Hydroxychloroquine madness

If hydroxychloroquine worked, we liberals would be thrilled. We’d be the most pro-hydroxychloroquine pushers out there, because we actually like healing people (hence our drive to pass national health care for the past 100 years).

We like facts. And if we are proven wrong by a fact, we generally change our views to fit the facts instead of just ignoring or denying the facts.hydroxIf the most Trump-supporting scientist* discovers a cure, we will cheer. And if suddenly it is discovered that whoops, hydroxychloroquine really does work, we’ll be lined up to take it and will encourage everyone else to do so as well.

Whenever I say this, I get people sending me links to articles about how this trial or that trial looked promising, and then they say “therefore, we should all be using it.”  No. No, that’s not how it works.

To reiterate: When and if the medical community as a whole recommends it, then I will be thrilled. Why shouldn’t I be? Don’t we all want a cure?

But that hasn’t happened yet and for anyone to recommend taking something that the FDA has not approved for the virus is irresponsible and reckless.

And it certainly doesn’t help when the people most recommending this are Donald Trump and crazy people who claim that viruses are spread by demon sperm and there is some vast conspiracy to keep this from the public.

If there is some vast conspiracy to keep it from everyone, then why? What reason? I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t (a) we want everyone to get better and thus save lives and the economy and (b) the companies want it approved so they can make money?

If there is a conspiracy, who does it benefit? The argument that Big Pharma is keeping this from being used makes absolutely no sense, especially since much research is done in the rest of the world and in universities where medicine isn’t about profit. In the rest of the civilized world, finding a cure will save governments lots of money, so there is absolutely no reason to hide a cure if one existed.

If it is approved and accepted, obviously we will all cheer and say good. It’s not like we’re going to ignore science like Trump supporters.

*if there is one

The latest internet fear: signing with 20

A meme has been going around warning people not to sign their documents with “20” as the year because someone might change it on them.

I thought that was kind of ridiculous, and said so on my Facebook page.

NBC’s Today Show thought my comments were interesting, and quoted me in their article about it.  Click here for a link to the article below:

A Maine police department passed along a warning from a law office to avoid abbreviating 2020 on checks and legal documents.
By Scott Stump

A Maine police department is warning against abbreviating the year 2020 on checks and legal documents for precautionary reasons and to avoid potential fraud.

The East Millinocket Police Department shared a message on Facebook from the George E. Moore Law Office in Ohio that advises people to write out 2020 instead of an example like 3/3/20 because it could allow people to write a different year at the end by adding two digits after 20.

“This is sound advice and should be considered when signing any legal or professional document,” the department wrote on Facebook. “It could potentially save you some trouble down the road.”

The department later edited the post after receiving some criticism to say that it was intended as a warning, not strict legal advice.

“Of course we understand that all dates can be altered, however I believe that most here would agree that if a document of any kind, either legal or professional, is brought to our attention as being forged or fraudulent, it would likely raise far more red flags, depending on the circumstances, if it had a date of 1999 as opposed to 2019 or 2021.

A Maine police department passed along a warning from a law office to avoid abbreviating 2020 on checks and legal documents.

“Again, we shared this meme with a simple cautionary post, giving the citizens of our small community information to consider. Criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of people. This meme provided a tip that we felt has some validity so this is why we shared it. It is not intended as legal advise or a warning, only as a cautionary tip to consider.”

So is this a legitimate concern as we start the new year?

“The chances of someone trying to pull that kind of fraud on you are pretty slim, especially since it is so easy to prove that it was done,” Pennsylvania attorney Michael Ventrella told TODAY in an email.

“If someone changes the date on a check or a contract, that’s fraud. It’s easy to prove and no court will hold you responsible for a contract that was changed like that. Even a simple mistake can be easily corrected.”

Contract law is not so strict as to hold people to whatever is written down if that was not their intent, Ventrella added.

“You’d also have to ask why someone would do this,” he said. “If you change the date on a check to 2019, for instance, then a check dated Jan. 3, 2019 would never be honored by a bank because it’s so old. Who would do that? What benefit would it have?

“If you want to play it safe, then sure, write out the entire date. But you’d be better off to prepare for being hit by lightning, because that’s probably more likely.”


Why conservatives call Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez “stupid”

It’s a popular meme on the right — calling AOC “stupid” and making fun of her for that. Seriously, do a search and you’ll find a bunch.

Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez won a science fair in high school of the kind that usually gets won by people who go on to win Nobel prizes. The competition is the largest pre-college scientific research event in the world.


Then she went to Boston University where she graduated cum laude with degrees in economics and international relations.

So how can they call her “stupid”?

Well, first, let’s remember that facts are meaningless to these people. These are the same people who deny evolution, claim climate change isn’t real, argue that trickle-down economics works, and think Trump is completely innocent. They deny reality all the time when it contradicts their already-held world view.

But mostly, they say that about anyone who believes in democratic socialism. They point to Venezuela (ignoring the fact that Venezuela’s problems are not because of socialism but because of corruption and a near-dictatorship) while they ignore basically every other advanced civilized democratic country in the world that has socialism (most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc.).

In other words, they are seriously arguing that a person who graduated with honors in economics and international relations — the two things that would undoubtedly qualify anyone as an expert in democratic socialism — is “stupid.”

Which is about as stupid as they can be.

Inconvenient Facts and Bathrooms

The right-wing’s aversion to facts has long been documented (with facts). From denial of climate change and evolution to false claims about Planned Parenthood to a refusal to acknowledge the improving economy, the one thing that is consistent with current conservative thought is an aversion to truth when it contradicts their already-held views.

cartoon by Kevin Siers

The latest involves sexual identity. Let’s face it, they’ve never quite understood sex anyway — probably due to their religious views. But now they’re convinced that children are in danger because of something that has been going on forever and has never caused a problem before: Trans people using the bathroom for the sex they identify with.

Why is this suddenly an issue? They’ve been doing this for generations and no one can find a single example of a trans person abusing anyone in a bathroom. (Oh, there’s probably an example out there somewhere that someone will eventually find; statistically speaking, it’s possible. But one out of how many billions of bathroom visits? You’re much more likely to be abused by a Catholic priest or a Republican Congressman* but no one is writing laws preventing them from using bathrooms.)

That doesn’t stop the right from screaming about it and pointing out examples of men who have abused children in bathrooms — men who do not identify as women in the slightest.

The fact is (Oh there I go again, relying on “facts”), chances are you’ve shared a bathroom with a trans person already but didn’t know it because — here’s the key — the person identifies as the proper sex for that bathroom. They look like the sex they identify with. That’s the point.

If you abuse someone in a bathroom or harass them or peek at them, you’re committing a crime and it doesn’t matter whether you’re trans or not. These laws trying to discriminate against trans people do absolutely nothing to stop that. Their only purpose is to once again make sex that conservatives don’t understand illegal.

*That was another fact, just in case you didn’t recognize it.

Fact against you? Just deny them!

Carly Fiorino and the other GOP candidates have railed about for months over a faked video that claimed that Planned Parenthood was harvesting baby parts. It’s been discredited by everyone, and the guy who made it admitted it was fake, but that hasn’t stopped them from repeating the lie.


cartoon by Rob Tornoe

They even managed to get a Grand Jury to investigate this supposed terrible crime. Yesterday, the Grand Jury came back and exonerated Planned Parenthood and instead indicted the guys who made the fake video.

So all the Republicans finally admitted they were wrong.

Ha ha! Just kidding! They instead doubled down on the falsehood, insisting that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they were still right.

Is anyone at all surprised by this? This is the party that regularly denies facts that are inconvenient to their ideology. They refuse to accept climate change and evolution. They insist that trickle down economics work. They claim Obamacare has killed jobs, that gun control doesn’t reduce gun deaths, that “voter fraud” is a major problem, that Obama has raised the deficit, that a majority of Americans are against gay marriage, and that some sort of conspiracy happened in Benghazi (I still haven’t quite figured out exactly what they are talking about there).

And they are easily proven wrong every single time.

While this mindset is not limited to Republicans, one does not see it at the top levels of the Democratic party in the same way you see Republican leaders spout out untruths like that.

I can kind of understand the people at the top repeating these lies as a way to give them more power. Evil leaders have done that forever. But are there no honest people any more in the Republican party? No one who will say, “Hey, that’s not true. We shouldn’t be saying that.”

Apparently not.


Cancer Cure Conspiracy Nonsense

I’ve never quite understood how my liberal friends can laugh at those who claim there is a vast conspiracy of scientists who are lying about climate change while at the same time embracing their own conspiracy theories about vaccines or cancer cures.


What if I told you this was bullshit?

Seriously?  I mean, I don’t trust the pharmaceutical industry either, but to hold that they are all conspiring to prevent a cure for cancer because it’s more profitable to treat patients than cure them? You honestly and sincerely believe that?

Let’s look at why such a belief is nonsense:

  1. This is a very American way of looking at it, as if no other country was researching a cure. Health care may be profit-generating here in this country, but we are the only advanced country where that is the case — where your health depends on your income. Other countries are not that way, and in fact, if they could find a cure, it would greatly reduce the costs for their national health care policy. In the rest of the world, finding a cure is the way to have more money.
  2. A lot of research happens in colleges where profit-making is not the goal, or with non-profit groups like the American Cancer Society. It’s not all about making money even here.
  3. The medical providers may make more money treating someone than curing them, but who pays that money? Most of the time, it’s the insurance companies. Insurance companies in America really run things, and there’s nothing they’d love more than finding a cure that will save them all that money.
  4. The person or organization that cures cancer will be heroes. They will win Nobel prizes and be praised everywhere. The incentive for finding a cure vastly outweighs whatever benefits may be given to individuals for not finding the cure.
  5. Researchers have family and friends too. They’ve watched loved ones die from cancer. You really think they don’t care? You really think they’re all mustachioed Snidley Whiplash types going “Nyah ha ha! I am on the brink of saving my wife from cancer but I will keep that secret so I can keep making lots of money”? Further, let’s not forget that even CEOs of pharmaceutical groups (and their family members) have died from cancer — you think they weren’t trying to find a cure?
  6. Cures have been found. Great strides have been made against cancer. There are lots of different kinds of cancer as well, so there’s not going to be one cure that solves them all anyway. If this conspiracy theory were true, none of these cures would have been found, right?
  7. There are lots of companies making various treatments for cancer, and they’re all in competition. The one that finds the cure will have a monopoly on that cure, and will make much more money selling that cure at that point.

While it is important to be a skeptic, you need to be a skeptic about everything or else you’re being hypocritical. Treat your own personal beliefs with the same skepticism you give other beliefs and you may be surprised at how many of your own beliefs will also fall.

Mars has Water! Let’s sing!

Angering Californian residents everywhere, NASA today announced that Mars has water.  Marvin_the_MartianAnd in liquid form, not ice.

“The existence of liquid water, even if it is super salty briny water, gives the possibility that if there’s life on Mars, that we have a way to describe how it might survive,” said NASA.

This is pretty big news for astronomy nerds like me, because it greatly increases the possibility of finding life elsewhere. I mean, I am certain there is other life — and even intelligent life — in the universe, but it would be nice to have some confirmation.

But now, let’s just celebrate a few of my favorite songs featuring Mars. The planet, not the god. This is a list from the top of my head, and I’ve probably forgotten quite a few.  Got any additions?

Happy 5776 everybody!


Graphic by Andrew Marc Greene

No, I’m not Jewish. I just wish we used the Jewish calendar, in which case we’d be starting 5776 now.

It’s just that, well, when I think about the vastness of the universe and the age of the earth, sometimes I get depressed that we’re so young as a species. I mean, come on — dinosaurs ruled the planet for about 200 million years, and we’ve been here what, maybe 1 million (depending on when you count “humanity” as starting). Now is that fair?

Imagine what the world would be like if we have 200 million years of scientific advancement. Look how far we’ve come just in the last 100 years. For that matter, when I think of the vast changes that have occurred just in my lifetime, I am astounded.

So when I think of a calendar having 2015 years, it just seems so short. Like we’re all just babies. Like history started only a few thousand years ago.

At least 5776 sounds like we’ve been around a while.

The Conspiracy that is so Secret Even We Don’t Know We’re Part of It

One of the main problems with being a part of the vast liberal conspiracy is knowing you’re a part of it.

I mean, I never get meeting notices, and I have completely missed instructions as to our secret handshake.Badman

But this conspiracy must exist. So many on the right are convinced that the only way they keep losing arguments and debates is because of the immense and powerful cabal of liberal elites who run the media, politics, and apparently even games and science fiction awards.

“Surely we aren’t losing these battles because we’re wrong,” they say, “or because our views are not shared by the majority of people involved. It clearly has to be because of the vast left-wing conspiracy machine.”

This great and powerful group rivals the Illuminati in what it can get done. For instance, it can make evidence about Benghazi disappear completely, as if there never was any evidence in the first place! In smaller doses, it can use its power to convince a majority of people to do the exact opposite of what the right wing wants, almost as if the majority of people were going to do that anyway.

And how does this conspiracy accomplish these goals? Very subtly, by using an underhanded strategy that has been dubbed by the media elite as “facts.” These “facts” are evil instruments that eat away at our society’s moral center, contradicting the world view that the right knows actually exists — where immigrants are all rapists and the vast majority on welfare are drug users and Obamacare has been unsuccessful. Facts contradict many right wing views, so clearly the fault lies with those who insist on stating facts — that vast and evil conspiracy on the left.

So I am really insulted. Since I am obviously part of that fact-loving majority, I need to know:

When do I finally get my membership card?

(Thanks to Michael Pederson for inspiration for this post)

Republican Mad Science! Mad, I Tell You!

“I’m not a scientist” is what Republicans use as an excuse to be stupid about science they don’t like for political reasons only, and this ad ridiculing them is absolutely perfect. You must watch.

Of course, the only time they use that excuse is to deny climate change or evolution. When it comes to abortion and the question of when life begins, not one of them ever refuses to take a position there, claiming they are “not a scientist.”

Cudos to the Clinton campaign for this ad.