Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest post: On the Indian caste system and Dalits

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This is a guest post by my friend Gene Burmington. Obligatory disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in the guest post are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect my own. [Minor spelling edits.]


Indian Dalit children
Indian Dalit children
[via The My Hero Project | click for full size]

Mahatma Gandhi was a man who could move mountains and mobilize a country for peaceful anarchy, but even he could not move the stone of the Caste system in India.

To be more specific, the caste system was loosely comparable to Feudalism in Europe, in that everyone was born into a specific role in the system whether they liked it or not.

The caste system is heavily tied to Hinduism and reincarnation, in that people are reincarnated into higher or lower life forms depending on their deeds and conduct in their previous life.

With regard to this, Dalits are considered the people who were either upgraded from a dog or pig, or seriously fucked up in their life as a member higher in the infrastructure.

In either case, Dalits are considered to have so much sin and bad vibes around them (that's karma, baby) that nobody wants to touch or associate with them for fear of being polluted by whatever has been stuck to them in their previous life on the wheel of reincarnation.

If it ended at that, things would be fine.

However, everyone in India has to be a huge bullying douche and do to Dalits what the rest of us grade school assholes outgrew.

Persecution, inequality, and even things as simple as "no dalits allowed" or "no dalit bathrooms". Basically, Hindus took a simple idea of untouchable and turned it into a full blown case of hypocrisy called "your the funny smelling retarded kid in class, so I'm going to bother you".

Funny retarded kid in class being the Dalit at India high. Brahmins are the teachers and principle in the school, the Kshatriyas are the popular kids and jocks, the Vaishas are the people into Pokémon or Yugioh, the Shudras are the nerds, and the Dalits are everyone else who isn't good enough to fit in and get their lockers filled with carcasses, spit on, punched, and harassed.

Now after reading this, you tell me if you want to be that unpopular group of kids that nobody likes-especially when the teachers and principals could care less about what happens to you.

Of course, don't forget school shootings.

One Dalit gets pissed off and goes to school trying to join a different group or better himself in life, the next day everyone freaks the fuck out and packs guns to cap every Dalit they can find.

Congratulations for mixing grade school immaturity with adult violence, India.

Daily Blend: Monday, May 31, 2010

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Depiction of known anthropogenic space-junk (not to scale)
Depiction of known anthropogenic space-junk (not to scale)

The more I think about it, the more I realize that throughout history, the whole of humanity has shown itself to be a diluted and toned-down version of what the modern far-Right has become: amongst other things, always willing to do whatever it takes to get what we want at the expense of the world and people around us. Sad and haunting.

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Former father of DADT now wants policy repealed

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Military poster: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Military poster: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

How’s this for an indication to how much things have changed in less than two decades? General Colin Powell, who was one of the original architects of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and argued in 1993 that repealing it would negatively effect the military’s “cohesion and well-being”, has now come out on Fox News (of all places) saying that “things have changed” and that it would now be best if DADT were thrown out.

"Things have changed. That was 17 years ago," Powell said when asked about his past support for the ban during an appearance on ABC's "This Week." Powell said that he is "personally of the view now that attitudes have changed," adding that it's "perfectly acceptable" to repeal the law so long as the voices of the men and women in charge of executing the policy are heard in the process.

Part of me wonders if Gen. Powell only opposed repealing DADT as he did in ’93 because of popular perception, as opposed to it being his actual conviction that DADT is morally sound? Of course, the vice-versa can also be asked: is it possible that he’s only arguing against it now because of the growing pro-gay, anti-discrimination sentiment? Only he knows. And frankly, it’s irrelevant. The more opposition DADT has, the better. With the recent Senate panel and House votes giving the Pentagon the power to dismiss the policy at their discretion (as far as I know), that infamous legalization of systematic anti-gay discrimination in the US Military is clearly on its last legs. Something we can all cheer for.

A valedictorian’s speech to school-prayer-enabling students

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Separation of Church and State
Separation of Church and State

Last March, Greenwood High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to put the possibility of a school-sponsored graduation prayer up to student vote. Because these days, you can just vote away the legality of an issue, apparently. Thankfully, the school’s valedictorian, 18-year-old Erik Workman, sued to stop this blatant violation of the Establishment Clause and succeeded in getting the nincompoop administrators to drop the endorsement. Instead, they chose to let the students include mentions of God and religiousness in their own speeches, which would then not be screened in a sneaky yet legal attempt to circumvent any Separation of Church and State issues.

During his valedictory address, Workman decided to talk about – naturally – the importance of upholding the Establishment Clause and his fight to do so at Greenwood High in opposition to the legally-deficient administrators’ actions. Hemant Mehta got a copy of Workman’s speech transcript, part of which I am reposting here. You seriously gotta admire the volume and mass of this guy’s ballz.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” I have never fallen short of President Jefferson’s credo in this respect, as I am sure you are aware. You may not agree with my decision to fight for civil liberties, but I expect you to respectfully listen while I elucidate. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This implies that no entity, agent, or facet (however subsidiary) of the government is to ever endorse, promote, or encourage any form of religion or religious doctrine. This, as you may or may not know, includes school-sponsored prayer.

In September of last year, our remarkably doltish administration called upon us all to vote in deciding whether or not we wanted the Constitution of the United States to be flagrantly violated. Understanding the law and knowing right from wrong, I vehemently opposed such an atrocious act from ever taking place. However, my one voice and the voices of others were shouted-down by most of you. Our rights and the law were disregarded. You see, subjecting government-endorsed prayer to a majority rule is, in and of itself, unconstitutional, let alone the government approbation of said prayer. […] Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in [most] cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate [them] would be oppression.”

Little Hitler was such a rascal

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Clever and funny.

Do videogames cause violence in children?

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Global Sun-Mail: “We report, You believe”
Global Sun-Mail
We report, You believe

Mr. Weaselnort was a journalist. Working for the Global Sun-Mail, he was assigned on this beautiful day to investigate a decidedly unbecoming topic: that of a school shooting, the news of which had erupted across the airwaves only half-an-hour previously. A dozen students dead, over thirty injured. Horrible, just ghastly. And Mr. Weaselnort, despite the grimness of the subject, was not unexcited at the prospect of being the first to print a report on the story.

Mr. Weaselnort quickly drove to the the shooter’s home address, being charged with covering the violent student’s background and home conditions for that “human”, “personal” aspect that sold so well. He verified the address and got out of his crappy little car, examining the house before him. It was a run-down building that looked like an upgraded shack: small, grimy, undesirable.

He strode up the dry, yellowing lawn and cleared his throat, fixing up his cheap tie and suit, before knocking. A few moments later, the door opened to reveal a large, burly man with a beer bottle held loosely in his hand.

‘Hell do you want?’ he growled, his speech slurred.

‘I’m a reporter for the Global Sun-Mail, I’m investigating about your son –’

SLAM. Mr. Weaselnort jumped back as the door shut in his face.

That was fast.

Let down but undeterred, Mr. Weaselnort knew there were other ways to glean good information about his subjects, drawing from years of experience working with other news sources named Globe, Sun and Mail. He went around the house, slinking along the wall to remain stealthy, until he came across a window. Peering through the grimy glass, he saw that he was staring into a bathroom. There were numerous items on the counter that, upon closer inspection, appeared to be syringes and spilled pill bottles. Little of it looked legal to Mr. Weaselnort’s expert eyes.

He moved onto the next window and carefully peered inside. It was a bedroom, apparently the parents’. In the bedside table, he could see a picture of a woman, looking emaciated and downtrodden with red eyes and thinning hair, in orange prison garbs.

Fear the dark? There’s a switch for that

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Damn those inconvenient volleyballs!

Pretty cool.

(via Wolfblade’s journal)

Daily Blend: Sunday, May 30, 2010

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Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper
(1936—2010)

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Yeah, that’s just those pesky spy satellites. Just don’t look ’em in the eye or you’ll be acting suspiciously, see.

  • On the interesting origins and history of the peace symbol.
    (via @todayspolitics)

  • Despite the typical Republican opposition (and their two nearly-successful and sleazy-ass attempts at killing it), the COMPETES scientific research and education funding bill has cleared the House of Representatives, 262-150.
    (via Bad Astronomy)

  • On the one hand, I’m principally against any attempts at censoring hate-speech. On the other hand, loathsome conservative radio host Michael Berry of Texas’s KPRC 950 AM actually argued on the air that he hopes the proposed mosque in New York City in the vicinity of Ground Zero would be “blown up”. Relatedly: will everyone stop your mindless bitching about that stupid mosque? Who gives a flying crap where it’s built? It’s a place of worship, not a Taliban training camp. It was proposed there because the lot was convenient, not as a perceived insult. Get over it already.
    (via @todayspolitics)

  • Thanks for the advice, but don’t need it.

  • Pop quiz, hotshot: who’s the next great actor to meet his demise? Sadly, that’s Dennis Hopper [pictured] from prostate cancer, yesterday the 29th. Here’s a fitting eulogy from Roger Ebert, and here’s a photo gallery in memoriam from the Washington Post.

  • Roger Ebert’s new journal entry on how the Internet is rewiring our brains and society. Personally, I see this as a good thing: increasing interconnectivity and global relations on an entirely unprecedented scale. Unification.
    (via @ebertchicago)

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some children are born to create drama

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Now, now, is this really the sort of behavior we need to be encouraging?

Damn those kids! Evil little geniuses, they are.

(via @ebertchicago)

Bill Maher on the Republican anti-reality bubble

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It’s always so amusing, often in a schadenfreude sort of way, how so many believe they can expect any real level of privacy in this age and almost invariably end up the victim of public shame and ridicule when they do something stupid or dishonest and then find themselves the center of attention over at YouTube or the blogosphere (amongst many other places). Face it: this day, privacy in public is fast going of the way it went in Minority Report, so anyone who truly expects that they can lie, distort and bullshit without it being thrown back in their face, plus plenty of interest, is either naive or a moron. Watch here as Bill Maher hammers this point in quite well:

The full transcript, below:

MAHER: […] Jesus once said that there was nothing hidden that would not some day be revealed, but if he was alive today and walked on water, it would instantly be on YouTube between a skateboard accident and a turtle biting a baby’s ass. And the first comment would be “fag”. Even when you’re just at Wal-Mart in your pajamas buying condoms, someone is taking a picture of it and putting it on a website called People at Wal-Mart Buying Condoms in Their Pajamas. And Fergie, Fergie, Fergie – whenever you’re doing something shady in a hotel room, of course someone is filming it. Also be aware that, without makeup, you don’t look anything like you do in the Black Eyed Peas.

And politically, it’s even more ridiculous to think you can get away with a lie. Richard Blumenthal, running for the Senate, saying he was in Vietnam when he wasn’t? This isn’t camp, where you can tell a lie and no-one will know back home. The Army keeps records! Or John McCain saying ‘I never considered myself a maverick’, which, of course, prompted an avalanche of video, emails, letters, and probably telegrams, of McCain bragging that he was a maverick. There’s video of everything, so to think you can get away with making a speech and just pulling stuff out of your ass, you’d have to be an egomaniac, a sociopath, or a world-class moron. Which brings me to Sarah Palin.

Last week, Sarah said she knows what the Gulf states are going through because, quote, ‘I lived and worked through that Exxon Valdez oil spill’. Oh, please – she was 25, living in another part of the state that didn’t see any oil. She “lived and worked through Exxon Valdez” the same way Christie Brinkley lived and worked through the Iranian hostage crisis. But she got away with it because she lied in the one place where it’s still perfectly acceptable to lie: inside the Republican bubble. It’s where facts don’t matter, because no-one ever hears from that other side, inconveniently called “reality”. 24 days into the oil spill, Fox News’ Brit Hume said, ‘Where’s the oil? You don’t see it on the shore.’ Like it’s a hoax by pelicans to get free baths.

Within that bubble, people think they can get away with anything – hiking the Appalachian trail? Getting your gay hooker from Rentboy.com? But they can’t; no-one can anymore. If you don’t believe me, text Tiger Woods and ask him.

And, speaking of hound dogs – just to show it’s not all Republicans – our old friend John Edwards is looking for a plea deal this month, because he said he didn’t have sex with that woman – and then they found video of him going down on her when she was six months pregnant. Senator, there’s got to be a simpler way to hide your face from the camera. Don’t you have a hat?

(via @todayspolitics)

Slaughter of the apostrophes

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And they wonder why no-one takes them seriously. Any God of mine wouldn’t let dolts who can’t use apostrophes correctly preach in his (and his sonny-boy’s) name.

Yup, I think that just about covers everyone who ever lived. And probably ever will.

(via @ebertchicago)

Daily Blend: Saturday, May 29, 2010

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Daily Blend

It’s early, I’m tired, and here be your links, yarr.

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

FAIL Quote of the Day: Vox Day lies, distorts about science and morality

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The Stupid, It Burns
I wonder if that’s Vox …?

Considering how Vox Day constantly accuses atheists, particularly prominent ones such as Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers, of using illogic in their arguments and philosophical discussions, he certainly is quick to pile on the nonsense, himself. In a post where he once again criticizes PZ’s excellent “Courtier’s Reply”, he goes on at length about how all that frilly theology is supposedly very important to any discussion about the veracity and credibility of religion, specifically Christianity, when this is obviously and completely absurd. I don’t care which saints did what or which scholars debated which topics and came to which conclusions – if you can’t give me any real and solid reason(s) to believe in your chosen deity, your argument invariably fails, and that’s the end of it. The existence of God or gods is at the very most basic core of any religion, Christianity included, so if this foundation is, in itself, bullshit, then it follows that anything else built on it is tantamount to a house of cards, and shall topple accordingly, regardless of its apparent sophistication or perceived historical value.

But deeper into his post, we arrive this amusing bit of twaddle:

The thing that is so ridiculous about latter day atheists like PZ is that they are not only theologically ignorant, but they know next to nothing about secular philosophy either. Intelligent atheists have known for decades that science can never provide the replacement for religion that fantasists like PZ and Sam Harris believe it can for the simple reason that science does not and cannot dictate values. This is why a strong dedication to rational science, with or without the additional complication of atheism, so readily produces monstrous leaders like Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin in such short order, monsters of the sort that were so few and far between in the centuries prior to the Enlightenment.

Oh, goodie, where to even start? Let’s jump into the most obvious distortion, the part where he outright lies (or, perhaps, simply speaks out of his ass) in claiming that science-oriented atheists – such as PZ, specifically – believe that science can be used to define morality and values. In fact, PZ has often and explicitly stated the exact opposite: science can not be used to tell us what ought to be and can only be used to tell us what is. An example he uses is that science can only tell us that, indeed, the Bible does say the things it says. But science cannot tell us whether its teachings, values and beliefs are preferable over any other in a conventional moral sense.

Daily Blend: Friday, May 28, 2010

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Daily Blend

She’s Ron’s sister
But she’s ditched Dean!
She’s still Ron’s sister.
I’m his best mate!
That’ll make it worse.
If I talked to him first--
He’d hit you.
What if I don’t care?
He’s your best mate!
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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

American Association of Pediatrics revokes compromise on female genital mutilation

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Equality
Equality

It’s always such a good breath of fresh air to see reason and sanity triumph over the darkness that archaic mindsets would like to throw us back into. Earlier this month, the American Association Academy of Pediatrics actually suggested a compromise for female genital mutilation (FGM, or clitoredectomy), saying that doctors giving in to retarded cultures could just perform a “ritual nick” on girls’ genitals as opposed to slicing the clitoris off outright. Naturally, this received its just reaction: one of widespread outrage. I don’t care what your culture, beliefs or religion may dictate; you don’t have the right to bring a knife to innocent little girls’ genitals. (Or boys’, for that matter, but that’s another – and admittedly, rather less grave – matter.)

Well, perhaps realizing that there was no way to get out of this one in a good public light (perhaps not to mention that whole “ethics of slicing up girls’ genitals” bit), the AAP has issued a revised statement expressly condemning their own previous compromise on FGM:

(CNN) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics has rescinded a controversial policy statement raising the idea that doctors in some communities should be able to substitute demands for female genital cutting with a harmless clitoral "pricking" procedure.

"We retracted the policy because it is important that the world health community understands the AAP is totally opposed to all forms of female genital cutting, both here in the U.S. and anywhere else in the world," said AAP President Judith S. Palfrey.

The contentious policy statement, issued in April, had condemned the practice of female genital cutting overall. But a small portion of statement suggesting the pricking procedure riled U.S. advocacy groups and survivors of female genital cutting.

Of course, they shouldn’t have even made such an unspeakable compromise to begin with. But it is nice that they’re trying to fix their screw-up, if only in response to public pressure. As a civilized society, we have no business kowtowing to the horrible and downright retarded demands of some cultures who wish to oppress women to the point where they are no longer able to even enjoy sex or have children, amongst other things. The only possibly right answer in the event of such demands is a very, very firm “NO (and fuck you for even asking)”. End of story.

(via Pharyngula)

Friday Canine: But mom, I’m *telling* you …!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A baby’s wonder, everyone else’s smile

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Yes, it’s heartstring-pulling sappy like you wouldn’t believe. On the other hand, if this doesn’t make you smile, you either have poor viewing comprehension or very little heart.

Yet more proof that what the world needs isn’t more churches – it’s more medical and scientific research. (Or museum, if you really must be pedantic and require a direct scientific equivalent to a religious house of worship.)

(via The Agitator)

BREAKING: Senate panel votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Hopefully, not for much longer

Friends, it’s a success – just maybe! The Senate Armed Forces committee has just voted 16-12 to give the Pentagon the power to strike down that wretched discrimination-legalizing policy that’s caused so much grief and destroyed so many careers (and lives). Indeed, for the first time since the Clinton years, it would seem that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the rule stating that gays must do all they can to hide their true sexual orientation from others lest they be dishonored and thrown out like filthy mutts, may very well be on its last legs.

Naturally, though, you can’t have a shining chance at liberty and equality without the usual suspects trying to oppose it:

But key Republicans adamantly oppose the move, and are willing to take extraordinary measures to prevent the repeal from going through.

"I'll do everything in my power [to stop the repeal]," said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who serves as ranking member on the Armed Services Committee yesterday.

McCain was echoed by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who made his promise to obstruct explicit: "If it is adopted, I will not sign the conference report, and there will be an attempt to filibuster the bill on the floor," Wicker said.

Oh, go fuck yourselves, you spineless, bigoted, lobbyist-sucking asshats. (Sorry for the bile – well, not really – but after months and years of the same tedious and nonsensical bullshit, I just don’t have the patience anymore to restrain myself from expressing my true thoughts about just where they can shove their unscrupulous opposition to the removal of systematic discrimination.)

Thankfully, though, even the characteristically douchey Republicans don’t stand much of a chance if they keep up their hardlined martyr pose, here. Even the very highest military officials, from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, in addition to the White House and all Democrats but one, are vying for the passage of this repeal. It’s going to happen, and the bigoted idiots who stand in its way are just going to be crushed.

The vote might even happen sooner than expected, according to Metro Weekly’s senior political writer Chris Geidner:

BREAKING Multiple sources now reporting that House #DADT amendment vote is likely tonight, within hours.

We may be just hours away from the real chance at finally allowing all people to serve their country with pride, honor and dignity, regardless of their intrinsic and irrelevant sexual orientation.

Come on, Democrats, please don’t fuck this one up.

(via @todayspolitics)


UPDATE: (05/28/10 1:08 AM) – The House has passed the amended bill, 234-194.

(via The Daily Dish)

Matt Drudge’s overt racism

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You know, the way people (typically liberals) keep accusing the modern radical conservative movement of being fueled by racism (and not without reason), you’d think conservatives would do what they could to try and lessen such an impression.

Apparently, not always.

Drudge Report front page screenshot: pic of Obama’s hands with title: “'Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?'”

Seriously, this just speaks for itself.

Oh, and: Matt Drudge, you are a bigoted asshole and a typical piece of rotten conservatard filth. Nothing more or less.

(via @ebertchicago)

7 × 13 = 28

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It looks like the we’ve found a sneak peek at the new arithmetic curriculum endorsed by the Texas State Board of Education.

You gotta admit, he does make a pretty solid case.

(via Bad Astronomy)

Daily Blend: Thursday, May 27, 2010

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Daily Blend

Whoo, longest links dump yet! Almost makes up for my dearth in blog posts this past week or two.

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Belated Discovery: Nostalgia Critic (he remembers it so we don’t have to)

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You know, for someone who prides himself on being an general Internet geek, I’m constantly pointed in the direction of stuff that I arguably should have heard of and fallen in love with ages ago. So, hence the prefix to this post’s title, I’m starting a new sporadic series, Belated Discoveries (or short for “stuff I can’t believe I never knew about before but now that I do I love it and I’m gonna pimp like a whore”). Today’s Discovery is something that was pointed to me by my friend Gene a few days ago and that I’ve been positively hooked on ever since: the Nostalgia Critic. (And really, just the whole crew at That Guy With the Glasses.) He makes the Angry Video Game Nerd sound unfunny. (Though frankly, to me, he is, mostly.)

Here’s a representative sample: the Care Bears Movie review.

The gun bit almost had me in tears.

Crossing the line on who should smoke

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Look, I’m all for letting smokers fill themselves with toxins all they want, whoever or wherever they are – just don’t blow it in my face (literally and metaphorically). But this

That’s just wrong on any number of levels.

(via Ray Comfort’s Blog)

FAIL Quote of the Day: “Family” “Research” “Council” bigot on the repeal of DADT

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Having heard the news that Obama, several top-ranking military officials and numerous Democrats have reached an accord on throwing out “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, Tony Perkins, president of the ever-ironically-named Family Research Council has come out with all guns blazing against this latest perceived threat to military cohesion and whatnot.

By late Thursday night, Congress will have decided whether to throw away more than 200 years of military tradition--or to stand and fight against one of the most significant moral issues of our time. […] Together, [Obama, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates] agreed to the ultimate military betrayal: a repeal of the policy that protects our troops from serving with open homosexuals. […] What's worse, it's a political charade that insults our military and shows contempt for their families back home. […] Essentially, the fate of national security would rest on a politician, a political appointee, and the only member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who believes in putting millions of people at risk for the sake of a minute sexual fringe. […] This is yet another cultural time bomb, strapped on the backs of the men and women who honorably serve this country.

[my bold, original italics]

*ahem*

So, just so we’re clear, Perkins:

  • uses the pointless old “tradition” argument (it’s old, so it must be true!);
  • claims that allowing gays to serve is “the ultimate military betrayal” (as opposed to, say, implementing systematic discrimination);
  • believes that troops need “protecting” from openly gay comrades (teh ghey, it’s contagious);
  • says that allowing gays to serve openly somehow insults the military and soldiers’ families (whereas they’re totally fine with brave men and women, possibly their own loved ones, being openly discriminated against, apparently);
  • insinuates that the Joint Chiefs Chairman and patriot is deliberately and needlessly endangering millions of soldiers (slander, anyone?);
  • claims that homosexuals are a “minute sexual fringe” (one that comprises anywhere from 5–15% of the population[1] – at almost a fifth, they’re barely there!); and, best of all,
  • claims that gay soldiers don’t honorably serve their country (ie. that they’re stains to the country’s honor).

It’s somewhat interesting, if not telling, how bigotry and being a complete asshole seem to go hand-in-hand.

(via @mmaction)

In which it’s finally time for me to attack Ray Comfort again

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The Stupid, It Burns

It’s been a while since I last took apart a piece of Ray “banana-man” Comfort silliness, and I’ve been missing a good chance to sharpen my snark a bit. Here’s a perfect occasion: the mustachioed buffoon has a new post that’s all about murder-in-the-womb abortion (so you know this’ll be good) and weird distortions of reality and morality. Let’s get to it!

Atheists get their moral guidance by what society dictates. Contemporary society dictates that it’s okay to kill whatever is in the womb, because they aren’t considered to be human. This was Hitler’s rational in Nazi Germany. As far as he was concerned, Jews weren’t human, therefore he was justified in putting Darwin’s theory into practice.

Wow. I don’t think it’s common to see such massive Godwinning done so quickly and unashamedly, right in the very second paragraph. It’s as though he knew he’d bring up a comparison to Hitler and the Nazis eventually and figured, “screw it, let’s just throw it right out in the open”. That’s because he has nothing else to argue on, and probably knows it.

The rest of his argument is just as absurd: yes, atheists get their sense of right and wrong from society (ie. a collective assembly of people deciding what’s best for the survival, functioning and prosperity of their civilization). But, so does everyone else, including the staunchest of religionists. The fact that people like Comfort, who claim to observe and uphold their chosen scriptures’ teachings to the best of their ability, don’t go out and stone women to death, impose slavery on others and try to massacre gay people (amongst many other pleasantries) is testament to the fact that they chose to obey the rule of society over the rule of their religious texts (which, to them, equals the will of their deity(s)). Because they know, even if only subconsciously, that obeying their god(s)’ word to a fault will leave them with a rather unfavorable social standing, to put it quite mildly.

If there is no God, then Government sanctioned murder is okay. However, God’s Law warns that if you even get angry without cause you are in danger of judgment (see Matthew 5:22), and that if you hate your brother, you are a murderer (see 1 John 3:15). How much more will He judge those who have advocated, sanctioned, and carried out an abortion. Blood is dripping from their hands.

… Okay, I’ll admit that I rather forgot the rest of that paragraph once I’d read that just hating someone is equal to murdering them. (In your heart, perhaps?) I suppose we’re all serial killers, then, as there’s undoubtedly at least one person in everyone’s life that they hate to some degree. I know I’ve had several (mostly thugs at school). Doesn’t mean I ever intended, or would have, ended their lives, though. I’m pretty certain that can also be said for most people.

Reassuring growing tide of gay acceptance in the US

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I don’t have all that much to say about this that can’t be immediately surmised from the graphs and statistics, so let me just say: whenever you feel like the battle for the acceptance of gays and lesbians (and others that fall within the realms of LGBT folks) is going nowhere fast, you only need to take a look at these graphs

Gallup survey showing increasing acceptance of LGBT relations (52%, ↑12% over 10 years) vs. decreasing bigotry (43%, ↓10% over 10 years)
Gallup survey showing increasing acceptance of LGBT relations (52%, ↑12% over 10 years) vs. decreasing bigotry (43%, ↓10% over 10 years)

Gallup survey showing globally growing acceptance of LGBT relations across all demographics (social, political and religious)
Gallup survey showing globally growing acceptance of LGBT relations across all demographics (social, political and religious)

Gallup survey showing increasing understanding that homosexuality is inherent (36%, ↑22% over 33 years), not acquired (37%, ↓20% over 33 years)
Gallup survey showing increasing understanding that homosexuality is inherent (36%, ↑22% over 33 years), not acquired (37%, ↓20% over 33 years)

… and you’ll realize that, even if we must keep fighting nonetheless and opposing bigotry at every turn, the world – or at least, our little pocket in it – is so much better off than it was just a few years back.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Daily Blend: May 26, 2010

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Daily Blend

No more 24 … There’s an hour I’ll be missing each week. At least the ending, if a bit rushed in my opinion, was quite decent and fitting. Long live Jack Bauer! (Also, curses to the production team for misleading us a while back with a certain false rumor about Jack’s ultimate fate.)

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woman claims she fell pregnant from watching 3D porno; husband apparently buys it

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“STUPIDITY: Sometimes, all you can do in response is weep like a little kid.”
“STUPIDITY: Sometimes, all you can do in response is weep like a little kid.”
[click for full size]

Okay, I’m officially depressed. Not only is the next leg of U2’s 360 Tour essentially scrapped due to Bono’s recent back injury (and my best wishes to him), thus rendering the promise of the Best Birthday Present Evar to moot, but then I find myself resisting the urge to weep hysterically in despair as I come across this ineffably ridiculous story about a couple who really do go well together in their combined lack of intelligence:

An American woman claims she became pregant after watching a 3D porno.

US military man Erick Jhonson came home from a stint in Iraq to find that his wife was pregnant. Clearly he assumed she had an affair, but his wife Jennifer claims the “other man” was actually someone a little less physical.

It seems he actually buys her story, however. “I see it as suspicious. The films in 3D are very real. With today’s technology, anything is possible,” he said.

Struggling to drag my brain away from the metaphorical seppuku knife, I will concede that this tragically idiotic man is right. It is possible that she was impregnated by a virtual porn actor (and I’d love to get the details on how that supposedly happened) as opposed to the possibility that she slept around on him and isn’t anywhere near smart enough to conjure up a credible cover story. You know, just as it’s possible that the Titanic was actually sunk by Martians with a grudge against ocean liners or something. (Hey, you can’t prove it didn’t happen! You weren’t there!)

But wait, the details make it even more interesting:

What's even more interesting is that both Jennifer and Erick are white, but the child is black. Jeniffer claims the kid looks like the black pornstar she had been ogling. She also claims this was one of the first times she's watched porn and only went with friends for the 3D effect.

Look: yes, it is indeed possible for a single-race couple to create a child of an other color. It’s all got to do with the parents’ ancestry: a White couple where one partner had a Black great-great-grandmother or whatever could possibly give birth to a Black child. Thing is, though, that as you’d expect, these cases aren’t exactly common. Actually, they’re so freaking rare that I can’t even find any real statistics or research about them at all, only hearsay. But they do happen.

Even so, however, in this case, if dear Jennifer felt the need to cobble up such a decidedly unbelievable story (meant literally), then I think the conclusion is rather clear, Erick: she cheated on you and was too cowardly to admit it and too stupid to come up with a halfway-decent lie or excuse. Which is all for the best, apparently, because dear Erick apparently can’t grasp the notion that, contrary to what his spouse may say, a porn star on a screen, especially if comprised of 1s and 0s, is unable to fuck his/her audience.

Most unfortunately.

(via @VeritasKnight)

Daily Blend: Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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Daily Blend

Situation: every Monday, I wait impatiently as 24 plays at 9 PM until Tuesday morning where my mother comes to see it with me. Yesterday was the 2-hour series finale, and still, I waited. Yet now, she’s not here. Time to panic now? I NEED TO SEE HOW JACK DI— uh, HOW IT ENDS!!!

Note that if anyone tells me, they shall face my swift and utmost wrath. “Biblical” would be an understatement, baby.

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Libel reform legislation in Britain a reality?

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British Libel Reform Campaign logo and slogan: “Free speech is not for sale”
British Libel Reform Campaign logo

Being a follower of the British Libel Reform Campaign that vies to change the way England’s libel laws currently operate (which is chillingly close to “presumed guilty until proven innocent”) and having subscribed to their mailing list, I was quite pleased to receive this news bulletin:

Dear friends

This is a very brief note to make sure you saw the exciting news that Lord Anthony Lester QC, the architect of the Human Rights Act, has announced his intention to introduce a Private Members’ Defamation Bill in the House of Lords this week. He explains why he is doing this in the Times this morning (read it here) and on the Today programme (listen to it here).

The legislation being proposed in Lord Lester’s Bill, and expected to be mentioned in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow, aims to solve the problems our campaign has highlighted and which politicians have been debating since 1938 without doing enough to solve them. This bill is the first attempt in a century at redrafting the laws to include stronger, clearer defences to protect free speech and to bring the laws up to date for the information age.

It’s thanks to your support of the campaign that the three main parties committed to libel reform in their election manifestos, and now we are near to having a bill in Parliament. We need to push the Government to tell us clearly what reforms it will support.

The bill will be published on Thursday 27th May. We will email you with more details but keep an eye out for other coverage on this in the meantime, for example Lord Lester will be interviewed on the Times website this afternoon and Simon Singh is writing about this for the Telegraph tomorrow.

I think those who supported this act and did what they could to promote it ought to give themselves a good pat on the back, though remember that the battle has still yet to be won for sure. But this is a very promising development that might just lead to better journalistic freedom.

Daily Blend: Monday, May 24, 2010

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Daily Blend

I don’t know about you, but any Walmart I walk into that I find contains pig faces, ribcages and whatever the hell #6 is supposed to be is a Walmart that will see me hightailing it out of there in record time.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Goodbye, Toby

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Today, I said my last goodbyes to a friend. I never got to see him very often, and the time we did get to spend together was always sadly limited. But nonetheless, his cheery face and excited demeanor were always quick to bring a smile to my lips, even if it came at the price of the big dummy rubbing up against me and making my parents batty from having to get rid of the ton of fur that found my clothes like a magnet.

My grandparents first got Toby when they rescued him as a yearling who’d just been run over by a car. His hind legs were badly injured, and even the best veterinary care had left him with a vulnerable hip for the rest of his life, a condition only exacerbating the already common affliction plaguing yellow labradors like him. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop him from living the next 13 years to their fullest, running around in the massive countryside like a puppy with the rest of my grandparents’ many dogs that also found a loving home with them. And he was always certain to rush to whomever approached his home, tail wagging forcefully like a beater and just whining to get a good licking at any newcomer or old friend’s hands and face.

I spent many hours with my good friend, playing with him, yet mostly just lounging around like two lazy old dogs, content with the tranquility of the countryside. As time went by, however, his weak hip began giving him more and more trouble until today, where he requires a shot to even be able to walk at all for the day. With my grandparents’ impending move to a newer place, no longer able to take care of their own house, both bringing him along or giving him away weren’t viable options. So tomorrow, as planned, he will go to the vet and be eased out of his pain once and for all.

Toby (and Candi)
Toby during happier times
The beagle is Candi. She was put down several months ago (though not sure when). Photo credit: my aunt

Sleep well, Toby. You’ve been a good boy. You’ve earned it.

Rewriting the Pledge of Allegiance

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Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
[via Leon Skeie’s Contact Page | click for full size]

For those (non-Americans) who may not know, it’s customary, and sometimes even enforced (despite this being illegal), to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every schoolday in the United States, and sometimes even elsewhere. I myself remember trudging through it, much to my displeasure (which has probably only increased in retrospect) as I could never be arsed to remember half the words. (But then, I was only 6.) Here’s the Pledge as it’s read today:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

As you can imagine, anyone who’s even somewhat versed in history and modern politics and social issues could tell you at length just how full of false idealism and crap those statements are. Why pledge one’s allegiance to the a country’s flag? I understand how it’s meant symbolically, but it’s still absurd. One can pledge their allegiance to a country just fine (even though I, personally, wouldn’t do such a thing, as I consider countries to be nothing more than pockets of distinct cultures separated by imaginary lines on a map) without the tripe symbolism.

Also, you’re supposed to vow your allegiance to the notion of there being “liberty and justice for all”? Well, true … unless you’re poor, unemployed or homeless. Or get accused of being a terrorist. Or become suspected of harboring various anti-government sentiments. Or you smoke a little pot. Or you have sex before you reach 18. And any number of other circumstances that can (and most likely will) land you in a veritable underworld of trouble as you try to fight for your right to “liberty and justice” – almost certainly in vain.

And, don’t even get me started about that “under God” bullshit.

As I’m sure most would agree, the current pledge – if one even needs to exist at all (and I could make a number of explicit arguments against it, and legal scholars, even moreso) – could stand to be rewritten. Ed Brayton proposes this revised edition:

I pledge allegiance to the principles of liberty and justice for all, and to the struggle to ensure that those principles are put into practice, for all people, under the terms of the constitution, with no one left out of that promise.

Now that’s something I could chant mindlessly in class every day and not feel guilty about it.

Does anyone have their own idea of what a better Pledge of Allegiance would be, if they think one should exist at all?

Daily Blend: Sunday, May 23, 2010

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Daily Blend

I am sleeepy zoooombie … must … eat … piiillooooow …

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Screw pandas, this is Kung-Fu Bear

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This just-short-of-literally unbelievable footage was shot at a zoo in Hiroshima, Japan. Note that contrary to what every single atom in your body will be screaming at you, this is not, in any way, a fake. That’s an actual bear actually playing majorette with a bamboo stick. Talk about bringing a whole new world of meaning to “gotta see it to believe it”.

So they’re training bears with deadly weapons now … Okay, that’s it, we’re officially screwed.

(Also, is my mind just exceptionally perverted, or did he just give himself a bit of a special finish …?)

(via Wolfblade’s Journal)

Danger! Danger, Republican Robinson!

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Hehe … snark.

Cartoon depicting a Republican inserting “anger” and “fear” batteries into Tea Party club-wielding robot

(via @todayspolitics)