Tuesday, December 29, 2009

USS Cole Survivor Dies

ABC News:

Petty Officer 3rd Class Johann Gokool survived the October 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors and injured 39, but on Dec. 23 Gokool was found dead in his room.

The body of Johann Gokool, 31, was found by his younger brother Hamish in a room in the south Florida house Johann, Hamish and a third brother Anjelo all shared.

According to Anjelo Gokool, 33, his brother's body was found face down with his neck at an odd angle. The cause of death remains unclear at this time.
Gokool suffered from panic attacks. What a waste...

James Randi Prize Explained

Monday, December 28, 2009

Quote of the Day

Epic win, PZ: "I get so tired of being told by the ignorant that (atheists') goal is to put a Stalin in power, when they dream of a Palin."
--PZ Myers.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long Time, No Blog

Holy Toledo, it's been a long time. I haven't written anything in forever, and what I have put out there has been mostly stolen quotes from other people. So for both of my readers, here's what's going on.

I started consulting with a dietitian here in Ames back in October. Nothing fancy, just a lot of work: 6 small meals 3-4 hours apart, less sugar and fat, more vegetables and fiber, and writing everything down. Being a soda-and-cheese-based lifeform for so many years, it's tough, believe me. But it's also satisfying to implement a game plan that works. So far, my weight, which started at that time at around 310-315, is now comfortably between 290 and 295. So officially a 20 pound loss, by my count. Once it gets to 290 by the end of the year, I'll be happy with that---as a start. Because...

I've also joined a bicycle racing team for next year. Central Iowa Cycling Club's Color Biotics team. So now I'll officially be a cyclist, because I'll have my own racing licence and uniform. And boy, do I plan to feel and look out of place for the first year or so. But it's additional motivation to really keep the weight loss going. When you're 200 pounds or more, you're considered to be a Clydesdale in endurance sports. Cycling is a sport where power-to-weight ratio rules the roost. If you're overweight, you'll be humiliated. So I need to keep losing 10 pounds a month for, oh, a year or so. The goal is to be at 200 pounds for my 40th birthday in October.

I bought a new bicycle a couple weeks ago. It's a Trek Soho S (which stands for single-speed). Photos to come later. It's a no-shifting utility bike to which I've installed a rack and fenders. The question everyone asks me is, "Don't you still have that really expensive bike?" To which I answer, "Yes, but it's not practical to haul groceries in a Corvette." The rear rack will have a panier on it that will haul a sack of groceries to and from the store, which is only a mile from my house (ever tried to steer a bike holding a gallon jug of milk? Not fun). And it's a compliment to my collection. The Moots for speed, the cyclocross bike for rough conditions and bad weather commuting, and the Soho S for daily commutes and errands.

If I start drooling over the mountain bike displays, someone please stage an intervention.

Spin easy, friends.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

"However much Playgirl paid Levi Johnston for that photo shoot, it wasn't enough....And, psst, Levi? If you did that Playgirl shoot only to drive your former future mother-in-law crazy—and if that was your plan, kiddo, it worked—imagine how much crazier she'll get if you do a little gay-for-pay porn. Just sayin'."
--Dan Savage.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quote of the Day--Porno Edition

"A study that tried to analyze how pornography affected men's views ran into an unfortunate problem: no control group. It seems there does not exist a population of males that doesn't see some porn regularly."
--PZ Myers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"Let me put it in terms that golfers would understand. He played the wrong hole, had an errant drive and now he's got to get out of a bad lie."
--George Lopez, on Tiger Woods' alleged infidelity.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ames, Iowa To Be Included In New Book

Not just any book, either. It's a coffee-table edition of The Daily Dish feature, "The View From Your Window." Andrew Sullivan and company have been collecting reader submissions over the past few months, and put them together into a book. What's unique about the process is how they were able to cut down the cost:

How did we get the price down by half? We did it the way publishing houses do it - with a twist. We didn't guess the demand or market test it, we simply asked for pledges. We crowd-sourced the price. We got enough pledges to do a print run of 2,000 which brought the price down to $16.25. But unlike the publishing houses, we're not pocketing the difference. We're handing it over to you in a lower price. Blurb will make some money - they're a business, after all, and they're doing the heavy lifting - but apart from that, you are merely paying for the actual materials of the book. Since the pictures are yours, and this blog is yours, that seems fair.
Of course, once those are gone, the price goes back up to $30. I've already got my copies ordered.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

"The most reliable standbys of modern filmmaking are explosions and breasts."
--Gregg Easterbrook. How else to explain Jenny McCarthy?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catholic Church Ultimatum To D.C.

As if anyone had any further doubts as to the rabid, anti-gay evil of the Roman Catholic Church, this one takes the cake:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."

You know, sometimes the punchlines really do write themselves.

Fortunately the city council sees this for the extortion it is:

In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as "somewhat childish." Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city's relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

"They don't represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure," said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.

What still baffles me is why anyone has any relationship with the Catholic Church anymore, except as the enemy of decency it is.

And for those of you who think this is just Ratztinger being an anti-gay bigot, well, while you're not wrong, John Paul II once described American gay culture as "evil" as well. This has been coming for a long time.

And one of Andrew Sullivan's gay readers the other day wrote a very touching letter. There's an awfully good point embedded there:

In answer to your question asking if it is bizarre that the Catholic Church finances a campaign to tell gay kids they cannot have a relationship like their parents: If those kids knew they could have happy, loving, same sex relationships, would they still choose to be priests?
I don't see it being that complicated. It's just that Benedict and the other haters are all a bunch of self-loathing queens who want everyone to be as miserable as they are. Sullivan, himself, admits he struggles with the guilt all the time. He said that he detects nothing in his prayers telling him to leave the church. I wish him well, but I think he--and the world--would be better off without such institutionalized guilt.

I know this for sure: the collection plate dollars of ALL Catholics are being funneled to an organization that uses the money to actively suppress the already-marginalized. And they need to be reminded of that.

Via Pharyngula.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lou Dobbs: Long Overdue

Looks like Loony Lou is leaving CNN, according to the New York Times. Tonight might be his last show. Of course, it's been years since he was anything resembling credible. When your act boils down to, "I hate immigrants," your only real home is Fox.

So, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs down, Nancy Grace to go.

Via TPM.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese. And that, in erotic terms, is the Catholic church in a nutshell."
--Stephen Fry.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Art Critic Translations

This. Is. Beautiful.

From his 1996 book, Picasso’s Sweet Revenge, art critic Ephriam Kishon (who hates modern art and its pretentious flaks with a passion) takes a phrase from a review of a modern art write-up and translates it into what it really is. Kinda like Defense Department lingo...an “entrenching tool” becomes a “shovel,” that kinda thing. Enjoy:

  • Swelling tender structures with a narcissistically effervescent interplay of power. (Brown fleck in the lower left corner. )
  • An Apollonian consummation of rhythmatized linear layers. (Two stripes.)
  • Cosmically upthrusting cellular currents of timeless transfiguration. (Nothing.)
  • Prefigured vibrational synthesis as optical distance to melodic hypertrophy. (Empty canvas, signed on the back.)
  • Spiraloid, fluoric antagonisms of archetypical chimeric esotericism. (Five green triangles.)
  • A luminous, foetal and autotaxic destruction coefficient immanent in the geometric, somnambulistic precognition of lambent erosions. (An inflated condom)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gay Marriage Split Decision

By now you've probably heard that gay civil unions passed in Washington State, but gay marriage failed in Maine. The fact that this is even an issue that needs to be put to a vote is shameful and depressing. The haters can bitch and moan about activist judges all they want, but the fact is, most of the time the courts are ahead of the curve when it comes to civil rights and doing the right thing. And Iowa's Supreme Court makes me prouder all the time.

Here's what you're going to see as a result of this: You're going to see an extension of what's happening in corporate America. Companies that do not have gay-friendly employment policies are slowly losing their talent pool of gay people (and those who support basic rights on principle) to those corporations which do. In the same way, those corporations which are not in gay-friendly states are going to start taking gay rights into consideration when they are being recruited to a particular area of the country. It won't be a deal-breaker, by any means, but it will be a factor. And I could see it being a matter of politics, too, with companies leaning on politicians to get civil marriage--at a minimum--passed to as to provide them with a better environment in which to recruit better employees and therefore improve their competitive advantage.

Or we'll just wait for the haters to die out and the next generation to vote in the rights gay people deserve.

Either way, we can't rely on politicians to do the right thing. I'm looking at you, Mr. Obama.

I'm also looking at you, Catholics (you knew this was coming, right?). Your church helped defeat gay marriage in Maine again. Your church is on the outside of the right thing looking in. You are continuing to support an organization that doesn't give a damn about human rights, and whose closeted gay hierarchy is projecting its self-loathing on everyone else, just like closeted politicians in America. I'm tired of it, you have no excuse to which I will listen. You need to decide that your church is in the wrong and leave it.
Later: Sullivan has a letter a gay Catholic wrote to his priest (who's apparently still in the closet but not to the parishioner). It's beautiful in its eloquent, steely barbs:

Hatred fueled by the resources of hundreds of thousands of parishes will be the central reason why the Church will eventually wither and die. I can no longer bear the stench of the rotting body and hierarchical ignorance. I can no longer embrace what has become a menace and money machine to support evil. We are all tainted by what happened in Maine. We are all lesser citizens because our brothers and sisters are lesser citizens.

The Catholic Church donated over half a million dollars to the anti-gay vote. When are these fecken twerps going to get it through their mitres that they're ranting about a subject their own parishioners aren't even that concerned about?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dan Savage: Trick Or Treat Or...Garlic?

Now that everyone's recovered from the annual insulin overdose that is Halloween, Dan Savage has something to say about the annual parade of kids who are too cool for school:

For these trick-or-treaters—older kids who aren't in costumes—we lay in a few bags of peeled-and-wrapped garlic cloves. We mix 'em into the bowl with the rest of the candy so they're handy, but we're careful to only give 'em to older kids who don't come in costume. The garlic says, "My, you're getting up there," and, "Gee, you could at least make an effort." We think everybody should do it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Doctor" Convicted Of Car/Bike Road Rage

From VeloNews.com:

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Monday found Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson guilty of assaulting cyclists by abruptly stopping his car in front of them on a hilly Los Angeles County road last year.

Thompson, a former emergency room doctor, was found guilty of six felonies and one misdemeanor and could face as much as five years in prison.

It wasn't his first time doing that, either. And he had the gall to use the rapist's defense: They had it coming:

According to (Investigator Robert) Rodriguez, Thompson said, “I just live up the road. I was driving to go to work. The bikers were in front of me, three across. I honked my horn and yelled ‘ride single file.’ The bicyclists flipped me off and yelled back. I passed them up and stopped in front to teach them a lesson. I’m tired of them. I’ve lived here for years and they always ride like this.”

(aside: full credit to Dr. Bruce Rogen for happening on the scene and providing medical care to the injured cyclists. Dr. Rogen is a credit to his profession. Dr. Thompson should be stripped of his license on general principles)

For those of you wondering (and all the rest of you), yes, it's legal for cyclists to ride two-abreast on a road. If you don't like it, piss off. The earlier incident I mentioned involved two cyclists who DID move to single file when they heard Thompson's car coming, and he braked in front of them anyway. No more excuses, no more concessions. We've done our part, now it's up to the motorists to give us some respect. And if you've never been buzzed at arm's reach at 45 mph, I will take your opinion with a grain of salt--if that. We have the right to the road, and we're not going away.

I think I'm going to renew my membership to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rachel Maddow And The F-22 (c)Raptor

Look, I have a near-fetish for fighter jets myself. But this is RM at her best.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Did any of them find a minute to wonder if their scraping of the hogwash/bullshit/celebrity-baked crap from the bottom of the news barrel and serving it up 24/7 doesn't have something to do with creating a climate that mistakes entertainment for news to an extent that it all but seduces a Richard and Mayumi Heene into believing they are -- even if what they dream up to qualify is a hoax -- entitled to their 15 minutes? I don't know, but I have some empathy for Balloon Boy's Dad.
--Norman Lear.

Via Doonesbury.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Studies of homosexual veterans make clear that having a same gender or an opposite-gender orientation is unrelated to job performance in the same way as is being left or right-handed."
--Defense Personnel Security Research Center study on homosexuals in the military, quoted by Shauna Miller.

Via Sullivan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bill Donohue Brings Teh Stoopid--Bonus Simpson's Edition

The gift just keeps on giving. It's actually an act in three parts. Act I: The Simpsons' 20th Halloween special:

One of the shorts was “Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind,” and it deals with a zombie-creating burger that infects all who eat it. Bart eats a burger and manages to stay safe, though, so he is referred to as the “Chosen One.” They have to take him to the Safe Zone in order to create an antidote.

When Marge gets him there, we hear this exchange:

Guard: “Welcome, son. To survive, all we must do is eat your flesh.”

Marge: “Hold it right there, Bub! What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?”

Rev. Lovejoy: [Groans nervously]

Act II: Billy-boy's response:
What kind of uncivilized people work at Fox? Last year, when they poked some gentle fun at the Apostle’s Creed on the Halloween episode, we said nothing. That’s because it didn’t cross the line. This year is different: mocking the heart of any religion always crosses the line, and mocking the Eucharist does it for Catholics. They know this at Fox, which is precisely why they did it.
Act III--Hemant Mehta speaks for all of us:
Actually, there’s nothing wrong with mocking the “heart of any religion,” and Holy Communion is perfectly fair game. Let Catholics defend the practice of eating Jesus. The rest of us can call it what it is: absurd.
Via Friendly Atheist.

Bill Donohue Brings Teh Stoopid

This is almost unfair. I think my rear-claws-only cat could shred this marshmallow of a human being. But it's a Tuesday, and my job sucks, and I need a defenseless target.

The fearless leader of the League of Extraordinary Catholics has a new guest commentary in the Washington Post. The whole point seems to be "Catholics are being attacked!" and "Buy my book!" in equal measure. And, yet again, the guy walks into a rake:

If societal destruction is the goal, then it makes no sense to waste time by attacking the political or economic structure: the key to any society is its culture, and the heart of any culture is religion. In this society, that means Christianity, the big prize being Catholicism. Which explains why secular saboteurs are waging war against it.
And Billy-boy, don't you just love all those perceived attacks against your precious church, because it gives you something to do during the day that doesn't involve getting a real job. Next:
Sexual libertines, from the Marquis de Sade to radical gay activists, have sought to pervert society by acting out on their own perversions. What motivates them most of all is a pathological hatred of Christianity. They know, deep down, that what they are doing is wrong, and they shudder at the dreaded words, "Thou Shalt Not." But they continue with their death-style anyway.
Swingandamiss!!! It should go without saying, but any Catholic mouthpiece braying about sex, perversions, pathologies, and "thou shalt not" needs to be hammered over and over and over again with "Thou shalt not rape their followers." Or, alternately, "Thou shalt not co-habitate with them, get them pregnant, then neglect their paternal duties." Radical gay activists, indeed--project much? And your church's continued insistence on celibacy for your priests is what leads to all of these heinous acts, which are contributing to its own death spiral. "Death style," if you like.

Oh, and what, exactly, is so "radical" about decent human beings wanting equal rights? The notion that homosexuality is a perversion is yet another excuse to point and laugh as the rake handle knocks another tooth loose. Next:
There was a time when Hollywood made reverential movies about Christianity. But those days are long gone. Now they just insult.
WAAAAAAHHH!!! Hollywood is mean to me! WAAAAAAHHH!!!

Once you've quit crying, ya big sissy, lissenup: I would agree with you that the Catholic Church is a big, fat, easy target. I also agree with you that your church doesn't deserve it. Well, except for the rape, the coverups, the payoffs of the victims, the cynicism, the hypocrisy, the homophobia (project much?), the prohibitions against women being in control of their bodies, and the idiocy of your pope on virtually everything. Oh, and the funny uniforms need to go, too; they make target acquisition too easy. Next:
The only way secular saboteurs can be stopped is by an alliance of religious conservatives across faith lines. The good news is that this is already happening. In the fight over gay marriage, the scorecard is 30-0: traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Mormons, along with a big contribution from the Latino and African American communities, have succeeded in throwing a roadblock at this crazy idea.
Thanks for providing us a convenient list of bigots. We'll get back to you.

(Go here for a list of logical fallacies and look up "Argumentum ad populum." Basically, "Just because a lot of people believe it, doesn't make it true. Or in this case, doesn't make it morally right. And any half-assed debate coach would be able to tell that to a high school freshman.)

I'll skip to the last paragraph...it's a real howler:
The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they're too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels.
YOU SCREAMING DUMBO, BILL! You're saying all you need to do is continue to use women as brood mares (quiverful movement, anyone?), then indoctrinate the innocent litters of kids that result into your warped, twisted, and just plain wrong way of looking at the world, and expect it to carry it on throughout their lifetimes. What an arrogant, cynical asshole.

I have every confidence that there is some type of inherent tendency for individuals to be religious or skeptical. I'm living proof of that...I had every excuse growing up to be a lifelong Catholic. I grew up in the era before the Internet, and I went to a Catholic school fuhcryinoutloud. Didn't work. I'm the type of person who's inclined to not believe anything at face value. Ususally...nobody's perfect.

But to suggest that you're just going to keep pounding this guilt, shame, and impossible-to-live-up-to standards into kids until it runs out their ears because queers shouldn't marry... sir, you are a disgrace to your species. All you're really doing is instilling in these kids a perpetual sense of self-loathing. Which, I might add, I battle myself. Daily.

I hope you're satisfied, because a loathsome beast like you will never be happy.
Update: Andrew Sullivan gives the editors of the WaPo some constructive criticism:
That this column - pure fact-free fulmination, jammed with grotesque generalizations, and no actual arguments - ran in the Washington Post tells you that they are either desperate or just beyond caring what appears under their auspices. Did Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn actually sign off on this as a serious piece of commentary? Their faces are grinning at the top of it.
More: Daylight Atheism takes to the screed with a civil scalpel more effective than my own sarcastic sledgehammer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Digital Cuttlefish: Booty And The Priest

You'll recognize the melody, and the unfortunate real-world situation upon which it's based. Catholic priest knocks boots, knocks up, asks for abortion, gets kid, mom AND kid now have cancer, priest sends get-well card after 23 years of stonewalling. All with the knowledge and help of the Franciscan order.


A good friend of mine (speaking in a customer-service context) said "There's nobody who never makes mistakes. The good ones own up to it and make it right." The Catholic Church pretends they're above that.

Earth to Bill Donohue, maybe you and your alleged followers could do a fund-raising drive for this young man? For once, you'd be doing the right thing.

Via Pharyngula. Seriously, go read it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simon Singh Wins Appeal


A science writer who is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association is to fight on after a preliminary judgment against him was overturned on appeal today.

Simon Singh was sued by the BCA after he wrote an article in the Guardian criticising the association for supporting members who claim that chiropractic treatments – which involve manipulation of the spine – can treat children's colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying.

Singh described the treatments, for which he said there is not a lot of evidence, as "bogus" and criticised the BCA for "happily promoting" them.

The whole case has underscored and drawn attention to the fact that scientific scrutiny and frank language should take precedence over libel laws. In the court of (scientific) inquiry, if your claims are without merit, you should be more careful about making them.

And in case you think there was any question of the quacks' intentions, the British Chiropractic Associate sent a pointed warning to all of its members:

Date: 8 June 2009 09:12:18 BDT


Dear Member

If you are reading this, we assume you have also read the urgent email we sent you last Friday. If you did not read it, READ IT VERY CAREFULLY NOW and - this is most important – ACT ON IT. This is not scaremongering. We judge this to be a real threat to you and your practice.

Because of what we consider to be a witch hunt against chiropractors, we are now issuing the following advice:

The target of the campaigners is now any claims for treatment that cannot be substantiated with chiropractic research. The safest thing for everyone to do is as follows.

1. If you have a website, take it down NOW.

When you have done that, please let us know preferably by email or by phone. This will save our valuable time chasing you to see whether it has been done.When you have done that, please let us know preferably by email or by phone. This will save our valuable time chasing you to see whether it has been done.

So, do you think they have anything to hide, there, folks?

And remember, these people were advocating spinal manipulations on infants. You think that isn't a bit barbaric?

Via RichardDawkins.net.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

North Carolina Church To Burn Every Book They Can Lay Hands On

Almost every one, anyway. See how much concentrated crazy you can spot in this one...

A Baptist Church near Asheville, N.C., is hosting a "Halloween book burning" to purge the area of "Satan's" works, which include all non-King James versions of the Bible, popular books by many religious authors and even country music.

The website for the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, N.C., says there are "scriptural bases" for the book burning. The site quotes Acts 19:18-20: "And many that believed, came and confessed and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

Church leaders deem Good News for Modern Man, the Evidence Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Green Bible and the Message Bible, as well as at least seven other versions of the Bible as "Satan's Bibles," according to the website. Attendees will also set fire to "Satan's popular books" such as the work of "heretics" including the Pope, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Rick Warren.

"I believe the King James version is God's preserved, inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God," Pastor Marc Grizzard told a local news station of his 14-member parish.

Hey, Pastor Grizzard, Fred Phelps called...he wants you to quit stealing his act.

Seriously, do these people have two-headed alien babies with gills? These people have a list of holy-roller enemies that boils down to "everyone but us." They're like atheists, only without the cool kid factor.

Via Pharyngula.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halo: ODST Trailer

You're about to watch about a million-bucks-a-minute worth of video game commercial.

And as my friend, Tim, said, it's worth it. Almost nothing except the human faces and the first few scenes is real--it's all CGI. Enjoy

PZ Myers' Birthday Present To Me!

Well, OK, Wise Beard Man Mk. II didn't really give me a present. But he did do a blog post this morning full of win and awesome, so I'll take it. Money quote:

Here's how you should look at the book of Genesis. Long, long ago, a tribe of desert nomads bumped up against the more cosmopolitan culture of Mesopotamia. They learned useful skills from the city people, like writing, but at the same time, the allure of those older, more sophisticated ideas was leading to the dissolution of tribal identity, and especially to a loss of respect for the austere and demanding desert god. Who wants to worship dry old El when slinky, sexy Innini is calling?

So in a move as old as religion, almost, the desert priests slyly adopted the popular culture of their neighbors, stealing all their myths, but rewrote them to put their one great god in charge of the whole story. Genesis is an exercise in syncretism, a wholesale theft of one tradition to be repackaged with a new set of symbols. It is not about the creation of the universe. It is about resolving a conflict between two human cultures. That's interesting, sure enough, as long as you don't forget where you are and start building big pseudo-museums in Kentucky dedicated to your misconceptions.

Via Pharyngula.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Won The Nobel? HUH?!?!

FOR WHAT? Not starting a war with any countries that didn't have anything to do with 9/11? Even Bush only made that mistake once.

Sorry, not declaring war on East Timor and making a nice speach in Cairo doesn't rate a Nobel when you're still raining down Hellfire missiles from drones on targets in AfPak.

All I can say is, it must've been an awfully slow year in the peace-making business. But then again, any "peace" award with Yassir Arafat as a past recipient should be disinfected in the first place.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shroud Of Turin Recreated

An Italian scientist has allowed himself to be crucified, died, was buried for a weekend, and rose from the dead. In doing so, the divine aura surrounding him transformed his burial shroud into a near-exact replica of the Shroud of Tourin®.

Or maybe not.

You know, we have everything else, why not a Shroud of the FSM?

Via Pharyngula, AtAT.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sesame Street Censored!

My seat in hell is being moved closer to the furnace for posting this:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Foundation Beyond Belief Website Is Live

Congratulations to the Foundation Beyond Belief, http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org/. From their site:

Foundation Beyond Belief is a new 501c3 charitable and educational foundation created (1) to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanistic generosity, and (2) to support a nationwide education and support program for nontheistic parents.

The Foundation will highlight ten charitable organizations per quarter--one in each of ten areas (health, poverty, environment, education, human rights, and more). Members join the Foundation by signing up for a monthly automatic donation in the amount of their choice, then set up personal profiles to indicate how they would like their contribution distributed among the ten categories. Maybe you'd like to give 25 percent each to human rights, poverty, education, and the environment. We'll distribute it accordingly. By year's end, you will have helped support a dozen organizations in the areas you care most about.

Many, many props to those behind the Foundation. They'll do good work -- without any gods. Imagine that.

Judge Orders FBI Interview With Cheney Released

Hey, Dick, does the name Valerie Plame mean anything to you?

The FBI interviewed Cheney in June 2004 as it was investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's identity after her husband publicly criticized the Bush administration. Both the Bush and Obama administrations said they wanted to keep the interview confidential because future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could became public.

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled there was no justification to withhold the entire 67 pages of records documenting the interview since the Plame leak investigation has concluded. He said that limited parts could be withheld to protect national security or personal privacy.

I hope that evil motherfucking traitor--and remember, if you out an American agent, that's the legal definition of treason--gets his due.

Which he won't.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Int'l Blasphemy Day: Open Letter To Bill Donohue

Today is International Blasphemy Day. Given that my namesake, St. Paul the Wordsmith, was all about letters, I decided to write one to the biggest bloated windbag and media whore at the beck and call of the Catholic Church (whether they want him or not). On that note, a reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Catholic League.

To: Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League
From: Paul Lundgren, aka "Cycle Ninja," z-list blogger, reality-based human
Re: International Day of Blasphemy

Dear Mr. Donohue:

Like most things on this blog, this missive is going to be random scattered bits of irony, dry humor, exasperation, and just plain outrage, and it might ramble on a bit, but please bear with me. One thing I will promise is that I will drop no foul language, but believe me, it'll be a strain.

I am taking time on this, the International Day of Blasphemy, to call you out on your disgraceful behavior in defending the criminal actions of your church. Your website states, quote,

"And today's brand of anti-Catholicism is more virulent and more pervasive than ever before in American history. While it is true that Catholics as individuals have made progress in securing their rights, the degree of hostility exhibited against the Catholic Church is appalling. Quite simply, Catholic bashing has become a staple of American society."
Bluntly speaking, you deserve it. Your church has no claim to morality of any kind anymore at all. The crimes committed under the steeples of your church all over the world are what are truly appalling. But the cover-ups, the papal edicts ordering the cover-ups, and the consistent, system-wide, organized reaction of the church to protect its reputation first, minimize the financial damage second, and make amends--maybe--third is inexcusable and make me want to barf. You have no excuses anymore. You are not a model of piety and morality, you are an ironclad example of how NOT to do morality.

(And that bit about "securing their rights" is a real howler--when was the last time any Christian-based church in this country had any right to bitch about lack of rights? Maybe the Mormons, but still--being taken seriously and having immunity from criticism and mockery is not a right, dimwit--it's an earned privilege. Oh, and ask a gay person in this country about the actions of your free-to-marry parishoners in passing laws that are biased against gay rights, and then use that line about your rights--you'll get an earful. In short, burn that strawman, it doesn't apply.)

Now, back to morality: let's cite one single example that is all-too-predictable: I am a native of Fort Madison, IA. A few years back, I personally received a notice from the Diocese of Davenport informing me that I had such-and-such time to file notice that I had a claim in a class-action suit against the diocese in a sex-abuse-by-priests scandal. Gee, imagine that. And I recently learned that my own home town is the site of such a scandal.
Two lawsuits claim (Rev. James) Janssen abused boys under the age of 14 at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison, where the priest served as assistant pastor from 1961 to 1967.
Not me, personally; before I was born, even. But my home parish! Your church has for centuries built up the trust (read: blind obedience) of its followers from birth, and then betrayed them over and over and over again. You deserve all the scorn and "Catholic bashing" you get, many times over.

And you, sir, deserve your own personal amount of it for your shameless defense of the church. Or I should say, for your shameless attacks on the perceived enemies of the church. You know, those people who correctly cite the church's crimes and have the audacity to hold the joint responsible for them? Even during the shameful revelation of the abuses taking place in boarding schools in Ireland, you poo-pooed the abuses those boys and girls (now men and women) had gone through. When was the last time you suffered any real hardship, sir? Or is it because of your own unhappy childhood that you have taken this task upon yourself?

Regardless of your motives for maintaining your post with such vigor, let me give you a brief insight into how the public perceives you...You are nothing more than a self-appointed mouthpiece for the most obviously corrupt church in the world with the exception of the Church of Scientology. You are a vile buffoon with an unfortunate-but-appropriate resemblance to Karl Rove whose sputtering would be absolutely laughable were it not for the fact that the bile belching from your ugly mouth reflects your sincere attempts to un-ironically justify the worst kind of crimes against humans--crimes that leave physical and mental scars for lifetimes--simply because they were committed by Catholic priests and therefore, it's all fine and dandy.

The Church of Scientology does the same thing. L. Ron Hubbard was famous for stating, "Attack, never defend." Well, look how well that works. If there is a strategy more guaranteed to fail than that, I'd like to hear it.

Your Catholic league bears several similarities to the CoS, by the way. You constantly rant about your membership of 300,000+ individuals, but you and you alone are the only member we ever hear of. That makes me seriously question the veracity of your figures. Or, again like the C of Sci, how you arrive at those figures. You, too, have an unfailing belief that everything Catholic is good by definition, and that anyone who says anything bad about the church--even if true--is bad-if-not-evil by definition. Here's the real deal, skippy: you are an insecure little nobody of a human being with all the inherent scariness of a de-horned pufferfish. Take away the prickliness, and you have no substance at all. You, sir, are a loathsome insect.

And if you haven't noticed, the egg sac which spawned you is not exactly thriving. USA Today, among many others, documents the decline not only of the priesthood, but of the dues-paying membership. There are all kids of scientific reasons, but here's my own (unscientific) take. As with most things in life, it's all about the Internet. Seriously.

As others have pointed out, the Internet has been the death of the Church of Scientology. I believe it will be so for the Catholic Church, as well. Not in the sense that an institution that massive will EVER become extinct (although I live in hope). However, once all of the mysteries and secrets are out in the open, good luck trying to sell the usual sales pitches to get people with even a modicum of critical thinking skills to swallow it.

Taken in that context, it doesn't surprise me at all that the church is investing a lot of resources in Africa. You have a population that is suffering massive deprivations from HIV/AIDS, and the corresponding despair and desperation that goes with it, and is inarguably far behind other parts of the world in Internet infrastructure, let alone access. Combine those with a tradition of witchcraft and shamanism, and the church is exploiting an easy market.

What is also not surprising is the fear-mongering. A Catholic bishop in Africa has made the outrageous claim that condoms come pre-infected with HIV. (Last I heard, he was still on the job). Your pope's cynical idiocy and vapidity on the subject have already been torn apart. And yet, people will believe them, because of the inherent superstitions of the population, superstitions which go back centuries.

But you can't keep it up forever. Information is the enemy of superstition. The more people who are able to see how utterly ridiculous are your church's beliefs, how callously indifferent to human feelings are its doctrines, and how disgracefully cynical are its actions in the real world, the more people will reject them.

And again, your actions are helping bring that day about. Your comedy routine of stepping on the rake to make the end of the handle whack you in the puss is contributing to the amount of derision your church deserves. Remember, this is your church's fault. Point fingers all you want, we'll keep laughing, and encouraging others to do the right thing and leave.

In short, keep up the good work!

Sincerely yours,

Paul Lundgren
Ames, IA

PS: The same Constitutional Amendment that gives you the right to practice your religion as you see fit is the same Amendment that gives me and many others the right to call you on your baloney. Remember that.

PPS: I'll say hi to Penn and Teller for you when I'm in Vegas next spring.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beer Bike

I DO have a birthday coming up...

Republican Hypocrisy (Or, Dog Bites Man)

A dear friend of mine once got very offended by an Andrew Sullivan comment that discrimination against gays was a part of the official Republican Party platform. That friend clearly doesn't have a leg on which to stand (yes, I'm a grammar snob, deal with it). The hypocrisy is spelled out in plain language on the official GOP website:

Individual rights – and the responsibilities that go with them – are the foundation of a free society. From the time of Lincoln, equality of individuals has been a cornerstone of the Republican Party. Our commitment to equal opportunity extends from landmark school-choice legislation for the students of Washington D.C. to historic appointments at the highest levels of government. We consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin to be immoral, and we will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes.
Except when it comes to queers:
Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.
Oh, so it's for the children, is it? Bullshit. What they really mean is, the gays are coming for your children to co-opt them into a sinful lifestyle, and we can't let that happen. All of which is simply code words designed to stir the batshit crazies faithful into voting for them again.

So I'm sorry, but yes, bigotry towards gay people is an official position of the Republican Party. And if you think not allowing gay people to get married like the rest of us isn't discriminatory, sit down with a few queers and try that line out on them.

And I don't care whatever other arguments you care to make about denying gay marriage, I can counter them all. It boils down to the question, do you have a heart or don't you?

PS: That "traditional marriage" bullshit? That's code for the Christianists who believe that "male and female, He created them." Never mind that the bible mentions no fewer than eight acceptable forms of marriage. And has another passage that disagrees with marriage altogether. And that Jesus never mentions any damned thing about marriage/sexuality at all, the whole time hanging out on a fishing boat with 12 bearded, long-haired dudes...

PPS: What party was in power when DOMA was passed? And who shoved Don't Ask Don't Tell down Clinton's throat (pardon the visual). And no, the Democrats don't get a free pass, because they colluded. But it was the R's who brought it about.

PPPS: Open letter to Democrats: You're just as bad because of your cowardice and indifference to correcting the injustices you helped perpetrate.

Quote of the Day

"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separated."

--Ulysses S. Grant, speech to the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, 1875

Via Pharyngula.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Birther Infomercial, No Less

The only appropriate response is, are these people fucking kidding me?

A new birther infomercial running on a CBS affiliate in Texas and elsewhere around the country tells viewers a "got a birth certificate?" bumper sticker can be theirs for the low price of $30...For a $30 contribution, viewers also get a fax sent in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his real birth certificate.
Let's see yours, first, Jethro. And then I'll continue to question your citizenship, to see how YOU like it.

It should come as no surprise at all that these reality-denying twats are True Believers:

The program was produced by LivePrayer.com, a Web site affiliated with Bill Keller, a fundamentalist Christian minister who also hosts the infomercial.

Imprisoned in the late 1980s after an insider trading conviction, Keller later committed his life to God, attended Liberty University in Virginia, and founded Bill Keller Ministries, according to his bio. LivePrayer.com was "founded for the sole purpose of having a site on the internet where people can go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for prayer."

Besides being a forum for prayer requests, LivePrayer.com features the Birther infomercial and a "False Hope" program advertised with a picture of Obama crudely photoshopped next to Hitler. Keller has called Islam a "false religion that follows a false god that will lead them to eternal condemnation."

Oh, that's going to leave a mark.

For those of you too gob-smacked by teh crayzee to remember, Liberty University is Jerry Falwell's diploma mill for the easily indoctrinated. I wonder if they have any kind of library, since you only have to know one book...

I think I'll save my $30 for a copy of Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show On Earth, thanks.

Via Sullivan.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helen Philpot Spanks The Republican Party

You know, this is the one good thing about getting old...you can say anything you want and not give a damn anymore...

Honestly, if I could , I would put the entire Republic party over my knee and give them a good spanking. What does it say about our country if the biggest debate of the decade is no longer about the two wars we are fighting but rather about preventing children and families from having access to affordable healthcare? I’ll tell you what it says to me. It says the Christian Right never really was and Value Voters aren’t very valuable.
And she gets personal, too:

Sarah Palin is worried about death squads. I think she should spend a little more time worrying about getting at least one child into college.

Rush Limbaugh is worried about Socialism. That’s a big word for a college drop out, but isn’t it nice when such a wealthy person shows so much concern for poor little us. I wonder if he’ll spend a little of his $400 million contract and write you ditto heads a check when you can’t afford your hospital bills.

And go read what she has to say about Michele Bachmann.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vintage ERV: Why NOT Teach The "Controversy?"

I'm mostly posting this for my own reference.

A while back, Abbie "ERV" Smith trashed Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute (which is approximately a weekly occurrence for her), but in doing so made the best argument as to why creationism and Evolution don't belong in the same classroom. Money quote:

These people (creationists) have absolutely no interest in 'teaching both sides.' They want to teach their side, their creation myth, nothing else. They blockade themselves in their churches and their religious schools and religious camps and nobody gets through with an outside opinion. Filtering questions?? Common!! I would ask Chris (Mooney), why hasnt he promoted his book on 'The 700 Club'? He says we need to plead with the Religious Right to come back to reality, so why doesnt he go on 'The 700 Club' and do just that? Well, the same reason why I cant leave my 'ivory tower' to speak at local anti-evolution churches. I might want to go, but theyarent letting me in.
In short, the argument people like Mooney and his cohort Sheril Kirshenbaum make in favor of accommodation--that rationalists and pro-evolution forces need to find some way to meet the creationists halfway--is doomed from the start. THEY don't want to budge, and we shouldn't play the game on their turf. Let them come to us.

Or tell them, "fuck you, take a hike. You've been 'left behind' and are no longer relevant."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Glenn Greenwald On Glenn Beck

Some pretty astute observations in this piece. Basically, Greenwald pins it by saying Beck is the class clown who's always looking for attention:

Increasingly, there is great difficulty in understanding not only Beck's political orientation but, even more so, the movement that has sprung up around him. Within that confusion lies several important observations about our political culture, particularly the inability to process anything that does not fall comfortably into the conventional "left-right" dichotomy through which everything is understood. Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn't really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment.
And a lot of that is simply a means of maintaining his cash flow. The point is this: If you're willing to say anything, why should we take you seriously? You're just the latest incarnation of Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and all the other residents of the egg sac. You've got to keep escalating the rhetoric in order to keep the beast fed. And eventually, the movement to which you ostensibly align yourself is increasingly marginalized.

Like now.

Iowa Gay Marriage--Good News, Bad News

From the Des Moines Register. Good news:

The overwhelming majority of Iowans - 92 percent - say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.

Sixty-three percent say candidates' stands on other issues will be more important in making their decisions in the 2010 elections."
Bad News:
Forty-one percent say they would vote for a ban, and 40 percent say they would vote to continue gay marriage. The rest either would not vote or say they are not sure.

The most intensity about the issue shows up among opponents. The percentage of Iowans who say they strongly oppose gay marriage (35 percent) is nearly double the percentage who say they strongly favor it (18 percent).
Promising news:
"It's really none of my business what other people do in their lives," said Curt Goodell, 38, a Johnston resident.

He identifies himself as a Republican but said he worries his party will try to make marriage a key issue in coming elections. "I don't have any judgment toward people who want to get married: gays, straight or whatever," Goodell said.

John Smith, 50, a Republican from Clarinda, opposes gay marriage because of religious reasons, but he supports civil unions.

"I'm going to nursing school now, and part of the nursing code is to be nonjudgmental," Smith said. "In hospitals, if a same-sex partner couldn't visit or get information about their partner's health? I just think that's wrong."
The best news: It's not going to a vote for at least two more years, if ever. And while most people will vote on a candidate based on other issues, this one isn't unimportant, either. Let's target some of the haters and get them out of office--the process has to have two consecutive votes of the legislature before it goes to the people for a Constitutional Amendment. Cut it off at the pass.

Via Sullivan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dan Savage: Church Bans Gay Soda Pop

Huh? What?

"The Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida, made the news last week when its pastor replaced the megachurch's 10 Pepsi vending machines with 10 Coke machines. The pastor felt that Pepsi was far too supportive of—can you guess?—"the gay lifestyle."

What I found most remarkable about this story wasn't the stupidity—more on that in a moment—but the fact that a single church in Florida has 10 soda-pop vending machines. Ten! You would think the good Christians at Bell Shoals could make it through an hour or two on a Sunday without a cold can of corn syrup.

And psst... Bell Shoals? Coke supports gay rights, too. Your best gay-hatin' soda-pop option may be ZamZam Cola. It was a subsidiary of Pepsi, true, but that was before the Islamic Revolution. Made in Iran, ZamZam Cola is the most popular soft drink in Saudi Arabia, and I'm guessing the good folks at ZamZam don't like the gays any more than you do. But if the "soft drink of the Hajj" doesn't appeal to you, Bell Shoals, how about asking your parishioners to go without soda pop for an hour a week?"

I think if your church is so obviously taken over by greed, what's a little gluttony to go along with it?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tour Of Missouri: Political Chicanery

(First, congratulations to Dave Zabriske for winning the overall title. Good guys finishing first...love that)

The following statement is shocking coming from me, but I'm on board with a Republican, at least on this issue.

The Tour of Missouri bike race is ranked one of the best stage races in the world outside of Europe, and yet the Democratic governor of Missouri is trying to scuttle some of the funding:

"Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon hasn't exactly thrown his support toward continuing the race. The Democrat, voted into office last November, has taken a few shots at the Tour, and even tried to pull a $1.5 million tourism allocation for this year's race — a move that resulted in over 1,000 e-mails from race supporters.

Nixon has been at odds with Republican Lt. Governor Pete Kinder, leader of the state's tourism commission and a huge Tour of Missouri proponent. After failing to entice Nixon to watch one of the race stages, he plans to send a letter to the governor on Monday to set a meeting and talk about its future.

"It seems to build each year in interest, in excitement and viewership," Kinder said. "I think if we can put aside other differences and pull together, we can pull off an even better 2010 Tour of Missouri.""

That might be the most sensible thing I've heard a Republican say in years. I wonder what the Governor's side of the story is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Andrew Sullivan Calls On Bush To Acknowledge Torture

One of the saddest, most depressing, and most poignant facts of my life right now is that I have friends who still don't acknowledge that the torture of prisoners under American interrogators was ordered at the very top of the US government. The best friend that I have ever had doesn't seem to grasp the concept that just because Bush was outraged when the Abu Ghraib photos hit the press, that doesn't mean he wasn't behind the orders that produced them. It's maddening...we're not accusing Bush of being behind 9/11, or of Obama not being a citizen...the Senate Armed Services Committee and the International Red Cross have found that this was a systematic list of procedures and techniques to be used as routine interrogation techniques. NOT for any "ticking bomb" scenarios like on 24. And Bush knew about it, and acknowledged it in public. And yet, I still can't get him to see it.

It could be worse, though. One of my relatives shouted me down when I so much as used the word torture in conversation by demanding to know, "WERE YOU THERE?!?!?!" Answer: no, I wasn't. You weren't there at Pearl Harbor, or Gettysburg, or Golgatha, either, for that matter. The basic facts remain: American investigators tortured prisoners.

And a finer dissemination of the facts and a laying-out of the evidence than Andrew Sullivan's "Dear President Bush" you will not find on this Earth. It deserves to be held up to a level of near-reverence as any writing by Thomas Paine. He lays it all out for Bush, the entire torture timeline, and then cuts to the chase:

"The model is Ronald Reagan, who denied he had ever traded arms for hostages in Iran but eventually realized that that was indeed the consequence of the actions he took, the men he appointed, and the policy he pursued. Reagan’s speech to the nation on this matter was, in my view, his greatest, because it revealed humility and integrity. “First, let me say,” he told us in 1987,
"I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I’m still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior … A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

"If you read the Red Cross report and the Senate Armed Services Committee report, I believe you will reach a similar conclusion about your own record on prisoner treatment. You may not have intended to torture people, but you did; you may have wanted to protect the country within the law, but that admirable desire too easily slid into your approval of actions that are indefensible, illegal, and deeply damaging to America’s reputation and honor. You were let down, as Reagan was. He took responsibility. You need to as well."

Read the whole thing, end to end. Then go back and do it a second time. Even more.

Those of you who have scorned us for questioning the war in Iraq, denounced us as "with the terrorists," questioning our patriotism and even our sanity, have no excuses any more. You are in league with those who approved of the worst mistreatment of human beings as is possible to inflict. Killing some of these people would have been merciful by comparison. The fact that they were terrorists and baby-killers doesn't matter--we are America, and we are supposed to be better than this. We can stand firm in the knowledge that our patriotism is the true version: a patriotism and love of our country strong enough and fearless enough that we will criticize our country when it is wrong and call for its leaders to do the right thing.

I hope Bush does it someday. If for no other--purely vindictive reason--I want to see the rug ripped out from under Cheney.

Home-Made Noodles

Like I need an excuse to be MORE fascinated by pasta than I already am.

Via Food Geekery.

(Dumbass) Quote Of The Day

Suzanne Summers brings teh crazie on Patrick Swayze's cancer death:

"Why couldn't they have built him up nutritionally and got ten (sic) rid of the toxins? . . . I hate to be this controversial . . . but I have to speak out."
So do we, Ms. Summers; you're a fucking loon.

Does it surprise absolutely anyone that see has a book coming out, presumably on holistic "medicine" that deals with cancer?

And full credit to the NY Post. For a trashy piece of birdcage-liner, they called it accurately:
"Holistic hoo-ha."
Via Pharyngula.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rachel Maddow Brings The Awesome

From her show on 9/16:

"'Csarism' is auditioning to be the new 'birtherism' on the Right...it is a fact-free but exciting slander against the Obama White House. One that bridges the ever-narrowing gap between conservative conspiracy theories and the Republican Beltway agenda."
Watch it:

Via Pharyngula.

Beer + Pizza + Bicycle = WIN!

I think I'm in love.

If I was to put a fleet of these together for RAGBRAI, do you realize how much money I could make?

Via ManicSparkle.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

American Excellence, My Ass

This video pretty much sums it up:

Riffing on what Bill Maher said a few years back (left channel audio, only):

I would like to point out that the whole health care screeching has definitely pointed out the true mindset of the right wing: Fuck you, I've got mine!

The Razor-Blade Arms Race

A "quote" from a Gillette official as it appeared in the Onion, 2004:

"Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades."
CNN's Money site, 2009:
"Gillette has escalated the razor wars yet again, unveiling a new line of razors on Wednesday with five blades and a lubricating strip on both the front and back."
Have these people never heard of Norelco?

Plus, like any good comedian, Dara O'Briain works his magic:

Via Ed Brayton.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Death Can Be Funny

First, RIP Patrick Swayze.

Second, as submitted to Texts From Last Night:

"i hope kanye doesn't show up to patrick swayze's funeral. " i'll let you get back to your funeral in a minute...but michael jackson had the best death of the year. just sayinnn "."

Motorist Arrested For Iowa Cyclist's Death.

From the Des Moines Register:

A 79-year-old Winterset man was charged this morning in the Aug. 30 hit-and run death of bicyclist Mark Grgurich in Warren County.

Paul “Jud” McKinney, 79, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatality, concealment of evidence and failure to maintain control.

If convicted of all charges he faces more than seven years in prison.

McKinney's arraignment is set for Sept. 22.

Judge Kevin Park set his bail at $10,000 cash.

McKinney’s attorney asked that he be released because of an ailing wife, poor health and is a longtime resident of Madison County.
You know, I have mixed feelings on this one. I have a loved one in a nursing home, just like McKinney. And yeah, the guy's 79 years old and throwing people in prison won't bring that cyclist back to life. Concealing evidence? Easy to point fingers when it's not YOU.

What does kinda torque me off is the $10,000 cash bail. While the attorney makes a good point that the guy's wife needs him, it's not like she's not in a care facility already. I think the bail is too low. But objectively, I'd like to know what the average bail is for a hit-and-run accident in general, and then see if the bail is consistent with that standard.

One way or another, there's a dead cyclist in the ground. We need to stop that. And we need to keep after public officials and the officers of the court that we're not going to stop demanding justice.

Via BikeIowa.com.

Norman Borlaug: RIP

The Iowa-born plant scientist died Sunday at age 95. From the WSJ:

"On the day Norman Borlaug was awarded its Peace Prize for 1970, the Nobel Committee observed of the Iowa-born plant scientist that "more than any other single person of this age, he has helped provide bread for a hungry world." The committee might have added that more than any other single person Borlaug showed that nature is no match for human ingenuity in setting the real limits to growth."
The man is responsible for stemming starvation around the globe, and deserves a statue someplace. Seriously.

Via ManicSparkle.

Killer Spoken-Word Performance

My circle of friends in recent years has expanded from jocks and computer geeks to include "poetry dorks." They have since become some of the closest friends I've ever had.

Robert "Words" Taylor is an acquaintance rather than a friend, but he's a quality soul with a passion for spoken word performance. And the talent to back it up. Witness his recent performance at the Celebration of Life Cancer Awareness Banquet:

Via Wisdombeyondwords.org.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Would Jesus Do? File Chapter 11, Of Course!

A while back, I blogged about the Jesuit Order of the Roman Catholic Church and how they handled their sexual-predator priests the way any responsible, moral organization would--they dumped them in remote Alaskan villages where the native peoples were unaware until it was too late that they were harboring a nest of vipers in their midst.

Now the "Society of Jesus" is broke:

"Less than two months from now, anyone who was abused or molested by a Jesuit preist in Montana, or four other states, will run out of time to be a part of a settlement for the abuse.

The Society of Jesus organization, has paid out over $25 million dollars to victims, but under a chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the period for filing any more claims is November 30th.
Of course, they could be legitimately broke, but being the experience-based cynic that I am, I favor this explanation:
"David Clohessy, a victim and director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Preists, said 'We think that this whole chapter 11 process stinks. We think it'(s) set up largely by the Jesuits largely for their own convenience and protection. And a victim should be able to come forward whenever he or she (is) capable of it.'"

My original post prompted a comment from a reader pointing out a similar case in Newfoundland where the Catholic Church allofasudden came up missing a pile of money and assets when ordered to pay up for the abuse of parishioners there. Well, the court system there is having none of it, and found them liable after a 10 fucking year court battle with the victims. Money quote from the Sexual Abuse Claims blog:
"The Catholic Church’s refusal to acknowledge its responsibility to Hickey’s victims simply perpetuates the view that the Catholic Church cares more about its reputation than it does about protecting vulnerable and innocent children from sexual abuse."
Can I get another Amen?

Via Joe.My.God.

"Creation" The Movie

If you haven't heard, there's a movie coming out soon called Creation based on the life of Charles Darwin. From Roger Ebert's blog, in which he emphasizes that his actual review of the film will await its October release:

"I expected the film to be focused on Darwin's theory of the origin of species and the controversy it provoked in mid-19th century, but it is primarily about his domestic life, centering on Down House, Bromley, where he and his wife Emma lived from 1842 until until his death in 1882. There they had ten children, three of whom died young. The film is much concerned with his grief at the loss of Anne (1841-51) who was one of the brightest and most delightful, and whose direct questions perhaps helped embolden him to publish On the Origin of Species in 1859, after a 20-year delay."
Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, thinks highly of it.
"Most of the people watching the movie think of Darwin as a cardboard figure – especially the stern, elderly Victorian guy with a long white beard in the black coat. They aren’t going to think about Darwin as a tall and vigorous man very much devoted to his pretty wife, with a houseful of noisy children who adored him. In my experience, much of the public, following the Creationists, thinks he wrote one not-very-good book, and is unaware that Darwin devoted his life to science, conducting experiments and making observations and being held in high regard by his contemporaries. In particular, Darwin as a passionate, loving human being is far from how most Americans picture him. And that’s too bad, because cardboard cutouts aren’t real – and the real is so much more interesting. I like to think that someone seeing this movie will be stimulated to read one of the many biographies found on the movie’s excellent website (www.creationthemovie.com), or otherwise easily accessible. "
Dr. Scott does make one important point: Creation does not yet have a North American distributor. But we live in hope:
"If a bomb like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed can get a distributor, a well-made movie with an excellent script, actors, direction, and cinematography like Creation surely should."
Seriously. Go see it, people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama On "Death Panels"

Fuck you very much, Sarah Palin...

Via Sullivan.

I Can Never Resist A Good Tit Joke

And this headline was guaranteed to get my attention...

"Great tits enjoying the warmer weather -- so far."

C'mon, you know you want to...

Via Pharyngula.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quote of the Day

"If it was easy, everyone would be doing it."
--Chris McCormack, 2007 Ironman World Champion.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fat Cyclist Has A New Bike

Eldon "Fat Cyclist" Nelson lost his wife, Susan, to cancer last month. The following week, he got to give away a SICK excuse for a road bike as a prize for donating to his LiveSTRONG team: a 2010 Orbea Orca with Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting, and Dura-Ace carbon tubeless wheels. Like I said, a bike so sick, it should be sterilized instead of cleaned.

Naturally, Fatty was drooling on his keyboard as he blogged about it, saying he wanted to keep it so bad he could taste it.

Shimano and Orbea heard him.

Orbea gave him a ridiculous discount on an Orca frame.

Shimano GAVE him the Di2 drivetrain and DA carbon tubeless wheelset. That's about, oh, $5,000 worth of parts, fuhcryinoutloud.

Granted, if I was him, I'd rather ride a beat-up shop frame and still have my wife healthy and happy. But it's nice to see good things happen to good people.

Quote of the Day

“It's almost Labor Day, which means that many of us are about to engage in the great American ritual of sitting in traffic on the way to a large body of water.”

--Jonah Lehrer, guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan

Ray Comfort Comes Cheap

I can think of any of a number of ways I'd rather spend $5. This, however, is not one of them.

"To be an atheist is to play Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded," explains best-selling author Ray Comfort, and in his latest book, he proves it. And today only, WND readers can get "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think" – autographed – for just $4.95, a $21 discount from the normal $25.95 price!"
Translation: We'll shine your shoes if you'll take one of these stupid books off our hands...we need the space in the warehouse. It makes me think of Abbie "ERV" Smith's comment about Michael Behe giving out $6.99 blowjobs on Amazon.com.

For those of you who don't know Ray Comfort, here's all you need to know about this Creationist twit...

A suitable parody, ala MST3K:

And the science. Pay attention, kiddos, there will be a quiz:


Via Friendly Atheist.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Penn Says: Evangelical Kung Fu

I can almost forgive him being a friend of Glenn Beck for this...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bike MS: Finally Finished!

I've been doing Bike MS events for 6 years now, and the 150-mile Bike MS for 5. I've never finished a two-day event under my own power before today.

Bike MS in Iowa works like this: The Des Moines and Cedar Rapids chapters of the National MS Society start off in their respective cities, ride to Marshalltown, stay overnight, and ride home the next day. Oh, and there are rest stops, energy drinks, energy bars, and lots and lots of home-made cookies in between. Oh, and bananas. LOTS of bananas. And the money goes to researching a nasty, debilitating bastard of a disease.

Well, the first year I did the two-day event (they were known as MS 150 events back then), I made it 132 miles out of 150 and quit. My legs wouldn't pedal anymore. That was back on my recently-departed Trek 2100 (I hope the new owner is getting good use out of it).

This year, I had the Invincible. I cannot adequately describe how much energy that bike saved me. Pedaling that bike is a joy--the bearings in the bottom bracked (cranks) and wheel hubs are so smooth you feel like you've got an extra mile per hour at your disposal.

And I needed it. The roads into Marshalltown are hilly, by Iowa standards. And that's saying something, because we are a rolling prairie kind of state. There isn't much here that's truly flat. So once I had 60 miles in my legs yesterday, THEN the road started getting interesting. I made it, but I walked one hill that looked and felt like it should double as a rock-climbing wall. And what was worse...at the very base of that hill was a set of railroad tracks with plenty of loose gravel. So the hill that would have been the most fun to barrel down with the brakes open was the one that was utterly unsafe to do so. Bummer.

I did cheat just a bit in one other aspect. There was a section coming out of the lunch stop in Maxwell (much love to Brenda Colvin and crew--you guys rock that rest stop) which went North, then West, then South out of Cambridge. I just went straight across and cut roughly 10 miles out of my way.

(We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post so I can pet my cat).

Anyway...there was a very tiny wind out of the North, but it was enough to boost my legs to going 18-22 miles per hour going south on flat stretches, including NW State Street in Ankeny itself in the closing stretch. And I did a no-hands victory salute when I hit the parking lot at the finish line.

Official stats, according to my Polar computer:
135.2 miles total
10 hours 50 minutes total ride time.
Average speed, 12.4 mph
Maximum speed: 34 mph
Average heart rate: 155 bpm
Total kilocalories burned: 9,400.
Status of my legs: Don't ask...

Serious note: the number of riders doubled from last year. We're looking to keep that trend going. If you would like to participate in Bike MS, please contact your local chapter of the National MS Society.

I love you, Mom.