Tuesday, September 30, 2008

*Turns on His Old PS2*

Save me, Ammy! I just watched this bit on Palin's preacher. Modern witch hunts in the US.

I'm glad I kept my monochrome Gameboy, because I need to put it in a blender so that I can open up an interdimensional portal to that world where everything looks like a Japanese painting. I wish you the best of luck, humans.

I'm Not Surprised: Bible Courses

Board of Education pushed it through. Seems they're trying to minimize their liability by letting the local level set the curriculum.

Terrorist Attack on US Soil

Daily Kos covered it. Hat tip to PZ.

I'm too furious to type much. This was very much a terrorist attack and the people involved should be called as much. Gassing a room full of children to inspire fear in a group of people is terrorism. Period.

Monday, September 29, 2008

IDiot Quote of the Time Being #1

I saw this, and I just had to start a new series. In two days, I've heard two Creationist arguments I've never heard before. The first is sufficiently lampooned in this video. The second I'll leave to readers:
there is a large amount of ice still within our star system.about 4500 years ago a giant ice-snow ball scattered throughout out star system. that ice-snow can still be found in many places in our star system eg. rings of saturn, haleys comet ,our moon's spot crators, earth north arctic and ant-arctic magnetic poles,etc.. (ice is magnetic)
[Emphasis mine]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Random Ramble

Been watching some YouTube. After a video of a very silly special effectized Sumo match, ended up following some personalized front page recommendations to this series, which pokes at Creationists pretty hard. My thoughts drifted off to various trolls I've met over the years.

For all the rambling these IDiots and fundies make about "moral relativism" and "randomness", their views often seem to be the ones that boil down to those things. There's no shortage of fellow atheists and skeptics who've rambled on about all the psychotic proscriptions, arbitrary prohibitions, and grossly disproportionate punishments for breaking them. So I won't go on any more about that.

Our favorite, recently unbanned, troll ended up leading to one trail of thought on "randomness": He was rambling about radioisotope dating (and for some reason, limited it to carbon dating) and I asked him if he thought it was inaccurate because modern nuclear physics was wrong, since those dating methods rely on radioactive half-lives. I may need to check again, but I think he implied an affirmative. The problem: If we got that wrong, all the technology we base on it wouldn't work. GPS relies on atomic clocks. A large chunk of our power grid is powered by nuclear energy. You get the idea. If we're wrong about the fundamental laws running those things, how do they work? The only alternative that came to mind was dumb luck. It certainly sounded like he was saying the modern world runs solely on dumb luck. When I said that, he tried to bounce that deduction onto me: The guy who has lectured him on the objectivity of reality. The guy who describes the universe as an orderly entity where no violations of those rules take place.

In the Dog House: The Game!

I've been getting some traffic from people looking for solutions to some game called In the Dog House. I've played a few levels, and it looks promising.

The Legal System Does the Right Thing

Well, it probably does more often than I read about, but Reverend Bob sent me this: Jack Thompson finally gets disbarred. Not going to get that psychotic troll to shut up, but I think it'll reduce his "importance" and "power" a bit so that fewer people will feel the need to annoy me by printing out his latest screed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

96th Skeptics' Circle

It's up at End Cycle.

Open thread as usual, but mixing your colors and whites is FORBIDDEN!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Star Trek Quote of the Time Being

Been recording late night showings of Deep Space Nine for a while. Love that particular series quite a lot. But, to tie this in with the skeptical theme, got a quote here that pretty well describes the crazy about Creation "Science", where they change the explanation for a given thing, like whether archaeopteryx was "fully bird" or "fully reptile."

Anyway, the DS9 episode was "The Wire." Doctor Bashir starts digging into the past of Garak, the disgraced Cardassian spy, and gets him to tell the story, or rather stories of why he was exiled. After everything's resolved, Bashir complains about the contradictions:
Bashir: "Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?"
Garak: "My dear Doctor, they're all true."
Bashir: "Even the lies?"
Garak: "Especially the lies."
I find myself thinking about that a lot when I bump into a YEC.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good Post

I was checking my site traffic and found a link over from Why Won't God Heal Amputees's forum, where one of the posters linked to a couple Doggerel entries. Skimmed a little further down and found this excellent post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad Satire

Throwing some link love to PZ (who doesn't need it). Seems that Ebert thing was a very poor attempt at satire. He covers the point quite well: If there's no shortage of people out there who say it with a straight face, it doesn't really work.

It kind of reminds me of one criticism I heard about "Good Night and Good Luck," about McCarthy's part in the Red Scare: Some people apparently thought the actor playing McCarthy was too over-the-top to be taken seriously as an actual political figure. That wasn't an actor. It was old footage of McCarthy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He's the Goddamn Humanist Batman

I wasn't sure it was possible, but I think Batman is even more awesome now, thanks to this post.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Really Gets Us Skeptics in a Tizzy

Woos: There are a lot of you out there who don't understand what really annoys us skeptics. Please pay attention while reading this post, because it's also annoying when I have to deal with a woo who doesn't listen when I explain myself.

First off, what inspired this entry: Skeptico writes a post about an upcoming woo movie along the lines of "What the Bleep Do We Know" and "The Secret." Guy named Darrell stops by and "parodies" us by complaining about the unrealistic nature of Looney Toons. Looney Toons is comedic fiction. Those woo movies try to pass themselves off as serious discussions about the nature of reality.

Example: Classic Daffy Duck cartoon where he's Duck Twacy. He follows a cliche set of footprints with a magnifying glass (shown to lack the glass earlier), follows them up a wall, along a ceiling, and as he walks over a ceiling lamp, he bursts out with perfect comedic timing, "NOTHING'S impossible for Duck Twacy!" I can accept this because the cartoon isn't trying to tell me it's possible to walk up walls in the real world by simply being a badass detective. The impossibility of the act is integral to the humor. Not that I expect the typical woo to understand humor.

Another Example: Star Trek. This classic franchise has some really bad science in it, but I still love it. Like a lot of sci-fi I watch, Star Trek is pretty much a fantasy show that takes place in the future and in space instead of a medieval Europe-like place. The only time I really complain is when the rules within the series are violated. Star Trek is fiction and bad science, but I can enjoy it when it's internally consistent.

To contrast, woo movies are making claims about the world we live in. A world full of real people we care about who could be harmed by falsehood. It only makes sense that I would judge what is allegedly nonfiction by what I know about the real world. For fiction, realism is optional: Drama, humor, and so forth are the goals. Realism only serves as a means to those ends. For shows about reality, realism is supposed to be the goal.

Next: We are not frustrated by "unexplainable" woo events. If something weird happens, we're usually bustling with possible explanations. Our frustration is that woos will flatly reject those comparatively simple explanations in favor of unknown forces that fail whenever we try to isolate them from known explanations for the results. If a psychic's alleged abilities can be explained without invoking unknown forces, you should favor those explanations before you consider unknown forces. If you ever hear the phrase "science can't explain," chances are extremely high that the person saying it hasn't bothered to look for what science says about it. Often, it seems woos will just parrot the line from earlier generations of woos. Science doesn't know everything, but with it, we've found far more than woos give credit.

Worse, one more source of frustration is the sheer arrogance woos have about alleged limits of science. It manifests in many forms: First, some try to define their favorite thing as just being immune to science, and treat it as if it were obvious. Second, many seem to think science is like some Star Trek tricorder that can only scan so much. Sorry, but science is a method, not distinct tool. If something has observable effects, it's subject to science.

Another aspect that irritates us, most often on the medical front, is the reliance on anecdotes over randomized control trials and similarly rigorous procedures. RCTs are designed to reduce bias. Whenever a woo asks us to try it ourselves instead of going by what the large scientific studies say, they're asking us to keep all the biases in. "Try it yourself" may work for low stakes stuff like games or food, but not for your health or a worldview that attracts lots of scam artists. Skepticism and the scientific method require knowledge about how flawed our perceptions can be. For big questions, we have to take measures against those flaws.

Still another irritation are those who weave grand conspiracies to allegedly keep them down. For psychics, it's usually quite pathetic: Skeptical challenges to them usually involve simple, low-tech methods anyone could set up. For most everything else, it'd require a massive million-man conspiracy and even greater measures of cynicism and misanthropy. Do you woos really expect us to believe that these conspiracies of millions that require no one involved feeling regret, or no one seeing something odd going on?

That's pretty much why I see woos as sources of doom and gloom. They randomly label some things as inherently unknowable for no discernable reason. If we strive for accuracy to lead people away from false solutions for life's problems, they treat it as if we're nitpicking on a work of fiction. Science has given us so much understanding of the world and continues to progress. Woo moves only in circles and spews bile whenever we insist on applying the most minimal standards to it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Under the Microscope: Into the Unknown With Josh Bernstein: Akhenaten

Got it on my DVR, and about to fire it up. I don't know anything about Akhenaten, but given Bernstein's episode on Noah's Ark, I have a feeling this is going to be just as sloppy, if not filled with woo. But given that ancient Egypt is a nexus for woos, I won't be surprised. So, firing up the DVR.

Tail end of a program on "mummified" duckbilled dinosaurs. I should probably watch that on repeat. Minor eye twitch on the narrator calling them 'the most successful species to walk the Earth.' I would think that honor would more likely be bestowed on some variety of ant.

Anyway, opening with Josh. Akhenaten was Tut's dad, and apparently nearly ruined Egypt. (Was he the guy who tried to monotheitize Egypt's religion?) Says he's got 'exclusive access' to some mummies, which sounds like exaggeration. After the opening sequence, talking about the volume of deities running about Egypt, so I'm guessing I remembered correctly. Good look at King Tut's death mask. Move onto line of succession, with Tut inhereting a nasty situation. Had to restore the people's trust by moving back to the 'old ways.'

Finally getting around to what Akhenaten did after all that needless time building up. At least they didn't include a commercial break to dangle that over us with. Yup. Monotheism for Amun-Ra, king of the gods. Apparently Amhotep, Akhenaten's dad built a particularly impressive temple for him in Thebes. Showing a lot of desecrated cartouches. Akhenaten's older brother died, leaving him as the successor. Apparently he was originally going to be a priest and desecrated the 'Amun-Ra' portion of the cartouches. It's kind of hard to follow the way they're doing this. It's like they're rearranging the dialogue to work backwards so that we can have suspense. Kind of hard to follow, but I think I'm having some previous knowledge of the incident interfering, leaving me puzzled as to why he'd be desecrating Amun-Ra's name when he goes to compact Egyptian religion around him. So, explanation, finally: He likes his deity invisible, kind of like an anti-idolatry sentiment.

Commercials. Some action movie about a CIA guy playing information games. Wonder how bad they get the spy business. Think it'd be interesting to see a realistic depiction. Probably too much desk work for Hollywood's taste, though.

Back. Onto abolishing all the other deities. Moved the religious center to a new temple. In barren spot. Boat ride to the city he built there and the city bounds markers. Goes all crappy poetic as a sandstorm obscures their view, saying it's like entering Akhenaten's world. Yeah, yeah, just get to the artifacts. Have to park at the bank. Goes on about how those sandstorms would make life harder for the locals. Markers are about the monotheism decree, saying the city's for Aten, the solar disk. Naturally, this gets the superstitious in a tizzy. Josh tries to get a handle on the tizzy by asking the guide if it'd be analogous to someone declaring Christianity to now be a mass polytheism. Guide says the response would be worse because Egyptians attributed national prosperity to the gods' favor. Wonder if he's ever heard of America.

Going into the tomb of a high priest. Increased effort at realism in the art. No mention so far that the stylized art most people remember was done for religious reasons. Talk about how obsessed Akhenaten was supposed to be. Mention of a depicted ox and how sacrifice is a part of worship. Somehow, I get the feeling this is one of a series of Christian jabs at the (equally) silly pagan religions, as if Christianity wasn't built around a similar sacrificial sentiment. Temple grounds, mention of the ceremonial chamber being unroofed so that they could properly worship the sun. Bunch of offering tables.

Commercial teaser: Talking about the level of physical labor, which would be a more sensible complaint to raise about a ruler.

Commercials: One more of those about the GM employee discount for everyone. Doesn't sound all that great to me. Kind of like a price lowering that affects everyone except their employees. Don't pay close enough attention to economics, but aren't they having a hard time themselves?

Onto manual labor. New city was built quickly, apparently more so than other stuff. Using smaller stones than the big ones you see in specials on pyramids. One person can handle them. They guess building the city quickly would help with trust issues. He lugs around one of the smaller stones after a bit of chiselling, and we move to a cemetary for the workers. Quite reasonable-sounding assumption that there's no era crossover since the city was specific to Akhenaten's time. Gingerly picks up a bone and places it in a box in a very 'gay' looking manner. Since we're talking about a 3,000 year old bone, I'd probably be similarly delicate with it. Signs of spinal trauma from heavy lifting.

Commercials. Include the Mythbuster's episode on the water stungun I won't spoil. Happened to include some side stuff with the Mythterns doing fire myths, including firewalking. Spore commercial. I'm having a hard time in space, myself, being outnumbered in combat with quirky controls.

Back with the bones. Woman working with them mentions the "shocking discovery" (Bernstein's description. Is there ever any other kind to these sorts of people?) that these were the shortest people in Egyptian history by half a foot. Malnourishment is the suspected cause, and the supposed feasts depicted in the documentation of the era as Akhenaten's propaganda. Sounds fairly reasonable, and I'm more willing to trust the woman with the bones than any idea coming from Bernstein.

Moving back to Luxor/Thebes to the temple of Karnak to talk about King Tut's efforts to fix the damage his dad did. Horumhepth, however you spell that, essentially called the shots for Tut and worked on erasing the temples, Akhenaten, and the deity. Teaser: Trying to find out what got Akhenaten so obsessed. From what I remember, it was doing away with the deities who couldn't be seen.

Very short commercial break later: Seems I remember some correctly, but they're bringing up something new to me: Supposedly, he had bad eyesight. Goes over his physical oddities point to Keratakonis or something like that which can include blindness. More stuff with another condition with his hands called Marpan syndrome or something. Given that they're going by idealized depictions of him, I'd be wary of drawing conclusions. They move onto the idea of checking relatives for genetic signs. Seems they're going to look at his grandchildren through Tut.

Commercial. Apparently Saturn's doing that employee discount thing. Unicycle guy again. And my signal's getting choppy. Apparently there were some troubles when the DVR was recording.

Black, green, static, green, black with commercial clips, blocky stuff... Normal with a few blocks. Flicker... Lingering at abnormal but watchable. Just in time for the show to get back.

Seven month fetus. Mention of all the inbreeding that makes this plausible for me. Yeah, the fetuses are small. Get over it, Josh. Pointed chin and long fingers apparently point to the condition as well. They're getting X-rays. Dramabomb panning over the Xray. Guy says he can't confirm or dismiss the condition. So, Akhenaten needs the sun to see with his nearsighted eyes. Not much of a connection from my view. Signal gets broken up, making his closing ramble hard to follow. Did get some feeling of apologia from how he doesn't bring up how shaky that connection is. About the only thing I can think to infer from this is that Akhenaten was a bad ruler and genetically messed up.

So, the woo was fairly shallow, rather than deeply crazy woo like Noah's Ark. I'll post this anyway, since it involves a nasty bit of fundamentalism over vaporous deities. It just happens to involve a dead religion.

Random Recall

You know when you end up remembering some sliver of some show or videogame but can't remember what it came from? Well, here's some of that.

Sci-fi show. Leaning towards it being some low budget movie. Saw it sometime in the mid to late 80's. Villains controlled some people with mind control headbands with the gizmo in some silver triangular thing on the front. Hero used a broken one to sneak around with his free will. Scene I vaguely recall involves him freeing some friends and getting weapons.

Trying to remember the name of an old PC game played in MS-DOS or some similar primitive state. Pretty much a medieval conquest game. Resources to manage: Sheep, grain, cows. If you got enough cows, your villages could survive on dairy alone. Tip I received was to just eat all your sheep early, since you could never count on the merchant being around when you had wool to sell. This would allow you to build up the two more useful categories a few seasons faster.

One delayed bit of thanks goes to the Agony Booth for placing Puma Man.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More on Hollywood

You know, I'm just not impressed with special effects anymore. Squeezing in a few more bits of texture mapping or upping the polygon count has hit something of a plateau of diminishing returns when it comes to CGI. They've also blow stuff up in just about every way imaginable in Earth-like conditions.

I still have an attraction for eye candy, but not in the way the explosion factories think: I like good cinematography. You don't need as much money for that. Of course, one thing that reinforced my liking for that sort of thing was Death Note. You can make writing in a notebook awesome with the right angles and movement.

Of course, all of this takes a back seat to good writing, good acting, and so on. That should go without saying.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why I Hate Hollywood

I don't hate all of it, of course. You get some good movies every once in a while. This isn't going to be about bland, generic action flicks, cookie-cutter CGI cartoons, craptacular remakes of classics, or any of that in this post. This is about the sorts of ridiculous things people end up believing because they saw it in a movie.

Nothing terribly new in this rant. Fair warning: Lot of TV Tropes links below the fold.

First up: Hollywood Evolution. I even complained about this when it showed up in Star Trek series I watched and enjoyed as a kid. I know there's no such thing as 'evolutionary levels' or any particular direction evolution should go. I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood is feeding into a lot of Creationists out there who think there are platonic eidolons of 'smart humanoids' that everything's 'supposed' to evolve to. Sooooo...


Thank you, Morbo.

Next: Space. This is a collection of relatively minor complaints, since it's not quite relevant to our everyday lives, yet. The cumulative ignorance annoys me, though. Space is silent. Space flight is not like aerial flight. Firefly got big bonus points with me for depicting space silently. Of course, you end up with a lot of this sort of stuff afflicting Moon Hoaxers. If you haven't read classic Bad Astronomy, I highly recommend it. He's gone over plenty of other stuff that miffed me.

Elements & General Chemistry: 1. We've got a lot of elements on the periodic chart. You've going to have to get creative if you're going to add another. 2. I don't know any green acids. The big ones, hydrochloric and sulfuric are clear. They look just like straight water. Of course, they have to be mixed in water to be acidic.

Nuclear Physics: Blowing up this sort of stuff takes effort.

Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Energy subcategory. I think this is one contributor to all the doomsayers about the LHC. The collisions there involve very little energy or mass. Of course, Hollywood loves to have MacGuffins and such that could blow up planets despite being suitcase-sized, or phlebotinum that can readily defy thermodynamics.

I'm sure you've got more complaints.

For the Cause!

PZ posted it, got it from Edger, and here I post it:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comment & Email Policy, September 2008

Just felt like doing a bit of consolidation for this sort of thing. Some new rules here, and some old rules being removed. If you don't see one of the old rules here, consider it discarded. These rules do not apply to WILD THREADs.

Comment Policy:

1. Anonymous comments will be deleted. The warning period is over. Choose the "Name/URL," "Open ID," or whatever else may be available if you don't have a blogger account. Use a name of some kind so that I don't have to deal with confusing multiple anonnies.

2. Be consistent with your pseudonyms. Don't use a snide remark for your "name" or post as [Somebody]'s Mom. It's rarely funny, and it's annoying to deal with a troll who ends up riding another's name or expect us to not notice an attempt to bypass his earned reputation by assuming a new name. This rule also goes for friendly readers, too: It's not that funny, and if you've got a funny, it should be attached to your reputation.

3. Commercial spam: If all you're doing is posting a link to your naughty pills, say goodbye to your comment. If you're posting a relevant comment but include a commercial link to something irrelevant, you're at risk. If you're posting a link to a funny product that echoes a point being made, you're safe.

4. Flooding/hacking: I've had a number of trolls copy/paste an insult over and over to the point that Firefox thought there was an infinitely looping script. Don't post big blocks of quotes when a hyperlink will do. Especially if you plan on plagiarizing by not attributing the source. Doing this is the fast track to getting your comment deleted and bannination.

5. Off-topic stuff: Please stay on topic. If you're a detractor, please remain relevant. Psychoanalysis of me to the point of hypothesizing that I wasn't petted enough as a pup because I doubt astrology is quite irrelevant, not to mention fallacious. I confess I do my own bit of psychobabble on occasion, mostly to show the counterpoint: Most of the things I see woos accusing skeptics of are, more often than not, properties the accusing woo possesses. You likely won't end up getting a comment deleted for this, but expect retributive ridicule because I find it funny when I don't find it frustrating.

6. Using all caps or more than three exclamation points on a sentence automatically takes away any chance you had at being taken seriously. To get back there, you need to go back to your indoor voice, and use proper grammar for an extended duration.

7. Banning: If you get banned, I'll delete your comments UNLESS I find them sufficiently ridiculous to leave up for others to mock. In practice, this means very little. The one troll I "banned" was sufficiently high-larious that I pretty much let all his non-floods through. The ban list is now empty, since I won't be turning down another appearance of his. I could use the fun.

Ban List:

March 2010: Gabriel. Reason: Repetitive and evasive to the point it got boring for most of my readers. He knows what he has to do to get unbanned.

Email Policy:

1. If it's not related to the usual science/skepticism/atheism thing, I won't post your email unless you want me to.

2. If it's hate mail, it will be posted, dissected, and mocked. I don't get much at this point. This policy may change if I get a sudden influx. This is subject to some upcoming restrictions. If it's a death threat, don't be surprised if you end up getting investigated for committing the crime. Not that I think I'm notorious enough to merit such things, yet, or that those unhinged enough to send them will bother reading this. Unprepared criminals should get what's coming to them.

3. I won't post people's real names and locations unless they already use them online at a blog or something. If, for example, I get some invective from a Disco Institute top member with his name, photograph, and address on the Disco Institute website, I won't shy away from calling him by name. If I get an email labeled "Bob Smith" and he signs the email itself with "ScientologyLuvums317" or something that's obviously supposed to be an alias, I won't expose the name.

4. If you provide a link to your blog, don't be the least bit surprised if I end up dissecting and mocking pseudoscience I might find there. Your best defense is to not be silly in your email.

5. I won't out atheists without permission. I live in a chunk of the Bible Belt, and I know how hard things can be for someone not ready to expose that part of their identity. There are a lot of amoral, nihilistic bigots who seemingly live for the purpose of making life hard for atheists. For the people who can safely and comfortably live as an outed atheist in meatspace, kudos. Not all of us have the necessary bravery and/or safe locations.

So, all that said, here's my email address:

Troll Check & Miscellania

Meh. Felt like checking up on my favorite "banned" (and now unbanned) troll, known by many names, but we like to call him "Cocksnack" over here. Seems he's started up a new blog in Spanish. Been over a year since he last stopped by. I kind of miss the little PoMo who essentially laughed when I lectured him on objective reality after he suggested that The Secret maaaaagically altered the soundness of my rebuttals based on how lazy I was in making a hyperlink to a particular index.

Other stuff: And gaming-related rants you'd like to see? Anything in the kingdom of geekdom?

Coming up, maybe: Recorded another episode of Josh Bernstein's show. This one's about Akhenaten. No obvious red flags on woo for me, but I'll be keeping an eye open for sloppiness.

More Doggerel suggestions: I'm probably lower on inspiration because I've gotten bad about just glossing over trolls and hurrying to friends' commentary on their stupidity. Feel free to direct some trolls over here, where I'm more inclined to roast 'em line by line.

If you've been redirected here by one of my helpful readers, please state your variety of woo in the comments and I'll create a post for you or redirect you to a recent relevant one. Remember to leave a name, since I've changed my comment policy to delete completely anonymous posts. Use a pseudonym if you must.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More on the PoMos

Very long post about them up at Science-Based Medicine. Dr. Gorski showed the Doggerel Index a lot of link love, so it's only natural I should return the favor.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beware, I Live!

What you're seeing now has probably spent a fair bit of time in a notepad window. I'm alive, and scrawling down some things that came up.

1. Had some sleep paralysis dreams. Dreamt I was in some Call of Cthulhu-type computer game where loss of sanity randomly lowered different stats, and I got screwed when my Strength petered out, just in time for some duckbilled Spore critter to show up beside my bed and smile eeeee-villey while I tried unsuccessfully to swat him and only ended up with enough strength to wave at him with only my hand. Finally managed a decent swat when I woke up and he disappeared into whatever hole in my subconscious he came from.

2. Replaying Final Fantasy IV on my DS. Got hit with fridge logic: Why did Cid have to jump off the airship to blow up the bomb himself? Aren't those things supposed to have timers or whatever? If the airship itself has a remote, shouldn't have it been easy to make one for a bomb? I also ended up wasting a lot of battery power in repeat fights with Dr. Lugae. Fucking reversing gas. Anyway, I ended up appreciating the value of good old alkaline. Ended up introducing my brother to Quarth.

3. Read a bit more of God Delusion. Expect some rants as I express agreement. Still nothing significant I didn't already know, except the conveniently divided up types of altruism.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I got it (essentially unregistered, since it's my brother's copy, so he's the only one online). It's fun. No, I don't think it has anything resembling evolution. I imagine that's an acceptable break from reality, because players have to be involved, and evolution is a hands off process.

It's a game, and it's fun.

Pointless Question #32

Why is it that on Star Trek, declaring Red Alert only causes people to walk a tad more briskly to battle stations?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm Not Liking Ike

Looking more direct than other hurricanes I've faced. So, any advice on just how much I should panic? I'm around the outer rim of the light purple hurricane watch region, and it looks like I'll be dealing with 75+ mph winds.

In the meantime, I'll be charging up all my battery-powered stuff since Rita took down the local grid for a few days, last time.

95th Skeptics' Circle

It's up at the Skeptic's Dictionary. That place that got me passionate about this sort of thing when my brother and I got to groaning a little too much about a History or Discovery Channel "special" on the Bible Code. I soaked up the site like a sponge the following week, and now I'm posting on what used to be another guy's blog about skepticism and gaming under a pseudonym.

Open thread as usual, but interpreting this post in crazy ways to say I predicted 9/11 is FORBIDDEN!

Wonder if This'll be a New Source of Trolls

Was checking my site traffic just now and noticed a click over from a Yahoo group that's apparently a bunch of Josh Bernstein fans. Here's the link they came from, but I can't view it since I'm not in the group. Kind of morbidly curious what they have to say about my little review of that Noah's Ark episode.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slang Suggestion & Discussion: "PoMo"

I'm thinking of using the term 'PoMo' or 'Pomo' to describe the subset of woos who've gotten drunk on bad Postmodernism. By this, I mean the sorts who reject the concept of objective reality in favor of complete relativism or subjectivity. I'm even thinking of using it on people who rely on irrelevant ad hominems and subjective judgment criteria: If a fact can be dismissed because the guy bringing it up is an atheist/non-conservative/geek/whatever, they might as well be PoMos.

So, what do you think?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some Live Journal Guy Wins the Internet

PZ and apathyincarnate showed him to us. Kudos, mad props, and whatever else to ari_rahikkala for putting it down so well.

It's just so beautiful!

The theory of childhood, also known as child origin, is a damnable, loathsome and indefensible lie. How can any thinking person suppose all humans used to be babies once? There is no development path from babies to adults, no transitional forms between these two species. Show me even one baby with the head of a grown man on his body. Can you? No? Not even a bearded toddler? No adults with unfused skullbones, outside unfortunate disorders? Not even a tiny little newborn girl suddenly sprouting a respectable bosom? You can't find them, because they don't exist. There isn't a single transitional form between children and adults, and you will never find one because the theory simply is an unscientific lie.

The development of children has been well-researched in our six-month study following a sample of one thousand children and adults of various ages. We have conclusively proven that while there are minor changes in features like height and body fat, and replacement of deciduous teeth with permanent teeth, incontravertibly still every creature in the study that started out as a child had only slightly more adult features at the end of the observation period than at its beginning. Children and adults are separate kinds and there will never be sufficient changes to change one into the other. We reject any evidence from longer-term studies as we believe the laws of physics have changed within the last year.

To claim people come from children is demeaning and morally degrading. We have observed how children behave. If we acted like small children we'd all be demanding and impatient, and we'd be cheating, lying, and stealing from each other all the time. If the theory of childhood were true there would be no morality, and with no morality to build one on, no society. Childhood is a wicked lie used by charlatans to justify evils such as public schools.

There is no consensus on the theory of childhood in the scientific community. We should teach the controversy. Our children will be served well to learn that the prospect of them becoming adults is merely a theoretical idea. Many children come from families that do not subscribe to the theory of childhood, and they could be disturbed if the theory were taught as fact.

Some Reading

Bumped into these two blog entries from a Pharyngula comment thread. I know next to nothing about Baha'i, but they seem interesting reads to me. Anyone know more about the topic?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Talk to Ferret

King of Ferrets seems to be getting impatient waiting for comments on his contributions to GDL. If you've signed up, give him a little feedback. I've had some quiet periods that annoyed me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Pointless Question #31

Why can't that guy from Bionic Commando jump?

Image Dogtoring #4: Jack Chick Believes in Vampires?

Well, Jack Chick has hit a high point of absurdity for what I've seen from him. When you've got people as crazy as he is, parody, satire, and such are much harder to perform.

But that's not going to stop me from trying. With new levels of crazy being opened up to me, I've got got to put some special effort in lambasting it. I'll be glad if this gets even a quarter of the attention of my first Image Dogtoring.

Anyway, here's the original "First Bite" strip before my efforts. If mine's not funny, at least I can probably invoke laughter by directing you to the source. Props to Orac for bringing this one to my attention. Read it? Here's my remix:

So, disclaimer and miscellaneous stuff time:

1. Original art by Jack Chick. I just rewrote most of the text in the speech balloons.
2. Feel free to make copies. Just remember to give appropriate credit both to me for the rewrite, and Chick for spraying out the art used in the original insanity.
3. Read about indie games here. Yes, Cave Story is awesome.
4. Anyone know if Jack Chick actually believes in vampires? Or is this some crazy non-literal parable?