Author Archive

8 Years On and I’m Still Pissed

10 September 2009

I’ve recently begun a new job in the financial district.  It’s at some coffee shop that doesn’t pay me enough, and it’s a really long trip to and from my apartment, but you know, it’s a job, it’s a bad economy, I take what I can get.  One of the nice things about the job though, is that it’s an area that I don’t normally get to.  I live at the top of the Bronx, so Battery Park is not normally in my area, but now I get to go on down to the river, walk around in a really great area in the afternoon, it’s a nice part of a sort of crummy job.

Unlike a lot of other people, I had to work on Monday.  The trains, in case you weren’t aware, were totally screwed for the entire day, but I’d made lunch plans with some of my best friends and I was excited for it.  Anyway, after work, I go over to get my train.  Some stupid pink tape has blocked off the Rector Street station on the 1, so I say, “Okay, it’s a nice day, I’ll walk up to Chambers”, and this little walk brought me straight over to Ground Zero.

The thing that still gets me upset about Ground Zero isn’t the tragic loss of life or the ludicrous and unnecessary wars that it launched.  At this point, I’ve been able to accept that those events occurred and move forward.  No, what really pisses me off is that eight years after the tragedy that befell thousands of people and our entire country on September 11, 2001, Ground Zero is still nothing but a concrete hole.  It continues to be a scar upon our fair city, a festering wound that in many ways, the city has still not recovered from.  But what gets me even more pissed off are the god damn 9/11 Truthers, and because tomorrow is the eighth anniversary of September 11th, they’re back in the news.

Part of me thinks that if we just don’t acknowledge their idiocy, they’ll slither back to their basements thousands of miles away from where the damage actually took place.  (Note on my “thousands of miles away crack:” In all my time getting pissed off about their crap, I’ve only met one New Yorker who actually bought into the conspiracy nonsense.  Then again, he lost his wife that day, so I don’t completely blame him.)  But they continue to spout their insanity, claiming that the physics are wrong when they’re not, and that the most elaborate conspiracy ever devised was put into play without anyone noticing.

Their latest volley comes from Charlie Sheen, an actor I very much enjoyed watching in Major League, Hot Shots: Part Deux and his bit role in Being John Malcovich.  Charlie came onto the 9/11 baloney scene a few years back when it was announced that he’d be voicing the newest version of Loose Change, the well debunked 9/11 conspiracy movie that was made when a kid wrote a movie about how 9/11 was a conspiracy and then convinced himself that his own fiction was reality.  I’m not sure whether Sheen ever actually voiced a version or not, I try not to pay too much attention to these assholes, but I do know that he was given a very special thank you in the 2009 edition of it.

Sheen’s insanity has prompted him to put a transcript online of a fake 20 minute conversation he has with President Obama, in which he convinces the president that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the “Bush/Cheney regime”.  He  followed it up with a visit to conspiracy theory collector Alex Jones’s show, and the two are trying to make Charlie’s ridiculous little farce a reality.

Look, I get where they’re coming from.  Stuff like 9/11 is scary.  It’s frightening because 9/11 showed us that there can never truly be safety.  No matter what technology we put in place to stop people from doing bad things, if someone really wants to find some way to kill a lot of people, and they’re really determined, they can do it.  It is easier to face a world where a huge, nigh-omnipotent government needs to orchestrate an event like 9/11, rather than some smelly bastards huddled in a cave with some floodlights pinned to the walls.  But the 9/11 truth movement is just inane.  The idea that while we’re dealing with two wars in the middle east, the biggest push for Health Care since Clinton, and the closest we’ve come to depression since the great crash of the 30’s… that with all that on his plate on top of, you know, running the country, Obama should put aside 20 minutes to talk with Charlie Sheen about 9/11 – that’s ludicrous.  He’s not going to do it, and that’ll just add fuel to the Truther’s fire.  Obama is avoiding the truth.  Maybe he’s in league with the Bush administration.  Ooooo, scary.

I’m tired of their crap.  I’m tired of them trying to scare my country with this garbage.  I’m sick of the scars of 9/11.  Give me my memorial and will someone please shut Charlie Sheen up.

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Something To Share

7 September 2009

Sometimes you find something and it just makes you smile.  And then, you realize that you have to write a blog for Monday, so you share it with everyone who reads the Gotham Skeptic.  Which is… um… what I’m doing right now.

Please examine the picture below.

stupid UFO pic

I found this gem on All News Web, a great website if you want to just smack your head fifteen times in a row.  What I really love about this particular article is the way that the whole thing is framed around a false dichotomy.

For those who don’t know, a false dichotomy is a bit of spurious logic where the person being asked is forced to choose between two black and white choices when there are probably more options out there.  And what I really love about this particular use of the logical fallacy is that in this case, both options are crap.  “UFO or Cryptid, what do you think?” (more…)

Psychic Finds Public Breaking Point

3 September 2009

You’ve probably already heard about Jaycee Lee Dugard, the now 29 year old woman who’d been held kidnapped, raped repeatedly, and become a mother twice over the past eighteen years.  It’s astounding that Miss Dugard has been found alive, I’m sure I speak for all of the New York City Skeptics when I say that we hope she will be able to move forward in her life, and that one day, maybe she’ll be able to attain some totems of normalcy.  But, this is not the sympathy blog, this is the Gotham Skeptic, so we’re actually here to talk about Dayle Schear. (more…)

Science + Courtrooms = Bad Science

31 August 2009

There’s an article in the LA Times from last week all about how the US Chamber of Commerce wants a trial about Global Warming. What’s really weird about it is that they’re calling it “The Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century,” and the thing about that is… the Scopes monkey trial is the perfect example for why this shouldn’t be in a courtroom.

John T. Scopes, circa 1925, unpublished photograph donated to the Smithsonian Institute

John T. Scopes, circa 1925, unpublished photograph donated to the Smithsonian Institute

The first weird thing about the Scopes references is that they’re being made by the members of the Chamber of Commerce. They’re trying to imply that they are the Scopes of this trial, and that the EPA is in the role of William Jennings Bryan. Well… no. To begin with, Scopes was the defendant, and not the prosecution. By going after the EPA, the Chamber of Commerce has clearly placed itself in the role of aggressor. Secondly, and more importantly, like Bryan, it is the Chamber of Commerce who are going against established science. In fact, the metaphor sort of makes perfect sense when you realize that it’s the US Chamber of Commerce that’s playing Bryan in this third adaptation of “Inherit the Wind”. (more…)

The Poles in the Big Tent

24 August 2009

George Hrab began his last episode of the Geologic Podcast with an approximately 9 minute long statement of frustration about the response he’d gotten to his previous week’s “Religious Moron of the Week.” What struck me as odd was the moment when George read one of the e-mails that said that because he wasn’t libertarian enough, that meant he wasn’t a good part of the skeptical movement. Now, first off, I’ve heard George do segments where he just talked for about 15 minutes over his amazement at the abilities of his local fire department, and actually ended the bit with pretty much telling free market people to suck it. So what podcast have those people been listening too? But what’s more than that, when the hell did skepticism become synonymous with libertarianism?

(more…)

Jake’s Fairy Tale

17 August 2009

Once upon a time, there was the Magical Post of Acupuncture.  And the Magical Post of Acupuncture was set far beyond Plausibility land, because the Magical Post of Acupuncture was set in the land of “We will cure any ills”, a land reserved for the most beautiful and implausible of things.

And then one day, the Magical Post of Acupuncture was tied to Bungee Chords from the Realm of Reality!  And that day, the magical implausible people of the land of make believe waved goodbye as the Magical Post of Acupuncture was drawn into the land of “Health Supplement”.  The magical land of health supplement was special because nothing had to have any real effect.  Since no one made any claims that could be tested in the Realm of Reality, the power’s held by the super-special Bungee Chords from the Realm of Reality would have no more pulling strength, because they could only pull on tangible things, and no tangible things existed in the land of Supplement. (more…)

The Magic of Self Delusion

13 August 2009

Back on Monday, a story came out of Alaska about a Department of Transportation worker, Travis Capps, who was assisted in his search for a woman’s body by a psychic from California.  The woman, Carolyn Tyrrell, had been missing since Independence Day.  The article doesn’t tell us why Mr. Capps was so determined to find the late Ms. Tyrrell, but he was certainly committed, and that, no matter what methods he decided to use, is to his credit.

According to the AP, Mr. Capps contacted Katherine Marie Jones of the Sacramento area.  She wrote Tyrrell’s name on a piece of paper, asked God for help, and then concentrated for half an hour on what images came to her mind.  The article says that Jones believed Tyrrell would be found on “an east-facing slope near a boat launch.  She also described an eagle.”

Capps found the woman on Friday, about 17 miles from Eagle Summit.  Well… Capps found a woman on Friday.  By Monday, the body hadn’t been fully identified yet, but the SUV the body was found near belonged to Mrs. Tyrrell. (more…)

Global Warming, Denialism, and Solipsism

10 August 2009

In his 1637 paper, “Discourse on Method”, Réne Descartes wrote “Je pense donc je suis.”  In 1644, he would translate that phrase into Latin for his famous Principles of Philosophy, writing it as “Cogito ergo sum.” “I am thinking, therefore I exist.”  When I was in high school, I became a big fan of Descartes.  I still hold that the cogito is one of the most brilliant things to come out of philosophy.  Descartes comes to the conclusion that because your senses themselves can be fooled, your memory is fallible, anything that you experience could simply be happening inside your head.  However, Descartes also comes to the realization that if you are thinking, there must be something which you are a part of that is existing. (more…)

Defying Gravity Kinda Sucks

6 August 2009

I love to cook.  I’m just saying.  Ladies?  I like cooking.  But here’s the thing, most of those things I make wind up taking me some time, and as anyone who cooks out there knows, a lot of that time is downtime.  Which means Hulu has become my best friend in the world.  45 minutes to make a salsa?  Don’t mind if I do!  There might be some 40 minutes of television out there that I have not yet seen.  And it was thus, in the spirit of exploration, curiosity, and a desire to avoid boredom, that I discovered the first two episodes of the new ABC drama, “Defying Gravity”. (more…)

On Skeptical Blogging

3 August 2009

I’ve been writing for various internet publications now for going on two years. It’s not a long time to a lot of people, but for me, it feels like a while.  It started out easy. Like with all writing. There’s that early work you do where you had like five or six things to say but then, all of a sudden, that’s it, no more ideas in your head. It started out for me being about Bush. I tried to keep up with his weekly radio addresses, writing parodies of each one point by point. That was fun for about a month. But after you listened to Bush complain about how Congress wouldn’t do exactly what he wanted week in and week out, well… you get sick of it. The election was big.  I was, at my peak, writing five blogs a week on the Huffington Post’s comedy site, 236 (now defunct). Not all of them were good, but they all went out there. (more…)