Better And Better

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogging On A Theme: Astrology.

See also Tamara, Marko, Atomic Nerds, LawDog, and Ambulance Driver's take on this theme. I've got no clue what they wrote. Hate the theme but love the idea? Then give us some feedback. But go read theirs, too. They probably did their homework assignment more than an hour before turning it in...
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"A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an 'intellectual' -- find out how he feels about astrology."
--"The Notebooks Of Lazarus Long," Time Enough For Love
by Robert A. Heinlein.

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When I was in police academy, 14 years ago, my otherwise estimable academy coordinator told our small class of 15 that "60% of career police officers are Libras." This from a woman with a couple of degrees, a Master Peace Officer license, and an entire police academy under her. I looked around the room. Two nods, a grimace or three, and a lot of frozen faces. I hope mine was in the last category-- I'd hate to have that good woman (an excellent instructor, and still teaching and serving as a peace officer) perceive any disrespect from me.


I later found out that one of the grimaces was from a guy who was some other sign, which was the foil of Libra (I can't recall which that would be-- what's the opposite of a balance scale? A goat? An arachnid? A pair of twins? Perhaps a crustacean...). He was afraid that this would mean that he wouldn't get or be able to retain a job as a cop, because of his destined contradictory nature to the needs of the task.

Meanwhile, I, who had cinched one of the two Libra billets in my class, thought that the whole concept was utter bunk. First, I knew a few career cops, including my father, and none that I could recall had birthdays anywhere near mine. Second, I knew 'way too many people who did have birthdays near mine, who no more should become cops than I should become an exotic fan dancer at cocktail bars for tips... read: Not at all.

Finally, it would simply have been too remarkable of a fact for me to have just then heard of it for the very first time at the tender age of 22 years, all lived within a cop's family. Ain't no way.

And, in fact, my venerable coordinator was (on that particular facet of her knowledge) full of steaming crap, bless her pea-pickin' little heart.

---

Imagine if we ran the criminal justice system with an eye toward following the "science" of astrology:

We would man extra officers during certain cycles of the planetary and stellar alignments. (Contrary to ever-popular and almost understandable belief, there is zero correlation between crime and lunar cycles. I say again: Zero. Don't believe me? Look it up. Yet I know some cops and more than a few emergency workers who believe in a significant increase in emergency calls when the moon is full.)

We would, while performing field interviews, check the astrological sign of the suspect to determine how to deal with him, and whether or not we should call for backup... you know-- like maybe a Virgo, because this guy's an Aquarius, and thus you *know* this interrogation is going nowhere.

"Your honor, I had to skip that step in the use of force continuum, because this guy was a Taurus, and you know how they can get..."

At the jail, they would segregate populations using a classification that looked not at all to the relative security risk of the given inmate, but more toward whether their zodiac assignments were compatible. Skinhead and Black Panther? Well sure... if they were under complimentary star signs.

Judges would consult star charts before applying indeterminate sentencing.

Voir dires would predictably become attempts to learn what sign the potential juror was born under.

Anti-discrimination laws would be passed for people born under opposing signs.

Finally, anti-defamation civil attorneys would begin to make their nut, defending the rights of the downtrodden signs.

- - -

I've always looked askance at astrology. How the hell did it manage to score the "-ology" suffix away from the real science of astronomy? And why were some otherwise apparently intelligent people giving it any credibility?

I remember how, when in 8th grade and I took Earth Science, my moronic science teacher got to the astronomy portion of the course. We were made to memorize the signs of the zodiac, and repeat them with their dates in a test. For credit in science class. This was the same bitch who gave me a B on my working metal detector that I had entered in the science fair, because I had duct-taped the variable trimmer capacitor (cleverly stolen from an old car radio at a junk yard) to the hoe handle that I had built the whole thing upon. This sucker could detect a 10 penny nail under a yard of dirt, and I had soldered the breadboard myself, but she didn't like the look of duct tape.

Her name was Mrs. Bead. And she can't sue me for libel, because it's all true.



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14 Comments:

At Friday, May 30, 2008 1:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know a Libra would carry a grudge that long. It's been a few years since 8th grade. I can only chalk it up to symbolism over substance when looks take priority over efficacy. It was a hoe, what did she want?

Andy Ford

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 6:28:00 PM, Blogger JPG said...

Well written, hijo. I'm glad you looked up the L. Long/RAH quote. I was trying to recall it the other day. I had the sense of it, sure, but there's nothing like being able to quote the exact words penned by The Master.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 7:05:00 PM, Anonymous Stingray said...

Nothing wrong with holding a good long grudge when someone supposedly in a position of authority/educator role does something so egregiously inept. Me, I'm still bitter about my 4th grade teacher who called my parents about my behavior one day.

The horrible act of disrespect I comitted? I corrected her about the pronunciation and operation of Trombe Walls, since we had just built one at our house and she was, well, wrong. Fortunately, my old man had the presence of mind to listen calmly while she railed against me and respond with basically "So you're mad because he was right?"

I took an extra ration of grief in her class from then on. 'Course after I cottoned on, I went out of my way to know more about what she was teaching than she did, so it worked out for the best.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 9:32:00 PM, Anonymous Saladman said...

Score one for "hate the theme but love the idea." Among a group of rational bloggers there was not much danger of any great diversity of opinion. Two of you used the same gravitational nurse argument! I guess seeing the individual takes might be interesting to people more familiar with all these bloggers. I do read half of these, but without the personal connection bloggers have mentioned developing with each other.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Rogue Medic said...

Excellent post.

It is amazing how superstitious a supposedly intelligent species can be. How disappointing that all of the money spent on education produces people who fawn over astrology tables, yet have no clue about science.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 11:31:00 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

You know, seeing you do an exotic fan dance is actually something I WOULD pay money to see(and secretly film and put on YouToob where it would go viral).

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous Wicked Step Sister said...

So, I'm with you bro, astrology is a load of bull (but not Taurus). I really do feel bad for the forgotten zodiac, poor little Ophiuchus. I guess the quacks that dreamed up astrology had no time for lucky number 13. It's actually not so little, chillin out between Sagittarius and Scorpius. Just giving some love to the forgotten constellation with the unfortunate name.

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 1:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if you've never driven down Harry Hines at the wrong time, let me point out that you might actually be better qualified for fan dancing than some of the...um..."ladies" along there.

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 2:19:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Saladman: Your point is well-made, and I agree with you. I should have either picked a different topic or diversified my choice of bloggers a little bit wider before suggesting it. 7 bloggers all giving snark on astrology... I should have thought about this more thoroughly. :) But it was possible that I'd get a story or two out of it. Well, there's still hope for widdle ol' Ambo Driver...

Phlegmmy-- As you know, I'm a married man, and I'm disturbed at your suggestion. Uh, you think we could make money on that video? Call me.

Anononymous-- I don't know how to take that. Is it just a shot at the H.H. wymmen's skills, or a more sinister statement about my, er, "qualifications" ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo?

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 4:24:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Oh that just gives me a headache... With all the other BS 'requirements' and 'leveling' of the playing field, that could be next!

Love the metal detector story... There is ALWAYS one of those teachers in every school.

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 6:06:00 PM, Blogger Dedicated_Dad said...

Heh... I had a similar experience with a teacher during the "big bang" portion of 4th-grade science.

I had some questions. I followed proper protocol, raising my hand and waiting to be called upon, and carefully posed my questions in a responsible manner, but it was apparently still a problem.

A sampling:

Where'd the giant original star come from?

Why did it explode?

Why did these clouds of gas it produced start spinning?

How did spinning cause them to CONTRACT when you showed us last week that spinning things will EXPAND?

The last one was the last straw. He literally tossed me from his class -- PERMANENTLY -- refusing to allow me to come back.

I was seriously trying -- struggling really to understand, when everything he said seemed to contradict something else they'd taught us...

Thusly I learned at a very early age not to question certain things -- they must simply be accepted on faith. In hindsight, the fundamentalist anti-theists are at least as dogmatic as the fundamentalist theists...

DD

 
At Sunday, June 01, 2008 11:28:00 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Well, there's always banner ads and tip jars...

 
At Sunday, June 01, 2008 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Regolith said...

dedicated_dad - most of those questions have answers, however most of them are not appropriate for 4th grade level science.

The explanations for many of them involve things such as quantum mechanics, higher-level mathematics and physics, and are not easy to explain to someone whose just getting past 5 x 20 = ?.

It's also very possible that the teacher himself didn't know anything beyond what they put in the science book, because he himself didn't bother to educate himself more.

But simply because your 4th grade teacher doesn't understand the science behind the big bang theory, doesn't make it a bunch of dogma taken on faith.

 
At Wednesday, June 04, 2008 1:31:00 AM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Oh, and I think I read somewhere that Libran males are the men most likely to pull off a fan dance in public and yet still maintain the reputation of being ruggedly heterosexual. Yeah, I read that. Or maybe I heard it on NPR.

 

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