Is there any doubt Republicans want to steal elections?

I’ve bounced back and forth on the issue of voter registration and fraud. On the one hand, it’s pretty clear what each side of the political aisle is thinking: Democrats believe that voter registration efforts primarily cull voters who will vote for their party whereas Republicans, well, I suppose they see the same facts (for once). Poorer people and minorities tend to vote for the party of actual liberty and they also benefit the most from registration efforts, so that’s no good for the GOP. As a result, kicking up bullshit about voter fraud (something which almost never happens) has been the excuse for Republican actions, but this is all just politics. But on the other hand, just as voter fraud is almost meaningless to any election, it can be argued that voter registration restrictions do very little either way. Most people who want to vote are still able to do so. However, as I said, I’ve jumped back and forth on the issue. One primary reason for this is that I have seen studies which show a tremendous number of potentially disenfranchised voters if certain laws are implemented. Another reason, however, is the overt efforts of dirtbag Republicans to prevent fair voting:

A U.S. judge on Thursday declared a Florida election law “harsh and impractical” for requiring groups conducting voter registration drives to turn in registration forms within 48 hours of collecting them, and blocked enforcement of the deadline….

The law imposed a $1,000-a-day fine on groups that fail to give election authorities voter registration forms filled out by Floridians within the 48-hour deadline…

The judge blocked a requirement that voter registration groups notify the state within 10 days if any volunteer or employee stops working for the organization.

[Judge Robert] Hinkle said the law and state regulations implementing it “impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional.”

Under federal law, organizations have the right to collect and mail in voter registration forms, but the “harsh and impractical 48-hour deadline” effectively prohibited them from using the mail, the judge said in his ruling.

I have a hard time believing that any reasonable person can say – with a straight face – that the banned provisions of this law weren’t intended to make voter registration more difficult. At no point was there any intention here to curb voter fraud or to better secure the system. The goal was bald and overt: Disenfranchise voters who will likely benefit the Democrats more than the Republicans.

I think this is the point where I’ve stopped bouncing on the issue. I do think there is a good chance people will be disenfranchised without any positive impact on the miniscule voter fraud that occurs, but even if that wasn’t the case, I would still be against all these horseshit laws. The intention here is malicious and damnable. Rick Scott and his brethren can go fuck themselves.

The state with the fewest Christian adherents

A study was done in 2010 which quantified the number of Christian adherents in the US by state. It defined Christian “adherents” as including all those with an affiliation to a congregation (children, members, and attendees who are not members). In other words, this study, as best as I can tell, looked at the number of people who are affiliated with a church or other religious organization in some official capacity. That tells me this isn’t that useful if we want to know which state has the most believers in a particular, cultural god, but it would seem to indicate something about how devoted people in a given state are. And the good news is, Maine appears to have relatively few devoted citizens:

The researchers found Utah to be the most Christian* state with around 78 percent of population identifying as Christian adherents. The researchers found Maine to be the least Christian state with only about 27 percent identifying as Christian adherents.

*Christians include Mormons and Unitarians / Universalists who self-identify as Christians.

I’ve seen other studies where Vermont is listed as the least religious state in the Union whereas Maine is in the bottom tier but not usually topping the list. I tend to believe those, if not for the number of studies that have been done which, if I recall correctly, have given those results, then for the fact that Maine is speckled with the quaint New England churches that decorate so many calendars, not to mention its fairly conservative voting record in certain social areas; my observations as a resident of this state tells me that there are more Christians than the above study indicates.

This is the logic of anti-abortionists

According to anti-abortionists, the first four parts of this process is just sperm doing what sperm does. The fifth part, however, shows a human being:

Let’s break it down:

  1. Not a person.
  2. Not a person.
  3. Not a person.
  4. Not a person.
  5. Person.

I would normally like to add a bit more to a post on a big topic like this, but I think it speaks for itself.

Memorial Day

I realize Memorial Day is for the sake of deceased service members whereas Veteran’s Day is for those who served and survived their time in the military, but I don’t personally know anyone who died while serving. Thus, I want to tell a quick story about my grandfather from WW2.

My grandfather, Robert Boyd Hawkins, never spoke much about the specifics of his time in the military. Sometimes he didn’t even seem that interested in WW2 history, instead preferring to read about the Civil War. I’m not sure if the reason was that he had lived it and had enough or if he had just learned so much over the years that his interest for the 21 years I knew him happened to be focused on other wars. As I said, I never heard much about his time in the military. I do know the details of one story, though. I’ve told this to so many people over the years, it’s possible I’ve written about it and I just don’t remember. If that’s the case, too bad. I want to retell it.

At my grandfather’s funeral in 2006, my great uncle (my grandfather’s brother) told the veteran- and family-packed room a few stories. For instance, before going off to war my grandfather told his younger brother he would pay him $10 if he read War and Peace. He made the offer for little more reason than a keen interest in seeing others learn something. But that isn’t the story that really sticks out in my mind. The one that stands most prominent is from my grandfather’s time on the island of Bougainville in the Pacific.

As I said, I don’t know all the details of my grandfather’s service record. I know he was stationed on Bougainville which was occupied by the Japanese in 1942. Allied forces took the island back over the next three years. Most of the details can be found through the link above, but what won’t be found is this: One morning the American troops were waiting in line for a special breakfast. I don’t know why it was special on this particular day, but it was. The crown jewel? Eggs. As many eggs as anyone could eat. But these wouldn’t be the easiest yolks to obtain. While the men waited in line, the Japanese began shelling the area. Everyone ran for cover, leaving the eggs at the mercy of fate. Well. Fate and a very hungry man.

As everyone dashed for their foxholes and whatever else could protect them from the fury of the sky, my grandfather dashed for the eggs. He grabbed everything he could carry. As soon as he filled his hands and, I like to imagine, perhaps his helmet, he ran to relative safety. There he shared his bounty with his fellow servicemen.

I would hazard they were the best eggs anyone has ever had.

Why gay marriage is becoming accepted

It isn’t that difficult:

“The numbers are inexorably moving in one direction,” said [pollster Mark] DeCamillo. “Older folks, who are more in opposition, are dying out and younger folks are more inclined to support it. It’s not rocket science.”

At least, I believe that is the major reason why things are turning around. Of course, there is also the Harvey Milk strategy of making sure people realize that they do, in fact, know gay people. That and coming-out movements have worked fantastically. However, it cannot be denied that the overwhelming opposition to equal rights for gays is among older generations. As they die out, younger, more enlightened, more well-educated people are taking their place. Even conservatives aren’t surprised:

Thought of the day

Basketball is awful.

Correcting the errors of government

I am generally supportive of a lot of government activity. I’m glad it is involved in education and roads. Privatized versions of these things would lead to the upper class being wildly more educated than others while also having better transportation access than everyone else (though I am open to someone explaining how a poor family would pay for 3 kids to go to a school 20 miles away when there is no road to their rural, commercially useless home). I am glad we have police and fire forces. I think it’s a good thing that libraries have been so common for so long (though we need them less and less today – at least as physical entities). However, with all that said, there are sometimes I just hate the government. Today’s target: The Maine Bureau of Identification.

I work for a company which receives some of its funding through the state. As such, it is necessary for everyone there to cover their asses whenever anything comes up. Case in point, a criminal background check for me comes back with a Michael Hopkins attached to it. This guy, who lives a town or two over and has a similar birthday, was a punk when he was 15. He broke into a few cars and stole a couple of CD’s and a little loose change in his hometown, got caught, and now he has a record. (Why it shows up now and why a minor’s record is not sealed, I do not know.) Despite the different names and birthdays, I have been hounded to prove I am not Michael Hopkins. I mean, it makes sense, right? The onus is always on the person making the negative claim. (Stay tuned for my next post proving the non-existence of unicorns.)

So how does one go about proving he is not someone else? Why, finger prints, of course! Yes, that’s right. The only way the Maine Bureau of Identification (which is a thing I doubt should even exist) will confirm that you are who you say you are is by forcing you to give your finger prints over to them. Oh, and there’s a fee. Sure, it isn’t your fault someone cross-referenced something incorrectly. And sure, the evidence indicating you aren’t who you say you are is as good as the evidence that Jim Carrey and Drew Carey are the same person. And yes, yes, yes, the government has no rights to your finger prints. But come on! Let’s think rationally about this, innocent civilian: Go fuck yourself. Amirite?

Dee-Quack Chopra

Some of my greatest disgust for woo peddlers is reserved for Deepak Chopra.

(Click a couple of times to enlarge.)

What Christians keep telling me

I keep hearing over and over that I think all Christians and anyone else who disagrees with me is plainly stupid. Here are the stats:

In fact, this post from a recently-removed-from-my-blogroll-blog largely had me in mind, as I was told shortly after it was written. But this goes beyond me. Richard Dawkins and other Gnu Atheists get the same crap – so much so that Dawkins even penned a piece about the issue six years ago:

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” I first wrote that in a book review in the New York Times in 1989, and it has been much quoted against me ever since, as evidence of my arrogance and intolerance. Of course it sounds arrogant, but undisguised clarity is easily mistaken for arrogance. Examine the statement carefully and it turns out to be moderate, almost self-evidently true.

This is largely my position (including beyond the subject of evolution). I think Christian arguments are almost universally awful and I find most creationists to be ignorant, but that does not mean I think every person who holds a contradictory view to me is stupid. Sure, I’ve called people stupid. Sarah Palin comes to mind. Leading creationists who should know better, such as Ken Ham, are obviously lacking in intellect. I have no doubt Andreas Moritz is a dolt. But notice: I keep it specific. I’m not saying all Republicans are stupid because Sarah Palin is stupid. I’m not saying the creationist who hasn’t sat in a biology course since high school is a moron. I am not saying all alt-med quacks are idiots. If I wanted to say any of that, I would say it. I try to be exact in my language; it is unlikely I would ever make such an oversight in my writing.

I have no delusions about how I write. I’m aggressive and unapologetic. I have little patience for bad ideas that have little to no evidence for them. I often pepper my paragraphs with disparaging remarks about the quality of whatever argument it is I am facing. It has long been my view that undeserved respect is…well, undeserved. It would be dishonest of me to pretend I hold something in esteem when the fact is I think it’s just a steaming pile. However, none of this means I think others are morons by virtue of disagreeing with me. Such a conclusion is, I hate to say, just stupid.

Why I like The Big Bang Theory

Short answer: Sheldon.

Long Answer: I’m not a big fan of most major network sitcoms. I can be brought around to certain series when I get inundated with them via syndication, such as Scrubs. And it is certainly true that smaller networks like FX put out a number of good shows, such as Louie and The League. However, I generally stay away from what NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX have to offer the world. Things like How I Met Your Mother (despite Neil Patrick Harris) and Two Broke Girls and American Idol are pure garbage. It’s just crap that people seem to like for no reason other than that it’s on and they don’t have Netflix or the guts to use that loaded gun under their bed. The Big Bang Theory, on the other hand, actually has something to it: Sheldon.

I like most of the characters on the show (Kaley Cuoco is a refreshingly good female actress on a sitcom), but Jim Parsons’ role as Sheldon Cooper stands out. He actually speaks intelligently and the writers clearly research the science-related jokes they have him say. And unlike the way Simon Helberg delivers the lines for the character Howard, Parsons doesn’t go for annoying nerd stereotypes.

I don’t usually write about entertainment stuff, so I don’t have any genuine way to end this. Here is a clip: