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The Dishonesty of

So, after my last post I eventually went back to read what PZ Myers had to say about those ten questions. Then I looked over his comment section a bit, as I sometimes do. (Pharyngula’s comments are not for the faint of heart) And somebody mentioned something that really caught my attention, if you go to the link Today Christian provides as the source of their allegedly unanswerable questions, you’ll find that this particular list was compiled by one Robert Nielsen, an atheist who answered them.

Nielsen compiled the list as his personal choice of some of the better questions, whether they were intended as honest inquiries or sneaky gotchas. He made good use of them, exploring them thoughtfully and sparking discussion in his comments. Then Today Christian stripped out his answers, added a snide preface that they could not be answered, and posted them. Without allowing comments. It’s breathtaking, really.

I’m a little surprised they still linked to the source. I guess they were worried they might be sued for plagiarism.

I feel like I should say more about it, but really, what else is there to say?

Uh, Amazon?

Last week I dropped my phone in the supermarket and it popped apart and the battery went skittering across the floor. Everything seems to be okay with it, but it scared me. This phone is literally the most valuable thing I own, both in price and general usefulness, and it would have been devastating to lose it because it slipped out of my shirt pocket when I bent over to pick up a bag of dog food.

So tonight I decided I’d spend some of my writer’s block time shopping for a protective cover for it. I went to Amazon to do this because I’m poor and a little cheap, and also an Amazon Prime member, so I wanted to find a cheap one with free two-day shipping.

I told Amazon to show me only Prime eligible items, to NOT show me “add-on” items, and to sort the list from lowest price to highest.

Now take a look at this screen-shot. Read the rest of this entry

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.

Well that didn’t work.

Obama the fiendly war pig!


My brilliant plan of blogging from my phone clearly needs some refinement. Anyways, I saw this while I was walking and thought it was weird enough to share. So there you are.

I’ll try to have another post up tonight, but no promises.

Random thought for the day

Ever see Mallrats? The second of Kevin Smith’s New Jersey series, and usually considered the weakest, it had a character who was a teenager writing a book about sex, which she researched by having lots of sex with different men that she carefully recorded.

I’d completely forgotten about the movie and the character until out of the blue this morning when I suddenly thought: “Her results are going to be skewed because all her subjects were guys who were willing to have sex with a 15 year old girl.”

Considering the already pessimistic tone she had for the content of her work, that can’t have changed things in a happy direction.

Search the Ides of March

Great to see you everybody! Did you all bring your knives? Julius should be here in a little while, he’s going to be so surprised! While we wait, here are the search engine queries that led people to my blog over the last 30 days. As usual, search terms are bold while my commentary is italic. Read the rest of this entry

Zombie Dream

So last night I dreamt that there was a zombie plague spreading across the world. This probably has something to do with my company today. Anyways, in the dream it turned out to be not as big a deal as everyone expected, because social instincts didn’t change much. Social animals continued their lives without much change, they’d lose their sex drive and want to eat brains, but their willingness to kill their own kind didn’t change much.

So your average human zombie was a little more resistant to change and didn’t care about sex, but otherwise not very different from the general populace. Go ahead and make your own GOP joke.

I dimly remember an encounter with a zombie version of a large bird of prey, a solitary predator that was extremely aggressive, and attacked us on sight. Someone mentioned  that there weren’t any unzombied ones left in the wild, that species had gone over to the undead completely. Seems very sad now, at the time I was too busy keeping track of those talons to think that they were effectively already extinct.

Well, that’s about all I can remember. Have a great day!

What’s up with NPR’s comments?

A friend sent me this NPR article about the origins of Valentine’s Day. Despite my usual love of history it didn’t strike me as especially interesting, I like my historical info much more in-depth. Preferably with citations. But then I looked at the comments.

Great Scott the comments are insane! People claiming the article slanders catholics, people bragging that NPR will soon be defunct, people howling that history wasn’t like that and in one memorably bizarre instance, someone claiming that the dark ages were the time before religion “stopped the heathen practices of their uncivilized, ancestors”. Exactly what that’s supposed to mean is unclear to me, but it sure was a strange thing to read. Read the rest of this entry

Written on a train while easily distracted.

There’s a strange exhilaration to travel. I don’t mean the excitement of traveling itself, I’m talking about the tendency to see even the very familiar in a slightly different way when you’re racing past and will only see it for a moment.

Heavens help me as we left town I actually thought I might miss the place.

We’ve been chugging along for almost two hours now, and I keep finding interesting things to look at out the window. I shot a little video, but then realized that what’s interesting as you go by it probably isn’t interesting from the camera’s point of view, so I’m just going to relax and enjoy the trip for now.

Train is by far my favorite way to travel, although I still haven’t tried travel by dirigible yet. I seem to recall hearing that Zeppelins were the height of luxury in their day, and maybe someday lighter than air vehicles will make enough of a comeback that I can ride one cross-country.

Hey, there’s a goal worth reaching for! Travel around the world by airship! Land on every continent and see the world. Well, I guess I could skip Antarctica.

Who wants to help design my world tour dirigible? Would you like to come along?

Beyond the supernatural

When I was very young I used to search for the supernatural. I’ve always been interested in just about everything, and I had this passionate need to know things. I’d read lots of folklore and heard so many stories, most of which were contradictory, and I wanted to know the truth behind them.

I remember thinking that being a parapsychologist would be a great job. Hunt ghosts and track down the truth behind myths and legends. I used to find occult books to read, talk to people who claimed to have magical powers, or try to get into haunted places. I attended several modern pagan rituals, and probably would again if invited because they’re a lot of fun. I studied religions, and psychology, tried tarot cards and runes and Ouija boards. I even went to a séance or two. I did all this because I wanted to know the truth.

It wouldn’t be honest to say that I never found anything, but I never encountered anything genuinely supernatural. Read the rest of this entry

Crowdsourcing movies

Whoops, the time I should have spent blogging got sucked up by Star Wars: Uncut! Guess I’ll just blog about that, then.

This project is, simply put, awesome. And a little deranged. Watching a movie that drastically changes in tone and style and cast and even medium every 15 seconds is pretty surreal, but because it’s Star Wars and I’ve seen it like a hundred times, it works.

I wonder how that deals with copyright. I suppose it’s probably considered parody, but it must be toeing the line on that count. Still, it certainly feels like it’s within the spirit of fair use.

I found myself wondering what other films could be done like that. I really don’t think it would work without the kind of movie that’s so embedded into modern culture. I mean, it has to be popular enough that lots of people will actually participate. That’s a tough one right there, you need people who are fans of the work, who love it enough to put time and effort into it. And who also have the means to pull it off. And THEN in order to have something entertaining result from it you pretty much have to have something that your entire audience not only knows, but knows well, so they can get the in-jokes and so they know what’s going on when the artistic license gets a little extreme.

Offhand, I really can’t think of another movie that would work as well. But if you can, let us know in the comments!

No, I’m not going to talk about the State of the Union address. I’ve never seen one that said anything of substance, and I’ve no interest in boring speeches and empty pageantry.

Technical difficulties

Hi folks! Apparently the new Linux kernel broke something, and my network doesn’t work from the desktop computer anymore. Not sure how long that will take to fix, since I don’t have the faintest clue what’s wrong. My laptop still works fine, though, so I’ll see if I can’t find out what’s going on.

And even if I can’t fix it, I should be able to keep posting. It just won’t be as convenient for me.

So sorry there’s nothing interesting here, and have a very good evening!

Gods Die

(I found this on an old hard disk. Going by the dates on the file, I probably wrote it in early July of 2010. I think it was probably a first draft. I’ve no idea now how accurate any of this info is, and I decided to resist the temptation to research and rewrite and just post it directly. I apologize for any misinformation.)

One of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world was Egypt, and for most of that time one of the principal gods was a Sun god named Ra, or perhaps Re, we aren’t sure what the vowel sound was. Re (or Ra) was worshiped throughout Egypt from the Fourth Dynasty up to the rise of Christianity in the Roman empire.

Ra (or Re) was not some idle superstition. Pharaohs were considered to be Earthly manifestations of the god. Millions of people sang hymns, offered prayers, and recited spells to help Him and His sun boat overcome Apep, the serpent, every day. Soldiers fought for His glory and died with His name on their lips. Priests devoted their entire lives to His service.

Re (or Ra) remained popular for over three thousand years. Huge temples were built to Him. Countless stories of His exploits were recorded in stone and papyrus. Sometimes He joined with other gods; Amun, Atum, Horus, or Khepri the scarab. Other times He was a solo act.

The earliest written record of the Hebrew people was Egyptian writing circa 900 b.c., and Ra (or Re) was already over two thousand years old. He lasted another thousand years before dwindling away, rather suddenly, about the fourth century c.e.

For more than thirty centuries Egypt lived, wrote, sang and died for Re (or Ra). Every morning ceremonial offerings were made to Him. His name is still carved into the stone walls of a thousand temples and pyramids, and now we don’t even know how to pronounce it.



I stumbled over this curious blog post about Wicca this morning. Apparently it’s part of a fairly long series on Wicca and atheism, which I may look into more later. The author, one Eric Steinhart, claims that there’s no ethical way to use magick since it hasn’t been scientifically tested and evaluated for effectiveness.

As you’ve likely guessed, I disagree with him on several points. First is that quite a few spells have been tested and found to be lacking in any effect at all, barring some psychological placebo effects. Not strictly relevant to what I want to talk about but not exactly trivial, either. Read the rest of this entry

Intelligent Design Theory isn’t

(Warning! This post contains spoilers for the end of Battlestar Galactica. I’ll put them after the jump so you can safely read everything that appears on the home page.)

You’ll be forgiven if you think my title means that ID theory isn’t intelligent, heck I couldn’t honestly disagree with the sentiment, but what I was really thinking was that ID isn’t really a theory. At least not in the strict scientific sense of the word, I suppose you could call it a theory in the same loose sense that the wild speculation of college students as they pass a bong around could be called theories.

I don’t want to be unfair here, I really don’t. It’s just that as far as I can understand, ID theory is that an intelligence, as yet undetected, either is acting or has acted in the past to effect change in the development of life on Earth, through unknown mechanisms. That’s not a summary, that’s the entire thing.

ID used to be touted as a secular, scientific theory that had no relation to the overtly religious creationists, but that seems to have been dropped recently, perhaps after the Dover-Kitzmiller trial they didn’t see a point in maintaining the masquerade. Or at least, all the sites I looked at during this writing were overtly Christian, and many cited the Bible either as evidence, or as a sort of yardstick by which evidence should be judged. Presumably if I looked enough I could find one doing both at once.

But a thing shouldn’t be judged by its weakest examples. So I Googled “evidence for intelligent design” and found lots of examples of people assuming that if evolution fails, ID wins by default.

As I mentioned a couple months ago on my post about Noah’s Ark, science doesn’t work that way. Your hypothesis can’t win by tearing down the opposition, it has to be able to stand on its own merits.

Worse, most of the claims of evidence against evolution aren’t about it at all, but the big bang or the theory of abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is not a robust theory, and may therefore seem like an easy target, but it still stands pretty strongly against people talking about breaking down broths of bacteria to their base molecules and calculating the odds of a bacterium reconstructing itself.

This is all a massive digression, however. Because I thought of something that would be actual evidence for ID, were it to happen for real, and that’s the ending of Battlestar Galactica. Spoilers ahead!

Seriously, if you keep reading don’t whine to me about giving away the ending.

Read the rest of this entry

Back to the search terms.

December hasn’t been a good  month for this blog. The windstorm knocked out my internet, the new version of Thunderbird broke the nice Google Calendar integration I had working which pestered me with reminders to blog every day, and a lot of general busyness & exhausted ennui made writing seem like far more trouble than usual.

But it’s the 15th, and that means search engine stats. I couldn’t skip that! As usual, search terms are bold, while my commentary is italtic. Read the rest of this entry

The Dangers of Feminist Marriage!

Wow, this is a special kind of crazy. From Manboobz we find this post from David Usher of the Center for Marriage Policy explaining the latest reason you should fight against the evil tyranny of same-sex marriage: It’s a Trojan horse to allow “Feminist Marriage” which will destroy America! Read the rest of this entry

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