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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hey Kids! Let's Play a Game!

And people wonder why atheists sometimes seem angry....

I saw this Intelligent Design vs. Evolution board game via Pharyngula via Friendly Atheist and my head just started to hurt. I mean, seriously, you get more brains for supporting Ray "the-banana-is-curved-for-ease-of-entry" Comfort and Kirk "where-the-fuck-did-my-career-go?" Cameron than for evolutionary science? That's sad. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, this is the, "...board game that reveals the insanity of perhaps the greatest hoax of our times -- the unscientific 'theory of evolution.'"

Like it was just thought up the other week at a Cub Scout meeting and pondered over some grape Kool-Aid.

I was going to go all off on a tangent about why evolution is the best we have at the moment and is supported by literally tens of thousands of experiments and findings and how "Intelligent" Design would lose in an elementary school craft fair to a handicapped kid with a popsicle stick boomerang, but it's just not worth my time. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron don't influence too many people and the ones they do are too far gone to bring back around anyway. Let them play their game and think that, "It rained on the rocks, the rain and rocks made soup, and we came from the soup." I'll try to show these people what science actually says when I meet them and you guys do the same, ok? Maybe we can un-fuck the intellect that has been "Comfort-ed".

Ray Comfort is a guy who preaches to the converted and folks who don't know better. When he is challenged by a knowledgeable person (as was shown on the Hellbound Alleee podcast), he is forced to admit that his "arguments" are retarded. He'll never gain mass influence because he is not that great a speaker or intellectual, so blogs like this and the others linked to are enough to squash him (metaphorically speaking...I don't want anyone to actully squash the guy).

"A banana is an atheist's nightmare."? Not so much, Ray.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Godfather is Dead - Long Live the Godfather!

James motherfuckin' Godfather of Soul Brown
I'm sad to report that James "The Godfather of Soul" Brown died early today. Although not my generation, he certainly influenced all of music and most of the comedy that I listen to, most notably Eddie Murphy.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go listen to Sex Machine. Rather appropriate for the day, I'd say.

Isaac is a Year Old - Sort Of

In tribute to arguably the greatest mind to ever walk the planet, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Isaac Newton's Birthday. The honorable Sir Isaac would have turned 365 today.

Please repeat after me:
1. Inertia is an object's resistance to movement.

2. Force equals mass times acceleration.

3. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Thank you and enjoy Issac Day!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Humbug! And They've Got Sagan!

Hey all. I know that I said I was done until next year, but the new Skeptic's Circle is up over at Humbug Online and it's a good one. A (pseudo) Tribute to Carl Sagan with what looks like a TON of great posts to slog through over the Solstice/Christmas/Hannukkah/Kwanzaa/Saturnalia/Auxillary Holidays.

Enjoy and be safe.

Happy Winter Solstice to All!

I hope everyone has a great end-of-year surrounded by friends and family. I'll be back to blog and bitch more in the new year (although if something pisses me off immensely in the next week and a bit, I'm sure I'll pop on to tear it a new a-hole).
Happy Winter Solstice, bitches! Love, BigHeathenMike.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A True Master, Sagan Was

It has been, as of today, 10 years since the death of Carl Sagan. To commemorate this event there is a Blog-a-thon being done by a bunch of folks who are WAY better writers and scientists than I currently am. Go check that out if you feel the urge.

I do, however, want to pipe up and say that the first book I read that really opened my eyes and perspective about the awe-inspiring power of science was The Demon-Haunted World. Before that book, science was just math and physics and forumlas - you know, stuff at which I sucked.

What that book taught me was that science has general concepts that everyone can grasp, regardless of formal training, that make the world and universe sensible. It made everything comfortable even within the framework of uncertainty. That book led me to many many others from Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy to Marcia Bartusiak's Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, from Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker to James Randi's Flim Flam!. All have continued to shape my vision of how the world works, how people work, and as Michael Shermer says, why people believe weird things.

The thing that Sagan did better than most was sympathize with those who were credulous. He didn't talk down or patronize, he explained. Patiently and passionately, he brought the logic and beauty of science over people in a wave of inarguable points and safety. People were not stupid, not morons, for not believing what we know to be true - they were just human.

People like me have to keep that in mind because as an old martial arts instructor told me once, the most annoying person is one who has learned just enough to think they know it all. A true master is confident enough not to display what he knows at the slightest provocation, but waits for the best time to make the most effective use of what he knows.

Sagan was a master ninja of astrophysics and he is still missed, even by punks like me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh My God! They Beat Up Rosa Parks!

There's this woman named Miriam Shear who's on a bus in Jerusalem. She's going to pray at the Western Wall and she's sitting in the front of a public bus. A group of Haredi (or Super Mega Orthodox Jews) men get on and tell her to move to the back of the bus where the "woman's area" is. She tells them, politely, to get fucked. So they do what any group of devoutly religious men would do under these circumstances.

They beat the shit out of her.

Shears is a woman who lives in Canada and was on a five-week vacation to Jerusalem where she was praying and doing all the stuff good Jews do. She failed to realize, however, that the DeLorean had reached 88mph and the 1.21 jigawatts were generated landing her right square in the middle of 19-fucking-55.

Now, how do a group of men kick the crap out of a woman on a public bus - one not segrated for bigoted, misogynistic religious use - and not get turned in by the other passengers? Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, most everyone on the bus thought it was Shears' fault that the whole incident happened for not having sechel ("common sense") and moving her ass to the back of the bus.

Well just drop the "R"-bomb and everything is allowed. Women should enter and sit in the back of the bus, not even approaching the front to pay? It's ok, it's religion. Women should give up their seat to a man? That's ok, it's religious. Women should be forced to be as shapeless and sexless as Cousin It? Kool and the Gang, 'cause it's religion, man!

I realize that I'm judging Hard-Core, Ball-Bustin' Judaism with my heathenous, dastardly, Western values. Perhaps that isn't fair, but when I see a little girl mutilated by infibulation because she reached puberty, I get pissed. Is that ok because it's religious? Fuck no and pretty much everyone thinks the same. So why is it ok to make half the population less than worthwhile? Well, the simple answer is that it isn't, regardless of where in the world you are. Here in Canada or over in Jerusalem, religion is retarded and it boggles my mind why women like Ms. Shears stay in an organization that fosters beliefs and actions like those displayed by the douchebags that beat her like Drago did Creed.

Sure, "real" Judaism isn't like that and they weren't expressing "true" Jewish beliefs. But they were, and that's the problem. I'm all for people believing what they want and in the article, it's mentioned that those ringlet-havin' dipshits could hire their own charter buses or petition the city to have clearly marked buses expressly for the purpose of furthering their stupid, out-dated, woman-hating religious ideology. Until then, however, they have to put up with (gasp!) strong-willed women who will tell them to "go take a fucking suck on a lead menorah".

Women should leave religions. Then men should leave religions. Then we should all watch Back to the Future together at a huge pajama party!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Inside the Atheist Studio

As a tribute to Inside the Actors Studio and its 10 years, I decided to answer Bernard Pivot's Questionnaire. Feel free to do so yourself - I'd be interested in the answers from the godless set.

1. What is your favorite word? Benevolence.
2. What is your least favorite word? Irregardless.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Intellectual quickness.
4. What turns you off? Blind obedience.
5. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck.
6. What sound or noise do you love? Either laughter or orgasm...or both.
7. What sound or noise do you hate? My alarm clock.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Surgeon.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Military.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "I'm sorry."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What? Me Worry?

I was pretty stressed.

Some of you may know that my wife is pregnant with our first child at the moment and is about half way finished making it. It's an exciting time. That made last Friday quite stressful for us when we found out that her blood tests came back with an elevated level of a particular substance that was indicative of a potential neural tube defect.

Because I'm a massage therapist, I knew that neural tube defects were no joke. It can go so far as to be fatal with catastrophic deformations like the brain forming outside the skull with associated microcephaly. Obviously we had to get an appointment and see what was happening.

Fortunately, we had an ultrasound and the radiologist said that, after looking closely and taking careful measurements and stills, all looked well. We still have to go for genetic counselling and screening, but the weight is off for the most part. Here's a picture:
Baby Profile
My point in telling that little story is that I think being a person with a naturalistic world-view really helps me in situations like that. Not believing in a personal god(s) who takes an interest in my life lets me be free from the horrible "why" questions that arise in tough life times.

Imagine all the mulling in your head of "Why did this happen to me?", or "Why my child?". It would consume you. I can't even fathom the grief people must wade through when attempting to figure out the motivations of the creator of the Universe because he gave their child spina bifida or some such ailment.

When you lose that handicap, you realize that we live in a natural world governed by natural laws. Bad things happen, yes, but genetics is a stastical business and sadly, some people win the lottery you never want to win. There is no reason for a certain mutation appearing and when you know that, you can deal much better with the grief and get on with adjusting to your new life.

Anyone who tells you that being an atheist or having no faith is a dark and unfulfilling existence does not know what they are talking about. Being a naturalistic person has allowed me to navigate an extremely delicate and emotional time with confidence. It is a fantastic way to know the world around you and one that should be evangelized (minus the annoying doorbell ringing and stupid "don't use a condom or you'll go to hell" things).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Slack = Bribe = Stephen Lynch

For any of you who don't know that I love stand-up comedy, I do. Now you know. Stephen Lynch is hilarious and this is a clip of a song from one of his specials. The tune is called, "If I Were Gay". Enjoy.

Two Tests

I just took two tests - no, nothing important, just those stupid-ass online testy/quizzy things. The first one I found through Orac over at Respectful Insolence and the other one was in the comments at PZ's daughter's blog by way of Sean at Cosmic Variance. Whew, that's enough links for now. I think I sprained my "shift" finger. I'm going to have some noodles now, but just so everyone knows, I am both a "Rock Star" for knowing a ton about classic rock (I scored 98%) and I am also a "Crackpot" for being, apparently, an arrogant, dickish, hated, and overall fucking assholic waste of grey matter.

Or so they say. I say fuck them. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Half a Century Minus One! Way Better Than VanPraagh!

Over at Autism Street, there's the new Skeptic's Circle for you to peruse at your leisure. Every two weeks it's like Skeptmas for me with all the great writing. Check it out - it's pretty hairy...or Harry, as it were.

I kill me!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Dumbest Fuck on the Planet, Thy Name is Douchepak

Yeah, I know, seriously, why the fuck even bother? This guy is so full of shit that if you went to the cow farm that supplies McDonalds with hamburger and emptied out the manure trough for sixty-seven weeks straight, you would probably come within 10 litres of the volume of shit that Douchepak spews per fortnight.

As everyone I'm sure knows, Douchepak has an ongoing, never-fucking-ending series of posts attempting to deconstruct Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. He's currently up to seven goddamn useless, annoying, blathering, fucking nonsensical entries in what appears to an attempt to enter the Horse-shit Hall of Fame.

There is no point in taking these apart because it has been done much better than I could ever do by both Orac and PZ. That being said, however, Douchepak said possibly the most fucked up, asinine, ignorant, and helmet-headed thing I have ever had the displeasure of setting my vision on, and you may share my pain now:
Why is the universe so amazingly hospitable to human life?

So, to this former M.D. and spiritual guru of the ages, the universe is "amazingly hospitable" to us. Not to life, but specifcally to human life.

I recently mentioned that I have been watching the Beyond Belief conference, and one section by Neil deGrasse Tyson (an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium) describes an extremely accurate rebuttal to Chumpra's wind-chime and whale-song laden vomitous written excretions. Allow me to summarize what Tyson said...and I must summarize because I'm too fucking lazy to put the amount of effort it would take to transcribe the speech at this time and, quite frankly, Douchepak isn't worth the effort. Plus, I'm too much of a techno-tard to know how to lift the pertinent section of video and paste it here for you to view.

Tyson said that the fallacy of a "life-friendly" universe persists against all evidence. You can't survive anywhere we've seen so far in the universe other than here. You'd either burn up, blow up, or be crushed to death under gravitational forces. You might be stretched into an infinitely thin strip of information and be passed through a black hole. Perhaps you'd get incinerated by a radiation wave. There are a multitude of ways for you to bite the fuckin' bullet when you're out floating around in the blackness, away from any sort of breathable atmosphere. And that brings us back to Earth:

Even here you can't survive at the altitude of airliners for very long before your lungs and brain bubble up and kill you. You can't live under the water, which eliminates about 65 - 70% of the surface of our planet (which is why it's described as a "blue-green" ball, and not a "green-blue" ball). The salt water can't be ingested without filtration. A lot of the animals here would kill and eat you just as soon as look at your prana-parading a-hole. You certainly would have to be a special sorta person to live at either pole, where it's so cold your piss would freeze before it hit the tundra you'd collapse on soon afterwards. There are deserts here that are so dry you'd suck a camel's cock for water content.

After you take into consideration all these things, Douchepak still seems to think that the universe is "amazingly hospitable" to human life. What a fuckin' jerkoff.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Atheist Fundies as Bad as Religious Ones? Nahhh

I am having a great time watching the Beyond Belief conference with all the talks, discussions, arguments and refutations. It really is interesting to see a whole bunch of very educated people talk about important topics and disagree about very fundamental ideas, and yet respect each other and speak rationally in the face of criticism.

Two of the people at the conference and who take a lot of both praise and condemnation are Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. I've read both The End of Faith and The God Delusion as well as Harris' follow-up, Letter to a Christian Nation and enjoyed all three. I can certainly see how some more moderate people would think them overbearing, insulting, and somewhat dramatic, and I also thought that a good point was made with respect to Dawkins being the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, yet his book did not really attempt to get the public to understand atheism, just that you were stupid if you weren't one.

That being said, there's precious little that I disagree with in either of their writings. Both of them have been described as atheist fundamentalists on par with the religious fundies of either Christian or Muslim background. This is, I believe, quite an unfair accusation because although their non-faith positions are forthright and unapologetic, they don't go to near the lengths of religious people to attain their ultimate goals. In addition, their ultimate goals are nowhere near as misogynistic or irrationally destructive/divisive as religious ones.

I mean, seriously, what is an atheist's ultimate goal? A society where decisions are made based on rational thought and a naturalistic view of the world and universe. That's about it. What is a Muslim/Christian's ultimate goal? To have every person believe in their particular god and behave in such a way as to appease that god with our actions and laws (many of which are discriminatory and misogynistic).

If we have atheist fundamentalists, I'll stand behind Dawkins and Harris, thank you very much. There is, as has been pointed out in several talks at the conference, a lot of good done by religion. But as Harris and others have rebutted (and as I myself have written on this blog before), there is nothing good you can get from religion that you can't get from another secular source.

There's a lot of footage on that Beyond Belief site, but it's well worth checking out for an hour or so a night if you have the means.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ummm...Proofreader?

I was over at Debunking Christianity and saw his video from when he was on Hannity & Colmes regarding the six-ton 10 Commandment monument there.

Aside from the fucking retardedness of the thing, one bit struck me that was also commented on by many people - watch it and see if you can pick it out. Here's a small hint: it's on the monument itself....

Did you catch it? Oh man, it's too good. How do you make a six-ton monument to place outside a goddamn courthouse and not spell check the text?! Seriously, "adultry"? Oh man, if anything illuminates the stupidity and non-thinking nature of that whole movement, it's that.

hahahaha..."adultry"...too good

Friday, December 01, 2006

Annus Miribil...Well Not So Much, Actually

Today marks the end of my "annus miribilis" - ok, that's a tad bit of an overstatement. All this day notes is the one year anniversary of ye 'ol Weekly Skeptic Rant. I want to thank everyone who happened by during the last 12 months, everyone who left comments, everyone who lurked, and everyone who told me off or corrected my stupid errors. I never thought I'd be closing fast on 30,000 hits (that's a little over 80 per day (!), by my calculations), that is WAY past what I thought would happen and my heartfelt thanks to you all.