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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barenaked Ladies in the Bathroom

Ok, so if you happen to like acoustic guitar and also the Barenaked Ladies, you may want to go to youtube and check out the "bathroom sessions". It's mostly just Ed Robertson and his Limited Edition Taylor guitar playing, literally, in his bathroom. Here's a sample of one of the couple he does with lead singer Steven Page - this one's called Some Fantastic. Enjoy and go check the rest out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elizabeth Hasse...Oh Who Gives a Shit

So Elizabeth Hasselbeck is all annoyed...no, no, "repulsed" by the Obama team trying to buy a 30 minute ad on CNN.

Remind me again why anyone gives a fuck about what a former reality TV personality (on Survivor, no less) has to say about anything? And yes, in case you were wondering, that is a very blatant ad hominem. Here's the thing, if you're on a show with four other people, ostensibly co-hosting and discussing the issues of the day, and not one of those people can shut you down when you're arguing FOR theistic evolution and against abortion, there's a goddamn problem.

I'd like to see her argue with someone - anyone with half a brain.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flawed Reasoning to a Staggering Degree

Here's a letter by a guy named Francis J. Beckwith who, I have to tell you, is a Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University - the largest Baptist University in the world. You'll see the sort of mind it takes to be a professor at this institution by reading the following letter Prof. Beckwith wrote to Apple Computers, who recently came out against Proposition 8 in California, which is trying to re-ban same-sex marriages out there. Here's Apple's position (from his letter):
Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.
Ok, just to get this ball of ear-wax rollin' here's Prof. Beckwith's weirdness on full display in the first part of his response:
Apple's reasoning is flawed, since sexual orientation has never inhibited people from getting married. If marriage has a particular nature--one man, one woman--any man and woman not already married to someone else can marry each other regardless of their sexual orientation. So, “no” on Prop 8 does not advance any liberties at all.
Um...does anyone else see a problem with this? Am I reading this wrongly? "...Sexual orientation has never inhibited people from getting married"? So, if a gay dude wants to get married, all he has to do is marry a girl. Problem solved - he's married and his sexual orientation had no bearing on the procedure.

Except for the fact that he enjoys penis.

Next up is a shocking, firework-like display of semi-lobotomized rationalizing. Only with a mind holed out by religious "thinking" could a person with a higher education degree and a specialization in this area be able to spout this sort of incredible pig-shit. I love this reasoning. I mean, imagine the size of the helmet on his guy's head:
In Massachusetts soon after the state’s Supreme Judicial Court in 2003 required that the state issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Catholic Charities, which was at the time in the child adoption business, was told by the state that it could no longer exclude same-sex couples as adoptee parents, even though the Catholic Church maintains that same-sex unions are deeply disordered and sinful. Because it did not want to compromise its moral theology, Catholic Charities ceased putting children up for adoption. And thus children and families were harmed.
Yeah, fuckers! See what you do when you try to drag archaic, bronze-age institutions into the modern era? They respond by retreating into the cave of denial and eyes-squished-closed-fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you frame of mind that hurts babies! BABIES! Are you progressive, liberal, assholes happy now?! You've forced the Catholic church to harm BABIES!

The last bit:
Because marriage is a public institution, there is surely no way to enforce same-sex marriage without punishing those who dissent in every public institution and accommodation. Thus, supporters of male-female marriage see the injustice in the state coercing them to embrace a policy for which their well-reasoned beliefs maintain is deleterious of social justice and the public good.
No, no one is "coercing them to embrace" anything. If you don't want a gay marriage, don't have one. This is what so many of us genuinely hate about religious people - you just can't leave everyone else the fuck alone and you just have to make your way the only way. Well, I think gay marriage is wrong...so YOU shouldn't be allowed to do it." No, douche, you keep your relationships to yourself, I'll keep my relationships to myself, and Ellen can keep her's to herself too.

MYOB, fuckers, and don't try to make us regular people buy into your ridiculous crap.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Uncredible Skeptic's Circle

The newest Skeptic's Circle is up over at The Uncredible Hallq. Check out the lastest in Skeptic Garb. No...wait, that's clothing. Check out the Skeptical Sartorial Goodness! No, that's clothing too.

Just shut up and go read.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Annotated Ranter Strikes Again

Yep, it's true. The Ranter laces up the combat boots as tight as is possible, winds up, and kicks John McCain right in his kerschnickies. Enjoy the aptly titled Fuck John McCain

Monday, October 20, 2008

Part of the Problem

My friend is a high school teacher who had a bit of a situation the other day. She had a student messing with a cell phone - and my "messing", I mean "texting her mom" - during class. So my friend took the phone (to which the student objected, but eventually complied) as per the rules, to be returned at the end of the day.

A short time later, during the next class, a knock came on her classroom door. It was the mother demanding that the daughter's phone be returned. When the discussion made its way to the vice-principal's office, my friend got only mute non-support from the VP.

There's a couple of things going on here that I'd like to address. The first is that the student was texting her fucking mother during class time, which means that the stupid mom knew her daughter was dicking around and not paying attention or doing work, and the mom is/was obviously ok with that. We can immediately tag her with the "fucking moron parent" tag. Done.

Secondly, for the stupid mom to show up to the school to ask...no, wait, demand that the phone be returned is such an affront to the teacher's authority and class control that it would be laughable were it not so numbingly, ignorantly, tragic. We wonder why the standards of education are diminishing; it's due, in large part I think, to parents who believe their children already know everything and should be allowed to txt in cls. CUL8R!

Trust me when I say that the only thing these kids will be "c"ing L8R is a future as a Wal-Mart greeter with a possible promotion to the customer service desk.

Thirdly, the lack of supervisor support is astonishing. A school is not a store. The parents are not always right. In fact, sometimes they're downright handicapped. No, wait, I've worked with the handicapped for a decade and that comment does them a disservice. Sometimes the parents are just fucking stupid. Too stupid, in fact, to realize that a school is intended to impart knowledge to their offspring - not be a place to hang out and socialize while mom does nails and dad rides the cubicle.

People need to grow a pair an tell those slack-ass, illiterate, disrespectful parents to either support the teachers or take their self-important, gr8 kids out of school...so they can...you know...home school them. Or at the very least introduce them to the semi-lucrative world of roadside mowing.

That VP should be ashamed. It's partly his fault that we're all going to be sitting around in 10 years wondering why the fuck no one knows how to build anything and why everyone who comes to our home to fix any sort of technical problem is a very polite, well-spoken Brown guy. It's because Princess TextyThumbs can't put a sentence together and thinks "urban sprawl" is the new Girlicious single.

Welcome to the 20-teens, folks. We don't know shit and we're damn proud. You think this financial meltdown is bad? Wait until this next group of fuck-ups gets the reins.

Annoying, Stupid Magnets...Again. At Work.

I got a flyer with my Massage Today magazine that offered magnet therapy from a company called Bioflex. The flyer announced on its front page five studies "Validating Efficacy of BIOflex Medical Magnets". I called bullshit in my head and came straight to ye ol' reliable computer.

Of course, BIOflex magnets are different from all other magnets because:
BIOflex offers Concentric Circle magnets, the only technology that ensures the accurate alignment of the magnetic field with the affected blood vessels...BIOflex works by design, not by coincidence! (from their flyer)
However, from an article on CBC's Marketplace, physicist Robert Park was asked about the "design" of magnets:
Complete nonsense...Even lowly fridge magnets have alternating poles. They're made that way to make sure they are strong only at the surface.

Park said, "Now the reason they do that is to protect your credit cards," says Park. "You get too strong a magnetic field and those get erased."
BIOflex has a page about a study done at Baylor University that supposedly proves magnet efficacy. It comes with this lovely quote:
In spite of the testimonials—and the $5OO million in U.S. sales of therapeutic magnets last year—the American medical profession remained skeptical. Anecdotal evidence was not enough.
No, asshole, it's never enough. Get some education and realize that people are easy to fool and you can get other people to say whatever you want for financial gain.

Then we have the good ol' Galileo Gambit, writ strong:
Franz Anton Mesmer became famous for his outlandish claims that he could cure everything from chest pains to blindness and mental illness with magnets, thus "mesmerizing" his audiences while doing it. But Mesmer's arrogance angered many powerful people. They declared him and his methods fraudulent. With Mesmer's fall from grace, magnets unfortunately became synonymous with quack cures, a belief still held in conservative medical circles.
...and the classic response - Galileo had the advantage of also being correct. Mesmer was a douche who, according to a short bio:
Freud and others would profit from his work, but he would mainly be remembered as a quack occult healer.
Exactly.

As usual, Stephen Barrett has an article on Quackwatch rebutting the Baylor Study. I urge you to check it out, point, laugh, then have a nice burger and some root beer. Here's the basic point:
This study provides no legitimate basis for concluding that magnets offer any health-related benefit:
Here's a hilarious Bioflex testimonial relating to the Hall Effect:
Last year, Scott Fischbach, of Frederick, MD., suffered an injury to his forearm that required four stitches. As the wound healed, a large hard lump of scar tissue formed and began pressing on the nerves an tendons in his arm, causing numbness in his fingers and hand. A relative suggested he try magnets. "I was amazed at the almost instantaneous results," he says. After only 4 hours of wearing a magnet band directly over the wound, Fischbach says his scar tissue decreased by 75 percent. By the end of that week, it was completely gone and his arm had returned to normal.
The hilarious part is when you look at The Hall Effect. - go about a 1/4 of the way down the page and guess if any of the scammers in Bioflex have a fucking clue what the equations mean. Please leave in the comments your suggestions as to what they, what's that word..."think".

Finally, Bioflex says about horses:
many supporters point to the success of magnets with horses as strong proof of their effectiveness, since the placebo effect doesn't exist with animals.
Right, but the handlers have biases and those show straight the fuck up in the testimonials. Could someone, anyone, please tell these helmet-heads how to get a life? That'd be dandy. Thanks.

BIOflex is endorsed by Dr. Ronald Lawrence of UCLA. Great. He also endorses these assheads who make aromatherapy based on herbs found in the damn bible. Oh, and let's not forget that he has a book entitled, Magnet Therapy: The Pain Cure Alternative. Excellent pick. That's like Deepak Chopra endorsing you - if he didn't already have all that shit at his own store.

Magnets, they're not just for your nutsack anymore.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Letter to Editor

In response to a letter to the editor titled "Nothing wrong with spiritual values" in the Toronto Star stating these bits of glorified wisdom:
"...in rejecting religion, (Religulous star Bill) Maher merely substitutes his opinion as the true religion...The flawed thinking that we can get by, and even progress, without religion and morals is the very thing that got America and the rest of the world into the current financial mess."
I wrote the following letter:

After reading (the author's) letter of Oct. 7th, 2008, I have to say that I am disheartened. Once again, we see the unquestioned linking of religion and morality, the bold and totally unfounded notion that the two are inexorably tied - one following from the other.

Greedy people are from all faiths (Benny Hinn - I'm talkin' to you), all creeds, all levels of society. Religion has not cornered the morality market and thinking that "if only people were more religious, life would be so much better", you only delude yourself.

Bill Maher is not "substituting his opinion as the true religion" - quite untrue. The persecution complex and undeserved pedestal-position of religion seem to both be on display in (the author's) writing. Maher says that he doesn't know the answers and he is trying to get the religious people in his film to say that they don't either. Questions are anathema to religion whereas in the rational world, had people asked more questions, been more skeptical of authority, been less...shall I say...dogmatic(?), perhaps the current financial meltdown could have been at least partially avoided.

It seems that once again, this letter does what religion has done so well and with so little opposition in the past: accused its critics of being and doing exactly what they themselves are and do.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hutterite Community, Like Sean Penn, Hates Pictures

The Alberta Hutterite community wants photo-free driver's licenses and they'll likely get them. The case is now at the Supreme Court after an appeals court said that the Hutterians were within their constitutional rights to be pic-free.

To get this privilege you have to prove your membership in a registered religious organization and provide, "actual scriptural passages" to support your request.

So, what is this "scriptural passage" stuff? For the Hutterians, it's nothing less than the damn second commandment from the damn Bible! Yeah, of the 10 Commandments. For those not in the know, that's the "make none of them goddamn graven, idol type images" commandment. No images of anything that layeth upon the Earth.

(Ok, so I found where it actually says that you should make no:
likeness of what is in Heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water....
So there.)

Taking a picture of yourself is, apparently, making an idol (much to Simon Cowell's copyright chagrin). I really don't want to slippery-slope this, but, I mean, if you made a shirt out of sheep's wool with some dandy bone buttons, good on you. That shirt would now, however, be an object "on earth". But...if you were to tear that shirt and needed a new one, would you be able to make another? Wouldn't that new shirt be a copy of an object on earth? Somebody straighten me out here because this just sounds retarded.

To be clear, I'm not a fan of excessive security. The airports are ridiculous now, banning goddamn toothpaste. However, with so many drivers and so much potential for abuse (not by the Hutterites, by other assholes pretending to be Hutterites), having a photo driver's license is something I agree with...just in case you were about to give a shit about what I think.

No one is hindering the Hutterians ability to practice their religion, but at what point do we, as a rational society, get to say, "Ok, we understand that you think pictures are bad, but your beliefs are ludicrous."?

Check this out though:
(The) Canadian Civil Liberties Association, maintains that “tearing apart the fabric of a religious community and ending their communal way of life exacts too high a price for the benefit of including 252 Hutterites in Alberta's data base.”
How in the fuck is getting them to have a picture on their driver's licenses going to possibly, in any way at all, "end(ing) their communal way of life"? Overstate much? These folks are fine, but what they believe is demonstrably stupid, so put on your helmets and get with the program.

I really see no difference between this an a grown man saying, "Well, I can't go into the DMV to get my photo done because my religious beliefs are such that I know the floors of all DMVs are lava. Sure, everyone else walks on the floors, but to ME, they're lava." We, as a society, are treating this as if it has some intellectual merit and are "respecting their religious beliefs."

No, we're caving in to silliness. Practice whatever stupid ass, archaic, Bronze-age retardedness you want - power to you - but when you show up to the rest of us grown-ups and demand that we respect your crazy beliefs, don't be shocked when we giggle, pat your head, and ask you to either play by the rules or go home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election In Progress

The CBC reported that estimated voter turnout today was about 50%. What the fuck is wrong with people? Thanks, you lazy, uninterested, apathetic douchebags. Way to go. Now we're stuck with Harper again - thankfully enough people turned out to (hopefully) keep him from getting the majority he desired, if we're to believe the CBC's projections.

The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that the average person on the street is a moron. Seriously, if you went to any street corner and asked just these two questions:
1. Please name four of the five federal leaders of the parties involved in the Leader's Debates.

2. We've been involved in a military conflict in Afghanistan since 2001 with approximately 100 casualties. Afghanistan has been mentioned in the news nearly every day since that time. Here is an unmarked political map of the Middle East - please label Afghanistan.
I'd be amazed if 50% of the respondents answered correctly.

Are those the 50% who vote?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Skeptic's Circle 97

Jebus, it's the 97th Skeptic's Circle already. Go check it out and have some nice weekend reading.

On a more personal note, I have a couple of posts in the pipe here that I'll get up over the next day or two. Stupid life getting in the way of my non-paying, time consuming hobby.

To all my (six) Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Politics

I enjoyed watching most of the French language debate here in Canada tonight. I thought May did better then expected and Dion silenced some of his critics. Harper took a lot of abuse, but he's the guy on top at the moment, so of course he's going to get piled on: that's not to say he wasn't a bit of an evasive douchebag. I very much hope (though am not expecting) he gets his ass kicked off of Sussex Drive.

In a south-of-the-border related note, I wish people wouldn't do what I'm seeing in at least one clip with Sarah Palin (I was on the always great One Good Move and watching a video of Olberman on MSNBC called "Palin's Greatest Hits"). I'm referring to when Palin and Couric are walking along a sidewalk and Couric asks about Rick Davis and a conflict of interest, then Palin is seen just walking and pausing for approximately four seconds. They never show the answer. If we're going to make fun of her, let's hear the answer. If she's actually unqualified, let's hear the answer. I'm in agreement that she's a simple-minded, unqualified fool, but don't play the bullshit game of waiting and waiting for an answer that doesn't come and then laugh the night away. If a politician needs several seconds to form a coherent answer to a question (even if it is a question that you lead yourself into with an unintelligent, uninformed opinion), then they should get it. Once the reply comes back, then you can do with it what you will.

Of note, when you actually hear the answer, it's cringe-worthy enough. So if your goal is to make fun of her, or put her down, or belittle her knowledge, show the damn answer and go to town.

Until then, shut up. Stop with the lowest common denominator crap.