Funny how the Internet brings us all together. J sub D has passed. More eloquent thoughts and details here. RIP, J sub.



You Ain't Special

So, I read from my twitter feed that state Senator Dan Patrick proposed a bill exempting himself and other legislators from certain onerous provisions of Title 10, section 46.035 of the Texas Penal Code. What's more impressive is that he managed to get it passed in the Texas Senate. I can only hope the Texas House isn't so foolish.

For those of you not in the know, this section of the code governs where I, as a fine citizen and CHL holder, cannot lawfully carry a concealed weapon. Sen. Patrick feels that his exalted status as a legislator in the state of Texas means he's superior to us lesser mortals and should be exempt from most of these annoying rules.

Well, fuck that. He ain't special, and neither are his 180 colleagues up there in Austin doing their level best to screw things up. You want to pack heat in a bar just because you're a state legislator? Screw you, Dan. You're just a radio announcer who won an election, and all of sudden you think the rules shouldn't apply to you? What kind of nonsense is this? You possess no special wisdom or experience beyond that of winning elections. How that gives you any more need or qualification to carry a gun in a bar, sporting event, hospital, amusement park, church or state meeting is beyond me.

I have this funny theory: legislators aren't special. They are simply the citizen patsies we delegated to go off to Austin or DC and handle things so the rest of us can lead our lives. Therefore, legislators should be subject to all the same rules the rest of us are since they are fundamentally no different. Additionally, since we have reposed a significant amount of trust in our legislators, when they screw up in a criminal fashion, they get to go away for longer and get treated worse. SB 905 flies in the face of these beliefs.

The bill as written has one other fatal flaw: it is contrary to reality. The bill presumes state legislators have better judgement than the rest of us CHL holders. I can knock that theory dead with one simple thought: if Dan Patrick had 'better judgement', he wouldn't have gone into politics.

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Fictional Ecological Disaster

So a while ago, we watched James Cameron’s stunning opus of Avatar. I give him a lot of credit for making a pretty movie. A whole lot of people got mad at him for making some kind of glorious paean to Gaia worship or something. However, I didn’t take away the same eco-hippie narrative everybody else did.

To me, the blue 7 foot tall “natives” are no more native to Pandora than the humans. Look at every other creature on Pandora. Notice something funny about them? They’re all hexapeds. The only quadrupeds on Pandora are the Na’vi and humans. Folks, biology doesn’t work that way. Let’s look at Earth as an example, since it’s the only planet we’ve got. Mammals are quadrupeds on this planet. If a critter is part of kingdom Mammalia, it’s got 4 limbs, even if they’re vestigal (like whales). A radical restructuring from hex to quad is a fairly staggering change in a species, especially when all other species can get along fine with the hexapedal form.

Let’s look at the next oddity. Useful creatures have the magic USB jack the Na’vi can plug into and use to control the animal. Seriously? This isn’t questioned by anybody? How is a way for another organism to hijack your central nervous system an evolutionary asset? Put down the Gaia fetish and think about this. Do the killer panthers roaming the woods have this input? Or only the Pandoran draft animals? Hmm. If I were breeding animals to be useful, I’d sure like a direct neural control interface. Beats the hell out of a bridle and reins, doesn’t it?

Then the Pandorans have the magical back-up tree. The tree send filaments into you and basically downloads a copy of your consciousness into the Godtree server farm underground. Once again, are you hippies serious? A tree that downloads and transfers consciousness just grows in the woods? Why would a tree need to be able to do this? How does this benefit the organism? What, did it spend it’s time downloading panther brains before the Na’vi showed up? I can't think an ecological niche this tree fills with a mind-reading ability. However, a tree with this ability is damn sure useful to the Na'vi. Why, it's almost like the tree was designed to have a purpose for the Na'vi.

For a guy who’s spent as much time steeped in sci-fi as I have, the conclusions are obvious. The ancestral Na’vi showed up on Pandora from elsewhere, terrraformed the planet, genetically engineered the native species to be useful, and retired from productive work. At some point, the Na’vi forgot their past and now live in the wreckage of a technologically advanced civilization based on biological sciences.

Us dumb Terrans just wanted to get some rocks. We didn’t try to reshape the entire Pandoran ecosystem so it’d be more useful to us. I think if you want to look at the people who committed greater ecological crimes on Pandora, you need to look at the Na’vi.

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