Sunday, September 25, 2011

Go Away, Ron Paul

So Ron Paul believes that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is "a theory," and not one to which he subscribes. (At least he didn't say "just" a theory, even if his tone and answer implied it.) He also believes that it is "inappropriate" for "the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter."

As usual, Ron Paul is clueless. It isn't about the scientific issue of evolution itself, it's about his thought process, and an indicator of the kind of thought and research he puts into big and/or controversial issues. When people derisively dismiss evolution as "just a theory," as if it were something that some scientists just pulled out of their asses, they betray their ignorance of what the word 'theory' means in the scientific context. They also show that, apparently, they are either too lazy, or their fact-checking skills are too shoddy, to go look it up and educate themselves. It seriously calls into question the process that goes into the decisions that a President Paul (or, for that matter, President Perry, or President Bachmann, or any of the other potential presidents) would make on other important issues, like military deployments, international crises and domestic policy. As a citizen, I for one want to have some reasonable degree of confidence that our next elected leader isn't going to blunder us into another war, a deeper depression, or some other catastrophe with a decision based on inaccurate understanding or slipshod fact-checking.

Even if the subject is "inappropriate" for the presidency in Ron Paul's esteemed view, and even if that's good enough for the rabid throngs of mouth-breathing, conspiracy-addled "Paulistinian" fanboys, it clearly is "appropriate" enough to a large enough segment of the populace to be addressed more than once in national, televised presidential debates. On this basis alone it should be "appropriate" enough for Paul to do his homework, and at least know what it is he is rejecting in favor of a first-century understanding of the world.*

For those who may be in the same boat as Ron Paul, in that you don't know why the word "theory" is very different in the scientific context (and why it matters), do what Ron Paul, George W. Bush, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann seemingly haven't--take a few minutes and learn:

*As recent-Republican Ron Paul was once a Libertarian, it should be noted that this sort of religious thinking (Paul refers to "the creator that I know") was the main reason that Ayn Rand--whom Libertarians revere as a sort of totem of Libertarianism and mother-figure of their philosophy and worldview--flatly rejected Libertarians as "hippies of the right" who "[subordinate] reason to faith."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma (09-01-13)

My grandmother on my mother's side, Virginia, was a pretty amazing woman. Born in 1913, she once said that her earliest memory was seeing people celebrating the end of WWI. She of course lived through the Great Depression and WWII, and eventually went on to graduate from Purdue University in Indiana, like her father before her. (Her father, Ronald, was an extraordinary man who will someday be the subject of another blog.)

Virginia was possessed of a great intelligence, common sense, a practical mind, and a great wit. She didn't do things like a "typical grandma." She drove up until shortly before her death, and was known as "Old Leadfoot." This was not the little old lady from Pasadena tooling around at 35 on the freeway with her blinker on! Virginia was also an avid fan of sci-fi and horror movies, as well as cartoons. This gave us many points of common discussion when I was growing up. In my teen years, I was the one tasked with taking her to see "grandma movies"--the horror/thriller fare that my mom didn't have the stomach for. Good times.

I have bored you with all this, dear reader, to preface this story about her. It is one of my favorites, and it illustrates the funny, not-so-typical grandmother that she was.

Back in the dinosaur days before DVRs that could record multiple programs on multiple channels at once, our family (grandma lived with us from 1989 until her death) had multiple VCRs, one in each room. They would often all be going at once, recording things that aired at the same time on different channels.

At this time, I was also discovering the joys of porno. You can see where this is headed.

Also back in the dinosaur days, before you could tap your every heart's desire into Google & have it shower you in an avalanche of pornographic gold, kids had to scrounge for porn. A magazine found in the trash here, a videotape "borrowed" from an older cousin there... it was a mission. You had to work for your stroke material in my day, dammit! Damn kids today. Get off my lawn. And pull up your pants, you look stupid.

Anyway, for some months, I had been assembling a collection of juicy snippets from "skin-a-max" (Cinemax), Showtime, HBO, free previews of the adult channels, etc., and keeping it on one tape. I had a good 15 minutes or so of quality, sub-par T & A goodness at the beginning of a brand new VHS tape. As Chris Rock describes, every man has a super-clever, Batman-like hiding place for their porno stash, but that's never where women inevitably find it. Where do they find it? The VCR, of course.

Well, one night I was supposed to record something for grandma, which I did. After it was done, I popped that tape out, & popped the other one in for a little pre-Internet "laptop browsing." And of course, I failed to remove the tape afterward. Grandma comes over the next day and gives mom the tape that mom had given her earlier. Apparently grandma had asked for her program, and mom dutifully retrieved it from my VCR, none the wiser.

Grandma hands mom the tape, laughing, and exclaims, "I don't know what else is on this tape, but the first fifteen minutes is the damnedest porno I've ever seen!"

She knew there was about 15 minutes of porn on that tape. She didn't pop it in, start it playing, and turn it off immediately in shock and horror, oh no. She sat and watched every smut-ridden frame from start to finish, and laughed about it! That was my grandma.

Happy Birthday, Grandma. I miss you, and I'll always remember you.