Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh dear, this bird’s swallowed a camera! And a car! And a chainsaw!

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I’ve heard of all types of birds making all types of vocalizations; some pretty, some considerably less pleasant. However, if you would’ve told me about an avian that could replicate the sounds of a camera taking a snapshot and whirring, a car alarm going off, and chainsaws tearing through the forest, amongst a cacophony of others, and that wasn’t some freaky parrot, I would’ve asked you to prove it, for I would’ve been seriously skeptical.

Frankly, all you would’ve had to do was to show me this video featuring the Lyrebird. Some small, nagging part of me is almost convinced it’s fake … but then, you’ve got the legendary David Attenborough in there, so that’s about as clear a seal of validity as you’re gonna get.

Makes you wonder how far and wide that thing’s been flying around in order to have picked up on all those particular sounds.

Though, I won’t be truly impressed until I hear it spout some U2 or Evanescence. Then come and find me.

(via Pharyngula)

A car ride with the original Skepchick

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Take a small British celebrity, a renown skepchick, a 25-minute car ride and all sorts of interesting topics, and you’ve got yourself this episode of the British web series Carpool with Robert Llewellyn where the Red Dwarf actor chats with the lovely Rebecca Watson about skepticism and science, along with the battle against such nonsense as homeopathy, vulturous psychics, dangerous pseudo-medical beliefs, and the likes. It’s an enjoyable watch.

I challenge any anti-skeptic naysayers to watch this vid and say again about how skeptics are all grouchy old cynics?

(via Bad Astronomy)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The efficiency of waterboarding: then and now

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John Kiriakou during interview
John Kiriakou in 2007

Here’s yet another long proverbial nail in the metaphorical coffin containing the myth that torture is of any use, other than as an outlet for sadists or those who just want an excuse to wreak painful revenge upon their designated enemies. In December of 2007, John Kiriakou, a (former) CIA operative, went on the air in an exclusive interview and went on at length about how torture enhanced interrogative techniques, particularly in the form of waterboarding, worked so well that terrorists could break in less than a minute and start spilling all sorts of crucial, life-saving information. An example he used was that of captured Al-Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah, who was tortured waterboarded no less than 83 times – in a single month. (In case you can’t tell, that’s an average of roughly 3 times every day.)

Of course, the notions that waterboarding (or any other of the CIA’s thinly disguised torture techniques) worked, or that any lives were saved as a result of any intelligence earned through the usage of these techniques, have been debunked over and over again in recent months. For one thing, it was shown, quite clearly, that torture simply didn’t work at all on Zubaydah, who instead only released valuable information when undergoing traditional, humane and effective interrogation methods, known as the Informed Interrogation Approach, as detailed in this account by FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who was able to get all sorts of life-saving intelligence out of Zubaydah, before the latter was submitted to torture, at which point he never uttered another useful word.

But that didn’t stop Kiriakou from lying about it, of course. The thing is, though, that he’s since gone in defensive mode and has disavowed the very remarks he made – basically showing everyone how he had no idea what he was talking about. The report, below:

Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency's intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.

"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

No matter that Kiriakou wearily said he shared the anguish of millions of Americans, not to mention the rest of the world, over the CIA's application of the medieval confession technique.

Who said humans and bears were so different?

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One of the perks of scouring the Net (read: the National Geographic website, primarily) for interesting, funny and just plain cute animal photos for my Friday Canine series is that now and again, I find something unrelated but that’s so horribly adorable that I just can’t resist sharing it.

Grizzly bear cubs standing upright and holding paws
[Click for full size]

*sighs* So like us. =3

They had to dig under Sarah Palin ’cuz she could see them from her house, see

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If there’s a reason I enjoy reading Ed Brayton’s blog, Dispatches From the Culture Wars, it’s that other than the actual news and his remarkably knowledgeable and trenchant take on said matters, it’s always a reliable source where crazy (particularly in the realms of conspiracy theories) is discovered and brought forth for all to gaze, gasp and laugh at. In this case, we have a far-right loon’s website that’s just chock-full of these ever-so-entertaining purported shadowy schemes, including this one about … well, just read it.

Both Russian sources and US military have confirmed a huge military tunnel beneath the BERING STRAIT, linking SIBERIA with ALASKA

No, it was not DUG out, but BORED OUT using nuclear power that melted it's way through solid rock, six miles a day.

If you thought that sounded insane, wait ’til you come across the fuller detailing of this … “secret plan”:

The SHADOW GOVERNMENT and the MANY nations behind the scenes who hope to get a "PIECE OF THE PIE" AS AMERICA IS DIVIDED UP, her Constitution and sovereignty rescinded, her Patriotic and religious freedom fighters rounded up or killed off, sent to the camps Bolshevik communist style, to be tortured and killed as NWO resisters […]

But since I know that the Kings of the East will be coming to America down through Alaska and Canada it is easy to see that it is more than likely true. This article also says (see above link) that there are already 200,000 foreign troops massing in the Bering Strait area which is not unusual.

It is also common knowledge to those who 'have ears that hear and eyes that see' that there are at least 100,000 Mexican troops on America's southern border with Mexico under the guise of fighting a drug war. I believe the drug war is being used as a distraction to cover up the fact that the Mexican troops and other nations troops stationed down there will be used to strike at the belly of America at the appointed time […]

In the two short videos below they talk about guillotines that are now secretly being stored here in America. I've been hearing stories about these guillotines for many years now. This video report says that these guillotines are now and have been stored in America for quite some time. Also according to this video these guillotines will be used to decapitate Christians and others who do not go along with the New World Order.

As everyone knows, there comes a point where such abundant levels of condensed crazy bypass confusion and incredulity, and leave us feeling simply amused.

However, for me, much of this mirth vanishes with the sobering realization that some people actually believe in this shit. (At least religions are mostly based on plausible deniability.)

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Friday, January 29, 2010

The critics know

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This review’s focus is a little narrow, but still, Jed does have a point.

Book review of the Bible on

I expect he’ll next review the Koran and test out if marrying a 12-year-old girl is really a good idea.

(via @VeritasKnight)

I got a strange feeling this poll was crashed

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I thought Fox viewers were supposed to hate Obama like the baby-killing commie Hitler traitor that he is (in their minds)?

O’Reilly Factor poll with 94% “A” grade for Obama’s first year in office

Well, either that, or it would appear that PZ isn’t the only one who crashes random Internet polls for the juvenile fun of it.

(via @todayspolitics)

The Internet in one picture

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Ladies, gents and nerdz, I (via Geekologie) proudly present to you: a picture of the Internet!

Geekologie | Picture of the Internet
[Click for full size]

That’s TOTALLY ARESOME!!!eleventy!!

Except that … dude, where’s the bacon? And pedobear? Or the furries yiffing in hell? GOATSE!?? Dammit, I call inaccuracy!!

[Note: all links are safe for work.]

(via The Daily Grail)

Robots have souls, too

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This new xkcd strip is actually surprisingly touching.

xkcd | Spirit

Or, maybe it’s because of its evident resemblance to a certain other beloved sentient robot. (No, not that one. Ugh.)

Friday Canine: Hey, this “snow” stuff is fun!

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German Shepherd puppy running in snow

Technorati tags: · · · · ·

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Again, gays are not out to molest your kids, people

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Rob Tisinai, who goes by the name of robtish on YouTube, is a prominent voice for reason who continually spawns videos denouncing various homophobic parties and debunking their vile and unfounded claims. This latest video of his attacks the particularly hateful (and utterly untrue) claim that gay men are more likely to molest children than are straight men, and he does so in brilliant form.

You just can’t refute that sort of evidence-based logic. Too bad so many bigots try to anyway.

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quote of the Day: Qs & As

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Preliator news

A new little addition to my Random Quotes list (about time I updated that thing), and one I use fairly often (in my mind, anyway):

“In life, when you ask a question, you don’t get to choose the answer you receive.”

I mean, seriously. If you ask a question, especially when it’s concerning a subject of some delicacy or someone’s personal beliefs, be prepared to receive an answer that you may neither like nor appreciate. All you can do is accept it, or reject it (for whatever reason(s)) and, if applicable, ask for another.

Employers must not discriminate against unreliable slobs

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“Offensive” advert asking for “reliable and hard-working” people may discriminate against unreliable, lazy slobs
The “discriminatory” advert in question [click for larger view]

For an employer, the only thing worse than shallow profits might be accusations of discrimination. Those tend to lead to some mighty bad PR, itself leading to failing customers, which in turn leads to even fewer profits. For this reason, employers are always careful to word their ads especially carefully as to avoid any potential outcries of favoritism or intolerance from would-be persecuted groups. Unfortunately, you can never make sure that there won’t be some people who could cry “foul!” … such as when an employer took out an advert asking for, amongst other things, “reliable and hard-working” people (pictured above), and was quickly informed that this was discriminatory.

You know, against unreliable and lazy people.

Go figure.

When it comes to hiring staff, there are plenty of legal pitfalls employers need to watch out for these days.

So recruitment agency boss Nicole Mamo was especially careful to ensure her advert for hospital workers did not offend on grounds of race, age or sexual orientation.

However, she hadn't reckoned on discriminating against a wholly different section of the community - the completely useless.

When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn't ask for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people.

'In my 15 years in recruitment I haven't heard anything so ridiculous,' Mrs Mamo said yesterday.

'If the matter wasn't so serious I would be laughing out loud.

'Unfortunately it's extremely alarming. I need people who are hardworking and reliable - and I am pleased to discriminate in that way. If they're not then I really can't use them. The reputation of my business is on the line.

'Even the woman at the jobcentre agreed it was ridiculous but explained it was policy because they could get sued for being dicriminatory against unreliable people.

'She told me they'd had lots of problems with people taking them to court for adverts stating something like "would suit school leaver".'

“[T]he completely useless” … am I the only one who LOLd at that one? I think it pretty much captures the tone and attitude that ought to be directed at such silly legal pussyfooting perfectly. If you’re an unreliable slob, go to McDonald’s[1] or something and let those who are willing to do their part for society take your place. Discrimination only applies towards groups whose defining trait (the one being discriminated against) is a personal characteristic (such as skin color or sexual identity) or choice (such as religion), not to those who are simply too lazy to do anything worthwhile.

(via Fark)

Updated: (8:32 PM) – Added a little footnote.

[1] My thanks to Uzza in the comments for making me realize I’d forgotten to mention how I’m only referring to the popular expression, here. I don’t mean to say that only useless slobs end up at McDonald’s. I wouldn’t eat there if I did.

The coolest cityscape time-lapse video you ever did see

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… will have been this one of Vancouver, BC, itself renown for being a particularly beautiful city. I’ve only been able to watch the first minute or so thanks to my extraordinarily pissy connection (gotta love those), but from what I’ve seen so far, only one word fits: transcendent

From the YouTube page:

"Vancouver City" video is collaboration between Innerlife Project and TimeLapseHd. Linda Ganzini's beautiful and haunting vocals blend with the unique musical style of Serge Chubinski-Orlov who produced and wrote Vancouver City. For more information and music downloads go to These time lapses are shot with a 12 mega pixel digital single lens reflex cameras. Original resolution is 6 times better then HD (high definition). The images have been resized for HD and are much better quality then shown here on YouTube. Video clips are for sale. For more information contact us at Thanks and enjoy!

(via Fark)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

16-year-old girl whipped for being raped

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If you thought that sounded atrocious enough, the details and specifics only make things even worse. In the end, though, considering the circumstances, as horrible and disgusting as this story may be, it can’t honestly be called “shocking” or “outrageous” – for, those words convey the sense that it was surprising, or unexpected. Which, considering this happened under Islamic rule, this is anything but.

Rape victim receives 101 lashes for becoming pregnant

A 16-year-old girl who was raped in Bangladesh has been given 101 lashes for conceiving during the assault.

The girl's father was also fined and warned the family would be branded outcasts from their village if he did not pay.

According to human rights activists, the girl, who was quickly married after the attack, was divorced weeks later after medical tests revealed she was pregnant.

The girl was raped by a 20-year-old villager in Brahmanbaria district in April last year.

Bangladesh's Daily Star newspaper reported that she was so ashamed following the attack that she did not lodge a complaint.

Her rape emerged after her pregnancy test and Muslim elders in the village issued a fatwa insisting that the girl be kept in isolation until her family agreed to corporal punishment.

Her rapist was pardoned by the elders. She told the newspaper the rapist had "spoiled" her life.

"I want justice," she said.

Of course, she will never get it, and neither will anyone who lives in such wretched swamps of cruelty, oppression and religion-sanctioned evil. There’s hardly a point in describing the injustices and horrors in stories such as this one; it’s only important to share them far and wide to raise awareness, to educate, and to show people just what sorts of insanity and inhumanity are still going strong in some parts of the world, particularly in areas consumed (almost literally) by the iron fist of religion and tyrannical theocracy.

As Jen at Blag Hag says, there is a time for politeness and respect when dealing with other religions and cultures, but happenings such as this one effectively render such types of measures both pointless and, quite frankly, inappropriate. The right way – the only way – to deal with such monstrosity is to be as vocal as we can and decry such acts that simply cannot be tolerated in any society, especially in this modern age.

Of course, as with any stories of this sort, you can expect the usual apologists to start squawking about how this isn’t Islam’s fault, or how these people misrepresent Islam and its teachings, or how it’s just a local mindset, and yadda yadda yadda – fuck that. Anyone who honestly thinks that religion has nothing to do with this, or that it would’ve happened anyway, or that a fucking child can be raped and impregnated, and then be punished so cruelly for being the victim of a vicious act to begin with whilst the perpetrator himself walks away freely, and that Islam and its mindset and beliefs weren’t used in such a revolting story, is either unbelievably naive, or is an absolute moron.

(via Blag Hag)

And an all-male leadership would certainly do much better

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From everyone’s favorite misogynist:

I think every male politician in America should resign his office and let the womenfolk run things for as long as they want to do so. Because that will be the fastest and easiest way to end the disastrous women's suffrage experiment that I can imagine. There are two words that describe a matriarchal society and those two words are "grass huts".

So, women are so utterly stupid and incompetent, that placing them in charge of things can only lead to disaster, and letting them lead a country will direct it straight into the pits of the Third World?

I’m not sure which suffers more here: history, logic, or plain sensibility. Stay classy, Vox.

When they’re not crying “murder!”, they’re crying “eugenics!”

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Oh, how I hate articles like this. From the pages of the Times Online, here’s yet another piece of anti-abortion nonsense whining about the slaughter of innocent unborn babies destruction of unknowing, unfeeling and uncaring embryos. It has a different twist on the usual “pro-life” buliatch, however; this one takes less common yet equally rancid “eugenics” approach. The subject is a lengthy list by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a panel regulating fertility treatments and clinics, which contains over 100 genetic conditions known to be either lethal or hazardous, conditions that embryos are screened for before being cleared for implantation in a mother-to-be. Embryos found to possess defective genetic material in accordance with the list, which includes anything from critical anatomical defects to illnesses that develop later in life (such as cancer or blindness), are destroyed.

There’s much to say here already, but let’s just skip forwards to the article itself. This is as bad a case of a prejudiced and piss-poor excuse for reporting that wasn’t from some Faux News whacko.

FERTILITY regulators have triggered a new row over designer babies by allowing doctors to destroy embryos affected by more than 100 genetic conditions, including many illnesses that are not life-threatening.

The genetic “defects” that can now be routinely screened out include conditions carried by a number of leading figures, such as Pete Sampras, the tennis champion, and Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Russian concert pianist and composer.

*sigh* Two short little paragraphs and already so much nonsense to refute. I’m wondering if my propensity for taking pleasure in ripping into the stupid nonsense from others will overcome my already mounting sense of displeasure and tedium.

First off, you really gotta love that remark about “designer babies”. As if screening embryos for unwanted and potentially deadly genetic conditions was anything akin to building your dream baby from scratch. Also note how the writer, Lois Rogers (whom I cannot call a “journalist” for writing such tripe) attempts to demean the scale and impact of these disorders and handicaps via square quotes, the assertion that people can survive even if they have them, and that some famous people are known to have possessed them. Truly, if this is the quality of arguments you bring to a debate, be prepared to suffer one hell of an injurious loss.

Hmm, I wonder what they could be getting at …?

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This is so subtle, you’d think they could be talking about any sort of fluffy fiction that comforts people with ignorance … *hint hint*

How shrewd. Oh, The Onion, I think I love you.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Monday, January 25, 2010

The dictionary: the vilest and filthiest book of all! (Hey, it does contain “oral sex” … and “fisting” …)

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Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!
I’ve been looking for this image for a while, actually. Fits so perfectly, it’s like it was intelligently designed!

It’s another example of schools’ “protect the children!” mentality taken to absurd heights. We’ve all heard about how they ban Harry Potter and everything but the most watered-down sexual education books; now, following a complaint from a particularly idiotic parent, they’ve decided to apply the dictionary’s definition of “censorship” to their schools by … censoring dictionaries.

You just can’t make this stuff up. The irony would crush Mount Everest.

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

"It's just not age appropriate," said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

Guess what they’re doing now? They’re reading the dictionary. Not to learn anything; just to find any and all entries that aren’t “age appropriate”. There’s even talk about looking through every book in the district to make sure they’re … “age appropriate”.

Really, this is the sort of stuff you’d expect to read from the pages of The Onion. Not from people who are supposed to be sane and rational. This is beyond ridiculous; it’s just insane.

But, hey – after all, it’s probably best for kids to learn about those things in the playground, right?

Though, if anything, at least this now gives kids an excuse not to use the dictionary. (I know I would’ve loved one. Though, perhaps not this one.)

(via The Agitator)

This … is … WAR!!!

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Glenn Beck

That is, between brain-dead teabaggers and the rest of the American society! Or so declares Glenn Beck:

Remember last week, I told you these are the times that try men’s souls. We’re declaring war, and not on Obama, but on the progressive movement, and when you declare war on these people, it is going to be till the last person standing. These are revolutionaries, very, very bad movement.”

So, he wants to declare a “war” on the whole progressive movement? Ie. all Democrats, liberals, and (in my book) moderates?

Yeeaaah. Let us know how that works out, Glennie.

(via Politicususa)

It’s just the next step in the anti-sexting, anti-child pornography hysteria

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Law enforcement and child “protection” (read: prosecution) officials’ behavior of charging kids who send “sexting” pictures of themselves to others with possession of child pornography has gone on for long enough. Indeed, it’s now time for the next step up in the anti-sexting, anti-child pornography craze: treating – and charging – these child and adolescent “victims” of “sexting” as producers (and distributors) of child pornography.


That the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would even need to hear oral arguments in the case of Miller, et al. v. Skumanick last week is a pretty good indication that law enforcement officials in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania have lost their collective minds.

At issue in the case: Whether the U.S. Constitution permits prosecutors to charge minors who pose for nude or risque photos with child pornography. You read that correctly. In order to protect children from predators and child pornographers, the local district attorney is threatening to prosecute minors who pose for racy photos as if they were child pornographers.

Even within the context of the already hysterical overreaction to the "sexting" phenomenon, the facts in Miller are jaw-dropping. Of the three girls bringing suit, two were photographed at a slumber party wearing training bras. The third photographed herself baring her breasts, then sent the photo to a boy she'd hoped to make jealous. The girls aren't in trouble for distributing the photos, or even for taking them. They've been introduced to the criminal justice system merely for appearing in them.

Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick, Jr. gave the girls a choice. The first option was to face felony child pornography charges, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The second was to attend a series of Skumanick-chosen classes, which according to the Pennsylvania ACLU included topics such as "what it means to be a girl in today's society" and "non-traditional societal and job roles." The girls would also be put on probation, subject to random drug tests, and would have to write essays explaining why appearing in photos while wearing their bras is wrong.

Skumanick would later tell a gathering of students and parents that he had the authority to prosecute girls photographed on the beach in bikinis, because the minors would be dressed "provocatively." He told the Wall Street Journal that by offering the girls the classes and probation instead of immediately hitting them with felony charges, "We thought we were being progressive."

Polyamory is Wrong! … No, really, it is!

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Well, I’m glad we got that cleared up:

“Polyamory is WRONG! It is either Multiamory or Polyphilia, but mixing Greek and Latin roots? Wrong!” T-shirt
Polyamory is Wrong! T-shirt from KiltInspector’s Zazzle

Hmm … I wonder what a certain etymologically-inclined friend of mine would think of this?

(via Friendly Atheist)

Now this is something I wish were so

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Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh has published an open letter disclaiming his thoughts and feelings towards himself, as a person and as a broadcaster. It’s a must-read … even if it’s quite sad that this appeared in The Onion. (But, hey, just fantasize for a moment.) Here’s the first half, below:

I know there are a lot of people out there who are upset about some of the things I've been saying on my radio program lately. My comments about the situation in Haiti have hurt and angered many Americans who genuinely care about the plight of the Haitian people, and that hurt and anger will likely never go away. Many of you are probably wondering, "What would compel a human being to say things like that?" Well, here's your answer: I am a very bad person. And, to tell you the truth, I don't really want to be alive anymore.

Try to look at it from my point of view. I have no reason to live. In my 59 years, I've made millions of dollars, built a veritable media empire, and accomplished virtually everything that a man of my limited imagination and worldview could possibly accomplish. And yet, at this point, in no way could you refer to what I'm doing as "living," exactly. I just sort of exist. I derive no real pleasure from life. Oh, sure, I talk a big game about what a golf nut I am and how much I enjoy the taste of a fine cigar, but it's all horseshit. Complete and utter horseshit.

I don't enjoy that stuff. I don't enjoy anything. I don't even want to be here. The sadness and regret I feel every waking hour of my life is absolutely unbearable. I am a miserable pig and I do not want to exist.

The irony is that, even if I did die, the hell I would surely be sent to could not possibly be any worse than the bottomless pool of excrement I already paddle around in like some demented, shit-covered walrus. In fact, every time I hear my voice coming through the headphones I nearly gag, and I think, "What the fuck am I doing?" Why would I say that Michael J. Fox is faking his Parkinson's symptoms? Why would I find it funny to play a song called "Barack the Magic Negro"? Why would I tell people not to give aid to Haiti?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I live in constant terror and that terror informs my every word, thought, and action.

See, the thing is, I honestly cannot control the bilious hatred and filth that oozes out of my mouth. I want to—believe me, I want to—but I can't. And every time I speak, a tiny voice inside my head is screaming, "Stop talking, you stupid, insensitive prick. JUST STOP FUCKING TALKING. All you do is spread hate and fear, and the world would be a better place without you, you worthless, amoral, cocksucking fuckface."

His (sadly fake) letter then goes on to explain how he just wants to commit suicide (yet doesn’t have the guts for it). Now, to be fair, I wouldn’t want the vile gasbag to kill himself (or be murdered). Just having his pestilence ostracized from the airwaves would be more than enough to satisfy me (and anyone else offended by this horrendous man’s many horrendous remarks).

(via @todayspolitics)

Another ridiculous overreaction by those poor Persecuted ChristiansTM

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Christians: NOT persecuted
Christians: stop acting persecuted. You ain’t.

At the moment, a lack of appropriate and reasonable legislation in Indiana currently makes it so that just about any faith-based organisation or group in the state – churches, mosques, synagogues, what have you – can open a child-care center without having to go through licensing or being required to meet certain basic standards. Thankfully, Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) is trying to change that through introducing a perfectly sensible bill that would, in basic terms, require that:

  • Any child-care facilities register with the state and undergo appropriate licensing;
  • A background check of anyone wishing to become a caretaker/guardian be completed through the state police department;
  • Child-care facilities meet certain standards:
    • A caregiver must be at least 17 years old and either have a high school diploma, or be in the process of getting one, before he/she can apply;
    • Children must be under a caregiver’s supervision at all times; and
    • Require that there be a decent child-to-staff ratio (ie. enough caregivers to efficiently take care of all the children in their charge); and
  • A public website be set up to which any and all incidents regarding the injury or death of a child be reported.

That’s it, skipping some minor details. It’s really a rather basic collection of obligations and requirements. After all, religious organisations who take care of children are to be held to the same standards as any others. It’s just the reasonable thing to do, no?

Well, some Christian groups don’t think so, apparently deciding that they like this degree of uncontrolled freedom they have with child-care centers and standards, and they’ve reacted to this bill in the typical Christian manner: by launching a smear campaign against Summers in an effort to stall the bill’s passing.

Rep. Vanessa Summers, who chairs the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, had scheduled a hearing on the bill she is sponsoring, but told a packed hearing room that she was delaying the hearing one week until Jan. 27.


Summers said she had become the target of a smear campaign by opponents of the bill who rallied even her own pastors against her and accused her of being an atheist.

Stupid (and Vile) Quote of the Day: Anti-poor people inhumanity reaches up to government officials, apparently

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You sicken me
Andre “starve-the-poor” Bauer …

It would seem the bigotry towards the impoverished seeps everywhere, including high up in the government. Here is what Andre Bauer, lieutenant governor for South Carolina (and candidate for governor), had to say about poor people and his solution for eradicating the problem (though not in the way you or I might think):

My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.

If it’s not selfish lawyers who want those pesky poor people taken away from around his business, it’s heartless candidates for state governor who advocate that we basically let ’em all starve out of existence.

Really, people, your compassion is a beautiful thing.

(via @todayspolitics)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

TSA agents: still not funny, even when trying to be

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Rebecca Solomon
Rebecca Solomon

What with passing ridiculous laws to try and look like they’re doing something (even if it’s complete nonsense), persecuting bloggers and journalists who come across information revealing their incompetence, and other bits of stupidity, it’s almost as if the Transport Safety Administration was trying to look like a bunch buffoons – only without the humor. But, what about when one of them actually does make a joke?

Still not funny. Actually, it’s pretty damn stupid.

Rebecca Solomon is 22 and a student at the University of Michigan, and on Jan. 5 she was flying back to school after holiday break. She made sure she arrived at Philadelphia International Airport 90 minutes before takeoff, given the new regulations.

She would be flying into Detroit on Northwest Airlines, the same city and carrier involved in the attempted bombing on Christmas, just 10 days before. She was tense.

What happened to her lasted only 20 seconds, but she says they were the longest 20 seconds of her life.

After pulling her laptop out of her carry-on bag, sliding the items through the scanning machines, and walking through a detector, she went to collect her things.

A TSA worker was staring at her. He motioned her toward him.

Then he pulled a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on - the sort of baggie that a pair of earrings might come in. Inside the bag was fine, white powder.

She remembers his words: "Where did you get it?"

Two thoughts came to her in a jumble: A terrorist was using her to sneak bomb-detonating materials on the plane. Or a drug dealer had made her an unwitting mule, planting coke or some other trouble in her bag while she wasn't looking.

She'd left her carry-on by her feet as she handed her license and boarding pass to a security agent at the beginning of the line.

Answer truthfully, the TSA worker informed her, and everything will be OK.

Solomon, 5-foot-3 and traveling alone, looked up at the man in the black shirt and fought back tears.

Put yourself in her place and count out 20 seconds. Her heart pounded. She started to sweat. She panicked at having to explain something she couldn't.

Now picture her expression as the TSA employee started to smile.

Just kidding, he said. He waved the baggie. It was his.

And so she collected her things, stunned, and the tears began to fall.

In an ideal world, such a moron would’ve had his nose broken. Sadly, this is not an ideal world. Though, at least the failed prankster no longer works at the TSA, according to a spokesperson. No word on whether he left or was fired, though I certainly am hoping for the latter. There are plenty of both venues and manners for being funny; pretending to bust a weary traveler for smuggling drugs at an airport screening area is neither of them.

(via The Agitator)

In which I respond to a whiny, hypocritical bigot – on another blog [updated x2]

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Gay Marriage

I’m not usually one to tackle the nonsense of random kooks and cranks from around the Web; most of the time, a casual smirk or derisive chuckle is all they elicit from me. Every now and then, though, one comes along and says something particularly poignant in its stupidity, ignorance or vileness, and I feel … compelled to respond. Such a thing has now happened, and in this case, it’s something that I think should be posted on this blog as it illustrates quite clearly just what sort of irrational and bigoted mindset that fighters for gay marriage (and other civil rights) are opposed to in their quest for justice and equality for all.

First, a tiny bit of backstory. PersonalFailure over at Forever in Hell wrote a short post touching on a bit of twaddle from right-wing crank Who is John Galt? of the ever-so-ironically named Good Sense Politics blog, who basically made the argument that when Cindy and Meghan McCain wrote in defense of same-sex marriage – specifically, in support of the anti-Prop 8 trial underway in California (which I fully agree with) – that they were affronting, not just free speech (an accusation that’s stupid enough already), but democracy itself (which … boggles the mind).

Anyway, getting to the point. A few comments later, John Galt (let’s call him/her that) him/herself dropped by and left this nugget of brilliance:

It your view that California voted to deny gays of their rights. It is our view that the Supreme Court ruled to deprive us of our rights (ie. the right to get married, since redefining marriage destroys its meaning). You say, "What right does the majority have to tell a minority they can't get married?" We say, "What right does a minority have to force a majority to change their time and religiously-honored, most sacred institution to comply with the whims of a few troubled people?" We are not stopping you from making any kind of relationship with anyone you want. We are not forcing you to do anything. We just will not tolerate you forcing us to change our morals and enshrining anti-religious/anti-marriage bigotry in law.

Now, naturally, being the grievously SIWOTI-afflicted Net user that I am, I immediately launched into a comprehensive (if not exhaustive) rebuttal to rebuke all these absurd claims and fallacies … but in doing some research on this John Galt person, I went to his/her blog and only needed to spend all of thirty seconds glancing around before I’d had my fill and trotted out. Such a glance indicates, judging by the content of John Galt’s blog, that he/she is a bigoted, teabagging, Global Warming and Evolution-denying Birther (amongst other things). Naturally, I think it’s understandable that in the face of such revelations, well, spending too much time and effort on a post made to be read by sensible people, not closed-minded fools, had become rather pointless. So, I left this instead:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An issue of relabeling

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This might give atheists a bad reputation for being narrow pedants:

The Wrong Whip | Savage Chickens
The Wrong Whip | Savage Chickens

Cheap shot, but fair.

(via Friendly Atheist)

How to deal with criticism the right way

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Yesterday, I commented on the way Fox Newz chose to respond to a Media Matters report that revealed its lack of air time allotted to the disaster in Haiti: by launching several irredeemably pathetic cartoons whose sole punchline was that the CEO of Media Matters is gay. How telling – on Greg Gutfeld, the one behind the awful cartoons, that is.

Well, that’s an illustration on how not to respond to criticism. For a rather more apt lesson in basic PR, we turn to … Keith Olbermann, of all people. Renown for his aggressive attacks on loons and morons, to the point of near-childish name-calling, he shows how to take well-founded accusations in stride when responding to a segment from The Daily Show wherein Jon Stewart rightfully called him out on his petulance. I would’ve posted that clip earlier – but then, my seething resentment for the Comedy Central websites is well known.

A quick transcript of the relevant part:

OLBERMANN: [forbidding voice] ‘Well, you want some baseless name-calling: you are a … [deflates] Ah, you know what, you’re right. I have been a little over-the-top lately … Point taken … Sorry.’

It’s a bit on the short side, but still noteworthy.

Now, of course, when have we ever heard Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, or any others, really, just sit down, look at the camera, and say it, plain and cleanly: “I was wrong and I’m sorry”? For them, it just doesn’t happen. And that’s why those like Olbermann who, no matter how acerbic they may be, will always be better they are: they can man up and admit it when they’re plainly in the wrong.

I wish more could.

(via @todayspolitics)

Don’t ask Fox News to help those in need. Fox News doesn’t give a $hit

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Faux News

Earlier today (well, yesterday, now it’s past midnight), I commented on a Media Matters report that revealed how Fox News’s three top-rated shows (Glenn Beck, O’Reilly Factor and Hannity) devoted less than seven minutes of collective air time to the Haitian disaster the very day following the ’quake, as compared to MSNBC, whose own top three shows (Hardball, Countdown and Rachel Maddow) spent over two hours in total on Haiti. This understandably speaks rather unflatteringly against Fox Newz (a broadcaster of which then resorted to some staggeringly bad cartoons in retaliation). After all, they don’t want people to see evidence that actually shows what a bunch of uncaring, politicizing ideologues they are, right?

Well, in case that wasn’t enough to fully convince you that Fox really just doesn’t give a crap about the poor and the damned of Haiti, here’s one particularly large nail in your hypothetical doubt’s proverbial coffin. This/last evening, just about every major TV channel in America agreed to interrupt their regularly scheduled programming to broadcast the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, a landmark global event spearheaded by George Clooney and which aimed to defeat even the impressive Band Aid of ’85, so I heard.

Except for … well, take a guess.

Our crack C&L team has checked around the dial and compiled a list of channels participating:
Weather Channel
Major League Baseball Network
Style Network
E! Entertainment Network
Comedy Central
Soap Opera channel
National Geographic Channel
It's even streaming live on IMDb, Hulu and YouTube.

But not for FNC or their sister business channel. They're showing Billo and crew.

Because ignorant morons’ hot air sells better than a worldwide relief telethon, obviously. (Oh, wait …)

Once again, for anyone who needed the closest you’ll ever get to concrete proof, short of an open admission, that Fox is helmed by heartless ghouls, here’s your answer.

(For the record: I know and/or regularly watch 22 of those channels, along with (of course) the three sites mentioned. You?)

(via @todayspolitics)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Done some changes ’round ’ere

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As you can tell (any regular readers, that is – and yes, I do love how I can now say “regular readers” without needing to add “if any” =P), a few little things have changed around here. First of all, both due to a general lack of interest and the fact that they were so mind-numbingly tedious to keep up-to-date at the rate I go about editing stuff, I’ve removed the sections for my art, stories, reviews and music. OF COURSE, this does not mean I removed the actual art, stories, reviews and music! I just removed the pages from the navigation bar at the top of the blog. To find all my art-stories-reviews-and-music, just select the appropriate label in the dropdown menu in the lower right sidebar.

I’ve also changed the other pages (About, Contact Me, etc.) into proper Pages (creatively enough), a new feature from Blogger (finally) so we don’t have to create specific blog posts, then date them back to the very start of the blog so they don’t appear with other posts. Quite convenient, though there seems to be a little problem with the layout in that the top is excessively spaced-out. I’d guess this will be resolved in a short time.

Other than that, I’ve also removed the “Latest Works” widget from the upper left sidebar as my stuff is updated too infrequently, anyway (again, just use tags/labels to find them). Finally, I’ve moved the Followers widget (subscribe, dangit, subscribe! I wanna more followers! =3) to the left sidebar to try and even them out. (After all, Equality is part of my Holy Trinity. ;-))

Minor blog maintenance

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I’m currently tinkering with Blogger’s new Pages feature, which allows its users to create static pages (you know, the “About” and “Contact Me” sort of stuff). The way this has been done until now in Blogger was simply to link to blog posts that were manually dated to the beginning, so this new update is a heck of a fine feature. The layout of the blog may flicker for a little while; it shouldn’t take long. Just a heads’ up.

Stupid Quote of the Day: Hannity the clueless blunder on healthcare reform

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Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity

Once again, you really gotta wonder just how utterly clueless – probably willfully so – even an unmitigated oaf like Hannity can get. Of course, it’s always possible, if not likely, that even he (and company) are just spewing stupid and sensationalist crap intentionally, simply to appeal to their fanbases of ignorant pearl-clutching demagogues. But, even then, you gotta wonder how even the most disconnected fool can say something so stupid – such as, for example, when Hannity claimed that “no conservative is against healthcare reform”.

It would seem the Universe doesn’t fold back on itself in the face such sheer irony, seeing as we’re all still here.

Here’s the video, with transcript (courtesy of Politicususa) below:

“So now it’s back to the old drawing board for the Democrats on healthcare, which by the way maybe they’ll be a little bipartisan, by the way no conservative is against healthcare reform, but you know what any discussion about portability, or medical savings accounts, or tort reform, or tax cuts you know it has just been diminished and pushed aside, and all there’s been is alienation and derisive comments by the Democrats.”

Of course, in Hannity’s defense (however tentatively), it’s probably just meant that no conservative is against their view on what healthcare reform should be. Which, of course, amounts to absolutely nothing that can be called “reform”, considering how most conservatives are against pretty much any attempt at changing the U.S.’s healthcare system as it is.

So, really, either way, what he said was still extraordinarily stupid.

(via @todayspolitics)

A few rays of light in the U.S. Military

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Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy is happy to report on two very satisfying wins for skepticism and common sense in the U.S. Military. Me, I’m just happy to relay them over to you, dear readers. =P

Bomb-detecting dousing rod (aka magic bomb-sniffing wand)
Bomb-detecting dousing rod – aka magic bomb-sniffing wand

First, comes a very pleasing story about a fraud whose provably worthless contraptions, themselves already responsible for the loss of hundreds of lives, has finally been arrested on charges that are nothing short of delicious:

Remember the company that made millions by selling totally worthless bomb-sniffing magic wands to the military, detectors that were used at checkpoints in Iraq to search cars, and which failed to detect the terrorist bombs used to kill 155 people in October and 120 more in December last year?

Yeah, well, Jim McCormick, the head of the company that sold those useless dowsing rods, just got arrested for — oh, let me savor typing these words — "suspicion of fraud".

Wait, wait. That felt so good to write, let me do it again: Jim McCormick, who sold provably worthless dowsing rods to the military, has been arrested for suspicion of fraud.

Maybe adding some flashing lights would make it look more credi— wait, what?

And is McCormick penitent? Of course not! With apparently no sense of Teh Stoopid, he said:

We have been dealing with doubters for ten years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.

I only meant it as an ironic joke.

“Ironic” being the key word, here.

Moooving on …

Fox Newz prick shows us how not to respond to criticism

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Haitian earthquake coverage by show (MSNBC vs. Fox News)
[click for full size]

On January 14, renown media watchdog group Media Matters for America released a report that carried a disturbing, yet not exactly surprising, revelation: in comparing the amount of air time devoted to the Haitian disaster the day after the quake by three top-rated shows from rivaling networks (Hardball, Countdown, and Rachel Maddow from the overtly progressive MSNBC; and Glenn Beck, The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity from Fox), it showed how the whilst the three MSNBC shows spent more than two hours collectively on the subject, less than seven minutes of Fox’s Three Musketeers shows were spent talking about the disaster. You see, they were too busy, what with Beck’s hour-long interview of endlessly empty-headed bimbo Sarah Palin to welcome her amongst their rank ranks (ha!), O’Reilly bitching about Jon Stewart defending Obama from ridiculous conservative attacks, and Hannity’s almost loving ass-licking of Scott Brown. Who cares about all those poor Black people dying in some distant ravaged country? They’s gots newz to attend to!

Apparently, though, this truth was a bit unpleasant for one crony in particular, who resorted to typical Faux News tactics for dealing with criticism: pure juvenile behavior, the kind that, in any reasonable world, would have sparked a ton of outrage at the very least. Full story below.

Suppose you're a late-night host on a seldom-seen Fox News Channel program, and a watchdog group has just released a rather unflattering report about your network's apparent indifference toward the fate of humanity in the wake of Haiti's cataclysmic earthquake. What would you do? Go to network executives and demand more and better coverage? Nah. If you're Greg Gutfeld, host of "Red Eye," you make a crude cartoon on your computer with a sophomoric script, whose only joke is that the CEO of the watchdog group is gay.


Two nights later, Gutfeld, whose program airs at 3am in the East Coast market, aired a very badly made cartoon titled "Red Eye Robot Theater," depicting two men meant to represent Media Matters CEO David Brock and a public relations staffer. Here's my transcript of the video:

PUBLICIST: Hey, David, have you seen the numbers since the earthquake?

DAVID: I know; it's absolutely incredible.

PUBLICIST: I believe thousands are dead.

DAVID: Yeah, whatever. I was talking about the number of minutes Fox News devoted to the quake. I think this will make a great press release.

Friday Canine: Luv you, Mommy. Luv you too, sweetie

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Slut Shaming 2.0: Sex Offender Sluts – New Orleans edition

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Sex worker denied entry into popular nightclub on Bourbon St. In New Orleans
A sex worker is denied entry into a popular nightclub on Bourbon St. in New Orleans.

We’ve all heard of, or seen examples of, slut shaming, the phenomenon where sex workers are derided, harassed and humiliated for the nature of their employment. After all, what’s more filthy and worthless than a whore, right? (Other than hobos.) (Yeah, that was sarcasm. Chill out.) Being treated as second-class citizens, being leered at with either unrestrained lust or equally unrestrained disgust, and generally being portrayed as disease-ridden, drug-addicted bottom-feeding filth of the streets and gutters are all par for the course for sex workers, the vast majority of whom probably fit few, if any at all, of the perverse stereotypes they’re routinely, if not permanently, labeled with once they start selling sexual favors for money to pay rent and put food on the table.

However, if you thought that wasn’t bad enough, then you’ll be pleased to learn about the state of affairs for sex workers in New Orleans, where more than half of the city’s sex offenders are prostitutes – whose names ended up on the registry for no other reason than they indulged in “unnatural copulation”; ie. orally or anally, rather than vaginally.

I can give you the exact face I was wearing as I read this report: o_@.

New Orleans city police and the district attorney’s office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers like Tabitha as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”—a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver’s license with the label “sex offender” printed on it.

Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, according to Doug Cain, a spokesperson with the Louisiana State Police. And of those convicted of a crime against nature, 78 percent are Black and almost all are women.

The law impacts sex workers in both small and large ways.

Tabitha has to register an address in the sex offender database, and because she doesn’t have a permanent home, she has registered the address of a nonprofit organization that is helping her. She also has to purchase and mail postcards with her picture to everyone in the neighborhood informing them of her conviction. If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women. She is even prohibited from very ordinary activities in New Orleans like wearing a costume at Mardi Gras.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stupid Quote of the Day: Same nonsense, same crank, different day

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Falling into his usual patterns of stupid claims and mindless anti-science silliness, featuring Vox Day:

To put it bluntly, if you still believe that "scientific consensus" means anything, or that that man-made global warming is actually occurring, you're an idiot:

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it. Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report. It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru. Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research....

Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the Himalayas claim as "voodoo science".

So, telephone interviews are now science? That's cool. I have been doing a crazy amount of science since RGD came out.

I’m not sure which is the most dumbass thing Vox says, here: that a report about an incident of fudged science based on the mere speculation by one scientist – ie. an isolated incident – equates to the entire scientific consensus on man-made global warming being false, or that the medium through which an interview is conducted has any relevance at all on said interview’s validity.

A fitting representation

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This Rubes cartoon is decidedly accurate in its metaphor …

“Creationists are worms” | Rubes cartoon by Leigh Rubin
“Creationists are worms” | Rubes cartoon by Leigh Rubin

There are too many similarities with reality to count.

(via Friendly Atheist)

More on why you should care about those “Jesus Rifles”

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U.S. Military rifle with New Testament reference (John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”)
So-called “Jesus Rifles” in the military

There’s been a lot of rightful furor over the recent revelation that Trijicon, a supplier of rifles scopes for the U.S. Military, has been inscribing subtle references to Bible verses onto their equipment. This was supposedly done without the Pentagon’s knowledge or consent; regardless, this is an utter travesty and Trijicon needs to be fired, or at the very least, reprimanded and ordered to cease such nonsense. Inscribing references to Jesus being the “light of the world” on rifles used by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to mow down Islamist militants and jihadists tends to equate to a bad fucking idea, if you get the picture. The last thing we need is yet another clue hinting at a war being led by forces that are less than honest in their intentions, especially when it comes to religion and proselytization. You know, as if we (read: America in general, U.S. or not) needed any more reason for our enemies to hate us.

Of course, many defenders of such bullshit, those who squawk so indignantly against the very idea that the Afghan/Iraqi Wars may have any form of religious motivation (even though we already know all about Bibles being distributed in war zones, Bush administration military reports with blatant Christian covers, and so on), are quick to argue that these references mean nothing, that they’re just a measure of comfort for Christian soldiers (despite all those non-Christian comrades forced to use the same equipment, of course), and so on. Well, if you ever needed more of a reason to believe why such references (and the sentiments they inspire amongst ranks) are a very bad idea, just check out this personal account from an enlisted soldier, via this letter sent to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. [Note: the original thing was in two massive blocks of text, so I’ve added a few paragraph spacings for convenience.]

To: Mikey Wenstein and MRFF:

I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of (rank withheld). I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort (installation name withheld). I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat. I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic. Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my (number withheld) years in the Army. Most of it comes from "angry" conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers.

Capturing the pure essence of music

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A pal of mine just referred me to one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. Here is ‘Aqua Harp’ from Animusic, a group apparently specialized in making computer-generated animations of computer music. Do yourself a favor: close the lights, turn the volume up a little (if you can), hit Play, then sit back and close your eyes.

I’m definitely gonna need to check out more from this Animusic group.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gotta be ready for my first music lesson!

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It’s all about ME

My first real private composition class is this evening, and as a result, I need to hurry and finish editing all my pieces. So, to translate into bloggese for y’all: no blogging at all today. Unless there’s something I absolutely have to comment on, or just a tiny little post, then I’ll see y’all tomorrow. Take care without me, now; this is an open thread. (As if I had anywhere near enough commenters for that. =P)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stupid Quote of the Day: Why liberals should love the Second Amendment

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The Stupid, It Burns!
Even liberals can make my head hurt

I usually find myself in agreement with much of what is published on Daily Kos – as would be expected, I suppose – and the little I disagree with, I usually just shrug it off as a difference in viewpoints. However, I just came across this piece by user Angry Mouse that’s so stunningly wrong that I just have to make the day’s Stupid Quote post out of it. Sorry, Daily Kos, but I just can’t let these sorts of dumb claims and over-generalizations – and awful prose – get away without some due scorn.

So why do liberals have such a problem with the Second Amendment? Why do they lump all gun owners in the category of "gun nuts"? Why do they complain about the "radical extremist agenda of the NRA"? Why do they argue for greater restrictions?

Why do they start performing mental gymnastics worthy of a position in Bush's Department of Justice to rationalize what they consider "reasonable" infringement of one of our most basic, fundamental, and revolutionary -- that's right, revolutionary -- civil liberties?

This … I … o_0

Okay, I’ll ignore the lazy over-generalization, the unfounded claims (which don’t have a single statistic to support them) and the prose, which just numbs my mind. So, according to Angry Mouse, opposing the legal right for the general unwashed masses to own and bear arms, when there’re no actual reasons why John (or Jane) Six-Pack should own guns (not to mention how most people should never touch one to begin with), puts us on par, intellectually and morally, with Bush and his rights-suppressing, liberties-infringing, phone-tapping, unlawfully detaining, evidence-hiding conspiratorial cronies? To claim such absurd things takes a whole new level of mental acrobatics in itself.

Simply put, of all the ways this could have been said or written, that was a particularly dumbass way to put it. Second Amendment-opposing liberals are not infringing upon anyone’s rights, for starters. We are not ripping guns out of people’s hands or banning them from gun stores. We are merely advocating that the amendment itself be removed (or changed, or however it works) so that gun laws can be much saner and reasonable, as with most other developed countries. Besides, we have statistics on our side. For just one example, take a look at Canada. Harsher gun laws = far, far fewer shooting deaths on average. It’s a simple correlation.

Using idiots’ own words against them = assured win

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I came across this recent bit of irrational stupidity from Vox Day yesterday, but wasn’t in any sort of a blogging mood. Well, I’m back, so here it is: Vox, desperate as ever to seize any tiny opportunity to jump at atheists and depict them as opportunistic scoundrels, commenting on the joint Non-Believers Giving Aid charity project headed by the Richard Dawkins Foundation, intended to encourage nonreligious folks to send donations to secular charitable groups (such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders), and once again reverting to his habit of making an utter ass of himself without even realizing it:

Dawkins is such an unmitigated and self-centered ass that he can't even permit a natural disaster to take place without attempting to turn it into a statement about atheists. If you want to help someone, then just shut up, do it, and spare the press release. Let not your right hand etc etc. The point is: it's not about you or your godless ideology, you narcissistic wanker.


Vox is such an unmitigated and self-centered ass that he can’t even permit a perfectly sound charitable service to be set up without attempting to turn it into a smear against atheists. If you want to help someone and also disprove silly and unfounded notions about how atheists and nonreligious folks are somehow less compassionate than others at the same time, then it’s a great idea that both helps those in need and helps to silence unfair preconceptions against godless people, thus killing two birds with one stone. Let not your left[1] hand etc etc. The point is: stop saying stupid shit, you narcissistic wanker.

Funny how that fits so perfectly.

Of course, it’s interesting to note how this ignorant rant comes from a guy who constantly proclaims that any and all government help is utterly useless and that sending money to Haiti is nothing more than slacktivism (my paraphrasing). His argument is that the money is sent to the corrupt and stupid government that allows such catastrophes to happen in the first place. It therefore becomes apparent that Vox really has no clue how this “donation” stuff works, does he? You see, Vox, when you send your money to the likes of the Red Cross or Doctors Without Border and so on, you’re sending them the cash they need to procure stuff like, say, food and blankets and medical equipment and so on. You’re not paying the freakin’ government. Unless the Red Cross is somehow in charge of the politics at Haiti. Which I doubt.

He also brings up that tired old argument that sending money to help Haitians dig themselves out of this catastrophe only renders them more dependent on international aid and charity, as opposed to forcing them to help themselves and so on. Of course, anyone reading this – who’s not Vox Day and his ilk of similar-minded goons – realizes both how heartless and mind-numbingly stupid such an idea is. We’re not talking about sending them money for long-term sustenance. We’re talking about helping them recover from the quake. Is that really so hard to comprehend? The entire country was devastated and their infrastructure (whatever there was to begin with) wiped out. If you even plan to have them survive for the next few years, much less indefinitely, then they need lots of support, and they need it now.

Frankly, Vox is using the same sort of illogic as did Rush Limbaugh when he stated that Americans shouldn’t donate to Haiti because they already did, in the form of their tax dollars. Truly, how anyone fails to see the immense illogic behind such words eludes me.

[1] Tiny nitpicking, I know.

Tell me again how the U.S. Military is secular?

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U.S. Military rifle with New Testament reference (John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”)
For enemy combatants with super-powered sniper rifle scopes, no doubt

I’ve been all over in the past about how the U.S. Military, what with its distribution of Christian Bibles in war-torn Islamic countries and its constant proselytizing, is quite the unwelcoming place for soldiers of other faiths, who routinely undergo humiliation and are treated as second-class comrades. Well, here’s even more evidence that a large faction in the Military really is out on a poorly disguised religious crusade; what else would you call having evangelical New Testament references inscribed on soldiers’ weapons and equipment?

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world." John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

But, yeah, no-one’s out to evangelize or convert any of those wikkid Moslems, are they?

For a shocking report, it leaves me thoroughly unsurprised. Instead, it merely reaffirms what we’re all told isn’t so when endless revelations of this sort demonstrate how it so obviously is: that a large part of the U.S. Military holds proselytizing on equal par with defending its nation’s interest. That is what’s most disturbing of all.

(via @todayspolitics)