Uncommon Sense

May 11, 2016

Scientists Only Use Half of their Brains? Suck on This!

Filed under: Culture,Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:55 am

To refute the claim that us scientists are cold, calculating, emotionless sods, I offer the following evidence.

You’re welcome!


Why are the Facts About American Education So Hard to State?

In yet another stellar post on “the Daily Howler,” we get the following comment regarding a new Stanford University study on the status of national education:

“We know of no reason to think that the new Stanford study has been bungled in any way. Indeed, lead researcher Sean Reardon has produced valuable work in the past. In April 2013, he even broke an unwritten rule. In a lengthy New York Times essay, he reported that American kids have shown large score gains on academic tests over the past forty years. ‘The average 9-year-old today has math skills equal to those her parents had at age 11, a two-year improvement in a single generation … there is no evidence that average test scores have declined over the last three decades for any age or economic group…. The achievement gaps between blacks and whites, and Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites, have been narrowing slowly over the last two decades.’”

The statement “The average 9-year-old today has math skills equal to those her parents had at age 11, a two-year improvement in a single generation.” is astonishing. The entire public education debate has been based on a drumbeat that our school system is failing our kids. How is this fact compatible with the overwhelming evidence that our schools are failing us?

“The “failure” claim of the public education reformists is a flat out lie.”

The simple answer is that it is not. The “failure” claim of the public education reformists is a flat out lie. It was a “big lie” needed to generate the outrage needed to effect change the plutocrats wanted (profits, weaker teachers unions, etc.). Unfortunately the change has only been to siphon off public education funds into the coffers of education businesses.

I would still like to know how it is that extracting profits from a system that produced none before can possibly improve that system?

And, riddle me this. The biggest question ducked by the reformists is: “if students are unable to meet the standards as they were, how is it that adopting higher standards would help them?” Is this not a little like trying to help a struggling high jumper by raising the bar? Is not the whole idea, that we need higher standards to help struggling poor and minority kids succeed, deeply flawed? How is it that all of that progress was made without the “higher standards effect,” that still hasn’t shown up.

Wake up people, the Robber Barons are in our schools and are “monetizing” our children. They are replacing a school system that was working with one that is worse … but more profitable for them. (Does this sound familiar?)

Be Careful What You Ask For

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:42 am

Many of the religious state that without their god, life would have no meaning … and we would no longer have a reason to live. (Really!)

Snidely I would respond that most people find the unpleasantness of dying sufficient reason to continue living (I mean our bodies have autonomic process hardwired into them to avoid dying. Isn’t that a clue?), but what if we take this question seriously? What is the meaning of our lives?

To date, the answers to this question are either incoherent or are quite different from one another, with no way to distinguish which of the possibilities are true and which are false.

I feel the problem with the question is it is a wrong question, a question that doesn’t need to be asked or answered, but once one has asked the question, one must be prepared for an answer.

I have discovered the true meaning of life and I will share it with you now. Humans were deposited on this planet by an advanced alien species as a self-propagating and self husbanding food animal. We grow our own food and distribute it and have expanded our population immensely, all without the aliens having to lift a finger or assign a shepherd or veterinarian. They will arrive shortly in spaceships to harvest their crop.

There, are you happy? You now know the meaning of your life.

Preposterous, you say? Compared with the Christian “reason” we are alive … that we were placed on this planet by an alien power to stumble around with almost no guidance and when we die we are taken to a place of torture for the rest of all time. That makes more sense to you?

Be careful what questions you ask; you may not like the answer.

May 8, 2016

A Sunday Meditation : How Can Anyone Believe This?

Filed under: Morality,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:48 am
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Fundamentalist Christians would have us believe in a great many things, on faith. Unfortunately, when I ask what it is they believe all kinds of things go awry.

They say that their god, himself, came to Earth in a guise (so as to not frighten the children?) and sacrificed himself to save us. Then after three days, he “rose from the dead” as a sign to his divine nature and the truth of his message.

“So we are all “saved” now?” I ask. “No,” they respond, “in order to be saved you must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior; then you will be saved.”

So, the “saving” was conditional then? That must be mighty magic, to be able to leave the switch in my hands as to whether or not it worked. “In order for this act of generosity to be in effect, I must become a slave to the author of the act?”

“No, no, once you accept Jesus into your heart, you will be free!”

But I do not see how “accepting a Lord” is freedom. Lords command. Serfs comply. To accept a Lord is to take orders, to become a servant or slave.

So, I must ask “What am I being saved from?”
“From your own sinful nature.”
“How the heck did I get to be sinful? A sin is an unforgivable error in action, is it not. When did I do this thing?”
“You were born sinful. You see it goes back to Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God.”
“So, I was not even born yet, yet I was condemned. Condemned to what?”
“Everlasting torture in a lake of fire in Hell.”
Oh, just that. I was afraid it was something more imposing.
“So, let me get this straight: well before I was born, a remote ancestor rebelled against your god and was cursed, including all of their progeny, which includes me, yes?”
“So, I was born with a sentence of everlasting torture when I died unless I was saved from that fate?”
“Jesus, who was actually your god in another guise, in essence committed a fake suicide as an act of contrition, for me … but I don’t get that benefit unless I accept Jesus/Yahweh as my Lord.”
“Well, other than the suicide, you got it.”

This is effing nuts! How can an act of contrition be so committed. In essence I am going to save you by killing him? That’s crazy. It is the worst sort of blood magic from pre-historic times. I’ll bet something along the lines of “our sins were washed away with his blood” is mentioned, no? And then the “saving” doesn’t count unless you accept Jesus, who is your god, as your lord? That is the vilest sort of blackmail.

And this Jesus character could not die, because he has an immortal soul and it lives in a safe place, so all he had to do is vacate his meat puppet for three days, then reclaim it and walk around a bit flaunting his divinity to gull the gullible, right? He didn’t really die.

Any way, who created this “Hell” place? Jesus, you say? Now it is sounding like a scam. The people who sell water purification systems go around telling people about the toxins in their drinking water, whether there are any or not, in order to get suckers to buy their wares. How is this different? Is their any authoritative evidence for the existence of this Hell place? No? I thought not.

If there really were an all-powerful god, could he not just announce for the whole world to hear that we were forgiven of his curse? Or he could have just lifted it without sending anyone a memo.

If he really wanted us to know things and have them written down, an all-powerful being wouldn’t have entrusted those words to a barely literate culture. We have none of the first drafts of so-called “holy scripture.” They were all lost or eroded by time. Which “drafts” we have is debatable which is a problem. Plus the drafts we have found conflict with one another like crazy. Could those words not have been inscribed in stone for all to read and then be made indestructible and, hence, available for all time. You know, just shave the side of a mountain and create really big stone tablets, rather than small fragile ones. Why would an all-powerful god yield to earthly transmission of information means?

Why would an all-knowing god need prayer? Does he need to hear us beg? It so, he is one sick puppy.

Why does a god who has a plan for us which is perfect, of course, have a mechanism for us to beseech him to change his plan?

Why does a god who created a universe governed by rules that seem unbreakable, provide a mechanism for us to beseech him to change the rules, just for one of us.

Why does a god who is omniscient and all-powerful, etc., etc. need praise so much that he creates literally billions of people to praise him and then, perversely, makes it hard to get to the place where we can praise him permanently? And obscenely punishes those who decline to so praise him. This is praise worthy?

Why does anyone believe this nonsense?

If you believe your god created you with the ability to think, why are you refusing his gift?

Why Both the GOP and Dem Establishments Do Not Want Bernie to be President

The whole purpose of the major political parties now is wrapped up in a quest for power. The power is not wanted because they have ends in mind, they just want power. That power for the last 40 years has been primarily to execute the will of the “masters of mankind” as Adam Smith put it.

Since the plutocrats and corporations have pushed the cost of elections so high, enormous amounts of money are needed to run a successful campaign for political office. So the plutocrats get to control who runs by providing funding them … or not. Then once someone is elected, they are beholden for millions upon millions of dollars to those donors, another form of control. Then there is the promise of donations for the re-election campaign…. I think you get the idea.

But Bernie Sanders is not playing their game. Bernie has not taken their money and, because of that, he is not controlled by them, so he is a threat. It would not be a disaster for them were he to be elected President but it would slow the implementation of the plutocrat’s plans. Blocking anything Bernie wanted to do as President would be relatively inexpensive, but it would mean a delay that would not further the plutocrats plans. So, it is more expeditious to not have Bernie win and a few million here and a few million there and a bit of pundit hand wring, a whisper of this and that Senator Sander’s campaign is close to being marginalized.

Did you not find it interesting that the Democratic National Committee had already geared up to make Hillary Clinton its nominee before they knew who was running, before they knew who the rank and file Democrats preferred? It is simply that Hillary Clinton had already been vetted and paid for and would make a good candidate for the 0.1% who would be paying for her to run. It wasn’t necessary that she win, of course, because to make sure all of the 0.1%’s ducks were in a row, as the saying goes, both candidates of the major parties were supposed to be bought and paid for. Why take the chance of having someone you do not want having even a chance of winning.

It is Mr. Trump, a trump card in the political deck, who is upsetting the “normal process.” They fear that, like Franklin Roosevelt, Mr. Trump may also be a “traitor to his class.”

May 4, 2016

Because the GOP Said So!

Remember back in the Obamacare debate? How the Republicans kept claiming we have the best health care system in the world, so why would we want to undermine it? It is clear we have the most expensive health care system in the world, that is indeed true, but best? Today a report is out finding that the third leading cause of death of people in the U.S. is … wait for it … medical error.

That’s right, boys and girls, our medical system makes mistakes, but don’t pay any attention to them, they are not important. The fact that a few people die here and there is a small price to pay for our freedoms and American Exceptionalism!

What kind of freaking world would the GOP actually fit in? Sheesh!


Brilliant! Finally, A Workable Campaign Finance Innovation!

A new idea has breathed some life into the campaign finance reform debate. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), has introduced a bill that would ban federal officeholders from soliciting political donations.


The only reason our Congressmen spend half of their working hours, or more, on the phone asking for money or at fundraisers asking for money, is to connect the quid with the quo. This idea is an excellent one. Fundraising is important, but others should do it.

The reasons are splendid. For one, this takes our elected officials and candidates out of the corruption loop. Yes, corruption is still possible but this would open up the ability of our officials to vote against their donor’s interests, at least on occasion.

Second, it would double the freaking time our elected officials have to do their damned jobs. Can you imagine how productive you would be at your job if you were required to spend half of your work hours in pointless busywork? Your productivity would plummet!

Put our elected officials back to work on our business. Bar them from directly soliciting campaign funds!

Absolutely brilliant!


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