Saturday, May 12, 2012

Crazy Lady Says Crazy Things About Gays

This is the funniest video I've seen in awhile.

"Don't go gay. It's not healthy."

"Jesus was kissed by Judas, a homo."

You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cellphones and Etiquette

An interesting new study says that cellphones make us more selfish.

Researchers from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business found that after a short period of cell phone use, people were less likely to partake in “prosocial” behavior — actions that are intended to help another person or society — compared with a control group. For example, after using a cell phone, study participants were more likely to turn down volunteer opportunities and were less persistent in completing word problems, even though they knew their answers would provide money for charity.

The same drop in prosocial tendencies occurred even when participants were simply asked draw a picture of their cell phones and think about using them.

The study involved college men and women in their 20s, but the researchers think the findings would apply to any group.

So why would an innocuous thing like making a cell phone call make a person less giving? The researchers think it has to do with feelings of social connectedness. All humans have a fundamental need to connect with others — but once that need is met, say by using a cell phone, it naturally reduces our inclination to feel empathy or engage in helping behavior toward others. “The cell phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong,” said study author and marketing professor Rosellina Ferraro in a statement.

This is very fascinating. I wonder how to combat it. I profess to being as guilty as anyone of being addicted to my smartphone even when I'm in social situations, though I do make some effort to not be constantly checking it every time it vibrates. I think the key is going to have to be peer pressure. Friends and family need to make pacts to have space away from phones and rigorously enforce it. It takes time for us to adapt to any new thing and smartphones really are still quite new. It's no wonder that we are still learning how to make them best fit in our lives.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Was the Death Star Worth It?

One of the greatest things about the internet is getting to read serious posts on serious topics like the Death Star and whether it was worth it for the Empire to build it.

But will it work? Only if it induces cooperation through fear. Every planet blown up represents a tremendous loss of potential future revenue, so like nuclear weapons today, the actual use of the DS is a calamity. Moreover, like nuclear weapons, they only work as a deterrent if they are used judiciously. Citizens throughout the galaxy must believe that failure to pay their taxes and comply with their Imperial masters will lead to detonation, but also that compliance will save them. The fact that the DS was used against Alderaan, however, would likely have had the opposite effect. Alderaan is “peaceful” and “has no weapons.” It was detonated because its teenage senator was secretly aiding the Rebel Alliance and waited too long to give up Dantoonie. To me, that’s a little too Caligula to induce rational compliance. One imagines the conversations on other planets:

Peasant 1: Did you hear the Empire blew up Alderaan? What kind of government blows up one of the richest planets in the galaxy because of one smack-talking teenager? It could be any of us next.

Peasant Windu: Enough is enough! I have had it with these [redacted] emperors on their [redacted] Death Star!

The whole thing is worth a read.

Our Broken Congress

Ezra Klein wrote a good post on his blog about how differently our Congress functions these days than it used to, specifically in regards to the filibuster. He included this helpful chart to demonstrate.

As you can see, things aren't quite the same as they used to be. No President or single member of Congress we elect, no matter how great they are, is going to be able to overcome the problems inherent in the way our government works. We need a different system and I don't mean throwing out everything we have and moving to a parliamentary system. I mean, we need to have rules that allow the majority to govern.

North Carolina Passes Sweeping Same Sex Marriage Ban

The polling made it look like it would and sure enough it passed. North Carolina has passed an amendment to their state constitution that will disallow any sort of partnership, homosexual or not, that isn't a "traditional" marriage. This is disheartening. I just try to keep in mind that demographics are on the right side and it's only a matter of time before more Americans in all age groups support gay marriage.

While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it's 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points. Adults 50 and older remain more skeptical, but even that's seen change. Most notably, 33 percent of seniors now say gay marriage should be legal, up from 18 percent five years ago.

As more and more people come to the realization that gay marriage hurts no one and is good for people, then more and more states will overturn these draconian laws. It's going to be a painful ride and it's not going to happen overnight. Opponents of gay marriage are not going to go gently into that good night. But as long as supporters keep making their case and more gay people come out and share their stories so people can see how normal they are, then I think the long arc of the universe will eventually bend towards justice on this issue.

Fringe Candidates

Elections are mostly depressing affairs, but occasionally something spices events up. Something like fringe candidates. Take a look at Keith Judd who is running against Barack Obama in West Virginia. He was a member of the League of Superheroes back in the day. He's also currently in prison for making threats at a university.

He's not doing too bad either, picking up about 40% of the vote. Those West Virginians know how to pick 'em.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekly Photographs

One of the things I thought I would do now that I'm blogging again is start featuring some of my photos. I don't do this because I think I'm some great photographer, but as an incentive to actually get off of my butt and get out taking pictures. I still have a lot to learn about the craft, but I'm not going to learn it sitting in my room. Here are a couple I took just today.


Self Portrait

A Question of Spaces and Periods Cont.

From the #realtalk from your editor tumblr. This cracked me up.