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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Low Hanging Fruit

Yeah, I know the Natural News isn't exactly the best place to be sourcing topics from, but I couldn't ignore this one. See, Adams pimps the idea put forward by "water memory" crank Dr. Masaru Emoto that we should blast our "healing intentions" toward Japan.

Adams says:
In fact, the scientific evidence on this matter is irrefutable: Conscious intention directed toward the healing of a person, a place or even an entire ocean has a real and measurable impact on the chosen recipient.
Um, where might that evidence be? Just askin'.

The next magically awesome quote is from Emoto himself. Check this shit out:
The energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people's consciousness.
I bet you guys didn't know that the "M" in there stood for the number of people and the "C" is the people's consciousness squared. True story.

And by "true", I mean "not at all true".

Here's Emoto's suggested "prayer":
Please say the following phrase:
"The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant, we are sorry to make you suffer. Please forgive us. We thank you, and we love you."
I wish we lived in a world where these dummies could try to stop a nuclear meltdown with inane non-solutions like this and the situation wouldn't devolve into a giant, destructive catastrophe. It would be so great to watch them fail on such a huge level.

That said, we can't let that happen and the ingenuity of the Japanese people and the countries that are helping out are being tested as we speak. Let the hippies do their prayers and stay at home, leaving the real work to the scientists and smart people on the ground at the scene.

I wonder how prayers are supposed to absorb neutrons emitted from fuel rods....?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Muslims Need to Drop Sharia Law

Jesus fucking christ. How the fuck is rape considered an "illicit relationship"?

Shari'a law is the dumbest, most unfair, barbaric shit on the planet.

h/t to Nick Kristof via Twitter

Monday, March 28, 2011

One School System

I recently had a back-and-forth in the comments of this post regarding public funding for Catholic Schools here in Ontario. Larry Moran had a similar engagement with likely the same person ("anonymous", of course) on the same topic. This "anonymous" kept repeating the same question which was, paraphrased, if Catholics pay for their own system through their taxes, what's the problem?

I answered this question (several times) as did Larry, but here's a slightly more official answer from One School System itself:
Q1: Roman Catholics in Ontario pay for their own school system. Doesn't that make them entitled to it?

A1: It is not uncommon to run across Ontarians who believe this to be true. Let us shatter that myth right here and now: they do not pay for their own school system. It costs roughly $7700 per child per year to educate a child in the either the Ottawa public or separate board (2004-05 projections). The total amount contributed towards education by a typical family through provincial and municipal taxes comes nowhere close to covering the actual cost. People without children, people whose children have completed school, and businesses pay much of the cost of educating our children. Everyone benefits from an educated population and everyone pays according to their means.

The declaration of school support (public or separate) on property tax bills is nothing more than a bureaucratic sleight of hand. It still succeeds in leading some Ontarians to believe that Ontario Catholics actually pay for the additional publicly funded educational opportunities available to them alone. The fact is, Catholics and non-Catholics in Ontario carry exactly the same tax burden, but Catholics are guaranteed two educational choices for their money (public and/or separate school; many families use both) while non-Catholics, who make up two-thirds of Ontario's population, are guaranteed only one choice (public school). It wasn't any different when the school boards had direct taxation powers; the tax burden for supporters of either system was essentially the same, but the availability of choices and opportunities was not.

In Ottawa, the local separate school board has actually taken to placing advertisements in local newspapers urging Catholics to make sure they are identified as separate school supporters on local tax rolls. As all school funding is now distributed by the province on a per capita basis, such advertising can have no other purpose than the political purpose of maintaining the illusion that the Ontario Catholics actually pay for their special privileges. They made no attempt to conceal their intent:

"When you designate yourself as a separate school supporter, there is no longer a financial benefit to our Board. Rather, your designation guarantees a strong political voice through your elected representatives (Trustees) in ensuring your rights to a Catholic education for the young people in our province." - Advertisement in the Ottawa Citizen, June 2003

It is disconcerting to think that they probably used taxpayer money to pay for this advertisement; money that should have been spent in the classroom. Other separate school boards have mounted similar campaigns. Please send us the details of any such campaign you discover.

Some separate school boards have gone to even greater lengths than advertising in the effort to sign up supporters to maintain the appearance of strong support. In a 1994 complaint brought before the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, it was revealed that an unnamed separate board was scanning local tax rolls in an effort to find Catholic ratepayers who supported the public board. According to the separate board in question, they were not soliciting support "per se", but were only seeking to "inform Catholic ratepayers of their rights". How helpful of them. The complaint was brought by a Catholic woman supporting the public board. In its report on Investigation I94-040M, the Commissioner decided that the separate board was acting within its rights in its use of the personal information on municipal tax rolls. It would be interesting to know the extent to which separate school boards are still redirecting educational dollars toward such self-preservation activities. Please let us know of any such activities you become aware of.
Hope that clears that question up.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

South Park Douche Commentary

Something's wrong with you if you don't love South Park. Here's some of the commentary from the Biggest Douche in the Universe episode. Thanks to some dude nicknamed "@heymynameisevan" on Twitter.

...I've officially credited Twitter. I'm part of the singularity now. Resistance is...well, you know the rest.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Deepak...Again....

Oddly, at CNN's religion blogs, Deepak Chopra again spills his pseudo-intellectual cup all over the desk, complete with the usual half-understood science leading to unsupported assertions. Shall we begin? Let's.
I'm not thinking of the rather noisy campaign by a handful of die-hard atheists to demote and ridicule faith.
Nicely done, Chopra. Second sentence is a slap against the people who regularly stand up to your nonsense and make you look angry and foolish.
Despite the noisy atheists
Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, and Vic Stenger are all pretty noisy. Of course, they have all the evidence....
...two trends in spirituality and science have started to converge. One is the trend to seek God outside the church. This has given rise to a kind of spirituality based on personal experience, with an openness to accept Eastern traditions like meditation and yoga as legitimate ways to expand one's consciousness. If God is to be found anywhere, it is inside the consciousness of each person.
I would argue that this has given rise to annoying dreadlocked fellas who talk like "The Dude" and equally annoying women who are vegan and talk about "toxins" a lot. I would also suggest that having an "openness" to "expanding one's consciousness" usually doesn't involve science. Usually.
The other trend is a growing interest by scientists in questions about consciousness.
If you mean in a neurobiological sense, then sure. You, however, will often start talking about where the tuna sandwich you ate for lunch is when you remember it. A decent question, but you come across like you know the answer already. If I may use twitter lingo: #notyourareaofexpertise
When you use words like "intelligence" and "design" in discussing the patterns in nature, immediately you are tarred with the same brush as creationists, who have hijacked those terms to defend their religious beliefs.
Weird, eh? Just like when some older scientists used the word "God" - they were referring to nature, but you don't mind misrepresenting their words and claim Einstein and Hawking are religious. Right?
...next week my foundation is hosting a symposium in Southern California where the gap between science and spirituality will be narrow (sic) somewhat, not on the basis of religion but on the basis of consciousness.
I'm curious how many neurologists, neurophysiologists, and others in related specialties will be in attendance or if Deepak will have the highest qualifications there?
Was mind also born in the same place outside space and time? Is the universe conscious? Do genes depend on quantum interactions? Science aims to understand nature down to its very essence, and now these once radical questions, long dismissed as unscientific, are unavoidable.
And in all likelihood, they'll be answered by scientists whose names you'll never know. They'll win Nobel prizes and awards and live comfortable lives, but those true heros of the world will never know the riches and popularity of a blathering nonsense peddler like you, Deepak. It's really sad to think about...not because those people will live in anonymity, but because of what it says about our society that you live in a mansion and have millions of dollars.
A whole new field known as quantum biology has sprung up, based on a true breakthrough - the idea that the total split between the micro world of the quantum and the macro world of everyday things may be a false split.
This may be true or may not, but Deepak discussing it is akin to Joe Rogan's stoned pontificating on subjects he barely understands. Interesting to listen to if you don't get annoyed at people speculating well beyond their depths.
If so, science will have to account for why the human brain, which lives in the macro world, derives its intelligence from the micro world. Either atoms and molecules are smart, or something makes them smart.
False dichotomy, much? Anthropomorphizing, much? Howzabout we let the smart scientists do their thing and we'll get the results when we do? K? K.
That something, I believe, will come down to a conscious universe.
There it is. He "believes" that a "conscious universe" is real. No proof, no evidence, no real understanding of what he's talking about, just an assertion. I believe we're done here. Oh, no, sorry, there's more...
The real goal of a new science will be to expand our reality so that spiritual truths are acceptable, along with many other subjective experiences that science has long dismissed as unreliable.
Um, no. This is special pleading before the fact. He's saying that whatever direction science goes, it should accept his assertions and other nonsense from years ago...just because. Here's a tip: They're "unreliable" for a reason.
We are conscious beings who live with purpose and meaning. It seems unlikely that these arose form a random, meaningless universe. The final answer to where they came from may shake science to its core. I certainly hope it does.
Conscious beings? Check. Live with purpose and meaning? Some yes, some no, most in a gray area. Random, meaningless universe? Absolutely. My hope is that whatever science discovers with respect to the brain and "consciousness" shakes this flakey spiritualism to its core.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Let's Stop Public Funding of Catholic Schools

Check out this story and the comments at Bulletproof Courier, Canadian Atheist, and Larry Moran over at Sandwalk. It really disgusts me that at a publicly funded school a student can be sent home for expressing her opinion.

It's not like she was alone, either. The other students (holding opposite opinions on the abortion issue) were certainly not sent home for expressing THEIR opinions, obviously shared by school officials. Hypocrisy much? Not that I should expect anything less from Catholicism.

Alexandria Szeglet, the sent-home student, said this about her day "vacation":
I think everyone should have a right to show their opinion and do what they need and what they want instead of being told that no you have to keep the baby instead of doing what you feel is right for yourself.
Why is it that the 15 year old is the rational, adult one in this story and not the school principal or staff? Why am I not surprised?

John de Faveri, one of the story's villians, said this gem:
On the issue, pro-life is part of the Catholic stand...The pro-choice students were not appropriate in the context of a Catholic school.
You know what else is not appropriate in the context of a Catholic school? Public funding. If you clowns want to have your own education system, fabulous - fund it yourself and keep your idiotic, archaic, superstitious, misogynistic habits to yourselves.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vi Hart

You need to go watch this woman's videos. They're fantastic and informative and for a newly minted math geek, they're inspirational. Check her out.

H/T to Rebecca and the gang at Skepchick.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Bill Donohue: "Oh Yeah!? Well...Them Too!"

Whenever blogging topics run thin or motivation wanes, one can always peruse the Catholic websites for some material. I found the raving Bill Donohue "commenting" from his mom's basement about how horrible teachers are and that they diddle kids.
If priests were teachers, they would be afforded special protections under state law, insulated from changes in the statute of limitations, never be fired (which means they would be kept in ministry indefinitely), treated with kid gloves by the media, and generally be held unaccountable for misconduct.
Aw, would you like some cheese with your WAAAAHHHHH?

Teachers who don't do their jobs (at best) or fuck kids (at worst) should be fired and punished to the extent deserving of their crimes. Oh, and so should priests. The difference here - I'm explaining for Bill, who seems unclear - is that teachers, while providing education, generally do not individually, and certainly not institutionally, claim to have the moral high ground or moral authority.
...don’t look for Jay Leno, Bill Maher, "The View" panelists or the New York Times to weigh in on this issue. It is obviously not the offense that gets them exercised, it's the status of the offender. And we know why.
I certainly hope you know now, Bill.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Haha...Thanks, Podblack!

MIKES WEEKLY SKEPTICAL RANT  DUN KNOW YR RELIGUS REASUNING