Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nerds vs Fundies

Spending my teen years as a fundie nerd (or is it "nerdy fundie"?) made for a very lonely time. Most nerds bunch together with other high school misfits, such as the drama kids, gay kids, exchange students, etc. Since I was an opinionated fundie as well as a nerd, it meant I was too closed-minded to really hang out with many of those outgroups - I'd piss them off with my semi-constant Bible-thumping.

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

Nerf chaingun from the future!

Did you know that Nerf makes a chaingun? That's pretty cool all by itself. Now, how awesome is it when said chaingun gets converted into a 500-rounds-per-minute futuristic Nerf weapon of mass destruction?




I think I just had a nerdgasm!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I figured that this sort of fits what's been going around here lately. Plus, I'll take any opportunity available to link to a Weird Al song!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Funky Frauds Must Protect Their Financial Interests

Well, it looks like Jamie Funk isn't interested in my attempt to actually discuss astrology instead of insulting each other. He deleted my original post where I entered his contest for a free reading, then he wiped his multiple responses where he took a martyr's pose, stated that astrologers had been murdered and persecuted for centuries by Romans and Christians, then said that it was time for astrologers to "fight back" against the skeptics that wish them harm. Later, he said there would be no way I could ever win his contest, but that I could purchase a reading from him for double the price (his "skeptics special") and he would inform me as to why my life was so pathetic and miserable. In a later post he made a vague threat, stating that my miserable life was about "to get much worse." I then responded by apologizing for my first hostile post in the thread and indicated that if Jamie would come down off his cross, I'd drop the attitude and actually browse a couple of posts that he requested I read. That last response also went down the memory hole.

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

I'm a troll again!

Well, for the second time in my relatively lengthy (albeit minor) career of posting on discussions around the internet, I've been labeled a troll!

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

Pilgrimage fail?

Well, this afternoon my step father joined me on a 4 hour pilgrimage southwards to view that holiest of Canadian relics: the Stanley Cup! Duncan Keith of the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks brought the cup into Penticton, and the city mayor declared July 17th, 2010 as "Duncan Keith Day". Keith also brought along his 2010 Olympic Team Canada gold medal, and his father carried in his Norris trophy that he won as top league defenseman at the NHL Awards ceremony.

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:

Duncan Keith carrying the cup onto the stage.

In this pic you can see Duncan is wearing his 2010 Olympic gold medal, and his father carries the Norris trophy.

The Norris trophy for top defenseman up close.

Secular Chritianity FTW!

Over at I Hate Church is a post titled "Stop pitching your church, no one cares". As a non-Christian, I can certainly agree with the title and spirit of this post. An excerpt:

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

People braver than I

Over at Jason's place, he's currently taking on somewhat of a debate with a self-described professional astrologist named Jamie Funk, who, along with his girlfriend Marina, is doing a decidedly poor job of arguing his position against Jason, Stephanie Z, and a few other regular readers of Lousy Canuck.

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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

143rd Birthday

Today marks the 143rd year since confederation brought together four British North American provinces into a single country known as Canada. Happy Birthday!