EA removes gun links from Medal of Honor site

Guess why. Not because it’s ridiculous on its face to advertise to kids who play video games — obviously not, when the average gamer is 35 and has played games for 13 years.

When it was announced that Electronic Arts would be partnering with gun companies for the latest outing of their Medal of Honor franchise, the vast majority of those following along let out a collective sigh. “Great,” people said to each other, “Another reason to blame video games for gun violence.” EA has finally agreed in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre and pulled the links to gun retailers from the Medal of Honor: Warfighter site. All it took was a national tragedy for them to realize their mistake.

[Read more…]

Hawking and other scientists petition for Turing’s posthumous pardon

Stephen Hawking and a number of other notable scientists and humanitarians in the UK are petitioning David Cameron to pardon Alan Turing, one of computing’s forefathers, for the crime of being gay.

Now, several of the nation’s top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, and other leaders have penned a letter to the Telegraph, throwing their support behind the bill.

They write:

SIR – We write in support of a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era. He lead the team of Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, which most historians agree shortened the Second World War. Yet successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual, which led to his suicide, aged 41.

We urge the Prime Minister formally to forgive this British hero, to whom we owe so much as a nation, and whose pioneering contribution to computer sciences remains relevant even today. To those who seek to block attempts to secure a pardon with the argument that this would set a precedent, we would answer that Turing’s achievements are sui generis. It is time his reputation was unblemished.

Lord Currie of Marylebone
Lord Grade of Yarmouth
Lord Faulkner or Worcester
Lord Rees of Ludlow

Astronomer Royal
Lord Sharkey
Lord Smith of Finsbury
Baroness Trumpington

Sir Timothy Gowers
Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University
Dr Douglas Gurr
Chairman, Science Museum Group
Professor Stephen Hawking
Sir Paul Nurse
President, the Royal Society

I absolutely agree that Turing should be pardoned — with one reservation.
[Read more…]

Baby turtle eats raspberry

I’m posting this to prove a point, on top of the obvious squee and funny factors.

That point is, human beings can be complete monsters sometimes. Treating cute little turtles as sport, as though there was any contest between the turtle and an automobile. For shame. Look at that turtle, having trouble eating a raspberry! Look at its raspberry beard! They are adorable and nigh helpless and people still swerve to hit them.

Maybe humanity doesn’t deserve to survive this global warming nonsense we’ve brought on ourselves. Bah.

New Zealand YWCA ad for equal pay

Shoe’s on the other foot now, huh? When you consider it perfectly acceptable to pay women less than men for identical jobs, why shouldn’t we also charge men more for identical services? Yes, it’s insane to charge someone more because they have a penis. Of course it is. So is giving women less money for the same job just because they don’t.

This ad from the Auckland YWCA for the New Zealand equal pay act is bloody brilliant. I can’t think of a proper rebuttal. I can’t think it’d be anything but political suicide to fight against such progress. I also have no idea about the gender politics or the political playing field in New Zealand, so the ad and the bill could fall completely flat. But this is framing we should damn well import the next time the evidence shows women make less than men even here, even now, even with measures attempting to correct that imbalance.

Via Copyranter.

(Also, inb4 “stop promoting a Christian organization“.)

Humanism in a shitstorm

How do you deal with all of life’s vicissitudes if you don’t have an invisible means of pretend support in a deity? Greta Christina shares her story over at The Humanist.

Here’s the short version of what happened to me: This past October I got hit with a serious one-two punch. My father died and less than two weeks later I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

The cancer is treatable, and in fact has already been treated. I got lucky there (if any kind of cancer can be “lucky”): it was slow-growing, caught early, and entirely treated with hysterectomy, with no chemo or radiation needed. But it was still terrifying. Recovery from the surgery has been slow, often painful, almost always difficult and exhausting. And it was much more traumatic coming so soon after my father’s death. I was just barely beginning to recover from that shock and wrestle with my grief when the news about my cancer came. Plus there was a nasty feedback effect: each of these traumas left me weakened, and less able to cope with the other.
[…]

If there was ever a time when suffering, grief, and a stark reminder of my own mortality could make me turn to religion, this was it. I didn’t seriously think I would turn to religious belief—I know the arguments against it too thoroughly—but I kept waiting for the moment when I’d wish I believed. I kept waiting for the moment when I’d think to myself, “Goddammit, this atheism stuff sucks. If only I believed in God or an afterlife, this would be so much easier.” I kept waiting for that shoe to drop… and it kept not happening. The opposite happened. The thought of religion made me queasy—and my humanism proved a profound comfort.

Honestly? If I believed in a god who made this shit happen on purpose, I wouldn’t be comforted. I’d be wanting to find the biggest ladder I could, climb to heaven, and punch the guy’s lights out.

Read the remainder. It’s worth it, trust me.

Swaziland bans ‘rape-provoking’ miniskirts

Cultural differences. I keep telling myself there are cultural differences and I should be careful not to judge. And yet, I can’t help but see this from anything but a humanist angle. And a bitter, snark-infused one at that. Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has banned miniskirts, and midriff-revealing tops, and will put anyone caught wearing them in jail for six months.

“The act of the rapist is made easy, because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women,” police spokeswoman Wendy Hleta was quoted as saying in the Independent Online news.

The ban also applies to low-rise jeans. “They will be arrested,” she said.

The Royal Fashion Police, I guess. Wonder what peer-reviewed scientific evidence they used to build this entirely rational conclusion.
[Read more…]

Sympathy for the devil

Trigger warning for frank discussion of bullying and PTSD.

When I was young, I was bullied. A lot. Maybe not more than other kids who’ve been bullied, but I was definitely the target of my grade for many years running in my tiny grade school and middle school. It started to let up a bit in high school after I attacked one of my bullies physically. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I had been at my wits’ end that there were exactly zero consequences for harassing me for years on end.

I was wrong to attack that person. And yet, I was able to breathe easier afterward.
[Read more…]

Asteroid 2011 AG5 missed the keyhole

Welp, there goes another apocalyptic prophecy — this one grounded in reality, mind, but it means we can scrub the 2040 doomsday off our calendar.

Earlier in 2012 only a few observations of AG5 could be made before it got too close to the Sun to see. Those allowed the crude estimate of where it would be in 2040, and that big fuzzy volume of space included the Earth.

However, new observations taken with the monster Gemini telescope in Hawaii allowed a far better orbit to be calculated. The path of the asteroid in 2040 was found, and now clearly does not include the Earth. It will be a clean miss, by about 900,000 kilometers (550,000 miles). This is more than twice the distance to the Moon, if that helps.

With this new calculation, we have little to worry about in 2040. Though, it seems, humanity does love a doomsday. I don’t expect this will truly dissuade people who want another hit of that doomsday high.

Hat tip to Phil Plait in his new digs at Slate.

Remember the reason for the season

While you’re going about preparations for your holiday fête, remember the reason for the season — to Jesusify all things whether it makes sense or not.

tumblr_mfegk2m8Zl1qapkmyo1_500

The Meaning of the Snowman

The white snow represents God’s forgiveness of our sins.
The circular snowballs show the everlasting life God promises us.
The carrot nose shows us that God has given us the Earth and all living things.
The black coal mouth reminds us to give God praise.
The scarf keeps us warm, just as God’s love does.
The top hat reminds us to honor God above all things.
The twig arms are open to hold us the way God does when we need him.

(Of course, in this sucker, the twig arms are closed, and the scarf isn’t melting the snowman away with God’s warm love…)

Tip of the stovepipe hat to Christian Nightmares.