Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Badass Quote of the Day: But they’re so easily interchangeable!

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Even though it’s the night – but whatever. Here’s a smile-inducing tweet from rose (@webchyk):

Tweet by rose (@webchyk): “

WIN.

(via @todayspolitics)

Finally, a reason to congratulate Bill O’Reilly

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Bill O’Reilly

No, no snark; I’m as surprised as anyone to be agreeing with Bill-O, but for once, he’s stepped up and done something that, in my honest opinion, merits nothing but approval:

Newsmax reports FNC's Bill O'Reilly will pay the legal fees for the father of a fallen U.S. Marine who sued members of the Westboro Baptist Church who picketed his son's funeral.

The church garners attention for its views by protesting high-profile funerals. On March 3, 2006, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder died in a non-combat related vehicle accident in Al Anbar province in Iraq.

During the wake that was held after his son's funeral, family members turned on the television to view coverage of the massive procession involving over 1,500 persons. They saw the church members waving signs and protesting the funeral.

Last night on his show, O'Reilly said the mounting legal fees, are "an outrage."

"I will pay Mr. Snyder's obligation," said O'Reilly. "I am not going to let this injustice stand."

My view on this case is a bit nebulous. While I don’t agree that the father should have tried to sue the WBC for picketing his son’s funeral – an act that, despite being completely disgusting, nonetheless remains perfectly legal – it’s especially more revolting that the mourning man got saddled with the legal expenses. In my opinion, he should’ve been told off and that’s about it. To fine him – especially with such ridiculous legal fees, especially in the wake of his son’s death – is complete overkill.

So, for once, I can honestly say: good job, Bill. Good move.

Now, please, just refrain from saying something stupid and untrue for a while, and you may even become somewhat respectable.

(via @todayspolitics)

The final nail in the “Climategate” hacked emails affair?

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Global Warming

You remember the event, known as “Climategate”, where thousands of emails from climate scientists were hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University and dispersed across the web, emails that Global Warming denialists great and small masturbated over for months and heralded them as “proof” that climate researchers were really just government shills and that Global Warming is nothing but a big global cover-up, all based on some dubious interpretations of some ambiguous terms and expressions contained in said emails? If so, then you may also remember some of the many thorough debunkings this pseudo-scandal has undergone since its launch. It all comes to show what has always been obvious: that cranks, reality-deniers and the scientifically illiterate will latch onto anything they can to support their weird, twisted claims and will take any opportunity they can get to inject as much noise as possible in order to try and screw up rational debates.

Well, in what may hopefully be the final nail in the “Climategate” coffin, an official investigation by the UK’s Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee into the affair has concluded that there is no evidence of any sort of a conspiracy or cover-up, and that the science behind anthropogenic global warming is sound.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—"trick" and "hiding the decline"—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that "global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity". But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

Wham-bam, another convoluted conspiracy theory shot dead. Hopefully.

However, it is true that the some of the scientists at East Anglia must take part of the blame for the affair. Not for faulty science or any dishonest behavior – as noted above, there’s neither to be found – but for failing to be open enough about their science, research and findings to allow for anyone, including the common people, to peruse the data and conclusions and make up their own minds. In fact, they were rebuked rather pointedly:

Daily Blend: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Daily Blend

Whoo, longest list of links yet! Remember, if you got anything at all, send it in, via e-mail or Twitter or in the comments!

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A moral center in the brain?

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Brain scan
The moral compass, technically named the right temporo-parietal junction, lies just behind the right ear in the brain

Here’s a rather interesting report: scientists seem to have discovered a real-life “moral compass” in the human brain that, when disturbed with a powerful magnet, can actually influence one’s decisions and perception on what is morally permissible and what is not. Here’s how they figured this out:

The researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a non-invasive technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation to disrupt the area of the brain.

The technique generates a magnetic field on a small part of the skull which creates weak electric currents in the brain. These currents interfere with nearby brain cells and prevent them from firing normally.

In the first experiment, 12 volunteers were exposed to the magnetic field for 25 minutes before they were given a series of 'moral maze' style scenarios.

For each of the 192 scenarios, they were asked to make a judgement about the character's actions on a scale of 1 for 'absolutely forbidden' to 7 for 'absolutely permissible'.

In the second experiment, the magnetic field was applied to their heads at the time they were asked to weigh up the behaviour of the characters in the scenario.

In both experiments, the magnetic field made the volunteers less moral.

One scenario described a man who let his girlfriend walk over a bridge he knew was unsafe. The girl survived unharmed.

Under normal conditions, most people rate the man's behaviour as unacceptable. But after getting the magnetic pulse, the volunteers tended to see nothing wrong with his actions - and judged his behaviour purely on whether his girlfriend survived.

Another scenario described two girls visiting a chemical plant where one girl asks her friend to put sugar in her coffee.

The friend uses powder from a jar marked 'toxic' - but as the powder turns out to be sugar, the girls if unharmed.

Volunteers with a disrupted moral compass tended to rate the girl's behaviour as permissible because her friend was not injured - even though she was aware the powder came from a jar labelled toxic.

The irony is not lost on this sign

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This is perfect:

Sign: “Psychic Fair cancelled [sic] due to unforeseen circumstances”

(via Respectful Insolence)

Rachel Maddow (feat. Ed Brayton) on the Hutaree militia

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Here’s a more in-depth look at the Hutaree militia, the group of Christianist terrorists who were planning to assault the US government, kill police officers (and bomb their funerals), all apparently to try and fight the Antichrist, honor Jesus and prepare for his second coming, until the FBI put an end to their schemes. As Maddow (and also Ed Brayton from Dispatches From the Culture Wars, who is interviewed) puts it, they are a motley mix of the absurd and the deadly serious. Here’s the clip:

Comes to show how you can never really judge someone or a group on appearances. You’d think that they were just weirdos playing dress-up, giving themselves silly names and believing in absurd things, and then you realize they’re actively planning to murder dozens of people, overthrow the government, that they possess loads of advanced weaponry and continually train for combat … freaky.

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

And I’m from the Central Québec Liberal Alliance, so where’re my protections?

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From the files of the “gotta-see-it-to-believe-it”, get this: the Southern American nationalist crowd is vying to establish its own national identification as “Confederate Southern Americans” on the 2010 Census in order to qualify for national origin protection under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Why? Because they feel they’re being discriminated against. Seriously.

Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate because of a person's birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. The South North Carolina-based Southern Legal Resource Center believes that people with ancestors who were citizens of the Confederate States of America should be entitled to ethnic identity and protection since the country no longer exists.

Question 9 of the census form asks respondents to identify their race and lists White, Black/African American/Negro, American Indian, Native Alaskan, Japanese and Korean as options, among others. But it also leaves a box with 19 blank spaces for anyone who wants to write in another race not listed.

"Fill in 'Confed Southern Am.' ... This will put your Confederate nationality on the record. It's just that simple," SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk D. Lyons says in a video posted on YouTube (see above) and Facebook.

Lyons continues: "We can start the process to give the southern community here in America a voice again, so that our concerns will be heard, and so that we will stop being harassed and persecuted because we are proud of our southern and Confederate ancestry." The group has defended teachers and other activists who have been fired or disciplined in other ways for refusing to remove the Confederate flag from classrooms and other public places.

This is amusing and absurd on a number of levels. First and foremost, you can’t just create a national identity (ie. a country of origin) out of thin air, or simply by writing it down on the census form. Anyone could just write that they were from Mars if they liked, and I think someone in the government may look twice and object to you using a fictional national origin. Primo, the Confederation was never a country in itself, but a rebellious group of 11 pro-slavery states that tried (and failed) to secede from the US, and secundo, even if one could twist the definition of “country” so that these ass-backwards states could be called such, the Confederation ended in 1865 – nearly 150 years ago. The idea that such a thing as “Confederate South Americans” can be used as a national identity is preposterous.

Daily Blend: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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Daily Blend

Christian terrorists, airheaded frauds, douchey insurers, failed pranksters and ridiculous trolls … is it just me, or does the energy flux coursing through this post have a dark aura?

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another story where there are no “two sides”

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Finally trying to live up to their slogan of “fair and balanced”, Fox News recently interviewed both Christopher Hitchens and Bill “Jackass” Donohue on the subject of the ever-increasing evidence that the Catholic Church was not only well-aware of the dozens and hundreds of child sex abuse cases throughout the world, but even went out of its way to protect its child-molesting priests and shield the whole affair from external eyes for decades, if not much longer still.

First, Hitchens lays out the damning evidence weighing against the Church and Pope Ratzi himself:

Next comes Donohue, all flustered at his favorite cult being exposed for the sick, child-molester-infested hive that it is:

Another gays-at-a-prom controversy

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Derrick Martin, gay student who wants to bring his boyfriend to the prom, speaking with Amber Duskin, organizer of the anti-gay protest
He looks so gay. And the back of her head looks so bitchy </snark>

Although, this one comes with an amusing twist. Unlike the previous case, where a school board simply canceled their prom altogether when a lesbian student tried to attend with her girlfriend, the school administration in this story were perfectly fine with letting a gay boy bring his boyfriend to the event. It’s the other students and townsfolk who weren’t, and best of all, they made damn sure to let everyone know just what type of mindless bigots they are:

COCHRAN — A small group of Bleckley County High School students staged a rally at the courthouse Thursday evening to protest their high school allowing a gay student to take his boyfriend to the prom.

Bleckley school system officials last week granted senior Derrick Martin permission to take another boy to prom. The decision marked the first decision in the county’s history about a same-sex couple attending the prom there.

This is hilarious in both how stupid this is, and in how these little twerps are really just shooting themselves in the foot. They may be a bunch of intolerant twits, but the vast majority of the population who will be watching this most likely won’t be. What they’re doing, here, is simultaneously calling attention to the gay students who just want to have a fun evening at the prom, and sinking themselves by exposing their natures as petty anti-gay bigots. This can’t work in any way other than against them.

Funnier still, get a load of how they try and rationalize their little show if intolerance:

“We knew Derrick was gay,” said Keith Bowman Jr., a high school senior who showed up at the rally. “They don’t want (Cochran) to be known as a pro gay town.”

Most of the dozen attending the rally said they weren’t bothered by Martin being gay or being allowed to attend prom with his partner. But they said the school system’s decision has brought too much attention to their small town.

“People who don’t know the area will think it reflects on everybody,” said John Smith, a grandfather who owns an air-conditioning business in Cochran.

Right, what better way to fight against “unwanted attention” to your town than to launch a public protest against said unwanted attention?

Really, you just gotta love crank (il)logic.

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Daily Blend: Monday, March 29, 2010

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Daily Blend

Okay, so yesterday turned out to be a bust. On the bright side, for today, we’ve got: rain, rain and more rain! Vive le Québec …

  • “But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.” Excellent op-ed in the New York Times by Frank Rich analyzing the Right’s deranged hysteria before and since the passage of ObamaCare.

  • Why bother with a Fourth Amendment if cops can just sweet-talk their way into suspects’ homes and start searching for illegal activity without a warrant?
    (via The Agitator)

  • Just clowning around.

  • The kind of policing I reckon just about every reader and non-shitty writer would approve of.
    (via @ebertchicago)

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Monday U2: Miss Sarajevo

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Today, probably one of the best songs of all time, period: ‘Miss Sarajevo’ from experimental album Passengers [1995], including the magnificent voice of the dearly missed Luciano Pavarotti.

I so wish they’ll play this one when I go to see them live this 16th of July.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A telling poll about a whiner mentality

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Christian Persecution Complex
Christian Persecution Complex

Always on the prowl for polls to crash, PZ has come across one that even I, being generally against such a practice that I consider to be rather petty and juvenile, wouldn’t mind seeing go haywire. From the aptly named Persecution.com, a website chronicling the supposed persecution of those poor wittle Christians:

Do you think persecution of Christians will come to America?

  • No, I don't believe it's an issue – 5.76%
  • I don't know – 3.84%
  • Yes, but in the future – 13.06%
  • Yes, and soon – 34.57%
  • It is already here – 42.76%

Note that these results were taken from PZ as he found the poll, pre-Pharyngulation. What a bunch of pitiful little babies. They comprise nearly 80% of the US population, they’ve got the government and other organizations catering to their every irrational whim, they’re absolutely everywhere from at the top of the government to the house next door, they can pray all they want – but dare to tell them that they can’t impose their mind-rot on others, and OMYGOD, they’re being persecuted! Why are we so mean?

Not that we are mean or unjust in any way, but if we were, it would certainly be understandable, given this sort of crybaby mentality.

(via Pharyngula)

Next they’ll examine how you walk to determine if you’re an omnisexual extraterrestrial

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You FAIL
at science

Here’s yet another report on some “scientific research” that just can’t possibly go wrong:

Researchers believe technology could be used to determine a computer typist's age, sex and culture within 10 keystrokes by monitoring their speed and rhythm.

[…]

Professor Roy Maxion, associate professor at Newcastle University, has been carrying out the research in America.

Former Northumbria Police detective chief inspector Phil Butler believes the technology could be useful in tracking down online fraudsters and paedophiles.

Mr Butler, who heads Newcastle University's Cybercrime and Computer Security department, said: ''Roy's research has the potential to be a fantastic tool to aid intelligence gathering for crime fighting agencies, in particular serious and organised crime and for those tracking down paedophiles.

''If children are talking to each other on Windows Live or MSN Messenger, we are looking at ways of providing the chat room moderators with the technology to be able to see whether an adult is on there by the way they type.''

This is nothing more than pseudoscientific nonsense. The only way you can reasonably tell something about someone over an online discussion is through what they type, not how they type it. There are so many things that influence the manner in which someone uses a keyboard (or other typing instruments, such as a cellphone’s keypad) that any attempt to try and use a person’s typing speed and efficiency as a measure of their potential for being a pedophile is nothing more than a complete and dangerous exercise in futility. The mitigating factors are virtually unfathomable: anything from environmental factors (comfort, position, temperature, etc.) to psychological factors (fatigue, stress, emotions, etc.), physical factors (diseases or injuries that can affect one’s typing abilities), and not to mention the quality and/or nature of the typing equipment itself (the rigidity and sensitivity of keys, even any defects or damage an instrument has), and so on. And even after all of this, connection speed itself could determine everything; any noise in the lines could potentially skew readings into complete incoherence.

Sexual predators, especially those targeting youths over the Internet, are dangerous and loathsome and must be stopped whenever they can be. That much is indisputable. But we need to use techniques and tools that are reliable and objective, not something as intrinsically unreliable and subjective as a person’s typing mannerisms. Not only is this absolute rubbish, but it’s also incredibly reckless and downright dangerous, in terms of how badly even the slightest of misinterpretations or mistakes could result for any innocent victims who could get falsely targeted. There are plenty of effective methods for catching online predators. Analyzing something as inherently vague and subjective as how you type on a keyboard is not one of them.

(via The Agitator)

FAIL Quote of the Day: More Vox Day stupidity

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The Stupid, It Burns

I’ve been feeling a little lazy about blogging since yesterday, which accounts for the conspicuous decrease in my posting rate from average, but as usual, you can leave it to my favorite punching-bag to say something stupid, unfounded and untrue to get me involved again:

The amusing thing is that the self-styled defenders of science who are so vocal about so many unrelated issues don't give a damn about the state of scientific education. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers are FAR more concerned with preventing creationism from being taught as an alternative to time + chance + natural selection (probably) + magic stardust/aliens than they are with the fact that students are increasingly being taught scientific history rather than science.

This is mind-numbingly idiotic in a variety of ways, as per usual. Leaving out his usual anti-evolution silliness (which indicates, once again, how hilariously ignorant he is on the matter for someone who claims to know enough about it to judge it to be false), the primary claim in this excerpt is that by choosing to focus their energies on one particular facet of the defense of science and scientific education – the one of preventing anti-scientific bullshit from being peddled into public science classrooms in the form of ID/Creationism – “defenders of science” like Dawkins and PZ supposedly demonstrate how they actually don’t care about scientific education. This is as ridiculous as is claiming that, say, because an environmentalist chooses to specifically try and save crocodilians or whatever, that he/she therefore doesn’t care about the rest of the ecosystem. Or that because a chef chooses to specialize in pastries, he’d be perfectly fine with the rest of the staff serving pig slop to their customers.

People (not specifically “atheists”, which is nothing more than yet another mindless overgeneralization from cretins like Vox Day) like professors Dawkins and Myers choose to specialize their offensives (and defenses) against the ID/Creationist crowd because that’s the group of scientifically illiterate and religiously fueled cranks and loons that they’re the best at dealing with. It’s called “specialization”; being concerned about a general issue – the state of scientific education, environmentalism, culinary arts, etc. – doesn’t mean one has to focus their energies equally across the entire field. That Vox apparently doesn’t understand this indicates, not Dawkins or PZ’s supposed indifference, but Vox’s own profound lack of sense.

That’s pretty much all for that first bit of silliness. However, in the post directly succeeding the one above, comes this quote that literally had me make a double-take:

Obama won't prove to be the worst president ever, as Wilson and Lincoln almost surely have first and second positions locked down, but he is definitely one of the most comedic.

Okay. I can understand Vox spouting nonsense about science and a whole variety of things he’s demonstrably ignorant of; that much is a given. But to actually claim that President Lincoln – Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln, the revolutionary leader who saved the country during the Civil War, ended slavery, created some of history’s most iconic speeches and is generally viewed by modern scholars to be the greatest President in American history – is one of the worst presidents ever?

I’m willing to give him a chance and concede that he may have made a mistake, a typo; something. But if such is not the case … then I’m not sure whether this speaks more of profound ignorance or complete insanity.

Daily Blend: March 28, 2010

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Daily Blend

On today’s schedule: scouring the flea market for A) a fedora and B) a used GameCube console (just to play Twilight Princess!), visiting my grandparents and their countless pets, going to the restaurant with my mother, then going to the movies for How To Train Your Dragon, which looks cute. A good day so far.

  • This kid has a bright future, methinks.
    (via @ebertchicago)

  • As long as this guy lives, harmonica music will never die.
    (via @ebertchicago)

  • Great. One of the only times that President Obama actually shows some backbone in the face of opposition, it’s against Russia on a nuclear arms treaty, instead of the GOP noise machine. (Not that I’m saying that standing up to the Russians is a bad thing; it’s just too bad he doesn’t do it more often against domestic opponents, as well.)
    (via @todayspolitics)

  • Cops and court judge it okay to repeatedly tase a pregnant woman for the crime of … refusing to leave her vehicle with her kids inside.
    (via @todayspolitics)

  • Scott Brown propagates false rumors about Rachel Maddow on Twitter. An appropriate caricature of this would be a grave with a tombstone reading “RIP Scott Brown” with a bloody-fanged Maddow leering overhead.

  • The era of Jack Bauer is over: the current eighth season of 24 will be its last. As much a devoted fan as I may be, one cannot deny the series has gotten sadly formulaic for the past few seasons. You can only have so many moles and bomb threats and defections and twists and CTU being taken down by terrorists before it all starts to feel like déjà-vu. However, it may not be over yet; NBC has previously expressed interest in acquiring the rights to 24 should Fox pull the plug, and in addition, there is news that a 24 film franchise may be in the works, which could definitely be interesting. (Hey, James Bond films ran for nearly four decades on the same tried-and-true formula, after all, so why can’t Jack Bauer?)

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Catholic Church is Satan’s playground

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Pat Condell makes the argument that not only would Satan be a Catholic were he real, but he would reside in – and preside over – the Catholic Church.

At first, I thought he may had gone a little too far in claiming that the Catholic Church was directly or indirectly responsible for the Holocaust, but hearing his arguments and the evidence he brings up makes for an all-the-more compelling – and damning – point. And the Church giving Nazis free passes to safety during and after the war, in addition to its failure to excommunicate even one of those monsters, just speaks volumes about its complete lack of morality. Truly a despicable organization that just keeps sinking lower and lower.

Daily Blend: Saturday, March 27, 2010

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Daily Blend

There is no spoon. It’s all a liiieee … (by those evil commie lib’rul self-appointed scientific elitists, no doubt).

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our not-too-distant future?

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I found this over at Bad Astronomy, and though I perhaps wasn’t quite as moved as Phil Plait says he was, I have to admit that this is one remarkably striking image in a great variety of ways.

“Grandma” by Chase-SC2 on deviantArt – grandmother and infant grandson staring out spacecraft window onto Earth
Grandma” by Chase-SC2 from deviantArt [click for full size]

To put it simply: beautiful.

(via Bad Astronomy)

A possible Cameron-vs.-Beck debate?

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I’ve just received a suggestion from Mike Razim at Newsy.com that I post their video analyzing the possible forming feud between James Cameron and Glenn Beck, following the former’s well-placed vitriol against the latter. It’s an interesting watch, so here you go.

So, in short: James Cameron is intelligent, savvy, mildly pompous and would crush Beck in a debate, should Beck both grow the balls to accept a face-off with Cameron and choose to give him time to speak uncensored; the Young Turks got it right; Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld is, again, a moron with some horribly lame cartoons; and Glenn Beck is a petty little moron who seems to think that losing to his ex-wife at the Academy Awards somehow renders Cameron jealous or something.

Same ol’, same ol’.

The only fairies here are the ones in their brains

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Fairies
Wee, look at the pretty little fairies!

Just an amusing story to quote:

A BUILDER was forced to design a luxury estate around a rock – because locals said fairies lived under it.

Work on the multi-million pound development ground to a halt when villagers complained that the fairies would be “upset”.

Marcus Salter, of Genesis Properties, estimates the colony of fairies believed to be under the rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000.

He said he first noticed possible problems when his diggers moved on to the site outside the village.

He said: “A neighbour came over shouting, ‘Don’t move that rock. You’ll kill the fairies.’ Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn’t go down very well.”

The bemused builder then went to a meeting with the community council, where chairman Jeannie Fox told him: “I do believe in fairies but I can’t be sure that they live under that rock.

“There are a lot of superstitions going about up here and people do believe things like standing stones and large rocks should never be moved.”

The new development now centres on a small park with the “fairy” rock in the middle.

The Planning Inspectorate have no guidelines on fairies but a spokesman said: “Local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when applying for planning permission.”

Oh, crazy people.

(via The Daily Grail)

Daily Blend: Friday, March 26, 2010

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Daily Blend

Question: if a fly is hovering around inside a car that is speeding down a road, will it crash into the windshield if the car comes to a sudden halt? Answer: it will when I smack it.

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Bullies: they’re all the same

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All bark, no bite.

‘Garfield’ strip: Garfield tells a barking dog he’s “not so tough”; dog retreats and cries in shame; Garfield apologizes, “Oookaaayy, you’re tough”

Not sure they’re all sissies, though, but hey, why not?

Friday Canine: It gets so lonely up here …

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Could America be on the verge of a civil war?

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Conservative extremist threats and violence
Conservative extremist threats and violence [click for full size] [Source: Daily Kos]

Or whatever you call it when a renegade faction of ideological lunatics decides it’s time to open fire on the rest? Because the Far Right seems hell-bent on stirring up some serious shit in America, according to this article over at Daily Kos:

FW: fw: fw: Lock 'n Load

MY FRIENDS,

The time has come to take action into our own hands! The washington democrats no longer represent the people of America and its time we take action to stop these socialists before they ruin this great nation. Obamacare took this to the next level, as now we are no longer dealing with just socialists, but murderers. Under these new laws, the unborn will be slaughtered by the thousands, the elderly will be killed based on their "perceived" value to society. THIS MUST STOP

So what can we do, they took away our voice, they took away our rights. But we still have force. We are angry and we can fight. Keep your arms hidden, and keep many of them. If you don't have any, buy while you still can. We will hit them where it hurts and we will do it together. They cannot stop a network of us when we fight as one, so be prepared.

We fight back in the name of Gods children and all others who will suffer due to our dictators demands. Those lives are worth the same as the arrogant men and women who sit in our capital, and we are prepared to prove it.

There have been some great stories about bricks being thrown, calls being made, and gas lines being cut. Good. We should keep it up, pay a visit to any Dems in your area who voted for it. Use this email as a thread to exchange their personal contact information so we can keep getting to them. They can't stop us, and they have waged a war they will not win.

If they won't listen to us, we will make them listen. Damn it, this is our country, and I would sooner die than see it continue to fall at the hands of these murderers. Whose with me? Who will stand with me, and be prepared to fight when the time comes? Lock 'n load my friends, we're taking our country back, one dirtbag at a time if we have to.

God bless

Remember that time when Homeland Security released a memo warning of "right wing extremism" and everyone freaked out and yelled about how ridiculous it was?....

Weiner vs. O’Reilly

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It’s a clash of the hard-headed titans – except that one of them is correct and the other is, as usual, not. See if you can tell which? Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) faces Bill O’Reilly and shows Bill-O how he’s one man who won’t be intimidated so easily.

(via @todayspolitics)

And now I love him even more

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James Cameron
I like how your mind works

As if the facts that he’s a master movie-maker who’s behind some of of the best (and some of my favorite) films of all time (Aliens, Terminator, Titanic, Avatar, etc.), a complete science geek, a fearlessly rational individual and an obsessive perfectionist weren’t enough, James Cameron’s recent well-placed vitriol against the likes of Glenn Beck and climate change denialists pretty much mean I have to love the guy. But, as PZ just pointed out, add the fact that he’s also a celebrity atheist who has this to say on the matter:

And he's an atheist, who decided agnosticism was "cowardly atheism." When the other kids read the Lord's Prayer in school, Cameron decided it was a "tribal chant" and decided not to do it." - Source

The complete quote from his biography "The Futurist" by Rebecca Meegan (Chapter 1 Page 8 Hardcover edition) says: "I've sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism. I've come to the position that in the complete absence of any supporting data whatsover for the persistence of the individual in some spiritual form, it is necessary to operate under the provisional conclusion that there is no afterlife and then be ready to amend that if I find out otherwise."

… and I may as well just marry him.

(via Pharyngula)

Daily Blend: Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Daily Blend

Should be going hat shopping today. Also: anyone know where the ruddy hell to find a decent selection of hats? Even WalMart disappointed me, and I figure if WalMart fails to provide something, it bodes badly.

And now … links, links and moar links!

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Must be a dog in a parrot’s disguise

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Let it never be said that parrots are stupid. This is just amazing:

World record parrot tricks. Senegal Parrot performs 20 parrot tricks in just 2 minutes:

1. Wave
2. Nod
3. Turn Around
4. Target
5. Wings
6. Shake
7. Hello
8. Climb Rope
9. Coin Drawer
10. Piggy Bank
11. Flip Card
12. Bowl
13. Play Dead
14. Slinky
15. Fetch
16. Somersault
17. Basketball
18. Bat
19. Slide
20. Ring on Peg

#13 (at the 1:00 mark) is what got me the most. Awesome stuff, and a major pat on the back for kiliparrot – the amount of training and dedication needed to teach a parrot to pull all this off has to be incredible.

(via my godfather)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

R-E-A-D A B-O-O-KAY

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My musical tastes are a right mystery sometimes. For example: I hate rap. I especially hate violent or filthy rap. I hate all loud noise that passes for music, period. So, why in the hell does this one make me laugh so much?

I was pointed to this vid by a friend once, but forgot about it since. Having just remembered it, I’m now spreading the plague onto you – in the slim chance that you haven’t also heard it by now.

This just in: most Republicans are fucking nuts

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Republicans

If you thought that the conservative winguts’ faux outrage over socialism and Hitler-Obama and whatnot would lesson with the end of the healthcare reform debate … well, these recent numbers should set you straight:

  • 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
  • 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
  • 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president"
  • 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did"
  • Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."

As if it wasn’t chilling enough, these numbers are actually worse than a previous in-depth poll, conducted just a month or two ago. Which raises the question: are there any sane self-identified Republicans left?

(via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

Et tu, Discovery?

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Discovery Channel logo

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that Discovery Channel stood for something: a diehard, fearless and absolutely tireless promotion of science, critical thought, research, advancement, and perhaps most of all, a sense of wonder at our world and all the crazy, dangerous and downright amazing things in it. You could always count on Discovery to be an immutable voice for reason and skepticism, and so far, I’ve seen little, if anything, to contradict this notion.

Until this.

Oh yes: After trying unsuccessfully to sell to the broadcast networks a travelogue series about Alaska that would feature none other than SARAH PALIN, reality-TV king Mark Burnett appears to be in negotiations with Discovery Communications about placing the Palin "reality series" there.

Discovery is expected to announce soon that it's getting into bed with the former Alaska governor for this limited-run series.

Evidently, Palin will serve as sort of modern-day Sacagawea. She'll guide viewers around Alaska to meet the "characters, tradition and attractions in the 49th state," trade paper Variety reported Tuesday -- almost as if it had its hands on the news release.

Oh, dear God … it’s finally happened. Discovery’s gone the way of the History Channel[1]. The angel has gone to bed with the devil – and now, we are about to receive news of the birth of the next demonic plague, in the form of a Sarah Palin reality TV show.

Okay, okay, taking a step back from the hyperbole for a minute: all we know so far as that they’re planning to air a travelogue, not an actual TV series focusing on the failed politician-slash-attention whore, herself. In fact, this excerpt is downright reassuring:

The broadcast networks appear to have passed because the show is not called "The Palins," and it is not about Palin, her unwed daughter Bristol and baby Tripp, her potshot-taking nearly son-in-law Levi, her hot-looking husband Todd, and her baby with Down syndrome whom we all fell in love with during the 2008 presidential race, Trig.

At least we won’t have her family inflicted upon us as well. (Or so they want us to believe for now, anyway.) If this really is just a simple travelogue and will be kept devoid of any and all of Palin’s wingnuttery, then I have nothing against it. I don’t know how much Palin actually knows about her country; hopefully, her truly abysmal knowledge of the country’s politics won’t be an indication of whether or not she can actually guide one around Alaska competently.

Please, Discovery, don’t mess this up. I don’t want to have to burn my shrine to the best TV channel still airing.

(via @washingtonpost)

[1] The History Channel is known for having fallen into the pits of mysticism and pseudoscience these days. Not that it doesn’t still have plenty of great shows, or that it’s no longer a source of great historical movies now and then, but it’s still sad to watch it slip under the fetid tides of psychics, ghost hunters, Nostradamus and assorted nonsense.

Daily Blend: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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Daily Blend

If only this number of links could be the norm. Wowza.

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.

Random thoughts on life and meaning

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Random

Before I head off to bed, I wish to share this remarkable speech of sorts from a friend of mine who is wise beyond his years:

Life is a giant ocean; we are forever swimming in it.
When storms come, tides rise, threatening to drown us with huge swells.
After the storms pass, everything is calm again and life is just fine.
Nothing stays fucked up forever.
So in the perpetual making of life:
We are faced by storms, and we are faced by pacified seas in a pattern of trials.
Those who survive feel fractured, but they are stronger when they know the meaning behind certain trials.
Whoever was a kid and asked parents for advice, but ignored the advice knows what I mean.
They have been on the sea and can predict its movements;
But we young of love and passion, we cannot see the horrors and storms until they threaten to wreck us.
I don’t know what to say, but I feel I should say this:
If life were easy, it would have no point; if life were hard, it would have no point.
We have fortune and failure, chance and disaster. This is the purpose;
And perhaps the ultimate purpose of life and all of mankind is to know ourselves.

I know it’s a little uncharacteristic for this blog – okay, it’s about as characteristic to this blog as Creationism is to Pharyngula – but then, if it’s interesting and thought-provoking to me, I assume it shall be for others as well, which makes it worth posting. This is pretty much exactly what I believe in; life is but a series of waves coming at you, followed by moments (of varying length) of respite. All you can do is lower your head and brace for the waves and let them wash and break over you, then lift your head up once it’s passed.

Ebert on the passage of ObamaCare

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Protester sign: “NO to Obamacare!”
You tried, you failed, we laugh

The Guardian asked Roger Ebert about his thoughts on the passage of healthcare reform – ie. “ObamaCare”, as opponents love to dub it. As usual, you can count on the man for some concise yet deadly accurate thoughts on the matter:

If Obama's election night was a rising up of America's better nature, his triumph in healthcare reform was a victory after years of Republican obstructionism. Ours is an essentially good-hearted nation, but so deeply divided that wedge issues can decide a campaign outcome. When I've blogged in favour of universal healthcare, I've been stunned not so much by the vitriol of comments against it, but by the ignorance. The same lies and wild rumours, gleaned from far-right sites, are repeated mindlessly.

I spent months between 2006 and 2009 in hospitals receiving treatment for cancer of the mandible. I had four scheduled surgeries, several emergency surgeries, and went through four physical rehabilitations after tissue was moved here and there on my poor harvested frame. I received excellent care. I had good employer health insurance. Otherwise we would have been wiped out. None but the very rich can afford to get seriously ill in America and hope to pay for it themselves.

Yet opponents of reform were selfish: why should they pay for those too stupid, lazy, etc, to provide for themselves? They feared government would control healthcare. What did they think insurance companies were doing? The day of the vote was surrealistic, exposing the unwholesome underpinnings of the anti-Obama Tea Party movement. Forming a gauntlet for congressmen to run, demonstrators shouted the n-word and spat at black congressmen. I doubt Sarah Palin will choose to speak at their next convention.

Now Republicans face the destruction of their party over their stonewalling against reform. Bush's speechwriter David Frum blogged: "It's hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. We followed the most radical voices in the party, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat. "

Those radical voices coined the term "Obamacare." So it will long be known.

“ObamaCare”. Now that the cranks have coined this word in representation of all of their petty grievances, it’s with utmost vindictive pleasure that I shall use it from now on.

Remember: healthcare reform is ObamaCare. Spread the word.

(via @ebertchicago)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is Islam a hate crime?

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Let it be clear: we CAN and SHOULD criticize Islam, as with any other mind-rot that can lead to barbaric societal retardation, and sure as hell WILL.

This video – by the great Thunderf00t (who else?) – is in response to a video by another great YT atheist/skeptic icon, ZOMGitsChriss, that was taken down mere hours after originally being uploaded simply because of a single and incredibly trivial passing remark: “if the Big Bang and evolution are in the Koran, as many Muslims state, then why weren't these discoveries made by Muslims 1400 years ago!”. This was apparently enough to trigger the self-righteous anger of little pearl-clutching pissants, who took it upon themselves to notify YouTube that the vid was against their Terms of Use, which is complete bullshit. And, of course, being the careless corporation that they are, YT simply shitcanned the video without a thought. This is a far-too-common phenomenon these days, and one that YouTube shows no interest in fixing anytime soon.

Chances are reasonably good that this (Thunderf00t’s) video will also go down before long, so he took the step of uploading it to MediaFire. Watch it while you can, and should the worst (and expected) happen, download it for yourself and share it around.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Best. Republican. Smackdown. EVAR.

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Caricature: conservative lemmings running off a cliff
This is your present and future, conservatives. Take note

This is the kind of thing political bloggers like I live for: over at his Talking Points Memo blog, AmericanDad has published an “open letter to conservatives” that is easily the single most complete, well-sourced and irrefutable chronicling of all (or the vast majority) of the many problems festering in the Republican Party and its supporters. It opens thusly:

Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party -- the GOP -- and the conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irrepsonsible and irrational. Worse, it's tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some expamples -- by no means an exhaustive list -- of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.

There’s no way I can quote the whole thing, both due to its sheer length and because having to insert that many source links would give me insta-carpal tunnel, so just head on over – yeah, right now – and read the whole thing. It’s a true exercise in ass-kicking prowess that shouldn’t be missed by anyone, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations.

(via @todayspolitics)

Daily Blend: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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Daily Blend

I just purchased a nifty little Scarlet ‘A’ of Atheism lapel pin and shall attach it to my fedora – once I get one of those, too – which I shall then proudly wear everywhere I go. Tragically hip? I’m godlessly hip. (Or will be. Ha.)

As always, if you have any story suggestions, feel free to send them in.