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.