The Bad Astronomer Bump

Friday, February 27, 2009
As has happened before, I am apparently the recipient of "The Bad Astronomer Bump" due to a link I sent to Dr. Phil Plait via Twitter.

Welcome, Bad Astronomer fans! If this is your first time here, feel free to look around, and comment if you feel so inclined. Or lurk. Either way is fine, and the regulars around here are pretty good about welcoming new folks who don't subscribe to Nathan's categories of wackadoos on the Internet.*

My contact information is on the sidebar if you'd like to reach me.


*These are described as "a large subset of people just looking for something to be upset about. They can be divided into further subsets, consisting of the bat-shit crazy, the frothy, the poo-flinging monkeys, the hideous arse-candles, the unhinged, and possibly worst of all...MENSA MEMBERS!"**

**
I have nothing against Mensa members per se - I know very few personally, as Mensa is not an organization that interests me. But the subset described above does seem to contain a disproportionate number of people who belong to Mensa. Just sayin'.

37 comments:

Tania said...

You better not have anything against Mensa members.... just sayin'

;)

Janiece Murphy said...

Tania, you know you're one of my girl crushes.

Tania said...

Likewise, dear. Likewise.

LadyBrianna said...

Wow. Mensa. My brother belongs ... but I just can't. Last year I went to one of my bf's friend's Halloween parties, to be confronted with a house full of non-costumed MENSA members. Hellishly boring. Joe and the host Bill had to run to the store and left me there, which I will never forgive them for.

I had HAD it after listening to an entire conversation about the stupid mistakes this chick's ex made in Mexico 'cause he was speaking Spanish from Spain instead of the Mexico variety. At that point, I retired to the hot tub with several bottles of wine.

Joe joined me when they got back, and Bill eventually came out back with a few non-boring people who must have been hiding somewhere as well, and drunken naked ranting ensued. Now THAT'S a party!

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, LadyBrianna.

You'll fit right in here - we like drunken, out of control parties, too. With CHOCOLATE.

You might also get a kick out of this.

Jim Wright said...

Wait, drunken naked ranting? Maybe I should have joined Mensa after all. Damn. My blog post today pretty much screwed any chance I had of getting invited into the Mensa hot tub.

Plus I say "fuck" a lot and you know how Mensans feel about that. Like Tania, she never swears...

Tania said...

Goddammit Jim, you know how foul language pisses me off. As daddy used to say "Profanity if last resort of the inarticulate motherfucker".

Hell, lets reserve Tolovana Hot Springs, bring our chocolate, scotch, and easily compromised partners of choice and engage in some nekkid hot tubbing. Fuck yeah.

Tania said...

And apparently being bone weary and rather cranky also compromises one's ability to type and spell.

"Profanity IS the last resort..."

Sonovabitch.

Nathan said...

Just so it's clear to the visitors, I only ridicule Mensa members who use their membership as some sort of proof that they're smarter than the rest of us...no matter what stupid fucking thing they're trying justify.

Janiece Murphy said...

Good point, Nathan.

I wouldn't want my visitors to think you were stabby or anything.

Jim Wright said...

Well, yeah, that was the whole point of my post - but I figured if you were real smarter like and more intelectualated than the average bear you'd get that.

Hey, I don't want to piss Mensa off, the last thing I need is a bunch of nerds throwing pocket protectors at me and trying to kill me with their level seven paladin wizard dragons.

What?

Nathan said...

The paladin killed Tom Selleck!

Jim Wright said...

No, the paladin killed Tom Seleck's clone...

Eric said...

Jim, Paladin/Wizard would be a weaker multiclass combination than Paladin/Sorcerer, since Charisma is a good common stat for both classes. That said, it's a poor combination for humanoids in general, since the Paladin will have to sacrifice his ability to use good armor if he wants to maintain the ability to cast spells (the Sorcerer uses arcane magic, which has a chance of failing if the caster is wearing anything heavier than street clothes). Presumably, the dragon doesn't need to worry about armor because of his high natural AC.

Also, dude: D&D players are waaaay too cool to be in Mensa, and most of us get laid more often. Just saying.

;-)

John the Scientist said...

"and most of us get laid more often"

Two times zero is still zero. :D

Eric said...

Hey, I'm not counting myself. Negative numbers* bring the average wh-haaaaaay down. But I know people.

------

*Seriously, the little sex I had long ago, I wish I could return. 'Nuff said.

John the Scientist said...

I wasn't talking about you, you're more likely to get laid than any other D&Der I'm aware of.

But on average?

The average Physicist gets laid a lot more often than the average D&Der.

;-)

Janiece Murphy said...

What about physicists who play D&D?

James Blodgett said...

Jim Wright erased my post from Stonekettle Station, so I will post it here, where it is also relevant. Janiece is also commenting on Mensa. And I wanted to explain my “biker chick” metaphor to her, a metaphor I meant, and she took, as a courteous complement. But she didn’t quite get it. One argument for Mensa, and one of their slogans, is “we get your jokes.” But it is my fault as a writer that I slipped into metaphor that proved too obscure for several people. If the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.
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I tried to be courteous about my “biker gang” metaphor too, saying only that they are not automatically good guys. I will take off the gloves here, and say that sometimes Wright is a bad guy. It is really somewhat biker-gang-level bullying to say nasty things about Mensans, and then delete a totally relevant and relatively polite defense. (Judge for yourself, below. And see the original rumble.) At its best I admire Wright’s investigative reporting, and I do not object to his tough pose, but at times he can be nasty.
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Jim Wright did me a favor by the deletion. I don’t have time for this. For those who gathered on the sofa to watch the rumble: this channel is experiencing technical difficulties.
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[Originally Posted 3/3/09 on Stonekettle Station in the thread “Mensa: Proving that IQ doesn’t make you smarter since 1946” which is listed under “February 2009.”]
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Jonny Cash sang “I fell into a burning ring of fire.” That was metaphor. He didn’t need the emergency room. He was talking about passionate love.
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I thought it fun to change voice and speak in “tough guy” metaphor, decoded here.
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Jim Wright is proud of his warrant officer toughness. My understanding is that others here have been in the military too, but are now civilians. But you still talk tough. My metaphor for your civilian toughness is the biker gang, wearing flaming skull insignia. I don’t mean you are really bikers, but you are sort of like a biker gang in exhibiting toughness. This creates the existential problem I am trying to evoke. Tough military guys are good guys because they serve their country. Tough civilian groups like bikers are not automatically good guys, indeed they are somewhat scary, but they can be good guys if they work at it. I am suggesting that this group work at being the good guys.
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I take Jim Wright’s invitation to stay around as recognizing me as a tough guy too. (It may have been because he saw me as an amusing jester, but I prefer the tough guy interpretation.) “I have muscles,” is a metaphor for my toughness. I hint that he saw me as tough because I had the balls to “put the moves on” “your biker chick.” “Your” is the third person PLURAL here, meaning “the group’s biker chick.” My “putting the moves on” was way in the range of kidding. I made it clear that I was really devoted to my wife. And in projecting Janiece’s role as the group’s “biker chick,” I was careful to leave room for her professed devotion to her guy. “Chick” is her metaphor, so she already buys part of that role.
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You guys are getting into metaphor too, talking about sitting on the sofa, presumably to watch something like a World Wrestling Federation rumble.
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The rumble, on topic, was about Mensa. Evoking the “good guys” metaphor as applied to your “group” was an important part of my point about Mensa. I am suggesting that we (our Mensa special interest group) are the good guys, and I was defending my right to assert that we are the good guys. It is on topic to defend ourselves since Jim Wright’s introduction was somewhat of an attack on us.
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Is this as entertaining as the WWF? Would it help if we bashed each other with chairs?

Janiece Murphy said...

James, you are not endearing yourself to me.

Coming to my space so that you can essentially condescend to me about how I don't "get your jokes" is not polite conversation or a continuation of dialogue. It's asshattery, pure and simple. I also did not miss your insinuation that your job here is to "school" us ignorant non-Mensans. While I certainly don't claim to know everything, and in fact consider myself a "life-long learner," your arrogance will not lead to the expected outcome. If you really do want to have a courteous conversation here, you need to mind your manners a bit better. Capice?

As for Jim being "nasty," my response would have to be, "What else is new?" We all know who Jim is - in fact, we created a website, updated frequently, on just how much of an asshole Jim is. We like him for other reasons, and I can say that while he often goes farther than I would in terms of aggressive behavior, he is a "Good Guy," a good friend, a good sailor and a fun read. He just lacks patience with people he believes don't use their noggins. If that category includes you, then yes, he's going to get nasty with you.*

On to your metaphor.

Believe it or not, James, I did in fact understand your metaphor, but (sorry) it wasn't due to your communication skills. Your original entry was disjointed and hard to understand, especially since I don't know you and we're not communicating in meat space where body language can play a role.

I also think you misunderstand the nature of the UCF. Your "gang" analogy is inaccurate. We're simply friends. Nothing more, nothing less. We met via an on-line medium, but we have no agenda, no axe to grind. We disagree on various topics (sometimes vociferously), and agree on others. There's really not a value judgment to make in this case about whether we're "good guys" OR "bad guys," because we're both, depending on the day and the topic at hand.

As for Mensa, as I commented earlier, I have nothing against the organization per se. Members only incur my ire when they attempt to use their Mensa membership as a data point in an argument (i.e., my opinion has more weight than yours because I'm in Mensa!). That's argument from authority, pure and simple, and Mensa membership isn't even a very good authority. It's stupid, and it's (usually) irrelevant.

As for your special interest group being the "good guys."

I'm not convinced. You say you helped to "force" CERN to complete additional safety studies on the LHC with your "pressure." How many of the folks in that group are actual, you know, physicists? Public pressure for an unsubstantiated idea is not serving the public good - it's rumor mongering.**

Man, this is turning into a long response.

In closing, James, you are welcome to comment here if you can do so without using footnotes*** and can remain reasonably courteous.

Otherwise I'll break out the Shovel of Doom™ and wield it appropriately.

*This is the "final word" on your (or my) opinion of Jim Wright. He's my friend, and you're not - which means I will not allow my space to turn into a Jim Wright bash-o-rama defense-a-thon. If you wish to discuss his vices or virtues, please do so elsewhere.

**Please do not take this commentary to mean I'm opening the door for a "will the LHC destroy the world in a maelstrom of micro-black holes" discussion. I'm not. My only reason for including it at all is because you claim members in your organization are the "good guys" and the example you used was CERN and the LHC. LHC-will-destroy-the-earth comments will be deleted out of hand.

***Yes, yes, I realize I'm using footnotes here and forbidding you to do so, and that's a huge double standard. Sometimes I can be nasty and childish, too. You'll get over it.

Random Michelle K said...

*I* have an agenda.

My agenda is chocolate.

James,

You're not a tough guy. You're not amusing. You don't even make much in the way of sense. You may well belong to Mensa, but that doesn't make you any less of an idiot.

You've missed one crucial point, as Janiece pointed out. We're all *friends* here. We like each other, which is why we hang out together. We enjoy welcoming new friends, but by insulting Jim and Janiece and the everyone else, you're most certainly not placing yourself in that category.

You're being an ass. You're free to be an ass as you so desire, but do it somewhere else. We've got enough shit in our lives we don't need more from you.

Janiece Murphy said...

Now, Michelle, I told James he could stay provided he minded his manners.

Give him a chance to abide by my warning before you spank him.

Carol Elaine said...

The average Physicist gets laid a lot more often than the average D&Der.

John, the physicists I know are married, however, I can't say how that factors into how often they get laid. There are certainly a few around JPL that, were I single, I wouldn't mind upping their average.

Actually, I'd say the same about the D & D players I know - they're pretty damned cute.

Jim Wright did me a favor by the deletion. I don’t have time for this.

For someone who doesn't have the time for this, you sure do write a hell of a lot, Blodgett. With little of it comprehensible. Oh, and coming to Janiece's internet home and bashing her friend Jim because he won't let you shit in his internet home? Wise move, MensaBoy.

Eric said...

Mr. Blodgett:

1) I am a well-educated and extremely literate individual, and I found your "metaphor" incomprehensible until you explained it, whereupon I found it pointless and inapposite.

Note that when I use big words, I use them appropriately and meaningfully: you wrote, "This creates the existential problem I am trying to evoke." "This" what? This metaphor? This group of people? This situation in which people have said mean things about an organization to which you (and, incidentally, at least two UCFers who have a thicker skin than you) belong? And what, pray tell, is the "existential problem"? It appears from the subsequent sentences that you think "tough military people does not equal (commonly typed as "!=" or "=/=") "tough bikers" to be some kind of "existential problem," but what, exactly, is the problem other than the fact that your premise is blindingly obvious and lacks a conclusion?

Oh yes, by the way: the imaginary sofa you allude to isn't a metaphor, it's imaginary. Metaphors are inherently symbolic: one thing is like another (with the "like" being implicit, unlike a simile in which the analogy is express). The sofa doesn't exist, but it doesn't represent anything other than a sofa.

What you mean, presumably, is that the sofa is not literal, except you presumably don't mean that, either. You presumably mean that the sofa is not concrete, that is that it's an abstract or better yet a virtual sofa (or, going back to the last paragraph, imaginary). But you cannot possibly mean that the sofa is metaphorical or symbolic or that it is a simile of something.

Metaphor: The cloud was clumpy and misshapen, a puffy grey dorm-room sofa with strands of wispy cotton poking out.

Also-a-metaphor: Her bosom was the sofa on which he stretched out and recounted the misery and trauma of his childhood.

Not-a-metaphor: I think I will sit down on this (non-existent) sofa (which exists totally in my head).

I realize this is rather pedantic of me, but (a)you're the one with the "student/teacher" snark, (b)hey, you're a Mensan, you're supposed to be smart, and (c)perhaps the most-common shared interest of the UCF (see below) is writing, and Mark Twain was right: the difference between the right word and the nearly-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Or, in your case, a soggy and bent cigarette you found under the sofa (oh, look: a metaphor!). Also, (d)you might find more precise use of language makes your jokes, you know, jokes as opposed to random crazy shit that nobody else understands or thinks is funny.

2) The "UCF" is indeed nothing more than an unorganized group of friends who met online via blogs and forums find it amusing to raise a banner and joke about who's in charge. However, even if we were an organized group with an agenda beyond amusing friends (including each other), I'm not sure where you get off making suggestions as to how we comport ourselves. You write, "I am suggesting that this group work at being the good guys," as if anyone actually cares what you have to suggest.

If you find us nasty or brutish or thuggish, you have the same recourse I indulge when it comes to nasty, brutish people like Ann Coulter or Jonah Goldberg or Michelle Malkin: I generally avoid their work and when it's unavoidable I keep my comments to my own website (there's no margin in trolling a place I'm not welcome).

You are, of course, welcome not to read blogs that don't interest you and that you find offensive. You're also welcome to start your own blog where nobody can delete your comments but yourself. May I point out that Blogger is a free service, and simple enough that even you can figure out how to use it; you might even learn some HTML formatting by accident.

3) Finally, I'm going to disagree (just a little) with Janiece: in spite of occasional attempts to appear tough and "nasty," Mr. Jim Wright (Chief Warrant Officer, ret.) blogs about squirrels and adopting kittens, posts pretty pictures of breathtaking Alaskan landscapes, comedy sketches based on SF movies, et al. He is, in other words, a kinda lovable and genuinely nice geek (sorry to out you, Jim), and while he certainly doesn't suffer fools gladly (nor should he) and has a mighty temper when he catches whiff of some crime against fairness or reason, the "Jim Wright is an asshole" meme is an inside joke among the UCF because he isn't. Actually, Janiece sort of alludes to this in her response, but I think the "good guy" part of it ought to come first under the circumstances.

If he hasn't put up with your nonsense, Mr. Blodgett, it's because it's a bunch of nonsense. If you want Jim to like you, perhaps (and now it's my turn to make an unsolicited suggestion) you could start by not being such a vapid and condescending asshole. Of course, you might not care whether Jim likes you--and there's no reason you should--but in that case perhaps you should ignore him. I can't speak for Jim, but I strongly suspect he'd reciprocate.

Have a nice day, you annoying fuck.

Janiece Murphy said...

Eric, you're allowed to disagree with me - as long as it's only a little.

But you make a valid point - I may have left the impression in my response that I don't like Jim as well as I actually do. Poor writing on my part, and I apologize for being unclear.

I consider Jim to be a good friend and a decent and honorable human being.

But he's also a curmudgeon.

Anne C. said...

I'd also point out to James that the UCF also delights in being contrary. Even when we do "get it" (a standard patronizing sentiment), some of us are apt to spin it into something that wasn't intended, thus causing hilarity for all. Metaphors with no context are easy material to draw into tangential jokes. Playing it straight is just no fun!

Nathan said...

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!

One time, I posted a comment on somebody's blog, (I don't remember who's blog it was, but it was a blog) and they were all talking smack about something (I forget what), and it was like really fucking rude with people using nasty language and shit. Unfortunately, the internet ate my comment.

It was important and I remember every word. I think it had something to do with whether or not some Men's Service Organization should have to admit a 7-year-old little girl (they should have to), and whether or not it was discrimination at work keeping her out.

I'm going to search my computer where I keep records of everyone on the internet who offends me and where I'm sure to find my notes from this post. I feel that it is vitally important that I post that comment here.

I'll be back as soon as I find it. (If it's not on my hard drive, there's a chance I'll find it under my sofa, but there's really an awfully lot of shit under that sofa and I usually avoid looking.)

Sorry, if this was at all long and/or off topic,possibly self-contradictory or nonsensical, but suddenly, this seems like the proper repository for long, off-topic nonsense.

Or did I read something wrong?

P.S. I tried to post this on Eric's site, but John the Scientist hurt my feelings there once, Jim deletes everything I ever say, and everybody knows my toaster isn't safe within a mile of Michelle.

Fucking Assholes!

P.P.S. I promise to go back on my meds now.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, you make me laugh.

That's as good a reason as any to keep you around, meds or no.

James Blodgett said...

I appreciate Janiece marginally tolerating me. In context that is courteous. But I really don’t have time for this. Thinking about you guys is slowing a book project and keeping me from putting out multiple fires. I should be outta here after this post. I justify my time here as recruiting. I think some of you guys could help with global risk reduction. Really. More on that below.
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First a little rumble for the spectators. This is my first time going into battle wearing Special Interest Group colors. I don’t (as charged) say folks should believe me because I am a Mensan. I rarely mention Mensa at all. However, it is funny that you denigrate argument from authority since you recently trashed Wagner for not being appropriate authority. (Incidentally, physics is only part of appropriate authority. Some physicists are ignorant of risk management.) I avoided joining Mensa for many years. I only joined recently because of global risk reduction, an activity that has life outside of Mensa. However, Mensa does turn out to be socially and intellectually interesting. It is a place to have interesting conversations. There are other such venues—perhaps even UCF. Mensans in fact rarely pull rank, and they can’t pull rank with each other.
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Eric questions my use of the term metaphor as applied to “sofa.” He is wrong, “Sofa” is a true metaphor. Metaphor has a tenor and a vehicle, alternately a ground and a figure or a target and a source, equivalent terminology from different authorities. As an example, use Johnny Cash’s “burning ring of fire.” Passionate love is target here, and the ring of fire is source. The source transfers characteristics to the target. Fire is intense and it hurts, so the metaphor implies that love has these characteristics. In the sofa example, [guys waiting at their keyboard to read an online rumble] is target, [guys sitting on a sofa watching a rumble on TV] is source. Sitting on a sofa implies the characteristic of being a spectator. If those using this metaphor intended to participate in the rumble rather than view it, they might rather have spoken of waiting in the boxing ring.
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I justify my time here as recruiting. I think some of you guys can help with global risk reduction. There are many global risks, and sometimes they can be reduced, if sometimes only by a small amount. Even a small reduction has an enormous expected value (probability times value, the standard metric of decision theory) since the value at issue is 6.5 billion lives. Historically, the Asilomar compromise reduced risk from recombinant DNA, the near-earth asteroid watch (conducted partly by amateur astronomers) reduces risk from asteroid impact, and Reagan/Gorbachev reduced risk from nuclear war. I won’t mention our minor contributions since you don’t want to hear them. There is more to be done. Part of my strategy is that truth helps, usually. Trashing Wagner at least shows that some of you guys have capacity to advance truth via investigative journalism, a good thing if it doesn’t lose perspective and become swift boating, obsessing on trivia with a ferocity that justifies the bike gang metaphor. There are more global risks, more contributions to be made. Humans sometimes don’t think well about these “unthinkable” issues. Thought takes work. Sometimes Socratic dialog helps. Sometimes even rumbles/debates help if they keep perspective.
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If any of you guys want to help global risk reduction, you don’t need my permission. We are all independent intellectuals, many independent of Mensa, and you are independent intellectuals too. But if you take this up, try to use your powers for good. You are independent, but I would be glad to make suggestions. Find contact information on one of my websites, which are easy enough to find.

Janiece Murphy said...

James, now you're just making me tired.

I never accused you personally of using Mensa as an argument from authority. But the person who incited this discussion (yes, Aleda Lalik, I'm looking at you) did. I certainly don't hold you accountable for the asshattery of other Mensa members, just as I'm not accountable for the asshattery of every Navy Vet on the planet. In other words, it's not personal, at least for me.

However, your comparison of my issues with Walter Wagner as a derivative of "argument from authority" is more than a little disingenuous. The fact that he's not a physicist matters in this context, just as your brain surgeon's status as an M.D. would matter if he wanted to open up your skull.

"Authority" doesn't matter - "qualification" does. And Wagner's repeated public dishonesty about his qualifications make his claims regarding particle physics suspect, at best.

Please also note that Wagner's lack of qualifications to discuss particle physics does not mean the LHC is inherently safe, and I don't claim that's the case (I'm not qualified to do so - see how that works) - it simply means that Wagner's opinions shouldn't matter.

I suspect you know all this, but are attempting to cloud the issue to bolster your case.

In terms of your "recruiting," my personal response has to be meh. Your global risk assessment team includes an individual whose towering deductive abilities led him to conclude that the UCF was a government funded conspiracy intent on silencing LHC opponents.

While I recognize that judging your group based on the ravings of one individual is extremely unfair, his presence in your group has a left a permanent bad taste in my mouth when it comes to the Global Risk Reduction group.

So no. I'm not interested.

As for you being distracted by us...I'm not sure how to respond to that. You are (presumably) an adult, able to exercise your own judgment on how to spend your time. If you don't want to spend time here, then don't.

Random Michelle K said...

Oh NO! The sofa is a METAPHOR!

What about the chocolate?

What about... THE TOASTER?!!!

Janiece Murphy said...

The toaster is a lie, Michelle.

A lie, I say!

neurondoc said...

Janiece, I think you should be accountable for asshattery of all Navy Vets. That way I'll blame you when The Husband does something that really annoys me.

What?

That argument makes as much sense as Blodgett does. But then again, I'm not smart enough to "get" it, am I?

Natalie -- NOT a brain surgeon, but close enough

Random Michelle K said...

WAIL!

The toaster is NOT a lie! It EXISTED! It was in PRINT! It was even the cause of Evan's grievous bodily harm!

Random Michelle K said...

Also?

What does this say about marmosets?

Eric said...

It was always a given, Michelle, that the marmosets aren't real, either.

How do you think Frank Oz and the late Jim Henson trained all those Muppeteers for shows ranging from Sesame Street on up to the Henson Co.'s late, lamented Farscape? Believe you me, your hand doesn't get near Bert's ass 'til you've put in some quality marmoset time.

Sorry. I guess I thought you knew.

Janiece Murphy said...

LALALALA! I can't hear you!