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A Message To My Christian Brothers & Sisters

26/03/2015

This one is for my co-religionists, so here’s a cute animated gif of a bouncing cube of red jello for the non-Christians.

animated bouncing jello cube

I’ll see the rest of you after the jump.

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Fictoid: one morning at tea…

25/03/2015

Frank X Leyendecker I say reginald cap

“I say, Reginald, are those airships jousting over our front lawn?”

“THANK GOD YOU SEE THEM, TOO!”

art by Frank X. Leyedencker

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Facts / Opinions / Evidence / Truth

24/03/2015

Justin P McBrayer[1] recently posted an op-ed piece with the NYTimes called Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts [2] where he relates the following:

“When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

“Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

“Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

“…So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?

“First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.

“But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed. We then had this conversation:

“Me: ‘I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?’

“Him: ‘It’s a fact.’

“Me: ‘But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.’

“Him: ‘Yeah, but it’s true.’

“Me: ‘So it’s both a fact and an opinion?’

“The blank stare on his face said it all.”[3]

To quote one of the great rhetoricians of our era:

sam-jackson-retort-468x350

“Facts,” “truth,” “evidence,” and “opinion” are not the same thing. They may overlap when referring to concrete examples, but that’s a function of language, not reality.

Facts, so to speak, are the atoms of reality: They is what they is. They carry no moral weight of judgment, no meaning in and of themselves. A fact either is or it is not.

Truth is the summation of several facts in conjunction or juxtaposition against one another. The “truth” of water, for example, is a summation of several facts about it: Its molecular formula, the pressure and temperature points where it freezes or vaporizes, the way it interacts with other molecules, etc., etc., and of course, etc.

Evidence are facts assembled to produce a truth, either in whole or in part.

Opinion is a belief, preferably based on informed knowledge about the facts and evidence before one, that makes a presumption about what truth is.

Fact: I was born

Opinion A: I was born within the borders of the United States at that time

Opinion B: I was not born within the borders of the United States at that time

Without fact based evidence to prove either Opinion A or Opinion B, they are both equally valid assumptions.

I’m the flippin’ Schroedinger’s Cat of procreation, and lacking facts in evidence my birth within / without the borders of the US are equally valid assumptions.

Only one of those opinions is true, of course.

And all the logic, rhetoric, assembled supporting evidence, sincerity of believe, and numbers of believers does not alter the factual truth one iota.

There are no moral “facts”,
but there are moral “truths”.

Unlike facts which can be fixed in time and space, truth does not need observable concrete evidence to be true or not.

There was no cup of coffee on my desk an hour ago, there is a cup of coffee on my desk now, there will be an empty cup on my desk in an hour are all valid statements of fact even though they do not represent the same exact thing. They can be assembled to form a truth about my having a cup of coffee while working.

Or more precisely, they can be assembled to produce an opinion about the truth; for all you know I’m just shining you on about the coffee, the desk, and me working. Or more precisely still, the truth is that it’s possible for me to drink coffee, and that truth remains unalterable regardless of the facts of my coffee drinking / non-drinking.

McBrayer wants to have his imaginary cake and make you eat it. George Washington’s status as the first president of the US stands independent of McBrayer’s belief, no matter how much evidence he assembles to prove it. He is right in his opinion — this time.

But he could just as sincerely believe even more and better evidence of other facts and assemble them into a conclusion that is not the truth.

It drives hard line moralists nuts to live in a universe where their opinions are not automatically revered and treated as fact, but to quote another great rhetorician:

“Dem’s da conditions wot prevails.”

.

.

.

[1] Yeah, I know: “Who?” Bear with me, I gotta fill a quota on this blog and this one’s an easy pop fly.

[2] Probably for the same reason they don’t think there’s any dry water, either; McBrayer is using mutually contradictory terms.

[3]  Congratulations, Justin, for opening a can of pseudo-intellectual whup-ass on your seven year old…

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I Fail To See A Difference

21/03/2015

This is Barronelle Stutzman. She is a Christian being persecuted for staying true to her beliefs.

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-4

This is Lester Maddox. He was another Christian who was persecuted for staying true to his beliefs.

lester-maddoxs-quotes-4

No, that’s not Lester on the left; Lester is the guy with the gun threatening an American citizen for demanding his Constitutional rights (the guy with the axe handle is Lester’s son, IIRC).

Lester’s religious belief was that African-Americans were subhumans who were being punished by God for their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather Ham’s sin against their great-great-great-great-great-times-howmany-grandfather + 1 Noah.

And because of that, Ham’s descendants were cursed with black skin and condemned to be slaves to white skinned people for all eternity.

Sez so right in the Bible…

Bad enough the US government went and changed the Constitution to get rid of slavery — which, after all, had been ordained by God — but then they went and let those uppity so-and-sos have equal rights with white people, and that just ain’t right!

Still, Lester and his buddies were willing to live and let live…just so long as the uppity so-and-sos were willing to live in the colored part of town and stepped out of the way when a white person passed by and not vote or go to public schools or run for election or expect fire or ambulance service.

And they sure as hell weren’t supposed to come into a fine white person’s establishment and demand to be treated just the same way as a white customer was treated.

Why, that was violating God’s holy law! That was a sinful abomination! If God had wanted people to treat each other the way they wanted to be treated, with kindness and compassion and mercy, well then, wouldn’t God have said that in His holy scripture?

Hunh?

 

Hunh?

Hunh?

Barronelle believes it’s her religious right to deny her fellow citizens their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Recently a couple of African-Americans…no, wait…a couple of Jews…no, wait, a couple of gay guys came into her florist shop to order flowers for their wedding.

Now, the thing a non-bigoted Christian American would have done would be to sell them the flowers. See, a non-bigoted Christian American might not approve of what another person’s religious beliefs are, but they will acknowledge they are supposed to treat them the same way they treat someone whose beliefs they agree with.

And that’s what same sex marriage is all about:
Their religious belief is that it is not a sin for two people of the same sex to marry.

Same as two divorcees re-marrying have a religious belief that it’s okay for two divorcees to re-marry.

Same as two people with different ethnic backgrounds have a religious belief that it’s okay for different ethnic groups to marry.

All of which had been outlawed at one time
but finally allowed when laws were changed.

Now, if your religious beliefs preclude that, no one is demanding you marry someone of the same sex, or who was previously divorced, or of a different ethnic background.

It would be wrong to force you to do that.

But just as it would be wrong to force you to do it, it is equally wrong for you to attempt to deny others their rights.

And that’s what Barronelle Stutzman is doing by refusing service to them.

Same as Lester Maddox.

The only people objecting to same sex marriage today are doing so from a conservative religious background.

They were taught it was wrong and nothing will change their mind.

Not even Jesus himself (God incarnate to Christians), who taught “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Who quoted Rabbi Hillel, a Jewish heavy hitter of a century earlier, when he taught “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

And who taught “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”

And “Give to every man that asketh of thee”

And “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

And “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

I’m sure Barronelle Stutzman and her allies think of her as a good, decent, kind, loving, generous, righteous Christian being persecuted for her faith; if they didn’t, why do they keep running pictures of like this when they try to gin up support for her?

Barronelle Stutzman coverstory-3

Funny thing is, I look at that photo and am reminded of this:

nazi family cropped

 

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Fictoid: a little late for that question…

19/03/2015

Alex Sharpe Ross - are you really a tattoo artist

“Are you really a tattoo artist?”

“Sure, I am.  Look at the great job
I did on my cat over there…”

underlying art by Alex Sharp Ross

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If The Answer Isn’t “Yes”, Then It’s “No”

18/03/2015

I’m sitting on the sidelines watching two people who share a long time friendship strain that relationship to the breaking point.  Details changed to protect the guilty.

One we’ll call Sam asked the other (whom we’ll call Pat) if they wanted to get involved in a deal a while back.

Pat didn’t, but Pat also didn’t want to hurt Sam’s feelings so instead of saying no said, “Let me think about it after the holidays.”

Sam chose to interpret that as “Yes!” and planned accordingly.

You see where this is going…

animated bridge collapse

Sam called Pat and asked about closing the deal.  Pat hemmed and hawed then finally said they weren’t interested.

Sam grew irritated.  Said some harsh things.  Accused Pat of double crossing them.

If the answer isn’t yes, then it’s no.”

And it isn’t a yes unless there’s a piece of paper with at least two signatures and a date on it and/or a check that has cleared the bank.

I say this for everyone but especially for those folks trying to break into show biz / publishing / video games.

“Maybe” / “we’ll see” / “we’re looking into it” / “perhaps” / “it’s under consideration” / “they love it” / “it’s a done deal” / “as soon as the last element falls in place” all mean no

They’re nice “no“s
Polite “no“s
Soft “no“s
But they’re still “no

If they haven’t said yes and whipped out a check book to prove it, they mean no.

Don’t delude yourself
Don’t lie to yourself
Don’t get your feelings hurt

Roll with it and move on.

 

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Roy Doty (1922 – 2015)

18/03/2015

Roy Doty 628x524px-7428780d_ScreenShot2012-05-12at15.00.41

I’ve posted before on Roy Doty, and so it saddens me to report his death via Tom Spurgeon’s The Comics Reporter.

I have nothing to add to the enthusiasm I’ve shown for his work in the past.  He was a marvelous cartoonist, accomplishing more with simple clean lines that most artists can do with all the fancy filigrees they can throw on the page.  He said of himself “What could be nicer? I sit and draw funny pictures and people send me money.

There’s a term “the jazz musicians’ musician” meaning an artist of exceptional talent and ability who is just so good at what they do that the uninitiated don’t recognize or fully appreciate it, but those who are trying to make their own mark in the field realize what genius they possess.

Roy Doty was a cartoonists’ cartoonist.

RIP
ROY

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Fictoid: Cinderella::Aftermath

17/03/2015

Edmund_Dulac_-_Prince_and_Princess

What are you doing here?

 

Cleaning.

I can see that,
my question is why?

I have no answer.

You are a princess now.

I know.

Servants can do this.

God, I know!  I know! 
Why do you think I’m here?

Don’t they clean well enough?

They clean most excellently,
giving me very little to do. 
No complaint there.

Then why — ?

I can’t stand the way they look at me.

Ah, jealousy –

No!  Not jealousy.

Contempt?  Show me the ones who –

No!  No contempt…just…they look at me,
and I know they are thinking,
“Why you?  Why you and not me?”

So they are jealous.

No.  Never jealous.  Curious.  Puzzled. 
I’m puzzled, too.  Why me?  Why…me? 
Two questions, when you actually come
to think about it.

I love you.

You are very kind to me,
but do you love me,
or do you love the idea of me? 
You knew nothing about me,
not even the fact I existed,
until that night.

I know you now.

But what do you know of me? 
You know of my cruel stepmother
and stepsisters, but thousands of
other children suffer as I did. 
Why didn’t you go save them?

If you want me to establish a charity –

No.  I mean…yes…please…a charity. 
Anything to pay back a fraction of what we owe.

“Owe”?!?!?  We owe nothing!

Really?  All this opulence,
all this pleasure, all this power
comes from someone, someone
who can ill afford it.

We are their leaders,
their protectors.

Protectors from whom? 
Others who want to collect their taxes? 
We protect them for ourselves.

Do you want to return to their level?

…no…
You have been kind…to me…and
 generous…to me.
I would be ungracious
 to not reciprocate.

Then what do you want?

I want to feel innocent again. 
I want to feel guiltless. 
I want to feel good.

And this cleaning,
it will help you?

Yes.

You missed a spot.

.

text © Buzz Dixon
art by Edmund Dulac

 

 

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Fictoid: she wasn’t a very convincing liar

15/03/2015

mead schaeffer geeze not again1

underlying art by Mead Schaeffer

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The Parable Of The Statue

14/03/2015

Wasp-Nest

There is an exhibit called The Most Beautiful Statue In The World.

The people running the exhibit tell us how wonderful, how marvelous, how sublime the statue is, truly “a work of art, a thing of beauty, a joy forever”.

But when people enter the exhibit, all they see is a lump of misshapen mud, a dull drab ugly color, with lumpy uneven texture.

Some people leave immediately,
either in anger or bemusement, thinking:
“It’s a hoax, a fake, a fraud, some joker
trying to put one over on us.”

Others stay, and pretend
they see the beauty
the exhibitors claim is there.

Like courtiers in The Emperor’s New Clothes, they believe the hype more than the evidence of their own eyes, and rather than be shamed and ridiculed for not seeing the beauty everyone else claims to see, they pretend to see it, too.

Some actually do believe the misshapen mud is beautiful, because if they were creating a statue, that would be the best they could do, the best they could imagine.

But a few look at it more closely,
and see something much better,
far better under the mud.

And as they look closer, they see the mud
is just a crust over something far more perfect.

Looking closer still, they realize the statue
is covered by a crust of mud dauber wasp nests.

So they start cleaning the statue,
and when they do voices rise in alarm.

“What are you trying to do?”

“You’re ruining the statue!”

“Stop!  Stop at once!”

And the wasps fly out,
angry and attacking those
who dare clean the statue.

But bit by bit they clean up
a patch here and a patch there,
revealing more and more of
the beautiful, genuine, pristine
statue underneath.

And while the wasps may rave and the exhibitors bluster and the crowd tries to stop them, in the end those forces won’t succeed, but the true statue underneath the mud nests will be open for all to see just how beautiful it is.

 

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