Sunday, January 31, 2016

Conspiracy Theories and static on your radio.


In the 1980's, I was a young and budding sceptic.  This applied to what I'd heard of conspiracy theories and urban legend.  I was first learning of The Freemasons and The Illuminati.  I was first hearing about fake moon landings, although I'd have thought that they'd have been more believable had "Capricorn One" not been released several years earlier.  And I'm hearing that there has been a resurgence of theorists who believe that one.  And I've always been sceptical.  


"Come on, guys.  You're trying to tell me that they faked all that work, all that time and all of those resources just to fool us into believing that a man walked on the moon?" I thought.  "Who would do that?  And, why?  Nah...I'm not buying that one."

And that brings us to the current dust-up. Just to show that rap music has just as many crazies as the rest of today's music (No, I didn't forget you, Volvique Louis Jean Jr.) here's the latest from rapper B.o.B.

B.o.B (Try typing THAT name quickly and you'll sprain something.) believes that the earth is flat.  He sees it every time he climbs the hills near Atlanta.  He nearly tries to use scientific evidence to back his claims without realizing he doesn't have the equipment and resources needed to make the measurements needed.  

But you know who does?  NASA.  That's right.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  And according to every measurement ever taken by NASA, the earth is not flat.  Bummer, right?  Another rap hero bites the dust.  


Except, B.o.B won't buy that.  He's going to write a rap that calls out fucking Neil DeGrasse Tyson!!  COME ON!!  You're going to dis a national treasure like NDeGT?  This is the guy who brought us the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey!!  The guy has a PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia University!!  I think he knows a bit more about the subject that I do, or that B.o.o.B has.


Sometimes, the conspiracies that we think we see are smaller scale.  I have a friend who refuses to upgrade to Windows 10 because then Microsoft will own all of his information.  Okay, you know what?  I kinda believe that MS has more information about me than I'm comfortable with, but what is there for me to worry about?  I don't know any top-secret information.  I'm not hiding Jimmy Hoffa in my basement.  And, I don't believe that upgrading my computer is going to give them any more information than they'd get from Google, or any number of other online resources.  My opinion?  Have at it.  If I haven't already been arrested, then we'll just assume that I'm still in the good subset of people on the database.   

Who REALLY killed JFK?  Has HAARP really been a cause of some recent hurricanes?  Has E.T. been up to no good here on Earth?

Back to the 80's, where I was contemplating things.  You see, I thought, to accomplish something SO massive as a JFK assassination cover-up, or the "conspiracy" to cover up Barack Obama's birthplace, you need people.  Lots and lots of people.  Remember, any "conspiracy", by definition, is going to include more than one person.   And, I had to wonder why, after all this time, one, just one, person hasn't spilled the beans.  "I was the guy who burned Obama's actual Nigerian birth certificate, and watched while his new one was devised."  

Suzanne Jacobs, at Grist.org, wrote a great article that describes the math behind this.  She says the same thing I'd been thinking for thirty years.  The more people involved in a conspiracy, the quicker that conspiracy is exposed.



Friday, January 22, 2016

G+. What has happened here?

Four, possibly five years ago, I gave up on Facebook.  The petty arguments that went on, and never would have happened in a face-to-face meeting, began to wear me down.  

This one posted this to my timeline and this one commented and I didn't like that comment and so I made a simple comment on this other guys timeline about the comments and got 15 people commenting about shit they don't even know about and....    AAARRRRRGH!

Around the time that I quit Facebook, another social network was emerging onto the net.  Google put out something that they were calling "Google +".  It's gone through a name-change since then, and is now referred to as G+.  It has become part of a suite of web apps that includes YouTube, Google Drive, GMail, Google Maps and the app I'm using to write this, eBlogger.  

I liked G+ from the beginning because there was less of the drama that Facebook became known for.  The things I was interested in were represented more by the "communities" in G+.  The things that weren't on my timeline in G+ were the very things I wanted to get rid of on my old Facebook wall.  "I just harvested 14 tons of okra in AnotherFrigginFarmerGame!!  Join NOW!!"

But, G+ is gearing up to become a thing of my past, as Facebook before it.  Why?


Let me say, there is nothing about this community that indicates that they're discriminating against anyone.  I'm quite sure that a person can join this community regardless of race/ethnicity.  I'm sure that, if someone with yellow skin posted and then copied that post to the community, that it would be allowed.  

Here is why I think it is a harbinger of G+'s grim future.  G+ has always been my place where mostly smart people shared mostly smart ideas.  Sure, there were some folks who didn't know what they were talking about.  There were those that disagreed.  Facebook had that, as well.  In any social structure, there will be "clashes".  But, at least these communities made sense.  

I joined a science community that BLASTED my homepage!  Nearly 45 posts (and more than 10 INTELLIGENT comments per post, on average) each day.  I didn't care, because the subjects I was exposed to made sense.  

I joined an atheist community where topics swing wildly from brainless and insulting to mind-expanding and extolling.  And, that describes BOTH sides of the issue.  But I learn things from this group.  I think about the things I read in the posts that this community generates, and I don't feel like I'm wasting ALL of my time.

"Black People Chat Only"      That's it.  What would I go here to learn?  And, why should those things be chatted about only by black people?  Is this another "That's OUR word!  YOU can't say that!" kind of thing?

I don't want to go off on another rant about racism, even though this community seems to prove that whites aren't the only racists out there!  But, I'm just amazed that someone found a need to start an online community like this!  

Sure enough, I look for, and find, another community called "White People chat only!!".  Really?  Exclamation points?  When describing her reason for starting the community, she says, "... I made 'WhitePeople Chat Only' because I wanted a place where people could have fun and try new things."  You can't do that in the myriad of other groups, communities or, say, your living room?  Nope.  Gotta make sure that it's only White People.

I can't make G+ take those communities down.  While I don't like the names, there's nothing I read in the content that is discriminatory or inflammatory.  And that's why there will come a time when G+ will receive a request from me to shut down my account.  

At least the reason is not AnotherFrigginFarmerGame.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What are we going to call this?

There were a lot of names being thrown around to describe the uprising in the Middle East.  We started calling it "ISIL" (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), then "ISIS" (Islamic State In Syria)....  yet, we are falling victim to attacks right here in the US.  Does this mean that the next acrynym is ISIA?

"DIE, you infidel pig!...  oh yeah.  ISIS ROCKS!!"
-photo courtesy of CNN
Is there an Islamic state here that has yet to be spotted?  I mean, in both of the recent attacks, the perpetrators are all reported to have made statements in support of ISIS.  Is the next step in this process going to be naming the movement?  ISIA will be the Islamic State In America.

I'm just asking...