(no subject)

Once upon a last weekend, I went to Baltimore and got in a car accident.

It was Sunday night, roundabouts seven o'clock, and Jules and I were driving through Baltimore, heading back to Harford county to meet my mom and sister for dinner. I'd missed my turn off Patterson Park Ave. and had ended up in the northern, more ghetto part of the city. No big deal; there are way scarier parts of the city than this—as anyone who's seen The Wire will tell you. But it wasn't the way I needed to go, so I turned left at Gay street, planning to head back south and pick up my cross-street. Easy peezy.

It was a dark and stormy night, of course. Not so much to be an obvious and immediate hazard, but certainly a nuisance.

Anyways, we're driving along through the rain when we pass through a tunnel and arrive at a particularly funky intersection—instead of intersecting at a perpendicular, 90 degree angle like a respectable street, this one cuts across at a bizarre 45 degree angle.

We're in the right-hand lane...should I turn onto the funky street or just go straight? The funky street looks like it's one way, but it's not obvious from a quick glance which direction it goes—and even though I think it's going to the right, I'm not sure that's the direction I want to travel. The street lights are straight green, no arrows, and I can see more green lights facing us from down the block. No reason not to go straight and avoid the funky intersection altogether.

I think I see a Turn Only sign barely visible behind our traffic light, but it's not facing our lane at all—it's facing some other weird angle, maybe towards the funky angle street? I dunno, but it's not facing our lane. Plus the light isn't an arrow, and there wasn't a turn arrow painted on the street, and the lane ahead of us is clear, and there isn't a Do Not Enter sign or anything, and again, I can see street lights facing us from the next block up. So even if the lane I'm in IS supposed to turn—which doesn't seem likely, since the only Turn Only sign is barely visible and isn't facing my lane—there's no reason why going straight should cause any problems. So that's what I do.

Which, of course, is when we're suddenly hit by another car.Collapse )

...I hate BS.

 This was from a few months ago, during the hullabaloo surrounding the not-Ground Zero not-Mosque.  My friend Cassie posted a link
( in which the Daily Show showed Beck criticizing Imam Rauf for making statements about American foreign policy—statements that Beck himself had made a few months before.  Niiiiiiiice.

Brandon, who will likely become a regular on these updates, jumped to Beck's defense.  Commence the headdesking.

The first part is about Beck's idiocy; the second part is more about Brandon's.

Brandon S: Before you get to [implied [sic] throughout, btw] excited about Glenn's statements you need to listen to both of his broadcast first. Also, Glenn is the first big name from the conservitive side to defend the right to build the mosque... I wasn't trying to upset you Cassie, I was only stating that John had taken him out of context.

Cassie F: Oh, I'm not upset. Glenn Beck just invokes extreme reactions from me.

BS: May I ask why?

Sure you may—but if you don't want to hear the answer, you probably shouldn't.Collapse )

[OH MY GOD HE'S SUCH A MORON.  Using logic with this guy is like showing a dog a magic trick.]

BS: If trying to get the overall feeling that we as Americans had in the days following 9-11 is a bad thing and exploiting 9-11 then I'm all for it. I for one am tiered of all of the childish politics, name calling, and gottcha statements. All I know is for one time in my life America was united regardless of race, religion, age, creed, class, or least importantly, party. If someone can try and grab some of that and grow it then I'm all for it.
Cower, citizens! Cower in UNITY!Collapse )


Yes, Brandon.  Yes you are.  You've finally made a statement with which I fully agree.

I'll grant that the pain pills might be a legit excuse for that one comment, but what's his excuse for all the others?

Feliz Navidad!

In this episode of "Austin fights with morons on the internet because he has nothing better to do," we've got a woman who's shocked—shocked!—to find out that disliking Mexicans might be construed as a wee bit racist.  She "opposes Mexican immigration," y'see, but in a totally rational and not bigoted way!  Or something like that.  

Also, I'd never met here before; she's a random friend of John G's. I'd like to offer this as an example of how *not* to introduce yourself.


Charles Austin: The DREAM Act is killed, but DADT is repealed. Congrats, Senate, on being only 50% bastardly today.
Brooke W: Yeah, I'm confused because I thought that gays were the new Mexicans, but it turns out Mexicans are the new Mexicans. Except in New Mexico.

Mexicans are the new gays. I can't wait until prominent conservatives start being outed as closet Latinos.

Dara G:
Mexicans wish they even registered on bigot radars.

John G:
We need to have free immigration if we want to be a free country. It is just as destructive to lock people out as it is to lock them in...

Vera N:
We were in Mexico a couple of weeks ago- looks like a fiesta at Woolworths when it doesn't look like Gunfight at O.K. Corral. If we want the USA to look like Mexico, then by all means we ought to have open borders. It's not like there's a lot of incipient Nobel Prize winners picking peaches in California waiting patiently to share Cervantes with us.
WOW.Collapse )


In other news, it's 4 am and I have twelve hours of driving to do. This was clearly a productive use of time.
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Monkey on a keyboard

Since my life has, largely, been too boring to warrant recounting here, and since most of my energy for socio-political ranting has been taken up by fighting with real people on facebook, I think I'm going to start posting my arguments here. It'll make it easier for me to find them in the future, and maybe someone will find them and be mildly entertained.

Mostly it'll just give my livejournal something to do again.

I don't even know how to introduce this one, except that I've never been more depressed about science education in this country. We're a nation of morons.

(Also, I need to figure out a better way to format these. Suggestions?)

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(no subject)

Just realized I hadn't updated since I decided to embark on my antidepressant experiment back in March. That experiment ended up having two phases: Phase I involved a generic version of paxil and lasted about two days; Phase II involved a girl named Julianne and has been ongoing for the past two months. I like Phase II a lot more. It doesn't give me nausea and it hasn't disrupted my sleep schedule. And lowered libido? Totally not an issue in Phase II.

There's other stuff going on too: I'm moving into a new apartment at the end of the month, my car apparently exploded yesterday and is going to need either major repairs or a replacement, and I had to get some new CF equipment (nebulizer/vest). And all of these would probably be a major crisis if I didn't have someone to help me deal with them. I hate to make one of those gay ass "OMG I met a girl and I'm so happy!!!!!" posts, but that's basically what happened. WTF, universe! Wasn't I supposed to be bitter and alone forever? How am I going to maintain my surly, curmudgeonly facade when I'm smiling all the time? This ruins everything.

(no subject)

Quick anecdote/rant.

Last week I was listening to the radio and flipped the station to NPR; they were discussing autism. Their guest, a researcher with an autistic son, was explaining that the autism was only *seeming* to become more common because of epidemiology—the label 'autism' has broadened to include a whole spectrum of disorders, and doctors have gotten better at recognizing the symptoms of autism, so cases that would have previously been dismissed are now being more accurately diagnosed. He also explained the important statistical distinction between rates prevalence and actual occurrence. Almost as an afterthought, he also spent a few minutes debunking the ridiculous and baseless links to vaccination.

Interesting stuff.

Now, before I'd flipped over to NPR, I'd been listening to Fox News. For the fifteen minutes or so before I'd changed the station, they were breathlessly covering a low-speed chase that was occurring on an interstate highway near Dallas. The cops were in pursuit of a pick-up truck that was gray. Or maybe light blue. The windows were tinted, and the reporters didn't know who was inside. Or why the cops were in pursuit. Or anything else, really. The news anchors in the studio were explaining that the chase had occasionally reached speeds of up to 70 mph—normal highway speed, on a highway, so I don't know why the fuck was that worth pointing out—and there were 6 police cars trailing the light blue truck. They transferred to the Dallas reporter who was following in a helicopter, who pointed out the gray truck, and noted the police in pursuit: "You can count the cars following!" he told us. "There's...1, 2... 3...4, 5." Then back to the studio for a minute, then to some other local spokesperson for something, who told us that the blue truck was currently being chased by 4 police officers. Then back to the studio...

So while NPR was discussing epidemiology and statistical data analysis, Fox News was trying to name colors and count—and struggling with both.


Now, to be fair(ish), this problem isn't unique to Fox News—as we saw last week with the madness around the goddamn balloon kid. Our 24 news cycle frequently results in these kinds of manufactured crises, where people endlessly discuss topics about which they have almost no information and which have no actual significance. This would be annoying by itself, but what's even more infuriating is the lost opportunity to provide real information on topics that actually matter. I realize this is a ridiculous idea, but can you imagine what it would be like if the dozens and dozens of hours the networks devoted to the balloon insanity had instead been spent going in-depth into the history and cultural nuances of Afghanistan/Pakistan, or examining health care systems around the world, or documenting that vaccination has been one of humanity's greatest successes? We might actually have something approaching a well-informed populace.

Like I said, ridiculous. That would undermine everything this country holds dear.

(no subject)

So I'm in Boulder, Colorado right now, and as we're all hanging around outside the bar that just closed, I run into a guy whose desk is about 40 feet from mine back in Atlanta. What the fuck, universe.


This isn't about that. Things are mostly good, I should write more, etc., but this isn't about that either. This just a random dump of crappy photos. Last Christmas, M'ris and I went and visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. This 'museum' is run by the group Answers in Genesis, which believes that every word in the Bible is literally true; the aim of this museum is to present the 'proof' of this idea with lots of 'scientific' 'evidence.' It's absolutely absurd. Adam and Eve hang out with dinosaurs—it's science! They have a model of Noah's ark, which shows where the dinosaurs slept on board. It's basically The Flinstones presented as history.

Anyway, what this IS about is that I've been meaning to post some of the crappy photos I took at the crappy museum for almost a year now, but keep forgetting. I should—and could—write a lot more about this particular adventure, but I'm sleepy. Pics now, story later.

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(no subject)

Tried to go to bed early—as in, before 3 a.m.—but I've been laying in bed wide awake for the past hour, staring at nothing and obsessing about everything. Typical.

(no subject)

In lieu of a real entry, here's a recent exchange I had with a friend of mine on facebook. Fuckin' neocon 'tards.

Noah: dear pres obama, you criticized pres bush and administration for their actions in iraq. claiming there where no WMD's and ignoring evidence of a torturous and murderous regime. now, with OVERWHELMING evidence of crimes against humanity you do nothing. please act now! how many more innocent iranians must die?! i leave you with this quote: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -dr martin luther king jr

Me: ...dude, that argument doesn't even begin to make sense.

Noah: yes it does. lets say your car got keyed. and your neighbor said the mailman said he saw your other neighbor do it. you probably wouldnt do anything without more evidence. BUT if your neighbor... no ALL your neighbors recorded and photographed the mailman doing it. i would say its time to take action. so i dont understand how pres obama can not act under such a flood of evidence.

i was also praising pres bush for doing the right thing with much less evidence.

please tell me you guys dont really think we should do nothing!

Me: Couple of major flaws with your initial argument. 1, you're presuming that the situations in Iran and Iraq are equivalent; they're not. They're not even comparable. And 2, that the objections to the invasion of Iraq were solely based on the WMD claims. The reasons that invading Iraq was a Bad Idea is that it was unethical, poorly planned, ineptly executed AND based on a lie. Focusing on the last reason doesn't make the other reasons go away. To use your analogy: Bush took that information and beat the shit out of the neighbor's kids, then burned down his house. You're arguing that just because we have more evidence that the neighbor is an asshole, we're more justified in beating the shit outta the kid. No one's arguing that the neighbor is a dick; but destroying everything around the neighbor and attacking his family isn't a justifiable course of action.

You seem to be implying that we should engage in some kind of military response. Frankly, that's fucking insane. Reasons:

1) It's completely unfeasible. We never fully secured either Afghanistan or Iraq, even with our technological superiority and a massive troop deployment. Iran has a vastly higher population, spread over a much vaster geographic area, and their military is far more technologically advanced than Iraq's was; even if our forces weren't already stretched incredibly thin, it would be difficult or impossible for us to achieve any kind of authority there through force. But we ARE spread incredibly thin; we don't have nearly enough manpower to do anything productive there.

2) It would be politically retarded. For years, Ahmadenijad has railed against the imperial goals of the US; invading Iran would only lend credence to his accusations and cause a massive uprising of support FOR his government. Nothing strengthens nationalist support for a leader as effectively as an outside threat; look at 9/11, when even those who were most anti-Bush rallied around around president. The people who are protesting may not want Ahmadenijad in power, but they want intervention from outsiders even LESS.

3) It's ethically dubious, at best. Iran is a sovereign nation; her people deserve to determine their own fate. This has the possibility of being the greatest catalyst for change and modernization in the region in half a century, but that's only if the Iranian people do it themselves. American intervention would invalidate everything they're fighting for. Reverse the situation: If Obama had been suspected of stealing the election, would you support the idea of Saudi Arabia taking control of the country and making sure that justice was done? No. Democracy—a government that is ultimately accountable to the people—is meaningless if requires the intervention of outsiders to enforce it.

So yes, I think we should do nothing—militarily. I think we should put considerable diplomatic pressure on Ahmadenijad's government, and encourage other countries in the region to do the same; if he insists on violently retaining power, he's going to lose all credibility on the world stage. We should continue to bolster the flow of information into and out of the country. But military action here would be foolish and counterproductive; the Iranian people deserve better than that.

Noah: well #1 i personally see the invasion of iraq as the right thing to do (i reference almost anything christopher hitchens has written on the subject) but lets not linger in that. #2 obama has done almost nothing to help those in iran, i'm not saying a military operation is the solution. i just with he'd stop sitting around with his thumb up his ass. #3 i dont consider a torturous and murderous regime a sovereign nation. i think there is a MASSIVE lack of human decency and common sense in the "liberal" or "democratic" movement when people are dying on the other side of the world and we dont step up to the plate. hope and change my ass.

Me: 1) Hitch is a smart guy, and I share a lot of his opinions, but I think he's wrong on Iraq...but it's a bit late to debate now. My point was that you can't compare the two countries; just because Iran does have a nuclear program of some kind doesn't mean you can treat it the same as Iraq. 2) Other than denounce the violence—which he's done—there's little else Obama CAN do. And little else he SHOULD do. It was the meddling in Iran's internal affairs back in the seventies that caused the anti-West backlash we've been dealing with for the past thirty years. 3) Iran is absolutely a sovereign nation. Don't make the mistake of conflating a people with its government—the protests of the past few weeks prove there's a huge rift between the two. In the same way that your political views aren't defined by the President, Iran's people aren't defined by Ahmadenijad's regime.

And yes, it's horrible that people are being imprisoned and killed. But sometimes that's what it takes. Jefferson's quote about the tree of Liberty comes to mind.

As for hope and change, it's Obama's overtures of collaboration with the Muslim world—rather than simply denouncing the entire country of Iran as 'evil' like Bush did—that have helped inspire Iran's youth to rise against the regime the way they have. This couldn't have happened four years ago; Obama's presidency helped make this possible.

Noah: i'm sorry dude but obama has NOTHING to do with it!!!! i love you, but thats retarded.

Me: I'm not saying that Obama deserves any specific credit for what's happening; like you say, he has nothing to do with it directly. But Obama's presidency has brought with it a major shift in our dealings with the Middle East, at least in rhetoric. Ahmadenijad has spent years demonizing the West, and America in particular, as being an imperialistic and anti-Muslim threat. Bush's repeated reference to Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, and the constant discussion of "Is Iran next?" only served to support those claims, and make the Iranian people feel threatened. The fact that now there's an American president named Barack Hussein Obama, who has made speeches offering friendship and cooperation with the Muslim world, has undeniably affected how America is perceived. Ahmadenijad, on the other hand, is still painting America as an immediate threat; such claims now, in the face of Obama's outreach, has caused many Iranians to view Ahmadenijad far more critically, eroding his support. And it's this erosion of support that's made the current situation possible.

So no, Obama isn't responsible for the currrent revolutionary atmosphere in Iran. But he has undeniably contributed to creating an environment where such an atmosphere was not only possible, but inevitable. That's the point I'm making.

Noah: well i completely disagree. oh well

Me: No surprise there :) But I'm not offering any opinions in this; everything I've stated is pretty self-evident and verifiable. So I guess I'm wondering what exactly you disagree with, and, more importantly, why? I'm open here; throw some evidence my way and convince me.

...and that's it. Evidence + a clear line of reasoning vs. 'well I disagree just because.' Kinda frustrating. Obama's far from perfect, and there are legitimate criticisms to be leveled from both ends of the political spectrum, but hating him 'just cuz' is pathetic and intellectually lazy. Same thing happened during the Clinton years: legitimate points of criticism were overlooked simply because the GOP was so insane in their all-consuming hatred for him. Fuckin' petty.
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