Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Some people say I’m a hypocrite because I’ve got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

It’s easy to attack me, I’m a right twerp, I’m a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn’t detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster. This disparity has always been, in cultures since expired, a warning sign of end of days. In Rome, Egypt and Easter Island the incubated ruling elites, who had forgotten that we are one interconnected people, destroyed their societies by not sharing. That is what’s happening now, regardless of what you think of my hair or me using long words, the facts are the facts and the problem is the problem. Don’t be distracted.

Russell Brand (via majoringindebt)

socialismartnature:

NEWSNIGHT - Russell Brand vs Jeremy Paxman. Full Interview. “A revolution is going to happen.” (23 Oct. 2013)

Russell Brand argues the need for an “egalitarian socialist” revolution, and frankly, puts to shame the cynical media talking-head who has here appointed himself as Brand’s Inquisitor-in-Chief.

I mean, if you think about the trillion dollars of public money that went to bailing out Wall Street after the 2008 financial crisis, and the terms of that bailout as well, asking nothing of Wall Street, prosecuting nobody, and preparing people for this idea that says the role of public spending is really to bail out private capital. And that’s the way our society is going to work. Money will flow up. We have a trickle-up economic program in this country. So instead of a more classical economic model that says, if you get money in the hands of working people, they will spend that money, and that will stimulate more demand and make the economy grow, the other thing the other model is now it’s a finance model that says, get as much money as possible in the hands of big business. And that’s going to be the basis of our economy, even though it’s going to, in an incredible sense, be like inequality on steroids.

increasing income inequality harms equal opportunity for two reasons. First, it gives rich parents more money to skew the playing field in favor of their kids. Second, it gives those rich parents a much bigger reason to do exactly that. Ultimately, a society of high inequality generates a system that crowds smart poor kids out of important positions while crowding mediocre rich kids into them. Such a system poses a real problem for the achievement of fairness and institutional competence.

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Rightfully Scare Us

The heart of Smiley and West’s message is simple and profound: the United States is far more economically divided than most people want to acknowledge,and this chasm will destroy our nation. They make their case in their book by using vast amounts of very robust data from credible sources, like the Pew Research Center. (Indeed, this is the same data that drives the work we do at EARN to help low income workers save and invest to foster prosperity.)

There are some of you who will quickly dismiss Smiley, West, and their message. You may dismiss them because you don’t like their politics, or don’t like them as people. You make this dismissal at your own peril, and the peril of our nation. Irrespective of how you view Tavis Smiley or Cornel West, their passionate call to the American public to face the hard facts, is rooted in data that transcends politics or ideology.

In fact, the Smiley-West cautionary message is backed by groundbreaking research from economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, in their new book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. Acemoglu and Robinson conducted expansive research to understand why some nations fail while others prosper. While much of the conventional wisdom among economists on the issue involves natural resources or cultural traits, Acemoglu and Robinson found that it is open political institutions that allow for shared power, and collective decision making about economic opportunity that drive prosperity.

This thesis cuts straight to the heart of what Smiley and West warn us is coming. Tens of millions of Americans toil endlessly, but never find their efforts rewarded with economic security. Increasingly, these hard working people will be disenfranchised and disengaged from the political process, and have less say in how economic opportunity is fostered and distributed. This is precisely the dynamic that Acemoglu and Robinson found at the heart of poverty, corruption, and human beings at their worst. We’re moving down a dangerous path as a nation. Listening carefully to what West and Smiley have to say, however, is a good step back in the right direction.

(Source: azspot)

cognitivedissonance:

We cannot stop now. Occupy or support the occupation. This is from Occupy Salt Lake. He fears that we’ll shape policy? Good.
We must send the message that we are not just in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., etc. 
We are everywhere.

cognitivedissonance:

We cannot stop now. Occupy or support the occupation. This is from Occupy Salt Lake. He fears that we’ll shape policy? Good.

We must send the message that we are not just in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., etc. 

We are everywhere.

I have no trouble understanding what they’re complaining about. They’re complaining about the fact that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying 20% of our national net worth accumulated over the course of two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the other party caters to them as well. That’s the real truth of the matter.

If I am the spokesman for all of the people who think that we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full-time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families that owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home — okay, I’ll be that spokesman.

Former U.S. Representative to Florida Alan Grayson, on Real Time with Bill Maher. (via chcameron)

ryking:

pantslessprogressive:

A Message to the 53 Percent

Congratulations on successfully mastering a condescending tone. I have some news for you, though: you are part of the 99 percent. I am part of the 99 percent. My neighbor in his brand new Prius is part of the 99 percent. Our grievances are wide-reaching. Our stories and backgrounds are vastly different.

Don’t believe me? Here’s some anecdotal evidence for your taking: according to my income, I am the 60 percent. I am young like many of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I have a full-time job and will soon be a salaried employee. I make enough money to live in DC with roommates, pay my bills, pay my student loans and still have a little money left over each month. I have worked damn hard but I am also incredibly lucky. Hard work is not universally successful. Just because my hard work and your hard work eventually paid off doesn’t mean hard work pays off for everyone.

So I guess you and I are the same, no? I’m just outside your “53 percent” range, but I also have a job and also “actually pay taxes“… as though someone working a minimum wage job barely surviving on their paycheck doesn’t pay taxes.

The purpose of “I am the 53 percent” seems to exist solely to say, “I didn’t have an easy life either, but I worked hard and now my life isn’t so bad, so stop complaining.” Despite the inherently condescending nature of your grievances, your stories are important, too. Yes, even you, Erick Erickson (pictured above). We don’t all agree. Erickson might try to throw salt on me and brandish a cross any time my progressive being crosses his path, but I don’t wish for the complete destruction of capitalism. Being part of the 99 percent means our ideas for solutions to our nation’s problems will not be the same. And you’re rolling your eyes because we’re outraged at Wall Street? Actually, no, I’m not sure you’re rolling your eyes; you’re merely keeping your eyes shut:

Need proof that Occupy Wall Street is a left-wing grassroots movement that scares the piss out of right-wingers? Now you have it. Or you can turn to Faux News and watch the extreme right-wing millionaire demagogues it employs smearing the movement non-stop. — Ryking

(Source: pantslessprogressive)

Warren Buffett has a message for Rupert Murdoch and the Wall Street Journal: Sure, I’ll release my tax returns, if you do too.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial that asked Buffett to disclose his tax returns. The piece, “Mr. Buffett’s Tax Secrets,” took issue with Buffett’s plan to hike taxes on some of the super-rich.

The Journal’s conservative editorial board doesn’t think that’s a great idea, saying that Buffett should instead “educate the public” by letting “everyone else in on his secrets of tax avoidance by releasing his tax returns.”

Asked about the editorial on Tuesday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Buffett said he was willing to release his tax returns, on one condition:

“I think it might be a terrific idea if they would just ask their boss, Rupert Murdoch, and he and I will meet at Fortune, and we’ll both give you our tax returns and you can publish them,” Buffett said.

“I’m ready tomorrow morning,” he added.

Representatives from News Corp., the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

I don’t know, but I expect the wealthy to write a check ’cause it’s as bad as it’s ever been. It would be unpatriotic not to try to save the country. I’m sure people will bitch about it, but if it meant we get to operate in this country and live here another day, then so be it.

One way or another, before it’s over they’re gonna have to come and take big money from the earners and big corporations to save the country. I’m sure that everybody that has a patriotic cell in their system will say, ‘If it’s gotta be done, it’s gotta be done.’ I’d rather live here and not have as much money than live anywhere else and have twice as much.

Toby Keith, on taxing the rich and corporations.

cognitivedissonance:

From Real Coastal Warriors:

Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday
 Read more

Solidarity forever, my friends! The Occupy Wall Street movement is growing and it’s a beautiful thing. Love the signs - how much is a pilot worth? A hell of a lot more than a Goldman Sachs executive if you ask me. So far, no one has asked me, much less them.
Maybe they should.

cognitivedissonance:

From Real Coastal Warriors:

Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday

Read more

Solidarity forever, my friends! The Occupy Wall Street movement is growing and it’s a beautiful thing. Love the signs - how much is a pilot worth? A hell of a lot more than a Goldman Sachs executive if you ask me. So far, no one has asked me, much less them.

Maybe they should.

A Massive Union Just Voted To Side With The Wall Street Protesters

cognitivedissonance:

The New York Transit Workers Union (TWU) voted to support the Wall Street Protestors at their meeting last night.

A member of TWU Local 100 told a reporter that they would join the protest Friday at 4PM.

Here’s more about them from their website:

The TWU has four main divisions: Railroad; Gaming; Airline; Transit; and Utility, University and Service. The Union has 114 autonomous locals representing over 200,000 members and retirees in 22 states around the country.

Occupy Wall Street has been picking up some decent support from unions in the past few days. Yesterday we reported that the Teamsters Union declared their support for protestors, and we also found out that the United Pilots Union had members at the protest demonstrating in uniform.

Keep it rolling, folks! I wish I could make it to New York, hoping to make Occupy Denver soon! I’m thrilled to see the union support. Workers everywhere, arise!