Through Thick and Thin
Another week gone. The situation in the Middle East just gets worse. And I mean the greater Middle East when I say Middle East, including Iran and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan the situation is acutely bad. Riots and demonstrations triggered by the burned Koran incident continue. And pathetically, many Americans simply regard this as “loony” rather than try to understand the far more difficult concept that these people are reacting in a way that is entirely consistent with their cultural and historical context. If a hated decade long occupier in the USA trashed some of America’s most sacred relics, Americans might riot too. In just a few weeks with just two brain dead incidents, the pissing on Taliban corpses and now this burned Koran thing, the USA has given the Taliban a huge propaganda boost and undone much of whatever good we did in the country. Smooth move.
Syria is more or less in a civil war. And in the new world order, that means intervention, IE benevolent invasion. Somalia, same deal. More drone strikes, more interventions, more inability to grasp that there are problems you can’t kill your way out of. Well, at least without killing on a scale that hopefully even the most rabid pro-war American would blanch at. One can hope at least. I think wider war in the Middle East is inevitable at this point, has been really since the USA rolled into Baghdad.
And in the USA, the Republican race to see who gets eviscerated by Obama gets weirder all the time. The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did in 2004, they seem intent on running a candidate with zero crossover appeal. The more they pander to their extreme religious base, the more they guarantee Obama’s reelection. At least that’s my take on it at the moment, could be an interesting summer.
In science news, they seem to have discovered that the faster-than-light neutrinos measurement was due to an equipment malfunction. Seem to being the operative words here, testing continues. That they can’t pin it down precisely just yet is a great illustration of just how fine scientists are slicing reality these days, we are talking extremely thin slices. Sadly, a lot of media sites pounced on this to take cheap shots at science and scientists by making this seem like it was a simple as a loose VCR cable, reinforcing the worst negative stereotypes about scientists. And these days, with massive sophisticated organized efforts under way to deny science for both political and religious reasons, I find gratuitous attacks on scientists distressing.
The myth of eight hours sleep. This one is great. There seems to be a case to be made that it’s normal for humans to sleep for two periods at night with an activity period in between. Honestly, that’s pretty much my usual pattern. Many of these blogs are written between four and six in the morning, then I go back to bed for a few more hours. There’s probably a book that could be written about things that are commonly believed to be true, with little or no scientific basis. Dogs are mammals, apples are fruit, that sort of thing.
In a last little science tidbit, research is increasingly showing that humans are naturally cooperative, not competitive. There’s actually been a lot of research like this the past few decades. It gives me hope for the species, though organized government and religion loathe research like this, don’t expect it to be getting it into school curricula any time soon. Both organized government and organized religion are predicated on the meme that without them, people would do bad things. Can’t have people doubting that, they might actually start to wonder why organized government and religion get such a big slice of the pie.
Lastly, in local news, Berkeley had its second murder of the year. Basically a lunatic attacked a man who confronted him trespassing in the man’s yard. Infuriatingly, the Berkeley police didn’t respond to the first call because they were too busy “standing by” because an Occupy Oakland march was scheduled later that night. Yerp, a massive police presence has to “stand by” when a few hundred people engage in a peaceful and legal protest, but actually protecting the public and doing their job, that gets short shrift. The media of course is having a field day blaming the protesters! That’s right folks, don’t dare engage in peaceful and legal protests, you might get someone killed!
The founding fathers are rolling in their graves at that sentiment. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is believed to be Public Domain under US copyright law, but I will gladly amend if informed differently. The wild police over-reaction to OWS is a symptom of how far down the road to a police state this country has gone, if Washington had done their job the past few decades instead of selling the country out to the highest bidder, OWS wouldn’t be happening. Attacking protesters with riot police isn’t going to fix the problem.)