Sunday, March 31, 2013

your a policy

I've been thinking of writing up a comment policy. There is ample evidence that such a policy is unnecessary. I can count up all the posts that have no comments, and add in the ones with comments numbering in the single digit, but it is easier to simply add up the ones with a significant number of comments; I can do that on one hand. So there is nothing in the numbers forcing me to create a comment policy.

I like the numbers on this blog. I get thousands of hits each month; over 175,000 since I started it. The first year I think I got only 175 hits...ok maybe a couple more, but the growth has been explosive. Two posts account for 20% of the hits. The first is the viral “Burqa” post about AYD's dress-code violation, and the second is a “This Day In History” post about Karla Faye Tucker's execution.

The post about Karla has been gaining in popularity. From the new comments it appears as if the Karla post has been luring in a bunch of evangelical Christians. It was the act of deleting a comment on that which has had me questioning the need for a comment policy.

The comment was:
 “Aoa your a dick -anonymous”

I've got really good spam filters, and they caught this one. They often catch things that are not spam.  I flush them out, and post real comments every once in a while.

I don't think a comment policy is needed for spam messages. If you need to tell me how sexy you think I am there is no need to include links to pornography sites, and I don't appreciate it when you tell me how amazing my boobs are; Hey! my posts are up here!  I love it when people say they enjoy my writing, but there is no need to link to “cheep generic viagra” in order to stroke my ego. A friend who does not filter spam in his comments has an unusable comment section; it has been overrun. I delete spam with impunity, and I don't need a comment policy to justify this.

In the ongoing brouhaha surrounding the FSB-thunderf00t schism the charge of “ creating an echo chamber” in online comments has been levied. I've got about as effective an echo chamber as you could hope for due to the empty nature of my comment section; I don't need to work to create one.

When I saw Mr Anonymous's comment I immediately wanted to corect his use of “your”. I ran a couple ways of running down the typo. Each of them was essentially a variation on the “you're right, I'm a dick” theme. However, I don't think I'm a dick, so I did not find that sort of response satisfactory. When I tried other ways of targeting the “your” issue they all began to sound like I was trying to hide the fact that I should really be saying “you're right, I'm a dick”.

I then hit upon the idea of simply posting a message like:
“A comment has been received that was deleted as per this blog's comment policy. If you believe this was your comment, and was deleted in error, please reference the comment policy and resubmit your comment.”

Then I could simply write a comment policy that was something like:
“This is my blog, and I can be a dick about it if I want. I will delete comments for whatever reason I wish, and if you do not like that go suck an egg”

However, I will try and come up with something a little more productive.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is 55 the new gay?

1- Since the Supreme court is hearing a case considering the constitutionality of California's proposition 8.

2-   And since major fiduciary proponents of proposition 8 (as well as their money) came from Utah.

3-  And since those moneys were invested in California's proposition 8 instead of local improvements.

4-  I decided it was worthwhile to look over the oral arguments in favor of proposition 8.

One element of the whole marriage issue that has always puzzled me is what harm can possibly come solely as a result of the generic marriage of two people.  There are most certainly many cases of two specific people who should not get married, but those are often matters of taste, and are not addressed by proposition 8.  

It is not until page 18 of the transcripts that the attorney for the proponents of proposition 8 gets down to detailing what harm same-sex marriage will cause.  Here is the section of the transcript where Mr. Cooper explains:

"The first one is this: The Plaintiffs' expert acknowledged that redefining marriage will have real-world consequences, and that it is impossible for anyone to foresee the future accurately enough to know exactly what those real-world consequences would be. And among those real-world consequences, Your Honor, we would suggest are adverse consequences. But consider the California voter, in 2008, in the ballot booth, with the question before her whether or not this age-old bedrock social institution should be fundamentally redefined, and knowing that there's no way that she or anyone else could possibly know what the long-term implications of -- of profound redefinition of a bedrock social institution would be. That is reason enough, Your Honor, that would hardly be irrational for that voter to say, I believe that this experiment, which is now only fairly four years old, even in Massachusetts, the oldest State that is conducting it, to say, I think it better for California to hit the pause button and await additional information from the jurisdictions where this experiment is still maturing."

And on page 20 he explains what the standard for knowing there is no harm should be:

"it is the Respondents' responsibility to prove, under rational basis review, not only that -- that there clearly will be no harm, but that it's beyond debate that there will be no harm." 

So we can debate issues on the basis of not accurately knowing exacly what the future will be, and we cannot responsably prove that there will be no harm from something as long as we can debate it, and that is enough proof of harm for something to be defined as something that will produce harm.  This logical scatology is the best reasoning the opponents of same sex marriage could come up with.  Once one strips the "The Bible Says" out of the arguments there is absolutely no substance.

In an interesting exchange during the proponent's arguments it is suggested that the state supports marriage because of it's link to procreation, and that without the possibility of procreation the state is harmed by supporting marriage.  Should the state be allowed to issue marriage liscenses to persons too old to responsibly procreate?  No marriages for people over the age of 80, or maybe 70, or 65, or 60?

Maybe 55 will be the new gay?


With California’s Proposition 8 and the “Defense Of Marriage Act” (DOMA) finally before the supreme court the ossified sedimentary filth that has passed as the reasoning behind these laws is dredged again to the surface; muddying water and blocking out clarity and illumination. The thing about airing out dirty laundry is that, while it may make the laundry smell nicer, it tends to pollute the air with unpleasantries. The figurative place where the collision of these unfortunate metaphors takes place is dark and smelly; worse than the unpaired metaphors themselves.

The thing that elevates these issues to the Nation’s highest Supreme Court is our inability as a society to simply handle them like people should. This is a legal question, and so, by definition, everybody has lost. Law hides moral questions rather than addressing them. We will be disappointed.

There are moral questions associated with marriage. Questions that should loom large, but are clouded by the posturing that faith groups undertake to establish their superiority in our society; a superiority that is in this case their belief that they should have any say in who can get married. We ignore the real moral questions like: “is he really wearing white?” or “How could anyone create a wedding registry at WalMart?”.

Thought there are numerous self-identifying faith groups that support overturning Prop 8 and the DOMA the genesis of these laws was entirely a mission of faith. Many people of faith who support the elimination of these laws willfully ignore or disregard undeniable aspects of their theology. I hope they feel the human “just- righteousness ” of the partial elimination of iron-age foolishness. Eliminating the rest is also good; even better perhaps. Come over to the dark-roast side, sit down for a cuppa coffee, and stay a while; we will talk of love and lovers, cabbages and kings.

This week I have been told that supporting same-sex marriage is actually attacking mixed-sex marriages, but I’ve not gotten a real explanation as to how or why. I’ve been reminded of “gay” Mormons who marry women, have robust sex lives, and happily create many children; it is not my place to say whether that sort of behavior is right or wrong, but it is not.

It may be true that many homosexuals have lived long happy lives while in the closet, but many of those who have come out have grown things in the light of day that my life is all the better for.

The Mormons of Utah spent many-many dollars fighting to get California’s proposition 8 on the ballot, and then spent many more supporting the passage of that law. Proposition 8 represents a major investment to the people of Utah. We could have spent all that money on a sizable park where lovers met to stroll hand-in-hand through pleasantly scented foliage; sunlight bouncing off their smiling teeth and warming their skin. Instead we invested in a part of the future that will best be shredded and forgotten.

I should go on at length describing how fertilizer is made and the metaphorical compost of Prop 8 and the DOMA will nurture a better world, but those metaphors are not worth the lies. These laws are toxic with hate, and the foul womb they spewed from should be entombed until the prejudice needed to understand them is forgotten.

Monday, March 11, 2013

STEM sell

In June 2012 Kara Arnold was crowned Miss Utah. Her “platform issue” is “Step Up with STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math”. She specifically wants to help get female students interested in science. This strikes me as an interesting platform for a miss America contestant.

Because.... in what universe is beauty pageantry consistent with empowering young girls to successfully pursue a career in science or engineering? I'm sure a good argument could be made that these two goals are, in fact, quite inconsistent.

"You can put all the cello-playing rocket scientists you want on the runway, but men--and women--like seeing drop-dead gorgeous girls. That's what I give 'em--beauty beats brains any time." – Donald Trump (owner of the Miss USA beauty pageant)

Kara plays the piano with flair, struts around onstage in a bikini and high heals, and smiles. And does she ever smile. She smiles in interviews with little giggles, or a headlight greeting glare, or even, when she talks about the lord's blessings in her life, a far off “eyes were watching God” smile. She must have to slather her teeth with Vaseline to get her lips to slide across them so effortlessly throughout her ever-changing moods.

Most media coverage of Kara's platform lasts just long enough to get in a picture of her in a bikini and high heals. Sometimes they will pop in a clip of her playing piano for balance. Unfortunately they don't delve too deeply into the question of what a beauty pageant has to do with science.

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” – Kara Arnold

Kara is not the only Utah beauty pageant contestant to choose helping female students discover science as her platform. I fond a video application of a contestant for miss UVU named miss Rachel Kearl (and who coincidentally was another dark-eyebrowed blond like Kara) who had a platform “supporting women in science”. So, apparently, one popular pathway to success in science for women is for them to take off their clothes and strut their stuff on stage under the big lights.

Perhaps dedicated females who want to go into engineering should spit their time between studying for AP science tests and working up a pole-dance routine?

I'm not as adept at balancing inconsistencies between this the science-career message of this popular brand of stereotype-breaking modern feminism and what I see my own daughters doing to pursue their interest in science. I am actually at a loss for how to distil any worthwhile message out of Kara's platform despite the fact that my two daughters might be the most perfect audience for her message.

Kara, however, is well practiced at balancing inconsistent messages. She has graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Biochemistry. This is a tough major from a good school. She did this while maintaining a deep-seated belief in all things Mormon. She calls her stint as Miss Utah a “mission with a crown” or the lord's calling.

“Everything I'm doing right now felt so in line with what my patriarchal blessings said. One of the things it said was about me becoming a mother and a wife, and I see that that's the biggest calling I will have in life. “ - Kara Arnold

Unfortunately the message that is Frankensteined together from her beuty pageant winnings, her devout Mormonism, and her science education is not conveniently hidden in a closet of rational horrors. Every day, often several times a day, she is paraded out in front of groups of kids where she smiles convincingly about the importance of science education, and pursuing careers in science. Especially if you are a young girl and can rock a two piece bathing suit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Mollywood is the cute name devised for Mormon Cinema. I’ve heard it pronounced “Molly –Wood” and “Moe – Lee – Wood” with about equal frequency, but never mixed in the same conversation. Mollywood is a Utah Provo-centered phenomenon that seeks to exploit the success that Richard Dutcher experienced with his film called God’s Army about Mormon Missionaries in Hollywood California. The film cost around 0.25 million to make, and grossed around 2.6 million. It may still be the 22nd highest grossing “Christian” film of all time. With money like that to be made there was obviously some serious spirituality to be cashed in on in the film industry.

Sometime soon a film adaptation of Ender’s Game will hit the big screen. Ender’s Game is a Hugo Award winning science fiction story penned by notable Mormon author Orson Scott Card. Orson often puts his pen to paper to flesh out screenplays for Mollywood. Mollywood is in constant need of screenplays as they churn out film after film. 

Geoffrey Card wrote a novelization of Dutcher’s God’s Army, and he did a short book-signing tour of Deseret Book stores (one of at least two chains of Mormon bookstores) with his father.

In 2003 Mollywood popped out a film called The Work And The Story. This is a cute take on the title for a mega selling Mormon fictional history novel series called The Work And The Glory. It is comedic attempt to ask the question of who would take over as the leader of Mollywood if Dutcher left. In a mocumentary format a group of flawed filmmakers try to take the spot vacated by Dutcher when he is abducted.

In addition to Mormon-themed action and drama Mollywood churns out a constant stream of comedies.  "Baptists at the Barbeque", "The Home Teachers", The RM", and on and on and on.

In 2006 Mollywood popped out the unreservedly bad film Church Ball starring Gary Coleman. Gary had just moved to Santaquin UT in 2005. Santaquin is a shockingly rural farming community, and it’s population nearly doubled to a tad over 9,000 while Gary lived there. Something good did come out of Church ball as Gary met the 22-year old redhead Shannon Price on the set whom he, despite their 17-year age difference, wooed then wed (in 2007). Together, despite a celebrity divorce (in 2008), they lived in Santaquin till Gary fell down, hit his head, entered a vegetative state, and Shannon pulled his plug (in 2010).

According to Dutcher he effectively left the Mormon Church in 2007. After beginning work on a movie calle The Prophet about Mormon founder Joseph Smith Dutcher found out too much in the way of verifiably disturbing facts about the Mormon Church, and left. He actually popped out a couple Mollywood films after his deconversion, but since he has come out of the closet about his non-Mormonism he has moved onto more mainstream independent filmmaking.

Dutcher had a cameo appearance of himself in the film Singles Ward removed when the film was released on DVD. He had played the neighbor Wes, who knocks on the door while they are watching Dutcher's movie God's Army and declines an invitation to watch it because he was offended by the "toilet scenes". I don’t know how much of a plot hole the missing Dutcher left in the film.

Ender’s Game will apparently be released in 2013 by Disney, not Mollywood. Harrison Ford will play the part of Hyrum Graff; a character who was given the Mormon prophet’s brother’s name by Orson. Disney, with the purchase of Star Wars, is poised to become a greater Science Fiction powerhouse than it is now. We should have seen that coming when they got Michael Jackson to do that film bit for their mission to Mars ride.

Also getting into Science fiction was the 2013 Grammy winner Janis Ian. Janis considers herself a good friend of Orson. Janis is a lesbian who went to Toronto to marry her partner in 2003. She now has a stepdaughter by her partner, and two grandchildren. Orson is a vocal opponent of Gay Marriage.

“  So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.
  In order to claim that they are deprived, you have to change the meaning of "marriage" to include a relationship that it has never included before this generation, anywhere on earth.
Just because homosexual partners wish to be called "married" and wish to force everyone else around them to regard them as "married," does not mean that their Humpty-Dumpty-ish wish should be granted at the expense of the common language, democratic process, and the facts of human social organization.
  However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were.” -- Orson Scott Card

“  Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn't bothered them. That's what tolerance looks like.
  But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.
  So if my friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.
  Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.
  They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes. “ -- Orson Scott Card

Janis is more famous for her 1966 hit “Society’s Child” about an interracial romance harmed by the racism of others. Orson’s Mormon Church would not let blacks in until 1978. In 1978 Janis married the male Portuguese filmmaker Tino Sargo, and would remain his wife till 1983 when the internal pressure of abuse would drive her to divorce him.

Recently Orson wrote a Superman comic, and an artist disgusted by his vocal stance on homosexuality publicly refused to draw for it. Janis maintains that Orson is not homophobic because he is nice to her. She goes further to suggest that even if he was he is a good enough artist to ignore his homophobia.

“  I suppose we'd also have to discount Wagner because of the Nazi connection? James Joyce and Ezra Pound for their anti-Semitism? Thomas Jefferson, who believed slavery was God-intended? Most, if not all, of the founding fathers, who considered black Africans sub-human?
  Continuing in that vein, we should probably discount Picasso, a sexist pig. And Beethoven, a royalist and a snob if you ever met one - and if memory serves, an anti-Semite.
Not to mention the current pope, who's called homosexuality as big a threat to the world as global warming, and warned that it would destroy civilization as we know it if gays were allowed to marry.
  Should I discount every faithful Catholic writer, dump Tennessee Williams, Madeleine L'Engel, Flannery O'Connor, because their religion's figurehead is a lunatic? Sorry if you're Catholic...
  Scratch any artist, in any form, and you'll find things you don't like. You can't judge art by the artist; it has to be judged seperately, on its own merits. The artist himself has to be taken in the context of his times, and of his own culture, including his religion.” -- Janis Ian

So, since Orson is a science fiction writer his opinions on things like people should not be important.  So what if he thinks Janis is stealing from him what he treasures most.  What is most important is his writings on science, since this is a critical part of his chosen art form.

"Global warming is, in other words, somewhere between Piltdown Man and cold fusion on the scale of fake science."  -- Orson Scott Card

"  But, fortunately, science somehow manages to muddle along past its occasional idiocies. Piltdown Man gets exposed; cold fusion goes away; the Ophelia complex stops getting mentioned and we don't have to take our daughters to work any more and boys can be called on in the classroom without it being regarded as sexism.
  Still, isn't it annoying that when the frauds perpetrated by the Established Church of Political Correctness are not so much exposed as forgotten?
  If you do the slightest thing that smacks of political incorrectness, they're out for your blood, howling that you must lose your job or your business has to be boycotted, for the American Leftaliban is the most intolerant group that has ever had control of the American establishment.
But when the gods and prophets of the leftist elite are exposed as fakes, they are quietly ignored. Nobody loses his job. In fact, the elitists act as if nobody ever believed what they used to insist on with the utmost fervor.
  In the real world, when you use establishment power to perpetrate a fraud – by, say, hiding exculpatory evidence in a highly publicized rape case that turns out to be completely faked up – there are lawsuits and people lose their jobs and huge sums of money change hands.
But when the serious scientists finally prevail over the true believers, and the bubble of global warming is finally popped for good, there'll be no cover of Time or Newsweek saying, "How   Could We Have Been So Stupid?" or "Why Didn't Somebody Insist on Evidence?"
Instead, it will just ... disappear.
  It's already happening. Haven't you noticed how the most sophisticated believers now speak of "climate change" being our great problem instead of "global warming"?" -- Orson Scott Card

"Meanwhile, the interesting science -- i.e., the science that actually works as an explanation -- is overwhelmingly heliogenic: The sun is directly and solely responsible for the overall patterns of warming and cooling that have dominated Earth, during and between ice ages, for millions of years."  -- Orson Scott Card 
So Orson has a special insight into the science of climate change.  One that allows him to discount the consensus.  He goes on at length about how the public should demand proof, and the subtext of such popular demands is that the public should demand proof that they can understand.  The validity of proof should be decided by people who have not bothered to study the fact the standard for public proof is usually making things understandable to someone with a sixth-grade education. 

If Orson's idea of acceptable scientific proof rejects anything that requires any level of even sophomoreically advanced theoretical musing I can only believe his science fiction work rely more on suspension of disbelief than science.  I've only read one book by him.  It was called Lost Boys and invoked a ghostly child interfacing with the victims of a pedophilic serial-killing landlord communicating through a computer game from their shallow graves under the protagonist's house.  In the middle of it Orson describes in some appropriately PG detail the protagonist impregnating his wife while she is on the phone with the ward's relief society leader.  Mormon porn I guess.

However, if we think of Orson's work as fantasy as opposed to science fiction, his belief system and opinions can reinforce our opinion of his work.  Certainly being able to suspend disbelief in your daily life should only be a plus for someone who is attempting to get others to do it while reading his work.  This may be why Mormons make such great fiction writers.  Orson will take his vaulted place amongst Mormon fiction writers like at Stephenie Meyer (Twilight series) or Joseph Smith (Book of Mormon) who have also had their works made into movies.