Thursday, December 30, 2010
She was right.
I am planning on sending off a reply letter in response to one writer (people can be wrong off the internet, too!), but I figured that this letter is perfectly ripe for a bloggy, snark-filled fisking.
"In response to the letters to the editor of Dec. 15 Capital News, in regards to whether God delivered the miners or not, or whether God even exists, I understand how you feel. I understand your logic."Somehow I doubt that you understand how non-believers feel, nor do you truly understand logic.
"I, as a born again believer, have a real relationship with God, and because I love him I, and all others who believe the same way as me, would want to defend God with everything that we are."I'm sure children with an invisible friend also considers that a loving, real relationship, too. They also might desire to defend themselves from criticisms of their incorporeal buddy. Yet that doesn't actually make their invisible friend real or of any value to others.
"Yet God does not need defending."But you don't stop after this sentence. You keep going in order to defend that which apparently needs no defense. This can't bode well for the content of the rest of your letter.
"He is God and there is no one like Him. We cannot control Him and the decisions He makes."We also can't see him, hear him, or discern any real effect he might have in the universe.
"We don’t always understand why He does things the way He does, but He always has a purpose in what He does.We always want Him to do things our way, but He is God, and He is the one calling the shots."Well, considering that nobody's been able to show God "doing" anything, those are rather nonsensical statements to make.
"I can make anyone believe there is a God who loves and cares about them, but I can’t tell you that if you just look around, you can see God in every day life. Just the fact that people went to help those who were trapped in the mine shows care and concern for their fellow man."So, because people care for other people, God exists? Got any other non sequiturs you'd like to pass along as religious "wisdom"?
"Commandments in the Bible are to 'love your neighbour [sic] as you love yourself.'"Don't forget "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" and "slaves obey your masters".
"As you can’t see the wind or emotions or thoughts, you can see the evidence of them all the time. It is the same with God. You don’t need miraculous signs to validate His existence because you are a miracle."There's six billion people on the planet, with thousands more born every day. Talk about lowering the standard for what qualifies as a miracle.
"Knowing that you have millions of nerve cells, an autonomic system which works without you doing anything, just tells me that I am here by design."The fact that your body tries to fight off invading bacteria and viruses means somebody or something has a plan for your life? If He had a plan for your life, why doesn't he just keep those dangerous microbes from hurting you? I guess if you've got nothing else you might as well keep those non sequiturs coming!
"An intelligent design working through science because He is the author of science."If God is the author of science, how come he never put any good science in the Bible? He could have saved immense amounts of suffering and lifetimes of effort by outlining the scientific method for us, or revealing the germ theory of disease for us, or even at least giving us the proper cooking temperature for pork. Instead, all we got was orders to not wear clothing made from two different types of fiber and warnings to avoid boiling a young goat in its mother's milk. Consider me underwhelmed.
"I am one of a kind, and there is no one exactly like me in this world of billions of people. So I would like to put a challenge out to you. Ask yourselves some questions like: Where did good and evil come from?"Good and evil are human constructs that we use to explain the difference between people who follow societal laws and norms, and those who don't.
"Why are the laws of the land based on Ten Commandments?"The first two commandments are "love the Lord thy God with all your heart" and "thou shalt have no other gods beside me". What Canadian laws are analogous to these two commandments? The answer is "none". Our laws are based on English Common Law, which traces its roots back to pre-Christian Roman Law.
"Who keeps the planets in perfect order in the universe?"Gravity. While I agree that gravity is a cool theory, I don't think it qualifies enough to be granted personhood.
"Who created emotions within the human heart?"The heart does not contain emotions, that would be a product of the brain (You'll notice we consider other animals to have emotions, too). As for who created emotions, that would be evolution, as a by-product of increasing intelligence. Again, an excellent, well-supported theory that shouldn't be considered a person.
"A lot of people ask themselves where did God come from. As with Darwin’s theories, and Christianity, we have to take them both by faith."Umm, no. There's a big difference in assuming your invisible sky fairy exists because of an ancient book edited together from a bunch of oral histories, and examining physical evidence to come to a reasonable scientific conclusion.
"The choice is yours. God will never push His way into people’s lives but will let them believe what they want."Tell that to most of his followers. Also, have you actually read the Bible? Specifically, the Old Testament? God had a reputation of being quite the bully. Thankfully, these days he seems pretty much absent. Must be all the science laying about, waiting for him to reveal himself. Science is Yahweh's kryptonite!
"If they want to know Him, He will reveal Himself to them, and if not, He will not force Himself on anyone. He is a gentleman."So if God hasn't revealed himself to you, it's all your fault because you don't want to know him! Also, forget all that killing the unbelievers in the name of God that is a major theme throughout most of the Bible! Lastly, what kind of "gentleman" tortures people for all eternity for not believing in Him?
"I hope for all of you who have written God off as a figment of imagination, that you will take a risk and ask those questions and other ones and see where it takes you. Jesus took the challenge of becoming a man on the planet, dying a horrible death because of love for what he created; rising from the dead so we can live a victorious life."Zombie Jesus came back for our brains, and it looks like He already got to yours.
"I would rather believe in a God who loves me and cares about my life than to believe nothing, having no hope in anything except yourself or science which cannot change the heart of man."Yes, we understand that you'd rather believe in an invisible sky fairy than have to understand all that hard sciencey stuff that explains things. Thankfully, there are curious, hardworking people who will use science to try to drag our society into the next century of progress. You don't have to come along if you don't want to, but please stay out of the way.
"I would like to see a man create something out of nothing. It takes God."Ahh, the "turtles all the way down" defense. But you're wrong, man DID create something out of nothing: he created God.
It's an interesting way to fill a beer cup, no skill in pouring required. However, filling a beer cup this way creates no head and so the aroma of the beer doesn't get properly released. Mind you, considering the beers being poured in the video are Bud and Bud Light, there's really no aroma (or flavour, for that matter) to be released.
Leave it to Budweiser to come up with an interesting and novel way of pouring their beverages, but doing nothing to improve the bland, watery concoctions they pass off as "beer".
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Anyways, Pope Benny has apparently been putting his Direct Line To God to good use. But not really. He condemned religious violence committed against Christians in many parts of the world. To be one hundred percent serious, I agree that nobody should ever be murdered for their beliefs. I might disagree with his claims that Christians are the "most persecuted religion" in the world, and I was a little bothered by the fact that his holiness only seemed to be concerned about the safety of Christians, but if there's one person that's allowed to preach to his choir, I suppose it would be Benedict.
Unsurprisingly, after his initial comments, Pope Benny's thought process ran off the rails:
"I also express my hope that in the West, and especially in Europe, there will be an end to hostility and prejudice against Christians because they are resolved to orient their lives in a way consistent with the values and principles expressed in the Gospel"Yeah, because if there's one thing noticeable about Christianity in the west, it's how Christians are terrified of sharing their religious views with others. Christians in Europe and North America find it nearly impossible to drum up public and political support for their views. Perhaps if Christians would like to be well regarded, they could actually try following some of Jesus' teachings, because I certainly don't remember Jesus commanding his disciples to use political systems to crowbar Old Testament rules onto people who might hold different values and viewpoints.
"May Europe rather be reconciled to its own Christian roots, which are fundamental for understanding its past, present and future role in history ..."What about the Pagan roots that existed long before Christianity came along and displaced it, in many places by violence and force? Is it not fundamental to also be reconciled to the worship of Odin in order to understand how Wednesday got its name? Yeah, we know: the only thing that's important is Christianity, because acknowledgment of druids and the gods of thunder won't help fill the Vatican coffers with more gold.
Benny goes on to accuse "aggressive secularism", claiming that it is as bad as, if not worse, than religious extremism. Seriously? How many secularists do you hear calling for the decapitation of people who convert from agnosticism or atheism to Christianity or Buddhism?
Here's what the Pope's comments boil down to: non-Christians need to be more secular, because secularism is good. However, Christians don't need to be secular, because... well, I'm sure there's an important reason. I mean, it's not like Christians ever slaughtered swaths of people who didn't hold what were considered "orthodox" beliefs, right?
Monday, December 13, 2010
"You know, I mean if that’s how many parents are incapable of pulling together a bowl of cereal and a banana, then we have problems that are way bigger than… that problem can’t be solved with a school breakfast, because we have parents who are just criminally… ah… criminally negligent with respect to raising children."Seriously, she just equated the inability to feed your kids a decent breakfast to child abuse. Are you one of the eight million Americans whose job ceased to exist in the last three years? Perhaps you have a chronic, debilitating illness, mental issues, or are a single parent attempting to raise children on your own after having your significant other die or walk out on you (or any combination of the above)? Well, too friggin' bad! There are rich people who need a three and a half percent tax break, so it would be appreciated if you and your progeny would just quietly go off and starve to death in the dark. Being capable of feeding your kids is something you should have thought of before you became peasants!
And Kate was so close to actually coming to an important realization, but sailed on past before any thoughts resembling awareness could form in that selfish lizard brain of hers. Yes, the United States certainly does have problems that can't be fixed by a school lunch/breakfast program. Unfortunately, while there is a black man (who also happens to be a
What I find even more infuriating (but not surprising at all) is that Kate can't even figure out why feeding children has bipartisan support:
"And yet, that’s the kind of program that has huge bipartisan support with very little thought about why we’re now feeding children."Seriously, what kind of monster has to think about whether its acceptable to feed hungry kids? How much do you want to bet little Katie here is pro-life? Oh, look, two minutes of Googling reveals the opening sentence from the abortion chapter in her book, "Women Who Make The World Worse":
"Modern feminism's biggest enemies are the smallest humans."Of course, to Republicans, once those babies are out of the womb, they're on their god damned own! To hear the wingnuts tell it, upper class tax cuts are more important than hungry kids, lowering the deficit is more important than getting people back to work, and austerity is the Republican answer to over thirty years of declining wages. Seriously, is there any horrid, inhuman political policy these selfish pricks won't offer their 100% support for?
I can't believe I was ever so cruel and heartless as to be a big "c" Conservative. Despite the fact that I grew up as the son of a single mother who made $10 per hour at her highest paying job, I used to hold similar views to that of our Randbot friend Kate. My mom managed to keep food on the table for the majority of my youth, but there were a few times where the cupboards had nothing but baking soda and dust on the shelves. I wouldn't wish that kind of struggle on any family, but I can't say I get upset at the thought of seeing empty husks of humanity like Kate O'Beirne suffer through such a difficult life for a few years in the hopes it would open their eyes.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Edwards writes that she has "been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces--my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope."
"These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that," Edwards writes.
To any sane person, that sounds like a pleasant, honourable final farewell to offer a bunch of (mostly) strangers on a personal networking site. However, to the batshit religious, apparently even the period of time before her corpse has cooled is the perfect opportunity to condemn the poor woman.
I'm not talking about the perpetual evil morons of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have decided that this is yet another high-profile opportunity for them to protest and draw attention to their hateful, bigoted views, and announced they'll be picketing Elizabeth's funeral. Instead, other slightly-less insane wingnuts have determined that now is the time to dissect her recent (and not-so-recent) statements in search of the appropriate codewords in order to determine if Elizabeth was the Right Kind Of Christian. This sport needs to be played so that it can be publicly determined if Ms. Edwards will pass through the Pearly Gates, or be condemned to the horrors of Hell. Of course, to the hardcore right-wing Christian Taliban, anybody that hasn't learned that the Old Testament commands them to decapitate every person that holds any opinion that could be remotely considered "liberal" is not a True Christian Patriot, and deserves the worst torture that they can imagine the cruel little bronze-age god Yahweh can dream up.
Her crime, if you can't discern it yourself, was that she didn't show enough subservience to the imaginary sky fairy so popular with some 75% of the North American populace in her final public remarks.
This Christianity Today article was thankfully free of actual commentary on Elizabeth's beliefs, but it was obviously a "we report, you decide" bullshit article, designed to give only the "important" information necessary to allow the True Christian readers to determine that Ms. Edwards was not One Of Them, and must obviously now be realizing her mistake of not being sufficiently Conservative Christian.
Donald Douglas at American Power, however, was quite willing to "Go Ghoul", and feed upon Elizabeth's corpse the way Zombie Jesus would have feasted upon the brains of the living (had He actually existed):
Clearly Elizabeth Edwards wants to put her faith in something, be it hope or strength or anything. But not God. I wonder if it's just bitterness, that's she's been forsaken by more than just her estranged husband --- that's she's been forsaken by Him. And imagine if she'd have become First Lady. Americans generally expect outward expressions of faith in our presidents, Christian faith especially, and thus in our First Ladies as well. The Democratic base obviously doesn't care, as we can see in the "wow factor" expressed by the author at the American Prospect. Being anti-religion is cool, so Edwards' non-theological theology gets props from the neo-communists. Still, at her death bed and giving what most folks are calling a final goodbye, Elizabeth Edwards couldn't find it somewhere down deep to ask for His blessings as she prepares for the hereafter? I guess that nihilism I've been discussing reaches up higher into the hard-left precincts than I thought.
Thankfully, many posters at both sites have heaped much deserved abuse on the writers for attempting to use a recently-deceased public figure to grind their own personal religious axes. Much like running into actual Liberal Christians, it's nice to know that not all Bible thumpers are horrible, hate-filled assholes.
So, thank you to Elizabeth Edwards, for being an excellent example of grace and resilience under trying and deadly circumstances, and for indirectly exposing the cruelty of some religious extremists.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
In case you refuse to listen to the blowhard (and I can't blame you), here's the money quote:
“If people can’t even feed and clothe themselves should they be allowed to vote? Should they be voting?”
Of course, according to the prosperity gospel that many right-wingers subscribe to, poverty is merely proof of the laziness and moral turptitude of the lower classes. A True God-Fearing Patriot would take a minimum-wage job at Wal-Mart, work hard for forty years without health insurance (because Jesus will heal you if you wish hard enough, apparently), eventually working their way up to Owner Of Wal-Mart (it could happen!) and eventually become rich beyond compare! Such is the American/Canadian Dream According To Wingnuts.
I don't really understand how that's supposed to work, but when it comes to political, financial, or social policy, conservatives don't tend to be details-oriented. Apparently between 30-50% of the population can be easily fooled into believing that they, one day, will also be rich, so long as they pull themselves up by their bootstraps by working themselves nearly to death for the table scraps tossed at them by the rich. Couple that to the idiotic fear that some loose slut of a single mother or non-Christian, un-white foreigner might obtain social assistance, and it's apparently easy to get people to vote for the most tea-baggiest of political elitist jerks.
Let's be realistic though - this is nothing more than a rich Limbaugh doing his best to strengthen the grip of the upper class on the reins of power and take the opportunity to help remove the possibility that those dirty lower classes could threaten to ascend to their level in society (or worse, drag the rich down). Are we really shocked by yet one more example of conservative hypocrisy, where they shriek about the evils of intellectual or liberal "elites", yet have no problems with financial or conservative "elites" openly calling for the stripping of rights from the poor?
One thing I'd like to ask Rush though, is what about farmers who receive massive subsidies from the government? What about soldiers in the military? Politicians themselves? Private businesses that exist exclusively or mainly on government contracts? These people obviously can't run a successful business in the free market, so why stop at poor people receiving food stamps.?
Limbaugh's point is that poor people are obviously incapable of taking care of themselves, so therefore, they shouldn't be allowed a voice in politics. Secondly, landowners and/or people with large amounts of equity supposedly have a greater stake in ensuring that society maintains some semblance of stability. But how true can this be? Rich people have an abundance of assets that they can use in order to curry favour and build support. Poor people can't afford to donate much to politicians, nor can they purchase the same caliber of lobbyists (assuming they can afford any lobbyist) that rich people can afford! Therefore, the only voice that the poorest classes of people even have in government is their vote. (For an excellent discussion on the idea of property rights, check out this post from Ed at Dispatches From The Culture Wars.)
Therefore, in response to Rush Limbaugh, I propose the following: people who own multiple homes or have a net worth in excess of $250,000 dollars are ineligible to vote. Those who either own a single home or have a net worth between $100,000 and $250,000 dollars get one half a vote. People that are renting and have a net worth of less than $100,000 receive a single vote. Homeless people, especially the mentally ill, are able to vote as often as they like.
I know that last bit might seem odd, but here's my reasoning: letting mentally handicapped people perform the majority of voting likely will result in our current political process changing very little, since politicians and the upper class are apparently already able to take advantage of large numbers of people insane enough to vote against their own interests.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Seriously, this comic would 100% accurate, if we could convince corporate CEOs to release a commercial that honest about the recent economic situation!
Oh, and if you like webcomics, go and check out Sinfest - it's one of the six comics I check out every Friday as a way to finish off a work week.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I swear, there are some days where my house sounds almost exactly like that! Plus, our dachshund looks almost exactly like the one in the video (but isn't nearly as well behaved.)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Not only do a look like a complete tool without facial hair, but the entire fucking world knows it now. My favorite part is the rash I got from shaving my chin for the the first time since 1995. December can't come fast enough so I can cover up this ugly mug again!
I'll be back on the last day of November to post a photo with my mustache. The first and last one I'll ever grow!
Monday, November 1, 2010
This is the goal of Movember: getting men to grow a porn 'stache to raise money for a good cause. Since one of my grandfathers was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, coworkers were able to guilt me into shaving off my goatee in order to disgrace my face by growing a mustache for the first (and only) time in my life!
I'm too ashamed to post pictures right now. Plus, my chin is cold and how the hell do guys do this every day? I just about frigging sliced my lips open a dozen times while trying to get those stupid little hairs right at the edges of the mouth! Seriously, after one month of this torture, I'm growing back to the goatee!
Oh, and if you'd like to show support for my outward display and Beardly Sacrifice for men's health, feel free to donate!
Here's hoping that the Norwegian in me comes out so I can at least rock the 'stache for one month...
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I was happy to spend Tuesday and Wednesday evening meeting up with a couple of friends that I knew in high school, but hadn't seen in 13 and 15 years. It's fascinating the way our personalities have stayed relatively static, but horizons and viewpoints (not to mention waistlines) for all three of us have widened a lot since those days when all three of us shared very religious teen years.
Subjects of discussion ranged from what each of us has been doing since we last met up, to how our religious views have changed (for the record: one of us is now an atheist, one is now a quasi-Christian that doesn't believe in religion, and the last is still very religious, but much more of a Liberal Christian), our work histories during that time, and of course, what we know or have heard about the fates of other friends or church fellows from those days. It was surprising how easy it was to spend three to four hours on both evenings just chatting away and catching up. I also found it curious how quickly each of us seemed to re-establish our friendship, almost as though we'd been together only a month or so previously, rather than up to fifteen years ago. Of course, lubricating ourselves with Leffe and Granville Island Pale Ale certainly didn't hurt the discussion!
The second best part of being in Van, after catching up with old friends, was trying out different pubs. The first night we arrived at the hotel on Granville, my coworkers and I located Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug only a block away. We pretty much went there every afternoon after work, where I would down a couple of pints of Guinness, while my coworkers would order Guinness & blacks. When we first walked in, I wondered just how authentically Irish the pub was, but after a couple of glasses, while taking in the live Celtic music, we realized that almost everyone in the place had an Irish accent, except us! I'll take that as a pretty good sign that our Guinness was being poured properly, and that the Irish stew I ordered was as Irish as it could be!
I also got the chance to head down to the Irish Heather to try out their cask aged ale, and to marvel at their selection of over 250 whiskies. The absolute topper, however, was the Alibi Room, and their twenty-five taps of microbrewed ales, plus three cask aged ales to choose from. There wasn't a single Molson, Labatt, or Budweiser in sight! Coupled with an excellent, and relatively reasonably priced menu, the Alibi Room was a little slice of beer snob heaven!
All in all, it was a fun trip, and a coworker let slip that I might wind up heading back for some more Cisco training in Vancouver before the end of March. Now that I have a few haunts to choose from, I'm actually looking forward for my next chance to head down to Van!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Unfortunately, I have a long way to go to meet the brilliance of Mad The Swine over at Dispatches From The Culture Wars!
I'll have an update on the Vancouver trip later.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
That's right - Agdistis, Ah Puch, Ahura Mazda, Alberich, Allah, Amaterasu, An, Anansi, Anat, Andvari, Anshar, Anu, Aphrodite, Apollo, Apsu, Ares, Artemis, Asclepius, Athena, Athirat, Athtart, Atlas, Baal, Ba Xian, Bacchus, Balder, Bast, Bellona, Bergelmir, Bes, Bixia Yuanjin, Bragi, Brahma, Brigit, Camaxtli, Ceres, Ceridwen, Cernunnos, Chac, Chalchiuhtlicue, Charun, Chemosh, Cheng-huang, Cybele, Dagon, Damkina, Davlin, Dawn, Demeter, Diana, Di Cang, Dionysus, Ea, El, Enki, Enlil, Eos, Epona, Ereskigal, Farbauti, Fenrir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigg, Gaia, Ganesha, Ganga, Garuda, Gauri, Geb, Geong Si, Guanyin, Hades, Hanuman, Hathor, Hecate, Helios, Heng-o, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Hod, Hoderi, Hoori, Horus, Hotei, Huitzilopochtli, Hsi-Wang-Mu, Hygeia, Inanna, Inti, Iris, Ishtar, Isis, Ixtab, Izanaki, Izanami, Jesus, Juno, Jupiter, Juturna, Kagutsuchi, Kartikeya, Khepri, Ki, Kingu, Kinich Ahau, Kishar, Krishna, Kuan-yin, Kukulcan, Lakshmi, LetoLiza, Loki, Lugh, Luna, Magna Mater, Maia, Marduk, Mars, Mazu, Medb, Mercury, Mimir, Min, Minerva, Mithras, Morrigan, Mot, Mummu, Muses, Nammu, Nanna, Nanse, Neith, Nemesis, Nephthys, Neptune, Nergal, Ninazu, Ninhurzag, Nintu, Ninurta, Njord, Nugua, Nut, Odin, Ohkuninushi, Ohyamatsumi, Orgelmir, Osiris, Ostara, Pan, Parvati, Phaethon, Phoebe, Phoebus Apollo, Pilumnus, Poseidon, Quetzalcoatl, Rama, Re, Rhea, Sabazius, Sarasvati, Selene, Shiva, Seshat, Set, Shamash, Shapsu, Shen Yi, Shiva, Shu, Si-Wang-Mu, Sin, Sirona, Sol, Surya, Susanoh, Tawaret, Tefnut, Tezcatlipoca, Thanatos, Thor, Thoth, Tiamat, Tianhou, Tlaloc, Tonatiuh, Toyo-Uke-Bime, Tyche, Tyr, Utu, Uzume, Venus, Vesta, Vishnu, Volturnus, Vulcan, Xipe, Xi Wang-mu, Xochipilli, Xochiquetzal, Yam, Yarikh, Yhwh, Ymir, Yu-huang, Yum Kimil, Zeus - they all suck! And humans are stupid for believing in fairy tales.
But do you know what else sucks? Your copies of The God Delusion, Skeptic magazine, A Brief History Of Time, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and Doctor Who. You know why they suck? Because nothing is fucking sacred, that's why!
Freedom of speech needs to be protected, but ideas do not. In life, there is no freedom to not be offended. If somebody's opinion offends you, either respond with your own opinion or don't listen/read/watch. Responding to offense with threats or physical violence is the domain of immature children, and should have no place in civilized society.
Edit: What I find really sad is that I started out compiling a list of every single god that I could find that humans have ever worshipped, and the list I have above is only a tiny fraction of the deities I found. After wasting over an hour trying to craft, edit, and format such a massive number of entries, I decided to trim it down to the selection of more "major and/or popular" gods you see. No wonder it seems like secularism is a constant, uphill battle against the forces of ignorance!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
At the end of the essay, the author offers this challenge:
Will you help me spread "Real"? Tell us below just how perfect you aren't. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren't alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real. Let's see if we can get 10,000 people showing the world that we're not defined by perfection.Okay, here goes: one of the biggest reasons why I haven't been posting as often as I'd like is that I feel like it takes me way too long to create a new post. I make a post, then reread it anywhere between three to ten times in an attempt to catch spelling and grammar errors, and to help meet technical writing standards, which is a subject that I struggled with in college.
So this is me being real. I'm not re-reading this post or editing it later if I find a mistake or a sentence or two that I think can be rephrased better. Who knows - maybe after reading this essay I can convince myself to be a little less "perfect" and get some more posts up.
Edit: Okay, I re-read my post, but I didn't make any changes to it, even though there were about three sentences that I really wanted to rephrase. Don't hate me! ;)
Monday, September 20, 2010
It's high time I realized that I can't cover everything that I'd like to, and start picking one or two things to deal with at a time, and leave some of the heavier lifting to the professionals.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I'm sure you two fans can find something else to read in the meantime.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I also racked my India Pale Ale from primary to secondary, dry hopping it with 28g of Cascade pellets. It's going to be quite good, but I want to see if I can let it age for at least a month in the keg before tapping into it. Sadly, it looks like it's going to be more of a North American IPA style and not as much like Bass as I was hoping. I think I might try picking up one of the Coopers or Muntons Pale Ale kits and hacking it with British hops and a couple of those enhancement kits to turn in into a 6+% hoppy mess of an IPA.
At any rate, I also fired up my Pilsner and Munich Dark Ale kits yesterday. Gotta get the fall brew schedule up and running!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Yet, even before BP managed to cap off and stem most of the oil pouring into the sea water, people started losing interest in the horrible disaster. Perhaps it was due to the feelings of helplessness about being unable to help, or maybe the massive scope of the disaster was just so overwhelming that people no longer wanted to be reminded of the horrors that have been (and continue to be) wreaked upon the Gulf coast ecosystem. I am no particular news junkie, but I have barely noticed any coverage of of the BP spill in the mainstream media since BP announced that the flow of oil had been stemmed back at the end of July.
Amazingly, in less than one month, one of the most devastating disasters in human history has all but disappeared from the mind of the general public. How can this be? Counterpunch has an excellent report, Slow Violence In The Gulf And The BP Coverup, on the what has been going on regarding the oil spill since July 30th, and it turns out that BP has had much assistance in slipping the destructive results of their corporate malfeasance out from under the attention of most of the North American citizenry.
From the article:
Three vanishing acts are being played out in the Gulf: the disappearing of the oil from the ocean surface by Corexit, the disappearing of the story by the media blockade, and the disappearing from view of the shadowy private contractors who are making a mint helping BP and the Coast Guard keep a cover on the clean-up.The short version is that BP has been spraying millions of gallons of dispersants (made by a subsidiary company to save money) in order to lessen the amount of obvious surface oil, especially at night in order to avoid reporting on the aircraft spraying poisonous Corexit into the waters of the already-devastated Gulf. They then have their own consultants issue ridiculously-positive reports on how all the damage has been almost fixed.
Next, BP has done everything in its power (and with help from the coast guard and private security companies) to prevent reporters from gaining access to affected areas. Individuals hired to assist in the cleanup must sign non-disclosure agreements or risk losing their jobs. Jobs that are critical to the massive numbers of people out of work because of the devastation done to the Gulf economy. On top of that, major media organizations seem to be completely uninterested in keeping the public informed on what kind of progress is being made in cleaning up the millions of gallons of oil spread throughout the ocean.
Naturally, the United States government has been compliant beyond all reason. The Obama administration has been almost completely unwilling to fight back against the lies and obfuscation from the rival Republican party, but the way they have allowed themselves to be used by BP in order to convince the American public that the spill is under control and the worst of the damage has been dealt with is almost sickening. The Democrats essentially handed over control and responsibility of the Gulf environment cleanup to BP, a company that has done everything it can over the past 30 years to prove that it has no regard for anything other than profit margin.
Anyhow, read the whole article. If it doesn't infuriate you, you're either BP president Tony Hayward or a horrible human being (but I repeat myself).
(H/T to Mike the Mad Biologist)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Case in point (from Kim Lehman, a member of the Republican National Committee):
If you are able to successfully ignore the Twitterer's rampant stupidity, where she manages to ignore Obama's outright statement (within the exact speech that she refers to) that he is a Christian, and replaces his words with her own mistaken belief that he is a "secret Muslim" (it's a conspiracy!), you'll notice that she accused Politico of being paid large amounts of money to "protect" and support the Obama presidency.
Most people would think that the reason this Republican uttered such a statement was to merely strike a rhetorical attack, intimating that the only reason someone would ever defend Obama would be due to financial renumeration. That makes sense, right? Well, as it turns out, Republicans have been very busy
There's a second lesson to be learned here: Conservatives throw money at their supporters to ensure their continued fealty, yet the Democrats seem to prefer lobbing invective at their supporters in vain attempts to stop criticism for acting too much like Republicans. The GOP will use anything they can to "encourage" their base to vote: fear, racism, lies. Democrats will do anything they can do to demotivate the people that put them in power, for fear the Republicans will say mean things about them. This is merely another example of the Republicans revealing themselves as cynical opportunists and the Democrats proving that they are complete morons.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Unfortunately, joining the fray is going to have to wait - I have an India Pale Ale that needs starting (I have a 2L WYeast 1098 yeast starter bubbling away for it right now), an Oktoberfest that requires racking from primary to secondary, and a Cream Ale that should be kegged. Well, from the representation that the skeptic side of the conversation has, I'm willing to wager the only thing that I'll be able to supply that is missing thus far would be my not-so-unique brand of snark. Oh well - to the brew kitchen!
Update: Brew day is complete! Now that my beer supply is on its way to being replenished (I still need to drop off my Cream Ale keg for cold conditioning, and to pick up a Pilsner kit), maybe I can head over to Lousy Canuck for some brain-cell destruction at the hands of the Funky Fraud and his rubes, er - I mean, "followers"!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Our countries both grew up out of the British Commonwealth, but we obtained our freedom in different ways. As the older brother, you got into a big argument with our former parents, and stormed out angrily after bloodying the British empire with a blow to the nose. In a huff, you struck off under your own power to find your way in the world.
As the goody-two shoes smaller brother (ever the favorite), we remember the way you left, but we could never bring ourselves to lash out so angrily against our parents, even though sometimes we wanted to. Therefore, we stayed with the Brits, and slowly, eventually moved out of the British home. Sure, we've got a close relationship with them, Mom (the Queen) drops in to check on us once in a while, and sometimes they'll drop off some used submarines for us to use, but we like to think of ourselves as fully independent now
Anyways, I've been keeping an eye on the political atmosphere within your borders for the past few years. Indeed, it's near impossible to avoid seeing what goes on in the USA, as awash in American media as we are up here. What I have witnessed happening down there makes me fear for both our countries.
I feel like I'm watching your political process completely break down. There now seems to be three political parties in the United States: extreme right-wing (Republicans), center-right (Democrats), and completely oblivious (the vast majority of voters).
The Republicans recently oversaw what could quite possibly be the worst decade in American History, squandering the good American name around the world, starting two unnecessary wars, and throwing the entire economy of the planet into turmoil. Now that they are out of power, it seems the only activity that they're interested in is doing anything to make the new American government fail, no matter how that affects the county they claim to love and care for. From the outside, it looks like they've been taken over by an American version of the Taliban, which completely throws off the balance of power in your great country.
The Democrats are still struggling to deal with the fallout of thirty years of Republican policies. Unfortunately, they seem to be attempting to counteract those policies by adopting Republican policies from twenty years ago (which, ironically enough, the current Republican party refers to as "socialism"!). The supposed American "left wing" seems to be more worried about placating the people who are showing up to rallies holding racist signs and carrying automatic weapons than leading America out of one of its darkest decades. The Republicans are fond of arguing that one shouldn't "negotiate with terrorists", yet the Democrats continually seem to be always attempting to build bridges with the extremist American political party that doesn't seem to care about the health of the USA right now.
Your scariest political "party" are definitely the Completely Oblivious types. The political environment has gotten so extremist and obstructionist that it has forced a small percentage of Americans to become rabid partisans, while causing the remaining, vast majority of citizens to stop caring at all about politics. The Republican partisans are completely unable to deal with reality, the Democratic partisans are pretty much ignored by their own political party, and the remainder of the citizenry are either easily swayed by fear-mongering or are more concerned about stuffing as many calories into their faces as they can while they watch amateur idiots sing or dance on fake reality television shows. Even the impending destruction of the American Dream doesn't seem to be enough to wake them from their stupor!
Top top this all off, you have now seemingly have only two types of news stations: right-wing attack news, and infotainment. Flipping through my American news channels, I have the choice between either wacko wingnut talking points or celebrity scandals. Right-wing news has essentially become an extremist Republican arguing with a slightly less extremist Republican over how to properly demonize the commie/nazi/anti-christ Democrats; mainstream news has become a muddle where two sides of any argument are presented with zero fact-checking or followup questions so as to avoid accusations of "bias"; and left-wing news has become no more than a couple of half-hour shows on public television channels that nobody watches. Where the hell has that hard-hitting American news that debated the issues, presented the facts, and held politicians' feet to the fire gone? It's almost like George W. Bush sent all of your investigative reporters to Guantanamo Bay, and Obama can't figure out whether to let them out or send them to be tortured to death in a Syrian prison!
Anyways, I know that some of this rant has been harsh - there's more than a small amount of demagoguery present in it, some points in it might be incorrect, and I've definitely been guilty of slinging a number of insults about, but I only said all this because I care about you, America. The main reason I care is, as the "little brother" in our relationship, I'm starting to notice some of your dysfunctions surfacing north of the border we share with you, and I'm worried that if America destroys itself from within, Canada might just follow your example.
Please step back from the abyss, America. The world needs you to be healthy and whole, and, even if we don't always get along with you, we do love you. Thanks for listening.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
On that note, I'll post some substantial posts this week that are guaranteed to increase the amount of regular readers I have on this site. Of course, those are certain to be dreams of grandeur, not that I care right now.
Have a good weekend!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Now that I've shed the fundamentalist mindset and fully embraced my inner (and outer) nerdliness, I recently saw something that made me extremely pleased. Since I detest my previous religious background now, you can imagine my amusement when nerds at Comi-Con 2010 lined up to counter-protest against the odious Westboro Baptist Church, who for some unknown reason thought it would be a good idea to protest there this year.
Obviously, the brains behind Westboro have zero clue as to what the strengths of being a nerd are. Thanks to comic books, Weird Al Yankovic, and years of being left out of "mainstream" cliques, geeks have learned that one of the best ways (if not THE best way) of dealing with hostile opponents is a combination of parody and mockery. When a group of hideous IRL trolls like Westboro threaten to bring their horrid anti-gay, pro-murderous deity sideshow to protest your event, the best thing to do is not give them the satisfaction of getting you upset and screaming at them. Don't try to engage them - dress yourself up in a caricature of them, then point and laugh at them.
That is exactly what happened.
Nerds fucking rule!
Here's a selection of my favorite photos from the counter-protest.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I think I just had a nerdgasm!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
So, now the dissection: Am I angry? No. How could I be angry about denialists doing what denialists do? I might as well be upset at a flag for flapping in the breeze - it's what the flag was designed to do. What experience can be taken away from this brief exchange? Two things: First, astrologers have thin skins and are quick to break out moderation if they don't like your attitude - even if you attempt to rectify it. They have to protect the sanctuary of their echo chamber, or else risk losing followers, a valuable source of income. Second: When arguing with creationists, astrologers, and conspiracy theorists, always take a screenshot! I checked the Google cached page, and it showed my first prickly post, but not Jamies acidic responses.
I went back to have a look at the progress at the original thread "Dealing with Skeptics and Assorted Trolls" (I'm done linking to the Funky website), and it looks like Jason and George W.'s requests for evidence and/or an explanation of how astrology could work had been met with little more than jeering, insults, and claims that Jason & George are arguing against strawmen versions of astrology. Strangely (but unsurprisingly), when they request correction on their apparently false view of astrology, all they receive are more insults and claims that essentially boil down to, "Science doesn't know everything" and "Astrology is very old, so it must be true!". Things are progressing pretty much exactly as Jason said it would.
The one scary thing to come out of this exchange is how close I came to volunteering my personal information for Jason's intelligent offer for what could be a valuable experiment: he would obtain birth info from five individuals and submit one random person's data to Jamie. Jamie could do a personality chart, and Jason would return it to the five volunteers for review. Each would report back on how accurate an assessment it was of their personality, after which it would be revealed whose birth information it was. It would be an excellent way to see exactly how well Jamie's "art" works (or doesn't, as it would probably be). Of course, it's easy to see why Jamie would never agree to this experiment, isn't it? Falsifiability isn't something a fraud could ever subject themselves to - he has to make sure he only practices his art for those that already believe he has a "gift", so that confirmation bias can "prove" his powers.
I'll wager this is going to end quickly, with a whimper. After which, the astrologists will feel vindicated because they've banned or chased off skeptics attempting to shine the investigative light of science on the quackery of astrology. Then, the astrologers can return to making a comfortable living fleecing the gullible in the darkness. At any rate, considering Jamie's actions thus far, I don't think I'm that interested in proceeding further along with this waste of time.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The first time was posting at a Blogging Tory site, owned by a... "colourful" (and more than a little bit racist) gentleman named Neo Conservative (I refuse to link to him). I had tried to engage him (quite pleasantly, at least so I had thought) on a post he'd written that was critical of a neighborhood holding a candlelight vigil for a murdered local child. Instead of responding to my criticism of his opinion, he merely linked to my sparsely-outfitted Blogger account (before I had this blog linked to it), called me a troll, and refused to address my comment further.
This time, I wrote a highly critical opinion on astrology over at Lousy Canuck, where Jason was having a spirited debate with Jamie, a practitioner of that "esoteric art" (I then followed that up with a post here at home.) Obviously, my opinion didn't please Jamie at all, and I have been branded a troll yet again. I was originally determined to stay out of it and merely toss a little invective in from the sidelines, but I think I'll try jumping into the conversation and seeing where it goes. I want to see if Jamie considers me a troll or merely a skeptic.
EDIT: Troll it is! I found a series of snarky little responses to my joining in on Jamie's free reading contest (in which I took what was apparently a joke about levitation as a construction tool seriously - do Poes count against New Age believers?). I was even vaguely threatened in one of his responses (not physically, I'm certain - I think Jamie probably meant he was sending a curse or negative tachyon burst in my general direction.). I tried dropping the hostility-dripping reply I was thinking of and broke out some apology and a touch of humility (but only a touch!) in order to see if I can draw something interesting out of what has mostly been a pissing match between Jamie and I thus far.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
We were hoping that they would give the general public a chance to get up close and personal with Stanley's Mug, but unfortunately, that didn't happen. Right after the ceremony and speeches praising Mr. Keith for his excellent play, great accomplishments, and all-around wonderfulness (seriously, the accolades and compliments were even getting to be too much for Duncan - he kept motioning for the crowd to sit after the mayor initiated a standing ovation for him), Duncan whisked the Cup off to the side of the stage where he snapped off a long roll of photos with the local minor hockey teams. From there, he was rushed behind curtains into the bowels of the SOEC, and the show was over.
I wasn't able to get any close photos of the Stanley Cup, but I did get to touch and get some excellent pictures of the Norris trophy.
Overall, the ceremony was nice, albeit a little over-the-top when it came to the compliments given to Duncan in the various speeches from Duncan's father, the mayor, his minor league coach. (Although, to be fair, Duncan did seem genuinely modest, plus he personally donated $10,000 to the Penticton hospital. I guess a little vocal fellatio for him from local bigwigs can be forgiven).
Pics, or it never happened:
Quit pitching friends and neighbors your church! Stop treating them like brain dead, late night infomercial addicts and talk to them like humans! If your God is so awesome, prove it! If God makes your life so magical, show your friends. People are tired of being pitched and sold to, give em the real deal.
Finally, a Christian who understands! Most unchurched are not interested in being repeatedly pressured to attend this church or that parish. We don't enjoy being informed we're going to hell, or that Jesus died for our sins - trust me, we've heard it all before. Between the Baptists, Evangelicals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Catholics, it can sometimes feel like you're under siege if you don't attend church. On top of that, the message is ridiculous to us. You might as well be telling us that Spider-Man loves us, or that Superman died for our sins.
That said, please feel perfectly free to be the hand of your God in society. Since he can never seem to find the time or inclination to come down off his heavenly throne to offer any assistance or help, it's up to the rest of us (including you Christians) to help feed the poor, clothe the sick, volunteer to help clean up the BP oil spill, etc. One important thing to remember, though: keep your preaching to yourself, unless one of the people you're assisting makes an inquiry about why you're doing these things. Feel free to take advantage of peoples' curiosity, but don't expect nonbelievers to sit through a sermon because you washed their car or gave them a sandwich.
Friday, July 16, 2010
It's a little confusing to follow, since Jason is attempting to cross-post between his site and the Funk site, since it seems Mr. Funk is doing some editing of Jason's posts, claiming that Jason is playing cut-and-paste on multiple threads on the Funk site.
Jason and his group have my support, since astrology is so obviously ridiculous that I don't think I'd have the patience to deal with the peddlers of such trash. The one thing that I'm realizing is that anti-science is the same, whether it be astrology, creationism, anti-vaccination, or anything else; it takes a lot of work and research to counter the claims of denialists, yet the supernaturalists get to make up any damned explanation they feel like out of thin air to defend their point of view. That said, it could be interesting to watch, should any true discussion evolve out of it.
I've asked the wife to make me popcorn while I dispense a couple of wheat ales from the kegerator. Fun!
EDIT: I've taken a(n admittedly quick) browse of the Funk website, and it seems to be the standard tripe that you'd expect from your run-of-the-mill astrologer/prophet: general and vague predictions of future events (seriously, I didn't see a single mention of a specific event - it's all vague "love could happen" or "violence could be possible" bullshit), coupled with a LOT of "in-depth" analysis of past events, and how the Funk version of astrology "correctly predicted" said events. It's disturbing that people can fall for such obvious fakery, and it almost makes me angry that a comfortable living can be made off of making shit up and dressing it up as reality.
That said, I entered the Funk contest for a free reading. I'd be fascinated to see what kind of predictions they'd make for me. I'll wager that if I was able to wrangle some concrete insights or predictions about my life from them (and I doubt they'd be foolish enough to do so - they do claim to be "professionals") that they wouldn't even be successful to 50%.
Edit 2: Edited to note that Marina is Jamie's girlfriend, not his wife.