On the parallel universes we apparently cohabitate within the blogosphere

There’s a troll narrative parallel history of the secular movement, I’ve observed. Things that are handled professionally, between professionals, become “harassment and attacks”, and harassment and attacks become “disagreement”. Civil disagreement becomes slurs, slurs become hilarious parody. It all depends on which side of the rift you’re on, and who’s targeting whom.

More blogospheric navel-gazing within. You may want to read this and this and this and unfortunately this for some context.
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A culture of scapegoating and responsibility-dodging

Surprising absolutely nobody, in the wake of Sandy Hook’s shooting, the American congress is swinging into rapid and decisive action… against video games. Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks sums it up nicely:

What’s more is, the narrative against video games appears to have been set well before there was any proof that the shooter, Adam Lanza, was a gamer. It was set, in fact, when reporters misreported the shooter as a Ryan Lanza, the name of Adam’s brother. People found a Ryan Lanza’s Facebook profile, though it might still have been an entirely unrelated Ryan; they noticed that he had Liked the page for Mass Effect, and Mass Effect became the first scapegoat for the shootings.
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Welcome to day one of the 14th b’ak’tun

Milk expiry: DEC 21 12. Caption: Well played, milk, well played.

Milk expiry: 2012.12.21. Caption: Well played, milk, well played.

Travelling today. On precious little sleep, too. My sleep schedule has been a complete shambles recently — been only getting a few hours of sleep a night, discontinuously, for at least a week. And I know I can’t sleep on planes, so today might be a bit rough.

I had previously blogged about how patently incorrect the whole idea of a doomsday on December 21, 2012 was. Now that the day has come and gone, and all those doomsayers are eating crow (or, more likely, shutting up for a month or so until the whole “we were wrong again about the apocalypse” blows over til the next big ridiculous prophecy comes along for them to latch onto), I wanted to say something about how horrid the meme and its counter-memes were.
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Men! Inflatable decoy by Axe saves you from post-coital cuddling!

Spent a significant part of the last two days preparing and practicing my conversational French to take part in an interview by a French skeptical show (more details when it’s closer to airing). Most of my preparations were for naught, though, as the interviewer apparently intended from the get-go to interview me in English and overdub us. So. Yeah. I got to try out some French, and hope some of it makes the final cut, but when we went off script the interviewer suggested we switch to English to be sure we got my nuances correct. All in all, it was a blast. I suspect I misspoke at least two spots, and will happily correct them if they end up on the final show.

Meanwhile, I have so many blogospherics to catch up on. As soon as work is over tomorrow (err… today, I guess, but to me it’s never tomorrow til I’ve slept), and I’ve fulfilled all my pre-vacation promises and set my duties to coast for two weeks, I’ll have a lot more brainshare to spend on finding and delivering premium quality whargarbl.

Like this nonsense, for instance. They call it the Morning-After Pill…ow. You know, in case your fucktoy decides she wants to snuggle longer than your contractually-obligated dude-time. Sure beats telling your lady friend that you’re a jerk!


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IQ test exposes the myth that is ‘g’

The idea that there’s a single scalar value that measures anything like “general intelligence” (“g”), commonly known as “IQ” or “intelligence quotient”, has been pretty much blown out of the water by this comprehensive study by the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute.

Our attempt to answer [the question of how to quantify relative intelligence] dates back more than five years, when Roger [Highfield] encountered work that I had conducted with Adrian [Hampshire] at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge on a reliable way to carry out cognitive tests online so we could monitor rehabilitation after brain injury, the effect of smart drug trials and so on.

Roger wondered if we could use this test to carry out a mass intelligence test. Drawing on earlier data from brain scans, Adrian and I came up with a series of tests which we knew would trigger activity in as much of the brain’s anatomy as possible, combining the fewest tasks to cover the broadest range of cognitive skills.

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Street Fighter X Megaman

I’m trying to download this fan-made (and Capcom-hosted and sponsored!) free Megaman game for PC right now, but its servers are positively logjammed at the moment. If you can manage, the download’s available here. And if I ever get it, I’m considering broadcasting it on twitch.tv while I play it, just for fun.

The game is described as a love letter to Street Fighter and Megaman fans for the 25th anniversary of both franchises — and from what I’ve seen so far via these videos, it almost certainly is. Seow Zong Hui, the game’s creator, obviously had a lot of love for both to have done what he’s done. That Capcom’s throwing their weight behind this is simply fantastic, and I honestly wish more companies would legitimize fan-made derivative works like this because that might have repercussions on copyright law that would alleviate some of the fear within fandom of being cracked down on by the “intellectual property” owners.

Fischer: God didn’t stop Newtown shooting because he’s a “gentleman”

Bryan Fischer asserts that because Christianity isn’t taught in public schools, God was unwilling to step in and stop the shooting because he doesn’t appear where he’s not wanted. Never mind that students are (as always) free to pray as they see fit — they’re just not LED in prayer by school officials, forcing all students to either pray if they believe, or sit quietly in the hallways while public school time is wasted on prayer.

Explain, then, to me why the Colorado theatre shooting happened, when overtly Christian movies make the theatres all the fucking time?

Mock The Movie: Yor: The Hunter from the Future

Oooh, look at me, with two colons in the title of this post. Just like the two colons it took to have shat out this monsterpiece (WHAT A LEAD-IN!), which goes from 10,000 BC to Star Wars so abruptly that it’s almost as though the plot was barely fleshed out to begin with.

Watch for poofy hair, a fighting style that involves using the flat end of your stone axe to kill dinosaurs and cavemen, and the two teases for the rock opera song that plays through the closing credits.

Subtitle file is available here. As always, rename to [filename].srt, where filename is the name of your copy of the movie. Put it in the same folder, run it in VLC, and it’ll do the rest. CompulsoryAccount7746, who built the subtitles, provided a hilarious animated gif that, due to size, I’ll only put in after the fold. He wasn’t able to attend live, so he threw a few extra snarks into his subtitle file. Call it downloading incentive.
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On Systemic Violence, Misconceptions, and How We Fail Ourselves

Considered Exclamations has a guest post by Brendan Murphy, treasurer of the SSA’s board of directors, which analyzes the political reactions to previous mass shootings and the fallout thereafter. It’s what I was asking for yesterday: for people to look at these shootings as a trend, and deal with them appropriately.

The above sign is a decoration of Fenway Park, well-known to many Bostonians, and sponsored by the Massachusetts-based organization Stop Handgun Violence. After this morning’s violence in Connecticut, those big numbers will tick upwards by 18. And yet, White House press secretary Jay Carney had the following to say this morning:

“Today’s not … a day to engage in the usual Washington policy debates. That day will come, but today’s not that day.”

I agree – today is not the time to have ineffectual discussions peppered with political platitudes and unfulfilled promises of resurrecting bygone legislation. Now is the time to substantively discuss exactly what systemic forces lead us down this road time and time again. If all we do is grieve and mourn without addressing the why, we have failed the victims, and ourselves. Let’s look at some 2012 history, and what’s been said politically.

Keep reading.

Yet another isolated incident of gun violence

I talk quite a bit about guns. Today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut — where a twenty year old assaulted an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them kids — just leaves me dumbstruck. The only thing I can bring myself to say is, what will it take before people start treating these mass shootings as something more than isolated incidents?

This interactive map shows what I’m talking about quite well. A snapshot:

Since 1999, there have been 45 shootings in schools worldwide; 31 were in the States. Mass shootings are almost a daily occurrence in your country, and each seems to be going for a high score over the last. They are a much realer and more immediate threat than death by terrorism, or plane crashes, or bear attacks. Why are you as a nation so numb to this? Why is your immediate recourse as a nation to demand that people have readier access to guns, to demand that everyone go armed, to put more guns into the hands of more people who might for some reason feel oppressed and take it out on a school full of children?

Meanwhile, in China, children suffered a knife attack in an elementary school. 20 children were injured. Injured, not killed — which would almost certainly not be the case if the attacker had a gun. And people are talking about China having something rotten at its core. Why is nobody saying the same about America and the gun culture that would ignore such trending data?

Other posts you should read:
Kate Donovan: When you tie shootings to mental illness
Miriam Mogilevsky: If not now, when? On politicizing tragedy

Both of these posts lead me to the same conclusion: there is something larger going on here and the more we sweep it all under the rug and repeat the drumbeat platitude of “more guns”, the deeper into the delusion rabbithole we go.

And another: Greta Christina: The Newtown shootings: It is not too soon to start talking