Courting Trouble....

There are a couple of things we don't really get into here and each for their own reasons, but seeing as how I've already gotten into one of them I might as well get into another. Just as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, if you will.

Religion is one of those things because I'm an atheist and, frankly, I don't see a point in atheist vs theist posts because it's all faith. I'll take shots at what I consider asshole atheism (the belief that atheism is scientifically provable) because it's nonsense and should be put down in the same manner that you would put down the opposite claim. It's all faith. That means you can't prove it. But I'm going to say something that would certainly set me up for a good dose of hate mail if I had any regular readers who cared about this sort of thing: the idea that your average John or Jane can pick up a bible and interpret it as they see fit is the worst thing that came out of the protestant (i.e. not Catholic) faiths.

You have a book that's been compiled through political machinations over the course of hundreds of years. Texts have been included, omitted, and then included again. The meanings and in some cases the wordings have been debated by scholars during the course of its compilation. And that's not even considering the multiple translations over time and unintentional shifts of meaning that occur via word selection when shifting from one language to another. It's just as political as it is religious and the meanings of many passages have subtly shifted over the thousands of years based on cultural connotations.

People spend their entire lives studying the book and everything that went into making it what it is today, so the conceit that any yahoo can pick it up and really understand what the hell they're reading is ludicrous.

Now I know the argument that all of that occurred because God willed it, but that makes God seem a bit indecisive to me. Maybe your God has trouble making his mind up. Should you just turn away from sin (the more accurate translation of the original Greek) or should you repent (which has all sorts of undertones of atonement)? Subtle difference, but God should be able to pick one and stick with it, don't you think? Or does God just randomly raise and lower the bar on the whole shebang?

Look, I'm not picking a fight with anyone's belief in God or the protestant faiths as a whole. I'm just saying that it's astonishingly arrogant to presume that any random dude can pick up the bible and interpret it accurately.


The BSG Post....

Oh holy frak.

Where to begin?

Starbuck palled around with her dad's ghost/angel/hallucination. Also, girl has like the worst dreams ever. Like frakkin' crucial. Her dad's ghost/memory/whatever + Hera = All Along the Watchtower. But Hera's the only hybrid (that's why they retconned baby Nicky's paternity) so her dad's not Daniel. (*Ahem* fellow fan wankers. And I'll eat my hat- or just massive crow- if I'm wrong about that.) So instead of any real answers, we get more frakking questions.

But the big news of the night is that Boomer has officially gone beyond the pale for me. Waylaying Athena and then frakking her husband in the head while she's bound, gagged, and half conscious in a stall is bad enough. But then she kidnaps Hera? Dude, not cool. And that frakking stunt with the FTL jump right next to Galactica? Way to frak everyone over.

I don't even know what to frakkin say at this point.

We knew these last 10 episodes were going to be one hell of a ride. It's crazy how if you look back and try to make a list of all the shit that's gone down since Earth it feels so much longer than that. This was just number 8, folks. Look how far we've come.

Cylons now have a representative in the new ship-based Quorum. Naturally it's another Six- Sonja. They ask to try Boomer for treason because the Cylons so aren't feeling that "Rag Tag Gang On The Run" shit that saved Gaius Baltar from the metaphorical gallows, (of course, he was on trial for the only crime he didn't actually commit, so there is that) and were all set to make Boomer the Cylon Captain Henry Wirz.

Unfortunately for all sides Chief has always emoted first, acted second, and thought third. He frees Boomer and helps her escape (unknowingly, also helps her abduct Hera). So Boomer proves that everyone was right about her except for Chief Tyrol and myself. And you better believe that when he was begging Roslin and Adama for her life I was right there with him because like him I wanted to believe in that young dumb kid who was frakking the chief all over the goddsdamn ship thinking she was getting away with it. Chief Tyrol and I now have something in common with the now deceased Felix Gaeta. Blinded by hope.

2 episodes to go, and the last one is a two- parter (in keeping with tradition) the second part of which will be two hours long. Holy frak.



Slow news day?

Oh wait. Maybe not so much....

10 Institutions That Ruin The World....

There's a rather brilliant and (dare I say it) informative series of posts over at Kerplunk. You should read them all.


I Don't Know Why This Is So Hard To Understand....

...Science class is for science. I've never really posted about the whole creationism in classrooms thing before, but I'm big enough to admit when I've had my head in the sand and I'm pretty sure this was just such an occasion. I honestly didn't want to believe that there were that many people out there who not only don't believe in evolution (that's a funny way to put things- like believing in gravity, but there you go....), but believe that their philosophical extrapolation of a mythology should be treated as verifiable science.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but the biggest one is that people don't really understand science. I mean sure, you took a class or two in high school maybe college that involved some lab work, but for the most part the only real difference between the way you learned science and the way you learned history was that your science book had images of microscope slides and your history book had artistic renderings. Someone probably gave you a pop quiz or two on the steps involved in the scientific method, but none of that really translated into a general understanding of how science works. Seriously. For most people the word science conjures images of Bunsen burners, flasks, microscopes, eyedroppers, and lab coats the same way the word witch summons images of black kettles, hooded robes, and people doing dubious things in the woods. Sadly the similarity doesn't end there, because for many people science is just the newfangled hocus pocus.

Now I can't correct for the entirety of that unfortunate failing of our education system in one blog post, but I'm going to sling my little rock for all I'm worth at the Intelligent Design in schools Goliath. (Okay, so it's only a Goliath in the Republican party. Really, don't you people see how you're giving everyone a black eye here? No? Well, stick with me, and we'll see if we can't get the light of day to shine on this for you. See, that's the other reason I've stayed away from this topic. It makes me uncivil.)

Let's start with a basic premise that we can all agree on. When it comes to God (or gods or whatever) it's all faith. (We're not talking about the fence-sitters waiting around for proof, that's like the exact opposite of faith.) It doesn't matter if you believe or don't believe. It's faith; the position can't be proven one way or the other so coming down squarely on one side is entirely about faith. (If you want to argue that particular point I'll be happy to take it up via email.)
Hold onto that.

Now let's take a look at one of science's most important tools. The entire point of going through all of that is to generate reliable evidence in order to make a determination. Evidence is what separates science from philosophy and religion.

I know there are some (*sigh* more like many) people out there who are currently saying (or thinking) it says (insert whatever) in the bible, there's your proof. But what you fail to see is that that is your proof. And what's more, it's dependent upon your acceptance of a point of faith in order to even be considered as evidence. The argument boils down thus: God exists (and embodies/contains/engenders list of attributes). The Bible is the word of God (and as implied by list of attributes of God therefore true). Therefore the Bible is proof of God's existence and his works. All of that makes a very pretty circle and is exactly how half of the argument over the existence of God has gone since birth of monotheism (and further back if you change up the names of deities and holy texts). The other half is just as circular, but in the negative.)

So the difference between teaching evolution and teaching intelligent design is that I can give pages upon pages of evidence none of which require faith on your part. Where as in order for you to even get out of the gate with intelligent design, you have to have faith. And that has no place in a science class. What's so damn difficult to understand about that!?

*Update* Welcome fellow LGF readers! Feel free to look around. Hope you like the place.

*Update* This gentleman actually takes the time to patiently walk you through. (Courtesy of the LGF link posted at the beginning of this post.)


In The Spirit Of The Day...

I give you candy hearts.

This is really less of a shopping list and more of a recommendation:

Battlestar Post...

So it's totally that time again. Last week I didn't do a BSG post because as awesome as that episode was it was totally WYSIWYG, and aside from, "Holy frak! The President of the colonies just declared war on humanity from the Cylon basestar!", and some really big emotional moments there was nothing to really talk about. I don't do recaps (in that sense) and if that's what you're looking for I suggest Television Without Pity (for BSG at any rate).

I'm not really going to say a lot about this episode because it was explication heavy and therefore fairly WYSIWYG as well. However, it's hilariously tragic just how completely human the Cavils (Johns!) are. He spends the entire episode railing against the final five (specifically Ellen) for creating him with what he feels to be weaknesses. The whole thing is very Paradise Lost. So Cavil spends the episode screaming "Stupid human parts! Why not awesome super powers and better built in gadgets!? You're a shitty god/parent! I'm not your son or a real boy at all! I'm a metal doll that you refused to make out of metal! Apologize!" And Ellen Tigh spends the episode explaining and lovingly calling him on that shit, "Free will and creative thought are better than x-ray vision. You're so completely a real boy that you've spent your existence alternating between jealously of one brother and hatred for the people who abused another. You've traveled across the frakking galaxy to pursue a blood libel." Cavil snits, "Free will is a lie." Ellen responds, "Just because hate is easier, doesn't mean you don't have a choice. You're throwing an epic temper tantrum, but I still love you." Which earns her a "Frak that and you, I want to be God." (See? Milton.)

And that entire exchange was nothing but compassion on Ellen's part because she could have broken his shit down in the hardest way possible. All she had to do was point out that his whole better/best/perfect machine routine was all bull because if that was really what drove him, he'd have spent this time on building his metal body, downloading into it, creating new ways of perceiving the universe, and doing more with his programming than bypassing his sleep routine. Instead, he murdered one brother, assaulted and imprisoned his parents, murdered humanity, boxed an entire line of sisters, fully tried to murder half of his remaining siblings, and is preparing to vivisect his mother. That's just the short list.

Also, Boomer! Finally accepts (or starts to) that she's a real girl. Hopefully this show can refrain from killing her again. In any sense.


Video Goodness.....

3000 still photos to make this video. Yay, stop animation!

Hat tip: Kevin. Breakin' me out of my politics rut.


Wicked Cool....

This doesn't exactly disprove Smugopedia's take on MIT, but it sure goes a long way.


The Importance Of Visibility....

...Or what Republicans can learn from the gay community.

*A quick note before we start: this post is really for any Republicans who, like me, live in an area dominated by Democrats. Now, on to the show.

Republicans have a serious image problem. And while it's true that much of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of our opposition, a large part of the fault is still ours. We complain about unfair representations in the media and pop culture, sure. But the primary objective of those complaints seems to be to get those two entities to give us a better shake. That's not a bad goal, but in a culture where the press is fully willing to throw away its credibility with 1/2 of the population in order to elect a political official, is it a realistic goal? The same can be said for Hollywood and their steady stream of films which alienate that same half of their potential audience; getting them to give Republicans/conservatives a better shake isn't a bad goal, but is it honestly realistic?

Granted, things like Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, and PJTV are good ways to hit back by creating the content we feel is lacking, but let's face it- not all of us have the sort of talents that would enable us to really make a splash in that arena. (I certainly understand that this blog's primary contribution is simply being a place for me to clear my head so that I don't turn every social interaction I have throughout the day into a political debate/discussion. If it happens to entertain the few people who drop by every now and then or- against all conceivable odds- inform, then I'm thrilled beyond words, but I know where I stand in the internet hierarchy.) All of that is perfectly alright because fixing the popular image of Republicans is going to take more than carving out a Republican friendly niche in the press and pop culture. It's going to take visibility.

I'm not talking about the visibility of politicians, talking heads, or party organizations. I'm not talking about parades or week long parties either- that's not what I meant, by learning visibility from the gay community. I'm talking about those of us in the red closet (full time and part time) coming out (or at least a little more out).

You can live in the heart of Berkley, California right next door to the Code Pink HQ, completely surrounded by people who are certain they don't know a single solitary Republican, but they all know Republicans exist. Therefore visibility of the talking head/politician/party organization variety is essentially a moot point. In fact, so far as they know, those three things make up the entirety of their knowledge pool on Republicans. Additionally, being responsible for the redirection of traffic (and the resulting jams) is pretty much guaranteed to make your neighbors want to choke you, not get together for cocktails to see if they've been in error.

Republicans have to come out. The change in the public perception of gay people has less to do with lobbyists and parades than it does with the expanding portion of the population that personally knows at least one gay person. That person could be a friend, family member, co-worker, or just another responsible member of the community. That's who we have to be; we have to become that Republican your liberal mom/friend/co-worker will mention in a positive light the next time their liberal friends equate Republicans to the Antichrist.

Much like with gay people, they're not all going to be success stories. Coming out of the red closet pretty much ensures that you're going to lose at least one contact. Choosing to live outside of the red closet full time could get you completely ostracized. We haven't even talked about the harassment issue. But I'm not saying anything you don't already know. After all, this is exactly why so many of us have chosen to live in the red closet at least part of the time. That's also why not being openly Republican doesn't make a person a coward; you can't fault someone for not wanting their family to stop talking to them or for wanting to keep their job.

We all know the price of being openly Republican in a Democrat dominated area. What's the price of being a closeted Republican? What's the weight of all those little (and not so little) moments when you tuck your head down and keep your mouth shut in order to get along or fit in or just not be harassed? We all know benefits of keeping silent, being invisible. What are the benefits of visibility? What's it like to shed fear and speak boldly in defense of yourself and your beliefs? In the long run, creating an environment where it's not socially acceptable to harass or intimidate Republicans for the crime of disagreeing with liberal ideology is a win for political discourse in this country. That makes it a win for everyone. Well everyone except for those who are only concerned with the gaining and keeping of power, but those people are the true enemies of liberty and to know their names by their disdain for open discourse is a victory for liberty.


Politicians And Taxes....

With something like the third of our new Teflon President's nominees having to bow out for tax evasion/fraud/stupidity/"oops that wasn't H&R Block/whatever shenanigans, I guess I should say something.

Look, I'm one of those people who believe that income tax is theft. Pure and simple. But these are the assholes mandating the theft in the first place (and demanding ever greater amounts) so when the highway man comes around they'd damn well better reach for the sky with the rest of us.

It's the whole income tax=theft part which made this poll grab my attention. I don't cheat on my taxes because I used to watch Oz on HBO and jail scares the low level civil disobedience out of me, but I don't really have a moral/ethical problem with other people not forking over what the government demands because the government hasn't earned a fucking red cent of anyone's money. But if you're one of the feckless louts giving the green light to the annual mugging of the American people and profiting off of it then you should certainly get mugged with the rest of us.

The funniest part of this whole thing (in a zen sort of " if I weren't laughing I'd be crying" way) is that if former President George W. Bush had goofed like this the left (and their propaganda arm, the MSM) would have held it up as incontrovertible proof of his stupidity/incompetence/crookedness. Change we can believe in....

In The Immortal Words Of Kevin....

"WTF FTW." Really.

Play along at home. How many wtf moments do you count in the above image? No credit for the sample circle.

*Thanks Kevin

That's Atypical....

This little news blurb is...well... see for yourself. I mean it doesn't exactly smack of the Global Jihad. The game is a product of Crave Entertainment, a subsidiary of Handleman Corp. So it's just...odd.