As though you didn’t have enough reason to hate Fox News

US: “Hey Canada, I know we got ourselves involved in a huge war in Afghanistan, and we appreciate your help these past three years, but President Chimpy wants to go invade Iraq for some reason; do you mind spotting us some more soldiers for a while? You know, in light of that whole NATO agreement.”

Canada: “Well shit, didn’t think it’d work that way, we kind of figured NATO meant if anyplace in North America got invaded, we’d cowboy up… but okay. I realize Afghanistan is a big, important war, and stopping the Taliban and possibly getting Bin Laden is pretty urgent. We’ll do it.”

US: “Great! Oh, and by “a few soldiers”, we mean “most of them”, ‘coz we’re going to pull most of our guys out and shove them into Iraq. Yeronyerown! Later losers!”

Four years later, we’re still caught in the most violent regions of the quagmire Bush started way the hell back in 2001, fresh bodies returning from the meat grinder daily, and Canada declares that once we’re done with the Afghanistan mission in 2011, we’re going to have to go into a rebuild phase (bringing our army home and rebuilding after having expended so much life and money on a fruitless cause), declaring a one-year moratorium on operations outside the country. Reasonable enough after ten damned years, right? But what do we get from the asshats at Red Eye? Scorn and threats of annexation. As though bringing all our army home and rebuilding makes us LESS able to defend our territory.

Think about this, Americans. We might not be able to hold our own against an army funded by almost twice the money invested in all the rest of the armies of the whole world combined, but even a pacifist like me would pick up a chainsaw and fuck a couple invaders up before letting myself get subjugated. Ultimately, you’d be minting brand new freedom fighters (read: “terrorists”) out of every hoser and maple syrup sucker up in the Great White North. You’d win, eventually, sure. You have unmanned drones and trillions of dollars of money borrowed from China to crush us with. But karma’s a bitch, and Canada’s really popular in international circles.

The mystery of New Scientist’s gradual tabloidization

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled Cosmos on Youtube marathon to post briefly about something I thought was really deserving of more exposure. Granted, the big bloggers have already covered this, but I have a teeny tiny sphere of influence comprised of my friends, family and those few people drawn here by pingbacks from all the blogs I link (promoting other blogs has its advantages on the interwebs!), so I figure I should say something too. Every voice in the crowd is just a voice, but in aggregate, we can make a lot of noise.

New Scientist has been over the past few months increasingly irritated those of us who fight on the side of science education and proliferation. First, they publish an article explaining how Darwin’s theory of evolution has itself had to evolve over the years, which is correct in and of itself, but they hand the creationists a shit-ton of grist for their ever-churning mill in their cover in the process: “Darwin Was Wrong“. Okay, he was wrong in that the tree of life isn’t really shaped like a tree. More like a scraggly bush, maybe a spheroid, expanding in every direction from the centre point (being abiogenesis, however it happened). And he didn’t have the benefit of genetics or the vast fossil record we have today in creating the theory. Regardless, New Scientist, in publishing this, has handed religious anti-science zealots support for a talking point that will take years to refute, if we ever can — that science has lost “faith” (if you’ll pardon the pun) in evolution.

Later, they rubbed salt in the wound, by including the specific controversial cover in an advertisement intended to attract subscribers. It kind of seems at this point that the new scientists they intend to attract as subscribers are “Creation Scientists”, doesn’t it? (By the way — you too can get a state-recognized degree in Creation Science if you move to Texas and a certain law passes!)

Then Amanda Gefter wrote an article for New Scientist that might have acted as a bit of an olive branch to those poor scientists on the front lines of the neverending debate of Science and Reality vs. Imaginationland, entitled “How to Spot a Hidden Religious Agenda“. Nearly immediately after being posted on the New Scientist website, it was pulled due to a “legal complaint”.

My question is, WHY? Why is New Scientist such a shrinking violet that the mere exposure of the fact that the Intelligent Design movement might have an agenda, and a known one at that, is pulled after the first hint of a legal action? And who the hell (out of the three possible suspects mentioned in the article — my money’s on Ben Stein) actually threatened them? Additionally, why the hell didn’t they hire Something Awful’s crack legal staff to defend themselves against these spurious threats? Seriously, those guys are the shit. Or maybe just shit. I can’t tell.

Mysteries abound!

Our Science Minister believes in MAGIC!?

Yet another post about the nexus of religion and science. You’d think I’d get tired of this stuff, but this one hits really close to home, and my rage meter is probably my biggest blogging driver.

Gary Goodyear, Canada’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, apparently can’t bring himself to accept that science always trumps faith when the two come into opposition. When asked about whether or not he believed in evolution, he refused to answer on the grounds that as a Christian, he felt the question was religious and he didn’t want to discuss religion.

Update: Shoulda read all my RSS feeds before posting, because Phil Plait already covered this loon, and the “clarification” he made on CTV today. However, I agree wholeheartedly with Phil when he says:

I’m calling shenanigans on him. Why? Because 1) he should have answered it in the first place — if, by his reasoning, the question was irrelevant yesterday, it still is today, and 2) it is an extremely relevant question, given that he was couching his answers yesterday in religious terms.

The rest of this post, everything below the fold, stands unaltered by this update, because I believe this is little more than backpedalling in the face of a public outcry. The question asked is ONLY a religious question if you think evolution is incompatible with your religious beliefs. Period. End update.

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I seriously dislike a number of people you probably think are cool.

I’m starting to think I like riling up outrage. Too bad I’m not actually attracting much outrage thus far. So, here’s me taking another stab at it, by attacking three of the most venerated religious figures of all time.

Given the hypothetical situation that Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama are all drowning, and you only have time to save one of them, what would you do? Personally, I’d probably take a whiz on whoever was closest. That’s right — in my estimation, none of them would be worth saving, for various reasons.

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My conversation with God

So tonight I had a conversation with The Big Kahuna Himself, obviously taking a break from his telepathic chat-bot duties, and trying out his typing skills on a live question-and-answer website (I guess being God means you can carry on more than one conversation at once!). Here’s how the conversation went.

Hello God.
Hello child. What is your name?
It’s good to see you, Jason.
What can you tell me about the Higgs Boson?
I will search for it
Fermilabs and the LHC are already searching for it.
I think there might be a few exception.
Do you think you will find it first?
I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. If you could have any kind of robot what would it be?
Don’t change the subject, God.
Sorry I thought we were done with that topic.
No, you haven’t told me anything about the Higgs Boson yet.
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Happy birthday Jodi!

Jodi turns 23 today. She won’t be around to see this until after work (her first day of work at the vineyard, in fact), so I want anyone who’s a regular reader to wish her a happy birthday. Do a guy a favour, huh? If not for me, then for her!

happybirthdayI wanted to buy her an iPod Touch, but they’re too bleeding expensive. Plan B was a Sony Erikson with pay-as-you-go for the phone service, but it was also pretty expensive, despite being significantly less so, and she wouldn’t get any cell phone reception at the vineyard anyway. Sadly, due to having done our inspection and taxes, we’re pretty broke this month. So, instead, I special-ordered us two Galileoscopes so we can go stargazing (this IS the International Year of Astronomy, after all). Sciencey, less expensive, and I get bonus points in the romance department.

If you’re close enough to want to buy her gifts, she’s asking for Home Depot gift cards. But don’t feel obligated, a heartfelt happy birthday here I’m sure would be greatly appreciated.

Our new eye in the sky

As an antidote to the last post, and the backward march religion seems intent on making, here’s a piece of scientific progress that proves humanity itself, despite certain member factions, will progress, pushing forward into the darkness. The Kepler mission has successfully launched, and is now a solar satellite, having escaped the bonds of Earth’s gravitational pull.

For those of you not in the know, the Kepler mission is intended to search for extrasolar Earth-like planets (meaning specifically, planets within a star’s Goldilocks zone of a roughly Earth-like mass, with detectable organic compounds and water). We’ve been finding extrasolar planets in the hundreds lately, so finding out how likely it is for an Earth-like planet to exist is just one more step in the march toward finding a habitable planet that we can colonize, and/or another planet on which life has formed or may potentially form. Finding other planets where life formed could potentially give us an idea of just how lucky we are to exist, or just how common life is in the vastness of our universe. Remember, there’s roughly 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and roughly 100 billion galaxies visible to us presently. Just like our planet is not the centre of our solar system, our sun is not in the centre of our galaxy, and our galaxy is not in the centre of our universe, in either a physical or metaphorical sense.

As Phil Plait says, this is a new era in astronomy. No exaggeration.

… and your Pope, too.

I was seriously considering praising the Vatican for their recent decision to accept evolution, much like they did in 1992 with Galileo’s heliocentric theory a few hundred years after expelling him from the country, in light of the fact that disproving all the available evidence is a task better suited for God and since He’s obviously not interested in doing so, it must be right. However, something stayed my hand (Goddidit?), and now I’m glad I didn’t post anything laudatory about those monsters.

RIO DE JANEIRO – A 9-year-old girl who was carrying twins, allegedly after being raped by her stepfather, underwent an abortion Wednesday despite complaints from Brazil’s Roman Catholic church.

My problems with this include a) the fact that they didn’t actually complain until AFTER the girl had the abortion, thus allowing them their petty moral outrage without actually preventing this girl from getting this necessary medical procedure; b) the Catholic church’s stance on abortion implies that the life of the rapist’s potential offspring blastocyst is more important than the life of the raped woman; c) a woman’s role is nothing more than a baby factory; d) “allegedly” raped?  Like a nine year old had consensual sex that led to her being knocked up?; and e) despite having endured the hardship of being raped, possibly repeatedly, by her own stepfather, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH STILL HAD TO STICK THEIR FUCKING NOSES IN!

Fuck you, Catholic Church.

Fuck you, Catholic Church.

Update: Hat tip to PZ… Holy fucking shit! Those sons of bitches have now excommunicated everyone involved in the abortion but the child! Evidently, not excommunicating the child herself is some measure of “mercy” on her in their eyes.

Next, Watchmen breakfast cereal!

As someone who grew up thinking Spider-Man, the Ninja Turtles, and X-Men were as milquetoast as their Saturday-morning cartoon counterparts, this video is all too plausible. We can only thank our lucky stars that the Watchmen wasn’t bastardized this way back in the 80’s/90’s.

(Fixed the video. This one shouldn’t get taken down.)