Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Humanity, high and low

Like its constituent components, humanity seems to have its good and bad days. Sometimes you come across news that makes you think this bunch of hairless apes might just make something of itself, and other times you wonder how we haven't wiped ourselves out of existence.

Today is the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch. After three and a half decades and billions of miles, this hunk of 1970s technology is about to leave the solar system and enter interstellar space -- the first man-made object to do so. Considering the technological limitations NASA faced back in those days, that the Voyager twins are still functioning and exploring new territory is just mind-boggling.
Voyager 1 is currently more than 11 billion miles from the sun. Twin Voyager 2, which celebrated its launch anniversary two weeks ago, trails behind at 9 billion miles from the sun
They're still ticking despite being relics of the early Space Age.
Each only has 68 kilobytes of computer memory. To put that in perspective, the smallest iPod — an 8-gigabyte iPod Nano — is 100,000 times more powerful. Each also has an eight-track tape recorder. Today's spacecraft use digital memory.
Uplifting, isn't it? When we humans put our minds to something, we can do some damn impressive stuff. Of course, that particular blade cuts both ways.

Jen McCreight, one of my favorite bloggers, is walking away. Why? For daring to suggest that people involved in atheism and skepticism should concern themselves with more than just mocking the religious and Bigfoot believers.
I love writing, I love sharing my ideas, and I love listening to the ideas of my readers. But I simply no longer love blogging. Instead of feeling gleeful anticipation when writing up a post, I feel nothing but dread. There’s a group of people out there (google the ironic term FtBullies to find them) devoted to hating me, my friends, and even people I’m just vaguely associated with. I can no longer write anything without my words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.
I just can’t take it anymore.
All that for urging people to expand their circle of concern and use their powers of skepticism and critical thinking on social issues, such as dispelling the wrong-headed cultural beliefs keeping women from feeling safe and secure in this supposed Land of the Free.

Not surprisingly, these dick-waving fuckwits who supposedly embrace rational thought celebrated Jen's departure with more chest-beating and brazen harassment. Striking a blow for the status quo -- they must be so proud.

EDIT: Found a comment that pretty much sums up my position. Courtesy of Bjarte Foshaug:
To be fair, if you are the kind of guy who whine on about man-hating feminists, there’s a pretty good chance that many feminists do indeed hate you (I know I do). Your mistake is thinking that this is because of your gender rather than your repugnant, insufferable, ugly personality, your rude, obnoxious, boorish behavior, your petty, small-minded, self-righteous sense of entitlement, your sociopathic disregard for the feelings of your fellow human beings unless they happen to have/be a dick like yourself, your hateful, intolerant, fascistic bigotry, and your general lack of any traits that any person in his/her right mind could find anything other than infinitely disgusting. And I haven’t even gotten to the bad part yet.

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