Archive for June, 2010

I don’t have time to write about this now but something needs to be said

June 25, 2010

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Prosecute BP stickers available for free

June 24, 2010

Here is the link, but all you need to do is send a self-addressed stamped legal sized envelope to:

Sticker Robot / Prosecute
PO Box 1189
Woodacre, CA 94973-1189

Criminals of the week

June 24, 2010

North Korean government is calling in our debts

June 24, 2010

The North Korean government is demanding that the United States pay $65,000,000,000,000 in damages for sixty years of hostility. To be fair, sixty years ago we fought a war there. But all those zeros above means they’re asking for 65 TRILLION. We should pay them in Monopoly money. Maybe they wouldn’t notice, and would then proudly display the payment for members of the public to see like they do with obviously fake gifts from the outside world. From ABC Australia:

[KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency] also claims 60 years of US sanctions have caused a loss of $US13.7 trillion by 2005, while property losses were estimated at $US16.7 trillion.

Doesn’t the idea of paying reparations for sanctions kind of undermine the point of a sanction? Yeah, we know it cost you money to not trade with us. Those losses – even if those figures were correct – aren’t some accidental byproduct. That’s how pressure is applied on the North Korean government.

Stuff

June 24, 2010

Anti-gay pastor is… wait for it…

June 24, 2010

It should really just be obvious by now that someone talking about how we should care very much about how the Bible or Koran condemns teh ghey is themself gayer than eight guys fucking nine guys. But for the time being, when individual cases involving pastors occur it’s still considered news. From the AP via Yahoo:

A Lutheran pastor ardently critical of allowing gays into the clergy is on leave from his Minneapolis church after a gay magazine reported his attendance at a support group for men struggling with same-sex attraction.

This pastor’s name is Tom Brock. Meanwhile, later in the article:

The Lavender article never explicitly said Brock confessed to homosexual activity. It quotes him at one point talking about a recent mission trip to Eastern Europe, of which he says, “I fell into temptation. I was weak.”

Now since this guy is actually gay and in denial, he has to think that every heterosexual guy is similarly “tempted” and that he just had a moment of weakness. But heterosexual guys aren’t tempted to go to Eastern Europe so we can bone other dudes. That’s kind of what it means to not be gay. It never seems to occur to this type that other people could possibly be different from them. They’ve somehow reverted in their development to infancy where they’re still unaware that other minds exist.

So in a way, I don’t really think this sort of story should actually be news. We should all just assume that the anti-gay pastors are dealing with their own inner struggle in the same way that we assume that water is wet and mosquitoes bite; just another self-evident observation.

The sound of the Higgs boson

June 23, 2010


All matter is made up of atoms, and atoms are made of electrons, neutrons, and protons. Peter Higgs hypothesized that all of these subatomic particles are made of one universal and uniform sub-subatomic particle which he humbly called the Higgs boson, a.k.a. the ‘God particle.’

One of the things the Large Hadron Collider is supposed to do is to find out if the Higgs boson actually exists. They still haven’t found that out yet, but what they have done is they made an audio simulation of what results from LHC experiments where the Higgs boson exists would somehow sound like. From the BBC:

The aim is to give physicists at the LHC another way to analyse their data. The sonification team believes that ears are better suited than eyes to pick out the subtle changes that might indicate the detection of a new particle.

My hope is that this is all a cover for an expansion of CERN’s musical endeavors. Maybe they are starting their own record label. Anyway, someone put one of the clips of the sonification of the Higgs boson into a YouTube video with a unicorn, and here it is. Please fap to it now.

BP really, really cares about us

June 16, 2010

OK, so everyone’s really mad about the oil disaster and all, and the BP top brass seem to be doing all they can to make people even more angry by not really giving a shit about it – trying to reduce potential penalties and fines, the CEO’s whining about how he “want[s his] life back,” that sort of thing.

But there’s good news, everybody! The chairman of BP has made some statements today which were totally not arrogant and contemptable or anything like that at all! From CBS News:

[BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg] said that he sometimes hears that oil companies are greedy or don’t care about people, but that’s not true.
“We care about the small people,” Svanberg said.

But Carl-Henric Svanberg’s not the only one concerned with midgets.

He added that his meeting with Mr. Obama was very constructive and that BP appreciates the president’s deep concern.
“He is frustrated because he cares about the small people, and we care about the small people,” he said.

There! See, both the president and the chairman of BP care about us small people.

Russian creationists

June 15, 2010

New Scientist has this article about something an Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church said about how evolution “should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too.” They’re pointing out that this is a lot like the “Teach the controversy” approach creationists here in America advocate as part of their “wedge strategy” and how that contrasts with the history of the godless commies of the Soviet Union.

But here’s the thing: Russians being wrong about evolution is not a new phenomenon. It’s not even necessarily a religious or post-Cold War one, either.

Way back around the early 19th century, there was this French naturalist called Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. His view was that species evolved, but since they didn’t know shit about genes back then he was completely wrong about how that happened. Lamarck thought traits acquired throughout an individual’s lifetime could be passed on to future generations along with traits which were originally inherited when the individual’s parents reproduced. So a crude way of putting it is that if you have a rat born with large eyes whom for some reason had its tail cut off, according to Lamarck the rat’s progeny should have large eyes and short tails. Also giraffes apparently got their long necks by stretching for food in tall trees, and then passing that stretchiness on to their offspring, according to Lamarck. To be fair, Darwin didn’t know shit about genes either and he was wrong about how units of heredity worked too, but in less significant ways.

Anyway, by the early 20th century Mendel‘s theory of genetics merged with Darwin’s theory on the origin of species and that’s kind of the founding of modern biology. But – and this is where we get back to Russia – at the same time a “geneticist” called Trofim Lysenko starting reviving a hyper-politicized version of Lamackism in the Soviet Union. He managed to convince the political leadership that the accepted theory of genetics was wrong. And he did that not with scientific evidence, but by appealing to its consistency with the prevalent political philosophy of the country.

Funnily enough, if you read the Wedge Document, you’ll see that that’s exactly the approach creationists at the Discovery Institute are now using. Instead of basing theories on facts, they want to base theories on ideologies. For the Discovery Institute, their problem with Darwinian evolution is that it’s too materialistic. For Stalin and Lysenko, their problem with Darwinian evolution was that it wasn’t advocating the exact right kind of materialism. Both camps care(d) more about the implications of scientific theories than about whether or not they were true.

Another weird similarity between modern creationists and Stalin-era pseudoscientists is this weird tendency to try very hard to associate complex issues with a single person. So for creationists, evolutionary biology isn’t just that; it’s DARWINISM. And for Lysenko, genetics wasn’t just genetics, it was “Mendelism-Weissmanism-Morganism.” But then again, you get that with lots of issues which attract kooks – health care reform is “Obamacare,” global warming is really all about Al Gore, etc…

Anyway, even though it apparently helps to spread pseudoscience if you wear funny costumes and have religious beliefs, it’s not completely necessary. The right dichotomy here is between following evidence and following ideology. A lot of times religion has something to do with it, but that’s not the beginning and end of the problem with attacks on science.

Pat Condell can go EABOD

June 12, 2010

Pat Condell is this YouTube user and British person who is very disappointed in us here in the colonies for thinking about maybe allowing the Mohammedans to worship their monkey-god near where they got all 9/11-y on the World Trade Center. It is all part of a “stealth jihad,” according to him. And our political correctness and lack of a backbone will apparently lead to Islamic enslavement of the entire world, etc. The way I see it, there are two ways of looking at this guy, and probably the most accurate way is a combination of the two:

  1. He doesn’t like people with too much melanin and has found a relatively safe way to disguise his irrational beliefs about race as if they were rational grievances against religion.
  2. He perceives an overabundance of political correctness and reacts to it in a kneejerk way by overcompensating wildly.

That noted source Uncyclopedia has some wise words to expand on the second point:

With the sudden explosion in the PC-Fag population, soon followed an equally large explosion in the Un-PC-Fag population. The PC-Fags would insist that a comedian like Larry the Cable Guy was offensive to minorities. Un-PC-Fags would insist that the PC-Fags stop being so offended, and then hail Larry the Cable Guy as the comedic mastermind of our generation. Meanwhile, all the sensible people came to a quiet conclusion that he wasn’t really all that funny, though they guess some of his material was all right, and that if anything they were offended that the Un-PC-Fags made him so goddamn popular when he has no fucking right to be popular.

The clear comparison here is that Condell’s an Un-PC-Fag. He is the Larry the Cable Guy of the atheist right. Even worse than that, he’s actively trying to make claims of American hypocrisy more valid, and that creates a larger reservoir of support for Muslim extremists whom Condell claims to oppose. He’s a bizarro-Barry Lynn – an atheist explicitly against secularism and government neutrality towards religions.

What makes this guy even more aggravating is that he claims that Americans aren’t proud enough of the values which make our society better than Islamic theocracies while simultaneously insisting that we pre-emptively undermine those exact same values. As it’s supposed to be now, our government doesn’t favor one religion or sect over another. That itself is what makes our society better than Islamic theocracies, and now some “bloke” or “twat” or whatever they call morons with webcams in the UK is trying to tell us to forget about all that because he thinks that “Ground Zero” is “sacred.” Cry me a river. In conclusion, Pat Condell can go fuck the fuck off. That is all.

America is not a Christian nation

June 12, 2010

First I should probably clarify what I don’t mean by the title of this post. I’m not denying that the authors of the Constitution were mostly Christian. And I’m not denying that the majority of Americans are Christian and always have been.

What I’m attacking here is the idea that our laws and government are based on “Christian values” or “Judeo-Christian heritage” or any other vacuous phrase theocrats invent. And what’s more is that it’s very easy to determine that this was the clear intention of the people who founded the country.

Anyone can dig up diary entries and letters by individuals involved in the founding of America to sell whatever kind of historical interpretation they like. And there’s no shortage of people attempting to do that on this issue. But our country isn’t based on diary entries and letters. You kind of have to wonder why, if these people were so insistent that this be a “Christian nation,” they neglected to mention that fact anywhere at all in its founding charter.

There are, however, some mentions of religion itself in the Constition. Let’s go through all of them right now. It won’t take long.

Article VII, Section II

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

This is followed by the signatures of the delegates.

This one I can cover pretty quickly. The day I’m writing this is Saturday, which is named after the Roman god of agriculture. Does the fact that I call it Saturday mean that I’m a pagan? “In the year of our Lord” was, and in some ways still is, a dating convention of the time. Even “AD” is still used often when people are talking about ancient history.

The Establishment Clause

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What I like about this one in this context is that it’s so clearly against the first of the Ten Commandments. In one the order is to not have any other gods before one in particular, and the other says that you can have other gods if you want. Killing people that don’t worship one specific god is a pretty extreme version of prohibiting the free exercise of religion. I can’t even believe this needs to be pointed out.

Article VI, Section III

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Now there are religious tests for public office in a pretty informal way here in the US in that most voters will take a candidates’ religious views into consideration when voting. But whatever those views are won’t officially disqualify anyone from holding whatever public office they like. That’s what this refers to, and we know this because unfortunately Jefferson’s attempts to develop an 18th century functioning MRI which could monitor voters’ religious feelings while they cast their ballot were eventually de-funded.

Article VI, Section II and the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11

These two tie together.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

So the important thing to remember about this is that treaties signed by the US are equal to the Constitution in that they are both “supreme Law of the Land.” That’s half of this particular argument. Now even if you’re not convinced by the earlier mentions of religion in the Constitution, we’d have to ask whether or not there are anything more specific in a treaty made by the United States, since that would clarify the issue of whether or not America is a Christian nation.

The very first treaty signed under the authority of the United States was the Treaty of Tripoli.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. It’s as if these guys are screaming from beyond their graves at Pat Robertson and similar douchenozzles that they’re wrong. But before you get all mad scientist-y and try to resurrect them for that purpose in a castle on a mountaintop during a thunderstorm, just remember that all we have to do to prove the “Christian nation” types wrong is to just go through our laws.

I made a better lawn sign for Carl Paladino

June 3, 2010

A local teabagger is running for governor and a few people have picked up bumper stickers and lawn signs to support him. Or something. Here’s what it looks like:

The guy’s hand is covering it up, but it says “I’m mad as hell too, Carl.” The ones I have seen on a lawn and one or two pickup trucks just said “I’m mad too, Carl.” Saying “as hell” makes Jesus cry aborto-tears so the campaign dropped that vulgarity since they are so very concerned with stopping the spread of profanity.

So as a gesture of goodwill, I’m offering a new design:

no end in sight

June 3, 2010
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. Jake W. Suter, 18, of Los Angeles, Calif., died May 29 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.”
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., died May 30 at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of injuries sustained April 18 from a non-combat related incident at Dahuk, Iraq.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.”
  • “The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Spc. Jonathan K. Peney, 22, of Marietta, Ga., died June 1 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he was shot by enemy forces.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.”

a very long war

June 1, 2010

“The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Anthony A. Dilisio, 20, of Macomb, Mich., died May 30 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, IIMarine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.”

MC Chris meets Twin Peaks

June 1, 2010

FINALLY