The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 21, 2015: When Being Afraid Just Doesn’t Help

Fear is not always a bad thing. It plays an important role in our evolution as a species. Evolution, BTW, is a fact of Science.

As Bill Nye says, there’s no reason to doubt it. None. And there certainly isn’t any reason to teach your kids Creationism as a valid theory in its place. Creationism is not Science. It doesn’t propose testable hypotheses. It simply tells you what is supposed to have happened and then tells you, “Believe this, or else.” I agree with Nye that one of the worst things you can do to your kids is to teach them that Creationism explains how we got here.

But fear is not always a good thing, either. Erick Erickson (who has blocked me on the twitter https://twitter.com/EWErickson ) is afraid, but not for any good reasons. He says that he won’t go see the new Star Wars movie because…well, here’s what he posted on his website [And, yes, I’m posting it in its entirety. Sue me.]

I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.

I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.

There are no metal detectors at American theaters.

I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.

His post is titled, without irony, “Truth be told…”. Except, where did he get the idea that his hometown theater in Macon, GA, is under credible threat of attack? And why would terrorists, of any nationality or religious affiliation, choose the premiere of Star Wars to launch an attack? And for him to say that he has “no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe” is a very disingenuous thing to say, because as a Conservative, he already believes the world is a dangerous place and always will be. It’s true that the world is dangerous, and there will always be dangers that will never go away (such as climate change and Fox News Channel), but we Liberals believe that it can be made safer from certain dangers, like fear and ignorance. Through education people can be taught to overcome their fears and to think before acting. President Obama is right to say that attacks like the ones in Paris are never going to be stopped entirely, especially if you want to live as the free people we are. Being free means being free to do things that could harm others. To deter these acts, we institute laws with punishments for violating them. And it works for the vast majority of people. But no law will stop someone who doesn’t care if he lives or dies, and this is true whether the person is motivated by extreme hatred of a certain ethnicity or skin color or by religious fundamentalism. And the only way to eliminate those kinds of attacks entirely is turn this country into a police state, where you would be stopped on the street and forced to show the cop your papers permitting you to walk around freely. And none of us wants that, Liberal or Conservative. And Erickson’s saying this for one reason, and one reason only (if you don’t count the other reasons like he’s stupid, and ill-informed, and six or seven other things): He wants you to be afraid. And he doesn’t want you to stop and think. Because when you stop and think, you realize there is nothing to fear. Because if he thinks metal detectors are going to stop would-be religious extremists from gunning down the very audience in which he and his family sit, then he’s forgetting how the Aurora, CO, theater shooter propped open an emergency exit so he could retrieve his weapons from his car and return to the theater to massacre people. A metal detector at the front entrance would not have made any difference there, would it? But simple reasoning like that doesn’t stop Conservatives in or out of government from trying to gin up fears where there is no rational reason to fear. Conservatives love hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to keep people afraid. And as we all know, people who are afraid make bad decisions. Like voting for Conservatives to govern them.

The danger in all of this fear mongering is that when ACTUAL dangers come along, ACTUAL things that could kill much but not all of humanity, and both for the same reason – Evolution – people are not going to respond to it thoughtfully and rationally. Or they will dismiss it because none of the other world’s-gonna-die stories turned out to be true (on account of they were made up out of bullshit ideas.) And billions could die. I’m not trying to monger up any fear, I’m trying to point out a legitimate danger that could result in massive amounts of people dying. I learned something the other day and it should give you cause for concern. Not the fact that I learned something, I actually do that all the time without anyone being concerned. I mean what I learned should make us rethink how we use antibiotics. There is an antibiotic called Colistin that is considered a last resort weapon to fight dangerous bacteria. And a study out of China suggests that certain bacteria may be developing a resistance to Colistin. Not only that, but some of these bacteria “have developed a mechanism to transfer resistance to neighboring bacteria. And those bacteria don’t even have to be the same strain as those that originally developed the resistance. So bacteria that cause other health problems could be affected.” This is a cause for concern, but let’s not panic and become fearful. The World Health Organization (Whooooo are they? Who? Who? Who? Who?) has developed an action plan to combat drug-resistant bacteria. The Obama Administration has also developed a plan to fight these dangerous bacteria, which became dangerous thanks to Evolution. Does that mean Evolution is dangerous? Well, it can be. I mean, we’re here because of Evolution, but we can also be replaced by more intelligent, more rational, and less fear-based versions of humans because of Evolution. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But don’t worry, Conservatives. By the time that happens, you’ll be long gone. And that would definitely be a good thing.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss your fears, rational or not, or the fears of conservatives (almost always irrational), or anything else you want to discuss. Don’t be afraid. It’s okay. You have nothing to fear at The Zoo.

Watering Hole: Thursday, October 16, 2014 – Managing Fear

There are a lot things to be afraid of lately, at least that is what the media keeps telling us.

Here’s some ways to conquer fear.

  • Keep an eye out for iceberg beliefs,
  • Sit still,
  • Reach out

Explanation for these can be found here as I will not be providing more details.  I feel confident that you will be finding all kinds of information to share.

This is our Open Thread.  You know what to do.  Speak Up!  Have a field day.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 17, 2014: Why All The Hate?

If you’re like me, not only are you incredibly smart and good-looking, you wonder why so many people on the Right hate, just viscerally hate, the President of the United States. The knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s because the Haters are (Insert Randomly Insignificant Criterion Here) and the President is Not, and that for most of the haters, the randomly inserted insignificant criterion would be race. Not necessarily. There’s a lot of people who hate the president, and there’s certainly a chunk of them with an IQ well below the three-digit range who think the color of his skin is reason enough to hate him. Thankfully, despite this group’s inability to grasp the concept of birth control, Natural Selection will prevent them from becoming a majority in this country. But they don’t account for all the Haters. Some of the Haters claim to be Christians who think the President is Not One of Them. They think he’s a Muslim. What’s really funny about that one is that these are the same people who said Obama shouldn’t be President because he sat in the pews of a Christian church for 20 years listening to the hate speech of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Well, Uptighty Righties, which is it? Is Obama a Muslim, or a Christian who listened to a kind of hate speech that differs from your own? None of your other reasons to hate him make sense, either. At least, none of the reasons coming from the Right. Some of us on the Left certainly have our problems with a number of areas of his Governance, but we don’t hate him for it. We’re disappointed as all get-out, but we don’t hate him. But you do. Why?

I hear many of you claim he’s a “Communist,” a “Marxist,” and even a “Fascist,” all at once. And I laugh, because if I don’t, I’ll start shaking my head in sadness until I’m overcome by sobbing fits, despondent over the intense stupidity of my fellow human beings. You can’t be a Marxist and a Fascist at the same time, and if you don’t know enough about them to understand why, you should really stay out of the political arena. I would also not only recommend, I would beg you to stay home on Election Day, or least don’t go near the polls to cast a vote. Your political awareness is on par with that of sea urchins, who are at least smart enough not to advertise their ignorance. I just can’t see how America’s best interests are served by letting you have a say in who governs it. But you’ll notice (or, more likely, I’ll have to point out to you) that I’m not calling for you to not be allowed to vote. That’s how many on your side of the political aisle solve an issue like that. If they don’t like the way they think someone is likely to vote, they make up some bullshit reason to deny him the right to vote at all. Our side doesn’t do that, nor do we put out fliers telling you the election is being held on another day. We just ask you to do what’s best for your country, and don’t vote until you learn what you’re talking about.

You can’t govern a country based on denying rights to the people who aren’t like you, especially when about 75% of the country is not like you! This is a Republic, and you are a small percentage of its citizens. We don’t need to put anybody in Congress who thinks like you because there’s something wrong with the way you think. You need mental health treatment. And we hope you’ll be happy to learn it’s covered thanks to Obamacare.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss what you think we should do about all the Haters, or anything else you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 21, 2012: What’s Your Comfort Level?

After an interview in GQ magazine with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was published, in which Mr. Robertson had some harsh and completely inaccurate things to say about both gay people and what life was like for black people in the pre-civil rights days, a lot of conservative mouthpieces took to their various publications to support him. Stepping up to present his own hyperbolic testimonial was Red State founder and former CNN contributor, Erick Erickson.

Really, Erick? This idea gives you comfort? Continue reading

Sunday Roast: Fear

Fear.  What does it mean to you?  What does it mean in your life?  Is your life influenced by fear?  Even just a little bit?

Fear:
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2. a specific instance of our propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.

3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.

4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.  Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.

5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.

My biggest fear is speaking in public. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself to picture the audience naked, or that I don’t know these people and I’ll never see them again in my life. My brain gets it, but my body does not. No matter how confident I feel walking into the room, as soon as I begin speaking, my knees will begin to shake, my face goes beet red, and I start talking a mile a minute so I can get the fuck out of there.

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat that causes animals to move quickly away from the location of the perceived threat, and sometimes hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible.

Yep, that’s me moving out of a public room in which I have spoken.  I know what causes it:  I have a fear of being perceived as stupid.  It doesn’t matter if it’s reasonable or not, that’s why it’s a fear, all y’all!

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.
~H.P. Lovecraft

What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.
~Publilius Syrus

Courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face it.
~Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)

That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? Fear keeps you alive; we create what we fear; and fear cannot rule over us if we face it.

Like an old friend once asked me, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This is our daily open thread — What are you afraid of?

Fear, Scare, and Play Unfair

Fear, Scare, and Play Unfair
Original words and music “Here, There, and Everywhere”, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

To lead a fettered life they need my mode to be fear…

Fear, making the case through the year
Continue reading

Tuesday Open Thread – The Roller Coaster Comes to America

On June 16, 1884 the first true roller coaster was inaugurated at Coney Island.

The roller coaster traces its origins back to railroad cars the were released to careen down existing graded tracks which had gone out of service.  By 1885, the roller coaster had evolved into its modern form with the familiar lift hill.

Since then, designs have been introduced that almost defy the laws of physics:

And if you wish to have a near-death experience, go on:

You can deposit your barf bags in the container to your left as you exit the ride.

Politics of Fear 2.0

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Ok, it’s a wee bit more subtle this time: No mushroom clouds, no smoking guns, no weapons of mass destruction, no UN hearings or white powder in vials. On the other hand the Georgian President was nudged into war and a contract with Poland allows the ultimate provocation to place powerful American weaponry into Russia’s back yard. With the help of Russia’s imperialistic tendencies and their stick at nothing government, the Administration managed to get the public perception back to military threats as a major concern of Americans. The threat level’s up. And expect it to get boosted even more.

There’s nothing like a good old crisis with Russia to get voters to toe the line. And consequently bring McCain’s poll numbers up.

My behind is clearly much, much too close to Poland – which Russia threatened with a nuclear attack – for my own comfort, to appreciate gameplaying with the security of us Europeans for a cheap, albeit quite successful, election campaign booster. I do not need another mindless, intellectually incurious, neocon tool as a leader of the still remaining superpower. I loathe and fear the clueless risk-taking of diplomatically challenged leaders and their military recklessness which is designed to instill fear in you all. For their own political gain and at the cost of lives all over the world.