level -- that is, make critical conclusions based on observable information.

Clearly, science-based observing and concluding is helpful with medical emergencies, such as when somebody is grabbing his throat and looking panicked. A critical thinker might draw the conclusion based on these observations that the man is choking. Conversely, a fundamentalist might draw the conclusion based on these observations that that the man has been taken over by an invisible demon living in the ground. And thus you have the difference between science and religion.

The crux of my little observation here is that the so-called "war on science" by religious people and groups is a misnomer. War implies that two sides or factions are fighting each other. This is incorrect. The core mission of science is not to disprove religion, or to disprove anything for that matter. That's the whole point: Science doesn't prove anything, it only theorizes based on observations over a period of time. We're all pretty sure that when we throw a ball in the air on Earth, it will fall. However, it's possible that one day, it'll just keep going up, and then the theories will be revisited. It will most likely never happen, but science concedes that it could. Until then, gravity is the highest truth available based on the facts.

Scientists will never ask the question of whether God created gravity, not because science is fighting religion but because the hypothesis is impossible to test. Why should science suddenly reject its method of observing simply because a massive group of people believe in God? The faithful keep treating scientific theories as a war on God, but really it's science that is being assaulted. The fundamental beauty of science is that it can evolve and change as new information becomes available. You can't say the same about faith.