Rally To Restore Sanity…Redux

I know this isn’t exactly news since the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was in 2010, but as we close out 2012 in the wake of continued political ‘hyperbole’, fiscal cliff insanity, continued gun violence (and apparently learning nothing from it), and what seems like growing irrational discourse in the US, I thought that I would share my experience and a bunch of photos in the hopes that sarcasm to respond to lunacy mixed with small moments of sincere engagement dominate discourse instead of … well…  what we normally see.

The Rally to Restore Sanity

On September 16, 2010 my partner and I were watching the Daily Show when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced the Rally to Restore Sanity &/or March to Keep Fear Alive.

So, with a well-worded memo to our Dean requesting funds to travel (it was an educational opportunity… and my Dean was awesome about this kind of thing) and having to take  four well-behaved college students (i.e., the ‘educational’ experience 🙂 ), and much enthusiasm we headed to DC.

Stewart encouraged everyone to make signs and so I tried to photograph as many as possible while the students interviewed people to find out why they were there, where they were from, and if they’d ever been to a rally before. The majority had not been to a rally before, they were from all over the US — many traveling just for the rally. And while some were only there for the spectacle, the majority also said they felt like it was something that … was more.

It was a funny day, a friendly day, and a day where a couple of hundred thousand people decided that being reasonable probably wasn’t so bad. These are my pictures of the day — the people, the signs, and the costumes that stuck out.

So, this was my day at the Rally to Restore Sanity — I also encourage you to check out the footage from the day, but especially Jon Stewart’s speech — it was a really good summary of what I think lots of people were thinking.

Enjoy the pictures!

The NRA — hurting the argument for gun rights in the US one news conference at a time.

And yet, are we surprised?

The NRA had an opportunity to be reasonable, focus on ‘responsible’ gun ownership, and address possible solutions to people getting their hands on guns who shouldn’t. And they didn’t. As an organization, the NRA just hurt ‘gun rights’ in one news conference because it’s pushing people further apart on the issue instead of looking for viable solutions.

Well done Wayne LaPierre — douche of the day!

Exhausted by the politics of the irrational — the fundamentalist? So am I.

Technically to simply have faith in the absence of empirical proof is irrational.

That isn’t necessarily bad if it produces positive social and cultural outcomes. For those with faith, it’s also very real — there are many things that are irrational that people experience (e.g., phobias of small places, belief in the ‘triumph of human spirit’ in the face of adversity, etc.). And, in many ways it’s been necessary for human evolution and the evolution of society.

However, it is not rational. Rationality, by definition, focuses on verifiable information and making decisions based on that information. And let’s not point to the Bible (insert book of faith of choice) as ‘proof’ concrete because any serious religious scholar (including those who are members of the clergy) say that it’s foolish to take the Bible as empirical proof — that without understanding the larger social and cultural contexts, we cannot truly understand its lessons.

So, I think that most of us without faith are exasperated in our often had conversations with many modern American “Christians”. It’s exhausting to live in a religious society (i.e., the US) when you’re not a person ‘of faith’ because we have to defend rational reasoning and empirical proof of many thing (e.g., those who don’t ‘believe’ in climate change also tend to be those who believe in God and GOP politics). The US has become not just a religious nation, but a nation of anti-intellectuals who use pseudo-intellectual arguments as logical fallacies or just outright dismiss anything that threatens their world view.

That is not to say that people of faith can’t also be 99% rational in their lives, their interests, and their pursuits. For example, the Jesuits seem to fall into that camp. They still have faith, but reconcile their beliefs with interests in the pursuit of science, philosophy, empirical truths, and education as being the work of God. The work of God bit I could personally do without because I don’t need that to feel fulfilled in my life. Others do, but most Jesuits that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to, don’t dismiss people simply because their beliefs differ. In fact, an active part of the Jesuit mission and education is for everyone to question religions of all kinds.

We’d frankly have a lot better conversations if “Christians” in the US modeled themselves after the Jesuits in their pursuit of faith, science, philosophy, and education. Unfortunately, they don’t — instead Fundmentalist beliefs disproportionately influence American politics and thus American “values”.

So, you’ll have to forgive us non-believers… we’re sick of politics and life being hijacked by a loud-mouthed minority of irrational people who functionally want a theocracy that serves the interests of the wealthy, that rejects analytic thinking, and a repressive social existence.

Isn’t it time that we put human values over corporate values? I think our business schools need to revisit their fundamental philosophies, and people need to start making sensible decisions for the good of humanity, not profits.

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

Part Four of a series

Industrial climate disruption – the disruption of the global climate as a result of human activity, especially our industrial consumption of fossil fuels – is more or less settled scientific fact. In order for industrial climate disruption to be incorrect, over a century of well-established science would have to be overturned. In addition, the operational principles of innumerable technologies derived from that well-established science would also have to be rethought. Some of the technologies that are derived from the same sciences that are responsible for the scientific certainty about industrial climate disruption include semiconductors, CCD-based cameras, microwave ovens, chlorophyll-measuring satellite cameras, nuclear energy, every model of thermal radiation ever performed, LED and fluorescent lighting, lasers, and nearly every modern communications system, just for starters.

While industrial climate disruption presents a clear threat to the libertarian values identified by the Iyer et al study discussed in

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New NASA spacesuit looks an awful lot like Buzz Lightyear

The substantive changes in the suit (e.g., flexible joints, etc.) seem perfectly sensible, but really? The author is tragically correct — it looks as close to Buzz Lightyear’s suit as I think that it could.

But this really inspires a number of questions…. Is NASA trying to inspire excitement about the space program by appealing to an American ‘pop cultural’ theme? Is NASA full of nerds who need to get a life? Why are we developing suits for deep space exploration anyhow?

Oh yeah and one other thing, rear entry? Really? That’s just a dirty joke waiting to happen.


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(WTVR) –   NASA may be taking their next astronaut suit to infinity and beyond. The agency’s newest prototype suit looks a lot like the popular Disney character Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

The mostly white suit feature Buzz’s signature color prominently: neon green, and even has a large transparent dome similar to buzz.. It’s designed for deep space exploration, has flexible joints for better ease of movement and has a rear entry point making it easier for astronauts to take it on or off.

The prototype is named Z-1 according to Tested, a website run by Myth Busters stars Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. The website reports it’s just one of several  prototypes NASA is working on. It could be ready for the field by 2015.

While the Z-1 is now making headlines for its likeness to a popular Disney character, it’s been around for a little…

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