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The Question:  “Raising awareness about cat welfare is a good look for your husband’s upcoming campaign strategy. Don’t you think supporting government action on missing and murdered indigenous women in this country would be a better look?”

Sporting black cat ears, Laureen Harper dismissed the young woman’s question saying “We’re raising money for animals tonight. If you’d like to donate to animals, we’d love to take your money.” and added “That’s a great cause, perhaps another night. Tonight we’re here for homeless cats!”

“According to StatsCan, Indigenous women and girls are three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women — and seven times more likely to be murdered. The response from Mrs. Harper is just one example of the value colonial governments place on the lives of Indigenous women and that we cannot rely on colonial law and order approaches to change the realities of MMIW.

“As a white woman I recognize that this is not just an Indigenous issue. We should all be horrified by this epidemic of racist sexual violence. The United Nations, Canada’s own premiers and people across the country are demanding more action on the issue. Yet this government is failing to act.” said King.”

I rarely watch good movies.   I spend my screen time on the blog, and with my current Diablo 3 addiction.   Last night however, I did get the the opportunity to watch “Her”, a movie about a dude whose marriage is all but dissolved finding a new companion.  The twist is that his new companion is an operating system that is sentient and programmed to learn.

It was a emotive, touching film that I would highly recommend everyone go see.

Her

This may just justify TIO’s bitter hatred of spiders.  Copypasta from RawStory.

“A spider species that isn’t more than three-eighths of an inch long has caused Mazda to recall 42,000 cars, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

The automaker discovered that yellow sac spiders are capable of doing damage to Mazda6 model cars with 2.5-liter engines released between 2010 and 2012. The company had issued a similar recall in 2011.

The AP reported that the spiders, formally known as Cheiracanthium mildei, have shown not only an attraction to hydrocarbons, but an ability to get past vent covers in the fuel line, where their webs can cause pressure to build in the fuel tank.

Though no injuries or fires have yet been reported due to the issue, the company plans to issue free software updgrades protecting the cars from building up undue pressure in their fuel tanks”

Yellow-sac-spider-wikipedia-commons

If you have not picked up or borrowed Blood Lands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder yet, I suggest you do so.  It is a shockingly candid dissertation on what happened to the people on the Eastern Front between Stalin and Hitler.  I quote from that text:

   “Partisan operations, effective as they sometimes were, brought inevitable destruction to the Belarusian civilian population, Jewish and gentile alike.  When the Soviet partisans prevented peasant from giving food to the Germans, they all but guaranteed that the Germans would kill the peasants.  A Soviet gun threatened a peasant, and then a German gun killed him.  Once the Germans believed that they had lost control of a given village to the partisans, they would simply torch the houses and the fields.  If they could not reliably get grain, the could keep it from the Soviets by seeing that it was never harvested.  When Soviet partisans sabotaged Bloodlands_Europe_between_Stalin_and_Hitlertrains, they were in effect ensuring that the population near the site would be exterminated.  When Soviet partisans laid mines, they knew that some would detonate under the bodies of Soviet Citizens.  The Germans swept mines by forcing locals, Belarusians and Jews, to walk hand in hand over minefields.  In general, such loss of human life was of little concern to the Soviet leadership.  The people who died had been under German occupation, and were therefore suspect and perhaps even more expendable than the average Soviet citizen.  German reprisals also ensured that the ranks of the partisans swelled, as survivors often had no home, no livelihood, and no family to which to return.

    The Soviet leadership was not especially concerned with the plight of Jews.  After November 1941 Stalin never singled out the Jews as victims of Hitler.  Some partisan commanders did try to protect the Jews.  But the Soviets, like the Americans or the British, seem not to have seriously contemplated direct military action to rescue Jews.  The logic of the Soviet system was always to resist independent initiatives and to value life very cheaply.  Jews in ghettos were aiding the German war effort as forced laborers, so their death over pits was of little concern to the authorities in Moscow.  Jews who were not aiding but hindering the Germans were showing signs of a dangerous capacity for initiative, and might later resist the reimposition of Soviet rule.  By Stalinist logic, Jews were suspect either way: if they remained in the ghetto and worked for the Germans, of if they left the ghetto and showed a capacity for independent action. The previous hesitation of local Minsk communists turned out to be justified: their resistance organization was treated as a front of the Gestapo by the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement in Moscow.  The people who rescued Minsk Jews and supplied Soviet partisans were labeled a tool of Hitler.”

 

-Timothy Snyder.  Bloodlands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. p 238-239.

 

That is a small sliver of what war is.  The systematic destruction of empathetic thoughts in pursuit of ideology and conformity.

The first step – always the first step – is to identify another human being as the ‘other’.  Once that othering has been established there is no evil, no heinous action,  that is out of reach.  (Funny how religious belief is all about othering, but I’m sure it’s a completely different situation.)

—–

This book is best read in small doses, as it is chock full of humanity doing horrible things to itself.   Consider yourself warned.

billnyeIt has been awhile since we’ve had a Red Pen of Justice post here on DWR.  Thankfully(?) that void shall now be filled by krisman2013’s lovely post titled: Evolution – The Theory that Became a Religion.  Can you feel it?  The crushingly vapid ignorance about to be put on display is willing the RPOJ back to life where it must, once again, *wiggle* for the cause of justice and rationality.

Let’s just start this off slow and easy because unless you have your black belt in grappling with ignorance this shit will leave you flabbergasted and struggling for breath.

—–

“It is not uncommon these days for those that do not believe in evolution and the big bang as the origin of all life to be called names, denigrated and treated as if they were troglodytes.”

The reason that you are being called names and denigrated would be because you are demonstrating a dangerously incandescent white-hot grade of ignorance.  To people who comprehend basic scientific facts and theories you may as well be stating the earth is flat and the sun is revolving around us.

“Nevertheless, even though I grew up on a steady diet of science”

And only saved by the thickness of your skull did not one iota of the “science” manage to slip in, god bless your heart.

“and heard the preaching of evolution as the definitive origin of life from grade school through college I have big questions.”

My veteran readership will already realize that our journey with Kris is going to end poorly for him.  For even in his poorly punctuated thesis we can see one of the tells of insipid religious thought.  Conflating the teaching of evolution with ‘preaching’ and thus setting up the entirely false equivalence of science & religion.

Muffin, your science professors were not preaching, they were hoping you might gain understanding on how science and the scientific method works, thus providing a rational framework and methodology for understanding what goes on around you.

Preaching is pretty much the opposite of that as you are *told* how the world works and not to ever question what you’ve been told.

We’ll have to leave it Muffin, as you launch into a series of questions that I’m pretty sure you don’t want the answer to because it will mean you’ll have to engage more than three neurons necessary for maintaining religious belief.  Luckily, you have me to kickstart your atrophied mental apparatus.   Do keep in mind that learning is hard though and not necessarily fun (for you) or comforting.

“Starting with the big bang, scientists explain that the universe we know of came out of this big bang at the start of it all.”

So far so good.

“In order to postulate that the big bang happened and that they know how and why it happened they use the laws of gravity and physics. “

I can feel the checkmate scientists coming… can’t you?

“At the moment of the big bang, when there was just some universe sized mass inside of a pea there would have been neither the laws of gravity nor the laws of physics.  [1]So what were the origins of those laws?  [2]If those laws were not formed, did time exist?  [3] If time did not exist how are we measuring time? [4] When did time actually start?  [5] When did the laws of gravity and mass get created?”

Ahhhh…there we go.  Questions that reading for about an hour on wikipedia could answer succinctly.  To answer these question, I will be referencing the Wikipedia article curiously entitled “Big Bang Theory“.  I have inserted numbers in front of each of Muffin’s questions for easy understanding.

[1] – The origins of those laws came about as a result of the big bang, they did not exist before that time.

[2] – Nothing existed before the big bang, at least not anything we can measure since we require space and time to measure events.

[3] – Time did not exist before the BB.  We measure time by arbitrarily by imposing a set of measurements that allow us to come to a commonly accepted understanding of how time passes.

[4] – Time started when there was a break down from of the previous state of being infinitely dense and hot.  See, the Big Bang.

[5] – During the Big bang.

I am not a physicist, however you can listen to some people that are.

A short version of the Big Bang and Lawrence Krauss discussing the origin of our universe.

History_of_the_Universe.svg

“Who created them?  Wait,…. Hold On.  I take back that last question.  Science can’t have a who or something more powerful than itself. “

Muffin, science is not an person, it is a method for discovering information about the universe we live in.  This just isn’t a question that applies.

“The laws must have been created by the people that discovered the laws.  So, they created the laws of physics and then used them to explain why they existed to discover them. “

Err…what?  People do not create laws of nature/physics/mathematics.  They discover them and by using the scientific method attempt to show that this is how the world works.

“Yet, they can’t explain why the laws exist or why anything exists.”

Did you miss that part about the big bang?  Just checking here because it sure seems like you want to insert a sky-daddy that will make everything right for you.

“They can’t even say how the laws actually came into being.  Pretty flawed theory.  (Yet no other option is allowed in the schools.)”

Err…they were discovered and tested, and eventually proven to be laws we can predict things by.  The science in schools is being taught precisely because it is the most accurate version (disclaimer – much of what is taught in k-12 is watered down) of how we know the world works.

“As to evolution, if I mix a bunch of random chemicals together the result is generally a smoothy not life. “

Yet perform that mixing over billions of years and life can evolve and given the evidence it does.  See Qualia Soup’s Evolution primer and of course Wikipedia to get started.

“The earth, in its hot violent stage would not have been hospitable enough  for random chemicals to come together sufficiently that single living cells could be created. “

How long do you think this ‘hot and violent stage’ was?  There were other stages where life could begin, necessarily so since well, we are here.

“The idea of life from stuff by chance goes completely against that law of physics..   “

In a closed system.  The earth, by definition is not a closed system so Second Law of thermodynamics does not apply in the way you think it does.

“Just some questions regarding evolution as an improved state of the species.”

Evolution does not always ‘improve’ a species, there are some very disastrous adaptations that have caused species to become extinct.

I’m sure your questions will shed light on your understanding of Evolution.

“If we have been evolving for so long:

  • [1] Why are there stupid people? Wouldn’t evolution have selected against them?

  • [2] Gay and Lesbian people can’t have children.  Wouldn’t evolution have selected against them?

  • [3] Mothers kill their unborn fetuses every day,   Wouldn’t evolution have selected against that urge?

  • [4] Whether 7 feet tall or three feet talk.  Wouldn’t evolution have selected against one of them?

  • [5] We are called homo erectus.  Where is the next human species?

  • [6] If we evolved from apes why do the remaining apes not evolve?

  • [7] Why do we still get the flu?

Oh wow. So you haven’t read  about what evolution is at all.  Fantastic.

1 – I often ask myself that question, on some days more than others… 

   Firstly, people have developed cultures, societies and civilization.  All interfere with the process of natural selection and therefore we cannot directly attribute characteristics like “stupid” to evolutionary pressures.  More importantly, how do you know that stupid is being selected against? It might be a characteristic in a package of traits that makes the organism in question more fit to survive. 

2 – You do realize that people who identify as homosexual are not a different species right?  Just checking. 

3 – Evolution is a slow and gradual process, at least in terms of human evolution.  When you talk about women terminating their pregnancies, this is a social feature of society and therefore is not selected for in an evolutionary sense. 

4 – No conception of survival of the fittest present in your mind is there?  Why do you think most of humanity fluctuates around a couple of established means?  Through evolutionary processes the outliers have been weeded out precisely because the package of traits they brought to the table was inferior to the average you see today, thus they did not reproduce, thus you rarely see three or seven foot people. 

5 – Ummm…we are currently called Homo sapiens. Also, as mention earlier, evolution in humans takes a long time, no distinct species has yet evolved from Homo sapiens.

6 – We share a common ancestor from apes, and they are evolving.  Will they take the same route we did, most likely not. 

7 – Because the flu virus is evolving just as we are.  That is the reason there is a new flu vaccination every year, because the virus mutates over time to change itself into a form that is virulent to humans, despite our best immunological responses. 

“Interbreeding my explain small species variations in an isolated environment but non of these creatures shows signs of turning into a completely new species.”

   Natural Selection

    Speciation

    Genetic Drift.

A video on how we get variations in species.  And how we get new species.

“Even scientists explaining the pre-cambrian explosion are at a lost to explain the rate of observed change and the creation of new species.”

*sigh* Yes, indeed we don’t have explanations for everything.  We’re working on, see this video on the Cambrian Explosion.

“I would argue that there is an unseen hand directing all these processes.  Science could never admit that.  What a shame.”

Ah, everyone saw that coming. Well, then Muffin, please state the evidence for your claim that an unseen hand is guiding all of this and show us all how it is more persuasive that the current biological set of facts it is meant to replace. 

   This post made me tired, when I realized that this wasn’t so much a smackdown, but rather a lesson on basic scientific literacy.  A sad commentary indeed, but not quite the calibre of what I’m used to for RPOJ articles.  Oh well.. :) 

 

 

 

We are not hearing much about Venezuela at the moment, here is a brief snippet of what life is currently like in parts of that country.  Many thanks to Minute Physics for posting this news.

 

Variatio 27. Canone alla Nona. a 2 Clav.

Variation 27 is the last canon of the piece, at the ninth and in 6/8 time. This is the only canon where two manuals are specified (not due to hand-crossing difficulties), and the only pure canon of the work, because it does not have a bass line.

Variatio 28. a 2 Clav.

This variation is a two-part toccata in 3/4 time that employs a great deal of hand crossing. Trills are written out using 32nd notes and are present in most of the bars. The piece begins with a pattern in which each hand successively picks out a melodic line while also playing trills. Following this is a section with both hands playing in contrary motion in a melodic contour marked by 16th notes (bars 9-12). The end of the first section features trills again, in both hands now and mirroring one another:

The last 4 bars of the first section of Variation 28.

The second section starts and closes with the contrary motion idea seen in bars 9-12. Most of the closing bars feature trills in one or both hands.

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