Category Archives: Random Musings

Rebutting Conspiracy Theories Seems Pointless

A recent post may have made you realize I really don't want to discuss conspiracy theories about the alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma by the Syrian government. I've been trying to avoid discussing that topic, especially on Twitter, but I let myself get dragged into it today.

Don't worry. I'm not going to write a long screed about the topic. That's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to show why I didn't want to. I always come away from exchanges on topics like this feeling they were pointless. Most of the time, I find myself putting more work into examining what others say than they did.

This is why I ask people to make their case in a collected, coherent manner with all the requisite information provided in a single location. It almost never happens. I understand doing so requires a fair amount of work, but not doing so simply forces anyone who cares to examine what you say to do the work you refused to do.

Today, I'd like to show a Twitter exchange why I describe the discussions so many people try to get others to participate in are pointless. Also, I'd like to keep a copy for record keeping.
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Funniest Question of the Year?

There was a post at Andrew Gelman's blog recently about a topic I've discussed here often so I chimed in on a couple things. An exchange happened because I made a couple remarks about things like how climate change is not expected to drive humanity extinct or even cause the deaths of billions of people. In my comments, I mentioned how the worst projections of the IPCC aren't anywhere near that extreme. This lead to a discussion of the tired meme which says the IPCC is overly conservative in its projections of the impacts of climate change, a meme which relies upon the alarmist views of a relatively small number of people. Discussion of this idea led to what may go down as the funniest question of the year:

For those who don't know, the IPCC won a Nobel prize. Michael Mann was an author on an IPCC report so he went around repeatedly telling everybody he had won a Nobel prize, which was not true. Personally, I don't think the fact Mann stole credit for the IPCC's Nobel prize means he should be trusted over the IPCC.
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Is it Worth Rebutting Conspiracy Theories?

People say untrue things all the time. Sometimes what they say is so untrue I feel obliged to respond. I'm not sure that is healthy though. Today I'd like to discuss an example which shows why. The example involves the alleged chemical attack on Douma, a city in Syria, on April 7th, 2018, by the Syrian government. Many people have alleged this attack didn't happen, claiming reports of a chemical attack were a fabrication created by a conspiracy of people seeking to create negative sentiments for the Syrian government.
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Too Incompetent to Obstruct Justice?

With there being a holiday this weekend and my legal issues earlier this week, I don't have a lot of energy to write new posts. There are a number of things I'd like to discuss though, so for now, I'll go with a simple one. The Mueller report was released recently (with heavy redactions). There are a lot of people putting a lot of work into spinning the narrative around the report, but to me, it seems one point is clear: Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, even though he tried really, really hard to.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Trump repeatedly gave unlawful orders to his staff only to find his staff ignored the orders or refused to carry them out. Trump seems to be protected from criminal prosecution primarily because he is too incompetent to get his own staff to do what he tells them to do. That seems more damning a criticism than any charge of criminality ever could have been.

I got in a car accident last month, and the situation for the accident was so strange to me I wrote a contemporary account of what happened and posted it for documentation purposes. One of the things which struck me as strange about the situation was I was given a ticket for "FAIL TO REDUCE SPEED." I plead not guilty to for this offense as I thought it was nonsense, and today, I became convinced that plea is 100% correct. If you don't want to hear the details, just look at this picture (the stop sign pictured in the image was not there at the time of the accident):

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It's the Laziness That Gets Me

There's a lot that can be said about the inanity of hit pieces one finds in the media nowadays. One can moralize about the rise in partisanship and whatnot, but what gets me isn't the close-mindedness. It's the stupidity. What I've come to realize is as people become less willing to consider views which differ from theirs, they become less capable of spotting errors.

I think that's why hit pieces are rarely intelligent. I'm not opposed to hit pieces in principle. I am just bothered at how bad a job people do of and with them. For instance, this new article by Michael Mann and Bob Ward in the Guardian is incredibly terrible.
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Not Enough Items for the Express Lane?

I needed something lighter to talk about, and today, I chanced upon a perfect case. I was at a grocery story with three items for snacking on tonight, and I saw the sign above one lane which said, "EXPRESS LANE, About 15 items." I wish I had a picture.

That sign confuses me. I only had three items. The sign said the express lane is for about 15 items. Three is nowhere near fifteen. It clearly isn't "About 15 items." Does that mean I couldn't use the express lane? If so, how many more items would I need to buy before I was allowed to use it?

Sadly, I couldn't get an answer to this mystery as the express lane was closed but I did mention it to the cashier who rang up my items. He thought it was funny.

I Am Actually Afraid

I know some people will say this issue is just "more of the same," but I posted this on Facebook a few days ago:

Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter out of annoyance, had his staff lie about it, got reelected mere days later then pled guilty to the crime after the election. Rather than be condemned and driven out of the party, the Republican party has backed him to the point the president of the United States lavishes praise on him on national television.

Say what you want about political issues and how the "other side" does blah, blah, blah. Just understand this. If you support Trump and are physically capable of body slamming me, I'm going to be a little afraid whenever I'm near you.

And I mean it. I know some people made jokes when people talked about things like "Trump induced anxiety" or "Trump Stress Disorder," and I do understand why. The idea Donald Trump getting elected should be enough to cause a an actual disorder seems outlandish. But is it?

The President of the United States goes on the national stage to celebrate criminally assaulting people his group doesn't like. Not in theory. Not with rhetoric of, "We should go after them!" Those would be bad enough. But no, Trump takes an actual case where an elected official assaulted a man and praises it as a good thing. And Republicans are content with this.

This frightens me. It doesn't frighten me for some hypothetical, moral reason. This is plenty disturbing in matters of principle. I'd understand being worried because of that alone. But I live in an area that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Many didn't just vote for him, but are proud supporters of him. They are proud of Trump, Trump says assaulting people who are the enemy is good, and I am an outspoken critic of Trump. Is it really unreasonable to think this might lead to me getting hurt?

Side note, a bunch of people who support Trump honestly believe the dozen or so devices sent to people on the Democratic side were a false flag operation. They were certain of that before any information or evidence was available. It was nothing more than them forcing things to fit their incredibly biased worldview.

I won't say I'm suffering depression from all this, but it is hard for me to want to interact with people. I've tried to write several blog posts in the last week but couldn't finish any of them because of this. What's the point? Sure there are tons of people who don't support Trump, but is that because they are of good character or because Trump's platform just doesn't line up with their personal desires?

This Made Me Laugh

I was reviewing some past topics of discussion today, and I happened to spend some time reviewing what happened with a libel lawsuit a scientist (Mark Jacobson) published after he claimed criticis intentionally published false claims about his work. The case itself doesn't matter for today's purposes. What matters is he sued both an author of a paper which made the claims and the journal the paper was published in. That journal is named the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). It made a hilarious argument in response to the lawsuit:

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