Saturday, December 31, 2011

Y2011/Happy New Years!

Happy New Years Eve/Day to all of my readers and your families. Where I'm sitting, it's roughly 10 hours away from midnight, meaning that there are roughly 10 hours left in 2011. Good riddance, I say - this year has been nothing but crap for a lot of people. It's been a halfway decent year for me - I managed to get a decent paying job, and I bought a car, and I'm making headway into getting out on my own. I've accomplished more this year than I have in most years past. I also started this blog back in June, and come February, I'll have held down my job for a full year. This is called "making progress," I think. I'm hoping this progress will help carry me right out of this State to greener pastures, but that's for the future.

In the meantime, I'm not going to use this post as a means to repeat everything that happened this year. It was a bad year for women's rights, it was a bad year for human rights, and it was a bad year for democracy and freedom. Every year since 2001 has been a bad year for it, and it's been progressively getting worse - in part due to a strong self-fulfilling prophecy that I see Americans, and indeed, the rest of the world inching towards.

Instead, I'm going to use this as a means to talk about prophecies - in particular, the this 2012 business. You can probably guess where I stand on it, but I've got some thoughts on the issue that might surprise you, dear reader.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Scattered Notes from the Future

As we approach New Years Eve, I figure a look forward is necessary - past 2012, because we'll still be here on January 1st, 2013. And that's all I'm going to say about this Y2K Rapture 2012 nonsense. I've lived through three Raptures, Y2K, 9/11, and predicted global nuclear war. I've learned that there's only one way to look and that's forward.

I'm firmly of the belief that we need a future. We need something to aim for. And right now, that thing we need to aim for is the Singularity. What's on the other side of? Who knows. That's why it's called the Singularity. We can't see what's on the other side. Once we get there, we'll know. Will it destroy use as a species? Maybe. But you know what? I'll take potential destruction at the hands of reaching for a future that we can all share than destruction while we claw at a past that never existed.

So, with that in mind, I read an interesting article today from H+, addressing the point about human normal people don't believe in the Singularity. It was an interesting article that made a few interesting points. On that note, I read a similar article that dealt with the concept of technology that fully embraces Clarke's 3rd Law. While the two are not necessarily related, I'm going to look at both articles and give my opinions on them both. I'm also going to end it with my New Years Resolution, because I only have one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Time to Measure the Marigolds

I don't usually respond to poems or songs, but being the kind of killjoy that I am - that is, the kind of heavy scientist who sees no beauty in the world and wants to crush all your romantic but ultimately "frivolous" approach to reality because growing up sucks and you have to be mature and that means breaking out the slide ruler every time you see a flower (I don't even know how to use one - but they'd take away my Enlightened card if I didn't at least pretend to) - I felt driven to respond to this particular poem.

It's called "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomy" by Walt Whitman.

And yes, it will be crushed. And blown to the wind.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Look Out! Enigma Has Photoshop!

Merry Christmas, all. Here's a Christmas gift from yours truly, lampooning the Right-wing conspiracy mind-set. Have a fun and safe Christmas, everyone.

Just follow the arrows.

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate, Part 8

Here we are, at Part 8 of Devil's Advocate. The mystery has only gotten deeper - what is going on at New Hope Colony? What's Cameron and the inhabitants planning to do with the Christ bot once they get it out of the sysem? Why a did Dr. M&M risk life and ego to bring a Christ bot back to Earth? What does the Christ bot know? Where did it come from?

With all these questions and more, let's dive headfirst into the story, and rejoin Chloe back at New Hope Colony...

Not Published... Yet

And a very Merry Christmas Eve to all of my readers, and a Merry Christmas to you all if I don't get around to posting before tomorrow.

I'll be posting the most recent version of Human Black Box shortly, but I'm just taking the stand for a minute to rant a little. A while back, I entered a short story contest. The nature of my submission was a mystery novel, with a hint of supernatural flavoring thrown on the side. It's totally outside of the norm for me - I don' usually do supernatural stories or stories that hint at the supernatural because I have a general dislike for fantasy and supernatural stuff that stems back to my childhood. Still, I need a short story for the contest, and I decided to go with an idea that'd been bouncing around in my head for a while. The protagonist of the story, Naomi Creed, is an African-American/Indian (Dravidian; Naomi has really dark skin and it only makes her that much prettier, with straight black hair and an even mix of the two features) woman from Michigan, and her deuteragonist throughout the story - her "Watson" - is an older White woman twice her age (Naomi is in her 20s) named Fiona, who's described as a faded redhead with the type of beauty and grace that comes with age and experience; Fiona is also a mother, with two sons that Naomi's age, but that's mentioned in passing. The story is set in the American south; in particular, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. That region has a lot of folklore and history, and there's something mystical about it. Throughout out there are happenings hat can either be chalked up to the supernatural or mundane phenomena, depending upon your persuasion - Naomi tends to be the rationalist and the skeptic, and does a lot of the science and footwork throughout the novel, while Fiona is the folklorist. I set out to write this story with one purpose in mind: I was tired of fiction stories where the skeptic is always proven wrong. And not only are they always proven wrong, but it's obvious they're wrong from the start (I'm glaring daggers at you Rifts: Beyond the Supernatural; that book's fluff is hilariously anti-logic and science; the Nega-Psychic is the exact opposite of a the skeptic that the book claims the class is supposed to represent, and it's actually a beautiful sort of irony. White Wolf is bad for this, too.). This is a more nuanced story where it's not clear who's right, and you can make a case either way.

I wasn't sure what genre the story fit into. It was on the surface mystery, because there was a mystery to be solved. At the same time, there was definitely a supernatural element to the story, but because it was a may be magical, may be mundane situation, I figured it falls under "magical realism", the catch all term for "what the fuck is this and yes, I want it published so I'm not calling it fantasy."

Which brings me to my point. See, that story was rejected. I didn't place a lot of hopes on it, and I'm not bitter or anything - in fact, the reject letter was nice and they'd certainly read it; they were able to single out specific incidences of the novel that the readers had enjoyed. So I won't rant about that or about it being rejected. Rather, the last line of the letter catches my attention - they told me that they "don't often publish genre works."

Is it just me or is there some kind of vendetta against genre works? Academia seems to me like it has it out against genre; this can't just be me, because there's a whole trope devoted to it over on TV Tropes: behold the Sci-Fi Ghetto. Don't be fooled by the name; fantasy literature gets tagged by this, too. In fact, one can argue that fantasy gets it worse, because at least science fiction is forward looking and trying to teach people about getting into science. This is actual rather sad, because Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery are all very strong genres and I'll be damned if I can tell the dividing line between the four (if there even is a line at all. Mystery might be easily enough set aside - a mystery can be formulaic, after all, much like that soulless Harlequin Romance garbage), and even then - my short story is arguably mystery and some other form of speculative fiction. It's not fantasy - there's no Romantic elements to it, there's no presence of magic, and any otherworldly forces that might be present can be argued as mundane with equal validity within the text. It's not science fiction because it doesn't deal with the future, doesn't tackle any big ideas, and doesn't look at any "What Ifs." You might could argue horror, although it's more eerie than it is horrifying, and I'm not sure how much of that is confusion over what's going on verses the location - Appalachia is eerie. Those mountains, during the evening time, are creepy as fuck. I certainly pulled that in, if my readers are anything to go by. So what is it? That's the only real reason I called it Mystery/Magical Realism - none of the other genres worked.

So what do I do with this story now? Well, I'm going to keep it and send it in to a few magazines. These stories are also difficult to write - I have to make sure that all of my bases are covered so they can either be magic or mundane, depending - but in the future, I may write more. I may post one here.

In the meantime, I have another story that needs to be posted. I'll just close this rant by saying that while I didn't get published this time around, that doesn't mean I won't see print in the future. It's a matter of persistence and determination. And I've nothing if not both.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Look At Modern Libertarianism

I've mentioned before Libertarianism is racist. I wasn't kidding, and that wasn't snark. American libertarianism is all about White Male privilege expressing itself and justifying itself through the presence of the Free Market. If there's nothing to make sure that the corporations are playing fair, and regulate them, then who gets trampled on? The poor. And no, you can't just sue them - you can't see someone if you're fucking dead. And your family can't sue them if they're poor and can't afford multimillion dollar hot-shot lawyer to take on a corporation run justice system - what did you expect, a public justice system? That's a vehicle for the government.

Like most other Right-wingers, Libertarians are all over the "I got mine, fuck you" mentality. In addition, they're all over the whole "government for me but not for thee" business; after all, they have to get to work somehow, and they certainly aren't using private roads to do it.

Society is geared towards a certain group of people. That's what privilege is, and that's how it works. Now, privilege is formed of interlocking gears and wheels; one person might have White male privilege without having Christian or wealth privileges, or cis-gendered straight privileges. It generally sets itself up as a tiered system; at the very top you have White straight cis-gendered wealthy Christian males, and it takes itself apart from there. Libertarianism is geared towards protecting this White, straight, cis-gendered wealthy Christian male privilege. After all, if there's no government to lift up people who are disadvantaged by the system, then these White, straight, cis-gendered wealthy Christian males (WSCWCM?) don't have to worry about sharing their social privilege - or, rather, the privilege that society awards them. If there's no entity to try to equalize the playing field and make sure that nobody is starting at a serious disadvantage, then the only people who benefit from it are WSCWCM.

And that's before we get into corporations and such, and how they exploit everyone. Modern libertarianism is just a tool expressed by those who want to exploit.

And if you need a look into that mindset, just take a stroll through the comment thread over on Ashley Miller's blog. She asks the question "Why does anyone like Ron Paul?"

I'll admit that Ron Paul is like the stopped clock of modern politics. He's done a handful of things that I agree with - not because he's Ron Paul, but because I'm a liberal social libertarian myself (in the class sense; I believe that the government should level the playing field for everyone so that nobody is starting this race blind with two broken legs, while things like the "War on Drugs" are a waste of money). However, like a stopped clock, he's wrong most of the time, but we're not talking the "five-o'-clock somewhere" wrong; we're talking incredibly, egregiously wrong.

Like his supporters, more than a fair share of whom are misogynistic gasbags, asshole racists, and generally blind to the faults of their "messiah." It's popular to mock libertarianism as a religion, but I think there may be more than just a fair share of truth to that. It's certainly one of the weirder economic cults.

I have no respect for most modern libertarians, or modern libertarianism. I view them with the same disdain I direct towards anti-vaxxers and creationists, or towards birfers, or 9/11 trufers.

Revisiting Animal Uplifting

A while back, in one of my Transhuman posts, I took a look at the process and purposes behind animal uplifting - that is, the concept of taking an animal and moving it from it's current intelligent state through genetic engineering, tailoring, and bioengineering, to make it "human" or, more accurately, "transhuman", level in intellect.

There's a lot of watch words in here that make his a complicated preposition - the first and foremost among them the otherwise slippery definition of what defines "intellect". Generally speaking, it often includes some level of sapience and self-awareness, but because we haven't solved the mysterious riddle of how you know you're here, determining what defines self-awareness can be tricky. Any philosophy 101 student can tell you that I can deny you are sapient and self-aware, because I can't prove it. I can prove that there are certain parts of your brain that are firing a the same time, it's true, but given what little we know about the mystery of consciousness and "self", I cannot confirm that you are where you are on a conscious level. Oh sure, you exist as a body and a mass of cells, but when it comes to your conscious? I have to take your word for it.

This is the "Hard" question of cognitive sciences; basically, where "you" come from. We're pretty sure that "you" are not a soul, stored in the brain using it as a vehicle. However, whether brain-mind duality exists or not, we're not sure. I have no doubt that the Hard question will be answered (some doubt that the Hard question exists at all, but I tend to disagree. I think that the consciousness is the whole of the brain, and the chemical reactions in it, and you can transfer those chemical reactions in mid-reaction or mimic them, moving your conscious from entity to another) - but the "Hard" question is in our face when we talk about the purposes of animal uplifting.

Thus, the tools that we use to define "sapience" and "self-awareness" are laughable at worst and curiosities at best. The so-called "Mirror Test" is one of the most commonly used and one of the simplest among them. Think of the mirror test as a sort of biological Turning test; it's used to determine whether or not you're self aware, and you can recognize yourself. The hypothesis is simple enough: To date, only a handful of species have passed the Mirror Test, and they are the primary candidates for biological uplifting. Some of them, however, are not species that one might think.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And Finally...

Last post for today, and it's a brief one.
A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule on Wednesday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the dock after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them.
Both women, ages 22 and 23 respectively, are fire controlmen in the Navy. They met at training school and have been dating for two years.
Navy officials said it was the first time on record that a same-sex couple was chosen to kiss first upon a ship's return. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets. The Navy said the money would be used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors
You can go read the article here, and see the pictures.

This is what we need more of. This is the new world order. And I welcome it with open arms.

We Will Lose Autonomy Over Our Beings...

Transhumanism post - I haven't done one of these in a while.

I've had this article locked away in my favorites for sometime and I've been intending to get around to writing about. Transhumanism is one of the thing that sets my blog apart (I should like to think) for other blogs. I'm not sure how many other transhuman blogs there are, but I haven't been doing a very good job of making this one transhumanist despite it being my personal philosophy.

There's a lot more to transhumanism than just mind-uploading and body surfing, although those are two currents that do make up a lot of transhuman thought. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about mind-uploading personally; I'd like for it to be true, but it seems to reek of mind-body duality, which current advances in neuroscience are suggesting isn't the case. In fact, current advances suggest that consciousness is just an illusion brought about by the chemical reactions inside of your brain; your ego, your identity, all of it, is just an illusion that's created by firing neurons. Now, we're not sure if this is the case or not. There may be some kind duality present that allows for the "conscious" as we recognize it to be transferred over to a new source much like a program can be, and so far, there's nothing either for or against it. There's a reason Eclipse Phase is set some 100-200 years in the future.

Wait, I take that back. There's a lot against it, and transhumanism in general, as this article suggests. In Is Transhumanism Coercive: Forcing humanity to remain relatively stupid and sick doesn't make us freer by Ronald Baily, he recounts a debate that he had with a bioconservative named Peter Lawler. Now, Lawler was he president of George W. Bush's "Council of Ethics," and like most individuals, Lawler presents an irrational fear of biotechnology and the future development of technology. Or, rather, I'm sure he'd like everyone else to have an irrational fear of biotechnology, even if he himself does not. For the most part, Ronald does a good job, but I want to take a closer look at it, and bioconservatism in general.

10 Differences Between the Religious Right and Jesus

h/t Confessions of a Former Conservative

He does a pretty good take down of this silly little list of points built on strawmen and distorted ideas of what the Religious Right think and what the actual reality around President Obama is. This "10 differences" list is a joke through and through, built around a number of fallacies and straight up stupid claims. As I was reading their list, I couldn't help but think "you know what? I can do better than this." And because this is likely how all great things in this universe being, I concocted my own list of 10 differences - in this case, the 10 differences between the Religious Right and the Jesus they claim to worship.

A heads up - do not refer to the Religious Right as "the Pharisees". For starters, there are still Jewish people who practice Pharisical Judaism, and that's insulting to them. Second, the Pharisees were concerned with the rule of law and the way that the law was carried out. The Religious Right doesn't give a rat's ass about religious law. They only want the religious law insomuch as it benefits them - which is why you hear this made up garbage about how Jesus made it "okay" to eat shrimp and wear mixed fabric clothing while still making it "wrong" to be gay, when there's nothing in the New Testament or any of Jesus' teachings to back that up (oh, sure, you can get Paul to help by quoting maybe two verses out of how many? But you know what? Paul was an asshole. And Paul was not Jesus). So no, let's stop calling them the "modern Pharisees." That's an insult to the practitioners of Pharisical Judaism ancient and modern, and it's not clever or remotely correct.

Also, before we go any further - yes, I have read the Bible. Most atheists have read it. I've read it even further, and I've made an even stronger effort to understand it, because I'm both an author and a student of literary criticism. You can't study Western Lit completely without understanding the Bible.

Other Earths

The newest observatory in space, the Kepler eye-in-the-sky (as I call it), is already paying for itself. It hasn't been online very long, but it's already finding exoplanets. In fact, it's found not one but two exoplanets orbiting around a star not even 960 light years from here. And while they're too close to their parent star to be habitable, they have another upshot - see, these rocky planets are roughly the size of the planet Earth.

We Always Knew Flight was OP

Overland Flight is one of the most OP spells in 3.X D&D. There's a lot of reasons why, but in any game with map combat, flight tends to skew to favor of the battle. Another example I can think of is Returners, an FFRPG game that's freeware.

But who would know that using flight in melee combat here in real life would be OP, too?

Just ask this ant, who's gonna get pwned by a wasp.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Batman, Aliens, and Hollywood

There are two things that have entered my world lately that are worthy of note, because bizarre thinking and criticism of movies and literature is the norm for me. Neither technically exist yet, but apparently they're working on it.

The first thing that came to my attention is the most recent trailer for the last Dark Knight movie, The Dark Knight Rises. The other thing that came to my attention comes to my attention through PZ Myer's blog; the fact that Ridley Scott is going to do a prequel to the Aliens movie. Both of these come from Hollywood. Thus, you know the origin of the post's name.

Now please excuse me while I indulge in some deep, probably over-thinking it but well deserved criticism.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Racism on Parade - Tea Party Edition

We know that the official stance of the Tea Party is one of thinly veiled racism. Sure, they can claim otherwise, and maybe there are a few honest members who legitimately aren't racist (no, wait. They're libertarian. They're still racist), but if you take a bulk sample of the Tea Party, odds are good that you'll be getting a slice of the largest segment of Regressives in the American population.

So it comes as no surprise whenever a Tea baggers opens their mouth and proves that they're a racist bigot. In fact, I rather expect it. It's like a lying right-wing Christian evangelical, although I wouldn't be anywhere near as disappointed if these people just shut up and went away (really keen readers will notice the overlap. I'm sure this isn't a mistake - after all, God works in mysterious ways. Especially when the bulk of his followers on the Right are trapped in paleolithic period with a moral outlook to match).

So, lemme introduce you to Jules Manson (h/t Freakout nation)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Right Wing Asshole Being Right Wing Asshole

This is certainly a "stop the presses" title. Gasp - a right-winger being an asshole? Do they come in any other flavor but asshole?

You get generic asshole flavor, but sometimes, they'll have a mixed flavor. Like "bigoted-homophobic-sexist" or "bigoted-racist-sexist" or you'll get the mystery flavor, where it can be any of the above, better known as the "Rush Limbaugh" flavor or the "FOX news" flavor.

Well, some guy I've never heard of before called Matt Staver has just earned his own, distinctive flavor of bigoted right-wing asshole.

Why Target, Macy's, and Lowes Support Bigotry and Hate

By now, I'm fairly sure that you've at least heard of the whole controversy surrounding the TLC show, All-American Muslim. I've never seen the show, and I don't watch TLC (not since they stopped being "The Learning Channel"). For those who haven't seen it or heard what was going on, one of those "inhumanly pro-family" (if I may borrow a phase from Fred Clark) organizations from (where else?) Florida (you were expecting Texas. Admit it) has pressured the sponsors of the program to back out, trying to get the program taken off the air.

It's greatest offense? Well, I imagine that the show displays Muslims as being people, rather than freakishly inhuman things ready to blow up your good, White, Christian country a moment's notice. This is a good thing. It helps fight back against the absurd propaganda that's concocted in the weird and frightening labyrinthine depths of the twisted organ right-winger's call a "mind", and can help "normalize" Muslims. Or, at least, the popular conception of what a Muslim is. I've said before that I worked with a lady who had blond hair, blue eyes, and dressed like any Western who also happened to be Muslim. She identified herself as a Muslim to me, and it was rather surprising the first time because I certainly did not expect it. So this show helps, at least, remove the overly negatives and humanizes the popular conception of Muslims and Islam, as opposed to just, y'know, lying about how they all want to kill us for freedoms, replace our law with Sharia Law, and other stupid shit like that.

Lowes, one of the companies they petitioned, backed out of the show and stopped sponsoring it. I know where I won't be shopping for home supplies in the very near future, and I recommend all readers of this blog vote with their feet. I prefer small, local hardware stores, and we still have a few of those around. But that's beside the point. What we have here is what happens when the peacock puffs up it's chest and thinks that it's managed to scare off competitors - it pushes the envelope.

Now that same Florida association is pushing to get Degrassi's sponsors to jump ship, too.

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate, Part 7

Alright, here's Part 7 in the continuing saga of Chloe and Zira.

Last time around Zira concocted a scheme that would either get them killed or get them into New Hope Colony. And by "them" I mean Chloe, and by "killed or get into the colony" I likely mean both. Today picks up with Zira following a few leads, and answering a few questions while Chloe infiltrates the New Hope Colony.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate Part 6

It's a been a while since I posted a new Human Black Box. I've been busy at work, so I haven't had a chance to get ahead like I'd want to, but I'm still far enough ahead that the only reason they haven't been posted is because I've forgotten to. While I'm burning the midnight oil tonight, I figured I might as well set up Part 6. Hopefully, I'll get Part 7 up tomorrow.

Last time around, things picked up when Chloe and Zira found themselves confronted with two unusual things - the ego that M&M brought back from Earth (a Christbot), and a wily and skillful Cameron, who managed to get the drop on them by complete surprise (sleeving in a flat? And then pretending to be bioconservative and an idiot to get them to drop their guard?). Today's HBB picks up with Chloe and Zira, following Chloe's resleeving.

So let's roll the footage!

Aha! I Knew It!

Obama balked and backed away from his veto threat.

Do I get a cookie? I knew this was going to happen. It doesn't come as a surprise to me anymore - the Democrats are the party without a spine and guts and the Republicans are the party without a brain or conscious.

What this means now is ... ominous.

Of course, for all the deal I made of this before, one thing needs to be stated clearly - this is the logical progression of how things were going to turn out. No, it wasn't the PATRIOT act's fault (although that sped it up). The problem was and always will be the ongoing "War on Drugs."

This is where our problem starts (I apologize ahead of time for the scattered nature of this post - I had thoughts that, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, seemed like they would fit together. In retrospect, they might not have fit together as well as I thought).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Now That's Too Much Evolution

I originally started this as a post with three links in one, but after my Intertubez messed up this morning and I had to head out for work, I decided that I would break them up into three different posts. So here go. The first one is from the annals of "evolution verses creationism," because this is a big thing in the United States.

This one comes to me via the Panda's Thumb.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The War on Christmas (Korean DMZ Edition)

It took me a good couple of seconds to realize what was being done here, and even though I think I got it, I'm not entirely sure I understand. All I can do is scream WHY!?

We all know the Right is deaf to hyperbole. They don't seem to understand it, nor do they seem to understand irony or hypocrisy. But there are time when they go so far over the time that it manages to boggle me.

Behold: the War on Christmas is the same as a the North Korean threat over South Korean due to a Church Group's display in the DMZ:

He's Killing that Jacket

So, I'm behind the curve (yet again). Apparently, wannabe presidential-hopeful Rick "Texas Teabagging Thug" Perry has a new political ad out. One of the reasons I'm behind the times is because I really don't watch TV, so I don't see this stuff. Another reason is because I don't deliberately go looking for information on this man, it just has it's way of gravitating to me. And because I'm opinionated, it goes without saying I've got something to say about this abomination of a political ad.

So, without further ado, let's watch this magnificent, Shakespearean-in-its-elegance political ad (am I damning with false praise? Now, now, be fair: Perry is so far lost he deserves all the praise he can get):

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Once Again, Right-Wingers Make Poor Villians...

It's been a while, but I've got some time off now so hopefully I'll be able to catch up with all of the wonderful things I've been lacking on. One of them is this blog - sadly, these tend to be the first thing to get cut when you get sacked with a lot of work. However, I'm back, and I've got some time off, so I've got some catching up to do.

First thing is first. I made a post a while back about how dominionists make crappy villains. Well, apparently they come by that honestly. Really, there comes a point when you, as a liberal, just throw your hands in the air and say "you know what? If this is the best you've got, I quit. It's gotten to the point where having you as opponents is just downright insulting to me."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

People Die In America Because People Die In America

File this one under "shaped like itself." (TVtropes link).

Frothy-mix Santorum (do not Google that man's last name) got an ear full from a young college student - two of them, in fact - and the results of the confrontation highlight the reaction that one gets when you expose a Republican to cold, hard reality.

I suppose I could go for the potassium/water analogy, as chemistry jokes aren't nearly as popular as they should be. However, I figure watching the chemical reaction unfold is more interesting than actually reading about it from a third person perspective. Behold - what happens when you expose a Republican to reality:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When Your Government Sells You Out...

What happens when the law becomes illegal? When the government, in an act that can only be described as a proto-fascist power-grab, way over steps it's bounds and, as an end result, threatens to imprison anyone, indefinitely?

The United States is the proto-typical police state. I know there's a lot of readers out there in the developing world who scoff at that, but the U.S. has always been this way, since it's very founding. Our police have been militarizing since the birth of the so-called "War on Drugs" - we have an almost military-like police, if not a military police system in place, accountable only to it's own and nobody else. The legal system is turning from a legal system against people because of their skin color to against people because of their economic class. On top of all this, theofascists have been trying since the beginning of the Civil War and even earlier to inject their pitiful little god into the government.

Well, today, the U.S. Senate sold us out.
An amendment that would limit military detentions to people captured overseas failed on Thursday afternoon. The Senate soundly defeated a measure to strip out all the detention provisions on Tuesday.

So despite the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to trial, the Senate bill would let the government lock up any citizen it swears is a terrorist, without the burden of proving its case to an independent judge, and for the lifespan of an amorphous war that conceivably will never end. And because the Senate is using the bill that authorizes funding for the military as its vehicle for this dramatic constitutional claim, it’s pretty likely to pass.
It would be one thing if the military was clamoring for the authority to become the nation’s jailer. But to the contrary: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opposes the maneuver. So does CIA Director David Petraeus, who usually commands deference from senators in both parties. Pretty much every security official has lined up against the Senate detention provisions, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to FBI Director Robert Mueller, who worry that they’ll get in the way of FBI investigations of domestic terrorists.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The World Is Upside Down

I don't have time for a full post because I have to get ready for work in a few minutes, but this needs to get out there. So I'll let the Business Insider speak for me (bolding original):
Fellow entrepreneurs, Americans, anyone who still cares about this country at all -- this is a must read: By the end of this week, the US government very likely will have the power to lock up US citizens for life at Guantanamo Bay or other military prisons -- without charge and without trial. This means that, in the near future, a controversial Twitter post, attending a peaceful protest, or publishing an anti-Congress critique or anti-TSA rant on Google+ could land you "indefinite detention" for life, in the wording of the bill. No access to a lawyer, no access to trial.
 It's called the National Defense Authorization bill. If this thing passes, that's it. America will be on par with countries like Saudi Arabia and China for civil liberties.

Part of the offensive language is section 1031 of the bill:
“Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force…includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons…Detention under the law of war without trial.”
And an amendment to remove the provisions that define "indefinite detention" has failed. I repeat, it's failed. Right now, there's only a handful of Republicans speaking out against this bill. Yes, that's right, Republicans.

It's set to pass. If it passes, it doesn't matter where you are. If you're on American, Canadian, or the soil of some other foreign nation: if you're an American citizen, and you piss off your own government, you're going to vanish down the rabbit hole into Gitmo or some other secret military prison. And there's nothing nobody can do about it. It passed the House already - it did so back in May.

Boy, I wish I was making this up. But I'm not. Obama has threatened a veto of the bill, but this is still scary. Have you heard anything about this on the media? No, of course not - just business about Michael Jackson's doctor or if Cybermonday made expected profits.

Meanwhile, your freedoms are being stripped away.

Contact your senators and representatives. This is beyond the pail unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And Here's That Family Shit Again...

Enigma's had a rough day today. So you know what that means, don't you?

That's right! It's time to pull up the scratching post and eviscerate me some Republican stupidity. So go ahead and pull up a seat - today's victims privileged assholes pretending to be victims are Focus on Patriarchy, and the application that they ask for college students to fill out for their "Focus Leadership Institute", which, as you can probably tell by the name, is a very reputable institution.

So, let's have some fun, shall we?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blogging about Mental Illness

JT Eberhard has post over on Free Thought blogs about why the skeptic community needs to start dealing with mental illnesses. He's calling on people to blog about their mental illnesses if they have them, or do research and blog on them, so just that it gets out there.

I've blogged before about my mental illness, so I don't have a great deal to say here other than JT Eberhard is a brave, brave man and anyone who's willing to get out there and spread the word and talk about their experiences is a person hero of mine. So go! Get out there, spread the word, let the world know that we're here, and some of us need to be helped. We all need to be respected. We have a right to live a the same life that a neurotypical person lives, without being judged as "lazy" or "demon-possessed" and treated accordingly.

On the subject of my own illness, here's my post:

When I'm long gone, preferably of old age (unless mind uploading gets here first; c'mon baby, I'm holding out for you), I want a tombstone. It doesn't have to be very big, just large enough to fit two words, to stand in stark contrast with the rest of the cemetery:

"Bipolar Survivor."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

#Occupy: Bahrain

To the average American, the "Arab spring" is this thing we see on TV between reports about how loopy and spiteful our congress is being and what celebrities are dating who or going into rehab. We saw videos of Egypt, and we saw videos of Libya, and we got some info, but not much.

Of course, we're not seeing videos from Syria. We're getting the occasional new feed, but really, not much. Syria isn't an ally of the the United States, but neither was Libya, and Egypt was neutral at best. So, it's no surprise that we hear about that.

But what about the places that are the ally of the United States?

Let's take a look at what the "Arab spring" looks like in Bahrain, a close ally of the United States, and one generally considered a "liberal" Arab country (I suppose when your neighbor is Saudi Arabia, any morals more advanced than the stone age can be considered liberal). Keep in mind - the United States supports the regime in Bahrain.

WARNING: The video below the fold is extremely graphic; it contains graphic in images of death, mutilation, and general mercenary brutality. And even this disclaimer won't prepare you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What a Nasty Little Asshat

And now - misogyny from a different continent!

New Economic Policy

I remember back when the TEA Party started spreading this toxic and stupid meme (... one of them), and really, it shouldn't surprise me that some small business owners, especially in the Deep South, are picking up on it.

U.S. Cranes, L.L.C, has a new company policy. One that they picked up from the TEA Party more than likely. Owner William Looman has explicitly stated that "we are not hiring until Obama is gone."

Well, if I ever need a crane service, I know where I'm *not* looking.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hearing Voices Is Not Funny

Hey, hey - I've got a joke. You know, you're never alone. See, you've got plenty of cancer cells in your body to keep you company. See! It's funny! It really is!

Cancer survivors and cancer patients, and the families of cancer patients and survivors, probably wouldn't think so. Not with all the heartache, the pain and suffering, the hurt, watching your love one suffer, and the expenses that one goes through when they develop cancer. Unless you're into a particular set of gallows humor that isn't about being funny directly but through reactions, you're not likely to find that one either. Someone who lost a limb, or all their hair while undergoing chemo, or the family someone who actually died from metastasized cancer, likely would not find that joke funny. And it's doubly offensive unless you yourself are a cancer survivor, in which case, if you did make it, it's not so much attempting to be funny as it is being darkly ironic. But until you do, you'll never know. And it becomes a tasteless joke for that reason.

If that joke is not funny, and we can all agree that it's not funny, why is it funny to comment how you're never alone because "you've got the voices in your head to keep your company?" I see it on tee-shirts, some funny person pops up with a joke about hearing voices and never being lonely because of it on my news feed every so often. There are mainstream jokes about it. For some reason, everyone thinks that it's okay to mock people who have a mental illness, but not people who have cancer. Joking about people who are psychotic should be every degree the dark humor that joking about cancer is, but it's not. Joking about sick people, who's lives are in danger, is not funny. Whether it's from cancer or from danger of suicide, the end result is the same - death is death.

Do you really want to know what it's like to hear voices, and see things? It's not worth joking about unless you've actually experienced it, right? Of course. Let me tell you what it's like. Because it's not funny. It's scary. It's truly, honestly scary.

The Polichicks

There are days when I feel like Hank Hill. The best I can manage is "Damn it, Bobby." There are other days when I wish I could muster that scream he does; because if I could, I'd certainly use it here.

Behold, the horror that is the Polichicks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Word Game

Redefining words is fun.

You know what's even more fun that redefining words?

Changing or restricting their meaning so you can use them to silence opposition.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unleash the Dogs of War!

Somethings never sleep.

At it's height, the British Empire never slept. It spanned the entire globe, and while it might be dark in one place of the empire, it was day somewhere else. The Mongol Empire was like this, too.

Modern businesses don't sleep. If you want to stay ahead in this world, you have to be going 25/8, but because there's only 24 hours in a day (23.24 hours) and 7 days in a week, you have to settle.

Right wing lies never sleep. Christmas never seems to sleep either. And the combination of the two, while it spends most of the year lying low, seems like it kicks into gear earlier an earlier each year. I log onto Facebook this morning and I see a couple of complaints about how we're taking the "Christ" out of Christmas. How we're censoring Christmas, or how we're discriminating against Christians. That's right, kiddos - it's more than just a privilege check. 'Tis the season - JENKINS, UNLEASH THE HOUNDS! THIS MEANS WAR!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stories About Atheism

There's a current meme going around the internet right now about how people became, or came by, atheism. Everyone is an individual, everyone's story is different, and I'm at least partially of the belief that this has to do with the push-back against the way that atheists are continually characterized.

So, here's my story - how Enigma became an atheist:

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Not Getting Any Younger...

I woke up today without any kind of pains at all. Having gone out for a good walk, and then having taken a warm shower, my back and neck hurt like nothing else.

I wonder if this has to do with the jokes I was making last night about may age; I'm the oldest in my group of friends, and I always have been. Regardless which group I'm with, with the exception of one (where I'm in the middle) and my writer's workshop (where I am the youngest), this is universally the case.

You joke about your age (When you're 19, I'm 30. When you're 20, I'm 30. And when you're 30, you'll understand why I'm still 30), but boy does it ever come back to bit you.

C'mon. I'm not even 28 yet. I have no right hurting like this.

Nor smelling like this. Icy-Hot stinks, by the way. If you don't know this already, consider yourself informed.

Nothing else to mention - just this, apropos of nothing.

Babys, Gender, and Spending

A friend of my (actually a former senior that I taught when I was doing my student teaching) is pregnant. I learned some time ago through facebook status updates - she comes up on my news feed once in a while, even if I rarely, if ever, comment on her page. I'm happy for her, but I haven't said anything yet because I'm waiting for the baby to be born before I comment (you know how modern parents are - you people post pictures of your spawn all over the place of FB. I got those things polluting my newsfeed from beginning to end - and I love it, because babies are so damn adorable. So don't stop, no matter what anyone tells you.) Both she and her boyfriend are pretty people; I don't doubt for a minute that her baby will be pretty, too. I'm very happy for them, despite holding my tongue and not having said anything. It's an exciting time for them both.

That said, I'm of the belief that if you want to have a child, you should adopt. There's 6 billion and counting, and soon, we'll have shot well past critical mass and well into a Malthusian catastrophe. This is especially true when you talk about all of the wonderful children - teens and tweens included, even though they repeatedly get overlooked in favor of infants and toddlers - who could use a home with loving parents, but constantly get stiffed by a messed up system. But that's not what someone who's happy they're going to have a child - and who always wanted to have children - wants to hear, so I reserve my opinion. Mothers, especially young ones like her (she's younger than I am - remember, I taught this girl as a senior in HS, 2 years ago, so I'd be shocked if she was 20), have enough problems, without someone they only knew as a student teacher coming in and telling them how to do something.

So, I've been updated about her journey for the last few months. I know she was hoping for a boy; today, she found out that they were having a baby girl. The desire to have a specific child alone is slightly worrisome (I'm a fine one to talk; I'll get into this later), but what really struck me - and it was probably because I was reading something about implicit sexism/misogyny at the same time - was one of her comments on the thread:

"I don't look forward to how expensive girls are compared to boys."

Of course, this kick-started my thinking (literally; it was like a boot to the back of the brain), and I got to thinking: why?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate (part 5)

It's been a while, but that's only because life's gotten in the way. In the last installment, Zira was attempting to find her way into Zygote, and branch out to make the proper connections - in the world of transhumanity, it's very much a case of not what you know but who you know, and knowing the right people goes a long way to making the proper connections, especially when you go digging for men that seemed to have multiple lives and multiple identities...

Today's installment sees things heat up a bit; perhaps a bit literally in some senses...I present for your consumption Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate Part 5. As usual, you can find the character list here, and the archives here.

Due to recent outside interest in the story, I may split the difference and move Human Black Box to it's own blog, and leave this blog for just the political stuff. It'll depend upon how things go in the future, but I wanted to let everyone know that this is a possibly bouncing around in my head now. Anyway, let's roll that beautiful bean footage...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ur-Fascism: 28 Signs, 2 Essays

And it goes without saying that the Untied States pegs all 28 of them.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


(I found this picture on FB. I figured you'd enjoy it)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cultures and Costumes

As usually, I'm probably one of the last to pick this up, but that's alright. I'm not trying to win first place - I'm not trying to win much of anything here. This is just my personal little area to sound off on what I feel is wrong, right, or otherwise sideways with the world we live in.

Ever since I've become aware of it (a while back; becoming atheist first alerted me to Christian privilege, having a few gay friends and being genderqueer myself alerted me to cisgender, straight, and indirectly, male privilege, and having explored what other people feel based on skin color by reading their blogs and through my own character in a novel I'm working on has alerted me to White privilege. Being mentally ill and unashamed of it has alerted me to neurotypical privilege. If you name a way to segment a population, there's a privilege for that. The rest fell into place from there), nothing has been more irritating to me than watching someone with no clue about their privilege in society run off at the mouth about it.

I've often said it before. I love the privilege I get for being male, cisgendered (until I open my mouth), believer (until I open my mouth), straight, and White. I love it so much I want to share it with as many people as I can, because they deserve it too. That's what equality is about; it's me giving you what's awarded to me while I keep it, so we can be on an even keel. We're a long way from there, but inch by painful inch, we make progress.

So when I ran across this - "We're a culture, not a costume", I couldn't help but support it.

And then I read the comment thread. By this time, you'd think I would know better, but still...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Follow, I'll Lead, And Together We Watch For Ditches

Courtesy of the Slacktivist

Dominionism is all about following. You're following someone, you're following some thing, real or imagined, and you're trying like hell not to think for yourself. After all, thinking for yourself leads to the eventual conclusion you're being hoodwinked by this Dominionism shit and you abandon ship.

So it comes as no surprise, then, that the Little Eichmanns in the Republican Party (Godwin! Godwin! Right out of the gate, too! What do I win?) would promote following a brave, bold (White) male (Protestant Christian of their sect) to lead (tell them what to do) for the rest of their natural lives, with a direct line to God.

If I were God, right about now, I'd be feeling pretty stupid for installing that direct line in the White house. Now everyone thinks they have the right to use it, and that's just being silly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

No, I Don't Have Patience For You

I'm running out of patience with global warming deniers.

Anthropogenic climate change is all but a fact. Numerous studies have confirmed it, and in fact, the latest study, carried out by a former ally of the skeptics, is the last nail in the lid of the coffin closed.

Now, by former ally, I don't mean he abandoned them. They abandoned him. The minute he said something that they disagreed with, they jumped shift.

Let's take a look at what Anthony Watts, a fairly common figure on FOX news, has to say, talking about the project that the Guardian is reporting on above:
And, I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.I’m taking this bold step because the method has promise. So let’s not pay attention to the little yippers who want to tear it down before they even see the results. I haven’t seen the global result, nobody has, not even the home team, but the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU, and, there aren’t any monetary strings attached to the result that I can tell. If the project was terminated tomorrow, nobody loses jobs, no large government programs get shut down, and no dependent programs crash either.  That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet.
How noble.

That was before the project was released. See, he was attacking individuals for "trying to tear the project down before it even started," I can only assume because he had already gotten it in his head that Dr. Muller, the man at the head of the BEST project, was going to church something that agreed with him.

Here's Mr. Watts after the project was released, which almost certainly confirmed the so-called "anthropogenic" climate change theory - i.e., after the facts blew up in his face (bolding original):
Because of the long time periods involved in Muller et al analysis, and because both Menne et al and Fall et al made no claims of knowing anything about siting quality prior to 1979, I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked.

For me to comment on the conclusions of Muller et al would be inappropriate until this time period error is corrected and the analysis reworked for time scale appropriate comparisons.
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature analysis methodology is new, and may yield some new and potentially important results on siting effects once the appropriate time period comparisons are made. I welcome the BEST effort provided that appropriate time periods are used that match our work. But, by using time period mismatched comparisons, it becomes clear that the Muller et al paper in its current form lost the opportunity for a meaningful comparison.
It certainly sounds like he was accepting it, doesn't it?

I'm running out of patience with these people. Whether it's "death panels", "vaccines cause autism", "modern medicine doesn't know what it's talking about", "the government caused 9/11" or "the Earth is only 10,000 years old and Noah had to cram his ark full of some of the largest land animals to ever live", the sheer magnitude of the stupid things that Americans are prone to believing is just staggering. It's the same mentality all the way through; it's the same line of thought, just different subject matters and some words switched around.

And I'm running out of patience with it all. I'm not sure why we even listen to these people anymore. Because they have a voice in making policy. And that's scarier than any stupid thing that they could believe.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate (part 4)

On a roll today; in the last installment, the mystery deepened when the our protagonists learned of a flat that was looking for their man; the let him go, but they still have no idea what a flat, from an right-wing evangelical Christian community (rare in it of itself) would be after Dr. M&M for.

So, the two set out to try and find these answers, and more, on their way to Zygote in this installment of Human Black Box.

As always, you can find the archives here and the character page here.

H+ 3: Artifical Intelligence and Beings

It's been a while since I've wrote an actual article regarding transhumanism outside of the Human Black Box story that I've been working on, so I figure that for this Saturday morning, I'll cook up another one. The last two, you'll recall were an overview of transhumanism and a look at animal uplifting. Well, think of this next one as being something like "computer uplifting."

Of all the transhuman themes, none is so widespread and popular culture as artificial intelligence. From classic robot movies television shows of the 1950s staring Robbie the Robot, to Asimov's Robot series of books, to Deep Blue beating Gary Kasparov in 1997, artificial intelligence and robots are in the mainstream, but not many known much about either, even though both will have a huge impact on humans and humanity within the next ten years or so.

So, welcome to H+ 3: Artificial Intelligences and Beings

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Rapture! (again)

[Enigma's note: I'm publishing this a day early. I might not get the chance to tomorrow, but it won't be because of the Rapture.]

It's October 22st, 2011. You know what this means, right?

Of course you do.

Yesterday, millions thousands hundreds tens Only Real True Christians were scooped up, and spirited away to the heavens in the Second Coming of the Lord. Over night, people vanished, stripped naked and soaring up to meet their Lord and Creator in the sky high overhead. Soon, the Great Tribulation will begin, and we'll be electing some guy named Nicolai Carpathiescu to rule the United Nations. All of God's believers, who wasted their lives doing nothing but trying to make others miserable, who lived their lives in miserable ridicule because they demanded people believe their fantastic but ultimately true fairy tales, all those poor souls who squandered the greatest gift at all, who repressed everything about themselves and refused to let themselves enjoy life for just one second without fearing that they were going to be damned, have been vindicated.

Yesterday, all six Real True Christians were Raptured away to meet God.

With only six of them gone, is it any wonder nobody noticed?

Oh, wait, this is just breaking - five of them were sent back. Apparently, only Real Christians were allowed. I wonder who the lucky bastard was that got Raptured.

I can poke fun at this all day. It wouldn't be the only one on the Internet doing it, either, so instead, let me look at something - let's take a look at what would really happen if the Rapture did happen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate (part 3)

It's been a while, but after plugging away, I've managed to get a head of the curve. The last scene saw our noble heroes tracking Dr. M&M to an isolated colony on Mars, only to learn that he was famous in another isolated colony.

The hunt for Dr. M&M continues, and the mystery deeps, in this section of Human Black Box.

As always, you can find the archive here, and the character list here.

Yep, NAR're Really That Stupid

For newcomers, the New Apostolic Reformation (it's something like that; the acronym is NAR, like the hair remover but without the "i") is a particular breed of Dominonist theology. Yeah, I know that dealing with one breed of that theology should be enough, but bad things never come alone, they always feel the need to come in pairs, triplicates, or more. NAR (not the National Association of Rocketry; these people are nowhere near that intelligent) is the movement that aligned themselves with Bachman (no, that's not why this is post is titled as it is), and they're pretty determined to enforce their own twisted brand of God and religion on people. They are dominionists after all. However, they'd make horribly stupid villains. Really, it's an insult to us liberals that out of the whole mass of humanity, these are the clowns that rise to met us.

Monday, October 17, 2011

FOX Shoots Itself In The Foot

I don't like internet polls. I think they're a waste of time.

That said, I still enjoy watching them blow up in the faces of the people who set them up. For instance, this poll on FOX, about the 99% Movement:

Those numbers read as follows:

Do 'Occupy Wall Street' protestors represent your views about the nation's economic problems?

Maybe, I'm not even sure what they want: 2.58%
No. They have no idea how jobs are created or how free-enterprise system works: 27.47%
Yes. These folks are right about corporate greed and what's happening to the little guy: 69.15%
Other (post a comment) 0.8%

70% support the 99% movement.

In a FOX news poll. I'm shocked they didn't try to doctor the results, to be honest with you. But I don't see how there's anyway they could spin that to allow their viewers to keep the illusion they're still a majority.

h/t Think Progress

"Hate" Is Too Strong A Word

... but damn if I can't find a word that's only slightly less strong, that sums up how I feel towards the political right.

h/t Butterflies and Wheels, Digital Cuttlefish

Now Is a Bad Time

When you say "Christian," there are a few words that pop into my mind, as a knee-jerk reaction, before I can catch myself and remind myself that I'm stereotyping. I understand that there are Christians out there who aren't like that - there's more than a few, and they certainly don't qualify - but honestly, sometimes it seems like those of you who aren't are a minority. I see why, and understand why, the term "Christ-follower" is picking up popularity. I honestly feel sorry for those of you who have a shared group identity with these people. Damn near every time Hitchens opens his mouth on the Middle East or Islam, I feel the same way.

One of the most appalling things about religion and it's believers is the drive that some of them have to use tragedy and human despair and pain to further their own aims:

Person A: "My Mom died this Weekend."
Person B: "Oh, that's terrible. Did she accept Christ?"
Person A: "Pardon?"
Person B: "If she didn't, she's burning in Hell right now."

If you don't see anything wrong with the above, congratulations. You too may be an evangelical, spreading the "Good news" that someone's parent is rotting in Hell because they didn't believe in your petty and pathetically tiny God (left wing evangelicals excluded. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting one in person, though, so I'm still not sure they exist yet).

I'd love to say it's a subset that have poor tasting in selecting the proper time to witness people. I hate being witnessed anyway; it's a waste of my time and a waste of yours. Even worse than the guy who witnesses after a funeral or uses emotional blackmail to try and get converts, is the guy who uses human tragedy or death the further the aims of his religion, and then wonders why everyone calls him an asshole (It's his "lot" in life; it's just a further example of persecution. Never mind that at least sociopaths can feign interest and understand when to and when not to use certain types of manipulation).

Allow me to present to you one of these people, at Defending. Condescending.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Not Your Father's 99%

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a legitimate, grass roots organization. You can tell because of the high level of initial disorganization. This blog supports the Occupy Wall Street movement, not just because it's author is one of the 99%, but because solidarity is a necessity in this world, when the predatory upper class is constantly looking for a means to hold down the lower class.

Marxist theory is probably the best way to explain how this works. See, in the Marxist view of history, there are three classes: the poor, the middle, and the wealthy. Contrary to popular belief, the wealthy are not the bourgeois. That's a title reserved for the middle class - that is, the shop owners, the employers, etc. According to Marxism, history is nothing but one long struggle between the ruling classes (the bourgeois, who answer to the wealthy) and the proletariat, or the poor people who are exploited by both the bourgeois and the wealthy, repeatedly. Different individuals have taken this in different directions, although I find that Lenin was amazingly accurate in his predictions of what would happen when commodities find themselves controlled by one group of people, or when banks become private enterprises (read his essay, On Imperialism, for a more thorough view.)

I'm not going to spend to much time on Lenin or Marx. I wanted to bring them up because the current OWS movement highlights the ongoing division of the rich verses the poor that's been happening ever since humans developed an economy for their society (and even before that; the god/desses only spoke to certain people, and faith is a currency all it's own, more potent than any paper bill or gold coin minted in history). This is the same vein as the Bonus Army or the Wobblies; it hasn't become the Peasant Revolution of the 1380s yet, and with any luck, it won't morph into a full blown French Revolution (despite what I've heard people say, I don't think it'll go that far. I doubt that we'll see a Lenin-style October Revolution. But if it does, dibs on manning the guillotine. I'd rather be behind it than under it.)

Instead, I found one of those typical responses that pissed me off, so I'm going to look at that. I just wanted to make it very plan and very clear that, as a student of Marx and Lenin, I understand how class warfare works, how it's shaped the history of humanity, and how I'm not scared to admit that I've read either man (dismissals of my arguments on their faces because of who I'm influenced by will be laughed at and pitched aside with the other ad hominem garbage. The most vocal critics of Marx and Lenin don't know a thing about either man or what they said to begin with, and usually resort to making things up anyway.)

So, let's take a look at this thing that's gotten under my skin.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Lies from Minitru

1984 left a far reaching imprint on pop culture for a few reasons. As the years have passed, the references towards 1984 in popular politics have becoming more and more pronounced. In the novel, for those who don't remember, the government was broken up into various Ministries. They were tasked with various projects, but they were named the opposite of what they did: The Ministry of Love, called Miniluv, was responsible for torture and securing the state through brutal means. The Ministry of Peace, called Minipax, was responsible for making war. The Ministry of Truth, called Minitru, was responsible for lies and propaganda.

1984 is a popular dystopia novel. I've sat down and tried to read through it a few times but I've always gotten distracted by something else - it's on my summer reading list for the third year in a row now, and I hope this summer I'll finally be able to get through it. Of course, I already know how it ends, being as popular as it is.

But then, if I wanted to know how it begins, I don't have to look at the Interne, and that's not even mentioned in the book. But that's okay, because right now, if I was determined to see how it could begin, I could just look at the modern Republican Party.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Got A Rock...

Child 1: "I got five pieces of candy!"
Child 2: "I chocolate bar!"
Child 3: "I got a quarter!"
Child 4: "I got a rock."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Proof That, Once Again, Hate is Irony Deaf

Steve Jobs died the other day.

I'm only recently discovering the joys of the various Mac toys - I bought myself my first iPod at the beginning of last year, the first large purchase I ever made for myself by myself, with money I made at my job - I've been a PC user most of my life, because honestly, it's all I've ever known. Hell, I was using 98 right up until a few years ago. I use my iPod almost every day; it quickly replaced my MP3 player when I lost back a few years ago and I don't think I could ever go out for a run without it. I wouldn't mind getting an iPhone, either, and I really do want to get an iPad. I'm just dirt poor. The point is, the Mac toys are pretty cool. It's a sad fact that their creator is gone.

Jobs was a man who revolutionized the way we Internet (yes, Internet is now a verb) and the way we connect to the world at large. It's always sad to loose someone brilliant; there's so few of them in the world today, when a brightly shining star goes out, it's always noticed.

Oh, and speaking of dim stars - the Westboro Baptist Cult has announced that they, being the awesome, Christ-like Christians they are, will grace Job's funeral with their presence. And they did it from an iPhone, too, on Twitter. Irony deaf much?

Apparently, it's some business about how they're attention starved, and how they want to be a part of everything and the media hasn't been paying attention to them lately - you know how it goes. When worthless people start feeling lonely, they try to make everyone else feel worthless as well. They're looking for a platform to spread their arrogance and filth; that's why I usually don't talk about them. Yeah, we all know the WBC. Nobody gives a fuck about them. Fine, you're going to heaven. Good for you - if you're there, I don't want to be anyway. I couldn't think of a more horrific way to spend eternity than with the Phelps clan. There's not a loving God one that would enforce that sort of punishment on anything in creation.

Unlike Jobs, the day Phelps dies will be a day to rejoice and gather up, sing songs, and enjoy the passing of an evil, wretched, dirty little old man who deserves all of the scorn he gets.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate (part 2)

In the last installment, Chloe and Zira learned why they were on Mars. In this one, they continue their hunt for the mysterious Dr. Erasmus Mahmoud-Martinique, which takes them to a small, not-so-well-known location in the Martian Outback. Bring your cowboy chaps, horses, and jeans. Akubra's are optional, however.

Monday, October 3, 2011

AFDI Is Pro-Genocide

For those who don't know, Pat Geller and Robert Spencer are the uber-wingnuts. These two give Michele Bachmann a run for her money in outlandish and stupid outright lies. Well, they've founded one of those Orwellian organizations - the American Freedom (from) Defense Initiative - which is every bit as ominous and menacing as the name sounds. This has been around for a while; the AFDI (All Fucking Dumbass Idiots) is not a new organization. Well, apparently, the organization is pro-Genocide.

Given that this is a right wing noise machine, is anyone surprised? Anyone? Hello?

Yeah, didn't think so.

But we're talking Free Republic levels of Pol Pot worship.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ah, Our Future Med Students...

I weep for our nation.

Trigger: Extreme misogyny. We're talking "What the Religious Right wants to say about women who take control over their own bodies but lacks the fortitude to say" levels here.

Post 101: Arguing against Arguments Against Atheism

This is my 101st post. This is also my longest running blog, and as I sit here on this dreary, rainy Saturday, I can only think of how fortunate it is that I've been able to stick with this consistently now for not just 101 posts, but also for 4 months. The blog isn't that old, and while we're a while away from 10,000 hits, it's getting close.

So, as something special today, I decided to head back to the regular tradition of Saturday mornings - philosophy and arguments against them. Rather that pick one philosophy and dismantle it piece by piece, however, I decided to take a look at an argument against a philosophy - two arguments, two philosophies - and dismantle those.

So, without much further ado, let's dive headfirst into our Saturday Morning Philosophical Dissertation, while remembering that this is a special post - we've lived to see 100 posts, so here's to another 100.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Will You Idiots Make Up Your Goddamn Minds?

The only thing more hilarious than Rick Perry is watching him shove is foot so far down his throat he'll be shitting toenails for the next few weeks.

See, in the recent debate, Perry got himself in trouble with the TEAbaggers and Teavangelists when he announced that, following in True States Rights tradition (which, for those who aren't native to the United States, means that this fool thinks Texas, one of the biggest Welfare states in the Union, could survive a day by itself. We keep tell them to shut up and do it then, but they don't, because they know. Today, State's rights are uniformly used to couch bigoted principles. Whenever someone brings up 'State's rights' on certain issues, it's because they're a bigot, usually a homophobic one), state should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to pass gay marriage laws.



Human Black Box: Devils Advocate (prt 1)

Welcome to the newest installment of Human Black Box, pumped out ready for a Friday. This is the beginning of a new arc; Arc 2, titled "Sacraments and Lies." This particular section is part one of Devil's Advocate. Before I go any further, I shout out to the guys over on the EP Forum - this particular thread inspired me to draft up my thoughts for this arc. Expect plenty of Left Behind references. Simply because I can't resist.

This particular act begins on Mars. Because the webbernetz is pretty cool, I have two things for you, my dedicated readers. The first is a map of Mars at the time of EP:

The second is even cooler. I present to you Google Mars. It's like Google Maps, but it's for Mars instead of Earth. Google Earth also has a 3d Mars Skin that you can download for it, too; it's definitely something you should check out if you're interested in that sort of thing.

In the meantime, let's get this arc started on the right foot...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coming to Terms

I've done a lot of thinking lately about certain aspects of my life. I've hinted more than a few times that I've been confused about my sexuality and gender. Normally, I wouldn't bring it up, because I'm aware that it can sound like I'm pulling the "I just want to be special, too!" card, but that's not the case. Up until this point, I was legitimately confused about who I was and what I wanted, out of both myself and life.

Not anymore.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sex and the Single Geek

This particular link come to me courtesy of Blag Hag; she posted this link on her blog (admittedly, it's an older post; what can I say? I 'm behind the times. We establish this every time I post something about space), a piece about the nature of sexism in "geek culture" - which is a fancy way to same gaming, of the card, video, and table-top varieties.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a part of that culture. I'm practically neck deep in it; I'm an ardent RPer who enjoys his table time. I don't get a lot of time to socialize with other people (my job not withstanding), so my games are a good opportunity for me to get with friends and have some fun. At the same time, I do sports. I played football in high school, and I run every day I get the chance too (regardless of weather) and if my knee is acting up, I'll walk three miles or more instead. I don't like Mountain Dew (diet Mountain Dew tastes nasty and the regular stuff is way to sweet; I'll take Coke Zero), and I don't like Cheetos, either. So I'm not really the individual to go to if you're looking for a stereotype, but even if I don't fit that stereotype, I do fall into the group by virtue of my hobbies. I'm not a hardcore gamer (okay, so that's a lie. I know several systems inside and out and I'm familiar with all major elements of game design, to the point of being able to design my own game), but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that, at the end of the day, my hobbies place me squarely in this group: it doesn't matter whether I walk three feet or three miles, or whether or not I played football on a field or on the PS3. All that matters is that here I am, a member of this culture. A culture in serious need of being smacked.

And this is one such article talking about sexism and misogyny, a major problem within the geek culture. This is a problem in society as a whole, but because I'm focusing on geek culture, I'm only going to be looking at how it relates to geek culture.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Personhood Laws Are Anything But

First, an apology for the lack of updates. I've been busy lately (I cleaned my room. Don't look at me like that - this was a four day project to clean out seven years of dust, mildew, mold, and whatever the hell that funny smelling thing was in the corner; I haven't cleaned it this well since my depression first kicked in over 10 years ago, and it was my depression that kept me from cleaning it. This was actually a really big step for me.)

Anyway here I am and I'm back, and I'm bringing a heaping helping of stupid misogyny along with me. I love to pick on these people; they're so incredibly dense and self-righteous that they're easy targets. Think back to when you were a kid, and you saw your friend blowing bubbles. You couldn't resist popping them; it's like bubble wrap, with the exception that bubble wrap has more substance and is more useful to society.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Human Black Box: Interlude 1

So, I just recently finished the first arc of Human Black Box, and as I gear up to move into the second, I decided to make use of the various possibilities that an Internet-based story allows me.

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas... (pt 8)

... moves to Area 51.

Things are down to the wire now. Running on nothing more than sheer adrenaline, a little sleep, and plenty of ammunition, the team is on the last leg of their journey, and probably on their last leg, period. Four exhumans, two uplifts, and two transhumans are gearing up to mount an assault against a fortified position, protected by a general who has made multiple copies of himself and downloaded them into battle-hardened synthmorphs, creating his own person military.

Oh, an there's a TITAN somewhere in there, too.

If they can survive, they're almost all but guaranteed to get off the planet (providing Antares wasn't lying). But from where they stand, that's a pretty big if...

You can find the previous parts of Human Black Box here, in the Human Black Box archive. You can also find the character list here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New From Space!

Here's more space news.

I'm a little behind the curve on these, but that's okay. Information only moves at the speed of light and given the great distances involved, it takes time to get here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cheer for this, Tea Party Monsters

A Ten Year Old Dies of Kidney Infection.

A 10 year old girl died of a kidney infection, brought about by pneumonia, because her parents didn't have health insurance. They both worked. But they didn't have the insurance to keep her in the hospital. Because they didn't have the health insurance, this little girl, all of 10 years old, died.

Next person that spits "Death Panels" at me in the healthcare debate will get their fucking face broken. And then I'll cheer. After I spit on you.

Death Panels. They're gonna kill granny. They'll decide who lives and who dies.

So yeah. Cheer. Be happy. Be joyful. This is freedom.

Letting 10 year old girls die is freedom, because her parents couldn't afford insurance. This is freedom. Isn't this great? This is awesome freedom right here. I can taste the freedom.

You talk that shit around me, and your ass is mine. I'm fed up with this sort of ignorant stupidity. We have children dying to make an ideological point.

If you voted Tea Party, YOU ARE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING THIS CHILD. God have mercy on your soul. Because I sure as hell won't.

A Question for the Ages

I'm dinking around again, trying to avoid starting work on my novel. I'm not sure why, I enjoy writing.

Anyway, I keep careful track of where all of my (relatively modest) traffic comes from. Most of it is from the Slacktiverse, the community blog I'm like the weird neighbor towards. You know the kind - they seem friendly but they can be a bit "off." Some of them come from other places where I've slapped my links at, or, where people have been gracious enough to link to me (yes, this has happened a few times. I'm immensely flattered when it does happen).

However, as I was looking through my traffic sources, I came upon this:

Now, here's the question. How does this place wind up lead people to my blog?

That's exactly what you'd think it is by the URL - a job posting webpage. I've never posted jobs, and as far as I know, I'm not hiring right now. Maybe it's the "smart people" in the title...

I'm going with that for now.

Anyway, I've also sent out the manuscript for a short story to be published in a contest (having proof read it myself and, more importantly, having had others look it over for me). Wish me luck, folks! I'd love to be able to say that I'm a published author very much.

This CAN'T Be Right

Megyn Kelly took Dr. Keith Ablow to task for his transphobic comments on Chaz Bono.


I'm speechless. I really am.

*blinks in stunned silence*

Monday, September 12, 2011

Post 9/11 Thoughts

I didn't post anything on 9/11 yesterday because I have nothing positive to say about it. When you have nothing positive to say about a disaster, it's generally best to keep your mouth shut and wait until the day after it's anniversary before you say something about it.

Well, today's the day after. It's 9/12.

Here's my thoughts on 9/11:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

So *This* Is The Sanctity of Marriage They Keep Babbling On About - Rape

After reading this, and seeing all their garbage about how allowing gays and lesbians to marry each other will lead to rampant pedophilia, and how conservatives continually prove unable to tell the difference, I've come to the conclusion that "consent" is not a word in the conservative vocabulary.

This is a heads up - what follows is pretty explicit in it's misogyny. It's also an incredibly twisted worldview - but then, I've come to expect nothing but from these people. I'm afraid that if, by this point, one of these sick bastards started making some sense, it'd mean the fabric of reality had come undone.

Also - cluster F bomb ahoy:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas ... (pt 7)

Strike the iron while it's hot.

In the last section, the crew butted heads with the warbot. One good shot was all it took - but it was at the cost of Hotaru's health. To make matters worse (this whole section can be summed up with It Got Worse), and a nanobot swarm appeared over the horizon, forcing everyone to duck and run.

But the warbot is temporarily out of the picture. And the headhunters - at least a few dozen of them, anyway - are out of the way. For the time being, anyway.

Welcome to Part 7 of "What Happens in Vegas". You can find all of the previous parts of Human Black Box here, in the Human Black Box archives.

Our heroes are in the home stretch, now...