Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Top 10 list! The Top 10 Posts of 2009 roundup

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Preliator pro Causa

Because it’s virtually a sacrosanct feature amongst blogs as far as I can tell and because I always like to showcase my stuff anyway, here are, via the data from Google Analytics, the ten most viewed posts on this blog in the year 2009 (ie – since Preliator’s inception last July). Some of these posts I truly am proud of, and others leave me scratching my head as I wonder, “how in the hell did that make the Top 10 list?”.

#10: “I just want to know what her problem is” – October 30
Wherein I comment on a report that states that there are numerous cases of men in British Columbia, Canada, who claim they’ve been kicked in the balls in the streets by a random woman, apparently for absolutely no reason at all (on their part, that is).

#09: The science of pedophilia, morality, and free will – December 26
A reader brings up two interesting medical cases of people who suddenly began showing pedophiliac urges after brain injury, when they had been seemingly perfectly “normal” until then. Also brings up deep questions regarding morality and free will.

#08: Men, wanna live longer? Stare at boobs! [Updated – hoax!] – December 10
A specious report on a supposed German study that (supposedly) concluded that staring at women’s breasts was healthy for men and increased their lifespans. Even though I apparently fell into believing this was genuine like an idiot until informed otherwise, that still didn’t stop this post from being the eighth most visited post of the year. Weird. (But, on the other hand, I just knew that title would get me somewhere in terms of page views.)

#07: “Does faith make you happy?” – December 18
USA Today’s Faith & Reason blog asks whether faith makes people happier in general than a lack of faith. An anti-religious rant of mine ensues in which I affirm that, yes, having your head and heart filled with fluff about how a supreme being is in control of everything and watching over you, and how your enemies and other nonbelievers are gonna fry in Hell, does tend to elevate your spirits.

#06: Only in the Nanny State of Britain: when the victim is the one jailed and not the criminal – December 15
A man and his family are terrorized by a knife-wielding house-robber and his crew, are tied up and threatened with death. Unfortunately for the robbers, the family father escapes, gets help, and proceeds to whack the living shit out of the burglar. And then gets jailed for 2.5 years – whilst the burglar gets nothing. Hope those bruises and cuts really sting. My sympathy for weapon-wielding burglars and would-be murderers is just about nonexistent; sorry.

#05: Another example how atheists should not go on Fox Newz – December 23
Not unless they wanna be mocked and bullied, as was poor Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, when she was “interviewed” by Faux Newz bitch Laura Ingraham. Infuriating video.

#04: As if we needed more evidence demonstrating how pot is not the devil – December 14
Not only is marijuana not gonna kill you (unless you’re beaten to death for driving too slowly on the highway), but it might even actually help your brain, as research finds that an agent in street-sold weed actually promotes neurogenesis (ie.: creation and development of braincells) and may help combat anxiety and depression. (But then, any pot-head can already attest to that.)

#03: Another rant on how not all animal sex is animal abuse – December 19
Another one of my rants on the unfairness and cruelty of the persecution, both social and legal, faced by people who engage in sex with animals when the animal is not harmed in any way, shape or form. Spurred on by a particularly insensitive and royally dumbass quote from a law enforcement official about how, apparently, having sex with female horses makes Michael Vick’s horrific brutality towards dogs pale in comparison. Unreal.

#02: What it all comes down to … – December 18
In which I post a comic in which the problems with acting in the face of Global Warming all boil down to: “What if Global Warming is a big hoax and we all create a better world for nothing?”. Damn straight. (I sorta suspect much of the traffic that bumped this post up to the #2 spot is due to the source site being Pharyngulated, itself.)

#01: Saying that labeling children is wrong = FASCISM!!!1!! – November 20
It’s no surprise that this post is my #1 – it has, to itself, 20 times more comments and is responsible for up to a full quarter, if not a third, of the blog’s total traffic. It all started as a casual dissection of columnist Ed West’s “FASCISM!!!” nonsense in the Telegraph regarding the British Humanist Association’s “Please Don’t Label Me” bus ad campaign which told people not to label children along religious or political ideologies until they’re old enough to choose for themselves. A perfectly reasonable message. Ed West didn’t think so. So, I tore into his silly article … and my little post was tweeted. Which truly kicked the ball down the snowy mountain and started a hell of an avalanche.

(Yes, don’t worry, I have noticed how all but two posts were posted this last month of December; that doesn’t change anything. The point of this list is to enumerate the top 10 most visited posts, regardless of whether they’re chronologically clustered together or not.)

Well, this is obviously my last post of the year. It’s been a long one, full of both excitement and misery, brilliance and sheer, bottomless-pit-esque stupidity. But then, so is every year, no? So: see you in 2010! =P

“There is no God”: what we say vs. what we mean

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Atheism
“Atheist”/“Godless”: Ain’t this the most wicked cool ambigram or what?

We atheists sure know how to tick off the believers and the faithful with our repeated assertions that “There is no god” and its cousin, “There is probably no god”. Now, Hemant Mehta asks: which is it? A valiant question.

I hear atheists saying both of the following statements and it would be nice to have it cleared up.

Which statement should atheists be using?

1. There is probably no god.

2. There is no god.

I should note that when I say “probably no god” in #1, I mean any amount less than 100% certainty.

I can’t answer for others, neither being in their heads nor privy to their beliefs and thought processes, but I certainly can answer for myself and for what I say, versus what I mean. Personally, when I say, “There is no God”, I’m simply using the shorter, more convenient and less tedious-to-repeat contraction of, “There is almost certainly no God or gods”. Of course, there always could be one or more god(s). But then, there could be a tooth fairy, leprechauns and unicorns as well. We certainly have never proven that they don’t exist. But, the fact that we’ve never seen one, that they don’t appear to have any effects on the world, and that their existence would defy common sense and logic, is more than good enough to lead us to believing, and proclaiming, that they simply don’t exist.

I simply use this exact same logic towards god(s), who insofar have been utterly absent in our natural world. There is no trace, not the slightest, most subtle of hints, of a divine influence or being. So, why should we believe in one? There simply isn’t any good reason to, period.

What about you, dear reader(s)? If you don’t believe in god(s), what do you say on a regular basis? How likely is it, to you, that god(s) exist at all?

(via Friendly Atheist)

Dissecting Cheney & co.’s bullshit, via Rachel Maddow

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Republicans have been having a jolly good time these past few days since the attempted terrorist attack on Delta Airlines flight 253, getting the outrage machine cranked up at full about the failings of Obama and his administration when it came to protecting American lives and ensuring air travel security and whatnot. This is, of course, a blatant case of fear-mongering hypocritical nonsense, and no-one is more of a war-monger or a dishonest dunce than is Dick Cheney. No-one in the media or amongst the Democrats seem interested in shutting them up with only a rudimentary amount of fact-checking to quell their lies, so I suppose it was up to Rachel Maddow to dissect the bullshit. And she did beautifully. (Naturally.)

The whole thing is a great watch as she tears through all the lies and mindless babble, but below is the part that really stands out, at the 6:43 mark, when she describes just how and why Republicans not only get away with jackass stunts like this, but somehow act as though it were their responsibility to do so:

‘For the most part, Democrats are letting these charges from Dick Cheney and the rest of Republicans go unanswered – even though these are charges that collapse very quickly in the face of even rudimentary fact-checking. But, even if you step back from the specific, ridiculous claims that they are making, consider what Republicans are trying to do, here. Republicans apparently think they can survive the fact-checking problems they will have here if anybody ever decides to look into these things they’re saying. They think they can survive the fact-checking because they imagine they have this transcendent credibility on national security matters. A credibility on national security that – what, transcends the facts of their record?

Exactly right.

The world of journalism and the media needs about a hundred more like her to counterbalance against all the incompetent twits who claim to share news and who do little more than spread conservative talking points and lies without bothering to take five seconds to filter the bullshit out of them. If I wanna watch unfiltered Republican lies and hypocrisy go unanswered, I’ll tune in to Faux Newz, thank you very much. The rest of the media should be held to (much) higher standards.

(via @todayspolitics)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A butthurt Ken Ham and a succint response

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Made of WIN

Recently, Prof. Lawrence Krauss, renown physicist and author of many great books including The Physics of Star Trek, visited Ken Ham’s ludicrous Creation “Museum” for a brief stroll, before commenting on its absurdity in the Cincinnati Enquirer using mean pointy words like “lies”, “travesty” and “religiously motivated fraud”. This is all exact to anyone who knows anything about science and about how utterly devoid of merit Creationism is, without even having to visit Ham’s $27 million folly.

Of course, Ken Ham felt a wee bit stung by this and let the silliness rip on Krauss:

Krauss himself got criticism from some in the secular press because he had not even visited the museum to see it for himself. Presumably because of this criticism, he did come some time later and walked through the Creation Museum exhibits with AiG’s CCO, Mark Looy. Mark actually timed Krauss’s visit. He took a whole 22 minutes to walk through the museum, most of the time asking Mark Looy questions and only occasionally glancing at some of the exhibits. Considering it would take a person nearly one and a half hours to watch the programs in the various theatres, including the Planetarium and SFX theatre, plus take 2 hours to watch all the 50-plus videos in the various exhibits, and a further two hours to read all the signage—it was obvious Krauss wasn’t the least bit interested in researching the content of the museum (as one would expect from a real scientist and well-known anti-creationist commentator), but only visited presumably to tell people he has seen the Creation Museum and thus could comment on it—what a farce!

Wow. Sounds like someone’s feeling a little butthurt.

Then, from Larry Moran over at Sandwalk:

Now, let's be fair to Lawrence Krauss. He's a very smart guy and I'm certain that it didn't take him 22 minutes to recognize that the museum was a farce. I'm sure he stayed an extra 21 minutes just to be polite to his host.

*Zing!*

(via Friendly Atheist)

The most brutal Dick Cheney smackdown, EVAR

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Made of WIN

This.

DICK THE COWARD.... It was only a matter of time before Dick Cheney decided to trash the president again.

"As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war."

Let's review a few pesky details. First, it was Cheney's administration that released some of the alleged terrorists who plotted the attack into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" in Saudi Arabia, only to see them become terrorist leaders in Yemen. It was also Cheney's administration that gave Abdulmutallab a visa to enter the United States in the first place.

Second, let's compare some "low-key responses." President Obama addressed a failed terrorist attack three days after it occurred. Eight years ago, when a terrorist tried to blow up an airplane under nearly identical circumstances, then-President Bush waited six days before making brief, cursory public remarks. Five days after the attempted terrorist attack, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused substantive comment altogether, telling reporters, "That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people." A White House spokesperson would only say at the time that officials were "continuing to monitor events."

Democrats, at the time, didn't launch an assault against the Bush administration, and we didn't see Al Gore condemning the White House. It simply didn't occur to Democrats in 2001 to use the attempted mass murder of hundreds of Americans to undermine the presidency.

Eight years later, Dick Cheney believes his principal responsibility is to destroy President Obama -- the man Americans chose to clean up the messes Cheney left as a parting gift after eight years of abject failure.

This recent piece from James Fallows continues to ring true: "The former vice president, Dick Cheney, has brought dishonor to himself, his office, and his country. I am not aware of a case of a former President or Vice President behaving as despicably as Cheney has done in the ten months since leaving power.... Cheney has acted as if utterly unconcerned with the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people now trying to make difficult decisions. He has put narrow score-settling interest far, far above national interest."

Dick Cheney is a coward and a disgrace.

Amen to that. No – halle-fuckin’-lujah.

(via @todayspolitics)

♪It’s a beautiful day …♪

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Yes, Bono, I can hear you when you sing. Because I’ll be there. Literally.

U2 concert tickets for my 18th birthday
U2 concert tickets. For July 16. All mine. My preciousssss …

Oh, how I love turning 18, if only for this. (Note that should it rain on July 16, it would be definitive proof that there is no God, if he would ruin such a blessing. … Then again, it might just as well be proof, if it’s taken as him smiting me, the unbeliever …)

xkcd + Star Wars + Wikipedia = INTERNET WIN

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The latest xkcd nearly sent me to my own grave, ironically enough. (Out of laughing, in case I needed to clear that up. Sheesh.) (Note: be sure to view the full sized image to be able to “get it”.)

xkcd: ‘Force’
[Click for full size]

He never was very good at self-control with that stuff …

Also, here’s why it pays to be a quick little Net-browser such as I:

Trolled Wikipedia article on “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” with Darth Vader amongst “famous cases”

That line disappeared the very next time I refreshed the page, just moments later. I can’t decide which I love more: the xkcd legion’s quickness and influence, or the Print Screen button. =P

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another illustration of Congress’ effed-up priorities

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“War on Christmas”

So, let’s see. At the moment, America is facing two wars abroad, dealing with the passage of sweeping healthcare reform legislation, trying to cope with an ailing economy that, in itself, is a cause for countless other headaches including a peaking rate of unemployment, a skyrocketing national debt – and this is all in addition to the “usual” issues (such as the environment, shrinking of the middle class, crime, civil rights such as abortion and gay marriage, and so on). So, what does Congress judge best to do in such times?

How about jumping into this “War on Christmas” bullshit, then? Which is exactly what Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) and 74 cosponsoring Republicans is doing in pushing forth a bill that would essentially condemn people for saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”.

Yes, yes … seriously.

BROWN: ‘[…] we don’t wanna get so empowered by doing that that we forget the real meaning of Christmas by using “Happy Holidays” or, or “Joy to the Seasons”, or some other word rather than “Merry Christmas” so we can reflect the true meaning of Christmas. I think giving is good, I think bringing families together at Christmas is very important, but I think, also, we can’t forget, though, in all of this, the true meaning of Christmas, which is Christ’s birthday.’

[…]

BROWN: ‘Every year, more and more people are shying away from Christmas and using “Happy Holidays” or some other means of expressing this, this special time for us.’

Listening to this pathetic droning waffle, only one thing comes to mind … yes …

Freedom fries
Perhaps the most lasting effect left by the dumbass Republican demagogues in Congress.

I hardly need to explain how and why the fact that 75 Congress Republicans truly believe that the “War on Christmas” is not only credible, but even something worth taking precious time in Congress debating over in the face of all the other crucial issues they have yet to deal with, is utterly, mind-numbingly embarrassing. It’s a complete disgrace.

A bad similarity between Barbies and science for girls

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For kids, girls are always the weaker half of their demographic: the boys are out playing sports, blowing stuff up in videogames and picking fights every few days, whereas girls are at home, having tea parties with their stuffed animals and playing with dolls. (An interesting correlation to how things were before the advent of the women’s rights movement, in fact.) And, of course, a crucial part of this “distinction” between the sexes is how girls are generally weaker and more insipid than the boys, and also how they’re crazy for pink.

Of course, once kids grow up, this sort of distinction is usually left behind as it rightfully should be as it becomes apparent that girls can make it in this world every bit as easily as boys can. No more is such a vapid and silly distinction made. (Well, generally. I’m not saying the fight for women’s rights is over, but it certainly is on better grounds than ever.) As teens, and later as adults, the female half is regarded as being an equal part of the human species, every bit as able as the male half.

So, I have to wonder: what in the hell is wrong with this picture?

Weaker pink science tools for girls in Toys ’R Us catalog

In case you can’t tell what’s going on here, this is a snapshot from a page of a Toys ’R Us that showcases some of the available toys in the science equipment domain. We see microscopes and telescopes – yet in each category, there is a pink, decidedly “girly” version of the tool. This would be bad enough as it is, although perhaps still borderline permissible – some girls do like pink, after all – but then, they went and even made these pink, “girlish” models substantially weaker than the others. (The regular microscopes have 900X and 1200X capabilities, but the “girl version” only goes up to 600X; the regular telescopes have 250X and 525X capabilities, yet the “girl version” is limited at 90X.)

Normally, I’d be the first to tell others and myself to calm down, that appearances can be deceiving and that perhaps we aren’t seeing the full picture, but it’s rather hard to see such a clear and ridiculous distinction between toys for boys and toys for girls and not conclude that someone, somewhere, apparently doesn’t expect girls to be as good in science, or to be as deserving of performing equipment, as boys. Of course, I’m not saying Toys ’R Us is sexist, or the catalog – such would be a baseless and stupid claim. But there is something going wrong, somewhere, if someone thought it was a good idea to print such silliness.

Your thoughts? Is this just, perhaps, an unfortunate little error? Or is this plain sexism?

(via Pharyngula)

It’s that time of the year again …

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The day when the Earth celebrates having completed yet another orbital trek around that big flaming gas-ball in space since my forced ejection from that warm, dark, cozy place I called home for 9 months. (I could swear I tried to crawl back in.) I guess I’ve grown a few more inches, lost a few pounds, and gained plenty of sardonicism.

(Well, technically, my time of birth is supposedly at 9 AM sharp, but I’ll still be sleeping then, so I’m posting this now. =P)

Birthday lolcat

Still trying not to get my hopes up that my mother may have gotten my U2 concert tickets for her “super special present that I’ll never guess, and that is neither computer-related, a new electric guitar, nor clothes, and that she’s had for a little while” …

Now, remember that I want lots of cake. In the form of comments. It makes my existence feel validated. =P

(Holy hell, forgot to mention: I’M 18!!!!!)

(… so in the U.S., I still can’t drink booze! Ha, sucks to be you, unidentified 18-year-old American reader. =P)

Last edited: (12-29-09 @1:22 AM) – Added the last two lines.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stupid Quote of the Day: Supercrank on morality, redux

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The Stupid, It Burns

I know Vox Day nurtures a hearty dislike for PZ Myers, as is particularly evidenced by his continued seething over the fact that PZ really has better things to do than to debate morons of his genre when it comes to topics that Vox has consistently proven to be utterly ignorant and misinformed about, but when it comes to the point where he uses any little quote of PZ’s as an excuse to enter a stupendously irrational screed, chances are he may have a bit of a problem.

"There is no eternal standard of right and wrong."
- PZ Myers

I thought that was a quotation worth noting. Read the whole thing so you can appreciate the context; it is an object lesson in why biologists teaching community colleges would do well to avoid attempting both logic and philosophy. Of course, the Fowl Atheist's stated belief in the absence of any eternal standard of right and wrong and his implied belief in the absence of any objective standard of right and wrong doesn't prevent him from constantly labeling various actions and individuals as being either right or wrong. I don't think PZ is demonstrating hypocrisy here, however, so much as simple incoherence. One has to be aware of one's inconsistency before one attempt to maintain a pretense, after all.

It is both hilarious and deeply ironic that someone whose ability to reason correctly is so demonstrably nonexistent should nevertheless see fit to declare: "We should build our morality on reason." The thought is neither original nor tenable.

There is so much condensed dumbassery in there that it’s hard to know where to begin. Just about every sentence is its own fallacy. First of all, though, it’s really quite interesting to note how Vox mentions how he doesn’t “think PZ is demonstrating hypocrisy” and even encourages others to read the post itself to glean its context, as the fact that the very continuation of PZ’s quote proves that Vox basically not only took that quote out of context as an instigator to his silly diatribe, but completely missed the point as though it were going out of fashion. Here’s the proper context:

There is no eternal standard of right and wrong. It has changed from generation to generation; what was considered right and wrong in the Biblical Middle East would horrify us with its injustice if implemented in 21st century America, and reciprocally, a Judean priest from the 1st century BC would be calling for the wrath of Jehovah to fall upon those licentious, evil people like Pat Robertson or James Dobson, who lead millions into a life antithetical to ancient Jewish custom.

Palin’s book is garbage. Literally.

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Just ask the poor heroes of the sanitation department, who are feeling rather overwhelmed. It’s a contamination of bad literature like never before.

What did you expect? Just like her mind, Sarah Palin’s book is full of *bleep*.

(via Fur Affinity Forums)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmastime faith vs. godlessness roundup

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As the Season to be Jolly is moving on behind us, it’s time for a little reality check – in the form how a Gallup poll that determines the levels of religiosity in the U.S.. Four separate questions, four pleasing statistical results that prove what we’ve known for a long time: religion is slowly but surely on its way into ignominy, and godlessness and reason are on the rise – again, slowly, but just as surely.

First, Gallup asked people how which religion they identified with (standard starter question).

Religious preference
Religious demographics as of winter 2009: Protestantism/Non-Catholic: 56% (decreasing) / Catholicism: 22% (decreasing) / None: 13% (increasing) / Other: 9% (level)

Then, the polled were asked how important religion is in their lives:

Personal importance of religion
Personal importance of religion as of winter 2009: Very important: 56% (decreasing) / Fairly important: 25% (decreasing) / Not very important: 19% (increasing)

Next, pollster asked people whether they attended church or a place of worship:

Healthcare reform bill ruined Christmas, so I burned my house and plunged my car in a lake

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This Christmas Eve morning, C-SPAN took some calls from viewers to hear their opinions and reaction to the healthcare reform bill that had just been passed. I’m praying that this one, below, isn’t a representative sample of what had been heard on the air, or else America is doomed to fall into the hands of absolute Christofascist morons. (And I cannot emphasize that last word enough.) I really sorta pity the presenter who had to listen to all that.

PRESENTER: ‘We’ve got another call from Kansas, this one from “Bunny”, uh, Parson, Kansas. You’re opposed to the bill?’

BUNNY: ‘Good morning. Yes, I am, very much. I am so disappointed. I have taken my Christmas tree down, I have taken my Christmas trees off my house, I’ve taken all the lights down. This is supposed to be a nation under God, and it isn’t. They absolutely have ruined Christmas for all the Senators and Representatives that are supposed to be under God. This is God’s holiday, for the birth of his son.’

PRESENTER: ‘So, you took down your Christmas tree because of the Senate healthcare bill?’

BUNNY: ‘I certainly did, and I would like to see every light in the nation go out, especially in the White House. This is just ridiculous.’

PRESENTER: ‘Why are you so opposed to it, Bunny?’

BUNNY: ‘Because it’s divisive between my son, who is younger, and myself, and in many families, it’s that way. Either it’s genocide on the seniors […]’

Am I the only one who, no matter how many times I listen to that rambling and read the transcript, simply cannot fathom what the hell this nut is talking about? I pity her son, who’s gonna be wondering why his wackjob mother ruined Christmas, herself, in taking down all the pretty lights and trees in a supremely stupid and futile move of protest against something that is both wholly unrelated and that will only help the country in the coming years. And, of course, the way she tries to rationalize just how the bill is wrong is just an illustration in pure brainlessness. Truly, if anyone has a gobbledygook translator, I’d be grateful.

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A stupid story to which I don’t even need to formulate a reaction

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Facepalm: oh, the stupidity

Another example why “zero-tolerance” policies should be shitcanned soon enough:

A 10-year-old girl in New York has been suspended for bringing peppermint oil to her middle school and distributing it to other students.

The Commack School District said in a statement on its Web Site that the oil is "an unregulated over-the-counter drug."

[…]

Commack Superintendent James Feltman said Sara's actions violated the school district's code of conduct when she brought the oil to school on Monday. He said the label on the bottle said it should be kept out of reach of children.

Of course, standard policy dictates that I should now respond in an exasperated, snarky and marginally witty sort of way. But then, I don’t have to exert myself; I’ve got the perfect response already provided via DONTBUGME in the article’s comments:

In related news, a boy was expelled for bringing water to school. School officials said that "water" is an over-the-counter drug commonly used to treat dehydration. They said that h2o, the main ingredient, has been known to cause drowning in humans and is therefore too dangerous for minors to possess on school grounds.

Exactly.

(via Fark)

I don’t think he’ll be reproducing and creating more would-be moronic robbers anytime soon

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At least, I dare to hope. There are several ways a criminal can be stupid and fuck up, but … seriously. This guy must’ve been vying for a medal.

A DOZY robber was nicked while scoffing a chicken dinner at a restaurant he held up at gunpoint 20 minutes earlier.

The 38-year-old is accused of stealing several hundred pounds after waving an airgun at terrified staff.

But he then sniffed the tasty aromas at the Southern Fried Chicken branch and demanded: "Give me one of those Hunga Busta Meals too."

He sat down to eat the meal and was still tucking in when armed cops alerted by staff burst into the diner in Colchester, Essex.

An Essex police source said: "We've come across some stupid criminals in our time but this beats all. Normal practice is to grab the cash and run. But this man was obviously controlled by his belly rather than his brain.

"After running in with a hoodie and scarf hiding his face, he took them both off to stuff his face with chicken.

"The staff he'd just waved a gun at were gobsmacked.

[…]

The man, a double glazing salesman who cannot be named, is charged with possessing a weapon in a public place, theft and using threatening behaviour in a public place.

Facepalm: oh, the stupidity

All together, now: “Thank God for Natural Selection!

(via Fark)

Stupid Quote of the Day: One mustn’t criticize what one doesn’t comprehend

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Stupidity

And in this vein, Vox Day really needs to stop spewing nonsense about evolution and those who accept it:

I've also found it to be interesting how in physics - real science - there is very little, if any, of the defensive and irrational babbling often heard from true-believing TENS [Theory of Evolution/Natural Selection] advocates about how a lack of an alternative theory somehow justifies the continued use of a theory already known to be intrinsically flawed.

Except that the Theory of Evolution/Natural Selection is not intrinsically flawed. Actually, it doesn’t really have any problems in any way, shape or form. The reason why it’s quasi-universally accepted in the scientific community as a scientific fact, unlike what cranks like Vox will tell you, is that even after 150 years (and counting) of endless and rigorous testing, any and all evidence that has ever been uncovered, across all virtually fields of research, has only strengthened the Theory of Evolution rather than exposed any faults or weaknesses. In addition, the very fact that all of modern biology exists and has provided us with endless amounts of verifiable and demonstrable evidence regarding the functioning and mechanisms of our natural world is the ultimate proof that the Theory of Evolution is as sound as it can be and that it is, quite simply, a scientific reality. If there had ever been an “intrinsic flaw”, particularly any large one as in evolution denialists’ minds, then not only would it have been uncovered and its existence made known throughout the scientific community long ago, but any further established science built on top of Evolutionary Theory would have collapsed as well, as would any structure erected on a faulty foundation.

Vox also claims that Evolution advocates only support and defend this theory because there isn’t any “alternative theory”.

Um … duh.

Primo, there is no such thing as an “alternative theory”; in scientific parlance, such a thing is an oxymoron. There cannot be two rivaling theories. There can only be the current accepted theory, and any other lesser hypotheses that aren’t as well supported. Remember that in the scientific vernacular, “theory” is equal to “fact”. Evolution is a theory, just as there is the Theory of Gravity, the Germ Theory (that illness is caused by microscopic agents rather than by demons or curses or whatever), the Wave Theory of Light (that all visible light is determined by wavelength) – and so on. Basically put: a theory is any hypothesis that is testable and demonstrable with consistent results and that doesn’t have any credible evidence weighing against it. Notice how this definition is rather similar to that of “fact”? That’s because, scientifically speaking, facts and theories are the exact same thing.

There is no “alternative theory” to explain the diversity of life on Earth other than Evolutionary Theory, because this would mean that there were two perfectly-accepted scientific facts. Which would only be possible in alternate universes, not the same. I trust you see where this is going.

And now, to truly exemplify why I classify stuff like this under “Stupid Quotes” …

[…] the natural selection hypothesis has always been logic, not science. The fact that it is difficult and dangerous to paint grizzly bears pink in order to see if they breed less successfully doesn't change the fact that no one has ever tested the widespread assumption of why polar bears are white.

In response to that first sentence: uh … same thing. Science is the pragmatic application of logic to find answers and solutions. Sheesh. And for that second sentence … well, I may respond as soon as I get the slightest idea what in the name of bloody frakkin’ crackers it’s supposed to mean.

Standing up for your rights in the face of bullying cops

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Law Enforcement

It’s crucial to remember that police officers are public servants, and as such, they are to be held accountable to the public. One of the best ways one can ensure that any cops who commit misdeeds and crimes of their owns will stand trial is by catching their words and actions on tape. Videotaping cops is perfectly legal; in fact, it is a cherished right. And, most important of all: cops do not have the right to take this right away from you, regardless of whichever phony excuse they use to try and strip you of your camera.

Here is the first-hand account of one such civilian who was able to document cops acting strangely and disproportionately with a videocamera, and then faced pressure from said cops to give his camera away. More people need to respond the way he did: by standing firm and letting the officers know that he was very much aware of his rights.

Today at around 4:00pm I noticed a police car in front of my house, and went out on my porch to see what was going on. As I did, another female officer in another cruiser pulled up as well and started talking to the other cop. I saw that they had pulled over my neighbor and were obviously trying to get him to consent to a search. ( I found out afterwards that they pulled him over for a suspected seatbelt violation; why this requires a vehicle search is beyond me ). Well, my neighbor told the officer that he did not consent to any searches. This apparently wasn't enough for him, so he made him wait about ten minutes for a K9 sheriff to arrive. Obviously this was either a case of profiling or harassment, as a seatbelt violation is not usually reasonable cause for a search and seizure. So, in the interests of making sure his rights weren't violated, I whipped out my video camera. Mind you, I never said a word or went over to the police. I didn't even leave my front porch.

When the K9 Sheriff arrived, he demanded that the four teens in the car get out and stand in the freezing cold while he patted them down and pulled up their pantlegs and opened up their jackets.

After about a minute or two of standing there taping them and watching my neighbor and his friends shiver in the cold, the big bald K9 Sheriff officer(hereafter referred to as 'baldy' since I didn't get his name) shouts from across the street "If you're going to keep on filming me, guess what I'm gonna do. I'm going to come over there and confiscate that camera and keep it for evidence." I said "Evidence of what?" "I'm on my property, I am not interfering. I can photograph whatever I want to from my property." He replied "Take that camera inside or it's gonna be mine and I'm gonna confiscate it.

Just so you know dear reader, it IS NOT against the law to videotape police officers as long as you do not interfere with what they're doing. As long as you stay away from them, you can videotape everything they do. They are allowed to video citizens and we are also allowed to video them. There are MANY cases of police abusing their power in regards to these incidents of citizens videotaping them. And nearly EVERY time they have had to return stolen property and apologize. Sometimes, the offending officers are even fired or suspended.

Anyway...

Another would-be vandal confuses criticism of religion with hate speech

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If you at all follow the goings-on of the atheist community, then chances are you’ve heard about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) sign that’s posted annually for the Winter Solstice at several state Capitol buildings across the U.S.. Here it is, below:

Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Winter Solstice sign: “At this season of THE WINTER SOLSTICE may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Personally, I don’t quite like this sign. I agree with its contents, of course, but if the purpose of the message is to encourage debate and discourse rather than to just piss believers off, then it doesn’t do its job very well. One idea would be to just do away with that last line, which is the worst of the message. Or, maybe just phrase it a little more lightheartedly.

However, one thing signs with such “inflammatory” messages are good at doing is exposing the intolerant and the idiotic. Cue conservative activist and candidate for Illinois comptroller William J. Kelly, who follows in line with fellow kooks in failing to distinguish between criticism and “hate speech” – and then tries to take matter into his own hands.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) ― A conservative activist and Illinois comptroller candidate was escorted from the Illinois State Capitol building Wednesday when he tried to remove a sign put up by an atheist group.

William J. Kelly announced Tuesday that he planned to take down the sign put up by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and on Wednesday, he tried to make good on his plan.

But Kelly said when he turned the sign around so it was face down, state Capitol police were quick to escort him away.

The science of pedophilia, morality, and free will

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Do forgive my lack of blogging for the past couple of days. I’d be tempted to pass the blame off onto Christmas and all that, but then, that would just be lazy. Which is, in fact, the primary reason for my lack of posting. So, to compensate, here is my longest blog post to date. There.

As you can surmise by this post’s title, this is a rather intriguing subject I’m writing about, here. A reader with whom I’ve been having an interesting discussion regarding pedophilia, morality, and the likes, has brought my attention to a couple of stories on how neurological impairment (aka brain damage) and its effects on those who have it, specifically regarding impulses, inhibitions, and sexuality. These cases bring up very intriguing questions on the neurology of morality, and the nature of free will.

The first case is one of the most peculiar stories you’ll ever hear in the realms of neurology and psychology. Imagine a perfectly normal middle-aged man who has a career and a family, a man who has normal interests in sex and shows no signs of any deviancies. Then, virtually overnight, he becomes addicted to sex (a condition known as “hypersexuality”) and becomes entrenched in child pornography. He even tries to molest a prepubescent girl, despite having shown absolutely no sexual interest in children for the first four decades of his life. In other words: a perfectly normal 40-year-old man suddenly turned into a pedophile and a would-be child molester, for no apparent reason (at least at first).

Now, people don’t just become slaves to hyperactive sex drives and start groping children after having lived what is arguably the first half of their lives without having shown the slightest impulses to do so. Yet, this is what happened to the man who is the subject of this first story. However, this is only a partial medical mystery, for neurologists have identified the precise cause of his behavioral issues: a tumor in his prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for controlling one’s impulses and inhibitions (ie. self-restraint).

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- He was a schoolteacher, a husband, a father. Then he became a pedophile preoccupied with sex.

Doctors who treated him at the University of Virginia hospital in 2000 believe that the man's powerful sex addiction was caused by an egg-sized tumor in his brain.

"It turned out he was a guy who had made it into his 40s without having any problem with this," said Dr. Russell Swerdlow, a UVa associate professor of neurology. "He had a brain tumor that was damaging the part of the brain that controls impulse."

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Christmas present to you: butchering more traditional songs

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These days, listening to the radio is particularly painful for, in addition to the regular muck, we also now get tons of mediocre cover versions of old classics (screw giving examples; you name it, chances are it’s been covered). They make the music-lover in me shrivel up and cry. So, I’ve decided to share my pain with y’all (well, sorta): Hemant Mehta has dug up a Bollywood “remake” of ‘Jingle Bells’, and … well, frankly, I’m not sure how to react to it. Hard to decide whether to laugh or cringe. (Unless both are possible.) One thing’s for certain: it’ll scar you for life.

I never knew Santa could look so freaky. Or that he apparently wears really tight-binding underwear. Though, you gotta hand it to those Indians[1]: they do know how to make music that is as strange as it is hellishly catchy.

[1] Yes, “Indian” is the proper term for someone from India. “Hindi” is the Indian language, and “Hindu” is someone who adheres to Hinduism, the Indian religion. Learn your distinctions, folks.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Friday Canine: The cutest present of ’em all

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sprinkling chicken blood over healthcare reform

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The Stupid, It Burns
Maybe setting her head on fire could work, too

What is it with nuts and their inability to limit their craziness to one or two instances per text? Here’s how crankaholic WorldNutDaily commentator Janet Porter plans to spend her Christmas:

All I want for Christmas is my life and my freedom. Two-thirds of America doesn't want this horrible health-care bill, but it's going to take all of us doing everything we can to stop it –including using a secret weapon they don't have.

The weapon we have that they don't is prayer and fasting. […]

We need to act and pray like our lives and the lives of millions of children depend on it. Because they do. So it may mean passing up some Christmas cookies or missing your favorite shows, but one thing's for sure, I don't want to wake up on Christmas morning thinking I didn't do everything I could to stop this lethal legislation.

Right – and refusing to eat or do anything remotely productive for a day or two is totally gonna change anything. I’m sure the people in government, along with your imaginary deity, care very much about some random loon who has a problem with some much-needed healthcare reform and likens it to putting people to death and stripping away her “life and freedom”.

Hey, why don’t you go outside and throw some salt over your shoulders for a few hours? Not that it will change anything regarding healthcare reform, but at least you’ll do something useful for society in this snowy weather, especially with those big blizzard warnings we’re getting for Texas and other parts.

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another example how atheists should not go on Fox Newz

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If you’ve ever wondered why atheists generally seem so reticent to debate religion and/or atheism with religionists, here’s a prime example. Watch as Laura Ingraham from Faux Newz “interviews” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, over their wintertime atheist billboards in Las Vegas. The whole video is an aggravating collection of arrogance, rudeness and ignorance on Ingraham’s part as she constantly bullies Annie Laurie, who takes it all as though too meek to defend herself. It’s painful to watch as it leaves you feeling like yelling at that classless moron through your monitor.

Let’s see: she claims that atheists with their oh-so-mean billboards are waging that “War on Christmas”; that Christianity is somehow responsible for popularizing the winter solstice (WTF?); that Christmas (and the winter solstice) is all about Jesus; that all atheists wanna do is attack Christmas and Christians; that atheists follow a religious orthodoxy and dogma; that atheists don’t participate in charities as much as Christians and other religious people do; that there are “only” 14,000 FFRF members as opposed to the totality of the 300+ million Americans (which equates to “majority rules!”), and so on …

Anyone else get the feeling Ingraham consulted some sort of “Anti-Atheism Talking Points for Fox Newz-Caliber Dummies” or something? No wonder she works on the O’Reilly show; birds of a feather flock together, after all, even when it comes to brainless boors.

Cookie to anyone who can explain to me what the hell a “devout atheist” is, as the title idiotically states. Being staunch in one’s beliefs is not being devout as though religious.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Never piss off a guy for hiding beer – he’ll ruin your day

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Or, in poor Katie’s case, much more than that. See, this is what happens when you’re a closet slut and then piss off the one person who not only probably knows about it, but who could make your life miserable real easily. Large pic below the fold.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The real perils of multicultural integration

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They always say that Canada is a true multicultural melting pot. Vancouver is, of course, renown for being the best in this department. However, some may argue that they might be taking this spirit of accommodation a little too far …

Vancouver sign in both English and Dog

Oh, dear, now that’s just fraught with grammatical errors. Doggone it.

Sumerians take issue with God’s Creation of the Earth and humans

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God, I love The Onion. And pure gold like this is why.

Christian God
Lord God, Creator of All, caught thousands of Sumerian farmers and mathematicians somewhat off guard.

Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.

According to recently excavated clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform script, thousands of Sumerians—the first humans to establish systems of writing, agriculture, and government—were working on their sophisticated irrigation systems when the Father of All Creation reached down from the ether and blew the divine spirit of life into their thriving civilization.

"I do not understand," reads an ancient line of pictographs depicting the sun, the moon, water, and a Sumerian who appears to be scratching his head. "A booming voice is saying, 'Let there be light,' but there is already light. It is saying, 'Let the earth bring forth grass,' but I am already standing on grass."

"Everything is here already," the pictograph continues. "We do not need more stars."

Historians believe that, immediately following the biblical event, Sumerian witnesses returned to the city of Eridu, a bustling metropolis built 1,500 years before God called for the appearance of dry land, to discuss the new development. According to records, Sumerian farmers, priests, and civic administrators were not only befuddled, but also took issue with the face of God moving across the water, saying that He scared away those who were traveling to Mesopotamia to participate in their vast and intricate trade system.

Moreover, the Sumerians were taken aback by the creation of the same animals and herb-yielding seeds that they had been domesticating and cultivating for hundreds of generations.

"The Sumerian people must have found God's making of heaven and earth in the middle of their well-established society to be more of an annoyance than anything else," said Paul Helund, ancient history professor at Cornell University. "If what the pictographs indicate are true, His loud voice interrupted their ancient prayer rituals for an entire week."

According to the cuneiform tablets, Sumerians found God's most puzzling act to be the creation from dust of the first two human beings.

"These two people made in his image do not know how to communicate, lack skills in both mathematics and farming, and have the intellectual capacity of an infant," one Sumerian philosopher wrote. "They must be the creation of a complete idiot."

That last line might just be the best thing ever written.

(via Bad Astronomy)

Stupid Quote(s) of the Day: Comfort on media and conscience

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The Stupid, it Burns

I’m bored and I felt like mentioning two dumb quotes from Ray Comfort’s latest post. So, here you go.

The image of Tiger Woods had been portrayed for years as one of squeaky clean wholesomeness. It was a media image. Clean sells.

In which puritan, unspoiled universe does Comfort live in to believe that “clean sells”? If there’s one thing the media hates reporting on, it’s clean, unsoiled celebrities. They’re boring. They have no dirty little secrets or haughty scandals to shock people with. (I could also argue that such celebrities arguably don’t exist, but that’s besides the point.) It’s drama that makes the media tick, not cleanliness. Hence why you hear rather more often of how one famous dude went to a strip bar and a famous gal broke up with her equally-famous boyfriend all the time – or why the media’s been jizzing all over the Tiger Woods scandal despite it being completely and utterly irrelevant to anyone else’s lives (in addition to being none of their damned business).

Quote numéro deux, if you will …

There is no such thing as a morally clean human being. If you disagree, name one person (other than yourself) who is morally perfect.

Non sequitur. One doesn’t have to be morally perfect to be morally clean. Well, in Comfort’s worldview of “everyone is a filthy sinner as decreed by God”, perhaps, but not in reality. Being morally clean simply means you have nothing weighing on your conscience, that you don’t have any real regrets, that you aren’t haunted by choices you made or things you did (or didn’t do). For example, I can safely and honestly say that I consider myself to be morally clean. Not “perfect”, no – I’ve done (and do) my share of things that others (such as the law … *ahem*) would consider “wrong” – but I did (and do) them all in good conscience, and never to harm anyone or infringe upon their rights. I have nothing to be sorry about and have no real regrets. (None about anything that’s in my power to change, anyway.)

Help the Libel Reform Campaign change those draconian British libel laws!

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Freedom of Speech and Expression

There is nothing worse for free speech than censorship, and in that same vein, there is little that’s more restrictive to the spread of truth than oppressive libel/slander laws. Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of laws Britain has on the books, the sort of laws that makes England renown for its limitations of freedom of expression. For a recent example, just ask Simon Singh, who dared to call chiropractic “bogus” and then found himself sued by the British Chiropractic Association who would rather shut him up with his criticism rather than defend their practice and “medicine”. (Because, you know, they can’t.)

Britain’s libel laws are an embarrassment, and finally, people are starting to rise against it. There is a grassroots movement that’s gaining a surprising amount of momentum and which aims at changing Britain’s laws to protect free speech, rather than condemn it. Enter the Libel Reform Campaign, or “An Index on Censorship, English Pen and Sense About Science Campaign”. Their website is complete with all the latest news and reports from the metaphorical battlefield; you can also check out their “mission statement” of sorts, here. I hardly see anything I don’t wholeheartedly agree with. It’s actually hard to believe that such intrinsically sensible amendments haven’t already been made in the past.

Of course, the best and only way to make sure that not only can you make your voice heard, but to also ensure that it will continue to be heard and not silenced, is to sign their petition. Every signatory counts. Go, now, and make libel reform a reality in England!

Remember: free speech is a right, not a privilege, and it is not for sale.

(via Bad Astronomy)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Even Mexico City is progressive than America with gay rights

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Mexico City gay rights supporters cheering legalization of gay marriage
Hey, I’ll be gay if I want to, not ’cuz your banner tells me to! … Hey, waitaminute

Funny; I always pictured Mexico (and Latin America in general) as being generally religious-conservative, particularly when it came to civil rights (abortion, LGBT rights, etc.). I suppose I ought to change that thinking, considering Mexico City has legalized gay marriage by redefining the meaning of “marriage” – literally:

Lawmakers in Mexico City have become the first in Latin America to legalise gay marriage.

City legislators passed the bill 39-20, with five abstentions. The city's mayor is now widely expected to sign the bill into law.

Gay marriage is only allowed in seven countries and some parts of the US. Certain parts of Latin America allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

The Catholic Church and conservative groups had opposed Mexico City's move.

The bill calls for a change in the definition of marriage in the city's civic code - from the union of a man and a woman to "the free uniting of two people".

That’s … actually a pretty good definition. Sure, it’s open to being twisted and (intentionally) misconstrued by bigots and religious cranks such as those who opposed this movement; but then, no-one gives a damn about what they have to say (at least in Mexico City), so it’s all good. In addition, city legislators are now working on a measure in the bill that would grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children. Who knew Mexico City was so cool?

The rest of the article also contains some rather interesting bits of news that few seem to be aware of. For example, Mexico City has also legalized abortion; several cities in Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia also allow gay marriage; and Uruguay has legalized civil unions across the country (which is always a good first step) and already allows gay couples to adopt children.

Wow … The U.S., for all its purported freedom and liberty, is now being outshone by all of its neighbors. Maybe it’s time the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave joined the rest of us in the 21st century?

(via Pharyngula)

Technorati tags: · · · · ·

Cop gets off – both literally and metaphorically

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David Alex Park
David Alex Park, jerkoff (literally)

How’s this for another appalling case of a cop who does something obscene and illegal, and then gets away with it without so much as a reprimand? In December of 2004, officer David Alex Park from Laguna Beach, California, conducted an early-morning “traffic stop” where he forced the woman driver give him a handjob, before ejaculating all over her sweater. No-one is denying these accusations: the woman reported it, DNA tests confirmed the semen was Park’s, and Park eventually admitted it himself.

But now, the defense argued, Park can’t be blamed for his obscene act – you see, the woman was a stripper returning home from work, so that makes it all her fault as she “made” him do it for being too “sexual”. Park was therefore acquitted in one of the most absolutely ridiculous rulings I’ve ever seen:

No one disputes that an on-duty Irvine police officer got an erection and ejaculated on a motorist during an early-morning traffic stop in Laguna Beach. The female driver reported it, DNA testing confirmed it and officer David Alex Park finally admitted it.

When the case went to trial, however, defense attorney Al Stokke argued that Park wasn't responsible for making sticky all over the woman's sweater. He insisted that she made the married patrolman make the mess—after all, she was on her way home from work as a dancer at Captain Cream Cabaret.

"She got what she wanted," said Stokke. "She's an overtly sexual person."

A jury of one woman and 11 men—many white and in their 50s or 60s—agreed with Stokke. On Feb. 2, after a half-day of deliberations, they found Park not guilty of three felony charges that he'd used his badge to win sexual favors during the December 2004 traffic stop.

I read that line about the woman having “got what she wanted” for being “an overtly sexual person” and part of me shriveled up, inside.

So, the pervert was found blameless by a jury of 10 men, most of whom were middle-aged white guys, and with only a single woman. Anyone else think that mixing that demographic up a little would probably have resulted in a different ruling?

Checking out the details and background info to this story only strengthens the already clear-cut case against Park with revelations of stalking, coercion and all sorts of generally creepy behavior on his part. Here’s the full thing, below:

Cops and accountability are mutually exclusive – ask Jonathan Ayers (oh, wait, you can’t)

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Security camera pic of Jonathan Ayers in a convenience store, moments before being gunned down by cops
Surveillance footage of Jonathan Ayers walking into a Toccoa convenience store. He was shot and killed as he left moments later.

And here’s yet more proof that cops simply cannot and will not be held accountable for their own fuck-ups, especially when they result in the death of innocent civilians. Remember Lavonia, Georgia pastor Jonathan Ayers, who was shot and killed in his own vehicle whilst trying to escape in terror from a surprise drug bust at a gas station, a drug bust that had less than nothing to do with him? Well, of course, a Stephens County grand jury acquitted the dumbass cops who shot a fleeing man (at a gas station, no less), saying that they were “legally justified” to open fire. When the guy did nothing wrong, didn’t attack anyone, and just wanted to get away from a scene of sudden chaos, as would any other normal person.

The officers involved in the shooting are members of a multi-agency drug unit similary to the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad.

Rickman said the matter is now closed as far as any state criminal charges are concerned because of Georgia's law against double jeopardy. However, Rickman said that if a federal investigation is conducted, there is the possibility of federal criminal charges being filed against the officers.

"...there's no double jeopardy between the state and federal system, so, in theory, I suppose, the FBI could conduct their own investigation if they chose to."

Uh-huh. Now, why in the hell would they do that? Forget whatever Season 7 of 24 tells you; the FBI is no more honest and accountable than any other law enforcement organization. They’re all the same: cover their asses first, deal with the public and their ever-worsening PR (much) later.

Stories like this exemplify why I hold law enforcement in such total contempt. For every honest and law-abiding officer, there are 20 more who are ready and willing to twist the law to suit their own needs and whitewash themselves of any and all mistakes and culpability. Accountability is a pleasant but impossible myth in this current system. Anyone who believes otherwise is naïve at best. Here, we just saw an innocent man get gunned down as he was trying to flee without hurting anyone and without having committed the slightest crime or offense to anyone or anything, and the cops who took his life are cleared of all charges. And this is just one example out of countless others – and those are just the ones that reach the ears of the media. What more proof do you need?

(via The Agitator)

Technorati tags: · ·

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Again, do not use the Bible as a guide for morality

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Religion

Especially Leviticus. This is a lesson that Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who broadcasts as “Dr. Laura” and who is an observant Orthodox Jew, would do well to understand. After asserting that homosexuality is an abomination under the rule of Leviticus 18:22[1][2] (amongst other flagrantly intolerant proclamations), a response was written out by an unknown source that brings up the old yet reliable “well, how about this, then?” approach to Biblical morality. It’s obviously intended as sardonic in tone, and is rather entertaining.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. Clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

Naked Coffee Guy found guilty of being like a murderin’ bank robber

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WTF?!

You may remember Erick Williamson (known not-too-flatteringly as “Naked Coffee Guy”), the Fairfax County, Virginia man who was “busted” on October 19 for the injurious crime of … being naked in his own kitchen, at the crack of dawn, making coffee, after being glimpsed at through a window by a woman and her little boy who were walking across his lawn. This ordeal is so full of nonsense, it bypasses ridiculousness and lands in the “painfully stupid” pile. First, anyone can be as naked as they fucking want in their home without having to worry about prudish passers-by out in the streets. It’s not Williamson was perversely exposing himself; he was just in his home before the sun had even risen outside, minding his own business. Also, he was only “caught in the act” because the pearl-clutching woman was trespassing across his lawn, which is a crime all in itself (though this fact is curiously being overlooked). He did nothing wrong, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be convicted of any crime.

Except that, he was, as he was found guilty of “indecent exposure” last Friday. As though he got his rocks off by presenting himself in all his natural glory to passers-by, including 7-year-old kids. Or as though he thought anyone would be trespassing across his lawn and peering into his home at 6-fucking-30 in the morning.

The Fairfax County man who was arrested for being naked -- in his home -- was found guilty Friday of indecent exposure, but the judge did not fine him or sentence him to jail.

Erick Williamson, 29, continued to believe that he had done nothing wrong and that he did not purposely expose himself to two women and a 7-year-old boy who walked past his house the morning of Oct. 19. He immediately appealed his conviction.

A seven-person jury in misdemeanor appeals court will rule on the propriety of Williamson's domestic nudity in February.

"That's outrageous," he said after the verdict. "It's unbelievable." He said publicity from the arrest had cost him a job as a commercial diver. "I'm the victim," he said.

It’s somewhat good to see that, at the very least, he didn’t receive any jail time or extra punishment. You know, other than losing his job and being portrayed in the media as some sort of pervert who likes to show his dangly things to mothers and children.

However, while that’s the crux of the story, it’s also worth noting what a complete asshat the judge who presided over his case is, if this is anything to judge by (which it most certainly is):

Testimony in the hour-long trial before Fairfax General District Court Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty revealed that two separate incidents of alleged exposure had occurred over a two-hour period. Williamson denied standing naked in his doorway or front window and said he had no intent to expose himself to anyone. But O'Flaherty wasn't buying it and likened Williamson to bank robber John Dillinger, who also "thought he was doing nothing wrong when he walked into banks and shot them up."

Seriously – what the fuck? Okay, this comparison fails for two huge reasons. First, who the hell even uses John Dillinger as an example of “other-criminals-who-also-didn’t-think-they-were-doing-anything-wrong”? As Radley Balko states, everyone knows that such a comparison has to be made with Nazi concentration camp guards. Talk about dated analogies. (Not to mention that Dillinger was probably very much aware of his actions being wrong – or, at least, illegal. The man was consumed by his own ego, but even he was probably sane enough to realize that shooting up banks and murdering people was against the law.)

But, of course, this pales in comparison to the fact that this clown-of-a-judge apparently thinks it’s a fair comparison to make between a bank robber shooting the joint up and killing people, and someone who was just naked in his own fucking home. Seriously – how do such douches get to become officials? And what is it with said officials and their apparent love for truly horrendous and inappropriate analogies?

It’s good to know that you can just be naked in your own home, and then be compared to a gun-totin’, bank-robbing cold-blooded murderer. Classy.

(via The Agitator)

Stupid Quote of the Day: Randi, skepticism, and cranks

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Skepticism lolcat

First, a little backstory. As anyone in the skeptic blogosphere will no doubt be aware by now, James Randi, one of the most renown debunker of pseudoscience and frauds and the head of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), recently caused quite a bristly stir amongst fellow skeptics when he published a blog post that indicated he had fallen into believing some anti-anthropogenic global warming nonsense. As PZ Myers pointed out, his key argument seemed to be concerning the Petition Project, which is little more than AGW denialists’ equivalent to the Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwin” list of anti-evolution cranks in that only a very small number of the signatories are even qualified, and that the source of the list is a tiny anti-AGW “think tank” in Oregon. It really is disreputable hogwash, and that such a prominent skeptic as Randi seems to have fallen for it, at least initially, is rather depressing.

Of course, Randi’s post sparked a bit of a firestorm amongst skeptic blogs, some even going as far as calling Randi a Global Warming denialist, which is actually rather unfair. Randi didn’t deny AGW outright as actual denialists do; he was wrong in saying that there are holes in the evidence and that some of it is ambiguous, as the evidence itself, in its totality, is exceedingly clear. But to call him a denialist outright is just dense.

Of course, the reason why so many skeptics got fired up at Randi’s post (to which he’s since made a partial, but not completely satisfactory, retraction) is that, well, they disagreed with him. Skepticism isn’t a one-way avenue where everyone who practices it follows the same mindset and arrives at the same conclusions; if anything, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Skepticism is all about criticism of everything, from the evidence to each other and our views and opinions. To be a skeptic means to question anything unless or until it has shown to be incontrovertibly true (though even then, reversals are still possible, and always will be). A skeptic is not someone who denies anything; it’s simply someone who refuses to believe in something that has no reason to be believed in.

Naturally, though, this definition is often contested or even denied outright by opponents of skepticism, who tend to see skepticism (as with anything else that acts as a rejection of their prized yet scientifically and rationally groundless beliefs, such as atheism) as a sort of religion, a stringent mindset that all its sheep follow without dissent or criticism for fear of being ostracized from the rest. This is purely idiotic … and brings us (finally) to today’s Stupid Quote. From Greg Taylor over at The Daily Grail, who’s long had a bone of contention against Randi and the skeptic movement in general, speaking about the general dissent aimed at Randi over his post:

Randi took a position which was diametrically opposed to the current scientific consensus, and furthermore one that was absolutely contrary to the argument being put forth on a regular basis by other skeptics such as Phil Plait and P.Z. Myers. There was no other option for them but to criticise Randi – it was either that or be hypocrites. What would be a better test of the health of modern skepticism is if other skeptics pulled Randi up for speaking nonsense about more fringe topics. Which he does on a regular basis. And the silence is deafening. The real truth of modern skepticism as a dogmatic faith is revealed in those particular moments.

Wow. Now, usually, I tend to let Greg’s anti-skeptic, anti-atheism rants pass by without a word, but this one is just chock-full of dumbassery and I simply cannot resist tearing it apart.

He walks on water; what did you expect?

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You’d think he’d learn after faceplanting over and over again, but dangit, he just doesn’t get it.

Jesus diving onto solid water

(via Friendly Atheist)

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