Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas... (pt 5)

Welcome back all. When we last left Chloe and her intrepid friends, they had barely managed to give one creature the slip before accidentally discovering the lair of what appeared to be more exsurgents. The team struck out with the last bet, and this one is for all or nothing...

You can find the Human Black Box archive here, with all of the previous entries in the story, and a running list of characters. So, that said, let's continue with Part 5 of the "What Happens in Vegas" act. 
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Nature of Dominionism

It's Saturday! Yay! This means that your ol' buddy Enigma has another big essay for you all set and ready to roll, in this edition of Saturday Social Studies. Last time I look a look at an Enlightened (if not severely misguided) philosophy called Objectivism. In a strange case of Enlightened philosophy verses Enlightened philosophy, I put the smack-down on Rand's immature and self-contradictory philosophy.

Today's essay has nothing to do with Rand, Objectivism, or Enlightenment verse Enlightenment.

Today, we're looking at the Dark Ages verses the Enlightenment. Today will be a day of strange bedfellows, as it often is when I have to dissect religious philosophy - in today's essay, we'll be looking at Dominionism. This is more dangerous than Objectivism, and no, this isn't some Christian boogieman that hides under Liberals' beds at night and goes "boo." We'd be better off if a figment of the imagination was all that it was.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas... (pt 4)

Things went all sideways in the last installment. Now down to four - five if you count Sava - the group is stranded near the middle of Las Vegas, in the middle of the night, having narrowly gotten away from the Exhumans and their pursuers, the TITAN Ares (delta-forked into a warbot) and the headhunters. They've barely had time to count their losses, and things will only get darker as the night goes along before they get brighter... if they get brighter at all.

After all - there's still an unaccounted for third party.

Welcome to Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas (part 4). You can find the other parts of What Happens in Vegas and Things Go Sideways here, in the HBB Archives.

Finally, an observation: I've been rather busy lately (hence the distance between the updates). But never fear - I do have plans to make the corrects pointed out to me. Thanks so much for those who are willing to deal with my obviously beta drafts. :)

Anyway, on with the show!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World News Daily Discovers Transhumanism...

And the results are not pretty.

This blog is a strongly transhumanist blog. I support the transhumanist movement, and I self-identify as a tranhumanist technoprogressive. I've written a few articles on transhumanism, examined some of the basic principles of my technoprogressive philosophy, and am even in the process of an ongoing story updated at least once a week that runs rife with transhuman themes.

I like to think I'm fairly familiar with what transhumanism is and isn't.

This article over at Whirled Nut Daily caught my attention because it discusses "trans-humanism", confuses it for posthumanism, takes the wild imagery of the "what do you mean it wasn't written on drugs" criticism of the Roman Empire by John of Patmos, and bashes them together with all the grace and aplomb of two drunken, overweight frat boys doing a belly slam against one another.

Transhumanism opens the door to some pretty weird stuff. Neogenetics, genetic manipulation, and the ability to produce artificial intelligence and the like means that the norms go right out the wind in pretty short order. When you inject this otherwise plausible situation into something that uniformly rejects reality, like Darbyism and the Dispensation Crowd, the results are down right strange.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And Now For A Real Brown Dwarf

This is cool (pun intended). I love astronomy - I'm not a professional astronomy anymore than I'm a professional scientist, but I have studied up on the matter and I took a class in college, which is better than what most people can claim. This discovery is interesting to me on multiple fronts. The first reason this is interesting to me is because I'm an amateur science fiction author, and I have a strong desire to be accurate in my portrayal of how the real world works. The second reason is because I only recently learned what brown dwarfs were, and the thought that there might be some nearby excites me. Allow me to start by explaining what exactly a brown dwarf is, before I move on.

A Brown Dwarf Among Social Illuminaries

Two entirely different subjects today, but I just couldn't help but tie them together in the post (even though I plan to split them into two separate posts). It's fitting, trust me. Anyway, the first subject is Mr. Joesph Farah, the owner of Whirled Nut Daily, and, as the title suggests, and brown dwarf (Y-type) among social illuminaries. The next part is also about a brown dwarf, but this is a real brown dwarf, and far more brighter than any idea that Farah ever had (also far more interesting - that comes in the next post, because I want to devote a little bit of time and space without Farah's stupidity polluting something that is otherwise very cool. Pun intended.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens in Vegas ... (pt 3)


... I need to find more ways to finish that.

Welcome back to the ongoing saga of Chloe and her allies as they try to get off of Earth. Unfortunately, it seems like every time they turn around, there's something there stopping them. First they get waylaid by the exhumans of Vegas, and then they realize one of their own was working with the exhumans... and now Chloe is backed into a corner.

This is Part 3 of "What Happens in Vegas...". To find the other 2 parts, and the rest of the Human Black Box story, go to the HBB Archives, located here: HBB Archives. In the meantime, let's get on with the show.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In A World Gone Upside Down...

Hey their, kids! Enigma's got two brilliant pieces of work for you today, so just set back and enjoy the commentary and dissection of the incoming stupidity.

We've Forgotten How to Dream

This video comes to me courtesy of Pharyngula. In it, Neil deGrasse Tyson is sitting on Bill Maher's panel of guests. Here's some quick facts from the video: we spend as much in Afghanistan in one month that we do the entire NASA space program in one year. Did you know that, and more importantly, does it surprise you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rick "Texas Thug" Perry Doesn't Understand Treason or Economics

So, either one of the serious contenders for the United States Presidency - Rick Perry - is tone deaf to dangerous hyperbole or he's a raving madman who needs to be locked away before he gets someone killed. Apparently getting a congresswoman shot isn't enough for the current breed of conservative running the lunatic fringe over on the right. They've gotta aim for something else: we have a potential president making death threats (or what can be construed as death threats).

As always, article from a non-US Media source (the Guardian.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens In Vegas... (pt 2)

... Gets made into commercials.

The last installment left Chloe in a rather tight spot - she'd run afoul what was apparently one of the exhumans, who got the drop on her in a rather startling way. That was only after their first encounter with the exsurgents, who resembled so much as giant floating snot-bubbles that could fling an acid like substance.

The stakes are high in Vegas, and it's not at the blackjack table.

Welcome to "What Happens in Vegas...", part 2. You can find the Human Black Box archive here: HBB Archive.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Answering Ayn Rand

Well kiddos, today is Saturday, which means that ol' Enigma has another college-level dissertation lined up for you. Today's bull's-eye is painted in bright red around an ideology that everyone loves to mock - including yours truly - but not one I'm sure everyone understands.

That's right - today I'll be answering Ayn Rand, and criticizing and deconstructing her philosophy, called Objectivism. Objectivism and Rand's philosophy are sorely misunderstood on the Internet. Everyone loves to mock the Randroids, but not everyone understands what it means to be one. While I've savored taking apart fundamentalism in the past, religious fundamentalism - especially the American Protestant Evangelical version - is not nearly as well thought out or planned as Rand's is.

Make no mistake. Rand's philosophy sits squarely with the rest of the Enlightened philosophies, which is why I chose to answer her today. Rather than the usual Enlightenment verses Romanticism theme or Enlightenment verses Postmodernism, today you get a ringside seat to Enlightenment verses Enlightenment.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Right-Wing Pundits Are Wrong About Everything (Example #232,120,100)

For those not caught up to speed with what's happening in London, there's a series of riots that have been happening (or perhaps it's one continuous riot) over the last five days or so. While the reasons are complex, and I don't have a full grasp on British politics, I can sum it up the best I know how as it follows: London is burning, some people have been hurt, the cause is austerity measures (read: open economic warfare on the poor), David Cameron reminds me of Adam Susan from V for Vendetta, and the Right-wing Media in America is using it as yet another chance to make themselves look like fools. While I can't speak for the full depth of British Politics, the BBC article I linked to above is very in depth on the matter. I'll trust the BBC before I trust any American News Outlet any day of the week.

While I can't dissect the full reasons behind the riots, due to my inexperience with the British political system and the danger inherent in watering it down or simplifying the causes, what I can do is analyze the impact that the riots have had on the political right in this country (this country being the U.S.) This article by the Guardian (another news outlet I'd trust before I trust any American media source, but not before the BBC) does a good job of recording the Right-wing noise-machine's reaction in this country to the riots, for me to pull apart and mock viciously. So, here we go.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Human Black Box: What Happens In Vegas... (pt 1)

... Stays on you-tube.

In the last act, the protagonists were left without their crash vehicle, having sacrificed it to escape the hunter-killers that swarmed them. They risked life and limb to get over the Hoover Dam (destroying it in the process), and learned that Las Vegas was not going to be a walk in the park.

To the north west, the TITAN or TITAN fragment Ares. Controlling a large part of the city are Exsurgent virus infected transhumans (and other things), while standing against them are a group of Exhumans lead by an individual who qualifies itself as the ultimate predator - ES-Mikhail.

This is part one of the new act, "What Happens in Vegas."

You can find the archive here, with parts 1-8 of "Things Go Sideways."

I'm also starting a new habit, and I'll go back and edit. This is for those who can't read the page in color; I'm going to preface the Mesh dialogue with the name of the individual speaking in bold. This should help individuals who can't read the color (or are colorblind) enjoy the stories. I'll also be changing the Mesh colors; and then going back and editing in the others.

Also, please note that I'm not ignoring any comments made about typos. I'm saving those for Saturday, when I have the time to sit down and pick through them, and I appreciate those willing to give their time and point out my errors. :-)

Do Not Adjust Your TV Sets

It's just Enigma messing around at the controls again, trying to strike a happy medium.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NoW Defends Bachmann

... and Enigma is very confused. So confused, in fact, that he's taken to referring to himself in the third person until he can figure it out.

Worth noting is that he's not holding his breath.

I first stumbled across the article on the Washington Post, which I know is a conservative site. I didn't believe it. The whole thing sounded so ridiculous that I thought it was just another conservative half-truth spun in the form of a full life. So I dug. I had to go through a whole page of Google searches before I found the Alternet link - for those who don't know, Alternet is what the media would look like if it truly had a liberal bias. When I saw it on there, I was floored. I just didn't understand.

Your Detachment From Reality Is Truly Inspiring...

The Republicans lost their collective asses in the recent Wisconsin recalls. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but they overnight went from a 19-14 majority to a 17-16 razor thin majority. The only race, that I could tell, that was close was the the school teacher, Shelly Moore (D) and her opponent, Issac Weix (R). So, having lost a solid majority to a razor thin majority, what would you think?

Damn, we royally messed up, right? Isn't what you'd think? You screwed up somewhere, and the people are mad, so they're collectively throwing your posterior on the curb. So what do you do? Well, you reflect, look at where you screwed up, an go back and chance it.

See, this is what people who are rational do. When you make a mistake, you try to learn from it. Most of us learn from our mistakes.

So, let's see how the Republicans learned from their mistake.
"I think it's a huge victory for us," said John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. "Voters gave us a mandate last fall. . . . They backed us up again (Tuesday). Voters told us loud and clear, 'Stay the course. Things are working.'"
Now that is some spin. At least s=2; the gravity of their loss sailed right through their head, without interacting with the mass-less object they call a brain. We're also catching a glimpse of Schrodinger's logic -  it's logic and it's nonsense at the same time, but it can only be one or the other when observed. I'm sure he intended that to be logic, oh sure - to him, it's logic. But when anyone else observes that cat, he's dead folks.

Just like the Republicans and their astroturfed movements after last night's recalls.

When your spin is so much so that you breech reentry speeds, there's no way you're getting off that ride without some serious rug burns. Who can blame them for not just jumping off? Hell, they'd probably break their necks if they tried it.

The denial that it takes to make a statement like that is impressive. I mean, really, really impressive. I don't have much else to add to that. When getting your ass kicked for screwing up says to you, "I'm doing something right, we need to stay the course!" there isn't much more I can say.


Because by that time, you're so far in orbit you won't hear me anyway.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Human Black Box: Things Go Sideways (pt 8)

In the last installment of Human Black Box, the team received a message from Antares telling them that there was something that had already set up shop at Area 51 - a TITAN, or a fragment of one, named Ares. In notifying them of that fact, Antares alerted everything within 50 miles of their current location, and with that, they became the target of every TITAN device within that area. From automated attack bikes to cars to attack jets, the team has managed to stay ahead of the devices ... until now, on the ledge overlooking a deep descent into the Colorado river, between several jets and a very, very steep fall...

You can find the archives here; parts 1-7.
This is the last part of Act 1: Things Go Sideways.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Night Songs

Because it's Saturday, and it's late, and I've been going for a while (and I just had to pull 300+ dollars out of my ass for a damn student loan - and I've still got two more this month) I think so music is in order. So thus I bring you - Saturday Night Songs, a selection of some of favorite music that doesn't have any connection to what I've posted before.

They Call It The American Dream Because It's Just A Dream

I pay every month for student loans. Three of them. This does not make me special. This does make me envious of places where higher education is encouraged and you can go to school cheaply, but it having to pay bills doesn't make me special in any way. That's just part of the adult world. It's something I signed on to when I made the mistake of wanting to be someone that had a career rather than someone who merely had a job. And I still only got a part-time job out of it.

So no, I don't get the right to complain about bills or even student loan payments. There are thousands out there who suffer this misery in silence, and do the adult thing: pay what they owe. So do I. 

I can get a set amount of money from the DoE and from Nelnet, two of my loan holders, no problem. Every month, like clockwork - it's like all my other bills. I know how much I owe, and I can plan around it and scrimp and save with my pathetic little part-time job. I can make it through. It's harder than fuck, but I can do it.

And then Sallie Mae comes along.

Don't Call It a Recession - We've Been Here All Along

Optimism is down.

Last month, in the middle of the debt ceiling brouhaha, some canny trader got word from inside of Washington that the debt deal was not going to be all it was cracked up to be and, with a 10-to-1 return ratio slapped down a 1 billion $U.S. bet - against the credit rating of the United States. Shame nobody knows who it is, because they slapped all the money down on the futures market, when nobody was looking.

Oh, yes, the credit rating.

For the first time in the history of credit ratings, the United States has lost it's AAA credit rating. As of Friday, August 5, the Standard & Poor's downgraded the perfect credit rating of U.S. Treasury Bonds from AAA to AA+.

Friday, August 5, 2011

FOX and the Right are antiwoman (pt 233401221)

This one comes to me courtesy of Ed Brayton's blog; Dispatches. You can find the link to his blog on the side of mine; you might have to scroll down a bit, but it's there. Anyway, this particular news story that he posted about just blew me away, and I couldn't help but comment in on it myself.

Yes, I'm claiming that it blew me away. The guy who's capable of dealing with the Free Republic, and all the moral sewage and debris present therein, without missing a beat. This caused me to stand up and take notice. This article deals with the recent announcement that the Obama administration - finally doing something useful - would stand up and force insurance companies to cover birth control and other women's health services without charging co-pay. Now, this was a huge victory, and the left has been lacking those a lot lately.

So, being the important victory it is, it goes without doubt that FOX, the right-wing noise machine it is, would go apoplectic over it. They'd go apeshit - because going apeshit while being batshit is what the Right Wing does best. But really, the 'expert' by the name of Sandy Rios, that they dredged from the lowest rung of moral development made a statement that blew even me away. It won't matter if you've got your moral-hazard gear on or not. This one is like handling raw, charged Meitnerium. No amount of protection will save you, so it's best just to immerse yourself quickly and then get the hell out.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Human Black Box: Things Go Sideways (pt 7)

Because I'm going to be busy over the next few days, I'll go on ahead and post part 7 of Human Black Box today. In the last installment, the team was ambushed by strange creatures who could go invisible, quite possibly hacked, and general confusion sown among their ranks. Several were lost... and now the remainder are on the run again, on their way through the mountains and towards the Nevada/Arizona boarder - and Las Vegas.

You can find the Human Black Box archive, and with it, the previous 6 installments, here: HBB

You can continue following their journey here, courtesy of MapQuest:


Rush the Last Man & Spongebob the Treehugger

The stupid round up kicks into overdrive today, with two new posts just in from Crooks and Liars. I couldn't resist commenting on them, because I'm the verbose individual that I usually am.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Human Black Box: Things Go Sideways (pt 6)

This is part 6 of the continuing story of Chloe, Hotaru, Ahmed and Sava. Over the last few episodes, they've been chased by robots who saw off heads, escaped a massive warbot by running over it, out ran nanite-directed tornadoes, and encountered a band of survivalists who have the same goal our protagonists do. The team has just linked up with the survivalists, and now they're further scouting out the resort that they've been snowed into; getting ready to pack up camp and move to higher ground for when the snow melts.

This is part 6 of Human Black Box. You can find the previous parts here in this archive: Human Black Box Archive.

Let Me Take A Look In My Crystal Ball...

Ah, yes. The future. That wonderful time that I'm sure will be pleasant. Eventually. However, it seems to me that there is a very vocal segment of the American population that doesn't want a future. And these people have gotten into power, and they're making policies in a not-so-veiled and not-really-well-though-out attempt to stop it. So, following the whole economic crisis we had this past weekend, I've been prompted to take a step back and look at the direction we're heading. Keep in mind, some of this stuff I've been predicting now since the early part of the century (2004/6 at least.) I predicted the rise of something similar to the Tea Party. I know it has no bearing now, because I have no proof, but let met make a similar set of predictions/promises based on what's happening now. Let me look into my crystal ball at the future, and show you what I see. And trust me. It's not pleasant.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Which Enigma Says Something Stupid

I've been reading a lot about the events that surrounded what happened to Skeptichick Rebecca Watson some several months ago while she was in Ireland. I have my own take on it, but before I get into that, let me explain something: I'm naturally a peacemaker; I don't like to see people on my own side fighting and, honestly, if we're working towards the same goals I see no reason why we should. I have a very visceral, physical reaction to seeing two individuals I respect engaging in an otherwise very nasty fight. It gets even worse when you try to step into that warzone with your own opinion, and you're worried about making enemies of the people that you used to, and still do, respect. I'm no tone troll. I have no use for tone trolls. I just do not like to see individuals I respect fighting, so I avoid the topic. Sometimes, though, you just can't avoid it. It's too important an issue to ignore and focus on other things.

So, having said that, let me get this out of the way: What happened to Ms. Watson. While she was in Ireland, she said that she was propositioned in an elevator at night, by an individual. She declined, and the individual went on his way. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure of to many more details beyond that because of how quickly that degenerated and decimated the online skeptic community. Well, she posted on her blog about it telling guys that you don't do that. What followed was Richard Dawkins making a remark on PZ Myer's blog, and the whole thing boiled over from there. Watson then, in real space, called out one of her critics during a skeptic conference from her spot at the bully pulpit. What followed was a meteoric impact on the skeptic community that was pretty devastating in flame war after flame war. ERV's blog, over on Science Blogs, reached some 2000 (2006, iirc) posts on the matter in a giant flame war that I just finished skimming through (no way I'm reading 2006 comments. That's just nuts.)

So, because this is my blog and my opinion tends to dictate the way that this blog goes (and make no mistake; everything herein is me elaborating on my opinion and where I stand, and why I stand there), where do I stand?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Human Black Box: Things Go Sideways (pt 5)

In the last installment, the team escaped from several nanite-directed tornadoes, fleeing along Interstate 40. However, their escape was cut short when the rain turned to a sudden snowstorm - one that quickly resulted in total white-out conditions. Realizing that they weren't any safer off the road than on, the team decided that a former resort was as good as any place to be snowed in at, and parked themselves in there, hoping something else hadn't parked itself there first...

You can find the archive here: Human Black Box.

Real True Men (TM)

Ah yes, so we're back to this again. I've taken down this kind of language before, but because I'm a glutton for punishment (and because, like a goddamn weed, it won't go the hell away), I'm right back to weeding the intellectual garden again.

So, here's the deal: Mike Adams defends bullies and thinks bullying is a-okay. It's cool to bully kids, because our men are little wimps today who need to be bullied. It builds character, it makes you stronger person. All this business about psychological scars and stuff is just a bunch of liberal lies designed to make the bullies feel bad about bullying their victims. It's that nanny state garbage... or something. When you say something useful, then you get quoted right. Anyway, Adams wrote this article on the Townhall; I will not be linking you, because I don't want to give them the traffic. Rather, I'll post his article here and take it apart, point for point, like I've done so many in the past. So, get into your moral hazard gear, because here we go...