Saturday, January 9, 2010

Come out and play

Peyton I'm fully aware that my recent posts have been a little on the serious side. I read a lot of political content online (plenty of other stuff, too), and there are times that I get so disgusted, angry, and appalled at things that are going on that I just want to scream. Once my righteous outrage switch gets flipped, it's hard to turn it off. I kind of enjoy feeling the passion of righteous outrage—keeps the blood flowing, right?—but it's hard to maintain that level constantly. It can make me very, very angry (said in my best Marvin the Martian voice...where's my earth-shattering kaboom?), and sometimes you just have to chill.

One of the ways I chill is by watching sports, and you all know I love my football. That's right, nothing says relaxation like a bunch of guys beating the holy hell out of each other on the football field! So I'm excited that the playoffs are underway this weekend. I won't be watching tonight's game, because I'll be at a Notre Dame basketball game (although I'll probably catch the end of the game), but my Colts aren't playing this weekend anyway. They've got a bye this first round (wildcard games), but will play one of the four teams that are playing this weekend. Actually, that's not true...even if the Patriots win their game, the Colts won't play them next weekend. Because they clinched the regular season division, they not only get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they get the advantage of playing the lowest-seeded wildcard winner, and the Patriots are the highest-seeded wildcard. So they'll play either the Jets, Bengals, or Ravens.

Still with me?

Anyway, I was thrilled today to see that Peyton Manning got his fourth NFL MVP award! That's a record, baby!

Peyton Manning became the first player to win The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player honor four times. The Indianapolis Colts' sensational quarterback romped to the award Saturday in balloting by 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league.

He received 39½ votes to 7½ for Drew Brees of New Orleans. Only four players -- all quarterbacks -- earned votes. The other two were Philip Rivers of San Diego (2) and Brett Favre of Minnesota (1).

Manning also won in 2003, 2004 and 2008, breaking a tie with Favre at three MVPs.

I'd like to congratulate Peyton on the win. He's a fantastic player, a humanitarian (he funded the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent's in Indianapolis, was active in helping his home state of Louisiana after Katrina, and participates in many other programs and charities), and by all accounts, a genuinely nice guy. I love you, man, and bring home another ring for our state! Go Colts!

Oh, and in reference to the others who received votes, I'd like to say...


Yeah, I went there! (I think I just pissed off Jamie. heehee)

When I was thinking about how sometimes you need to chill, and play, I thought of the Offspring song (the title of this entry). I had fun playing that on Rock Band the other night, but it's not my favorite Offspring song...that goes to "Bad Habit," a song about road rage. The spoken bit about two thirds of the way into the song? Boy howdy, if I had a nickel for every time I yelled that when stuck behind an idiot driver....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Does your dogma bite?

Censored In keeping with my running theme (well, one day's worth, anyway) on books and those who would seek to restrict their content or distribution, today's topic stems from this piece about science fiction authors, which I got from Pharyngula.

Granted, there is no attempt for actual censorship here, at least not for the population at large. No, the superdouche who wrote that drivel merely wants to keep whatever sheep-like followers he has from reading anything by these authors, because...well, I guess because they're atheists, they believe in evolution, and they don't believe the way he does.

I find this every bit as disturbing as anyone who would seek to ban or burn books...because they wish to restrict ideas. The writings in question are works of science fiction. Fiction. They are not written as fact, although because many of the authors have a science background, they often have a solid footing when it comes to scientific fact, or at least a recognized possibility. No, this dickweed doesn't want his sheeple to read these books because they have ideas that are contrary to what they are supposed to be believing, and because the authors are nonbelievers. Forget the fact that these fictional works contain thoughts and ideas about what the future might hold; dreams and imaginings both peaceful and frightening. They can be either a source of hope for a brighter future, or a cautionary tale of things gone terribly awry. Either way, they make us imagine, dream, hope...they make us think.

Here's a tip: if someone is telling you to not read something because it contains ideas you shouldn't be reading, run the other way. Then stop off at the book store or the library, pick up the book or magazine in question, and read the holy hell out of it. Or if they tell you not to listen to something because it's a corrupting influence, make sure to listen well and thoroughly, over and over. Anyone who wants to keep you from seeing a different point of view, or contemplating another way of thinking, is not your friend. They are close-minded, weak, fearful, and ignorant, and they prey on the fears and ignorance of others. I've come to believe that many seek it out purposefully, sensing vulnerability and susceptibility in others in order to wield some sort of power over them in a desperate attempt to make themselves feel better about their own abject ignorance.

Censorship I'm a very tolerant person in general, but I'll cop to a certain amount of intolerance, and one instance is when people try to promote willful ignorance. When people are told not to read, not to listen, not to watch, especially when it is couched in religious terms and the implied—or overt—threat is eternal damnation and the fiery pits of hell. For far too many years, I was taught to believe that it was wrong to read certain things, or listen to certain music, or see certain movies, because it was dangerous to do so. Yes, dangerous. Dangerous as in "you could become possessed by a demon." Not kidding.

I reject such thinking as the equivalent of believing that the only possible explanation for thunder is that the gods are angry, or that the only way someone could become sick and die is because of demonic possession. The true danger is in wallowing in mediocrity and reveling in ignorance. Following blindly because that's just what you're supposed to do. Thinking that you have to believe a certain way because that's how you were brought up. Toeing the party line and taking the dogmatic bait hook, line, and sinker.

Think for yourself. Read. Listen. Imagine. LEARN.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fancy book-larnin’…Texas Style!

Texas I read this Washington Post piece about the nationwide influence of the Texas Board of Education first on PZ Myers' blog, then Darren and Dan posted it on Facebook (thanks to all). It's a long one, but it's one I read all the way through because I think it's important. If you get a chance, I encourage you to read the entire thing.

I found it shocking, dismaying, and appalling to realize that these yahoos are influencing what American children are learning in school. They make no bones about their anti-science bias and their desire to have creationism, despite its obvious fallacy, taught in schools. This is bad enough, but they don't stop there; they want to rewrite history.

  • They have sought to remove the New Deal from a timeline of significant historical events because some thought it was a little too socialist in nature
  • They want to call Reagan's 1983 military intervention in Grenada a “rescue” rather than an “invasion”
  • They demanded that publishers remove illustrations of techniques for breast self-examination
  • They wanted publishers to exchange a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase for one of a mother baking a cake
  • They feel that Joseph McCarthy has been "vindicated," and want him to take his place in American history as some sort of hero
  • They want textbooks to highlight conflicts with Islamic cultures, and to portray them as part of the West's ongoing battle with Muslim extremists
  • They agree that people like Martin Luther King Jr. have a place in history, but they feel that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities (because only majorities can do that)
  • They mandated the teaching of climate-change denial; they removed any reference to the universe being roughly fourteen billion years old, because that doesn't jibe with biblical accounts of creation

Texas approved Going beyond politics, history, and science, they even had issue with the language arts teams (mostly teachers and curriculum planners), saying that their draft submissions didn't focus enough on basic grammar and focused too much on reading comprehension and critical thinking. One of the conservative board members (an insurance salesman with no college degree) said, “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”

You know, to him, I don't doubt that it was.

The problem here is that Texas has a huge influence on what is published in textbooks that are used nationwide; California also a huge influence and a more liberal one, but with their budget problems, they won't be adopting new textbooks for a while. This leaves Texas and its reactionary, right wing Board in charge of what kids are learning all across the nation.

Educators across the country are taking notice, and the lock of these ultra-conservatives on the board seems to be waning. But when such a group of people has a major say in what is taught in American classrooms, everyone needs to take notice. I may not have kids of my own, but I do care about the future of this country, and I want our kids to be taught sound science, accurate history, and yes, critical thinking! I don't want our curricula coming from a bunch of addle-brained idiots blinded by their religion. Here's a quote from Don McElroy, who was the Chairman of the Board until he got a little too far right even for Texans, and the state legislature refused to confirm him for another term:

Hillbilly kid“Remember Superman? The never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way? Well, that fight is still going on. There are people out there who want to replace truth with political correctness. Instead of the American way they want multiculturalism. We plan to fight back—and, when it comes to textbooks, we have the power to do it. Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.”

Multiculturalism? I wonder where McElroy's ancestors hail from? McElroy, McElroy...sounds sort of...I don't know...IRISH to me. He obviously doesn't give a rat's ass about the history of his own people, who were looked down upon as ignorant potato farmers by the people who had been keeping house here already for several decades, who also weren't from here originally! It's this kind of ignorance and intolerance that makes me go out of my mind with frustration, and the thought of this dipshit having a hand in what children other than his own (poor little rug rats will probably end up just like their idiot dad, unless they start doing some critical thinking) are taught in school should make us all very afraid.

And yes, that's right--the guy helping to choose the textbooks of our nation's children is referencing a fucking comic book as some sort of ideal America.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I’m the princess of Canada!

Beth and a Labatt's There is a point to that title, a connection between Point A and Point B, but you'll have to wait a moment. It makes sense to me, but then I'm probably not thinking entirely clearly.

I won't make this too long, because I got up at six o'clock Sunday morning, and after getting about three hours of sleep, I'm amazed I didn't just curl up and die, but I did it. It was for a bus trip to Detroit to see the Lions play the Bears. A meaningless game, really, but fun to see Detroit again. (I may have to write more about the city at some point. It is a tragic tale of a great American city.) I'm glad I didn't pull an all-nighter like I thought about, because there was precious little sleeping to be done on the bus. Not only did the sun come up—I know, can you believe the nerve?—and shine right in my eyes, someone had the bright idea to show the movie "Valkyrie," and guess who was sitting right under a speaker? I was subjected to Tom Cruise and shit blowing up right in my ear after three hours of sleep, and that is not a good combination, believe me. I was okay, really, probably because I didn't have the energy to get pissed. Although at one point, a young girl asked her Dad about Hitler, and he said, "Well, you know how Obama is? Hitler was kind of like that but worse," or some such utter bullshit.

I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I can voice my displeasure here by saying what I would have liked to have said: "You fucking asshole. To make such a comparison is to diminish the misery of everyone who suffered at the hands of that monster, and shame on you for passing such ignorance, hatred, bigotry, and sheer fucktardedness on to your child. You suck."

There. I feel better.

Ford Field So Ford Field is cool. I don't know if they do this for every game, or if it's because of the recent foiled bombing, but I actually got patted down before going into the stadium. The woman said, "I'm sorry, baby," and I said, "It's okay." This is the reality of our today, and no need to apologize, you know? It had been a long time since I'd been to a pro game (the last one was the Colts when they were still playing at the Hoosier Dome...before the name changed to the RCA Dome), and Ford Field is a great facility. Seats about 65,000, and it surprises me that Notre Dame stadium seats more! Everyone was really cool and nice. I was standing in the concourse, and a worker cruised by and said to me, "Hey, how are you? Happy New Year!" I said, "I'm good, thank you! And you, too!" I just love it when people are nice! Sitting in the bar before the game, started talking to a couple of Lions fans, both Ford employees. When I said I was on my fourth Mustang, I think they decided they liked me. One of the guys is also trying to travel to as many stadiums as possible, and he said the new LucasOil Stadium (home of my Colts) is his favorite so far. Cool! Everyone was just really friendly and cool.

Comerica Park Detroit is just across the river from Canada, and there were signs everywhere (signs, signs, everywhere signs) for the bridge to Canada. Even at Comerica Field, home of the Tigers, they were flying the Canadian flag. I gave a mental wave to my Canadian friends. :) Note the baseball in the mouth of the Tiger—I think that's so cute, and they're all along the baseball stadium exterior. There was a mention of the Windsor Ballet, and yeah, I got that reference. Oh, actually, I think I was the one who said it first!

Because of the proximity to Canada, all the vendors were selling...Labatt's Blue! (Note the picture of me above with my Labatt’s Blue.) Happy happy joy joy! It's only my favorite beer EVAH, and having it on tap made Beth a happy girl. The game was boring (yeah, I said it), because they weren't playing for anything. The Lions definitely aren't in the playoffs, and I'm not certain, but I don't think the Bears are, either. Most people were well-behaved and having fun (made a bet with a guy sitting next to me that the Colts wouldn't tank in the playoffs...wish I knew who he was, 'cause I am going to win that bet!), but there were the occasional disturbances. A group of guys were feeling way too good, and at one point, a bunch of cops (seven or eight of them) walked up to our section and seemed to be checking things out.

It was not because of me! I can't believe you would even think that.

Austin Powers cart Since I was so happy that they had Labatt's on tap, by the time the game was over and we all got back on the bus, I passed out slept the entire way back home. I think they had football on, but hell if I know. I was just happy I could sleep, and I was out like a light. Which is what I need to do here soon. (I really wasn’t that bad—just really tired!)

Oh! But I have to explain the title of the entry, and the thought processes that got me there. There were a couple of times that some guy drove one of these yellow carts out onto the sideline. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from the first Austin Powers movie, where Austin is trying to escape Dr. Evil's secret underground lair, and gets one of these stuck sideways in the hallway. The first time I saw it, I was crying with laughter, and it still never fails to crack me up. I couldn't find that scene, but I did find a deleted scene from Dr. Evil's appearance on the Jerry Springer show, and because of the Canadia Connection (heehee!) today, I thought I'd put it up here. It's not as good as the Shorn Scrotum monologue, but it's still fun.