Fourth Grade Logic Exam
Continuing our series on tests a fourth-grader should be able to pass.
1. Given the following facts:
Fact 1: New Orleans is below sea level.
Fact 2: Levees keep out the water that surrounds the city.
Fact 4: Thousands of people can die when a city floods.
Fact 3: A severe hurricane can overwhelm the current levees.
Fact 5: New Orleans is smack in the middle of hurricane central.
What is the logical thing for you to do as President?
A. Make preventing a flood disaster a high priority for your Administration.
B. Take a long biking vacation.
C. Push through big tax cuts.
2. The country you run as President is planning to borrow several hundred million dollars from future generations in order to build something. What is the logical thing to build?
A. Strengthened levees in New Orleans to eliminate the only top three disaster threat that you can do something about.
B. A bridge to nowhere in Alaska sponsored by a powerful Senator from your party.
C. Tax Cuts.
3. Governors of the states in the country you run as President have soldiers to help with emergencies. What is the most logical use for them?
A. Stay in their states so they can help with emergencies.
B. Send them wars in foreign countries to help with your reelection.
C. Cut taxes.
Any A answers: Here’s one kid that won’t be growing up to be President!
All B answers: George, are you sneaking into those fourth grade classes again? BTW, how does My Pet Goat end? You heard the whole thing, right?
Any C answers: Doctor of Dittohead Logic (Dl. D).
09.03.05 @ 09:27 PM EDT [link]
Feature of the Week
There seems to be a lot of buyer’s remorse in the air over the results of Election 2004. Consider that Bush’s poll numbers are at historic lows for any president, and the hard work he's been putting in to earn those low numbers. Despite the oil background of Bush-Cheney ’04 (or maybe because of it?) gas prices are heading into the stratosphere. IEDs by the dozen, and the deficit, are exploding. Both Baghdad and New Orleans have been looted, due to the Administration’s inability and unwillingness to anticipate obvious outcomes. So why did we re-elect this bozo? What the heck were we thinking? Maybe too many voters took a vacation from reality! As a reminder, here is our list of the pressing issues from the election. Top Ten Reasons Bush Won
09.02.05 @ 10:08 PM EDT [link]
Helping out Don on the Differences between Vietnam and Iraq
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was recently quoted as saying that “The differences between Vietnam and Iraq are too numerous to list.” While we understand that he’s a very busy man, we feel we must humbly point out that 1) this is a topic on people’s minds right now, considering that we’re over two years into it with no end in sight, 2) if anyone is in a position to speak authoritatively on the subject, it should be the Secretary of Defense, and 3) if our Iraqi adventure turns out anything like our Vietnamese adventure, we’ve got some bad times ahead! In our customary positive spirit, we offer the Secretary the following list of reasons that Iraq is not like Vietnam. He should feel free to use it as he will. Perhaps the next time he’s asked the question he can pull it out, or maybe just give out the link. First, Iraq is a desert, not a jungle. People speak Arabic, not Vietnamese. Insurgents wear long flowing robes, not pajamas. Vietnam had a North and South, while Iraq has a North, South, and Middle (all of which hate each other). Iraq has oil, not tasty iced coffee. In Vietnam the communists were the bad guys, while in Iraq the bad guys are the bad guys. In Vietnam fighters were inspired by the extreme ideology of enemies of the US like the USSR and China. In Iraq fighters are inspired by the extreme ideology of close US allies like Saudi Arabia. In Vietnam weapons and explosives had to be imported from other countries, while in Iraq world-class stockpiles were just sitting around unguarded for the taking. In Vietnam membership in the National Guard was a safe haven from combat duty. In Iraq membership in the National Guard is a sure ticket for combat duty. In Vietnam the costs of the war were paid for by increasing taxes, while in Iraq they’re being paid for by decreasing taxes. The legacy of Vietnam was distrust of Government by the younger generation, while the legacy of Iraq will be hundreds of billions in unpaid bills for the younger generation. I think that’s about it, don’t you?
09.01.05 @ 08:03 PM EDT [link]
Creationists Worship a Counterfeiting God
Opponents of Creationism and Intelligent Design usually attack it on scientific grounds. They point out the overwhelming majority of working biologists concur that evolution via natural selection is the only viable theory in their field. In other words, it’s the only workable explanation for the huge bulk of relevant facts on the nature of the living world. This defense doesn’t work with proponents of Creationism or ID, however, since they are entirely comfortable with the idea of sweeping aside the lifetime work of thousands and thousands of researchers with smug disregard. A more effective approach, in my estimation, is to point out the religious rather than scientific inconsistencies belief in Creationism and ID introduce. Since opponents of evolution are motivated by religious conviction, perhaps religious arguments would carry greater weight with them. (That being said, I’m not betting the farm on changing anyone’s mind, since the history of religion is practically defined by the rejection of the religious convictions of others!) In ay case, let’s give it a shot. Here’s my argument: to believe in Creationism and Intelligent Design, you have to believe that God is a counterfeiter. You have to believe that the enormous amount of evidence in God’s handiwork, the natural world, was intentionally “planted” by Him to deceive us. You have to believe that God went to great pains to create false and misleading patterns in His creation. What sort of patterns? How about fossilized seashells above sea level? How about thousands of non-human fossils scattered around the African landscape with increasingly human characteristics? How about anatomical features in the human body that closely map to features in particular animals, for example the ability of a human to rotate the forearm, a characteristic only held by animals that hang from the limbs of trees? And what about the coincidence that we happen to share the most DNA with these very same animals? Why did God go to so much trouble to make it look like we evolved from other creatures if we really didn’t? It would clearly have been possible for him to remove all characteristics have in common with other animals, even giving us unique DNA as opposed to 99% match to other animals. If He wanted us to believe in Intelligent Design, that’s all He would have had to do. Instead, if He did indeed beam us down whole from above, why be so deceptive? My take is that God hates Creationism and Intelligent Design, because those that hold these attitudes grossly misrepresent the wonder of His creation and the diligence of those who spend their lives working through exactly how it works.
08.31.05 @ 07:45 PM EDT [link]
Faith in Science
Here’s another once I’ve seen and heard a lot lately: people who believe that science and only science (defined as what the great mass of actual scientists actually believe) should be taught in science classes are displaying as much “faith” as the faithful who would like to see their religious interpretations taught. They point out that the certainty demonstrated by people of faith in these religious interpretations is matched in intensity by the certainty displayed by those who like their science classes to teach what scientists believe. Having established this equivalency beachhead, they can then argue that teaching both “theories” is the only resolution of the conundrum of absolute certainly on both sides. It’s a clever but evil argument. It cleverly blurs the true meaning of faith, positioning it as absolute belief when it is actually something very different. Faith is the belief that, while nature appears in most cases to operate according to natural laws, these laws are sometimes (maybe even often) overridden by supernatural influences. Those who hold science in high regard don’t necessarily also hold that there are no supernatural influences. They only point out that such influences have never been found to be provable, and, conversely, that proving that supernatural influences cannot exist is a logical impossibility. They figure there’s plenty of work to do in figuring out the natural laws without getting into the impossible thicket of supernatural influences. Consequently, the difference between interest in science and faith in God is merely a matter of focus. Science is entirely focused on the situations where nature operates according to consistent natural laws. Faith is focused on situations where these laws might be transcended. Belief in science does not contradict faith. For people of faith who also happen to believe in the value and indeed the nobility of science as the systematic study of God’s handiwork, science complements faith. Science can in fact be said to be based on the observation that God really likes consistency in his universe, so maybe He wants us to study this consistency really hard!
08.30.05 @ 08:04 PM EDT [link]
Whose the Reddest of them All?
Scene: Oval Office.
POTUS: Karl, I miss those exuberant rallies we used to have when we were out stumping for reelection. Everywhere we went, mega-crowds! Every sentence, applause! Every shot at Liberals, boos and hoots! Every hunch to deliver a sound-bite, ecstasy! Now they all just sit there like slugs. America needs to see some of that old spirit again! How we gonna do that?
Rove: Sir, I’ve been working on that. Give me another week or so and I’ll have something lined up.
POTUS: A tour?
Rove: No, Sir, I mean an event.
POTUS: Goddamit Karl! In the whole country, most of which is Red should I remind you, you can only come up with one lousy crowd? What am I paying you for? What about the bases?
Rove: Sir, the focus groups don’t like the vibes coming from the troops when you pitch to them. Besides, military types aren’t raucous.
POTUS: Well, what about the towns outside the base? They were pretty lively on the campaign trail!
Rove: Sir, the word on the ground is that they’re hacked off at you because they thought by voting Republican they’d get lots of military spending, but all they’re getting is Iraq tours and base closings. We’re gonna have to get steer clear of the troops.
POTUS: Well, that still leaves plenty of red state acreage.
Rove: Sorry, Sir, but the West is PO’d because of what you’re saying about immigration and the South is unhappy about getting clobbered with the weather.
POTUS: What’s the weather have to do with me?
Rove: They thought by voting for God’s clear choice for President they’d be set for four years, but now they’re saying that it looks like divine retribution. Some of them are talking about global warming causing the hurricanes. And the rest of the Red States are unhappy about having to pay big bucks to drive across their wide open spaces.
POTUS: OK, OK, I get it. What’s this event you’re working on?
Rove: We can’t lose with this one, Sir. It’s at the plant that makes your bike. With all the free product spots they’ve been getting since you’ve been on vacation, the whole town loves you!
POTUS: Sounds good, Karl. See if Lance can come down too. It’ll be just what the doctor ordered!
08.29.05 @ 08:09 PM EDT [link]
An Asterisk on the Ten Commandments!
Every once in awhile an event occurs that perfectly encapsulates what’s wrong with the Right Wing. For my money, the succession of events linked to Pat Robinson’s statement to his 700 Club views about assassinating the President of Venezuela qualifies as the most telling event of the summer. Here’s specifically what he said: “if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.” To put this in context, here is what Robertson had to say about the recent Supreme Court decision requiring the removal of massive Ten Commandments displays from State Courthouses: “it's time to declare ourselves free from judicial tyranny. We uphold the rule of law, but tyrants should not be tolerated.” In one quote he’s upholding the rule of law and the importance of the Ten Commandments as a guide for government operations, and in the next he’s advocating the killing of democratically-elected leaders, an act that clearly violates the 6th Commandment. Presumably we need to carve an asterisk by item six on those big stone 10C displays to the effect that God didn’t mean it to apply to taking out pesky elected leaders sitting on lots of His oil! But wait, there’s more! When the predictable firestorm erupted, he gave the Standard Right-Wing Dodge: his remarks had been taken out of context by the liberal media. Specifically he said “I didn’t say assassination.” So if he didn’t say “assassination,” why does that word appear in the middle of the sentence he uttered to his viewers? And there’s still more, apparently lost in the hubbub over the ass-word in his original statement. I’m speaking of the second half of his quote: “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.” The clear implication is that the US would be perfectly justified in yet another preemptive war, this time against a really elected leader (not pseudo-elected, like Saddam). Clearly the mess that remains from the first optional invasion hasn’t diminished Pat’s enthusiasm for another. So to recap, we have a politically-active religious leader who wants to see more influence of the Ten Commandments in government except when it constrains preemptive killing and preemptive war. A perfect summing up of the moral bankruptcy of the political religious right!
08.28.05 @ 08:18 PM EDT [link]