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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday Double Tap

First things first. The new Skeptic's Circle is up at Salto Sobrius. It's number 44, and just like Dirty Harry's gun, it'll put a pumpkin-sized hole in any of your silly bullshit, son. Check it out right now before I run out of patience.

Second things second. Paris never knew the monster she released.

Celebrity sex tapes surface now and again to titillate fans and raise revenue on porn sites. Usually they are of the celebrities you may, when you're in the mood, want to watch have sex.

You may say to yourself while sitting in front of your computer as Limewire downloads the green-tinged clip, "Paris Hilton is a stupid worthless whoreish waste of skin and hemoglobin, but perhaps she can give a great blowjob...(fade to black while the video is watched...fade back in to a bleak-eyed viewer staring sadly into the abyss)...nope, she apparently had the maid come in and suck off her previous boyfriends in a vain attempt to appear competent at something."

The bottom has officially been reached, however, and now I'm on the verge of converting and conceding that, as Seth Gecko says in From Dusk 'til Dawn, "...if there's a Hell...there's gotta be a Heaven." I now am on the tipping point of being able to say, yes, there is a Hell because Dustin Diamond - Screech from Saved by the Bell - has released a sex tape.

Apparently this foul tool of Lucifer shows Mr. Diamond "doing the deed", as it were, with TWO women. A ménage a trois. With fucking Screech in the middle. I may have to kill myself now for never having had a threesome. Kill myself violently. Perhaps with some sort of aesthetics instrument.

Over the top of this, there is a claim which says Diamond gives a Dirty Sanchez to one of the girls. Jesus fuck a monkey, I'm actually feeling a bit faint. Why not just Strawberry Shortcake one and Donkey Punch the other and be done with it?

You know the part that hurt me the most? More than the 3some and the freaky-deaky stuff? The tape is forty fucking minutes long.

The last time I had sex for forty minutes the Spice Girls ruled the pop charts and Pam Anderson was still a dainty, modest C-cup. I can still knock out a good half hour, but beyond that I'm risking some sort of permanent back injury or a heart attack that would make John Ritter proud.

I remember Diamond most recently from beating the living shit out of Horshack on the inappropriately named Celebrity Boxing, and for his internet campaign to save his house. His agent thinks the sex tape may be good for Screech's career and might make it easier to book him - you know, break away from that Screech image.

So to recap: Dustin Diamond bones TWO women at once, humiliates at least one by rubbing his post-anal Diamond-Hard across her upper lip, releases this tape, and now may be able to have a better career because of it.

Can we dig up Richard Dawson and do Running Man for real? Jesse Ventura would bite for sure and we could get Dog the Bounty Hunter to chip in as well. It's time to start thinning the "celebrity" herd.

Good Book Survey

Here's an interesting book survey I saw at Goosing the Antithesis and decided to take up. Enjoy and tackle it yourself, should you choose to accept....

1. A book that changed your life.

As cliché as it is, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. It's the book that really tipped the scales for me towards science and rationality while keeping me from becoming a hate-filled, spiteful bastard...although you wouldn't know it from a lot of posts on this blog.

2. A book you've read more than once.

I haven't read any book more than once, if I remember correctly, but I do go back frequently and re-read sections of books. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman is one of those, as is Sophi's World.

3. 1 book you'd want on a desert island.

I thought about this one and I'd have to agree with my fellow survey filler-outers and say the SAS Survival Guide, with the added point that I would like the pages to be laminated.

4. 1 book that made you giddy.

Stiff by Mary Roach. It's a great piece about human cadavers and what they're used for in many different areas. Interesting and, at times, hilarious.

5. 1 book you wish that had been written.

Any one of those stupid Chicken Soup for the... books. They make major coin, I just don't think I could look myself in the mirror.

6. 1 book that made you sob.

Want to know what a huge puss I am? Love Story. I read this in high school and the end actually made me cry. I suck.

7. 1 book you wish had never been written.

The Celestine Prophecy. If more stupid, self-important bullshit has been said in the name of another book (minus religious tomes), I'd like to hear it. James Redfield is a douchenozzle.

8. 1 book you're currently reading.

The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. It's great and I'm enjoying the journey backwards through evolutionary time to meet some of my extremely distant relatives. If only the rest of the world would accept evidence for all of their beliefs instead of just the day to day stuff, we'd be better off.

9. 1 book you've been meaning to read.

I have to say more than one book, because I have gotten through most of the Bible, I've hit parts of the Koran, and I'd like to plow through the other religious texts. The problem is that they're just so goddamn boring, redundant and pointless (not to mention threatening, scary, and completely fucked) that they hurt my head. Eventually I'll get through them.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Your Logic is Impeccable, Captain. We are in Grave Danger

Surprise surprise. Canada is supposedly becoming a more Christian country. Fantastic.

You know, I remember going on a trip a few years ago to South Carolina to visit some friends. Nice place, pretty, but WAY too psycho Xtian for a heathen like me to live comfortably. I brought along my usual selection of witty/offensive t-shirts to wear - one of which was black and in small, white letters across the front said, "god hates you." I thought it was hilarious and it started a lot of interesting conversations.

Of course, when you're in the second notch of the Bible belt and hidden by the fatty overflow of the belly of deep fried Jebus Love, not too many people take that sort of thing lightly. Let's just say that when a group of us went to dinner and a movie, none of them wanted to stand near me or talk to me for fear of physical violence happening. I also noticed that when the ubiquitous counter-help of that lovely state took a gander at my garb, the service level went from A to D quite rapidly.

I really wanted to wear that particular shirt when the Pope (JP2) visited Toronto for World Youth Day as well, but as much as I enjoyed the irony of being stomped to death by a huge mass of Christian youths, a million to one was too great an outnumbering, even for me.

Now, however, in an article in the Globe & Mail, Canada is being described as becoming much more religious. Didn't we ditch that stuff to be more like Europe? You know, the "more educated" and "refined" countries? A very telling line from the piece talking about a Jebus vs. non Jebus poll says, "...(I)t suggests a growing divide in Canadian culture where religion can become a wedge that pushes people apart." Religion? A wedge to divide? No...I don't believe that for a second. Hogwash.

With respect to social activism and the churches, Charles H. McVety, president of Canada Christian College and the Canada Family Action Coalition (I'm going to die of not-surprise that his group has "family" in its name), is quoted as saying, "My hope and prayer is that more people get involved (in the political process), so no single interest group is overrunning the system...." I'm going to call bullshit here. That's exactly what you want - your group holding the reins and everyone doing the "right thing" and acting "properly."

Gwendolyn Landolt of the ironically named group, "Real Women Canada", was quoted as saying, "Same-sex marriage will never be accepted any more than abortion is. It will be a running open sore in the face of Canadian society." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think Ms. Landolt doesn't share Mr. McVety's dubious opionion that a lot of people should get involved in the system to make it as broad as possible. I think Ms. Landolt wants everyone to be Xtian and follow the ridiculous ideals that her particular superstition espouses. You know, so we won't support a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, or the basic human right to be happy in a relationship - these things that are "running open sores." Bitch.

Another quote, one of my personal favorites, says, "If Canada's really a democracy, then for a democracy to function it has to have every voice heard, including Christians...The reality is that we're here and it's our nation as much as anyone else's." Right, so in a true democracy we're not free to NOT participate - your voice MUST be heard, hippie! And yes, Christians are here and their voice must be heard, fine. But their voice cannot be louder or more important than mine or anyone else's. If they think gay marriage or abortion is wrong, then the can take that opionion under advisement when THEY have to make a decision involving those topics in their lives.

And you know what? Sometimes what the majority wants is fucking retarded because the majority are delusional dipshits who think an invisible man in the sky wants a list in a book followed. Sometimes, there are rules that have to be made that protect everyone equally, regardless of what the majority feels. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is just such a set of rules, although I would fight to have the first line changed to something a little more sane:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Can we change "God" to "Thor", please? I'd be much more comfortable with that. Yeah, you want to see Xtians freak the fuck out....

Whether or not our population is getting more religious is irrelevant with respect to our laws. By myself, with no other supporters or cohorts, my lifestyle and personal choices are as valid as anyone else's and there's nothing the Xtian right can do about that. If they don't like it, may their god strike me dead tonight by any means of his choosing.

Suprise, I'm still here and I just may perform an abortion today. You know, just to spite Jebus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

"How About a Nice Game of Chess?"

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Such was the cause of the most ironic violence since...well, since last September when the newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed what have now come to be known as (on this page,anyway) the Danish Cartoons. I haven't written on the Pope's little Chevy Chase pratfall of words because it just seems to be the same thing over and over. Someone says something mildly critical of Islam, then Muslim freaks lose their fucking minds and go apeshit around the world, killing nuns, firebombing churches, and generally acting like little bitches, all the while screaming, "WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP SAYING ISLAM IS VIOLENT?!!"

As Jon Stewart said: "The irony, and this is the case for most of these groups, was lost on them."

Militant Islam is violent. So is militant Christianity and militant Judaism and pretty much any other group that has "militant" before their actual group name. I'm sure that if there were a group of "militant Pacifists", they'd kill you if you weren't as peaceful as you could be.

On the scale of belief, we have militant, fundamentalist, strong believer, moderate, weak believer, and non-practicing (I just made that up so feel free to yell at me). Once you get below fundie, it's all folks who do their thing and for the most part don't fuck with other people. The trouble is that, as Sam Harris argues, it's these folks who allow and make apologies for the crazy two groups at the top end. It's these people who say, "Well, yes, they're crazy, but the Bible/Koran/Torah/Holy Book says that our way is the right way...I don't agree with what they did, but I know why they did it..."

The fact that Islam is violent completely slips by Muslims. The Koran is a violent book. It tells its followers to do violent things; in exactly the same way that the Bible is a violent book that tells its followers to do violent things. Anyone who says these texts aren't violent has obviously never actually sat down and read them (which would be most of the practicing world, I'm sad to say).

I really don't know what the point of this piece is. The Pope is a jerkoff - that's for sure. The Muslims/Clerics who are killing people and firebombing churches are complete fuckwads, do doubt. I'm saddened when I realize that nothing is going to change for, most likely, the duration of my life; I just get this spinning record view from above of the world, going around and around with no one learning anything, like Matthew Broderick in WarGames waiting for the computer to figure out that the only way to win is to not play, only now seeing that it's not going to happen and we're all going to die over stupidity and invisible friends.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Holmes on Homes on...Crack?

I saw his hands first, the light grip on the wires. I thought, "it couldn't be...not on this show." Sadly, it was.

I was watching a home-improvement show that I enjoy called Holmes on Homes tonight and Mike, the show's namesake, was in the midst of major home renos. It really seems that his heart is in the right place and he certainly knows what he's doing with respect to contracting. He's a guy you'd do well to look up to and admire. Then I saw something that just stuck in my craw.

There had to be a new septic tank installed and I saw a guy on the lawn with Mike from some septic company (I can't recall the name). He was talking about the lines from the house and I could see something in his hands and I thought, "nooooo..." Sure enough, the next shot was the guy walking across the grass and the bent wires were crossing and he was saying, "there's one line...there should be five...yep, there's another one..." and blah blah blah.

Mike was impressed and said that he had to try it. They showed Mike with the divining rods and they crossed, as they do, when he went over where the other guy had the rods cross. Mike was amazed. The fella let Mike keep the rods and said, "you can do it know, so you keep those."

This is a perfect example of a person who kicks all ass at his job but doesn't have the specialized knowledge of trickery or, more to the point in this instance, self-deception that would keep him free of magical thinking. I'm sure I don't have to tell too many people who read this site about dowsing and if you haven't seen the video of James Randi testing dowsers in Australia (yes, it's long, but it's worth it), get to it, sirs and madams.

All Mike Holmes needs to do is read the entry in the Skeptic's Dictionary on dowsing to realize how...what's the term? Retarded it is. It's been around for a very long time and has been derided by pretty much everyone who came across it - as an example, I give you the words of the 16th century bad motherfucker Georgius Agricola who said:
(A minor)...should not make us of an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him, for ... there are natural indications of the veins which he can see for himself without the help of twigs.

Ok, so if some guy in the 1500's could figure it out, why is it still around? Well because it seems to work and because people have no idea about the ideomotor effect. People don't believe that their muscles will work when they're "not doing anything." Mike knew where the pipe was because the guy before him "found" it with the rods, therefore Mike's muscles worked to cross the wires without him knowing it. Done deal?

No, not quite. How did the guy from the septic company find the water lines? Well, there's a couple possible answers there: either he knew from before where the lines were and just faked it; he may have used visual clues to know where the pipes were and just convinced himself that it was the wires that located them; maybe he got lucky; or just maybe he didn't find shit and the backhoe had to dig in an entirely different area and they just didn't show that on TV.

Dowsers plain don't work. Sadly you will probably never convince Mike Holmes of that because it seemed to work for him. The power of reinforcement is pretty strong. Mike, by all appearances, is a great guy who is supremely skilled at his crafts - he just needs a little skeptical education.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We Must Keep the Signal Fire Burning

I was thinking recently. I was thinking about a novel I read - one that most of us have read, probably long ago. I was thinking of Lord of the Flies.

Because I'm a huge heathen godless bastard, I was struck with how much the actions of the boys on the island mirrored religious vs. non-religious interaction in the world. Piggy was the only one on the island who actually thought and had solid reasoning for what he said and yet he was ridiculed for being fat and wearing glasses. No one save for Ralph later in the story took him seriously. Ralph, the leader early on, had the sane idea to keep a signal fire burning to ensure being seen in the event of a passing ship, thus increasing the chance of being rescued. Some of the boys, however, were more concerned with "having fun" and hunting.

What happened eventually, after the ominously foreshadowing mention of becoming afraid of humans, was that the Hunters became focused on "the Beast" and appeasing it with the now-famous pig's head on a stick. They painted themselves and started doing meaningless rituals (dancing to stave off the rain and mock-hunting a member of the tribe before a hunt) instead of being practical and making shelters or keeping the fire going.

That would be fair enough, but what happened after that is what is so frightening. They started to eliminate their competition. The end of the novel with the Hunters stalking Ralph and setting the island on fire to burn him out is a grim reminder of how "magical thinking", when set ablaze in groups of easily led followers, can turn deadly.

Do a dance. Leave an offering. Those people don't agree with us, don't think that our group is the best? Tomorrow we'll get 'em. Tomorrow we'll set the whole place on fire and if we die in the effort, so be it.

Magical thinking scares me a lot.

The Godless...Dancing and Dressed...You Could Say "Carnival"

Bruce has done a good job with the new Carnival of the Godless (#49) and it can be found right here. It's my first submission to this but certainly not my last. Good times!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

One Lonely Angry Man

I'm from Nova Scotia and we have a saying there. "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes." This saying can be slightly modified to suit my present situation by changing it to: "Got blog-writing stagnation? Wait five minutes and the pope will say something stupid." It never fails, friends. While reading an article in Reuters today, I was once again struck by the head-in-the-sand stunned attitude of Pope Benny.

The piece actually said that, "spreading the word of Jesus Christ was more important than all the emergency and development aid that rich churches like those in Germany gave to poor countries." It brings to mind the old saying, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll always be able to eat; teach a man to pray and he'll starve to death waiting for a fish."

It is hard to listen to stupidity on the level of this: "Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable...When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little..." Yep, when we help people out by giving them all the schooling, technical tools and logistical support they need, dammit, we're just leaving out the spiritual aspect of growing grain or proper field irrigation. This pope must have inflatable balls to say dumb shit like that with a straight face.

Benny said, "Western" societies don't listen to the words of religion and that,"...What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited for our age." Bingo! Ding ding ding! We're Tyler Durden and you're the confused narrator sitting on that hotel room bed. You know the answer but are too scared to actually believe it. You are not needed anymore. You have the sick desperation of the one person left of the desert island who serves no purpose and is only taking up valuable resources.

Remember the movie 12 Angry Men? The church is the Lee J. Cobb character ranting about us nonbelievers being "no good" with all the evidence stacked against him; in fact, he is the person most in need of help to rid himself of the prejudices he holds for no valid reason.

70% of the world's Catholics live in "developing" (read: poor and technologically slowed) countries. This is likely because religion breeds in ignorance, it needs it. Once you start to see all the amazing things science and logical/critical thinking can do, the candles start to light up the dark and the demons go away.

Benny said, "Evangelisation itself should be foremost..." No, sir, I beg to differ. Ridding ourselves of the scourge of superstitious thinking and the violence and unsupported prejudice that rides shotgun - that is what should be foremost.

Skeptic's Circle #43

The new Skeptic's Circle is up over at Adventures in Ethics and Science and can be read here. Enjoy and...wait...#43...4 + 3 = 7. Three numbers with 4 in the first position makes 3.14 or pi. Pi relates to circles. Circles are flattened spheres. We live on a sphere called Earth. Holy crap...this Skeptic's Circle is nothing less than LIFE ITSELF! Go read.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Deconversion Story

Frank over at Financial Savvy Atheist is doing a Carnival of Deconversion and has requested a tale. A true tale, to be sure, of the loss of faith and belief in sky-dwellers. Here's mine, as told to a note-taking Equadorian stripper who was, oddly, smoking a Churchill cigar and was wearing headphones with the pulsing beat of the Timex Social Club quite audible from across the table. Enjoy:

My earliest memories of church are where I’m sitting and trying to not fall asleep. I would close my eyes and press my palms or thumbs against my eyelids until a greenish checkerboard tunnel pattern formed (in my brain?). I would hold my hands there for a minute or two and then open my eyes; the pattern would stay, then slowly my vision would start to return, the backs of heads and the priest would coming into focus again.

“…And so we speak now in the words our Father taught us, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name’…”

Repetition certainly burns the words into your head. Obviously I do not remember my baptism, I hardly remember last weekend. I vaguely recall my first communion because there is a picture of me in a pink dress shirt and tie (it was the 1980’s, come on – the Thompson Twins were fashion icons for chrissake). I think there was apple juice.

I do remember my first confession. Well, I remember not wanting to do it. Not because I had horrible things to confess; quite the opposite. I just did not want to do it. The priest did not need to know about my casual swearing and occasional masturbating. If he could talk to God, I could talk to God and we could eliminate the middleman, thus saving me the (then) embarrassing telling of a great fantasy involving Alyssa Milano. Besides, why should I tell him? Was confessing that I took some of my mom’s hair clips (you know, because I’m a thug) going to be that one thing that gets me into Heaven? Well better not take a chance – I told him something pointless and that was that. I have never been back.

Catechism was something we did after church or, later in junior high, one night during the week. It was more of a meeting to discus how God fits into life than a prayer group or bible study. In all honesty, I can only remember two “teachers” and nothing of what they said about religion. One sticks in my mind because I saw her and her husband at the video store one night coming out of the X-rated back room. They did not see me, but once you see your “spiritual teacher” holding “Dirty Sluts Who Swallow vol. 85”, you sort of gain an odd perspective on life and how equal we all really are.

The other fellow I recall vaguely had a large glass bottle by his fireplace that was filled with pennies. He said, “Anyone who breaks in here and carries this out can have it.” I offered to take him up on it, but the fear of an inguinal hernia and stealing from a volunteer church teacher stopped me short. Oh, and we pushed a car out of his driveway one snowy night. Not one lesson from all the years of Sunday school stuck with me.

Somehow though, the repetition of church made something in my heart know there was a God. Not just God, but spirits, saints, angels, and devils too. Part of the package, I guess. In high school I was on a “boys challenge” – sort of a three-day (I think) retreat where we would stay at the “Mother House”, a convent at Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford, Nova Scotia.

Again, the memories of this are faded to the point where all I remember are a select few, decidedly non-religious moments. For example, at one speech or lecture, I was watching a guy named Ozzy spin his pen around his thumb. A sort of a snap-your-fingers motion produced a smooth spin that looked really cool. I taught myself to do it soon afterwards and I still do it today, so I can’t say that religious functions never taught me anything.

At the closing meeting where all the parents and some church higher-ups attended, one retreater was speaking and we all called out for him to do the chicken impression he had made us all laugh so hard with during the previous nights. He obliged after some goading, surely much to the chagrin of the organizers.

I fell away from the church in my late teen years when my parents stopped getting me up to go to mass. I guess they felt that if I wanted to go, I would make the effort and it was them allowing me to make a choice that I still thank them for today. They kept going themselves for a while, but faded off after a few more years. The God belief stayed with me for some time however, until I moved away from home for the first time.

In 1996 I graduated from university with an English degree and moved to Kagoshima, Japan to teach at a private school and see some of the world. I was also quite green and trying to find out who I was and what I thought. Going to a place where Buddhism and Shintoism were the main religions made me question the rightness of what I had been taught.

Since I was no longer going to church and had no interest in being around “church people”, I tried to adopt a new spirituality. I was interested in Japan so I thought maybe Shintoism would be a good fit for me. I went to a large shrine close to my apartment and stood outside the torii gate. Looking in, I tried to feel something. Anything. I remembered that I was supposed to walk up to the front of the building, clap three times, and pull the rope, then toss a small monetary donation into the trough (why do they always need money?).

I felt like a fake. It was as though I was in a horrible disguise that everyone could plainly see and they were all staring at me. I left.

At the bookstore a few weeks later I found an English/Japanese guide to Buddhism. After reading it I was no further along in my quest. It seemed that belief in re-incarnation was a fundamental concept for Buddhists, which seemed way too odd for me to take without questioning.

A friend told me about a four-day course in “personal power” that a friend of his from Australia was putting on. It sounded intriguing so I signed up and paid the $400 to better my “manifesting”. Sadly, the guy was a complete flake and the one thing that stuck with me was a bit during a guided meditation about “relaxing your anus.” I still jokingly sign off emails to a friend who also took the course with that phrase – “relaxing my anus, Mike.”

I stopped looking for spiritual happiness and one day while teaching a lesson to the Japanese teachers, I brought up ghosts. I asked them to tell their favorite ghost stories to illustrate some grammatical point. One asked me at the end of the class if I believed in ghosts to which I replied that I did not. The next day she stopped me in the hall of the school and said, “if you don’t believe in ghosts then you don’t believe in God, right?” She had this “I got you” look in her eyes and I stopped to answer her.

“No, I don’t believe in God”, I said. It was the first time I said it out loud and it felt really weird. I actually said it more for shock value than anything else because it is a silly question that doesn’t follow logic. Shock worked because she was quite taken back and went off to her room. I retreated to mine also where I attempted to debrief myself – Do I believe in God? Do I need to believe in God? No. What changes if I don’t? Nothing.

This was my entry to godlessness. Upon my return to Canada a year later with many books under my belt (of course Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark was key among those), I went for a drink with a friend. He had been religious and the subject came up. I said that I was no longer a believer and he then asked if I was an atheist or an agnostic. I told him “atheist”.

“Wow”, he said. Since then I have often thought about the difference and have gone back and forth between, “I’m an agnostic because I’m open to being convinced by evidence”, and “I’m an atheist because there is no evidence – if that changes, I’ll rethink my position.” Somehow now I feel beyond labels. “Atheist” doesn’t mean anything – I don’t believe in six-legged flying green buffalo from Venus, but I don’t go around saying I’m an “ahexabuffavertovenesian aerialist”. It’s just silly. We only have a word for “no belief in god(s)” because religious belief in a paranormal figurehead in the sky is so pervasive.

Now here I am: a writer who has no need for faith trying to make life as pleasant as possible for my family and friends. I clash with religious people and with people who claim to possess paranormal skills, but this, I think, is necessary. When so many people believe in something demonstrably false, people like Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, James Randi, Penn & Teller, and many bloggers and others speak up to try to keep folks from being scammed and to promote reason and rationality.

I am proud to be a very small voice in the chorus of skeptics, heathens, freethinkers, and contrarians trying to make this world a better place, here and now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ya Button-Hooked Me...I Didn't Think You Were Gonna Button-Hook Me

Our ability to reason may be our greatest advantage for survival, but it may also be our biggest vulnerability. People need answers, and when none are available, we use our heads to try to figure out why what happened happened. Our answer need not be correct, it just has to make sense to us.

Imagine you are a villager who grows corn. You depend on your crop for both food and money so your family can live. This year the rains haven't come yet and all the farmers are worried. There is no Weather Network to check the "extended five-day forecast", there's just looking blankly at the sky and hoping.

One particularily worrisome year, you and your farmer friends start asking why there is no rain. You think and think but can fathom no reason for the lack of water. You all decide to ask the "old wise man" of the village and he (it is undoubtedly a "he") gives you an answer: "God is not happy - kill a goat."

So you find and kill a goat with great ceremony in the village square. You carve it up and have a feast, making sure to leave a special plate and glass of wine out for the Rain God.

Surprise! Three days later, it rains.

Now, the rain came after the goat murder, so obviously it was caused by the goat murder (post hoc, ergo propter hoc). Your crops are saved and the wise man-s position is secure.

After the whole episode is over, you probably don't stop to think about whether the rain would have come anyway. You probably don't think that it was animals that ate the special plate of food during the night and evaporation that took some of the wine. You have your answer: God did it. This is the answer that makes sense.

The longevity of magic and wise men (and, indeed, religions themselves) is likely due to writers who didn't know about deception and trickery attempting to describe, retell, and glorify the "amazing feats" of past magicians/wise men. As any amature or professional magician will know, a spectator's account of what happened during a trick is almost always horribly inaccurate - now imagine the retelling of that story a hundred years from now.

That is the place we are working from when attemtping to loosen the grip of superstition and religion; we must pry the minds away from the "easiest" explanation and get people to look at actual evidence. We now have the 5-Day extended forecast, but most are still relying in killing goats.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The List

There's nothing I care about today. The last couple of days sifting through the news has been filled with either "Meh, who cares", "Fuck, that's stupid to the point of not being worth commenting on", and "That's great, but not interesting".

Under "Meh", we have Tony Blair's party collapsing, Bush and his party still fucking up left and right, and Stephen Harper doing what he does to be an annoying little prat.

Under "Fuck that's stupid", we have Paris Hilton's DUI arrest, Lindsay Lohan's loss and subesquent regaining of a million dollars worth of jewels she left in a fucking handbag, and Tucker Carlson on Dancing With the Stars (implying that he's a fuckin' star...whatever).

Finally, under "Great but Uninteresting", we have the Space Shuttle Atlantis launch, the tribute of Khaki Friday in Australia to Steve Irwin, and there is still no link betweek Saddam/Iraq and Al Quesadea.

I'm just bored with the whole situation. It's like the retarded kids I used to work with; you'd leave for a year or two, go back and there'd be no change at all. They'd be older and bigger, but there was absolutely no behavioral changes whatsoever. That's us - that's humans. We might as well all be drooling retards who never learn. I think I have to move somewhere where I can just be an outdoorsy fella and fish and maybe be a guide or something. Forget about people who believe in ghosts and psychics and reiki; put behind me the chelation and chiropractic and acupuncture; leave for dead the "celebrity" red string around the wrist and incessant worship of ignorance we seem to be so quick to succumb to.

In honor of George Carlin, I too am going to give to you a list (much like Carlin did in his Complaints and Grievances special) of People Who Should Be Killed - in no particular order and by no means all-inclusive...feel free to add to it:
Deepak Chopra
Sharon Stone
Paris Hilton
John Edward
Sylvia Browne
James VanPraagh
Rosemary Altea
Ted Haggard
Benny Hinn
Peter Popoff
Uri Geller
Alison DuBois
Montel Williams
Geraldo Rivera
Bill O'Reilly
Everyone in the "Westboro Baptist Church", especially Fred Phelps
Osama Bin Laden
Jerry Falwell
Pat Robertson
Too many politicians to name
The fucking Pope

I am by no means advocating that anyone harm or otherwise do damage to these people, I just wouldn't be in any way emotionally distraught by their demise. As I said above, feel free to add to the list.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Say It! It's "Canada's New Government"!! SAY IT!

Oh Stephen Harper, when will you become normal? Do you seriously believe that you are anything more than a blip in the country's history? You have been "handled" by G.W. Bush into being called "Steve" on the national stage - how does that make you feel? Sort of like you have to try to "handle" the people of Canada? Maybe you need to rename something...like the Government of Canada?

A recent email from the PMO's strategic policy branch said: "As per the minister's office, effective immediately, and until further notice, the words 'Canada's New Government' are to be used instead of 'the Government of Canada' in all departmental correspondence..." Well "yee haw!", motherfucker, why not just go all the way and say "Canada's New Uncomfortable Cowboy Government"?
Harper Cowboy
You know, renaming the Government of Canada to suit your whims and pleasures won't make it run any smoother or make the Canadian people trust you any more. By avoiding the media (the five-month long boycott of you is on a month-long hiatus as of tomorrow, but you won't be scrambling to answer any questions, will you?) and effectively hiding from the people who elected you, you will alienate more and more of the folks who supported you.

As for the people who didn't vote for you (i.e. me), you NEED to talk to the media to explain what the fuck you are doing. Those of us who voted but not for you are the ones you have to try to swing and you are doing a shitty job so far, "Steve". We don't care if you're personable or even likeable, we just want to be assured that you aren't just saying stuff like, "the softwood dispute is solved, go to sleep" and then not doing shit about it.

Not talking to the media is irresponsible. They are asking the questions WE want answered. Being annoyingly controlling to them is annoying to me and is a lovely little window into your life. I'd hate to take your Starbucks order.

Take a look at this picture:
CANADA ELECTION
Start being straight with the electorate of Canada, stop changing the name of things without actually doing anything (which is like saying, "I know it's a piece of shit, but just call it a 'daisy'...that'll make everything better"), and talk to the press. If you don't, the above will be you looking back into Canadian history for a glimpse of your legacy...and seeing nothing but semantics.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Avatar Adi Da Samraj is a Douchebag and so is John Forth

I got an email from someone recently that had an excerpt (and by “excerpt” I mean “long ass drivel-ridden tirade”) of a speech by a guy named Avatar Adi Da Samraj. This weirdo has been around for a long time and has had a bit of a, shall we say, “mixed” past.

He was born Frank Jones in Queens, N.Y. in November 1939. Yes, you read that correctly: Frank Jones. If you’d like to lend an air of new-agey credibility to your retardedness, just throw around a name like “Adi Da Samraj” and watch the hippies crawl out from under their Indian macramé blankets. Truth be told, he used several silly-ass names through the years, all of which can be found on the Wikipedia entry for Frank.

From his “about Adi Da Samraj” page on his site, we get this little pearl of knowledge: "Throughout His first two years, He existed in a state of constant Spiritual Radiance and Joy, without any sense of separate self (or ego)."

So he never cried, moaned, had a shit-cramp, or was in pain from a non-delivered burp? Who was there to check this out? Is this just hearsay? I think so and anyone who believes that this man is more than that is delusional and in need of a fairly serious "skeptical awakening".

Oh, and this is hilarious: "...in a specific moment at two years of age, He spontaneously chose to 'become' a human ego, to become the human child that His parents had named 'Franklin Jones'". Nice dishing off of the responsibility for the "Frank Jones" name. And again, how do we know that when this dipshit was two, he decided to become a human? Did we have a note-taking psychologist there? Perhaps he was friends with The Great Gazoo who then passed the knowledge on to Fred Flintstone (now known as "Avatar Deedle Von Mastonhess").

While he was studying, "He experienced every form of mystical or transcendental attainment that has ever been sought by human beings, in the East or West." He has no actual knowledge of the world around him, but he knows mystical, baby.

Speaking of mystical, I have to get to the "talk" I was emailed by John Forth - a devotee of said fake living diety who has contacted others in attempts to get his boy's word out. The peice is called "Space-Time is Love-Bliss", so you can guess how much sense it fucking made.
Not too deep in, I was treated to this phrase:
Matter is Light—not merely ordinary light (which can even change its speed, or fly about and be reflected on surfaces, and so on), but Fundamental Light, Light Itself, Which Is inherently Indivisible, inherently Unbroken.

I think physicists would be interested in the "ordinary light changing its speed" part of that. I've read this "sentence" several times and I still have no friggin' idea what it's supposed to say. My bachelor's degree in English is failing me.

I'll spare everyone the complete drivel that this descends into because reading it just makes you start to drool and your head hurt, but I do want to show the token "atheists are bad/misled" part:
Anti-religionists, atheists, and so forth, generally do not talk seriously about great esoteric religion and Spirituality. They merely take delight in creating verbal conflict with "other" (or science-challenged) human beings. The reason why they seem to have so much energy for promoting their anti-religious (and inherently "dark" and hopeless) point of view is that, in doing so, they presume they are addressing (and academically "sporting" with) non-scientists, even exoteric religionists, people with non-scientific (and scientifically insupportable, and, therefore, it is presumed, irrational) views, and so forth. Like headstrong young college students, they derive great enjoyment from denying (and even officially" anathematizing) absolutely everything that the pious religionists merely believe. But, outside the circumstance of that adolescent debate, where would they get any energy for denying Reality Itself, in Its Greatness? Any fool can delight in abusive conflicts with public religionists of the ordinary and exoteric kind. But what about Truth? What about the Great Matter—Reality Itself?

Need an Advil yet?

He seems pretty against the "dark and hopeless" views of atheists and other non-religious people even though he provides nothing besides idiotic rantings and fluffy tripe. He is, as I told John in an email, a low-rent Deepak Chopra. He now lives in Fiji with some suckers who follow him and think he's god incarnate. It goes without saying that I don't believe that, but look at the guy:
Adi Da Douchebag
How can anyone think this dickhole is god?! He looks like Jimmy Buffet and Anthony Hopkins had a kid, for chrissake. I can only hope this turns into a suicide cult. Dumbasses.