Thursday, September 2, 2010

The smartest guy you'll ever see on a cartoon TV show.

Stephen Hawking, frequent guest on "The Simpson's" and frequently parodied on "Family Guy" has set about to aggravate the religious right. You have to like a guy for doing something constructive with his life:

LONDON (Reuters) – God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.

In "The Grand Design," co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," Hawking writes.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

It's not? Then what are they going to do with all those big buildings and that collection plate they pass around? Boy, that wll surely change the Sunday sermon. "Hey flock, that God we invented just showed up late and took credit for the whole bit. It was like that when He got here."

"That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions -- the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes.

Well, we are an egotistic bunch, and we do feel as though the Earth is here just for our entertainment. If you go by some of the things we do to the Earth that their God gave us, one wonders if they also feel as though the Earth was put here to be their personal disposal for their junk and a source of energy for their bloated lifestyles. That's why I can't figure out why the religious right isn't firmly behind the alternative energy movement and big supporters of "Green" technology and Global Warming theories. I suppose their devotion to God stops when it affects their lifestyle.

It's interesting to me that some people would choose to believe something they cannot substantiate rather than something backed by science. Not only in the God/creation debate, but in other areas as well. They lean on the Bible and base their belief system on something they cannot prove. They call it faith, which is a substitute for thinking.

And God forbid we start doing that.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pants on Fire.

Roger Clemens pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he lied to Congress about using steroids. Can a guy be convicted of lying about not lying? Isn't that some kind of double-jeopardy or double-indemnity - or double-something? I wonder if his accuser, Brian McNamee would go to court and admit that he lied about Clemens' using steroids? Probably not. One of them is lying. Which do you believe? The guy who doesn't have a potential Hall of Fame election looming and a national presence or the guy who, two years ago, we didn't know from Adam?
Three guesses.
Meanwhile, another big-time media figure was in deep denial. Pictured above is the crowd at the Glenn Beck "Restoring Honor" rally last week. Never one to allow facts to stand in the way of a good story, Beck said that "the media" was reporting the crowd as being between 300,000 and 500,000." As a frame of reference, your standard professional football or big college stadium holds 100,000. That means that Beck thought there were 5 times that many people at the rally. Next time, maybe he should hold a rally at a stadium so that, as they say, tickets are available.
How ironic is it that at a rally called "Restoring Honor," the host would lie about the attendance? Pretty ironic. Seriously, does it look like there are a half million people in that photo? The National Mall is a popular place during the summer. Chances are, many of those people were tourists, wondering, "Who the f**k is up on the Memorial steps screaming?"
CBS News hired AirPhotosLive, a company who uses aerial photography to estimate crowds. They say they do it with an accuracy of plus or minus 9,000. They estimated the crowd at 87,000; which is significantly less than a half-million, plus of minus 9,000.
Whom do we think is lying here? An independent contractor using a photograph and technology or a conservative talk show host who might be looking to enhance his popularity by inflating crowd figures at a rally that may not have been as popular as once thought?
Fellow liar and Republican United States Representative Michele Bachmann told supporters at the rally that "we're not going to let anyone get away with saying that there were less than a million here today - because we were witnesses." Can she be indicted like Clemens, or does being a member of Congress grant one immunity to lying? Probably.
Separately, when asked, Beck said that "my penis is three feet long."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Suddenly, I feel so much better about myself.

Television is full of mentally ill people, and no place more than that “Hoarders” show on TLC. Some of them are hoarding because they’re on some maintenance drug or as a result of a personal trauma, but mostly they’re just goofy. I watch because it makes me feel better about my life, and that’s why we do a lot of things.

It’s why we stare at automobile crashes. It’s why we are obsessed with misery and the discomfort of others. The mess that these hoarders get themselves into is appealing to millions of viewers, and obviously why the program is on TV. There isn’t a man, woman or child alive who can look at a house full of junk and think, “I’d like to live like that.” Except, of course, the handful of people who subject themselves to this TV show and the camera crew that has to climb over a mountain of trash.

As for me, I feel bad when I have dirty dishes in the sink. I can't imagine a house full of stuff that makes it impossible to see the floor or obscures my bed to the point that I have to sleep on a pile of clothes. Every time I pass a yard sale, I think that there are people buying stuff and taking it home because they somehow feel compelled to do it. As it is with a lot of things, the compulsion to accumulate stuff is one of our biggest flaws as humans. The things take over.

I ask myself why they subject themselves to the cameras. I ask myself what it is that separates them from the rest of us. The funny thing is that, from the outside the houses and apartments look like the rest of the neighborhood, until you venture inside and fine a pile of junk. Generally, there is a group of friends or relatives that is trying to get the hoarder to throw things away, and a hoarder that fights them, believing that the junk in their home has some value besides being good TV.

If I were involved, I’d wait for them to leave the house and run in with an army of people with trash bags and take everything I saw out to a local incinerator. Psychologists would argue that it wouldn’t solve the problem, and from the looks of the people involved, there is something that makes them cling to the junk – because they don’t see it as junk. Therein lies the problem.

Recently, I had a municipal tax assessor in my condo to roam through and check the place so that the township can assess the value of the joint. I’d guess that, among other things, part of the reason they wanted to come in was to check to see that I didn’t have 50 cats or was raising reptiles in the place. Needless to say, I passed. I can’t imagine what would have happened if the guy had to climb over 6 feet of trash to get to my bedroom. I’d probably be typing this from a park bench instead of my relatively clutter-free living room.

Besides, my one 18-pound cat is plenty to keep up with.