What it is to be a nerd.

I am a nerd.

I have been a nerd as many of my nearly 31 years as I can remember, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

I have poor eyesight and require glasses or contacts, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

I am intelligent, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

I am knowledgeable, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

I have limited social skills, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

I was bullied for all of these things as a child, but that is not what makes me a nerd.

These things may be common among nerds, but they are not what being a nerd is about. They do not make me a nerd, and they are not a standard by which nerdhood should be judged.

Being a nerd is about love.

Love of a show or a book or a comic. Love of an academic topic or artistic medium.

Unabashed, unquenchable, undeniable love.

To be a nerd, you must do one thing, and one thing only:

Love what you love in the best way that you can love it. This is the only requirement.

Do not decry a younger nerd, but share your knowledge and passion with them.

Do not begrudge an older nerd, but relish in the opportunity to learn from them.

Go forth and be nerdy. Spread the love.

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Vote in the Dark of Night: The false scandal of October 29th

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WARNING: This article is only for people interested in the boring facts of the political process. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, just skip it and move on.

So, there are several articles, blogs and videos from conservatives that have been going around since Friday October 30th claiming that late at night on the 29th, “WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING”, Senate Democrats passed a law that will “STEAL $### (M/B)ILLION FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY FUND”, and that Senators Rand “My sociopath daddy named me after his sociopath goddess” Paul and Ted “I’m a birther who may not have been born a natural citizen but is running for president anyways” Cruz “heroically” fought to stop it, accompanied by a video of Paul grandstanding with a bunch of empty seats behind him, to further imply that the vote was done in the wee hours of the morning so that nobody who would oppose it would be there to vote.

So, how are they full of shit? Let me count the ways:

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First, none of these articles have a consistent amount that they claim is being stolen from SS. I’ve seen numbers ranging from 800 Million to the 150 Billion. If there was any legitimacy to this claim, and facts to back it up, you’d think they would at the very least know whether it is hundreds of Millions or hundreds of Billions that are getting stolen. Not knowing AT LEAST the magnitude is rationally a pretty sure sign that what they are saying is a load of hogwash.

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Second, they’re claiming that those dirty liberals intentionally held the vote at night so nobody would be there to contest it and nobody would notice. About that…

Senators Paul and Cruz tag-teamed a filibuster on October 29th to ensure the vote wouldn’t happen on the 29th. Not only did they filibuster, they proclaimed they would filibuster days in advance, they said they were filibustering while they were filibustering, and then bragged about filibustering afterwards. (What? Filibuster is a fun word to say. Leave me alone.) Had it not been for their filibuster, the vote would have taken place during daylight hours on October 29th, far from “the dark of night where nobody would notice.”

Then, according to Senate minutes – which it took all of 45 seconds to pull up on this thing we lazy millennials call “the internet” (seriously, do politicians not know there is a link for these on their own website’s front page?) – at 10:07 PM on October 29th, after having filibustered the bill preventing a vote from occurring that day, Senator Cruz requested that the Senate adjourn until 12:01AM the next morning, which would delay the vote into the wee hours of the morning on October 30th….and there was unanimous agreement because, quite frankly, after being in the same room as Paul and Cruz for 12 hours, who wouldn’t vote to leave for a few hours? But the thing about this is that Cruz could have requested ant time he wanted, and if the Senate had not agreed to meet back at the time he requested, they couldn’t adjourn until Cruz requested again or ceded the floor and someone else requested adjournment…so Cruz actively chose to make sure that the Senate would meet back at midnight to bring the bill up again.

Then, when the Senate met back up at 12:01AM, Paul proceeded to filibuster for another hour before finally ceding the floor (that means he shut the fuck up for a change), allowing regular discourse to happen and the vote to take place.

And here – in reality – is where the Republican claim about the Democrats crumbles:

If Paul and Cruz were really so concerned about the American people being awake for this vote, they either would have A) just let the vote happen mid-day on the 29th, B) requested an adjournment until 10 AM (as is customary for the Senate) so that the vote would occur mid-day on the 30th, or C) continued to filibuster the bill on the morning of the 30th long enough to delay the vote until mid-day on the 30th.

But they didn’t. They filibustered to delay the vote until 10 PM, then set the Senate to come back in at 12:01 AM, then they filibustered until the early hours of the morning and THEN allowed the vote.

The timeline, and a recognition of reality, show what really happened: Paul and Cruz actively made sure that the vote would occur in the wee hours of the morning so they could claim the Democrats did it on purpose and give Republicans one more false talking point to repeat ad nauseam….and guess what, it worked like a charm…because why see if something is true when you can just assume those evil liberals did something evil and use it as one more reason to think shutting down our government is a good idea?

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Third, and this one is pretty basic, is the process by which bills become laws means that even IF the Senate at large (rather than Cruz and Paul) had actively conspired to make sure this vote took place when no-one was awake to see it in an effort to hid the contents of the bill, the effort would’ve been in vain. See, passing a law works a bit like this:

First the law gets introduced in the House of Representatives. It gets debated, amended, debated some more and then voted on. If the House of Representatives votes to pass the bill, it gets sent over to the Senate.

Once in the Senate, the bill gets debated some more, amended some more, debated some more, and then voted on. If the Senate votes to pass the bill, it gets sent back to the House of Representatives, because it has been amended, so they have to make sure both sides of Congress still like it.

From here, it gets tossed back and forth, amended some more, and then eventually, if both sides of Congress can come to an agreement, it gets sent to the President. Once in the hands of the President, it either gets veto’d or signed into law.

So, the point here is that while the vote in the Senate happened in the wee hours of the morning – thanks solely to the efforts of Paul and Cruz – the vote in the House of Representatives happened in the middle of the day….so, if they were trying to hide what they were doing from the American people, they had failed to do so from the start.

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Fourth, the text of the bill says nothing about removing funds from Social Security. Not once, anywhere in the bill, does it say this. Don’t believe me? Here is the text of the bill, read it yourself. I read it all of the relevant parts. I read the entire section on Social Security, every mention of Social Security outside of that section, and all of the relevant sections of every law that would be amended by the relevant sections of this bill – if it becomes law – and you know what I didn’t find? A single thing that would even *imply* that this law will remove or allow the removal of one red cent from Social Security.

So….where are they getting this claim from?

By the way, by direct the admission of numerous Reps and Senators over the last several years, it’s safe to say that I read more of the bill than any single Representative or Senator other than the ones who wrote the thing. See, they don’t actually read the bills they vote on – they have aids and interns divide each bill into sections to read and then report back to them with disjointed bullet points that very often are completely wrong because they don’t have the full context of the bill.

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Fifth, every Representative has the ability to propose amendments on bills being discussed in the House, and every senator has the ability to propose an amendment to every bill being discussed in the Senate. Here is the list of every single amendment proposed for this bill. All 224 of them. A quick search finds that Senator Paul proposed 2 amendments and that Senator Cruz proposed 2 amendments.

Of those 4 amendments, 3 were not actually amendments to the bill itself, but to another amendment proposed by Senator Hatch. The topic of those amendments? Well, Hatch’s original amendment (S.Amdt.1221) is all about trade agreements. There was one singular mention of Social Security – ensuring that Medicare pays for renal dialysis.

In the text of those four amendments, S.Admt.1383 – Sen. Paul, S.Amdt.1384 – Sen. Cruz, and S.Admt.1408 – Sen. Paul, we find three nearly identical documents. In the lengthy content of these amendments is only one mention of Social Security that is the same in each one: Basically saying that if a person on SS Disability Insurance works enough hours in one week to qualify for SS Unemployment Insurance, they lose their Disability insurance payment for that month.

As for the fourth, S.Admnt.1222 – Sen. Cruz, we find only two mentions of Social Security:

1) A measure requiring employers to provide extra information to the government on their quarterly wage reports, and requiring state agencies to make that information available to other agencies.

2) A section requiring that passports be denied to or revoked from persons who don’t have a SSN, fail to provide one or provide one that is not theirs.

So…Senators have the ability to use amendments to literally gut an entire bill in it’s entirety, not only replacing the entire content of the bill but even the name of the bill….and neither Senator Paul nor Senator Cruz even attempted to submit an amendment to stop the bill from “stealing” massive quantities of money from the Social Security Fund.

If their claims about the bill were even remotely true, why did they do absolutely nothing to stop it from happening?

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Sixth

For the sake of argument, lets say that I have the facts wrong on everything I have said up to this point (even though the facts are documented by Congress themselves). Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there IS a solid number being cited, that Cruz and Paul did not actively push the vote to the wee hours of the morning, that the Senate passes a bill into law and that the House of Reps had not voted on the bill in daylight hours, that the text of the bill does explicitly steal millions or billions or whatnot from Social Security, and that Cruz and Paul had proposed amendments to try to stop it from happening….

Wow, that’s a hell of a lot of humoring the ignorant just to get to a final point, but for a moment do it. We’ll humor them. Here’s where, even if we assume all those falsehoods are true, the claim that the democrats did any of it falls flat on it’s face:

Congress is currently controlled in it’s entirety by the Republican party. Republicans are the majority in both the House of Reps and the Senate….so how can the Democrats be doing any of this without the implicit cooperation of the Republican Party?

Killing humanely?

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Disclaimer: I am neither for nor against the death penalty. I just think the way we do it is dumb, and if we’re going to do it, we might as well be smarter about it.

I don’t understand this nation’s mentality on executing prisoners.

Let me clarify that. I don’t understand why:

1) we must insist on executing people in “humane” ways

2) how we decided that a three chemical lethal injection is the most humane way to do it.

 

Let’s not kid ourselves or sugar-coat what we’re doing: The goal of an execution is that the convict will die. We, as a society, have deemed an individual unfit to continue drawing breath. We are killing them. There is nothing humane about that. This is not to say it is not justified, simply that it is not humane, so why do we insist that it be done in a humane way? Why should they not be allowed to suffer during their death? Hundreds of thousands of perfectly decent people in this country who are innocent of any crime lose their life to cancer every year. If these decent people have to suffer unimaginable pain for months or even years before dying, why should we strive to ensure that a serial rapist or murderer doesn’t even suffer for half an hour when we are stripping them of their last breath?

If an individual has done something so terrible that society deems their continued existence to be a detriment to the human condition, let them suffer – they deserve it.

Even if you want to insist that we MUST be humane, how in the world did you decide that the current method of lethal injection is the optimal choice? Do you have any idea what is involved in the lethal injection?

You start by injecting them with a large dose of Sodium Thiopental or Pentobarbital. These are powerful opioids that, when administered correctly, render the convict unconscious within 30 seconds.

Next we inject them with Pancuronium Bromide. This is a powerful muscle relaxant. It chemically paralyzes nearly every muscle in your body, including your diaphragm (the muscle that pushes and pulls on your lungs to move air in and out).

Once they have been knocked out and paralyzed, so that they cannot feel they are dying, we inject them with Potassium Chloride, which stops the heart.

There are SOO many ways this could go wrong, and in every one of them, it becomes the single most horrifically painful way to be executed. It’s not just a “this can happen” situation, either. It does happen fairly regularly. That’s one of the biggest arguments used by activists trying to end the death penalty.

A vein gets missed, the wrong dosage gets used, they don’t wait long enough after the relaxant to start the KCl injection, etc. It’s a truly horrifying way to die. Personally, I’m ok with this, because like I said, they deserve it. But that’s not what society says – that’s not what society is ok with – so why do we do it that way?

If you REALLY think that serial rapists and child murderers deserve a painless death, and that chemical injection is the best method, just pump a pint of pure morphine into their veins. It will net the same result with zero possibility of “botching” the execution and causing the person suffering.

The most humane way I can think of to end a life? The quickest, most painless way to execute a prisoner? A strong arm and a sharp ax. One strong swing of a razor-sharp ax to the back of the neck will quickly sever the spinal column, making any sensation of pain impossible. A strong enough swing will take the head off entirely. Oh, but we can’t do that because that would be barbaric…even though the crimes we execute people for are limited to the most barbaric acts humanity can commit.

…it also has the added benefit of being considerably less expensive.

Your dreams are alive

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Some people just shouldn’t try to talk about science

So with how often this picture, or ones with the same effective meaning, get passed around social media, I’m sure you’ve seen something like it before.

Well, I’ve got some good news for dreamers and star-wishers: This is a gross exaggeration that comes from laymen talking about science-y things while suffering from a condition known as “being a laymen”.

Yes, these stars are an astronomically long ways off. Such a long way, in fact, that the closest known star to earth (other than the sun, obviously) is roughly 25,277,549,200,000 miles away. That would be 25.277 trillion miles – and again, that’s the closest star to earth.

So you’d think that would mean it’s going to take a heck of a long time, like maybe a few million years, for the light to get here, right? Sure…if you don’t understand just how fast light moves.

That 25.277 trillion miles? That’s roughly 4.3 light years. (Light year – the distance that light travels in one earth year) Yup. When you look at that star, the light hitting your eyes left that star around the time this year’s graduating class was enjoying their Labor Day weekend…of their 8th grade year.

The night those same high school seniors walk the stage, there will be light from 26 stars hitting the earth that started it’s journey after they began the 1st grade.

So 26 stars are really close, astronomically speaking. So what? There’s countless stars up there. What’s the likelihood that you’re going to wish on one of those 26 stars? Good question, but it’s not about those 26 stars. Those 26 are just to make it clear how fast light really travels.

There are 88 constellations in modern astronomy, comprised of a few thousand stars total. Of those, about 98% are less than 2500 lightyears away. When you look up at the constellations tonight, the light hitting your eyes began it’s journey after the death of Confucius in 479 BCE, or something more meaningful to westerners, after the creation of the Roman Republic in 509 BCE. (Hey, I said more meaningful, not significantly more meaningful)

The brightest stars in the sky? (read: the ones most noticeable and most likely to be wished upon)

The bulk of them are less than 500 light-years away. Looking at a list of the 500 brightest stars, there are only a handful that are outside 1500 light years away, so for the most likely stars to be chosen for wishing upon (since they’re the most likely to be the “first star I see tonight”) nearly all of them the light left the star in question more recently than the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE.

Now, the specific collection of stars I’ve talked about are still a really – really – small portion of the stars in the night sky, even if they are the brightest, most noticeable, and most likely stars to be wished upon. The thing is, though, that the Milky Way (The galaxy we float in) is only about 120,000 light years across at it’s widest, and astronomers give a rough estimate of 300 Billion stars just inside the milky way. Stars in other galaxies are so far away that they can’t be seen, individually, by the naked eye. At the distances even the closest neighboring galaxies are are, you’re seeing the entire galaxy as a single point of light and merely thinking it is a star because you can’t tell the difference – if you can see them at all.

So go ahead. Wish upon a star. Chances are, it’s still around. Now, do remember, though, that it’s going to take a heck of a long time to get there.

It takes a sound wave roughly 880,991 years to travel just 1 light-year. The closest star? Your wish will take about 3,788,261 years and 4 months to reach it. That 4 months, afterall, makes all the difference.

Yup. So chances are the star you’re wishing upon is still there, meaning you’re not too late.

However, you might want to grab a few Snickers bars, because you’re going to be waiting a while…

…and now I find myself wondering how hard it could be to hi-jack a semi full of candy bars.

How Freedom of Speech Went Wrong -or- Jefferson Would Be Ashamed of Us All

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Thomas Jefferson believed Freedom of Speech was necessary to a democracy not only because democracy requires that men be able to express dissent and air grievances without fear of reprisal, but also because it is a mechanism by which a society, and as such a democracy, improves itself. Freedom of speech creates a public forum where all ideas, regardless of their popularity or quality, may be openly expressed so that they may be heard, explained, considered and judged fairly and honestly based on the merit of the idea itself.

The notion was that not all opinions and ideas are of equal value or validity. Some ideas and opinions are definitely good, some are definitely bad and most fall somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter what political, religious or philosophical ideology you look at, there are some ideas within it that fall into each category. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Tea Partier, Green Partier, Libertarian, Socialist, Nationalist, anarchist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, pantheist, polytheist, Deist, unaffiliated spiritualist, atheist, agnostic, or anything else. You have to understand that no matter what ideological bundle you ascribe to, some of the ideas are inherently good, some of the ideas are inherently bad and some of the ideas are not inherently bad, have the potential to be good but need a little work and refining to get there.

And that is where the public forum of Free Speech comes in. Note the wording I used above. “may be openly expressed so that they may be heard, explained, considered and judged fairly and honestly.” This is what Jefferson believed would and should occur, and once it has, the best ideas will be adopted as common practice to benefit society as a whole, the worst ideas will be tossed aside to prevent them from harming society as a whole, and the rest will receive that extra work and refinement they need to be something that can benefit society.

That is how Freedom of Speech is supposed to work to benefit society, according to Jefferson.

….but it went wrong.

Like most social/political theories, it sounds really good on paper, but once you add the human element it goes awry. See, the problem with this notion of the public forum, when put into practice, is that people are flawed. Because of the flaws, what really happens is more along the lines of:  all ideas, regardless of their popularity or quality, may be openly expressed so that they may be heard, explained, considered and judged fairly and honestly based on the merit of the idea itself measured against what an individual already believes and judged based on whether or not it agrees with what they already think is right.  Once it has, the best ideas will be adopted as common practice to benefit society as a whole, the worst ideas will be tossed aside to prevent them from harming society as a whole, and the rest will receive that extra work and refinement they need to be something that can benefit society. the individual rails against the idea and says vile and heinous things about the person expressing it if they disagree with it, adds it to their repertoire of soundbites and hails the person expressing it as a genius hero if they agree with it, and the ones they’re not sure about they just ignore until the politician/pundit/clergyman of their choosing tells them what they should think about it.

Arrogance.
Pride.
Self-importance.
Egotism.
Fear.
Ignorance.
Hate.

Pick your reason. It doesn’t matter which you want to blame. They’re all involved. For some people it’s one, for other people it’s another. The end result is the same: The general masses are not willing to accept when the ideas and opinions they agree with have been heard, considered and judged to be bad. They are not willing to toss an idea aside unless it is one they personally think is bad and they are not willing to adopt an idea unless they personally think it is good.

We, as a society have taken the saying “everyone is entitled to their opinion” and made it a sound bite for the intellectually and rationally bankrupt notion that all opinions are valid and equal, regardless of their merit or source, by their sheer fact of existence.

Let’s clarify what that means about the way the general population of our society views ideas and opinions:

An argument of moral action based on position is seen as equally valid as one based from behind the veil.

When talking about evolution, the professional opinion of nearly 100% of the world’s scientists hold equal weight to the layman’s opinion of religious literalists who can’t even get the rest of their religion to agree with them.

A car salesman from podunkistan, USA who has never seen a copy of the Quran or met a Muslim (knowingly) is given the same credence on the topic of Islam as an Imam or a theological scholar.

A political pundit with a degree in broadcasting deserves the same consideration as a PhD in any other field being discussed. Always.

This is not how the value and validity of ideas genuinely measure up, but it is how our society has decided to view them.

Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In that line, I would say that ignorance is expressing the same idea over and over again and expecting it’s validity to change.

This is how…

…bigots and racists get away with insisting that you are morally wrong for expecting them to abandon their racism when presented with undeniable evidence that the race they hate is not inferior and that their deeply held stereotypes are not representative of the people they hate.

…we reached a point where candidates for the most dangerously powerful job in our nation have spokespersons say, as official campaign statements, that “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers“and when asked about outright lies that are provably false “it’s about what is in his heart” (translation: The truth doesn’t matter so long as the lie feels true) while at the height of their popularity in primary races and not a single one of their supporters batted an eye.

Yes, I just broke one of the only 3 rules of my blog. I brought up politics. It’s not possible to talk about what is wrong with modern society and not mention politicians and politics. This isn’t, however, a targeted slight against Republicans or conservatives in general. This mentality – the one expressed in the statements above – is not unique to them. Democrats and liberals in general are just as guilty of “all feels, no reals” and “I only care about the facts if they support my stance.” This isn’t an us-vs-them statement. In this respect, the only real difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the only two politicians who have had the balls to actually admit it have both been Republican.

…news agencies have decided that they no longer have an obligation to report verifiable facts, treat the opinions of actual experts as being superior to the opinions of an activist with no background in the topic being discussed, or report honestly in any way.

…news agencies changed from “report the facts” to “report the controversy.” Every scientific controversy that exists today is a non-controversy. Evolution, climate change, vaccines, etc. There is no argument about these things. Not really. All of these things are agreed upon by 97%+ of the global scientific community. Do you understand what that means? You can’t even get 97% of general population to agree that Nazis were bad, but 97% of scientists agree on these scientific theories. The “controversy” is people who have no idea what they’re talking about deciding that the experts – real experts, generations of people who have devoted their lives to the study and research of a single field of knowledge and understanding, absorbing the achievement of those who came before them and adding their own to the mix – are wrong because “my understanding is too limited to see the validity of this idea.”

There is no scientific controversy about whether or not climate change is real. 97% of scientists world-wide agree that climate change is real, climate change is a serious problem, and human industry is contributing to it. 3% of scientists aren’t convinced that human industry contributes to it *in a significant manner*. Even they, however, still agree that it exists and that it is a problem. But some people, the vast majority of whom have no retained science education beyond a middle school level, think it’s all hocus because it snowed in some southern states last week…and the Modern American Bastardization of Thomas Jefferson’s Public Forum makes their opinion equally valid to that of the experts who have devoted their lives to the study and practice of science.

…we, as a society, have abandoned the endeavor to vet ideas, judge them by their merit alone and adopt or discard them accordingly.

…public discourse became a hindrance, rather than a boon, to the improvement of our nation

…Freedom of Speech went wrong.

Why the military has endorsed some video games

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In the continued crusade to blame video games for young people being violent (by the way, all worthwhile psychological studies show exactly the opposite is the case) I keep seeing people bring up the fact that a few years back, the military endorsed a few games that they contributed to in order to make people who will be going into the military better at the skills needed to succeed in the military.

People use this to say that the military outright stated that video games teach people to be violent and so they made ones that teach people to be violent the way they want them to be violent.

Anyone who has both played these games and learned to use firearms knows that these games do nothing to teach you how to actually use the weapons in them. They do not teach you how to handle recoil. They do not teach you how to properly re-acquire your target after firing when using a scope. They do not teach you how to hold a gun. They do not teach you the proper method for pulling a trigger. They do not teach you how to mitigate “Scope sway”. These games do not teach you *anything* about the proper use of a firearm, even at the amateur level much less the professional level. In many of the games, the bullet velocity is so far from reality (and thus all physics extrapolated from it is so unrealistic) that these games don’t even really teach you how to aim a gun.

The military was not trying to use video games to teach people how to kill.

The games that the military contributed to and endorsed were squad-based tactics games with hostage situations. This is what they were trying to teach future enlistees.

They were trying to get them accustomed to the kind of teamwork that is necessary for patrolling small villages in combat zones because working together is how our soldiers keep each other alive.

They were trying to teach them to more quickly and easily be able to identify enemies from innocents and friendlies so that we would have fewer friendly fire incidents and far fewer civilian casualties.

They were trying to teach them how to think tactically on the fly so that when they face insurgents, they are better able to handle the situation without losing a squad member.

Teamwork. Tactics. Telling the difference between an enemy and an innocent or a friendly. Life-saving skills every soldier needs. These are the things that the military was trying to teach future soldiers, not how to use firearms, not how to be violent.

Why I read comics

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So since I started reading comics again, I’ve had a lot of people tell me they think it’s dumb. They have it in their head that comics are for kids and that it’s stupid or childish for an adult to read comics. I’d like to address that.

I want you to take a moment to think about your 5 favorite TV shows. You don’t need to tell me what they are, just pick your 5 favorites.

Those 5 shows each get 24 episodes a year, running weekly (typically) at 48 minutes per episode.

Now imagine that the producers of those shows announced tomorrow that they will be changing the production format. From now on, they are not going to air twenty-four 48 minute episodes once a week for half a year. They’re going to split each episode into two or three shorter episodes and put out one partial episode a month all year long. They’re also going to stop bringing in a cast and crew to film the episodes. Instead, they’re going to pay a few artists to make the story board drawings look really nice and publish those. On top of that, you don’t get the episodes for “free” as part of your tv service. Instead, you have to pay for each episode – $4 a month if you want the episodes when they’re fairly new or $2-3 a month if you’re ok with being 3+ months behind on the show.

Now ask yourself this: Is the story good enough and are the characters interesting enough in any of your 5 favorite TV shows that you would still be willing to keep up with them? Would you be willing to pay $2-4 for each fragment of an episode with a full month between them, when all you’re getting is the storyboards?

If you answered “yes” for any of your favorite shows, chances are there’s a comic book series attached to it. One that is likely better than the show itself. You should look into that.

That’s what I’m getting when I buy a comic book, though. A good enough story and interesting enough characters that it is worth keeping up with and spending the money on.

All of the comics I read sell several hundred thousand copies nation wide, several million copies world-wide, every single month. A few of them have been doing so for over 20 years straight. Some of the characters in the comics I read have been around in comics for over 40 years…and my favorite comics aren’t even top name comics. You’ll never see a movie about many of the comics I read, in part because of how incredibly NOT-for-kids they are.

That’s another thing: Most comics are not for kids. Some of them aren’t even for teenagers. Comics are not the campy Saturday morning cartoons you remember from your childhood. Comic readers have grown up and their comics grew up with them. The average age of comic book readers is now 33-34. Comics today make R-rated movies and TV-MA shows look like a Sunday School class by comparison.

Batman’s villains are not the quirky, silly, campy characters from the days of Adam West, 90’s cartoons and Batman Forever. They are stark-raving lunatics in ways that even the new “darker” Christopher Nolan batman movies don’t fully convey.

When the new Batwoman’s father (a former soldier) found out she was trying to be the new Batwoman, he had her kidnapped and taken off to be physically, emotionally and psychologically tortured by professionals in order to either break her of her desire to be batwoman or prepare her for the job. She killed two of them escaping.

Your beloved Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark became Marvel’s Hitler and caused a superhuman civil war.

In the latest reboot of Superman, he is eternally one bad day away from becoming the genocidal monstrosity he was intended to be.

Deadpool keeps an old blind woman as a “pet” and when she misbehaves he puts her in a room full of sharp objects and leaves her there for a few days.

Reed Richards murdered the Hulk’s wife and unborn child, all because of his own megalomania. Not Bruce Banner’s wife and unborn child – The Hulk’s. Let me say that again: The Hulk, a being of pure, unbridled rage *fell in love, got married and conceived a child* and “Mr. Fantastic” murdered them both with a nuclear explosion that wiped out half a planet.

And that’s what the big names from Marvel and DC look like. That doesn’t even start to get into the smaller publishers.

Most comics are not for kids. Got it?

What it ultimately comes down to, is that comics are the modern myths. They are the new Hercules, Achilles and Odysseus. They are the Robin Hood, King Arthur and Beowulf of our day. They are the modern Dorian Grey, Captain Nemo and James Bond. They are the fantastical literature of flawed heroes, misunderstood monsters, conniving evils and worlds of moral grays.

And they are worth the $4 a month. How about the media that you consume?

Swine Flu: Start a portfolio

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You guys remember how in 2009, the news media shat bricks about Swine Flu and how it was going to wipe out a 10th of the human population?

The first time H1N1 (then called Spanish Flu instead of Swine Flu) showed up in 1918 it killed between 10% and 20% of the people who contracted it, with global death estimates between 50 million and 100 million people that year, or somewhere between 3% and 6% of the global population of the day.

The second time it became a big deal was in 1976. In 1976, there was a small outbreak in Fort Dix up in New Jersey. The national response was a HUGE push to immunize the nation. The outbreak never made it out of Fort Dix. 13 men were hospitalized. 1 died. Meanwhile, the vaccine killed 25 and caused 500 more to contract Guillain–Barré Syndrome as a side-effect. On the other hand, people who were immunized back in ’76 showed a significantly higher immune response in 2009 when it popped up again.

In the End-Is-Nigh media storm over Swine Flu in 2009-2010, the WHO has lab-confirmed about 18K deaths from that “global catastrophe”…which would be about .000027% of the world’s population….

Meanwhile, every time the news starts talking about the latest world-ending pandemic, Lysol and Chlorox disinfectant wipes disappear from shelves and their stocks make a solid climb.

….so, next time the news tells you the world is going to end and everyone you know is going to die, just turn it off, because all they’re doing is trying to sell you something….or go buy stock in Lysol and Chlorox.

Numbers

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Some interesting numbers compared to current national populations…(All numbers recorded are from date of posting unless otherwise stated)

The Facebook page One Million Moms actually only has a little under 64,000 likes.
Nations with smaller populations: 36

In 2012, there were 180,000 total cases of Leprosy on record world-wide.
Nations with smaller populations: 93

As the largest (by number of stores) restaurant chain in the world, Subway had approximately 245,000 employees at the end of Q1 of 2011.
Nations with smaller populations: 57

There are approximately 400,000 people world-wide who were born with albinism. Nations with smaller populations: 68

Best estimates by religious scholars puts the total population of Hebrews during the time of Exodus at around 600,000.
Nations with smaller populations: 67 (sidenote: This is also larger than the smallest US state by pop. in 2012: Wyoming, 576,412)

The 2012 population of Idaho was 1,596,000.
Nations: 90

At year end 2011, federal, state and county prisons and jails reported a nationwide total of 2,266,800 adults incarcerated in the US.
Nations: 102

The NRA currently claims to have over 5 million members (whether or not that is actually how many they have, I don’t know).
Nations: 125

The global death rate (deaths per 1,000 people) in 2011 was 8.12, meaning statistically there were roughly 57,603,000 deaths world-wide that year.
Nations: 220
Only 23 nations have a larger population.

If you condensed all those deaths to the lowest population countries, 105 nations would cease to exist and Lithunia would lose 40% of it’s population of nearly 3M citizens.

All national population numbers from Wikipedia.

Not “Just a Theory”

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Opening description of Virology from Wikipedia (As of 3/2/14):

“Virology is the study of viruses – submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat – and virus-like agents. It focuses on the following aspects of viruses: their structure, classification and evolution, their ways to infect and exploit host cells for reproduction, their interaction with host organism physiology and immunity, the diseases they cause, the techniques to isolate and culture them, and their use in research and therapy. Virology is considered to be a subfield of microbiology or of medicine. ”

Note the inclusion of evolution in the list of primary aspects of the study of viruses.

If you’ve ever needed solid, undeniable proof that Darwinian evolution occurs, virology is pretty damned well the nail in the coffin of doubt, assuming you’re capable of accepting observable facts as part of reality.

Over the last several decades, virologists have watched as viruses continue to observably evolve by natural selection in order to survive the barrage of anti-viral medicines and vaccines that we create to combat them.

Virology is a sub-field of microbiology, which, as a larger field, has also documented the observable evolution – again, through natural selection – of bacteria to survive the antibiotics we create to kill them.

Everyone knows that this is what happens. The news media has been talking about “superbugs” for over 20 years – viruses and bacteria that have developed a strong resistance or outright immunity to the treatments that used to kill them, and more often than not became stronger and more deadly in the process. THAT is Darwinian evolution in action: The most resilient genetic strains of a virus or bacteria survive the onslaught of modern medicine to procreate as their less resilient counterparts die off.

This is not something that takes millions of years. It takes only decades. In some cases it has taken less than a decade. Virologists can and have directly observed HIV and AIDS evolving as a single genetic strain spreads out in a chain from a patient 0. It’s not a huge evolutionary shift from one person to the next, but when you get a few hundred people down the chain of infection, the virus can start looking very different.

There are many diseases today (both bacterial and viral) for which active, observable evolution that has occurred in our lifetime is the only reason 1) they exist in the first place and/or 2) they have not been completely wiped out by modern medicine.

Evolution is also the reason we (or at least some of us) have the mental capacity necessary to create medicines that will combat these illnesses, and many others, until the day we do, finally, overcome them.

Evolution: Not “just a theory.” A theory backed by evidence. You just have to look for it.