Monthly Archives: April 2012

Waxing nostalgic

Once upon a time, I was stalked by a mad artist.

Friday mornings were when my stalker would strike. I’d find them on my front porch, usually just sitting on the doormat, strange art projects which clearly had some work put into them. I remember one included a cassette tape with a recording of PJ Harvey’s “Rid of Me”, which broadened my musical horizons a bit.

Once it was a cloth pouch held together by straight pins with interesting things taped to it and a lock of hair inside. Yesterday I found the hair behind my dresser, where it had probably fallen years ago, slowly pushed off the edge by encroaching clutter. It was filled with dust, brittle and breaking from the hot summers in an old house, and the rubber band was rotting away. I took a photo and felt strangely sad as I threw it away, thinking of a time in my life when beautiful things happened mysteriously.

Search term adventures (in tights!)

Once again it’s the fifteenth, so let’s take a look at what people are typing into search engines that lead them here. As usual, the search terms are bold while my commentary is italic. Read the rest of this entry

The Infallibile Mind

I saw this on twitter the other day, and it’s a weird one. Not only the article itself, but the site it was on, apparently Faithful News is a site that collects articles they think Christians would be interested in and presents them in one place. I’m not sure how broad a net they cast there, I mean there’s something like forty thousand different Christian religions with many conflicts between them, I’m curious if the site attempts to provide for all of them or focuses on a narrow spectrum. But I’m going to at least make a token attempt to stay on topic here.

The article is titled “Faith in the infallibility of the mind is the atheist’s delusion”, and it puzzles me right from the start because I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone claim that the mind is infallible. In fact much of our society is the way it is because we know that our minds can be fooled. The scientific method and peer-review process are specifically built to make it hard to lie to yourself. All over you’ll see signs reminding you of things you not only know perfectly well, but that are obvious with even the least thought. Our computers ask “are you sure?” for countless operations because sometimes we click on the wrong things, and in my experience we still manage to click “yes” when we mean “no” to that surprisingly often. Read the rest of this entry

Threats in Rhode Island

So this has been all over the blogosphere since yesterday, I may as well weigh in. Jessica Ahlquist, the evil little thing who noticed that her Cranston, RI high school was breaking the law and told them to stop, got a letter in the mail. I’ll put it below the fold. EDIT: I’m following Jessica’s lead and taking down the letter for now. I might put it back up later. Let’s just say it includes threats of violence and rape and claims to be from many “Crusaders”, that should be enough for this post to make sense.

Remember, what she did to provoke this was point out that a prayer banner in her public high school was illegal and should be removed. Which eventually required a court order to achieve. Read the rest of this entry

Prostitution and human misery.

Taslima Nasreen has a couple of posts up about prostitution & sex slavery. She considers the two to be the same thing, which I disagree with on the thinking that a prostitute gets paid and, at least in theory, has some degree of choice in her life. Someone might be considered a sex slave and have one of those two conditions, but not both. I realize that’s a blurry line at the border, but at the extremes there are clear differences and “slave” is not a word to be used lightly. I also realize that for many that “choice” offers begging on a street corner as the only real alternative, but as bad as that is, it’s still more choice than a true slave has.

I’m going to take a moment to whine about the format of those two posts before I get to my real subject here, you can safely skip the next two paragraphs if you want to just get to the point.

The first is mostly organized in a “Lie#: {allegedly false statement} Truth#: {allegedly true statement}”, with no sources given. I’ve usually seen these presented as “Myth/Fact”, but is no less irritating for the different words. They almost never provide sources and even the most accurate are still simplistic sound bites that fail to really address the issues raised. Most of these lists, if you take the time to research the subject, are filled with false dichotomies, distortions and outright falsehoods to the point where you can’t really consider them arguments made in good faith. Furthermore, I just find them really snotty, asserting this list without really discussing things.

The second post is mostly a string of arguments from authority. They may well be good authorities, I recognize some names, but I still expect better than “X says Y”. She reiterates the position that there’s no meaningful difference between prostitution and sex slavery by talking about children in brothels, which to me illustrates that there is a difference, because people don’t think about children when you talk about prostitution, but they do when you talk about sex slavery. Finally she seems surprised at the amount of discussion and arguing she got on the subject, which surprised me because I assumed she was deliberately stirring the pot to get people talking. After all, you can’t bring about change without arguing.

Okay, whining over. I want to stress that even though I felt her arguments were fallacious, flawed and unconvincing, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s wrong. All it says is that she made bad arguments, she could still be right about her basic premise. I haven’t researched this much and I’m not going to be discussing her claims or arguing with her, with the exception of making a distinction between sex slaves and prostitutes. What I want to talk about is what she doesn’t say.

See, almost every point Taslima raises is academic. From a practical standpoint, I think outlawing prostitution, at least in places where it’s already an established industry, is likely to increase human misery. If you take an area that has both legal and illegal prostitution and declare that you’re getting rid of it all, criminalize all forms and step up enforcement, what I’m hearing is that you’re throwing those formerly legal prostitutes right over into illegal territory.  Read the rest of this entry

This writing thing really is a pain sometimes.

All the time I would have spent blogging got sucked up making a video that almost none of you will see. Sorry about that.

This is getting recursive

A few days ago I posted about a spam comment I got, and now that post is getting spam comments.

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Excellent, feel a little bit thump, spammers!

Yeah, I don’t have anything to say today, sorry.

Bonus!

Since that last post was kind of weak, here’s another. No, nothing interesting to say here either, just another Amanda Palmer vid.

Chocolate doomsday

Gentlebeings, I’d like to propose a moment of silence for all the chocolate bunnies.

Actually, screw that, here’s Amanda Palmer destroying Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”!

Style, class, bravado.

Found this in my spam filter:

One of the more impressive blogs Ive seen. Thanks so much for keeping the internet classy for a change. Youve got style, class, bravado. I mean it. Please keep it up because without the internet is definitely lacking in intelligence.

Now I’m not one to turn down gratuitous ego stroking, even from a spambot, but what really made me laugh was that this comment talking about how classy I am was on the post titled “Oh look, more angry depressing shit“. That’s me, keeping it classy!

So tired

Spent the day driving all over California. But it was a good day, a fun day spent with good people.

That’s all I have for now.

6 April, 2012 10:17

Ex-gays and the Anoka-Hennepin School District

Doesn’t it sound like the world’s most awkward band name?

I found this article very interesting. I’ve written about Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District before, and probably will again. It’s nice to see the school district standing up to the Parents Action League, gives me hope that maybe there really will be a better future for the children in those schools.

The Parents Action League is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a title they wear with pride. That probably tells you just about everything you need to know about them, really.

Something the PAL was pushing for pretty hard in their list of demands was including “ex-gay” material in the school libraries and counseling offices, and generally providing access and credibility to ex-gay organizations. Frankly you start to wonder if someone has a money interest, there. Read the rest of this entry

Forged in the heart of a star

In my last post I mentioned our connection to the stars and the universe, and I’ve been thinking about that some more. Consider for a moment that every atom that makes up your body was part of a star once. Think about some of the implications.

There’s a young Earth creationist group whose favorite tactic is the phrase “Were you there?” They train children to ask this question in schools, at museums, anytime someone talks about something happening millions of years ago. It’s every bit as childish and annoying as you imagine, all the irritation of a four year old repeatedly asking “why?” with none of the actual curiosity.

The thing is, from a certain point of view it’s a perfectly honest answer to say “Yes”. Yes, I was there when the dinosaurs died out, and so were you. The atoms that make up my body were already here, in the air, the ground, the oceans, and the plants and animals, even in the dinosaurs themselves. Scattered across the world, unbinding from one molecule and binding into another, and passing down through the ages until the time when, for a brief while, they would come together to form me. The same is true of you and everyone else who’s ever lived. Read the rest of this entry

Full of stars

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has once again blown my mind. If you never click another link on this blog, click this one. It’s a pan & zoomable hi res image of the Milky Way disc. There are a billion stars in that picture.

Pick any random spot and zoom in and feel amazed. I liked zooming in on the galactic core, but there’s no boring spots that I saw (except for the blacked out sections hiding the alien civilizations ;þ). There’s so much going on in there, and every pixel represents an area vastly larger than that ever occupied by humans throughout our entire history.

Naturally, it had to be taken from Earth, since we can’t get any cameras far enough away to make any difference. Which means there’s still much more of our galaxy not visible in that image. Read the rest of this entry

Just punching the clock

It’s never easy to confront your weaknesses. In the movies it’s always played up as a big dramatic turning point to stand up and do that, and then everything’s okay. Facing them once makes them go away, and everything’s just fine in the epilogue and the music plays and the credits roll.

In the real world, that kind of personal change doesn’t happen quickly or all at once. It’s not one dramatic moment that shifts how you deal with the world instantly, it’s doing that over and over again. Sometimes it gets easier with repetition, and sometimes it doesn’t, it’s just as hard every time.

This blog is coming up on one year now, and I really don’t know if, on average, it’s any easier than when I started.

Each time I sit down to write here is unique. Sometimes I just bang out 500 words like they were already there just waiting to be typed, others I’m practically screaming with frustration by the second paragraph. I haven’t quite worked out what makes the difference.

Fiction is much, much harder than what I’m doing now, just sitting and typing whatever wanders into my head. It seems like the more structured something is, the harder it is for me to write.

I really should work on that space opera serial some more. The plan there is to have a very solidly developed setting and characters, and then totally improvise the story. I figure I could write one installment a week, or two weeks, or once a month, whatever, and just keep going until I write myself into a corner. Maybe if I just spend, say, 45 minutes every day going through my notes for it and adding a little to them I can be ready to start soon. I’ll give that a try.

Well, that’s all for tonight. Just some random thoughts. Maybe something more interesting tomorrow. Take care everyone.

In which I wander among many topics

Was looking over my site stats, as I do sometimes, and I saw a referral from Daily Pagan News, who promoted my post “Curses“. Thanks for the link!

One of the first things I saw from DPN’s home page was this.

Gave me a chuckle. It was sourced to another tumblr page called teenwitchwendy. I’m not going to check that one out just now, because that leads to link-jumping all night and I have stuff to do. But the name made me think.

When I was a teenager, I knew a lot of pagans. Some Wiccans and Druids, but most of them weren’t so structured and simply called themselves “Pagan”. They were a diverse bunch, happy to agree on the broad outlines of the universe and just sort of fudge the details.

More than once somebody, usually an older person who was kind but not really “part of the group”, expressed the opinion that this whole “alternate lifestyle” thing was just a phase and everyone would grow up and become conservative Christians just like them. Now I haven’t kept touch with most of those people, but as far as I can tell that hasn’t happened. Sure, we all grew and changed, but I’m not aware of anyone who actually did that. Read the rest of this entry

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