Protesters fighting with police in Iran

My heart sings over the revolution against an oppressive theocratic regime, but at the same time I weep for those whose blood has been spilled. And make no mistake, this is a full-out revolution now. Pro tip to would-be theocrats and fascist dictators — shooting protesters is no way to quell dissent. You might as well light a match in a room full of dynamite.

Hat tip to LiveLeak.

Seriously busy holiday season

I know you’re all just dying to hear about all the crazy adventures Jodi and I have gotten ourselves into over the past few weeks. I don’t know that I can recall all of our wacky exploits, but I’ll take a stab at it.

My vacation was, unfortunately, a working vacation, but I had every intention of getting as much leisure and project-completion in as possible. There were no major emergencies that required I go to the office, luckily, so I had a good deal of opportunity to get that which I wanted to do, done. The back door’s sill has been re-caulked at least partially — at least, where you could see clear under the sill straight to the wood. Amazing bit of engineering on the part of Prestige Homes. We’ll need to pull the siding off and make sure it’s fully sealed now, once the weather warms enough that we won’t destroy said siding. The mildew is removed, the drywall replaced and re-spackled. It needs to be sanded and the trim replaced, and we hope to eventually repaint the kitchen anyway, so I’m not sure if I want to paint that hideous yellow back onto the repaired section of wall, though it could be a problem if that makes that section of the wall look weird once we repaint.

We also worked a considerable amount on Jodi’s snake cage — we need to get shower board for the inside lining, then we have to build a door for it and stain it all before the final assembly. It’s in Mark and Sara’s basement (since they have one) at the moment, with all the trim installed and looking a considerable bit like a good piece of furniture — somewhat to my surprise.

Jodi and I saw Avatar in 3D at the theatres, which was epic, and I hope to put up a complete post about it soon. We’ve also just finished watching Star Trek (the original series) in its entirety (a project started about two months ago I think), have watched a season of Big Bang Theory, and sampled a few episodes of The Mentalist.

We’ve worked on wedding souveniers as well — we’ll be re-labelling tiny corked vials of whiskey with fake Victorian-era poison labels. And we obtained pants to go with my shirt and fedora (yes, fedora), which will serve not only as my wedding outfit, but also as a part of the costume I’ll be wearing to CONvergence. A friend of Jodi’s is taking care of the vest, made out of material to match the corset she’s making for Jodi. The whole thing will be pretty epic.

And I’ve been blogging not nearly as much as I should. They say practice makes perfect… and I’m feeling out of practice. That, and I had a stretch of time when I could barely bring myself to write anything. I know this is entirely a self-driven motivation, so I shouldn’t get down on myself for failing to live up to my own self-imposed post-a-day schedules, but we are all our own worst critics.

I’ll try to write something proper up on Avatar tomorrow, as time permits.

So how was your holiday period? How did you celebrate, and how did you spend your vacation time (if any)?

Ginger’s Great Tribble Hunt

I got Jodi a tribble from Think Geek for Christmas this year (@CyberLizard got @JSWadley one too!), and it appears Ginger’s jealous of the new family member. She went on a Great Tribble Hunt tonight. They still sing songs of it.

Unfortunately we had to use my Blackberry to take this video, but it’s cute nonetheless. If you turn the volume all the way up, you might have a chance at hearing the tribble doing its vibrating and trilling whenever she pokes or shakes it.

RCimT: Busy Sunday

It’s Sunday, and almost the end of my vacation. We’ve been going at 150km/h all day, doing all sorts of work on outstanding projects. I’ve got a few posts planned for the next few days, and I’m hoping to be able to write them up tonight, scheduled for the next few days, so I can get back into the work groove without having to worry about breaking my post-a-day streak — which is, what, five months now? So I’m going to blow through the links I’ve gathered up over the past week.

Turns out Al Gore and Hillary Clinton have links to The Family — the fundamentalist Christian group that’s wheedled its way into enough power to shape public policy in the American government. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again — religion is a poison. If these two otherwise apparently decent human beings are tainted by the scourge of fundamentalism in any way, shape or form, they are heretofore untrustworthy.

Why do I consider Christianity specifically ridiculous? It’s centred on the existence of a man that probably did not, actually, exist. And some simple proof of that fact is available here, in a 12-part “puzzle”.

Michael Shermer finally watched Expelled. Have pity on his poor “soul” (by which I mean, brain).

Now, I’m not much one to laugh at others’ misfortune, but boy is this one laughable. A woman marries a preacher who goes on to become completely insufferable; she vents on this forum, and the advice given is, naturally, in keeping with God’s teachings: you’re not allowed to divorce your husband who is obviously incompatible and suddenly engaging in reprehensible behaviour.

Epiphenoma explores the recent accidental phenomenon of Christians destroying the “secular truce” between those that would impress upon the Christmas holidays all the import of religious trappings, and those that would claim the holidays are so secularized that they can be endorsed by the government, federal or local. After that last heady link, some hilarious IRC quotes about Christianity will cleanse the palate.

News flash: another pastor has been arrested for child molestation. I mean, seriously, it’s almost getting to the point of being ludicrous, how often this happens. What is it about the religious promise of subjugating your natural sexual inclinations, that draws in pedophiles that understand their natural inclinations are so antisocial as to be criminal? (I answered my own question there, didn’t I?)

In case you didn’t see it as it happened, someone prayed to God that a Senator would miss the health care reform vote — and God apparently answered by cause James Inhoffe to miss the vote for the Republicans, meaning the bill passed 60-39. Which, I have to remind you Americans, is a super-majority, capable of busting any filibusters — you know, in case filibusters were ever actually exercised, rather than just idly threatened.

A scary bit of news for us bloggers — an Egyptian blogger was sentenced to four years in jail for daring to publish his opinion, which just happened to be critical of Islam. That’s right, for having an opinion counter to religion, this man was sentenced to jail time. Thankfully, Canada is not presently anywhere near as Draconian about its religious proscriptions, but I still feel a little shudder thinking about this kind of thing — I mean, this guy was jailed merely for going against the dominant religion of the region.

On to happier thoughts, PalMD dissects Deepak Chopra’s ridiculous pseudoscientific nonsense. I mean, it’s only been done a million times already, but Peter does it with such panache.

VJack has decided to take on his employers and take a stand against his federal employers’ endorsement of prayer “in Jesus’ name”. This apparently marks the day when he became an “Atheist Revolutionary”, having taken a stand against encroachment on the separation of church and state. He is now officially “militant”. Visit to read about what that entails.

And finally, Hemant Mehta posts a fundie anti-atheist bingo card that would have been nice to have prior to Christmas, but I only got around to posting now. Luckily most of you are already readers of the Friendly Atheist blog, so you probably didn’t miss out. …Right?

And that’s all I have in my tabs this week. I just switched over to Google Chrome (Chromium under Ubuntu), so hopefully you’ll cut me some slack on this one.

Have a sacrelicious week!

The History of Christmas

httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=852CB55CA84EBD1B

From The History Channel, and hat tip to Debunking Christianity.

A heartfelt happy birthday to Jesus, Mithra, Horus, Attis, Osiris, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Heracles, Dionysus, Adonis, Hermes, Bacchus, and Prometheus. Especial happy birthday to those that were virgin births… being the vast majority of the listed.

“You secretly believe in Voltron!”

Here’s easily the best knock-down counter-argument I’ve seen yet, to the ridiculous gambit of “you wouldn’t be an atheist if you didn’t secretly believe in God”. To make things perfectly clear — we believe that there is a concept of God, and that people with sway on public policy are trying to put into effect laws that they believe come from the concept they call God, and we disbelieve in that concept and wish to stop the believers from forcing us into their absurd practices.

From the inestimable NonStampCollector

New libel defense allowed for bloggers in Canada

Journalists and bloggers have a new recourse if sued for libel — they can now use the defense of “responsible communication”, if the journalist made an attempt to contact the party in question and the item on which they’re reporting is a matter of public interest. This is great news for people like myself, who report on pseudoscientific nonsense now and then, thus risking spurious lawsuits from the pseudoscientists.

The Supreme Court said it examined laws in other countries with similar legal systems, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. It found that Canadian law was strict by comparison and did not give enough weight to the value of free expression.

“This, in turn, may have a chilling effect on what is published,” said the text of one of the rulings. “Information that is reliable and in the public’s interest to know may never see the light of day.”

Strict by comparison to libel laws in the UK? Horrific. Thankfully the judge recognized the potential chilling effect and remedied it with this decision. I shall make it a point to contact people asking them to explain their positions and informing them that I plan on blogging about the topic. The fact that this law now covers bloggers as well, means I have to cover my ass on matters such as these.