Apple and Gods

So there have been any number of stories recently about Steve Jobs, due to his recent retirement. Here, for instance, PZ talks about some of what Jobs did so incredibly well. Me, I’m just going to take advantage of the current situation to repost a recent comment on a neurological finding.

Mac-ily crack-ily
Apple Enthusiasts
Think about gadgets, and
Light up their brains,

Piquing the interest of
Neuroanatomists,
Glad to discuss what
The picture explains:

Sexily, vexily,
Newest technology
Shows an analysis
Just a touch odd;

Macheads don’t suffer from
Psychopathology;
Rather, their brains see the
Gadgets as God.

Apple-ish, Chapel-ish
Documentarians
Came to conclusions
A bit front-to-back;

God was their yardstick, but
Incomprehensibly—
Truth is, Jehovah is
Merely a Mac.

[Read more...]

Headline Muse, 8/30

Some may say I am lax in my morals
Though I’m not one to advertise quarrels
I’m a bad, selfish man,
And because of my tan
We’re both mining and killing the corals

Headline: Coral could hold key to sunscreen pill

Ok, I can’t wrap my head around two stories recently in the news. First…. Human effluent (sewage, or shit, to you and me), pumped into the ocean, is killing corals. That’s about a week old. Literally, we are shitting on the ocean and killing it.

And now this week. The beeb tells us that “Scientists hope to harness coral’s natural defence…” against what? really, it doesn’t matter why, but in this case it is to make sunscreens. Fucking sunscreens. “By studying a few samples of the endangered Acropora coral…” Oh, it’s ok, “they will copy the genetic code the coral uses to make the compounds and put it into bacteria in the lab that can rapidly replicate to produce large quantities of it.”

“Dr Long said: ‘We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to use the coral itself as it is an endangered species.'”

So they’ll strip the information from the coral genes, then test it on scraps of skin left over from tummy tucks… seriously, check the link, I am not making this up. A product designed to enhance future vanity, tested on the byproducts of current vanity.

We are sooooooo fucked.

The Truth (As He Sees It)

So today or yesterday, I saw a letter to the editor in a local paper, chastising the editor for something mean said about Rick Perry. The writer was planning on voting for Perry, because “He tells us the truth as he sees it.”

The following is written in the West Texas song tradition, and may be sung with guitar, small band, or just a harmonica by the fireside. Yodeling, however, is a must. It’s a sweet 3/4 time, just a little bit faster than “Waltz Across Texas With You”.

“He tells us the truth as he sees it”
That surely deserves our respect
His view is not sullied by knowledge, or facts,
Or intelligence we can detect.
He’s a church-going, god-fearing Christian
And he’s honest as Sunday is long
There’s nothing that tempts him to change his beliefs
Like the fact that they’re utterly wrong

(yodeling part)

He’s suspicious of climate-change science
Evolution, and the age of the earth
But he’s steadfast and true in his ignorant stance
His resistance to change shows his worth
In hundreds of life-and-death matters
His was always the right choice to make
Though it’s better to execute innocent men
Than admit he could make a mistake

(more yodeling)

See, it just doesn’t pay to be truthful
When consistency makes you look right
If correcting mistakes made you rise in the polls
Then he would. Or he should. Or he might.
But it’s me, and the rest of us voters;
If we checked, then we likely could tell
Still we vote for the one with the prettiest lies
And together, we waltz off to Hell.

(A bit more yodeling)

And together, we waltz off to Hell.

First Day Of Classes

Wish me luck–except that wishing works as well as prayer
I guess it doesn’t matter much for you to say you care
So think the thoughts you want to think, and sit there on your asses
I’m much too rushed to care right now… I’m heading off to classes.

(Best of luck to my student, faculty, staff, and any who are in the midst of the semester ramp-up. For the rest of you, just have a great day. Or not; it’s not like I’m the boss of you.)

I Really Like The Candidate!

I really like the candidate
I really like his views
His positions on the issues are the ones that I would choose!
I really like the candidate
I’m thinking it’s a sign
Her slogans at the rally were identical to mine!
I really like the candidate
I’m following the bus!
We’re going to take the nation back for those who think like us!
I really like the candidate
I can’t believe my luck
What a miracle I came across another stupid fuck.

So… when Irene dumped rain on ground that had already been saturated, the result was calamity. I’m thinking that A) the primary states have already been saturated with political bullshit, and B) it’s just the beginning of political shitstorm season.

Expect calamity.

Headline Muse 8/28

“Keep the rum, give me straight Dr Pepper”
Said the decade-long-sober 12-stepper
She’s an atheist, too,
Which may counter the view
That A.A. sees the godless as leper

Headline: My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA

Ok, not a headline, but from CNN’s Belief Blog. Hey, I only just got power back; any port in a storm.

AA (that’s Alcoholics Anonymous, not American Atheists) has never quite seen eye to eye with AA (that’s American Atheists, not Alcoholics Anonymous) due to the former’s explicit references to a god or higher power. This article is a really nice, if brief, story of an atheist who decided not to throw away a source of help just because she disagreed fundamentally with their axiomatic assumptions.

I like this. It views AA (the first) functionally, by what it does, rather than by what it claims. By the same token, we can see the social functions of many nominally religious institutions (hospitals, kitchens, etc.). Yes, the good that they do is due to their hard work, like it is for all of us. They can pray like theists, so long as they work like atheists.

It’s An Empirical Question

I’m looking for some funding, if you’re willing to invest—
Cos it’s time for us to figure out whose praying works the best.
See, we’re getting rid of FEMA, and we’ve got to find a way
To respond to things like hurricanes. The answer is, to pray.
Can we influence the weather? Can we turn away a storm?
In a blizzard in the winter, can we keep the homeless warm?
Can we pray us up some batteries, some candles, and some food?
Can we pray for stronger windowpanes, or are we simply screwed?
We’ll pray away the damage, and we’ll pray to clear the roads
We’ll pray the roofs are strong enough to tolerate the loads

… Just lost power for a moment, so if anybody cares,
Gotta cut this short and post it, cos I gotta say my prayers.

So, yeah, we did just lose power for a bit, so this may be the beginning of radio silence for me for a while. If comments take a bit to get approved, that’s the reason.

Aaaaaand then we lost power again, for about half an hour, one sentence before I could post this. And it’s early still. So up this goes. See you tomorrow, I suspect.

Stay safe–prepare like an atheist!

Ceremonial Deism

The Republican candidates have, of late, put me in mind of “ceremonial deism“.

Atheists are sometimes accused of making mountains out of molehills, of making a big deal out of the pledge of allegiance or “in god we trust” when there are bigger fish to fry. Really, though, it seems to me that it is the handful of god-bothering republican candidates who are keeping a trivial god in the public eye.

I am reminded of the following, from the old blog:

The motto is “In God We Trust”;
Display it everywhere, we must!
In doing so, recall, it’s just
A hollow little phrase.
It’s on our money, even though
It lost religion long ago—
Rote repetition made it so
It’s meaningless these days.

If you’re like me, you find it odd
That those who claim to love their god
Would fight to keep this cheap façade,
Especially on money!
But now, in congress, start the fight
To grow the phrase in public sight—
Replacing God with new “God lite”
You must admit, it’s funny

Remember Teddy Roosevelt
Opposed the motto, cos he felt
It sacrilege to put on gelt,
Insulting the creator
But that was then, and this is now;
We’ll push our god; we don’t care how,
With every method we allow.
And jobs? Well, maybe later.

According to CNN, the crazy season is upon us the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote this thursday, reaffirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. The Supreme Court has held that ceremonial use of religious language does not constitute a violation of the establishment clause, in cases where rote repetition has rendered the language meaningless.

That is, the phrase is legal if it is meaningless. If lawmakers wish to argue that “In God We Trust” actually refers to their particular choice of god, their usage would apparently violate the First Amendment.

Of course, the real motivation is likely to be considerably more secular; the brilliant legal mind of Michele Bachmann, with the tenacity and quickness of a barnacle, has latched onto President Obama’s use of E Pluribus Unum as more representative of our nation. It is, of course, more inclusive, and less pandering toward any particular religious view. Which makes it utterly unacceptable to Bachmann.

Plus, of course, it’s much easier to score points with one’s constituents this way, than to tackle the important issues.