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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tagged - Right in my Face

I seem to have been tagged by both PossumMomma and Tina to do the recent listy thingy. So here's the rules and shit and my answers are below:

1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before
we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about
themselves.
4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about
their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you
need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don't forget
to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your
blog.

Fun Facts:

1. I used to be a professional cheerleader. I got recruited in university to be on the cheerleading squad. I thought, "I get to hang out with some of the hottest women in school and toss them around? I'm in." After two years, the National Basketball League (NBL) in Canada started up and a team in Halifax was born - the WindJammers. The owners wanted something cool, so they looked at the two cheerleading teams in the area and asked the best folks off both to be the pro team. I was fortunate enough to be captain of the men and to be courtside for two seasons. Good times.

2. I met my wife in Fukuoka, Japan. She's from Ontario and I'm from Nova Scotia, but in 1997 we were both teaching English for the same company but in different cities. We met at a teacher's meeting. We didn't actually get together to stay until 2002, but it's been grand ever since.

3. I have four tattoos. One is my wedding band.

4. When I was in cubs, I got my collector's badge for my closet full of Peanuts books. I can still name every damn character in that strip. Loved Charles M. "Sparky" Schultz.

5. My first pet was a dog named Chipper. She was a black lab.

6. I love the smell of Ivory soap because it reminds me of my grandmother's upstairs bathroom. From when I was little, every time I went into that bathroom, it smelled like Ivory soap and because of that, I have a fabulous association to it. I won't buy it for my home because I don't want to ruin the memory of that old, small, bathroom and my grandmother.

7. I love to cook. Just tonight I made pork chops with corn-on-the-cob, a nice chili-lime compound butter for a southwest feel to the corn, and a tomato salad with blue cheese. The Food Network is my friend.
Interesting side note that always makes me laugh: Mitch Hedberg used to say that corn on the cob is really the natural presentation of corn. That should be called "corn" and other versions should be called "corn off the cob". I mean, if you cut my arm off you wouldn't call that "Mitch", but then sew it back on me and call me "Mitch All Together".

8. I once rubbed the juice of a tiny tiny chili pepper directly in my fucking eyeballs. It was in Thailand and it was the most pain I have ever been in. Imagine if your eyelashes turned into steel, bent inwards, and stabbed into your iris. That was what it felt like for 15 minutes. In the northern Thai jungle. It sucked and sucked and then sucked harder than I thought possible. Then it sucked more.

I'm ok now. Thanks for asking.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Really, Is Anyone Surprised?

Online Dating

via Sandwalk

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Don't Crash Near a Church

I was watching Discovery and saw a show about a chick who crashed while skydiving. She landed, after falling about 10,000 feet, face-first in the parking lot of a church. Once the boyfriend/instructor landed and ran over to help his just-about-dead partner, a bunch of church people came out. The BF told someone to go call 911, which they did - three guesses what the rest of the churchies did. I'll do the first two guesses for you:

1. They sang Bootylicious and danced provocatively.

2. They had a bar-bee-que all southern style with grits and such.

What's three? They held hands and said a prayer. Yeah, don't bother seeing if you have a FUCKING FIRST AID KIT or anything, just talk to your invisible friend. That'll do way more for my girlfriend who's teeth are imbedded in the lane markings and who's face is drenched in fucking blood. Thanks tons. Douchebags.

And you wonder why church membership is declining.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quick Note

Hello all. It's been a week since my last post and I've got a few new ones in the works. I have been a bit busy of late - heading to Halifax for the weekend for a wedding and also have been feverishly trying to get some good pictures of myself (I have luckily been chosen to be in the '08 Skepdude calendar). These things have averted my attention from the literary flogging I am going to lay on the Vatican (fucking 10 Commandments for Driving?!), Pakistan's militant retards (freaking out in response to Salmon Rushdie's being knighted in Britain...because their little feelings got hurt by a book a couple decades ago), and Paris Hilton finding God in jail.

No, I'm not going to actually waste space on Paris, but it made me laugh. I'll be back very soon to bitch and moan and waste your time with foul ravings from a foaming mouth. Stay tuned. Oh, and go see the new Skeptic's Circle!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Vatican Sides With Rapists - Again

So once again, the Vatican - home of all that is holy - has reiterated that it is not in favor of abortion even in the case of rape. Yeah, shocker of all shockers, I know.

I've written about assholes who want to restrict women's rights to choose in the case of rape before and I think I made my point. Cardinal Renato Martino is a fucking doctor of douchebaggery who needs to suffer the fate I described in my post, fetus tattoo and all. The misogyny of religion shines through bright and burning in his recent statement where he says that abortion is murder...:
And to justify it selectively, in the event of rape, that is to define an innocent child in the belly of its mother as an enemy, as 'something one can destroy'
Yeah, the collection of cells that has the potential to become the spawn of some fucking jerkoff criminal rapist is "an innocent child" that deserves to become a constant reminder of violent crime, a physical reminder for the rest of a woman's life that she was violated in a fucking alley that she was dragged into by her hair, screaming. Nice attitude, churchies.

To make it just that much worse, not that it could get much worse than that scenario, the religious asshats at the Vatican have now urged Catholics world-wide to stop donating time and money to Amnesty International because of their support of women's rights. Here's the quote from Amnesty's deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore:
We are saying broadly that to criminalise women's management of their sexual reproductive right is the wrong answer...The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights.
Good on her. Call those dickheads out on misrepresenting your position and then let them go back to wearing their dresses, blowing ten year-old altar boys, and condemning homosexuality.

It is for reasons like this that I can honestly say that I want religion to go away forever. Just die out and leave us alone. Seriously, take the Pope and his Cardinals and his Bishops and whatever other little-boy nicknames they want to bestow on people and fuck off.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hamm-Handed Museum - The Bluegrass Roots Review

It's important that you go over to Bluegrass Roots and read the review (with tons of pics) of the new Creation Museum in Kentucky. It's both hilarious and depressing. Well worth it on a Monday afternoon.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Pope's Bush

President Bush went to the Vatican recently to meet the Pope, and he did it in typical Bush style. I gotta say, for as much as I can't stand the guy (ok, either of those guys) he certainly made me laugh in this article.

He called the Pope "sir", which is obviously respectful, like he was meeting one of his dad's friends on the ranch. The Poop is supposed to be referred to as "Your Holiness", but this little etiquette tidbit didn't make it to the Bush camp...unless it did and they purposefully decided to blow it off - which would make them a little bit cooler in my book. I believe it was the former coupled with the fact that none of them probably care.

Among Benny's books in his library, Bush sat with his legs crossed "Texan style", whatever that means. I'm assuming that it is when one ankle is on the other knee and the legs are crossed, but quite open. I'm hoping that "Texan style" doesn't mean "balls hanging out" (not that it would surprise me).

I'm moderately sure that Bush didn't purposefully set out to break tradition and etiquette norms. I'd be more of the mind that he had no clue about them. That said, I'm smiling now because maybe folks will see that the world won't end if people don't show Benny any more respect than you give to your buddies.

At least Bush's social fuck-ups are useful for something.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Night At The Museum: Skeptic's Circle #62

The new Skeptic's Circle is up over at Polite Company and Ben Stiller is nowhere to be seen. There are, however, what look like some great posts from the last two weeks of skeptical blogging. Enjoy it with a nice glass of merlot. Or maybe milk. Skim milk.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gisele Bundchen to Pope - "Suck It."

I think I've found a "supermodel" I can stand behind...and not stare at her bathing suit area. Gisele Bundchen stepped up for women in Brazil recently, telling the Vatican to stick their "no condoms/no abortion" policy up under Pope Benny's dress and into his never-fingered a-hole.

She was quoted as saying, "If she thinks she doesn't have the money or the emotional condition to raise a child, why should she give birth?", in response to a question about abortion. I never thought "supermodels" were good for much other than giving young women unrealistic standards to try to live up to and fail miserably, bestowing in them a sense of self-loathing that gives us men an opening to compliment and possibly enjoy several nights of lustful writhing - much against the Pope's wishes.

At least Ms. Bundchen has opened my eyes to see more than her...well...more than this:Pope Benny Stained His Blue Dress

I've Been Dis'd!

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
Hat-tip to King Aardvark.

P.S. - Want more Hell? Check out the Virtual Tour of Dante's Hell! I'll meet you in the 6th Circle!

Newton -> Einstein, God -> No God(s)?

A long time ago (1687 or thereabouts), Sir Isaac Newton came up with an extraordinary idea. He saw that objects dropped straight to the ground and theorized, after much pondering, that the Earth was huge and that there was an invisible force that pulled things towards its centre. Newton's calculations were precise, like the man himself, and were so accurate that when NASA flew the famous Apollo mission to the Moon in 1969, they could have used Newton's math and been just fine. There were, however, some small persistent details that just didn't fit.

Fast forward slightly more than 200 years to 1915, Albert Einstein publishes his Theory of General Relativity where he equated Newton's "invisible force" with acceleration and thus made the former unnecessary. Things did not just fall towards the centre of objects, they fell along the curvature of space-time as warped by a mass. Hooray hooray, Einstein was (and is) one of the greatest minds ever to walk the planet (along with Newton and Darwin and a few others).

Why tell you that? Well, I was thinking the last few days about why the God thing is still popular amongst a large portion of the population. It seems that when a better idea comes along - like General Relativity in place of Newtonian Mechanics - it gets replaced in common knowledge and the former idea passes into, sometimes revered, antiquity. So why not supernatural father figures?

It seems to me that only the highly educated and curious people took the time to learn about these new developments and talk about them with others, advancing public understanding. Most people (the grocer and tailor and street cleaner, etc...) couldn't care less and never changed their ideas from what their parents and teachers (as far as they remembered) taught them or what was "common sense". I'm certain that years and years after Copernicus published that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe, many people still believed that it was (helped along by the church being all, "We'll burn you if you disagree with us").

Much like present day when essentially all events previously thought to have been caused by god(s) - storms, droughts, famine, death, disease - have been explained through natural processes, everyday folks will often reply that these things are "divine retribution" for "sins" (Hurricane Katrina was the latest of these). Not too many people in the common culture have changed their minds and some have dug in (think creationists, IDiots, and spiritual weirdyasses) in defense of their odd beliefs with little or no evidence to back them up.

Only the educated knew enough to change their minds and didn't see it as "flip-flopping". Sometimes changing your mind is a good thing, but there should always be skepticism and there should certainly be more questions answered than raised by the new idea. "Intelligent" design is anything but, creationism is nothing but a marketing ploy to a select group that won't look beyond its well-evolved nose, and spiritual weirdos...well, they're just off on their own dancing to bongos and talking about "yellow healing light from your heart chakra", whatever the hell that is.

My point is that most people on the street nowadays have no idea that Einstein's idea replaced Newtons. They don't care. Getting people to care is the biggest hurdle in science and public education. Without caring and getting excited to learn new things, we're just going to have to wait until the older generations die off and the newer generations (minus the home-schooled, of course) come equipped with the desire and attitude to learn. Only then will religions lose the respect that they so demand and the god idea will pass into antiquity, and not so revered at that.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Monday, June 04, 2007

...You Might Be A Dumbass

I tried to watch a show last night that I've heard about from a lot of my clients. The show is called Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, and I was unable to tolerate it for 22 minutes. It was painful.

There was a contestant who arrived with typical enthusiasm and took her position at the desk beside host Jeff Foxworthy. She said that she was going for the million dollars and didn't want to stop before that - good for her. The first question was: "What was the name of the ship the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock on in 1620?"

She hummed and hawed for quite some time over this question prompting Foxworthy to quip that in the time she took to answer, the pilgrims could have had Thanksgiving dinner and cleaned up. I'm Canadian and knew it right away - I'd think this was common knowledge. She did eventually get the correct answer.

Next was the back-breaker: "What is the closest star to the Earth?"

She took quite some time again, thinking out loud. I can see if you perhaps fell into the trick question trap that this question poses and overlooked the Sun, but no no...she betrayed her ignorance by saying out loud, "The closest star to the Earth...is the Sun a star?...It's not a planet...." She was officially a semi-handicapped glue eater in my mind. And she was going to win money. A lot of money. She guessed "the Sun" and got it right.

Lastly, and the one that made my brain stick an "on strike" banner out my left ear, was this question: "How many sides does a trapezoid have?"

She said, "I don't have any idea what that is." This was a fourth grade math question and she has a fucking kid, IN THE FOURTH GRADE! I hope that little bastard doesn't need help with his homework anytime soon, 'cause all the boosting of marks that fella can expect has already passed by several years.

She used one of her "cheats" and went with the answer of her little helper kid who knew the answer. Once Foxworthy said that a trapezoid has four sides, she said, "I thought a square had four sides..."

My brain then ran out of my head, down my neck, and went outside to die in the sun, leaving me on the sofa twitching and drooling, staring into space. Just now am I feeling better - thank you for asking. I shall not be watching that show again.

If you aren't smarter than a fifth grader, you might be a redneck...and making WAY more money than you deserve.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Fisking of Sam Brownback

I came across a piece of writing by Sam Brownback where he tries to explain why he raised his hand when asked if he (among the other Republican candidates on-stage) did not believe in evolution. It's a horrible display of misunderstood information and hackneyed rationalizing under the guise of explanation. I must fisk.

Brownback begins the bit with an assumption he has no business making and ends with a statement that is a complete non sequitor:
The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God...reason itself cannot answer every question.
Firstly, he assumes that there is a God, which makes no sense because that is not the starting point in an argument. You do not begin by assuming an invisible person made the cosmos, the solar system, the planet and everything on it, then go from there. No evidence generally equals leaving that particular idea on the back-burner for a spell. As I've said previously, I do not identify as an ahexabuffavertovenesian aerialist because the idea of six-legged flying green buffalo on Venus makes no sense and neither does Brownback's idea of God.

Secondly and more annoyingly, I hate it when religious or pseudo-scientific fuckheads say that science or reason "can't answer everything", or "doesn't have all the answers". Neither science nor reason claims to have all the answers or be the panacea for all life's questions - Brownback does here what so many others have done before him and placed science and reason on a pedestal in an ivory tower against its will and obviously without understanding what he is writing about.

Next we have:
Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose.
No it does not. I'm tired of people saying that faith instills meaning and purpose and values in people - if that were true then atheists would have none of these things and we quite obviously do. Brownback's argument falls horribly short on that front and he never addresses it, he just blows past and assumes that everyone agrees with him. Values come from the same place in everyone, whether you are a faithful acolyte or a non-believer full of heathenish rage - you're family and social group. We atheists and secular folks just give the credit where it's due and not to some vengeful deity. Same holds true when a doctor or other professional who has taken years to perfect their craft does some extraordinary feat to save a life and the recipient, after getting better, insults that person's efforts by thanking God and His will to keep the sick/dying patient alive for another few days/months/years. As Daniel Dennett says, thank goodness, not God.

Next:
Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology...The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident.
This annoys me almost more than anything else. Evolutionary theory has not ever said that humankind might be "the chance product of random mutations". The fact that Brownback writes this belies his utter ignorance of the theory of evolution and his unwillingness to explore areas of inquiry where he seems to have at least a modicum of interest, yet no desire to search beyond his comfort zone of ideas and philosophy. The same criticism can be leveled at his final sentence and his attribution to "passionate advocates of evolutionary theory" the ludricrious idea that humans are a "historical accident".

More stupidness follows with:
It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.
Scientists do not "exclude the possibility of design or purpose", they see no need to use that explanation because a perfectly good natural one is evident once you study, absorb, and comprehend the science of the problem. Again, Brownback lays his ignorance out on the stainless steel exam table, all pink and naked for us to examine.
I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.
I'd like to know how, exactly, the fuck Brownback knows that mankind has a "unique and intented place in the cosmos". Again he just decrees that we're special and great and unique and that each person is a snowflake intended to land on a certain other person's tongue and make their life better - tell that to the poor fuckers living in the displacement camps in Darfur who just buried their baby because no one gives enough of a shit to help. Where's your God now, douchebag? What a fucking limited worldview from a self-centered assclown.

Finally we have this rehashing of regurgitated non-thinking:
While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order..Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.
This is the exact problem with so-called "creation science" - he says that we should do everything we can to find out about humankind's origins, BUT that we already know part of the answer! No, Sam, we fucking DON'T! That's the way science works, jackass - no one knows how the experiment turns out until it's done. No, "man was not an accident", man seems to have evolved from ancestors that adapted to new environments and eventually became new species after millions and millions of years and genetic mutations. One more time, all together, "Mutations are random - Natural Selection is not". If Mr. Brownback spent a little more time reading something that contradicts his worldviews and maybe challenged him to actually think, he might not say handicapped shit like this, which he said on Larry King on August 23, 2005:
There's intelligence involved in the overall of creation...I think what we passed in the U.S. Senate in 2002 is really what we should be doing, and that is that you teach the controversy, you teach what is fact is fact, and what is theory is theory, and you move from that proceedings, rather than from teaching some sort of different thought. And this, I really think that's the area we should concentrate on at the present time, is teaching the controversy.
See, he should know that there is no controversy among scientists (real scientists) over whether evolution happened. He also quite plainly does not realize that the scientific meaning of "theory" differs greatly from the colloquial meaning of the word. The ignorance (or abject dishonesty) of Brownback should immediately disqualify him for all but the most meaningless jobs in society, but of course he will likely get a cushy appointment within the next administration and be involved in a scandal that will cost him his job...quickly followed by a book and speaking tour where he'll make more money than I will in the next twenty years.

Jackass.

(via the always great One Good Move)