The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seventh Day Adventists, Seven Seals, Branch Davidians, and Three is a Magic Number

Oh those wacky Seventh Day Adventists. I got home the other day and found this little pseduo-magazine tucked into our front door.
Messengers of Light Freaks
I guess they're low on members or something. I read through the 30 page leaflet (ok, I skimmed - it's painful reading) and this was my favorite quote, bolded so you won't miss it:
Stupid Quote
Isn't that great? It's on page 25, in case you were going to pop over to your local SDA church place and pick one up. You may also, however, want to check page 9 where there are "Quick Facts on the Judgement" containing this jewel:
"God Himself is vindicated in the judgement for His perfect mercy, fairness and justice towards all."

Um, anyone else see a bit of a contradiction there? You can think about "God's" message, get it into your head and roll it around to see if it makes sense at all, then reject it - and BOY are you fucked in the long run! Whoo whee! You are screwed! But "God" loves you and is fair in all his dealings with you, regardless of your beliefs or feelings. What kind of schizo is your invisible man in the sky?

I could never be an SDA person because of the fact(s), namely they hate gays - well, obviously; they don't drink (strike two); and they think "creation science" solves millions of years of evolutionary evidence. Gatdamn, I'd rather punch myself in the face for a year and a half than spend a minute in the presence of SDA weirdos in my home.

I'm stupid tired and am going to bed; just wanted to bitch a minute about religion as I didn't get a chance yesterday. Ciao.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jesus' Lubricant

Here's something I don't like about religion that isn't mentioned often enough: its dishonesty.

I was talking with my father the other day and mentioned my lack of interest in getting involved with a multi-level marketing business. My explanation included the fact that in order to be any good at all in MLM, you have to enjoy recruiting your friends and family and aquaintances into the business. You have to sell the opportunity to as many people as you can so you reap the maximum amount of downline kick-ups.

The problem I have is the same one that Danny DeVito's character in the movie The Big Kahuna explains to the young fundie salesman. If you haven't seen the movie, it's worth renting (or buying, in my opinion). The situation in the film is this: Three generations of salesmen are at a trade show to get a Big Client (BC). They sell industrial lubricants. There is a newbie kid, a guy at the peak of his career (played perfectly by Kevin Spacey), and an old hand ready to retire (played by DeVito). The kid meets the BC but doesn't know it was him and, because the guy's dog just died, talks to him all night about things unrelated to lubricants. Specifically, religion. The BC likes the kid and invites him to a party the next night.

The DeVito and Spacey characters want to take over but they know they'll never get into the party, so they have to send the kid. They prep him as best they can and send him off to set up a meeting the next day with the older two. When the kid returns later in the night he is grilled with questions but only says that he had to talk about "more important" things. Specifically, Jesus.

Spacey's character asks, fantastically, "Did you happen to mention what brand of industrial lubricant Jesus would have endorsed?"

There is a big discussion/fight between the kid and Spacey about what was more important - Jesus or the job - which ends with some punching and Spacey leaving the room. DeVito takes the kid aside and explains what is happening, explains what the kid doesn't see.

He says something to the effect of, "(T)he second you take control of a conversation to steer it towards a desired result, you're not a person anymore - you're a salesman - and it's no longer a conversation - it's a pitch." This is true whether you are selling lubricant or salvation, the product doesn't matter.

This is the inherent dishonesty of religion. People often say, "but religion does so much good - why don't you like it?" Well, yes, religion does do a lot of good, but why? When a person who has no supernatural beliefs does something good (helps a person who has fallen, for example), she does it because it makes her feel good about herself - selfish reasons - and because of a genuine desire to see that person be ok.

A religious person would help the fallen individual for both of the above reasons, but beyond those there is the "scoring points for the afterlife" angle. There is also the "I'm doing something good because religious people (and in particular MY religious cohorts) are moral, decent people and this unfortunate lad needs to be 'saved' and should become one of US. My doing good shall, in part, convince this person that he should join" aspect.

No matter what good comes out of religion, there is always the underlying goal of gaining more members to their club. That's why they do good, why they help, why the missionaries go to foreign lands and teach people to read English. It is the reason that when the Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door, you don't want to talk to them. They are not being honest in their intentions. If they just came out and said, "We want you to join our group", you'd say no and that would be that. They have to fake being concerned about you, about your salvation and your "soul" (the same as missionaries and fundies) so you will think they are nice. All along, all they want is for you to join them. It's dishonest marketing.

Sort of like the Borg, only with less personality and not so good with machinery.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Heathen Helmet Award

Welcome to the Heathen Helmet Award, given to the most retarded idea that displays a completely blatant disregard for science and common sense while still being a profitable business. Today's Heathen Helmet Award goes to....
Heathen Helmet
Tellington Ttouch Training! If you'd be so kind as to put your mouse cursor over Tellington Ttouch on the left and then click What is Ttouch?, you'll be treated to a marvelous explanation of quackery and the rationalizations of the mentally deficient at their best.

See, Ttouch is just patting animals. It's based on "circular movements" of the fingers - what most of us call "patting". Apparently Ttouch (or patting) can help with a whole list of stuff that animals do including but not limited to:
* Excessive Barking and Chewing
* Leash Pulling
* Jumping Up
* Aggressive Behavior
* Extreme Fear and Shyness
* Resistance to Grooming
* Excitability and Nervousness
* Car Sickness
* Problems Associated With Aging

Who knew that animals got car-sick?

My favorite part is on the What is Ttouch? page where it says:
The TTouch is done on the entire body, and each circular TTouch is complete within itself. Therefore it is not necessary to understand anatomy to be successful in speeding up the healing of injuries or ailments, or changing undesirable habits or behavior.

Is there any movement or action you do as a person that is not "complete within itself"? What the fuck does that even mean?

And the common pseudo-science attitude of "you don't need to know about anatomy to help people!" is prevelant. No need to be weighed down with all that knowledge, you have some patting to do!

There is also all the common bullshit about "acting at the cellular level to "activate your potential", and other childish ideas. She's going to "activate" your cells...so, what? They're not "active" now? How does one measure "activation" of cells? Do they start jumping rope and mowing my lawn? My guess is that all the cells in your body just continue doing the stuff they always do. How boring.

She says, "Massage Therapists and Physical Therapists find TTouch effective in cases of chronic pain and Fibromyalgia." Well not this massage therapist. And I find it interesting that she mentions chronic pain and fibromyalgia, conditions that are extremely placebo responsive. Oh, and dial 911 but stay hidden behind the sofa, because I'm going to die of not-surprise, she has, "...gathered a rich legacy of anecdotal evidence to support the effectiveness of TTouch to enhance personal wellness and quality of life."

Anecdotal "evidence" - just the stuff that the scientific method was designed to protect us from. In case you haven't been filled to the hairline with new-agey marshmellow fluff, here's some more: "Linda’s trust in divine guidance and intuitive knowing lead her to a basic principle of Tellington TTouch: That each one of us has the potential to 'Remember our perfection'".

I'm curious to know if she's divorced. I don't mean that in a snitty way, I'm just interested in knowing whether she has had some event(s) in her life that have made her feel inferior or worthless. I find that a lot of "healers" are just formally broken people who find a way to become "special" again. Linda Tellington-Jones is a perfect candidate to fit nicely in that mold.

So, for relying on anecdotal evidence, and stating that not knowing anatomy is fine when you are dealing with medical issues, and of course for being completely retarded, the idea of Tellington Ttouch gets my Heathen Helmet Award. Try not to drool on yourself.

Monday, July 24, 2006

D.D. Palmer - the D.D Stood for "Dynamic Douchebag"

See, I knew I'd get annoyed.

As I mentioned previously, my parents are here for a visit and we, along with my wife, went for a little drive to Port Perry today. It's a quaint little town (actually used in the movie Welcome to Mooseport, starring Ray Romano and Gene Hackman) with lots of small, individually owned shoppes and such. Quite enjoyable...until I saw this:
D.D. Palmer Monument
Yeah, that's a memorial to Daniel David Palmer, the "father" of chiropractic who said that he, "...'received chiropractic from the other world' during a seance, from a deceased physician named Dr. Jim Atkinson."(ref.) Lovely.

I especially love the little quote at the bottom of the inscription. "I have never considered it beneath my dignity to do anything to relieve human suffering" - so, that means you'll commit fraud? Because chiropractic makes not one fucking ounce of sense. Check this paragraph out from the "Chiropractic Facts" page of Parker College of Chiropractic:

But a chiropractor...is really a nerve specialist. For he or she adjusts bones and structures in order to free nerves, from impingement or irritation. And since the nervous system controls the human body by providing the "life force," the whole body may benefit; and, therefore, chiropractic care may benefit the body with almost any health conditions.


The nervous system provides the "life force"? What the fuck does that mean? And chiropractic can benefit "almost any health condition"? Well, isn't that convienient for making a ton of money and never turning away or referring away a "patient"....

Chiropractors claim to correct vertebral subluxations, or incomplete dislocations of spinal joints (if you are interested, there is an article at Chirobase on the subject here). For those who don't know, each level of your spine has six joints (one above and below to the intervertebral discs, and four small facet joints - see here - to the vertebrae above and below). There are also six strong ligaments (you know, that shit you can't chew through when you eat a steak) holding the vertebrae in place (the supraspinous, interspinous, intertransversarii, anterior longitudinal, posterior longitudinal, and ligamentum flavum). Just you try to move those fucking things around when you actually have the opportunity to touch the bones themselves, let alone with muscle, tendon, fat, and skin all over top.

The bottom line here is that Palmer's idea was to make a lot of money with a stupid idea - of which he had a lot in his life. He was a believer in magnet therapy for shit's sake. So if you can, just imagine me in front of that monument giving it the finger with both hands. I would have gotten in the picture, but I couldn't both take and be in the shot and my wife and parents would have thought I was off the fucking deep end for flipping off a piece of stone.

Chiropractors: you want me to believe in your retardedness? Show me the "life force", baby!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Feelin' Fine - part 2

I went to a wedding last night. It was quite fun and relaxing - took a bunch of nice pictures and had a fabulous meal. Also, my parents are visiting this week from my home province of Nova Scotia. So between seeing a great family beginning last night and having my family here today, I'm feeling a little out of the "bitch and moan" vibe. I'm sure something will annoy me tomorrow that I'll have to write about, but for the moment I'm good.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the Skeptic's Circle post and to everyone who just reads my stuff and leaves me notes. It really makes my day.

Friday, July 21, 2006

PM Harper's Quote, Slightly Altered

Prime Minister Harper said this recently:

Hezbollah's objective is violence. Hezbollah believes that through violence it can create, it can bring about the destruction of Israel. Violence will not bring about the destruction of Israel...and inevitably the result of the violence will be the deaths primarily of innocent people.


See, Hezbollah is bad. No argument from me on that point. But if you change just a couple words in that quote...

G.W. Bush's objective is violence. Bush believes that through violence he can create, he can bring about the destruction of terrorism. Violence will not bring about the destruction of terrorism...and inevitably the result of the violence will be the deaths primarily of innocent people.


So...how is Bush good?

Ball-Peen Dobson & Jillette Gets It Wrong

Part Un

James Dobson is a tool.

His new website says there is no evidence for animal homosexuality. Really? Hm. How about National Geographic? They a solid enough source for you? Who are you going to believe when it comes to animal research - National Geographic Magazine, or some douchehat who thinks there's a man floating in the sky? Yeah, thought so.

"Dogs don't 'moo', therefore gayness is bad"? What kind of fucked up peyote flashback from the '60s did Dobson have to slowly psychiatrist's-chaise-lounge himself through in order to have that make sense? Fuck, it's like he's Luke Skywalker going into the Dark-Side Tree on Dagobah and he saw himself all gay like Mr. Garrison, so now he hates fags.

Can we put him in jail with Hovind? Is that at all possible? I don't know what for, I'm just fishing for ideas...

Part Deux

I like Penn Jillette. I like him on the radio, The Aristocrats was great, Bullshit is almost always bang on, Penn & Teller rock as a magic act, and his writing is funny and intelligent.

I was listening to his radio show the other day and the topic was stem-cell research. It was before Bush vetoed the thing, but everyone knew he was going to. Jillette's position (what he refers to as the "libertarian nut" position) is that the Government funding stem cell research is wrong because governments shouldn't be involved in anything that not everyone agrees upon, therefore Bush is correct to veto the bill - albeit for entirely wrong reasons. Bush did it because he thinks fetusus are people, much like soylent green.

My problem with Jillette's logic here reminds me of an episode of The Dennis Miller Show where the guest was George Carlin. Miller asked about the military and Carlin said that for all the wars and shit that were happening, he blamed the soldiers who kept showing up. His argument was, "Fuck 'em (the "suits" and generals), nobody go - what are they gonna do? Courtmarshall everyone?"

Miller razzed him a bit about blaming a young kid who is probably scared out of his mind and blah blah blah, but Carlin's response was enlightening; he said, "I'm talking about a macro idea: no one show up. I'm not living in the same world as you people."

Carlin was referring to an idea that would work in an idealized world. That's the same as Jillette's idea of individuals funding stem cell research based on their agreement with the concept, while not paying taxes to the government. When he says that Bush did the right thing in vetoing the bill, he's talking as if we were actually living in that utopian world - we're most certainly not. You can't take a fantasy world idea and apply the conclusions to reality.

Government funding is what will allow stem cell research to continue. Individuals can't fund it and everyone pays taxes, that's the reality. I agree with him in principle, but I also agree with the idea of me getting four blow-jobs a week. The harsh truth of my life situation dictates that I must take what I get.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Circle of Sleuthing Skeptics - #39

(Just want the links? They're at the bottom of this post)

We join the gang as everyone got ready for a weekend adventure...

Everyone piled into the stretch Mystery Machine and headed off on our road trip to Franken Castle. It looked to be a great meeting this week and the change of location from "the 'net", most agreed, was a good idea.
Scooby Gang3

James Downard had the fun thought to stop at a sign that said, Carlotta the Gypsy for a bit of a lark. Not too many of us wanted to, but in the interest of scientific investigation we relented and decided to see what Carlotta could do. James added, "Plus, maybe this will take my mind off of Ann Coulter's silly evolution 'science'." Thomas from Mile Zero thought that Coulter had obviously not heard the scientific argument from moral authority.

"Yeah, I agree with that. The HIV/AIDS deniers I deal with almost melt my brain with their vapid 'reasoning'", Pharma Bawd added.

Oku chimed in saying, "I hear you guys. I got a list of questions from a Young Earth Creationist recently - silly, but at least she's asking, I guess."

Upon seeing the troupe of (in some cases) rather odd looking individuals enter with four cartoon people and a talking great dane, Carlotta was understandably taken aback. She asked one of us to sit in her chair - a task taken up by Orac who said quietly, "I think I might be allergic to woo, but if it's for science..." She looked mysteriously into her crystal ball and said we should not go to Franken Castle as it is haunted and the last caretaker ran away.

"Hot dang!" said Joe Nickell. "A haunting to check out!! Maybe there'll be statues bleeding out their friggin' eyes and stuff!"

"Joe is an enthusiastic skeptic who knows why he's here", Infophile said under his breath to SkepChick Rebecca. The Neurophilosopher stood in the background thinking quietly that hauntings can be understood quite nicely by using neurology, but today would be a nice field trip.

"Hey," questioned Daphne, "how'd she know we're going to Franken Castle?"

"Well, I'd guess from the fact that it's the only tourist destination for fifty miles and because of that pamphlet sticking out of your purse", was the reply from Lord Runolfr. "She has to use cold reading because she is certainly not going to make a fortune - PUN! - with her crappy and misleading advertising."

"I guess that was sort of obvious after a little thought, huh?" said Daph.

"See, once again it's scientists who do the real work, not woo people; just remember 'Atlantis'", finished Runolfr.

Realizing Carlotta was no more accurate than the Sunday paper astrology section, the gang piled back into the van and headed off to check out the mystery. In the back, Jody Devere held a session with the women on how to not get fleeced at the auto mechanic as we drove, which was a hit - especially with Daphne who was quite intimidated by dealerships.

The drive was uneventful, unless you count the thunder. There were no clouds in the sky - which seemed odd until Phil "the Secret Lizard Astronomer" Plait explained that there was a shuttle launch that day and the noise was just the enormous thrust of Discovery shaking the sky. He then licked his left eyeball. Mystery number one solved!

Velma looked up from the travel brochure she was reading to inform the group that Franken Castle was not, indeed, owned by political commentator and comedian Al Franken, but had apparently been imported stone by stone from no place other than Transylvania! The van hummed with harmonic "oooooo's" from the group. Alun skeptically asked if the archeological records were public so he could validate its heritage. Oddly, the answer was a big, "No."

We pulled up to the front of the castle and Daphne jumped out and started to head in over the drawbridge. As the assembled skeptics and cartoons were gathering their investigative tools, we were confronted by what seemed to be a vampire at the gate!
Scooby Doo Vampire

"Go away or you will never see the sun again!" he yelled. Then he appeared to turn into a bat and flew into the castle, the drawbridge closing behind him trapping Daphne inside.

"Well", said Penn Jillette, "I haven't been fooled by a stage illusion for a long time, but that was pretty damn cool. I'll have to talk to Criss and Lance when I get back to Vegas. We could do it in our act, as long as we end up killing the bat with a lot of blood, eh Teller?" Teller stood silently by, shaking his head in disappointment at his partner. The answer was obvious to him, but alas, Teller couldn't tell.

Scooby piped up and said, "Raphne!"

"Right, we should probably get her out, eh?", EoR mentioned. "We're standing here like we're stuck in a dreamland of wackos."

"Like, anyone else see Frankenstein in there?", Shaggy squelched.

"No, hippy, now how 'bout you and Scoob swing across the moat and lower the drawbridge for us?", was the response from Fred, who was obviously irritated by Shaggy's tone.

So with Scooby on his back, Shaggy grabbed the rope and swung across the moat, an alligator nipping at his hindquarters like Steve-o in Jackass: The Movie. "Wow, does that ever remind me of The Stella Awards", said Grrlscientist. "Imagine if Scoob and Shaggy sued the Castle owner because they got bit by the guard-alligator!"

They reached the lever to let in everyone else, but were spotted and chased off screaming by a Wolfman! "Great", said Carl Feagans, "now someone else has to swing over that douchebag Kevin Trudeau...sorry, I mean the stupid alligator - my mind's a little pre-occupied."

"Maybe we can get Uri Geller to bet on the alligator eating us - that way we're sure to live", quipped Randi, to a hearty round of laughter. Thomas Wilburn wondered if there was any truth to the rumour that Randi and Carl Sagan killed a man, but he decided that Amazing was a killer of pseudo-science, not people.

After a quick Tarzan impression by Runolfr (you simply must see him swing across a moat) we were all inside.

Meanwhile, Scooby hid in one of two matching suits of armor while Shaggy made himself hard to find on a window ledge. The werewolf could not see them, so while he was distracted, Scoob scurried over to hide inside a piano. Shaggy, a talented ventriloquist who studied under the famous Wenceslao Moreno, threw his voice into one of the armor suits.

The wolfman thought about using Bayesian probability to figure out which suit Scooby was in, but then he remembered reading Chris' post on Good Math, Bad Math and decided just to smash one suit and throw the other into the piano. Scooby used the broken fingers of a metal glove as fangs and scared the werewolf backwards where Shaggy trapped him by cutting a chandelier to fall on top of him. One monster down!

Fred, Velma, and the rest of the gang ran into the vampire again who taunted everyone by saying, "Your spirits will dwell in this castle forever!"

"Boy is he talking about 'spirits' to the wrong crowd", quipped Theo Clark to the assembled non-believers. "Might as well tell us our 'moons will forever remain in Venus', or that a simple 'experiment' can prove 9/11 was a hoax.'"

Velma's glasses got bumped off in the laughter (BronzeDog had a chuckle off on the side with Phil and his moist eyeball about the Galileo Gambit) and as she crawled around looking for them, she found a secret passageway. Velma Glasses
She went in to explore followed by DrumsNWhistles and Clark Bartram.

Scooby and Shaggy wandered into the kitchen only to find ingredients like "Pickled Bat Wings", "Werewolf Snacks", and "Fried Moonbeams" in the cupboards. At once, they were surprised by none other than Frankenstein, but used their quick thinking (and by "quick thinking" I mean, "adrenaline-fueled terror") to escape on a rail hook. "Like, I'm totally going to rub this in Freddy's face if I ever see him again!", said Shaggy. "Fred thinks he's so intelligent, but BronzeDog showed me once how just because someone is educated, that doesn't mean they're smart. Zoinks."

Velma, Clark, and DrumsNWhistles ended up in what seemed to be a torture chamber complete with skeletons in stocks. "This reminds me of Scientology and the stupid crap they try to pull off", said DrumsNWhistles. They then heard a noise and hid in some barrels, only to be broken out by Shag and Scoob who slid in from a chute in the wall! Scooby Snacks poured out from one of the broken barrels making the speech-impaired canine a very happy pup.
Scooby Gang

Lo and behold, the group found Daphne who was trapped in a dungeon below and was just about to put some lotion in the basket (Silence of the Lambs joke anyone? Anyone...?). As they pulled her out, Dracula approached but Scooby (strong after his treats like Popeye after spinach, or Peter Popoff after installing his wireless ear mic) pushed him into the hole and shut the lid. Clark commented that Dracula's teeth were so messed up that they looked like they had been "worked on" by a quack "biological dentist". In any event, that was two monsters down!

The gang left through a dark passageway but emerged without Shaggy or Scooby. Fred and the rest of the Skeptics, however, were at the other end and Daphne read a note she copied while Frankenstein had her captive. It was from 1668 - or so it said - and it proclaimed, "I've fooled them all, I may perish, but I'll be as rich as King Tut!"

"Wow...hey, we should find the crypt." said Skeptico, looking around curiously.

"How do you know there's a crypt?" countered Dr. Michael Shermer.

"Well", Skeptico continued, "I'm assuming a castle with a bunch of monsters that comes complete with a dungeon would have a crypt, not that I'm encouraging false hope in silly beliefs or anything."

"Normally I'm not fond of assumptions, but this time I sort of agree", conceded Shermer.

The group headed off in search of the crypt, minus Sailorman who broke off to find the missing twosome.

Fortunately, he found them soon enough and they all ended up in the labratory where they were - for unknown reasons - testing the strenth of the exam tables. Sailorman asked, "Hey, I ever tell you guys my idea for dealing with homeopathy? It's great, all we do is..."

At once, Frankenstein lumbered out and surprised them, pushing the table towards a long winding staircase. Again, with thinking too quick to be attributed to a goateed hippy and his dog, they used a sheet to stop short of the stairs. The boys were shaken, but crisis averted, for the moment at least. Fred, Daphne, Velma, and the skeptics found the threesome and everyone headed for the crypt.

Once there, everyone checked out a coffin lying on a table. Suddenly, Dracula popped out scaring everyone, but moreso impressing the escape artists among the gang. "That dungeon escape was good enough for Copperfield to do!", epsoused Martin Rundkvist. "Of course, I'm about as good an authority on escapes as Rupert Sheldrake is on telepathy!"

"Nah, back in '55 I survived for an hour and thirty three minutes in a sealed coffin to break Houdini's record" said Randi. "This guy's not so hot."

Scooby, Shaggy, and Paul tried to trap Dracula in a tapestry but the vampire ran, covered in the blanket, back to the coffin and slammed the lid. Paul said, "Well I think that proves lax standards in reporting...from our vision, I mean. He obviously didn't actually turn into a bat earlier or he would have again just now to get away from us!"

Funnily, when the lid was opened the vamp was gone. Only a ruby and gold earring remained behind. "Hey", said Fred, "that's the earring that old gypsy was wearing!"

"Thanks", said Big Heathen Mike sarcastically. "What are you, the narrator?" Fred then pulled out a small box about the size of a hardcover book and handed it to Mike. "Open it. I should have given it to you when we first pulled up outside 'cause then maybe you wouldn't be here now."

B.H. Mike tore off the decorative paper and opened the box to reveal a red Star Trek shirt. "Damn you and your 'disposable crewmember' humour, Freddy. I can't decide who I dispise more, you or Deepak Chopra."

The whole gang headed back to the gypsy's trailer. The group started in on her; Tara Smith even said she was as sneaky and underhanded as the anti-science school board in Ohio!

As the skeptics' questions mounted and got louder - many shouted about the Ethics and Common Sense post from The Executioner's Thong - Scooby pulled the tapestry out from under her. She started yelling in a male voice and ran away only to fall on the hood of a police car called by the caretaker when he realized some doins' were a'transpirin'.

The gypsy was revealed to be Big Bob Oakley, the actor and master of disguise who was wanted in seven states. There were jewels sewn into the tapestry that he was after and once in custody, he yelled, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those blasted kids and that dog!"

The assembled skeptics were not a small amount miffed to be overlooked by the villian. Joe Kissell piped up and yelled after Oakley, "Hey, what are we? Friggin' holograms!?"

Adam Lee said, "Yeah, we know we're not the centre of the universe, but geez, we did help a bit!"

After a bit of a cooldown, the Skeptics and the Scooby Doo Gang had a nice picnic in a nearby park where Scooby demonstrated the "turn into a bat" trick with a stuffed bat on a wire.

"Wow", said Penn, "that's actually a really lame trick." Teller gave him a sideways look and just took a bite of his sandwich.

"Yeah, I remember when Copperfield did the 'metamorphosis' on TV and it was better than that", said Adam Lee.

"Like, ease up on Scoob, he doesn't have thumbs!" Shaggy scolded. Scooby followed with, "Reah, rake it reasy!" The pooch continued riding along the wire to take a big chomp out of Shaggy's sandwich.

"Like, I take it back", said a disappointed Shaggy, "that was a lame bat. Or duck. Or some other lame animal."

Bora couldn't resist saying, "Just eat your sandwich and don't worry about the confusing metaphors!"

"Re heh heh heh heh heh!"

Leo Lincourt loudly said, "Hey, let's take an unbiased poll of whether or not this was a fun adventure! Yea or nay, everyone!"

Scooby Title Shot - AGGG

This post was based on the 1969 episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You entitled A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts, which was the first episode to feature the classic line, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those blasted kids and that dog!"

Scooby Doo was, of course, a great skeptical show for kids showing them that where there was a mystery, usually if you looked closer you'd find something interesting and not as scary or unpleasant as you may have first thought. That dog is my personal choice for a mascot for the Skeptical Movement! Tattoos anyone?

Please tune in over at the fab blog Daylight Atheism in two weeks time for the Skeptic's Circle's big Four-O!

Just the links!
From            Link

Living the Scientific Life - Here
Ask Patty - Here
Humbug Online - Here
ITOTD - Here
The Second Sight - Here
Archaeoastronomy - Here
Talk Reason - Here
Skeptico - Here
The Saga of Runolfr - Here and Here
Orac - Here
Neurophilosopher's Blog - Here
Odd Time Signatures - Here
Hot Cup of Joe - Here
Aetiology - Here and Here
Moderately Insane - Here
Bad Astronomy - Here
Moment of Science - Here
Daylight Atheism - Here
Unintelligent Design - Here
Keep It Simple - Here
Salto Sobrius - Here
Good Math, Bad Math - Here
Aurora Walking Vacation - Here
Mile Zero - Here and Here
A Blog Around the Clock - Here
Rockstar' Ramblings - Here and Here
Infophilia - Here
The Executioner's Thong - Here
Neural Gourmet - Here and here
Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant - Here

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Islamic Men Say, "There Is No God But My Genitals"

This post rather follows my last one in topic. I was thinking about the "covering women completely except their faces and hands to the wrist" idea mentioned in the video link (in the post below) and I realized that Islamic men are probably the most weak-minded people I've seen in a long time - by their own admission.

Hear me out. It's almost like John Ashcroft covering the breast of the justice statue, only worse. Are these guys just walking around, completely under the control of their twig-n-berries? Getting women to cover up for the dumb-ass reason that "men might do something rude (or even rape them!)" is just admitting that they are not responsible for their actions - those slutty women are.

It is putting the onus on women to dress "appropriately" so that men on the street, who they don't even know, will behave properly. Once the women are sufficiently oppressed and depersonalized, men will have nothing to tempt them (except more and more random/obscure things, like table "legs" and chicken "breasts").

Seriously, are they that weak-willed that if they see a women in a bikini, they'll just get a hard-on and have to go act all guido-ish? I don't believe that for a second. I think Muslim men do have control, they just don't want to admit it because they want to have an out when they do stupid shit.

Blame who? The non-person over there under the fucking blanket. Who cares about that?

Islam seems to say that men have control in society, but not in their bodies. That is a dangerous combination if you happen to not be a man and live your life with breasts and a vagina under a black sheet.

Dr. Naik in the video says that if a woman is covered as she should be under Islamic law and she still gets raped, the man gets capital punishment. That's how Shar'ia law is - it is "fair and encourages people to behave in a proper way".

Ew...do you smell that? It's almost...yeah, it's like driving past a farm on a hot day. Oh, it's the bullshit Naik is slinging. In Shar'ia, the woman bears the burdon of proof with respect to rape (keep the clowns in the tiny car but bring the paramedics, 'cause I'm going to die of not-surprise). She must first accuse the guilty man - who will deny it, of course; then she has to find four males who witnessed the rape and will back her - again, not so much likely; and then if she can't provide that, she is also charged with slander in addition to the crime against her and the potential pregnancy she now has to deal with from some asshat rapist.

Tell me again why this "legal system" should get more widely accepted? Let's see, if I leave your religion, I get the death penalty; any homosexual friends I have will be killed by stoning, being burnt, or being thrown from a tall building; and if your wife gets out of line, you can beat her (lightly), whatever the fuck "lightly" means. Don't believe me? Here's the "beat your wife" part:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them [first], [Next], refuse to share their beds, [And last] beat them [lightly]; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means [of annoyance]: For Allah is Most High, great [above you all]." Koran - Chap. 4, verse 34


It's true that some versions of the Koran use the word "chastise" in place of "beat". Miriam-Webster defines "chastise" as: to inflict punishment on (as by whipping), or to censure severely. It is reasonable to presume, given the history of "honor killings" (even though they are disapproved of by most clerics) and violence, that in this case, "chastise" can be taken to mean "beat".

Muslim men: meet me in the paragraph below for just a second, if you would...

Get your shit together, would you please? Take responsibility for your actions - if a woman wears a thong and shakes her junk two feet from you, that doesn't mean you have to look, touch, approve, or disapprove. It just means that's what she's doing, much like you choosing to wear a pillbox hat, grow a beard, and plan a haj. Live and let live, brother. If you want to follow Shar'ia law, go on with your bad self. Do not, however, expect that oppressive bullshit to fly in a free country.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Oh, Right, Allah Is The Only True God

I followed a link from somewhere and ended up on youtube.com watching a short lecture by Dr. Zakir Naik on how to talk to an atheist and convert them to Islam. It was quite entertaining as he is an engaging speaker, no matter how fucked in the head his ideas are. Allow me to give you a fer'instance:

Before he gets into the whole atheist thing, he talks about why implementing Shar'ia law is a swell idea. He says that the USA, although being one of the most developed and technologically advanced countries, is among the highest in the world for instances of rape. Now, try to follow his "logic" here - he says that if two women are walking down a street and one is wearing full Islamic dress (completely covered except the face and the hands up to the wrist), while the other is wearing "western dress" (so like a skank), and they come upon a bad guy, who is he going to mess with? Well it's obvious - the skank!

He says that men should lower their gaze if, when they look at a woman, they think unpure thoughts (fuck, I'd be looking at the ground 24/7). If they commit a rape even though the full coverage Shar'ia law is in place, then they should be killed. Capital punishment.

I'm sort of a "punishment should fit the crime" fella, and although Naik makes a good point about the double standard of the West with respect to being "barbaric", the system we have - however flawed - works fairly well. I'm just curious to know how many incorrect beheadings have taken place under Shar'ia.

Moving on to the "how to witness to an atheist" question, Naik starts out by pissing me off rather a lot. He says that when he meets an atheist, the first thing he does is, "congratulate them". Why? Condescention, mainly, but he says it's because an atheist "thinks". We have likely gone against what we have been brought up as and have come to our own conclusions about the world. Plus, we have, "done half of his work for him."

See, when the idiot witnesses to a Christian or a Jew, he has to start out by convincing that person that the god they believe in is a false god, a...douchebag god. With an atheist, we already reject all gods, so all Naik has to do is convince us that Allah (jizz be upon him) is the one fantasy retard that is real.

He uses the basic "intelligent" design argument of, "if there's a machine, then only the creator/designer/producer/manufacturer can tell you how that machine works". He then goes on to give innumerable examples of how today's scientific knowledge is actually explained and revealed in the Koran 1400 years ago. Example:

He says that he would ask the atheist how the Universe began and then assumes (correctly in most cases) that we would say, "...with the Big Bang or some other similar event." He goes on to say that this is mentioned in the Koran in Chapter 21, verse 30. Allow me to show you what that verse actually says:

Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?


So, there's the Big Bang complete with cosmic background radiation and inflation. Can't you see?! Damn, for that verse to be interpreted as the Big Bang, you'd have to do some rearranging that would make John Hogue embarrassed.

Then there's the "Moon has reflected light" bit. Naik references chapter 25, verse 61:

Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light;


Sooo...this means that the Moon's light is reflected? Maybe my Koran translation (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali from Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) blows dogs, but isn't that the problem? There's so many translations and so many ways to translate it (obviously) that there's not one version out there that is the "go-to". Same as the damn Bible.

Naik goes on and on with the same sort of examples, most of the ones I've checked have been equally vague. I mean, if he really believes that these weak-ass "arguments" will convince an atheist who has thought about why he or she rejects gods, he is deluded (not that this point isn't made clear by his rationale for making all women wear a fucking burkha).

Keep talking Dr. Naik. Keep on talking...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Abracadabra! It's All You!

I don't know how many other extremely amateur magicians (or amateurs or professionals) like myself are kicking around out there, but if there aren't please allow me to let you in on the way I think regarding magic illusions.

If I watch a magician do a trick and I think it's cool, I'll try to figure out how he or she did it. The way to do that is to re-watch the act and check out what they're doing with their hands, note the misdirection they used, and see if you can catch any "moves". The big thing, however, that I do when I'm watching a great magician like Copperfield, Burton, Angel, or Blaine is to start by noting what I'm not seeing.

Let's say you're watching Criss Angel and you just saw him do the GutBuster illusion (he shoves his arm right through a dude - watch the preview video on the link). I'd start by saying to myself, "Ok, so obviously he didn't just actually shove his arm through a guy." After we get the really blatant stuff out of the way, then you can start to analyze what might be going on - not that you'll figure it out, but at least it's a start.

That reasoning is why when I see an article like this one from The Independent, my initial reaction is, "well, duh". I've seen this article on several other websites with great commentary, but when I read the piece all I could think was that, yeah, of course religious "miracles" were due to something like drug use because it's obvious to normal people that "mystical" experiences, well, aren't. They are simple altered states of consciousness with a previously unknown source.

"One third (of the 30 volunteers involved) described the experience with psilocybin as the single most spiritually significant of their lifetimes and two thirds rated it among their five most meaningful experiences." Yes, that's only 10 people, but still, to have the single most amazing thing in your entire life happen during an experiment with a psychedelic drug is fairly enlightening. This test seems quite like Dr. James E. Whinnery's near-death experience tests in the centrifuge that showed how NDE's could be reproduced on-demand with stunning accuracy.

Sadly for NDE survivors and true religious believers, you will likely never be able to convince them that what they felt, saw, or experienced was a part of them, was in their heads and because of that, what happened is so much more interesting. For some people, that arm is actually passing through the guy with no pain or marks on the body afterward - only the supernatural "explanations" will be acknowledged.

Booooo on that mindset. It's going to get us killed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Douchepak Chumpra Strikes Again

Right off the bat in his article at The Huffington Post I have to correct Chumpra: "A few weeks age (sic - I assume he means "ago") the second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, donated three-quarters of his wealth to the richest man in the world, Bill Gates." No, Douchepak, Buffett gave it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's a charitable organization, not a guy.

I find it difficult to take Douchepak seriously when he says stupid shit like this:

"...massive gifts of this kind (Buffett's) have a backlash. They tend to discourage us smaller donors, whose contributions look like a pittance by comparison." Sorry? "Us smaller donors"? Don't you have millions of dollars from selling, among other fine products, a "toxin scraping tongue cleaner"? Didn't you give up a career as a real doctor so you could make your dough writing woo woo books that fool ignorant people into believeing they can reverse aging?

And why would a self-confident person like you worry about how anyone interprets your charitable donation? Keeping up with the Singhs, eh?

How about this cherry of a quote from the same piece:

"...in the massive problems of global hunger, disease, and poverty that it (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) focuses on...one has to ask if money is really the key here." Exactly. Keep your money. Don't give to them. Those billionaires don't need any more money and it won't help educate South African youth, support community development, or reduce cervical cancer incidents or deaths in developing countries anyway.

Might as well buy an invigorating aroma candle to balance your kapha, whatever the fuck that means. Then maybe we'll all join consciousness and increase our vibrations to the next level activating the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon so everyone will share a common universal memory of oneness, spirituality, and lovingsquishytenderness.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a fantastic charity and Warren Buffett's gift was an amazing gesture of his intention to do his small part to help the world. Deepak Chopra is an opportunistic asshole who gave up real medicine because it was too hard on him to tell people bad news. Now he sells bath oils, tongue cleaners, and false hope. Who would you like your money to go to? To borrow a line from Mr. White of Resevoir Dogs, "Ain't no choice at all."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"There Are Two Things in Life I Can't Stand: People Who Are Intolerant of Other People's Cultures, and the Dutch"

I was listening to CBC radio on the drive home from my slo-pitch game today and there was a caller talking about the World Cup. She was from Sri Lanka/Toronto and was saying how German patriotism made her "uneasy". All those black, red, and gold flags somehow reminded her of the holocaust and Nazis and skinheads.

Maybe it's because I'm of the generation that didn't have to directly deal with that bullshit, but when I watched the few World Cup games that I did, I enjoyed seeing Germany do well. People shit on the Germans too much for the crimes of their grandfathers - let me tell you, if my grandfather was some douchey child molestor and I grew up hating everything about him and what he did, and then a bunch of knee-jerk asshats came along and didn't like me because of my relation to the dickhole child molesting grandfather, I'd be pretty upset.

German people have a lot to be proud of - Oktoberfest, for one. Hell, if that's all Germany had, they'd be well able to hold their heads high. It was nice to see them host the FIFA World Cup even though I'm far from a huge football fan. The fact that they played really well and got third is fantastic. It was great to hear some folks from Deutschland say (in a radio interview on CBC - yes, I'm a huge geek) that it was refreshing to be able to cheer and be patriotic again without the stigma of the past hanging over their heads.

I wanted to call in and tell this woman that it was a soccer tournament. It involved the whole world - give or take (not a bit of Canada there). I love underdogs so when I watched I was cheering for Togo. Those lads did well for their small country. Good on 'em. The thing is, there are no politics at the World Cup (naive?). Sure you've heard that silly saying, "the politics of the world are played out on the football pitch", but that's stupid like Forrest Gump after being choked unconscious and stuffed full of caramels.

Nazis are a thing of the past, only to be thought of when we see young pictures of the Pope. Yes, the skinheads are real, but are they really a force to be reckoned with these days? Patriotism in sports is a nice thing to see, regardless of who's displaying it. Pride in a national team is good for everyone, provided that the general rules of fair play apply and win or lose, you leave with your dignity intact. Be a magnanimous winner and a gracious loser.

Being patriotic about where you are from doesn't make too much sense to me. Like Bill Hicks said: "I was over in Australia and people kept asking me, 'Are you proud to be an American?' And I was like, 'Um, I don't know, I didn't have a lot to do with it. You know, my parents fucked there, that's about all.'"

Germany is not threatening and the only reason that woman on the radio felt "uneasy" was because of the past. I would tell her to stop living back there and catch up with the rest of us who are focusing on the game, focusing on real issues, and enjoying our suppers of hamburgers and beer. German beer.

Coulter: Hello? Hello....? Dammit....

Goddamn do I love Adam Carolla.

Here's the transcript of what happened. (from Crooks and Liars)

ADAM CAROLLA: Ann Coulter, who was suppose to be on the show about an hour and a half ago, is now on the phone, as well. Ann?

ANN COULTER: Hello.

CAROLLA: Hi Ann. You’re late, babydoll.

COULTER: Uh, somebody gave me the wrong number.

CAROLLA: Mmm… how did you get the right number? Just dialed randomly — eventually got to our show? (Laughter in background)

COULTER: Um, no. My publicist e-mailed it to me, I guess, after checking with you.

CAROLLA: Ahh, I see.

COULTER: But I am really tight on time right now because I already had a —

CAROLLA: Alright, well, get lost.


After Adam was asked if he actually just hung up on Ann Coulter, he said, "I'm tight on time too, and I don't have time for bitches." One of his associates in the background said, "That was the only interview with Ann Coulter that she didn't say something offensive."

If everyone treated her with the same level of disinterest she seems to have for normal, rational discourse and just cut her off when she acts like a fucking cow, she wouldn't be anywhere near the level of "celebrity" she seems to be.

Thanks to PZ for the post.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Danny Glover and Joe Pesci Got Nothin' On Me

gone_fishin

I'll be back tomorrow evening to tear a new ass in either the silly Pope or maybe, thanks to a reminder from The Crack Emcee, homeopathy, which has escaped my wrath for a little too long.

Enjoy your weekend and if any of you are watching the UFC fights between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz as well as the heavyweight battle of Tim Sylvia and André Arlovski, don't tell me as I'll try to catch a replay or maybe download them on Monday like the punk I am.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Skeptical Soda in the Circle - #38

Go on over to Skeptic Rant and have yourself a cold one, full to the brim of skeptical refreshingness! (not sure if that's actually a word, but it'll do for now)

The next one is right here. No joke. Here. For the first time ever. You can mail your submissions to me at seal_35 at hotmail dot com. Thanks tons!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Holy Fucknuggets

Holy Fuck

This silliness is courtesy of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Memphis. You can read about it here if you want to get that feeling - you know, the one where you just want to get a ball-peen hammer and smash it into your forehead about 4 times. Until you pass out from the pain or your skull caves in. In case you were wondering, yeah, that's a replica of the Statue of Liberty, only she's holding a copy of the Ten Commandments, she has "Jehovah" carved into her crown, and she's holding a giant goddamn cross instead of a torch. Oh, and there's a single tear running down her cheek (probably because making her look like that is the same as putting an American flag up an elephant's asshole and then wrapping it around Wayne Newton's face and asking him to sing America the Beautiful) "because of America's growing godlessness".

What a bunch of fuckholes. They actually say in the article that, "...Christianity should be the guiding ethos of the nation." Yeah. What do you want to bet they don't even know about the "stone people who blaspheme" part (Lev. 24:16)? Or the "kill people who try to talk some fuckin' sense into your head and get you out of the cult" part (Deut. 13 up to about verse 11)?

Religion is horrible.

Ann of Good Fables

I haven't written about Ann Coulter's book Godless yet, and for good reasons. Firstly, when I think about her I sort of vomit a little bit in my mouth. It tastes bad and I have to get a drink to get that acidy nastiness washed away. Secondly, there are people out there far better at plunging their NAS (New Asshole Sticks) into her chest, back, and head, tearing her several more than she needs. Of course PZ has laid the smack down in the form of a challenge to either Coulter herself or to her supporters - oddly it has gone unanswered as yet. Funny....

Today, however, I found this great article via the always fantastic One Good Move. James Downard takes the voodoo doll that is Ann Coulter and beats it with a shovel full of fire ants. It's not like everyone didn't know that Coulter's book was full of misquotes, outright falsehoods, lame ad hominums that a third-rate comic at 2am could outwrite, and a lack of understanding that would make a self-abusive retard donate his helmet to her. Boy, it is nice to read someone completely take her apart; I only wish someone would do it on TV where all could watch that hateful non-comprehending dumbass squirm around for 10 minutes.

I look forward to the Part II: Coulter vs. Paleontology!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Roots of Religious Repression for Women?

I'm thinking over the weekend and I come to a conclusion. Religion hates abortion - we know this. Why do they hate abortion? Because it kills "children". It's "murder". Jebus or the Lord loves everyone, especially the unborn who apparently can't defend themselves, the pussies. Religion also hates stem cell research that could provide some answers to the questions of diseases that have baffled medicine for years. This is seemingly because the stem cells come from embryos that won't live - extra embryos from in-vitro fertilizations and such. Churchy Charlies and Jane Pews think that once sperm meets ovum, that's a life, smacky! Touch it and die.

Masturbation is a sin because, as Monty Python said so eloquently, "every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great...if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate". The Catholic Church considers masturbation a "grave moral disorder" which, if done with the knowledge that it is a "sin" along with the intent to do it regardless, will send you directly to fucking HELL! Might as well hang a "touch it and die" sign on your schmeckle. A tattoo might be a better option for these modern times.

So religion hates anything that wastes a potential life. I think this is why religion is so male-dominated and repressive towards females. Follow my logic here:

Men release approximately 200 - 500 million sperm per ejaculation. Women release one egg per month. Every one of those sperm represent half of one life, according to church logic. So men are full of potential and are willing/able to populate a planet of the Earth's size in just over 12 cumshots. But no, we are stimied by the stinginess of the female reproduction system. Like an over-concerned parent telling their child they can only have half of their peanut-buster parfait and must save the other half for tomorrow because it's too much and too sweet and you'll get fat if you keep putting that stuff in your mouth, Michael!

Sorry, got carried away there.

Back to the point. The church doesn't like women because they naturally resist the reproduction drive. Every sperm can make a kid and is "half a life", but those pesky women are holding us back. So what to the Charlie Churches do? They hold women back - no voting for you. Clean the house and don't you even think about working. Do it barefoot, too, bitch. Want to be a priest? Fuck you. Do what I tell you, but don't think you can do what I do.

In the crossed eyes of religious fucknozzles, women are a living monument to slow progress. Personally, there've been a few women in high school and university that I'm quite happy were willing to hold back on that egg delivery for a couple days or hours. Back then I could barely keep my shoes tied, let alone make sure a kid got fed.

So that's why I think religion represses women. Well, at least part of the reason. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Weddings and Fish and Whoop, Oh My!

Happy Canada Day, y'all! I've got a wedding to go to today and then a late night drive to the in-law's place where we have a fishing/river canoeing trip all day tomorrow. I'll be back Monday whereupon I will most likely lay 10 gallons of whoop-ass on someone's head for your entertainment pleasure.

Have a great few days!