Grant Rants

Archive for the ‘strangeness’ Category

Don’t lose your head, Batman! The movies are safe.

- July 20th, 2012

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!

Ok, I know it often seems like I don’t take things seriously and I am always cracking wise about life, the universe and everything. But there is nothing particularly funny about the shooting in Colorado last night at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

It’s one of those bizarre events that leave everyone with even a shred of human compassion wondering what in the name of Hades is going on with society. What would possess someone to walk into a crowded movie theatre, throw smoke bombs and start shooting random strangers?darknight

Among today’s stories about gun control and terrorism and political outrage (Including this insane gem of a politician in the U.S who blames the shooting on the separation of church and state. The stupid burns all the time I guess.) are questions about how afraid we are. We at the Standard even have a poll asking if you’re too scared to go to the movies now.

Without making light of the tragedy in the U.S. – which is absolutely awful – can we please get a bit of a grip here?

Some facts worth considering before you refuse to go the movies out of fear that you too will be gunned down:

First, the crime rate in North America has, for well over a decade, been declining. This includes violent crime and gun crime. But, we in the press often give an impression that chaos is rampant and it’s like Mad Max out there in the big bad world. Which leads to a truly bizarre situation. The crime rate is down but the fear of crime is pretty high. People believe their streets are vastly more dangerous than they actually are, which impacts how people act in a whole mess of ways.

Second while shootings like this one, or the recent gang violence in Toronto, are epic, scary and understandably grab headlines for days, they are aberrations. In other words, your odds of being gunned down in some Columbine-like shooting or a gang war are very, very low. In fact, there is almost no chance that if you go to see The Dark Knight Rises tonight in St. Catharines that you will be shot. All things being equal, the most you will have to deal with is some annoying bozo sitting behind you talking too loud or kicking the back of your chair.

Third, these kinds of shootings – as with most things in life – are totally unpredictable. They don’t happen often – despite what happens when everyone stomps on the fear button with all their might – and when they do you have no way of knowing when or where. They have hit malls, schools, churches  universities and now, a movie theatre. If you are going to avoid the movies because you fear some nut with a gun will kill you, then you might as well then avoid all potentially inclosed rooms anywhere and avoid contact with people. That would be your only way to avoid it. You might still get hit by lightning or a comet, mind you.

Finally,  it is always worth remember that freaking out – what I like to call the headless chicken syndrome – is always the wrong response when something big and tragic happens. It solves nothing and does little other than keep people frightened and not thinking clearly. It can actually make things worse.  And the so the question “are you afraid to go to the movies now?” doesn’t get regarded as irrational but totally reasonable. Which it isn’t. The question ITSELF plays on your fears.

This shooting is beyond awful. It truly is. And once we learn more about the shooter and what kind of crazy is going on his head it will seem all the worse. But there is no reason to rip up your movie tickets or start wearing body armour to the movies. Go see your movie choice, enjoy some time with family or friends. Relax. Keep your head. Think. Otherwise, the nut with the gun really does win.

The radioactive super-stupid: American pizzas become a vegetable

- November 17th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!

Once, I thought the phrase “The stupid, it burns,” was sufficient to capture a level of idiocy that tends to penetrate society. Politics, religion, Glee…it all seemed to be captured in those four magical words.

Alas, I was wrong.

See, I have now encountered a stupid that more than just burns. This is not ordinary stupid. This stupid is so stupid that “stupid” is a stupid word to use to describe it. It is worse than burning. It’s like direct exposure to nuclear waste that doesn’t bake you right away, but slowly kills you one piece at a time over several years.thestupiditburns

I refer to perhaps the most ridiculous decision ever made in the United States by its federal government. It’s ridiculous enough to make the Rick Perrys and the Sarah Palins of the universe seem like Mensa members.

According to the United States federal government, the seat of the democracy in the free world, a pizza is now a vegetable.

Now look, I will accept all manner of silly when it comes to food. For instance, I used to sometimes tell my vegetarian friends that I too was a veghead. To which they said, “Shut up and don’t eat with your mouth full of steak.” To which I said (between bites to be polite)  “Cows eat grass. Grass is a vegetable. I eat the cow. Ergo, I am a vegetarian.” What normally followed the launching of tofu at my head while I ran away cackling like the Joker.

But there does a come point when faced with the radioactive super-stupid, that that it ceases to be funny because it actually kills important brain cells.

So according to Congress, pizza can be sold as a healthy alternative in public schools because – and if you have an asthma inhaler, this is the part where you will want to get it out – is contains tomato sauce. Somehow, the bread, grease, meat, and whatever else is on there doesn’t count. The tomato sauce is what seals the deal.

Ok, so the first thing here is that A TOMATO IS A FRUIT! It’s not even a vegetable! IT’S JUST NOT! You cannot say four plus four equals nine because you like the symmetry of having two letter Ns in  a word.

I mean, how far gone do you have to be? That is like watching a deer get shot by a hunter and claiming the deer committed suicide. Or like saying the Sun goes around the Earth. Or like saying classic Battlestar Galactica is better than the re imagined Battlestar Galatica. Or that the Moebius Silver Surfer is better than than the Kirby Silver Surfer. OR THAT A TOMATO IS A VEGETABLE!

A tomato is a fruit. Like an orange. Or the stuff in the heads of the lawmakers who made this decision.

This doesn’t even touch the idea that a food stuff made up of several food groups gets reduced to the label “vegetable”. That is a tad like looking at the Winter Olympics and saying it’s a curling tournament.

This makes such little sense that I can feel myself getting dumber contemplating it. What’s the rationale? The food group pyramid is triangle shaped and pizza is often cut into the shape of triangles….so….well YOU explain it then!

Sorry, but if I continue down this road much longer, I might give myself a stroke. Uck.

Election update: Godzilla for Premier! RWWWAR!

- September 16th, 2011

I have a thought.

We’re hip deep in the Ontario election now and if there is one thing we can say for sure, it’s that none of the party leaders are really winning the hearts or minds of voters. I suspect that this is mostly due to the public becoming numb to the same old, same old when it comes to electioneering. Same promises, same attack ads, same everything.

So far, the election has been a rather hum-drum affair. What we need is  a candidate to shake things up, to present new and exciting policies and just find a new way to do politics.

Therefore we should elect Godzilla to run Ontario.  Not the “Godzilla” from that horrible 1998 remake. I’m talkin’ the real deal. The guy who ate Tokyo and sent Mothra packing. (A big butterfly against Godzilla? I mean, please…)

Now, I know that sounds maybe just a tad insane, right? Technically, Godzilla is a Japanese citizen which would disqualify him from running here. But, in an application of the the Liberal’s policy of assisting immigrants by giving employers tax credits, I think we can manage this. We, the voting public, hire Godzilla and then we, the voting public, get a tax break. Problem solved.

Now, I know there are other giant monsters we could elect but, upon reflection, they are poor candidates. King Kong has that whole kidnapping charge to deal with, the Staypuffed Marshmallow Man lost the religious vote when he stepped on that church in New York, and Jaws is just soft on crime.

Where would Godzilla stand on issues of public policy? Well, his health care plan would be totally outside the box thinking, which is what our health care system needs. Basically, because people flee in the face of Godzilla (often screaming “Gaika, Gaika!!!!”), these people become more fit. All that running and jumping over things and avoiding blasts of radioactive fire inevitably will create the fittest population in Canada. (Ok, true, there will undoubtedly be a few losses. The slow, the weak and fans of Glee will likely be eaten by our premier. We can chalk that up to “hard choices”, like tax cuts. ) Having such a fit population will reduce health care costs. It would likely also result Ontario athletes being over-represented on our Olympic track and field teams, and lead to more gold medals.

godzilla

Godzilla's jobs policy in action!

Godzilla’s jobs policy is also impressive. When he is not making origami (come on, those little hands have to be good for something!) Godzilla is often found destroying infrastructure. There are many roads, bridges and public works in Ontario in need of repair or replacement. So Godzilla is saving the province and municipalities money by destroying these things himself. Jobs will be created to rebuild them and, lets face it, the new infrastructure will have to be strong enough to withstand future Godzilla attacks, giving Ontario the best roads, bridges and public buildings on earth.

I’d go on, but I think you get the point. If we’re bored by the current leaders of political parties, vote Godzilla. It’s no stranger than any other choice you could make .

Oh the Royal wedding! WHO CARES???

- April 26th, 2011

A hereditary monarch, observed Thomas Paine, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician. But try pointing this out when everybody is seemingly moist with excitement about the cake plans and gown schemes of the constitutional absurdity’s designated mother-to-be. You don’t seem to be uttering common sense. You sound like a Scrooge. I suppose this must be the monarchical “magic” of which we hear so much: By some mystic alchemy, the breeding imperatives for a dynasty become the stuff of romance, even “fairy tale.” – Christopher Hitchens

Some days it just doesn’t pay to even give the news a glancing look. It really doesn’t. Some days the only way to escape the burning stupid is to jump into bed, pull the covers over your head, and wait it out. Until you have to come up for air, and the moment you do — BAM! the burning stupid gets you.

Recently I blogged about some, um, special faith heads who thought that god was sending them a message by putting the face of Jesus on the melted cheese of their pizza. (In which I proved that the face was not Jesus, but in fact, Kryptonian super villain General Zod) I’m inclined to think  that if you are the sort of person who takes this even a little bit seriously, or think it’s actually news worth reporting, you are probably also waiting for the world to come to an end in a couple of weeks. (Oh, and trust me, dear readers, the Grant Rant will be turning its guns on them very, VERY soon.)

As I noted before, pareidolia (the capacity of the human brain to find patterns where there are none, such as ink blots or clouds or whatever) isn’t news. I mean, every time someone sees a cloud they think looks like Don King’s haircut, the papers don’t go running a  story. do they? But someone claims they see their chosen deity in some melted cheese and suddenly it’s front page news.

Now. this particular brand of the burning stupid is usually limited to faith heads who find random patterns in food meaningful. But I forgot there was a sub-species of the burning stupid that does the exact same thing: Royal Watchers.

If you ever followed my column you’ll know I am not exactly what one could call an ardent fan of the royal family. They are completely and utterly a waste of energy. What is the relevance of the royal family to 21st-century Canada? What do they contribute? What practical use is the Governor-General? Is it more than zero? Is there any reason whatsoever to care about the upcoming wedding other than the media is telling us to?

I am completely at a loss why anyone cares that two insanely wealthy people they don’t know are getting married. I’ve been told that, for some women, it’s about the whole princess thing that was drummed into their heads by Disney films as children. I have no idea if this is true, not being a woman and all, but I find it hard to swallow. In those films, the girl is taken away from poverty by her Prince Charming and gets to live a fairy tale life of luxury. You know, like Pretty Woman without having to have sex with Richard Gere. But in reality, no little girl can aspire to grow up to be a British princess unless a) she is part of the limited gene pool that spawns the royal family or b) born into an insane amount of wealth that allows her to travel in the same circles as the previously mentioned spawn of the limited gene pool.

And if little girls are being told they can grow up to be a Kate Middleton or Princess Diana without either one of these two conditions being met, we are seriously doing them a disservice. You can work hard to become many things – vastly more important things than a wealthy dilettante. A girl can be a doctor, physicist, teacher or athlete. She could become the person who cures cancer or goes into orbit as part of a space program. What you cannot do is aspire to be a member of the Royal family. It’s like aspiring to be a member of the Wayne family. True, it might be cool with the big cave and cool gadgets, but it ain’t going to happen. And really, we ought to be encouraging our children to aim higher, don’t you think?

Beyond that, the royals are a monarchy, which is to say they are the last vestige of an inherited dictatorship, a form of government we threw into the dust bin with the rest of history’s bad ideas like disco, Esperanto, and M. Night Shyamalan’s recent movies.

It doesn’t much matter to me they are part of our heritage. Essentially, the royal family is like the human appendix – a throwback to an earlier time in our evolution that we don’t need any more but that can explode and kill us….hmm, ok, that metaphor sounded a lot better in my head….

The point is we, at best, invent a relevance for the royals and at worst treat them like they are heroes of some sort, when in fact they are just rich by inheritance and don’t have to earn their place in society. Not to get all Ayn Rand-y here, but there isn’t any virtue in just being given status and influence in society. These are things that should be rightfully earned, not just freely given because of an accident of birth.

Whew…wait,  what was I talking about when I started typing? Oh right, seeing patterns that are not there…

kate-middleton-bea_1872278c

Proof that royal watching has boiled over into insanity.

So the level of obnoxious fawning over this wedding by us, of the great unwashed, has reached epic burning stupid proportions. Consider this: A jelly bean that some bloke says has the face of the bride to be. I kid you not. Some guy has a jelly bean that has dots on it and he thinks the dots look like Middleton and he is selling (probably sold by the time I finish this) it for 500 pounds!

Now, if you are a person who will spend that much money on a jelly bean, it’s time to visit the men in white coats for a little chat! The phrase “get a grip” doesn’t really cover it. The guy selling it is probably a minor genius, though, knowing some sucker will very likely pony up the cash.

So do yourselves a favor. Do something, ANYTHING, other that watch a wedding between largely irreverent rich folk from across the pond.

Praise be to Jesus or, Zod!….cause he is on your pizza.

- April 7th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

First let me explain that content on the Grant Rant blog will be a little lighter than usual until May 2 because I am busy doing federal election coverage. I will be posting content my election blog which you can find here. But no fear, I will still be around point out the stupid the burns.

Case in point, while I am on the subject, is this story out of the Land Down Under. Jesus, the purported savior of the world, made a cameo…in a pizza. Yup, it’s happened again. Someone looks at a blob of something and decides it’s a face and not only a face, but the face of the supreme ruler and creator of the entire universe. I have always found those who take this seriously extremely odd. I mean, read your Bible. This god fellow used to know how to make his presence known. Destroying entire cities, a talking burning bush (which would be HUGE in Vegas. Think about it.) walking on water, raising the dead…oh and don’t forget that whole global genocide/ecocide flood thingy. Today he is apparently reduced to appearing in melted cheese and bird droppings. Should to raise a question or two, huh? Past his prime I guess.

Although it is highly annoying that a news outlet once again decided to cover this kind non story – how pareidolia (the capacity of the human brain to find patterns where there are none such as ink blots or clouds or whatever)  – at least it doesn’t take the subject too seriously…even if it includes zingers like this from a Catholic proffessor:

We Catholics can have a laugh at this, but if that image leads you to a deeper level of faith, or just a sense that Jesus is part of your life, then it can’t be a bad thing,” he said. “Faith is best shared around a meal at the dinner table.”

Yes, lets find a way to praise the hysterical over reaction to NOTHING as a good thing.

Of course, as a friend of mine from Ottawa recently pointed out to me, the faith heads may have this entirely wrong. The truth could be far, far more sinister. The face on the pizza is not Jesus meek and mild, but rather the visage of General Zod, Kryptoian super-criminal and sworn enemy of Jor-El, Superman’s father. He is a rather unpleasant fellow, bent on making us all kneel as he rules the entire planet “Hu-ston.” With all that accumulated knowledge when will the dummy learn to use an atlas.

Still here is a side by side comparison of the Zod-pizza and the good general himself. You decide:

699420-jesus-in-a-pizza zod

Psychics….why did it have to be psychics?

- March 22nd, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

I guess it’s inevitable when something bad happens there will be ghouls who want to try and profit from it and the recent Japanese earthquake and following chaos is no exception.

We’ve already seen people trying to claim the quake was the result of an angry god of some kind or another, for some moronic reason or another. Now the psychics are jumping in the ring trying to use the devastation to boost their own reputations (such as they are).

On Friday, fellow Standard reporter Don Fraser received a press release from the “X-Zone” radio show in Hamilton. This is a show that caters to the credulous who think the moon landing was faked, Nostradamus wasn’t an insane crank, and space creatures have traveled millions of light years to kidnap random people to, ahem, probe them. The “paranormal” is what the show is all about.

After the Japanese quake, likely in a bid to drum up ratings, the show put out the press release to try claim one of the brain donors it had as a guest actually predicted the quake:

Internationally Acclaimed Astrologer Hassan Jaffer Predicted the March 2011
Disasters in Japan on The ‘X’ Zone Radio Show on January 8 2010!

In December 2010, astrologer Hassan Jaffer wrote this uncanny forecast:

“In March 2011, Mars moves into Pisces and the ocean related major mishaps,
hurricanes and tsunamis will be in the news. March 2011 will also be an
extremely spiritual month with many musicians and people in general opening
their heart to humanitarian causes. I am just hoping that this is
voluntarily and not due to some catastrophic events forced upon the world.”

Hassan made the prediction that a major tsunami was to take place in March
of 2011. This was originally on his website in November 2008 and discussed
while as a guest on The ‘X’ Zone Radio Show with Rob McConnell last year on
January 8, 2010.

Can we expect more in terms of Earthquakes and Volcanoes?

Hassan predicts Geological Revolutions for the next several years and the
shifting of tectonic plates, leading to some of the biggest earthquakes,
volcanoes and even the danger of a war. April 2011 poses the biggest danger
to the Earth. The last time a similar alignment to April 2011 occurred was
in July 1908 when an asteroid or comet hit in Tunguska, Russia.

In December 2008, Hassan predicted “4 March 2011, danger from ocean tides
and storms as well. Major Tsunamis (tectonic plate slipping from Vancouver
to Los Angeles?), storms, hurricanes, ship sinking, epidemic breakouts and
other ocean related mishaps are quite possible now.”

Hassan also warns, “On 4th April 2011, there is possibility of a major
earthquake in 2011 in mid USA but other parts of the world as well.”


Did ya see that uncanny prediction there? The one that predicted the date, and location and size of the earthquake that clobbered Japan? No? I missed it too probably BECAUSE IT WASN’T THERE!

Honestly, how dense does this Hassan guy and Rob McConnel from the X-Zone think we are? You don’t get to say someone predicted something unless they actually predicted it!

It’s easy. Lets all play! “In 2012 there will be strife in the middle east when Mars is under the influence of the Jabberwacky in the fourth lunar cycle of Skyrim. This will also cause a major shift in the earth’s major fault lines (somewhere in the ocean? probably near Asia or California?) which will cause much hardship to people living in a coastal village. Also, the price of gas will rise.”

See? No worries. Anyone can do it. Now all we have to do to is wait for a war in the middle east in 2012 and a major earthquake and then we can con dullards out of their money. It’s gold Jerry! Gold!

Psychics are worse than faith healers and other assorted religious hucksters. Notice their “predictions” are always vague and always “proven” after the fact. They never can predict a specific time, place or person about something because they are frauds. So the best they can do is mutter some mumbo jumbo and wrap in new age babble and then afterward say, “Oh see that, I was right.”

Consider Hassan’s nonsense about predicting a quake. The first thing to note is that planetary “alignments” have zero measurable effect on earth’s tectonic plates.  None. Zero. Ziltch. Nada. They have squat to do with them. Less than squat. The tectonic plates could sit beside a planetary aligment wearing a “I’m with stupid” t-shirt.

The second thing to remember is that earthquakes happen all the time, all day, everyday around the world. Most are so minor that we don’t notice them. But, unfortunately for us, at least once a year one of them is huge. If that major quake happens in the ocean, which covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface, it can kick up awesome and destructive tsunamis. This is what Natural Resources Canada has to say on the subject:

Earthquakes are always occurring somewhere in the world. Millions of small (too small to be felt) earthquakes happen every year, while major earthquakes happen, on average, about once per year.

In other words, predicting a major quake in the ocean is like predicting the sun will come up in the morning or the seasons will change. It’s going to happen. In fact, major quakes and related ocean disasters are so common that our oldest mythology is replete with stories about them: Noah’s flood, the Epic of Gilgamesh,  even Plato’s tale of the sinking of Atlantis, all figure around these sorts of events. They’ve been happening since before there was a human species around to fret about it.

We live on a planet with a moving crust over a molten core. That sorta sucks for us, but it is what is. The best we can do is try to prepare of it and then rally together when it does happen to help those who suffer. We should also not give the X-Zone and their cadre of con-men any credibility whatsoever. They are trying to make a buck off the suffering of others. The best we should offer them is ridicule until they slink off the public stage back to whatever asylum they came from.

Now while I let my blood pressure return to normal, lets watch more from the always great James Randi, who explains the fraud behind psychics, astrology and Glee…well, maybe not Glee:

Facts Matter: ET phone home edition

- March 7th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

So big news over at the fine people from Fox News over the weekend huh? They ran a story about a scientist claiming to have discovered alien bacteria on a meteorite. If true this would be huge, huge news because it would be definitive proof that we are not alone in the universe. If you could find fossilized life on a meteorite it would show that, among other things, evolution is a process not limited to earth. And really, finding life that can survive in space isn’t as weird as you might think, as I wrote about back in June in the St. Catharines Standard about some interesting evidence that there may be biological processes happening on the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn:

“Life is chemistry,” University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers recently told me.
Evolution is stubborn and if you can get the chemistry going, then life is possible even in hostile environments, he says. No heat? No light? No oxygen? No problem.
Myers points to extremeophiles — creatures on Earth found in just nasty conditions. Take tardigrades, for instance. These wee creatures, which look like chubby caterpillars, can live in temperatures near absolute zero. NASA once exposed some to the vacuum of space for 10 days, and they survived! And laid eggs! (You and I would be dead in less time than it took to read that sentence.)
“Also look to the vent communities in the ocean,” says Myers. “These are worms, they are related to us. But they have no mouths, no guts or anything like that. They just absorb sulphur from these (hydrothermal) vents.”
Yummy. I loves me some sulphur. Anyway, he says something that evolved on Titan living in methane would be completely bizarre. If there is something gobbling hydrogen it won’t look like the carbon-based critters we’re used to.

Urdnot_Wrex

no Krogans were found, or harmed, during the production of this blog.

Still, that operative phrase there is “IF confirmed.” The scientist in question, one Dr. Hoover, has made this sort of claim before and those claims remained unproven. Part of the problem is the extreme difficulty in finding artifacts of living things on the complicated structure of a meteor. The other problem is the conclusions are not peer reviewed and have not been duplicated. Other scientists are already chiming on Hoover’s paper – released on the web-based and scientifically sketchy Journal of Cosmology – saying basically, “WHOA NELLY!” Even NASA, who Hoover used to work for, is distancing itself from the paper. In essence, Hoover’s conclusions to be sustained by other scientists before it will be taken seriously, which is as it should be.

I understand how exciting it would be to find alien life. If I allow my heathen-self to wish-think, it would be the single most amazing thing we’ve ever discovered. But finding alien life isn’t easy, let alone intelligent life we could talk to. Scientists are uncovering bits and pieces of the universal puzzle that is starting to show that planets, even rocky planets like ours with liquid water, might not be as uncommon as we once thought. But even so, that is a long way from finding, identifying and confirming that life exists elsewhere. As cool as it would be to find something, the best policy is always to go where the evidence goes and remember that facts matter. Jumping to conclusions is not just poor science, but as Fox showed us this weekend, poor journalism as well.

First a game show, then Skynet…

- February 16th, 2011

ibm-watsonhal9000GethTterminator_10rosieFullview_CylonPortrait

Oh this is just not good. No, not good at all! This is how it all starts people. Haven’t we learned anything from our science fiction? Making computers smarter than us is how the robopocalypse always begins.

It is not prefect and its limitations were exposed even as it beat down its meat bag competition.The final question’s answer was Chicago but Watson oddly choose Toronto as its answer.

I’m also not sure why they named it Watson. I guess it’s less scary than “Machine Mind Overlord that will soon rule the world, meat bags!”

Apparently, the computer system itself will eventually be used for medical purposes and other applications for tasks that involve large amounts of complex data. It’s actually pretty amazing stuff and while it’s not exactly a true AI, it shows we are inching closer to it. Yah for science!

Well, yah, but I was raised on science fiction and watching Watson in action reminded me way way too much of Hal 9000 from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A space Odyssey.  It’s a pattern repeated over and over. Hal, the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, the Geth from Mass Effect, Rosie that super creepy maid from the Jetsons.  It never ends well for the non digital fleshy human creatures. I mean, sure, IBM could be making a computer that will improve our lives in ways we have not figured out yet….or they are building the first step toward Skynet. First the machines best us at quiz shows and then, well, this:

So long and thanks for all the fish

- January 20th, 2011

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens and the rest of you!

So this little bit of oddness caught my eye when scanning my Google news alerts for science. A bunch of egg heads are claiming that dolphins are people too.

Ok, so that sounds a tad strange to me to. Basically the idea here is that tests on dolphins show they are so wicked smart, they are the second smartest critters on Earth next to we human critters. (Although Douglas Adams might disagree.)

I don’t dispute that dolphins are smart. They are crazy smart for aquatic mammals.  Maybe smarter than chimps. But dolphins as “people”? Yah, well, until I see a dolphin do long division or write a sonnet or list the ways that Glee is an affront to all aquatic people…no. They are not people. Call me a rabid specisist if you like, but as smart as dolphins are, they are not human smart.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t recognize dolphins are, in this sense, like our ape cousins and probably should not be made to do tricks for our amusement. That we continue to do this while we know how smart these animals are is beyond me. We have Playstations now. We don’t need to make the dolphin jump through a hoop.

I understand and applaud the desire to protect dolphins. They should be protected. But to try and claim they are non-human people opens a very very weird can of worms. It’s not like when, say, African Americans were not considered persons under the law. If we want to protect our fishy friends, as we should, we can without trying to navigate some odd legalese.

Besides, “Soylent Green is Dolphins” doesn’t have the same ring to it.”

The stupid it, burns: Grammar Slammer Bammer edition

- January 12th, 2011

If there is one thing you learn working as a journalist, it’s that words matter. More specifically, using them correctly matters. Use a word incorrectly and the wrath of readers will fall upon you. Well, the wrath of older readers will fall upon you. Younger readers, suckled on the deformed version of the English language created by text messaging , wouldn’t notice. I loathe texting for several reasons, including that I find it hard to respect any message written using only your thumbs. But mostly it’s the abuse of language it’s spawned. It’s YOU ARE, not U R. And whoever invented “LOL” should be punished in the depths of Hades for a long time.

But I digress. The misuse of words rightly brings forth the angry fist of readers and editors. Peter Bailey, the former editorial page editor at the Standard, drummed this into my skull like a drill sergeant.  His biggest peeve was probably the word “hopefully”. It means, literally, “full of hope” and it’s misplacement in sentences used to drive him nuts. If you wrote “The snow will stop hopefully” instead of “Hopefully, the snow will so stop”, he went all Incredible Hulk on you, in his mild mannered way of course.

“So that means, ‘The snow will stop full of hope!’” he would say. “It’s wrong!” And we would giggle that ole’ Pete was getting bent out of shape over something silly.

[EDIT: Pete informs me that in either case, "hopefully" is used incorrectly. Apparently, it's a word of little actual use. ]

grammarslammer

The Grammar Slammer Bammer (right) and Igor from the Hilarious House of Frightenstein would not be be happy with Sarah Palin.

Oh how right Peter was. He could smell what the Rock was cooking and that, eventually, I’d figure it out too. Which is why the phrase “blood libel” sent my brain into a full maelstrom of venting today.

The always grammatically challenged Sarah Palin shot back today at those blaming her for the recent shooting of an Arizona Congresswomen by a mentally ill man. People want to blame Palin for it because of her low brow, emotionally charged yet totally empty political rhetoric. Look, I understand. The Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks of the universe are annoying as all get out. Their rhetoric is largely moronic, their lack of actual ideas is embarrassing and their inability to cope with facts – that little thing I like to call reality – is nothing short of atrocious. But to blame Palin and her stupid pronouncements for the shooting is as wrong as the BeeGees at  a Hendrix tribute concert.

Still, when Palin had a chance to explain her side of things and maybe cool the fires of stupidity raging around the world since the shooting, she blew it. Right from the start she blew it by simply blasting napalm all over the place, and in the process, committed another sin against the English language.

She accused the media of starting a “blood libel” by suggesting her rhetoric was to blame. I suppose she, or her speech writers, figured that sounded really good. It’s not just regular old libel, its BLOOD LIBEL! Dun dun duuuuh! It’s like a blood feud, only you can settle it in civil court!

Sadly, blood libel isn’t a phrase that describes libel that is meaner than usual.

Blood libel is a particularly insidious, anti-Semitic Christian idea that goes back centuries. It was the myth that Jews would sneak into the homes of Christians on Passover, steal their children and drink their blood. It is one of the most awful anti-Jewish bits of stupid that exist and was used as a justification for lynching Jews in Europe in the Middle Ages. It still has a cultural sting to Jewish people today. That is what blood libel means. It has no other meaning and no other context.

Thankfully, it has, outside of racist circles, fallen out of use. But every now and again,  you’ll hear some malcontent without a cause bring it up, usually along with a Zionist world government and other idiotic conspiracy theories.

But for Palin to use it is, well, amazing. She has speech writers I assume. Someone who might actually know what words mean if she doesn’t. I mean, taken in context, her use of the phrase would mean that it’s journalists drinking the blood of kidnapped Christian children. Nice going, Palin.

As the kids today would say: “Epic Fail.”

ps. If Peter is reading, I am sure he will find any mistakes I made in this blog post. Expect edits.