Saturday, July 25, 2009

An end and a beginning – an intro and an outro

This is officially the end of Respectful Defiance. Well, not exactly – the blog's not going anywhere; I'm keeping it online and available as an archive for anyone wishing to peruse it, but I shall no longer be posting here.

I will be keeping comments open however, and will respond to any received.

I became irked with the title itself for multiple reasons, plus the blog's template has become so hopelessly mangled (by me) that I cannot in good conscience keep using it as it is. And so, I am pleased to introduce you to my new haunt:

I hope to see you all migrate there as I have. It's really quite nicer, methinks. =)

Continued ...»

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Canine: Yellow warning signs

Continued ...»

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Closin' up shop – soon (hopefully)

I've been debating this for a little while, and I've finally decided that Respectful Defiance is coming at an end. Well, not exactly – I won't close the blog, it will remain open for any and all to read at their leisure, and I'll also allow you to comment if you wish – but meanwhile I'll be setting roots somewhere else.

I've had a nice run here at RD, but ultimately I've done all the customizing as a noob and now the template is so mercilessly mangled I can't do anything more with it without succumbing to crippling errors. And so, I'm just gonna spawn a new Blogger blog.

Keep an eye out for a brand-new blog with a fancy Latin name soon. ;)

Continued ...»

No, Vox, what's absurd is how you continually miss the point as though you can't comprehand basic implications

Perusing Vox Popoli (hell of a misnamed blog if ever there was one) I came across this latest entry where – surprise! – Vox completely misses the point:

On the other hand, climate change that isn't happening is as dangerous as terrorists who aren't attacking:

Massive crop devastation, melting glaciers, water shortages, millions of displaced people -- all of these will drag the US military into conflict if global climate change goes unchecked, a Senate panel was warned today.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, convened by Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, focused on what so far has received only modest attention in the climate change debate: the effect it is bound to have on national defense.

"Addressing the consequences of changes in the Earth's climate is not simply about saving polar bears or preserving the beauty of mountain glaciers," retired Navy Vice Adm. Lee F. Gunn, president of the American Security Project, told the panel. "Climate change is a threat to our national security."

And frankly, even if AGW/CC was occurring, I don't know if the U.S. military would be up to the challenge of defending the American people from rampaging super-evolved aquatic polar bears anyhow.

Um ... ever heard of "civil unrest", you wanker? And what part of "millions of displaced people" doesn't immediately make you think "massive military involvement to try and uphold stability"? Seriously?

Vox Day: proving day after day, with increasing obviousness, that even a supposed genius can be a total dumbass.

Continued ...»

Daily Dose o' Comfort: Man comes from the soil – the proof is we share six common constituents!

It's becoming increasingly hard to read Ray Comfort's daily posts without bursting out in pure derisory laughter. Seriously. The complete absence of any critical thinking or even remote signs of intelligence have me continually baffled – though mostly just amused.

Now, Comfort examines the Biblical claim that humans were created from the Earth and its soil (always fun, Biblical literalism is). And what's his "proof" that mankind was indeed molded from the dirt? That we share six common elements.

Just wait 'til you read it – it's even more mind-boggling.

Right from the very first paragraph he says something completely stupid and contradictory, and this time I honestly did let slip an amused guffaw just reading it:

It was eminent scientist, Stephen Hawking, who said, "There have been various ideas, but for me the most attractive is that the universe was spontaneously created out of absolutely nothing." So it’s not too difficult to take that a step further and believe that it was God who spontaneously created the heavens and the earth.

Uh – what the hell? No, Hawking specifically said "out of absolutely nothing"! What part of "from absolutely nothing" translates into "Goddidit"!?

And now, onto Comfort's unique brand of reasoning that allows him to demonstrate how humans come directly from the soil:

But the Book of Genesis goes on to tell us that God then made man from the soil of the earth. Such a thought seems a scientific impossibility. However, according to Yale university, the elements that make up the soil are:

1. Potassium, 2. Calcium, 3. Magnesium, 4. Phosphorous, 5. Iron, and 6. Manganese .

If God made the human body from the soil, it make sense that both the soil and the body would be made up of the same elements. Let’s then see if these six elements that are present in the soil are also in the human body:

1. Potassium: "Potassium plays an important role in smooth muscular and cellular functioning, cardiovascular functioning, muscle contractions, nerve transmission, in conversion of glucose into glycogen and muscle building etc."

2. Calcium: "Calcium comes in many forms, and is a whitish substance which is a primary ingredient in things such as chalk, ivory, pearls, and bones. It is known as the fifth most common element in the earth’s crust and is a primary mineral in the human body."

3. Magnesium: "Magnesium is essential to the functioning of the human body because it transmits nerve impulses, causes the contraction of muscles and is integral to healthy development of teeth and bones."

4. Phosphorous: "Phosphorus is present in bones and teeth and combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate which is the substance which gives the skeleton rigidity. It is also present in every cell in the human body and in the body fluids as well."

5. Iron: "Iron is a mineral found in every cell of the body. Iron is considered an essential mineral because it is needed to make part of blood cells."

6. Manganese: "Manganese is an essential element to the human body..."

Is it then a coincidence that the same six elements that are in the soil are also in the human body? That’s what you have to figure out before death takes you into eternity . . . when your body decomposes and turns back to the soil, from which it came.

Nearly impossible to read that with a straight face, isn't it?

Sure, those basic six elements are found both in soil and in the human body. But, um – they're also found in animals. And bugs. And trees. And mountains, plains, rivers and oceans. I'll even bet some distant planets have 'em (though I'm not certain, lacking in astrophysicist degrees as I am). That's because they are incredibly basic elements of nature, elements that constitute most of the known world around us. The fact that we also include them is proof of absolutely nothing, other than that we come from this world and not some strange alternate dimension where potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and manganese don't exist naturally.

But that's not the stupidest aspect of his claims. The problem with Comfort's assertions that us containing these six basic elements constitutes proof we come directly from the soil, is that we – and other lifeforms in general – also hold many, many other elements within our bodies. A few seconds of basic biological research will show this. And those are elements not found in the soil, nor found via combinations of earthen constituents. They are unique to biological tissue and life.

Saying that humans and soil having the same six elements is proof of our Creation is tantamount to claiming the Earth comes from the Sun because they also share common chemical and physical elements. It doesn't necessarily prove anything, though, does it now?

(I'm also tempted to point out how humans do not return to the soil per se as he claims, instead undergoing very complex processes of decomposition and basically becoming mulch, but that's time wasted, really.)

Continued ...»

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Just 'cause Science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale"

He's got a tough accent to decipher (for me anyway), he's bald, and he's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time: Dara O'Briain speaks his mind about homeopathy and "horseshit peddlers".

I want his sack. And a crate of firecrackers.

(via Pharyngula)

Continued ...»

Hey, I like Little House on the Prairie, too, but this is a bit overzealous ...

Minnesota is in a bit of trouble. Take a look at what kind of nutjob is running for governor:

John Charles Wilson announced on Tuesday that he would run for mayor of Minneapolis with the support of his newly founded political party, the Edgertonite National Party. Wilson says part of the reason he is running is to “unseat local officials who condoned police brutality at the [Republican National Convention].” He calls Minneapolis’ current mayor “Raymond Thomas ‘Tear Gas’ Rybak.”

Wilson’s Edgertonite National Party is based on the Lauraist religion, a movement he created that believes Laura Ingalls Wilder is God and that the Lauraist homeland will occupy an area within a 240-mile radius of Minneapolis.

“A new nation, to be called Edgerton, with its capital at Minneapolis, should be created on the land from approximately Hibbing to Des Moines, and from Fargo to Madison,” says Wilson’s campaign Web site.

Communism is the mode of government of said nation, with an abolition of all laws except those necessary for public safety.

Wilson has written two books, “The Principles of Lauraism” and “The Conscience of a Communist.”


Wilson says he was institutionalized in the early 1980s because of his political and religious beliefs.

No. Shit.

(via Pharyngula)

Continued ...»

Lying for Jesus, with fraudery!

Remember that ridiculous "Proclamation of Morality" from godbot Oklahoma rep. Sally Kern? You know, the one that basically pinned the blame for all the evils in America on abortion, porn, homosexuals and a lack of Bible-thumpers? Well, it's gaining momentum as it's collected a few signatures from government officials – or at least, it would be, if it weren't a complete fraud:

Now, a new controversy has taken center stage involving The Baptist Messenger, a weekly paper with about 68,000 subscribers put out by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The publication reprinted the proclamation in its July 16 edition, complete with state seal and a signature by Governor Brad Henry and Secretary of State Susan Savage.

"It is not anything that the state is sponsoring, so to see it on such an official document that we filed is really surprising," Savage said.

Savage's office has to verify the governor's signature on all proclamations and affix the seal. Savage believes the paper took another proclamation signed on July 2 and merged the bottom half with the Kern proclamation.

"I think it's unfortunate especially when it's something that's potentially controversial to have there be any misrepresentation of the state's official position on it," Savage said.

So Bible-thumpers are trying to pass a dubious Christofascist proclamation for (their screwed-up version of) morality via fraudery and forging government officials' names onto the paper? Yeah, I'm shocked too.

Now that the story's been blown wide open the godbots are, of course, backpedaling furiously, claiming that it was just a mistake:

The paper issued a statement saying, "the artwork used was from previous editions of the paper and was used without the consent of the governor and secretary of state."

That's just stupid. So they admit that, on some previous version of the article, they'd purposefully and deliberately Photoshopped the officials' names onto the paper whilst fully knowing they didn't have their consent. Which means ... nothing at all. Other than they flat out lied. Again, how surprising.

Below is a picture of the actual publication itself, courtesy of Bruce Prescott from Mainstream Baptist via Ed Brayton:

Those names do indeed look so accidental, don't they?

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

New Song: 'Death of Innocence'

Death of Innocence
By Joé McKen

'Death of Innocence'
Composed by Joé McKen

I've been reading some fiction stories around the web (really random stuff), and I came across one in particular that dealt with a rather poignant tragedy of sorts. Basically put, it dealt with a paramedic's attempts to comfort a rape victim. Sounds kinda gloomy, but let it be said it's a very touching story – plus it's written so damn well it really came alive in my imagination.

The story in question: [Warning – very NotSafeForWork, the website is][] (the scene where the paramedic tries to convince the traumatized victim to board the ambulance with him).

And so, it gave me inspiration for a song, just for the fun of it, and this is what I came up with. This is the sort of theme I'd hear in the background if the scene in question (the very first scene in the story linked above) were on film.

(PS – No comments with furry-hating, 'kay? Let's try and be mature for more than five seconds here. It's just a style, no better or worse than Trekkies or ... any other fandoms. Also, I'm not a furry myself; I just enjoy the art (graphic and written). If you don't like it, sue me.)

Don't forget to view in High Quality!

Written & recorded with Sibelius 6.
I got the picture off DeviantArt. No copyright infringement intended.

Rate, comment & enjoy! =)

Continued ...»

New Song: 'The Finale'

The Finale
By Joé McKen

'The Finale'
Composed by Joé McKen

Don't forget to view in High Quality!

I've been watching a few Sci-Fi films lately (I'm the type that binges) and so I had inspiration for a sort of "finale" song, as would play over the ending of an ethereal, mystical climax or such. Kinda hard to explain.

Written & recorded with Sibelius 6.

Rate, comment & enjoy! =)

Continued ...»

Why be so upset over this?

One of the poisons in society that pisses me off like few others is the oppression that is censorship. You know, someone ordering you (or forcing you) to shut up just because they don't like what you're saying, despite it being your inalienable right to say whatever the fuck you wanna say (as long as it's not overly dangerous or libelous of course – gotta stay legal).

But this story that's been running along the blogosphere has got me a little perplexed. Basically put, it's a rather popular and risqué blog (not pornographic or overly brutal, just a little bit of strong language and taunting imagery), Just a Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, over which Blogger inserted an "objectionable content" disclaimer for anyone trying to access it. This obviously had the expected result of greatly reducing her flow of visitors.

As a result, she's now closing up shop completely, pissed at the thoughtcrime and perceived censorship. And this is what I find to be ... well, silly, really.

Some readers complained to Google, and the “objectionable content” splash page was inserted, no doubt by the click of some rather low-level Google employee—tyranny of the constable is often much more oppressive than the King's tyranny.

The blog, which had remarkably high page rankings on a number of topics, is disappearing from the search engines by the minute--when an entry is not totally scrubbed it is replaced with an Objectionable Content Warning. Besides, I am not going to maintain a blog which is publicly identified and indexed as objectionable.

I may be called an insensitive clod for this (wow, that'd be a first), but really, this is Becky's problem, not Blogger's or society's (meaning that censorship is a societal issue, not an individual one). There is no censorship taking place. She is not being told to shut up, her content is not being deleted (that I know of), and she is not being forced off the Web. All that's going on is that Blogger's placed a warning before entering her site, informing visitors that the blog contains topics that could be offensive to some. It's not exactly screaming "This is vile stuff, avert yer eyes NOW!".

This seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. I know it's not the most pleasant thing to have one's readership suddenly cut short, but frankly, she brought it upon herself by hosting a blog that along fair conventions can be called risqué, or even offensive to some. If you want a shitload of people to find you and read you, don't post stuff that's liable to insult them – or to find yourself stuck behind an "objectionable content" disclaimer. It's not ideal, but it is reality, so as they say: you just gotta deal with it.

Closing her blog altogether is far more an act of defeat and submission than "in your face". It's certainly not teaching anyone a lesson; it's a blogger that got pissed and left. Nothing more.

The rebellious thing to do, had Becky chosen that route, would've been to keep the blog nonetheless, and if anything, try and spread it as far and wide as possible. Thinking that search engines like Google are the only way a blog is found is ignorant and silly. Include the address wherever you post (forums, comments on other blogs or websites, eMails, whatever). Hell; even better, enter a tirade against Google or those who complained against her. That, while perhaps a little petty, would've been entertaining. Going away in defeat is just ... sad.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

More opaque policies from Obama

President Obama is rapidly losing credibility when it comes to his promise for transparency in Washington. Here's yet the latest case: Obama recently met, somewhat secretly, with healthcare industry executives at the White House to discuss the upcoming healthcare changes (and what a joke that's turning out to be). A watchdog group's request for information concerning the meetings has been denied:

The still sort-of new Barack Obama Democratic administration has again adopted yet another policy straight out of the administration of his much-criticized Republican predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama administration officials have rejected a watchdog group's request for a list of healthcare industry executives who've been meeting secretly in the White House with Obama staffers to discuss pending healthcare changes being drafted there and in Congress.

According to the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, which is suspicious of the influence of health industry lobbyists and company officers, it received a letter from the Secret Service citing an Obama Justice Dept. directive and denying access to visitor logs under the "presidential communications privilege."

Sound familiar?

All too much.

It's all the more stinging that we aren't being told what's going on with these meetings, considering this is the ailing national healthcare system we're talking about; somehow, I think people have a right to know what's being projected in Washington concerning their healthcare, no?

*Sigh* President Obama may still be white over black compared to Bush and his cronies, but he's still giving us plenty of reasons to be disappointed. Let's hope he breaks out of this "do what Bush did" streak soon.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book deals are a dime a dozen these days, it seems

How else wold you explain the number of books being published by second-rate pseudo-celebrities? First we had Joe the Plumber and his silly drivel (the title of which still gets a smile out of me every single time), and now gormless wonder Carrie Prejean – the one who lost her no-doubt illustrious position as Queen Bimbo um, Miss California, for speaking out against gay marriage like a true Conservative hero – is gonna be published as well.

(AP) The former Miss California who was stripped of her title last month has a book deal.

Carrie Prejean will publish a memoir called "Still Standing." Conservative book house Regnery (REG'-nur-ee) Publishing said Monday that it will release the book.

Can anyone tell me what the hell an airheaded pretty-girl could possibly have to write a memoir about? Memoirs are for old successful types who've had lots of stuff to talk about, not beauty queens who stood on a stage and said something stupid.

Continued ...»

Almost-daily Comfort dose o' stupid

I find myself chronicling the stupidity that appears on Ray Comfort's blog so often these days I might as well make it a daily feature by now. I probably get more dumbass quotes from him than from Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann combined (and that is saying something huge). Today, Comfort reprimands a commenter for not reading (or interpreting) the Bible correctly – and in doing so, merely exposes his lack of comprehension of basic English. (And his own faulty interpretation of the Bible.)

"Sorry Ray, I do not take my morals from a God who drowns opposing armies in the ocean, killed every living thing on Earth in a global flood, punished humanity for all time for eating a piece of fruit, rained fire and brimstone on entire cities because he didn't like their behavior, killed the first born of an entire nation, and murdered his own son. Thank God he does not exist." askegg

It seems that you don’t know your Bible. God didn’t "kill every living thing on earth in a global flood." He allowed all the fish, and a family of eight people to be saved.[1] He didn’t punish humanity "for all time for eating a piece of fruit." Adam was punished for his "disobedience" (see Romans 5:19).[2] If you refuse God’s mercy, you too will be punished for your disobedience, not for Adam’s.

You are also wrong when you said that "God murdered His own Son."[3]

How is it a guy who's never even read the damn thing cover-to-cover (or even a tenth of it) seems to know it better than a freakin' evangelist?

  1. Right, he killed every single lifeform EXCEPT for the fish, and a family of eight. (Along with a single male and female of every species.) That's so much better, isn't it. It means he just killed about 99.995% of life on Earth, rather than a round 100%. Bless him.
  2. Um – perhaps I'm remembering it incorrectly, but isn't it so that, once Adam had taken that damned (literally) bite from that apple, the rest of humanity had also been cast out of the Garden of Eden to live in this fucked-up world? That sounds fairly much like punishing the whole of mankind to me.
  3. Yeah, the God who knows everything (including, I presume, the future) sent his beloved son down on Earth, knowing what we evil humans were gonna do to him (you know, the whole torture and crucifixion thing). Which, as far as logic allows us to tell, pretty much means he "sent his son to die", or as a rephrasing might result in, "he murdered his son".

Sigh. And that's just what I can do – imagine an actual Biblical scholar or something can do. (One who isn't brainwashed in apologetics, that is.)

Continued ...»

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

Okay, sorry for ripping off Balko's post title, but really, is there a single wordplay in existence that fits better to this amusing little story?

MADISON, Wis. — An Illinois teen knew he was too drunk to drive home after a Dave Matthews Band concert south of Milwaukee. So he fell asleep in his car, only to be awoken by a state trooper.

Travis Peterson, 19, of Dixon, Ill., said even though he told the officer he was drunk and sleeping it off, the trooper ordered him to leave because the lot was being cleared.

Once out of the parking lot, Peterson was arrested for drunken driving. He was subsequently found guilty and ordered to spend 60 days in jail.

I wonder what Peterson would've told the cop who pulled him over for driving drunk ... "I TOLD that other cop I was too drunk, but he MADE me drive!". An odd thing to hear if you're a cop, I'm sure.

Ah well, at least the story ended on a pleasant note: he won his appeal and was cleared of all charges. Not like he was guilty of anything, other than following a dumbass cop's orders. More evidence that sometimes, you really should just disobey.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

Monday, July 20, 2009

Asshole cops and the killings of innocent dogs

Radley Balko has a disturbing and infuriating piece (words that usually describe most of what he writes, anyway) at The Daily Beast, where he once again focuses on the militarization of police as they keep fucking up raids – and keep shooting down innocent and perfectly harmless dogs in the process. It's a horrible and disgusting trend that only Balko seems to dare to cover, so very much kudos to him for taking the lead in the matter.

The piece is long and tormenting, and makes a number of infuriating or otherwise shocking revelations. For example, did you know that dog-killings are increasing every year? That there are 250 to 300 cases reported in the media every single year, with estimates on unreported incidents rising into the thousands? That many of the dogs being killed are breeds as inoffensive as Dalmatians, Labradors, Boxers and Spaniels? And that many other dog killings are about miniature Dachshunds, or 5-pound Chihuahuas? And, perhaps most importantly of all: that New York is the only state to mandate standard courses in dealing with dogs for cops – despite the ASPCA and other organizations' repeated generous offers to train cops themselves?

As Balko says in his last words: there's no doubt that sometimes, a cop truly does have to shoot an animal to save himself or bystanders. The problem is that far too often, lethal force is the first option taken, not the last.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline

Here is an interesting albeit saddening piece from where two French photographers strove to capture the great Motor City's slide into abandonment on film. It's surprisingly heavy.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

Another Republican thinks Joe the Plumber really should stick to plumbing

Meghan McCain's exact words:

Shortly before McCain sat for this interview, Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, gave an interview to Christianity Today in which he complained about “queers” and declared, “I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children.” Unprompted, McCain rails against the man her father’s presidential campaign touted as an American everyman and made a showpiece in the weeks before the election. “Joe the Plumber — you can quote me — is a dumbass. He should stick to plumbing.”

But – he's not even a plumber, remember? Which makes you wonder what he is (other than a fundamentally stupid and bigoted pseudo-celebrity, that is).

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

What it sounds like when Glenn Beck is contradicted – and doesn't like it

Warning to listeners of Glenn Beck's show: don't contradict him. He might pull an O'Reilly on your ass and start screaming like a hysterical old lady:

"I'm gonna lose my mind today!!"

Moot issue, Glenn ... One needs to have a mind to lose it.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stupid Quote of the Day: Comfort and the correct answer

Most of Ray Comfort's latest post is him going on and on about how nothing could've come from nothing (*sigh*), but this little quote is of some amusement for those who can think for a few moments:

I am happy to acknowledge that answers have been given to explain the "nothing created everything" dilemma, and I choose to believe that those answers are wrong. There's nothing to refute.

Once again, Comfort shows signs that he and logic are simply incompatible on an atomic level. There is no such thing as "believing" whether a given answer is right or wrong. It just is (either right or wrong). And in this particular case, the answers he was given (which I assume run along the lines of "Atheism doesn't TRY to explain where everything came from so it's a moot dilemma as the origin of the Universe is a totally different field than one's beliefs regarding deities") were most assuredly right.

Continued ...»

Movin' on up to bigger and better things: TypePad

It's official: I've decided to create a whole new blog over at TypePad. TypePad offers far more flexibility than I can get with Blogger – not to mention I can finally host my own damned files on their servers/my site instead of scrambling around to find image hosts, media hosts, etc. – and with just a reasonably small price ($12 a month or so I think?) I can get pretty much anything I ever dreamed of for a blog.

That's not to say I'm closing Respectful Defiance right here and now, of course. First I need to get myself a job (as soon as I find a good one in the newspaper), and with the starting salary in Québec currently set at a very pleasing $9/hour (imagine, after only five days I'd already have over $360!), it really shouldn't be all that difficult.

RD will continue to operate whilst I get a job and amass the money necessary. Once the new blog is opened and operating, I will then lock this place down for the final time. I'll keep it up and running, but only as an archive as I will not be posting to it (though you will still be able to comment on blog posts if you wish).

I'm also planning to change the blog's name for the future blog. "Respectful Defiance" just doesn't work as well as I planned it to: it's too long, it's awkwardly similar to a certain other blog, and it doesn't really seem to fit all that well with the blog content and purpose. The comments are entirely open to suggestions: anyone got any ideas? I'd love to hear 'em. =)

Continued ...»

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In which PZ Myers has already answered

Mariano from Atheism is Dead has just come across that pathetic and ironically whiny anti-atheism article from Charlotte Allen from a while back, 'Atheists: No God, No Reason, Just Whining'. You know, the one where she rants and rants about atheists because she thinks we're ... well, boring. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Thankfully, I don't even have to address a nice little rebuttal – PZ beat me to it. Almost two months ago.

It's a good read – be sure to check it out. And laugh at Mariano for thinking that article is in any way effective in its criticism of atheism. I've yet to find a single piece of writing that doesn't just reinforce my impression that those who spend their time critiquing atheism do so because they either hate-hate-HATE it ('cuz God told 'em to), (and/)or because they simply know nothing about it.

Isn't it amusing how Christians and theists continually accuse atheists of ignorantly attacking their ridiculous beliefs when they themselves consistently fail to provide a single logical and rational argument against atheism? Hah ...

Continued ...»

Man who was ejected from Yankee Stadium wins his case (and $22,000, too)

Back in May I covered a story about a man who claimed to have been forcibly ejected from the Yankee Stadium in the middle of the game just because he dared to try and get up to use the restroom during the singing of God Bless America.

It seems the case has finally been settled, as the Yankees have accepted to pay $10,001 in damages and $12,000 in attorney's fees to compensate the man.

Without admitting liability and without admitting that Mr. Campeau-Laurion had sustained any damages, the city agreed to pay a $10,001 settlement and also $12,000 to cover the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. The settlement [pdf] was entered before Judge Jed S. Rakoff in United States District Court in Manhattan.

Um – I'd think the fact that they agreed to dispense over $22,000 over this matter pretty much indicates they are indeed guilty of their charges. Either that, or they wish to avoid a lengthy trial.

At Yankee Stadium, ushers, stadium security guards and the police had enforced the policy of restricting fan movements during the playing of “God Bless America.”

But in a stipulation [pdf] as part of the settlement of the lawsuit against the team and the city, the Yankees declared “that they have no policy or practice at the new Yankee Stadium that imposes any restrictions on fans wishing to move about the Stadium during the playing of ‘God Bless America’ that do not also apply during the rest of the game.” The team also said it had no intention of instituting such a policy.

... Ie. "We're guilty, we just won't admit it in court". Hmm.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Another crappy religious sighting

Okay, you can shoot me for the atrocious pun later, but you gotta admit it's the best this silly story deserves. A family in Texas claims that a smear of bird shit on their pickup truck is actually ... well, can't you tell?:

Religious kookery from Texas? Who woulda thunk it?

(via Pharyngula)

Continued ...»

Friday, July 17, 2009

The government moves to save wild horses (and burros)?

I know, I'm shocked too. Okay, not shocked, but this is a pleasant surprised: the House has voted to expand the range available to America's wild horses and burros, which will free them from spending eternities in small padlocks and pulling them away from execution:

WASHINGTON » The House has voted to expand the range of the nation's wild horses and burros by millions of acres and to block a plan to kill thousands of the animals to prevent overgrazing.

The bill passed 239-185 Friday.

Supporters say the additional land and other measurers are needed to free thousands of mustangs and burros from holding pens and to prevent their slaughter.

An estimated 36,000 wild horses and burros live in 10 Western states. Federal officials estimate that's about 9,400 more than can exist in balance with other rangeland resources.

The measure would stop the government from slaughtering healthy horses and prohibit keeping them in holding pens for more than six months

Great news for animal-lovers everywhere.

Continued ...»

Oh no you don't!

They're trying to pull one over us again: a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut is trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to hide documents and files that contain information on crimes revolving sexual abuse in the Church, claiming it would harm the already wrecked reputation of a prominent retired cardinal. Sorry, you filthy little sneak, but in America, justice comes at the price of the public image of criminals. Oily son of a bitch.

Bridgeport Diocese officials asked the state Supreme Court to continue a stay on releasing the documents while it asks the nation's highest court to review the case.

The state court has ruled that more than 12,000 pages of documents from more than 20 lawsuits against priests should be released. Those documents have been sealed from public view since the diocese settled the cases in 2001.

The records could reveal details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000. Egan's deposition should be in the file, according to an attorney for the newspapers seeking the documents.

In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after church records were released detailing his role in handling sexual abuse claims.

And once again, they're relying on absurd misinterpretations of the First Amendment as a defense:

Church officials say the ruling fails to uphold the privacy and constitutional rights of all parties to lawsuits, especially when cases are sealed, and contends that disclosure of the sealed documents is barred by the religious clauses of the First Amendment.

The state Supreme Court rejected church officials' claim that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.

Once again: the First Amendment protects Freedom of Speech and Expression and the press. It has nothing to do with covering up evidence and files concerning criminals and incompetent clergymen who handle standard sexual abuse cases. They have no defense at all, and rightfully so.

Makes you wonder how many documents and reports of this type these hypocritical fucktards do manage to sweep under the rug while nobody's looking.

Continued ...»

Freedom of Speech applies to both you and those you completely disagree with

One of the harsher things to realize about our beloved Freedom of Speech is that it also applies to your opponents and enemies, no matter how badly what they say irritates you, and that they are fundamentally allowed to say whatever they want as long as it isn't downright illegally slanderous, dangerous or exceedingly offensive. This is a lesson many universities and public educational institutions need to learn if they ever desire to stop being dragged into courts over complaints of censorship and the likes.

Here's one example of such. A class at the Los Angeles Community College was held where students were to give speeches about whatever subjects they wanted. Jonathan Lopez chose to give a speech about his Christian faith and beliefs – including his stance on the wrongness of gay marriage. However, he was barely halfway through his address when the teacher, Professor John Matteson, brusquely cut him off, called him a "fascist bastard" right there before the whole class, and refused to let him finish his speech. He also refused to grade Lopez' speech, instead writing "Ask God what your grade is" on his evaluation sheet.

As much as I don't like Christian beliefs and their stance against gay marriage, I do recognize that I have absolutely no right at all to censure them and prohibit them from communicating their views. It's as much their fundamental right to preach their views against homosexuality as it is my right to spread my opinions for it. Trying to shut them up would be highly hypocritical, and not to mention, downright unconstitutional (were I in the U.S., though I'm certain Canada has laws about this sort of stuff as well).

As much as I believe Lopez was wrong in what he said and that it was likely inflammatory and irritating, had I been in that classroom when the teacher yelled at him like that, I likely would've stood up and yelled right back at the Professor and told him quite clearly that it was none of his business to try and shut Lopez up (and much less insult him like that). It would've been the right thing to do.

Thankfully, Lopez didn't just take it sitting down. He lodged a formal complaint with the school administration, but that resulted in nothing other than further admonishing him, telling him he'd violated the school's anti-hate-speech policy by "offending others" (great, more morons who have no idea what hate speech rules even are). Worse even, Professor Matteson found out about the complaint against him and then threatened to have Lopez expelled altogether. What a fantastic teacher, isn't he: expel the students whose views you don't agree with. Brilliant. And sickening.

Finally, Lopez filed a lawsuit with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian freedom-of-expression legal defense group, against the school and its stupid anti-hate-speech policy. As a response to their preliminary letter, the LACC actually quoted two students who had heard the speech:

"His speech was not of the informative style that our assignment called for, but rather a preachy, persuasive speech that was completely inappropriate and deeply offensive. I respect his right to freedom of speech, but I also do not believe that our classroom is the proper platform for him to spout his hateful propaganda."

The second student said "I don't know what kind of actions can be taken in this situation, but I expect that this student should have to pay some price for preaching hate in the classroom."

I'm sorry kids, but if your reaction to his speech (however intense it may have been) is to shrivel up in indignation and offense, you just need to grow up and get over it already. He wasn't infringing on your rights, so you have no business criticizing his own right to spread his views.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending: the court ruled in favor of Lopez' plight, judging that the school's policy was unconstitutional and overbroad:

We conclude that the Policy prohibits a substantial amount of protected free speech, even judged in relation to unprotected conduct that it can validly prohibit. First, as the above quotations make clear, the Policy prohibits some speech solely because the speaker “has the purpose” of causing an effect, regardless of whether the speech actually has any effect. The Supreme Court has held that a school may not prohibit speech unless the speech will “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.” [...] Thus, the Policy’s regulation of speech based solely on the motive of the speaker is unconstitutional.

[My emphasis]

I completely agree. Censoring Lopez just because his opinions "offended others" is a bullshit excuse by any stretch of the imagination. Those who say Blacks are equal to Whites offend "others" (ie. neo-nazis, White Supremacists, etc.). Should they be silenced as well? (And mind you, that's just one of the hundreds of examples I could pull up.)

You only censure someone if they speak to intentionally cause harm, either via patently untrue slander and libel, or such as yelling "BOMB!" at an airport. Otherwise, they have the right to speak their minds, regardless of how vile or stupid it may be.

Though, of course, it also means you have the right to call them fucking idiotic bigots for it, depending on what they say.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Here's one book you need to stay away from

Not because it's corrosive or, on the opposite, overwhelmingly addictive, but because we need to give its author as little encouragement as we possibly can, lest he make more. I'm talking about The Joe Who Ain't a Plumber – he's written (or, more correctly I think, has paid a professional ghostwriter) a book, which effectively raises the number of books he's ever read to one. (Not that it would surprise me much if he'd just spewed random idiocy without even double-checking afterwards, however.)

Perhaps the best part (or the worst, depending on how you see it) is the tome's title ... Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.

Oh dear God.

And guess where it's being primarily advertised? Plastered on the pages of WingNutDaily.

Joe the Plumber said the best advice he can give to citizens who are frustrated with intrusive government is to stop voting along party lines and begin electing leaders who will abide by the nation's founding document.

"Learn the Constitution," he said. "Then when someone wants to be elected, hold their feet to the fire and make them follow it because that's what we need to get back to. It works so well when we follow it. Forget party politics. Learn the Constitution and vote the best American in, not the best Democrat or Republican."

Must ... not ... choke ... on ... irony ... overload ...

Wurzelbacher said Americans must remind politicians that they "work for us."

Okay, this doesn't tick me off just because JtP said it, but because I've never agreed with the saying that "politicians work for us" to begin with. It's a little pet peeve of mine, but when we follow and abide by their rules that they enact or repel, that pretty much makes them in charge, I think. We might elect them and place them in power, but once they're there, control is in their hands, not ours. Unless authority is a relative concept.

As can be expected, the article isn't so much about the book as it is basic hero-worship for JtP, and much of it isn't worth reading, much less commenting on. But one last bit at the end should act to make you question the sanity and/or credibility of this guy:

Asked if he has plans to run for public office, he replied, "I hope not. You know, I talked to God about that and he was like, 'No.'"

He continued, "I believe he's gotten me on this grassroots movement. If I can encourage leaders to step up, that's what I would like to do. That's a heavy role. That's something I don't know if I am prepared to do yet."

But Wurzelbacher said he will keep that door open if God ever calls him to be that leader.

"I just know whenever I fall off his path, things get really hard," he said. "So I just stick with what God tells me to do."

Let's hope, seriously, that this moron never runs for office especially under the premise that "God told me it was the right thing to do". You could then expect him to gain office virtually instantly with the number of gormless voters out there.

Sidenote: * * * * * *
The bottom end of the article links to a "related offer" so outstanding in its name that I just had to snap a screenshot:

So asking a bunch of ignorant and dumbass questions to a guy whose intelligence could beat JtP's intelligence with one fist behind its back, steal its lunch money and lock it in a closet, counts as "standing up to" Obama? Wow.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Stupid Quote of the Day: Mariano on abiogenesis

From the eternally unenlightened owner of Atheism is Dead:

The apparently, quaint, ignorant and superstitious notion that God created humans from soil is replaced by atheism with the supposedly scientifically enlightened notion that human life can trace its lineage back to lightning striking a swamp, or the backs of crystals, or bubbling deep ocean vents, or aliens, or, or, or…see this link for a paroosal[1] of such theories.

What is noteworthy is that the Bible provides a scientific prediction that human bodies are made of the stuff of the Earth.

Holy hell. First with the egregious misconceptions about abiogenesis and related theories, which is embarrassingly bad enough – and then he claims that the Bible's views on Creationism are ... "scientific"?

Is this sort of writing enough to qualify someone as clinically insane?

[1] I think he meant "perusal".

Continued ...»

Friday Canine: The snowy-faced marauder

(via kissatree)

Continued ...»

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Because donating to an organization that specifically helps the world is a bad thing, apparently

Or that's what Mariano, the eternally Christian-Persecution-Complex-afflicted host from Atheism is Dead, is advocating in his latest post about the (now-)evil American Humanist Association. His entire screed can be resumed by two points: "All atheists want is money, as is proven by their sites boasting donation options!", and "They dare to say prayer isn't a requirement for a better world? THEY HATE CHRISTIANITY!!!". Yup, that about sums it up.

Just like any atheist organization’s website the first thing you notice as close to the top of the page as possible of the American Humanist Association website are the words “donate now”—actually, it is written thusly, “DONATE NOW.”

Erm – right. Because no groups other than atheist ones ask for donations. The donation button for the Red Cross website is just a graphical, programming and functional typo, really. Either that, or they're a horrible ANTI-CHRISTIANITY group in disguise, aren't they.

What a wackjob. And I'm restraining myself, with great difficulty, from falling out of my chair laughing, as I always do whenever a Christian comes up and whines about atheist or humanist groups calling for donations when the Vatican, the very core of the majority of Christianity and a group supposedly condemned to poverty via their oaths, is one of the wealthiest places in the world, and when churches ask for their own variant on "donations" during every single mass. It's downright hilarious.

And, flaunting his Christian Persecution Complex ever the more:

The new billboards are to read,

Want a Better World? Prayer not Required

And another anti-Christian support group rears its ugly head in the form of the American Humanist Association.

So just mentioning that you don't have to be a praying fanatic to make the world a better place (which for one thing would mean you'd actually be out there changing it rather than shacked up inside praying for change) is anti-Christian? Wow.

I particularly like one of the comments his FAIL-full post has received, from PersonalFailure:

I love that churches expect 10% of gross from their members, but atheists are the greedy ones.

muches lulz.

Indeed. Poor little Christians – so easy to laugh at.

Continued ...»

Comfort: "God has indeed killed billions of people. What are YOU gonna do about it?"

It's expected of Ray Comfort to generally miss the point of what's being said or done, but now this is just odd. He fully agrees that God is basically a genocidal, children-killing, mankind-annihilating tyrant who's even sentenced the entire human race to death in the end (including the animal kingdom as well). Of course he can't truthfully deny it, as it's all right there in the Bible. So, what does he have to say about that?

Basically, "So what? What are YOU gonna do about it, huh?".


So there you have it. You now have multiple billions of deaths for which you can directly blame God.

So what are you going to do about it? Should you spread the word that you have evidence that God actually kills people? Or should you just keep quiet, because (as a professing atheist) remember, you are supposed to believe that He doesn’t exist.

Um ... no, Ray. Atheists don't accuse God of these things because we believe, deep down inside, that he actually does exist as you insinuate. When you think about it, we aren't accusing him of anything, directly. We're accusing the concept of him, the image of God, of being such a tyrannical monster who clearly has no qualms about crushing and torturing the creatures he supposedly loves so huggy-wuggy much. We're using this evil facet of God (which admittedly seems to permeate through to all his other facets in some way or another) as logical refutation to his very existence. Or, in a nutshell: "How can he exist as the great loving daddy in the sky when all he does is kill and torment the very minions he supposedly loves?".

Because you see, that doesn't make any dang sense, does it? So you basically have a lose-lose situation: either the good and benevolent God doesn't exist, or God does exist in the form of an evil egotistical tyrant. That's what any stretch of logic leads to concluding.

So, as them math nerdz would undoubtedly say: QED.

Continued ...»

A year in jail for Cheyenne Cherry the kitten-killer

You will undoubtedly remember that horrible story about the young teenage girl who threw a little kitten in a stove to burn to death just as a "joke" to someone whose room she and a friend were ransacking. Kids these days have all the best ideas when it comes to pranks, don't they?

Well, we finally have a little bit of good news: the heartless bitch is being thrown in jail for a year for her inhumane crime, while the accomplice, who is supposedly the one who actually locked the kitten in the stove, is facing serious charges without us knowing what her sentencing will be.

A heartless kitty killer hissed angrily at animal rights activists Wednesday, grinning widely as she took credit for stuffing the helpless pet into a 500-degree oven.

"It's dead, bitch!" snapped an unrepentant Cheyenne Cherry, sticking her tongue out after a plea bargain that will put her behind bars for a year in the May 6 killing of tiny Tiger Lily.

Cherry, 17, was confronted after her guilty plea in Bronx Supreme Court to charges of animal cruelty and attempted burglary in the May 6 killing at her former roommate's apartment.

Tiger Lily was left to die inside the blistering oven after Cherry and a 14-year-old friend trashed the apartment of Valerie Hernandez, destroying furniture before stealing DVDs and food.

After her arrest, Cherry told police the cat killing was "just a joke."

Yes, how hilarious. An innocent creature suffered an unbelievably cruel death, just because amoral teenagers decided to have their fun by ransacking someone's home. And then the bitch had the gall to taunt and flaunt her vile act at the face of those who had assembled there ... Truly incredible.

I don't customarily agree with journalists' labeling of crooks in their news pieces, but calling Cherry a "heartless kitty killer" is something I'd even applaud. It's certainly the best thing she'll be called, I bet, compared to a few choice words other may have in store for her.

The article mentions how Cherry is now prohibited from owning a pet for a pathetic little three years. There's a poll:

Kitten killer Cheyenne Cherry can't own a pet for three years. Is that long enough?

• No, she should be banned from ever owning a pet, period.

• Yes, by then perhaps she'll learn to have compassion for animals.

NOTE – There seems to be a glitch with the poll; the original question asks whether her being banned from owning a pet for three years is long enough, but the poll's results are from the question "Does Cheyenne Cherry deserve more than one year in prison for the brutal death of a kitten?" (which she does at any rate).

I do think she needs to be kept in jail for more than a single year, and she should be prohibited from coming anywhere near animals for a decade at the very least. I don't discount the possibility (however remote) that she may change her ways of thinking, but until then, she's a complete psychopath and a danger to any innocent creatures around her.

I fail to imagine what would happen – literally – if someone did something like that to my little Kaylee, and then was fucking stupid enough to taunt me about it.

Continued ...»

Conservatives can be such decent and polite folks

Recently, President Obama's 11-year-old daughter Malia was photographed wearing a white shirt emblazoned with a large peace symbol on its front, seen below:

It's hard to imagine what's so infuriating or irritating about that shirt – but I guess you'd have to place yourself in the twisted mind of a bigoted, hateful conservative or Rethuglican to find out, as the Vancouver Sun reports:

"A typical street whore." "A bunch of ghetto thugs." "Ghetto street trash." "Wonder when she will get her first abortion."

These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative 'Free Republic' blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama's 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.

The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."

Though this may sound like the sort of thing one might read on an Aryan Nation or white power website, they actually appeared on what is commonly considered one of the prime online locations for U.S. Conservative grassroots political discussion and organizing - and for a short time, the comments seemed to have the okay of site administrators.

Utterly disgusting. They're saying this about an 11-year-old girl for Saint Fuck's sake. These ghouls are taking wingnuttia and zealousness to a whole new level, one even I'm disturbed to glimpse.

And just in case you thought that perhaps the admins had just overlooked the thread or hadn't gotten around to it yet:

"The writer has a point," wrote site owner Jim Robinson sarcastically. "We should steer clear of Obama's children. They can't help it if their old man is an American-hating Marxist pig."


Only after significant negative attention from a host of left wing political blogs did the maintainers of the Free Republic site place the thread under review for a second time, before finally pulling it.

Free Republic's own site administrator and owner took part in the vitriolic exchange. Oh my.

You can see a screencapture of the full thread here.

This is just more proof that anyone looking for some of the vilest and immoral hate-speech on the Net need look no further than their local conservative website or blog.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

An offended mother on the topic of blowjobs

A few days ago, Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake accidentally let slip the word "blowjob" on MSNBC during a segment devoted to whether or not the CIA's top-secret hit-squad program should be probed (you know, what with it being overwhelmingly illegal). This has, of course, provoked a little flurry of a scandal amongst those who wish the airwaves to be absolutely pristine and devoid of any passion or emotion – or words that wouldn't offend a 5-year-old.

Here's a video of the whole thing; the "blowjob" incident itself is roughly 3:25 minutes in:

A little transcript of Marcy's full quote:

"And your idea is that after investigating Bill Clinton for a blowjob for, like, five years, we shouldn't investigate the huge, grossly illegal things that were done under the past administration only because they were t— I mean, Alberto Gonzalez was too much in the backpocket of Dick Cheney to do it when he was still in office. That's ridiculous!"

I can't say I don't completely agree with every single thing she said, there.

Notice how her co-anchors frantically try and apologize for her a minute or so later? Even those Marcy was debating with didn't give a shit what she'd said. Seriously, "blowjob" is so far down the list of unacceptable words it's ludicrous to even mention its use.

Now, about the title of this post. One of the better-known reactions to this silly ordeal comes from another Firedoglake blogger named Rayne, who voices her thoughts as a concerned mother – but not for the utterance of the word "blowjob" itself.

Those of you who know me also know I have a couple of kids -- a teenager in high school, and a tweenager about to enter middle school.

Both of my kids have met the infamous blogger who used, you know, THAT word on MSNBC this afternoon. In fact, they were watching the video of the infamous blogger.

Neither batted an eye about the use of THAT word.

And I am so proud of them.

Because even my kids know the real obscenity isn't a euphemism for oral sex, or even that it happened on a cable show in the middle of the afternoon. My kids know that the real obscenities are these:

* Our country went to war based on lies told by elected and appointed officials;

* Their brother and the sons/daughters/brothers/sisters of many other families like ours served for this war, came back damaged or dead, for nothing but lies;

* Their president and vice president lied repeatedly about all manner of things while refusing to accept responsibility for any failures which happened on their watch;

* Their government was either obstructed during investigations into these lies or simply failed to make any effort to investigate these lies;

* Their government spent billions of dollars to make these lies, to support these lies, to pass these lies on, while killing hundreds of thousands of people in other countries, while making plans to kill more on a targeted basis in the form of assassinations;

* Their government tortured people, innocents among them, including children, to further their lies, in violation of fundamental human rights and codified law;

* Their fellow citizens are not better off for all of this, but are far worse off in terms of security, health and finances than before all the lies started;

* The corporate-owned media in their country makes money off ghoulishly beating a tattoo every day about dead entertainers and missing white girls while avoiding the work required of investigative journalism important to real democracy.

Even kids understand when adults are being stupid and unethical, and they know the truth when they see it.

As a mother I'm absolutely offended, but not about the word "blowjob."

I'm deeply offended that the corporate-owned mainstream media can turn a blind eye to the really offensive obscenities, thereby becoming complicit in the criminality -- and they've done this in front of my kids for more than eight years.

What am I supposed to tell these children?

Very well-said, Rayne. A good mother with intelligent children, I see. An increasingly rare thing in this world.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For those who think Texas public schools suck: do worry

They're about to get a whole lot worse.

The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state's social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.

Three reviewers, appointed by social conservatives, have recommended revamping the K-12 curriculum to emphasize the roles of the Bible, the Christian faith and the civic virtue of religion in the study of American history. Two of them want to remove or de-emphasize references to several historical figures who have become liberal icons, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.

Yup. No-good "liberal" figures such as Chávez (who revolutionized and vastly ameliorated the working conditions of thousands) and Marshall (first Black to serve on the US Supreme Court ever) are thrown out the window, and the rest of the curriculum emphasizes how America is Christian at heart and how it was founded with biblical standards in mind (which, as is becoming increasingly exasperating to point out, IT WASN'T as it was founded upon HUMANISTIC morals and values such as right to life, liberty, security, etc.). Just fucking perfect. As if schools in Texas couldn't be shittier. (I know. I've been there.)

Apparently these "conservative reviews" (or "wingnut hacks") state that the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution, the "checks and balances" system, is actually – get this – a scriptural interpretation from the Bible about "original sin" (ie. that all men are inherently sinful), which they dub "radical depravity" (owch). Sorry, religious nuts, but it doesn't take original sin to make a single unified government a very bad idea, hence requiring a bicameral Congress at best. It's called human nature. (Which is what nuts interpret as a result of original sin, I guess.)

The curriculum, they say, should clearly present Christianity as an overall force for good -- and a key reason for American exceptionalism, the notion that the country stands above and apart.

"America is a special place and we need to be sure we communicate that to our children," said Don McLeroy, a leading conservative on the board. "The foundational principles of our country are very biblical.... That needs to come out in the textbooks."


Shut up, Don.

Below are some (but, sadly, not all) of the suggested and anticipated changes that are winging their way into Texas classrooms.

  • Replace Thurgood Marshall with Harriet Tubman or Sam Houston
  • Delete Anne Hutchinson from a list of colonial leaders
  • Delete César Chávez from a list of figures who modeled active participation in the democratic process
  • Include more study of religious revival movements
  • Replace references to America's "democratic values" with "republican" values"

A couple of the other suggestions make a bit of sense – such as emphasizing the study of original documents as opposed to textbooks from authors that merely represent the authors' interpretations of said original documents, or rewording references from minorities' "contributions" to society, to their "role" in society. But the rest – the ones listed above – are just batshit stupid. Nothing but another stupid and disingenuous attempt at removing those Evil Liberals references and their positive impact on society whilst boasting about how great religion is and how America is a Christian nation.

It's positively vomit-inducing to realize this bullshit is what's gonna be crammed into schoolchildren's heads for years to come.

(via Forever In Hell)

Continued ...»

Assisted suicide is eevil, I tellz ya

We have an appalling story here, folks. Sir Edward Downes, one of Britain's most distinguished orchestra conductors, kidnapped his wife (or did she kidnap him?) and they hightailed it up to Switzerland where they both took part in assisted suicide. This is yet another blatant example demonstrating just how horrible, unethical and inhumane assisted suicide is.

Although friends who spoke to the British news media said Sir Edward was not known to have been terminally ill, they said he wanted to die with his ailing wife, who had been his partner for more than half a century.

Okay, so they went up there willingly, fully expecting what was going to take place there. But they were accompanied up there by their very own children!

The couple’s children said in an interview with The London Evening Standard that on Tuesday of last week they accompanied their father, 85, and their mother, Joan, 74, on the flight to Zurich, where the Swiss group Dignitas helped arrange the suicides. On Friday, the children said, they watched, weeping, as their parents drank “a small quantity of clear liquid” before lying down on adjacent beds, holding hands.

Poor children. They are undoubtedly traumatized from witnessing his horrible event:

"Within a couple of minutes they were asleep, and died within 10 minutes,” Caractacus Downes, the couple’s 41-year-old son, said in the interview after his return to Britain. “They wanted to be next to each other when they died.” He added, “It is a very civilized way to end your life, and I don’t understand why the legal position in this country doesn’t allow it."


“After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems,” the Downes children said in their statement.

... Okay, so they agree with their parents' decision to end their lives and fully support the practice of assisted suicide, even questioning its illegality. But obviously they have to be unsettled by their father's insanity in choosing to kill himself when he was perfectly healthy (or healthy enough not to warrant assisted suicide):

Friends of Sir Edward said that his decision to die with his wife did not surprise them. “Ted was completely rational,” said Richard Wigley, the general manager of the BBC Philharmonic. “So I can well imagine him, being so rational, saying, ‘It’s been great, so let’s end our lives together.’ ”

Jonathan Groves, Sir Edward’s manager, called their decision “typically brave and courageous.”

... So they were both completely sane and rational, and the man chose to die rather than spend his remaining years without his soul mate. That's so sweet ...

Err, NO – evil! It's evil! Even if it's two aging, rational and loving companions who chose to die together rather than live battling heavy health problems, and did so by ingesting a simple, completely painless barbiturate drink and died by each other's side in bed, and whose children and friends are absolutely understanding and supportive of what they did – it's still wrong! (And evil!)

At least the two children who accompanied the couple to Switzerland and provided mental support to the consenting lovers will be harshly prosecuted and likely imprisoned for choosing to do what's right over what's legal. 'Cuz ignoring obsolete and immoral rules – that's such a liberal thing to do.

Stephen Colbert, eat your heart out.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»

Oh noes! Our favorite gay penguin couple has split – because of a girl

Damn those infernal feminine temptresses! Beguilers of straight men, ruiners of pocketbooks, killers of men's patience during shopping sessions, wreckers of gay couples ...

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The San Francisco Zoo’s popular same-sex penguin couple has broken up.

Male Magellan penguins Harry and Pepper have been together since 2003. The pair nested together and even incubated an egg laid by another penguin in 2008, but their relationship hit the rocks earlier this year when a female penguin, Linda, befriended Harry after her long-time companion died.

This did not go over well with Pepper, who became violent. The three penguins were separated for some time following the fight.

"They have been doing okay since,” said Zookeeper Jennifer Katz. “They have been getting along okay. But Pepper is by himself now, so we are keeping an eye on the three of them."

On Friday they appeared to be back on good terms, as they were re-introduced back into their enclosure.

Zookeepers say Harry and Linda are happy and were able to successfully nest this year.

Anti-gay bigots using this example as "more proof that there is no real homosexuality in animals" in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Sad news though. =( I'd already covered this very couple back in June; it was just so cute. That Linda's nothing but a no-good homewrecker. Pfft.

Any dibs on Pepper?

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Stupid Quote of the Day: Palin on partisanship

From the Shame of Alaska:

"People are so tired of the partisan stuff even my own son is not a Republican."

Hang on – so Sarah Palin, the wingnut whose sole occupation for months and months has been to yap and nip at Obama's heels, claiming he (and liberals in general) were playing pals with terrorists, pushing a socialist agenda (yeah, that'd be horrible) and generally fucking the country up economically and security-wise – is complaining about a lack of bipartisanship?

The mind boggles. Kudos to her son for disassociating himself (as best as he can) from the loonies.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Continued ...»

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ph34r the unnatural man-beasts!!

Rethuglicans are once again beating on that dead (and thoroughly rotted-through) horse of human-animal hybrids, claiming that the science-fiction scenario of creating and growing humans with wings or cats that can talk is now becoming a reality in labs and that it must be stopped. Because, you know, humans (and their purity) are sacred and all that.

Led by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), 19 Republicans and 1 Democrat introduced a bill yesterday that would prevent U.S. researchers from developing embryos that use both human and animal material, a controversial practice underway in the UK.

Brownback has long been an opponent of stem cell research and human cloning, yet the idea of human-animal hybrids has gotten little media attention.

"What was once only science fiction is now becoming a reality, and we need to ensure that experimentation and subsequent ramifications do not outpace ethical discussion and societal decisions," Brownback said last year when he introduced similar legislation. "History does not look kindly on those who violate the dignity of the human person."

Oh dear, a Republican who has no idea what the hell he's talking about and is clearly completely clueless regarding science? My, what a shock.

Unfortunately, they've even managed to make the bill bipartisan by enlisting Dumocrat Sen. Mary Landrieu who, in line with Brownback's stupidity, has had this nugget of brilliance to say:

"Here in the United States, we simply cannot open the door to the unethical blending of humans and animals, which the British government seems intent on doing," Landrieu said the last time she introduced similar legislation. "It creates an unnatural species and is a clear line we cannot cross."

Always nice to add a little tinge of xenophobia to attract idiot conservative votes. But the truth of the matter is that this bill fails catastrophically for two crucial reasons: a), no-one has any intention of, or sees any real interest in, creating man-animal hybrids the kinds of which the bill speaks about (and even if they did, the knowledge and technology needed for such an undertaking is still decades and decades away at best), and b) this Brownback bill of stupidity would illegalize many modern life-saving medical operations and treatments, notably the practice of xenografts (taking a small part of some animal – an organ, or a bit of tissue – and implanting it in a human when no human alternatives are available).

It would also render illegal all the research being done that has anything to do at all, however loosely, with the blending of human and animal cells, gametes, etc. It's a highly crucial body of experimentation and it has already unlocked many secrets that we couldn't have figured out before; for more info or examples, I refer you to PZ Myers' post on the subject, where he details some of the types of work that specifically require the use of both human and animal cells and parts.

This is obviously yet another attempt by Rethuglicans (and that one dumb Democrat) to try and elevate the human species to a sacred, untouchable, revered level amongst the order of living things in the world. As long as this mindset that humans are better than everything else in the world exists, we will see idiotic legislature such as this being peddled through – and we will keep having to deny it each and every time in order to protect good science.

I must admit that a hypothetical, future world where "anthros" (or whatever term would be most appropriate) live amongst humans and the two species share a society together does evoke a particularly strong and interesting imaginative image in my mind; maybe it's just because I love animals, am particularly imaginative, or because I like furry artwork too much (oy), but a world where both humans and hybrids coexist peacefully (assuming humanity had matured a bit by then and stopped blowing itself up at the slightest opportunity) is quite an attractive one to me. But again, that's likely just me (though if anyone else would like that I encourage you to "come out" in the comments :P), and at any rate, that is a vision that is decades, or even centuries, from ever being even remotely plausible, much less routine or normal.

(via Pharyngula)

Continued ...»

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another fantastic idea where things can't possibly go wrong ...

Combine a southern state, a population stereotyped (disturbingly accurately) as gun nuts, and a Republican state Governor, and you've got yourself one hell of a stupid situation. Add alcohol into the mix, and now you've just got a ticking timebomb, as is what's developing in Arizona. The state has just legalized carrying (concealed) weapons in bars and other establishments that hand out alcohol.

What a fantastic idea.

The bill was signed into law by the Governor who perhaps has the most situational-ironic name of all time, Janice Kay Drinkwine Brewer, and is backed by, of course, the National Rifle Organisation. (Jan Brewer is also a member of the NRO. My, nuts of a feather ...)

One little bit of good sense, however, allows for bar and restaurant owners who seek to ban guns in their establishments to post "No Guns" signs at their main entrance doors. But in all the other places, a delicate combination of guns, gun nuts, and booze ...

Again, what a great idea.

Continued ...»

Some nice examples of just how professional cops can be

Balko from The Agitator has published a new column piece over at Reason Online. It details some examples of how SWAT teams are going haywire with incompetence, cruelty and recklessness in Maryland, and it's a very thrilling and disturbing read – and, for animal-lovers such as I, also quite infuriating and saddening. I've quoted some bits below I thought should be spread around, to increase awareness and hopefully stop these fucking incompetent twits from causing more harm than needed.

Prince George's police originally obtained a warrant to search Calvo's home after intercepting a package of marijuana sent to the mayor's address. Calvo and his family were innocent—the package was intended to be picked up by a drug dealer. But instead of first investigating who lived at the residence, or even notifying the Berwyn Heights police chief, the county police department immediately sent in the SWAT team. In addition to having his two dogs killed, Calvo and his mother-in-law were handcuffed for several hours, and questioned at gunpoint.

That's pretty horrible enough as it is. They guy and his mother-in-law are forcefully interrogated, not to mention the man's two beloved dogs are murdered, probably for absolutely no reason other than they were there (being nonviolent black Labrador Retrievers – not to mention this pisses me off because those are such damn beautiful animals), all because cops were too stupid to look a little deeper into the matter and find out they guy has nothing to do with drugs in the first place. So, of course the cops extended a good, honest apology:

Calvo also learned just how obstinate and unapologetic police and government officials can be, even (or especially) when they're clearly in the wrong. Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin High actually praised his officers' conduct, insisting that if they had to do it again they'd conduct the Calvo raid the same way. "Our investigators went in and showed both restraint and compassion," he told a local TV station.

Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson told a local newspaper that Calvo would get no apology for the slaying of his dogs. Johnson's puzzling explanation: "Well, I think in America that is the apology, when we’re cleared.... At the end of the day, the investigation showed he was not involved. And that's, you know, a pat on the back for everybody involved, I think."

... Or a slap to the face. "Restraint and compassion"? Gee, I wonder what it would've been like if they'd been reckless and cruel. Would they've burned the house down as well? And seriously, what sort of a half-assed explanation was that? Better off saying "Wedidndoit", they might retain more credibility with that.

As it commonly is with these sorts of stories, the incident brought forth a number of similar horror stories:

Within a few weeks of the raid, other victims of botched search warrants in Maryland began contacting Calvo. One couple was raided after their teenage son was found with a small amount of marijuana during a traffic stop. Another elderly couple had their dog shot and killed by Prince George's officers in a mistaken raid. And in Howard County, police broke down a door in front of a 12-year-old girl, battered a man with a police shield, then shot and killed the man's Australian cattle dog. They were looking for someone suspected of stealing a rifle from a police car. The suspect didn't live at the residence.

There were more:

• Eleven days before the raid on Calvo's home, Prince George's police raided the home of a Secret Service agent after receiving a tip that he was distributing steroids. They found no drugs or incriminating evidence.

• In August 2007 police raided the home of a Prince George's County couple to serve an outstanding arrest warrant for their son. The parents were handcuffed at gunpoint. Police later learned that the couple's son had already been in police custody for 12 days.

• In November 2007 Prince George's police raided the wrong home of a couple in Accokeek. Though the couple presented the police with evidence that they were at the wrong address, the police still detained them at gunpoint, refusing even to let them go to the bathroom. The couple asked the police if they could bring their pet boxer in from the backyard. The police refused. Moments later, the police shot and killed the dog.

• In June 2007 police in Annapolis deployed a flash grenade, broke open an apartment door, and kicked a man in the groin during a mistaken drug raid. When they later served the warrant on the correct address, they found no drugs.

Most victims of these mistaken raids experienced the same callousness and indifference from public officials that Calvo did. When police in Montgomery County conducted a mistaken 4 a.m. raid on a Kenyan immigrant and her teenage daughters in 2005, the county offered free movie passes as compensation. When police in Baltimore mistakenly raided the home of 33-year-old Andrew Leonard last May, the city refused to pay for Leonard's door, which was destroyed during the break-in. When Leonard called the city's bulk trash pick-up to come get the door, no one came. Days later, city code inspectors fined Leonard $50 for storing the broken door in his backyard.

How fucking horrible. Did these lunatics really expect to win the women's forgiveness with movie passes? How stupid are these officers, anyway? And fining a guy because the city's own waste management services are too fucking lazy to come pick it up – what in the world ...?

Just last month, Baltimore's ABC affiliate reported on another mistaken raid, and noted that city officials generally make no effort to compensate homeowners when police trash their houses in search of contraband that doesn't turn up. "If you're searching for drugs or unlawful firearms, these things are not left out in plain view on the living room table," City Solicitor George Nilson explained. "You often will have to do some damage to the premises and...the police department doesn't and we don't pay for those kinds of damages."

Of course they won't pay for damages. They're far too busy fucking around, killing innocent beloved pets and ruining lives on false or misinterpreted charges to deign to say "we're sorry", aren't they now.

And now, get a hold of this next reasoning as to why cops don't feel like they should pay for damages they cause on mistaken raids:

Even if the police find nothing, Nilson said, the city has no obligation to pay, because, "it may have been the stuff that you're looking for was there three hours earlier, but somebody got it out of harm's way."

Folks, we officially have our Stupidest. Fucking. Excuse. Ever.

In January 2005, police in Baltimore County conducted a 4:50 a.m. raid on the home of Cheryl Lynn and Charles Noel after finding marijuana seeds and cocaine residue in the family's trash. After taking down the front door and deploying a flash grenade, SWAT officers stormed up the steps and broke open the door to the Noels' bedroom. Because their daughter had been murdered several years earlier, the couple kept a gun near the bed. When the police entered the bedroom, 44-year-old Cheryl Lynn Noel stood with the gun, clad in her nightgown. She was shot and killed by an armor-wearing SWAT officer, who fired from behind a ballistics shield. Police found only a misdemeanor amount of illicit drugs in the home. Shortly after the family filed a civil rights lawsuit in 2006, Baltimore County gave the officer who shot Noel an award for "valor, courage, honor, and bravery."

"Stupid Fucking Trigger-Happy Moron", rather. FTFY. And also, they lost their case (predictably):

In March, a federal jury returned a verdict in favor of the police. The winning argument in the Noel case is a common one—but it's also paradoxical. Police argued both that these volatile, confrontational tactics are necessary to surprise drug suspects—to take them off guard before they have a chance to retaliate, or dispose of the contraband. At the same time, police argued that Cheryl Lynn Noel should have known the armed men storming her home at 5 a.m. were police; therefore she had no right to be holding a gun, and the police had every right to shoot her. Unfortunately, under the law the jury (and the police) was probably correct. The police didn't appear to violate any department policy.

If killing an innocent woman who grabbed a gun to defend her home from an unjust raid in the middle of the night is perfectly excusable under policy, then I think there's a fucking problem with that policy. And again, you gotta revel at just how pathetic these morons are at making excuses. "She shoulda known they were cops"? Of course! Nevermind she just heard lots of banging and incoherent shouting that couldn't have made sense to anyone and grabbed the gun to defend herself against what would obviously have been a home invasion from her point-of-view, and in turn, without even shooting the weapon, was shot down herself. It's the epitome of unfairness.

It's just like that utterly bullshit and ridiculous concept that "you should know the law". I'm not sure what the proper phrasing is; you know, the excuse jurists and such use against someone who broke a law they had no idea even existed, "well, you shoulda known". FUCK that. You can't be expected to read and memorize every fucking law in every fucking book. If you break a law you had no reason to know even existed, it's NOT YOUR FAULT. Imagine that: people (normal people at least) don't go around reading law books for the fun of it.

And all this shit, to keep drugs illegal and off the streets. I don't see how any sane and rational human being can approve the "occasional" (read: disturbingly frequent) battery of innocent suspects, shooting of innocent animals, coercive interrogation and destruction of property – just to keep pot and coke off the streets. THEY'RE ON THE STREETS EVERY FUCKING DAY AND NIGHT. The system is obviously hopelessly broke and should be put to rest, and a new one needs to be implemented post-haste, or these horror stories will simply keep on going, unimpeded and unstopped.

(via The Agitator)

Continued ...»