Epic week of epicness

I have had just about zero time to blog all weekend. And what spare time I did have, I spent instead with my beloved wife. Now that beloved wife has gone to bed, and I can sleep in slightly more than usual tomorrow (plus I had a nap this afternoon), I should really get back to flexing my writing muscle. Use it or lose it, they say. Whoever they are, they’re probably right. And anyway, I don’t want to alienate you, my loyal readers. (Whom I can probably name, and count on one hand.)

Moved Mark and Sara into their beautiful new home today, which is a stone’s throw from ours. No, literally. Just a sec, let me prove it. … On second thought, that stone came a little close to a window, let’s not try that again. They have an absolutely gorgeous enclosed outdoor space with a watertight sunroom / greenhouse thingie — a screened in area that would allow them to enjoy the outdoors without all the outdoorsy things like bugs and such. And they have a sunroof in the kitchen. I’m muy jealous. A major advantage to our co-marriage-ers moving so close, is that Jodi can now carpool to work with Sara, saving us on the literal tripling-up on the amount of driving I have to do daily. Jodi’s work is about the same distance from our house as mine is, only in the exact opposite direction, so dropping her off in the mornings entailed driving her out to the vineyard then backtracking to my office. It sucks for Sara that she’s moved so much further from her work (she was almost within walking distance before the move!), but it benefits us, so I’m not going to complain.

We also got a bunch of work done on the house that we’ve been putting off. Mowed the lawn for the first time in three weeks, after the lot owners passed out flyers to the houses with the longest grass saying “mow or we’ll do it for you and send you the bill”. Good motivation to do it. Well, for most people… it just stuck in my craw, making me want to put off mowing another day in defiance. I did it anyway though. What a rebel, huh?

We also got a pressure washer and cleaned off the algae from the house siding, which I’m guessing has been building up since the house was built almost four years ago. The previous owners were not much for maintaining this place, evidently, between the sudden discovery of the wholly un-caulked back sill and the previous mold problem they spot-repaired, and the air exchanger that we cleaned last week, where there was so much gunk built up that it was preventing any air at all from getting exchanged. That exchanger is supposed to be serviced quarterly, but I’m guessing the previous owners had never done it, ever, judging by the filth and dead insects that caked the filters. Now that they’re all clean, it’s amazing just how obvious it is that it hasn’t worked since we moved in. We really should have looked at it sooner, I guess.

Three big moves have happened over the past week. Mark and Sara, as I just mentioned; Stilgar got moved into his finally-completed cage, which I mentioned when it happened; and we moved Jen and Opal out into their new apartment on Wednesday, so we’ve finally got the house to ourselves. I won’t be ashamed about saying it — there has been pantslessness in rooms that have not seen pantslessness in almost a year. Plus I can shower in the master bathroom now, which has a tub, as opposed to the stand-up shower in the ensuite that I’m just evidently far too gangly to manage showering in without banging elbows and such. Not even with a year of practice.

Now, a blogospherics rant below the fold. Skip it if you don’t care.
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That helpless feeling.

Was chugging along at a pretty steady pace on that promised post when I got the news that my friend Dan J of Relatively Unrelated likely has lymphoma. He’s been getting the runaround from a clinic for the past two weeks in that country with “the greatest health care system in the world”, America. Naturally. The whole story threw me for a loop and is making me more and more upset as I chew over the situation.

So it’s like this: the United States does not have the best health care system in the world. Unless you’re willing to fork over money, hand over fist. If you’re poor, they aren’t lying, get sick and die. Every lie a right winger spouts about how great our health care is just goes to show they have no clue as to what people who don’t have money and live paycheck to paycheck go through.

The last several months we have been going round and round with a ‘clinic’ in town. It’s a sliding scale clinic for people who don’t have insurance or aren’t made of money. Now I understand, especially right now, that there is a demand for such a service and there are so many hours in the day to help people. If they actually helped people.

At the moment, my husband is in the hospital. I made him go there at 5 AM this morning after dropping me off at work 2 hours early. Seven hours later I finally heard from him. The hemoglobin counts are very low and he needs blood. They’re going to do a CAT scan on him and keep him overnight at least.

His wife blogged about Dan’s current status here.

I have a rant or two stored up about the fucking bullshit health care system the USA has set up right now where if you’re rich, you’ll survive everything short of a nuclear bomb, but if you’re a staggeringly intelligent but relatively poor chap like Dan, your health care plan is to die as quickly as possible.

Alan Greyson hit it right on the head.

I am so mad I could spit nails, and I feel totally helpless to boot. I think I have to go kill things on a video game for a while.


This was totally like this when we got here, honest! (via the guys-with-no-vested-interest's site)

People sometimes want things to be true so badly that they’ll latch onto the first fraud that comes around offering them a shred of purported evidence, and will stay latched even when the evidence is later proven fraudulent. Sometimes this happens to detriment of only the person being snookered; sometimes this happens to the greater detriment of humankind as a whole, and its ability to get past the fallacious beliefs, keeping it from ever throwing their lot in with reality proper. With religious iconography, usually (and most unfortunately) the latter is almost always the case.

Fox News recently reported on a news conference held by Turkish Christian Evangelicals from a group called Noah’s Ark Ministries International (so you know they have no dog in THIS race!), wherein they claim that their scientists have discovered with “99.9% certainty” the final resting place of the mythical Ark that Noah used to survive the mythical global flood. Sorry, I should clarify: the mythical Noah. And yes, that means THIS ark must not be real. Nobody respects Wyatt. Le sigh.
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Should sexiness sell skepticism?

Sex sells. It’s practically axiomatic now — if you want to sell anything, sex it up. How do you do that? Well, obviously, in the advertisement world, by adding half-naked women, right? You know, since men — and heterosexual men only — are the only consumers worth targeting.

Except, NO, they’re not — heterosexual males make up at absolute best about 45% of the world’s population, which isn’t even a majority. So why the tacit approval, even (and especially) by certain feminists, of the current social norm wherein any “sexiness” brought into a conversation must de facto imply women slutting it up as sex objects? Why is it never about men bringing the sexy to the table? Why the gigantic backlash against the Skepchicks owning their sexuality and being sex-positive, as though they’re the only skeptics that have ever displayed any modicum of sex-positivity? Why the gigantic backlash against Boobquake, despite the surprisingly good data it yielded in disproving the Muslim cleric’s hypothesis that immodesty causes earthquakes?

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Feminism, skepticism and boobies

What, being hawt whilst also brainy? Can't have that!

I was honestly expecting a big ol’ shitstorm over this post, wherein I defended the Boobie Wednesday Twitter campaign despite, I thought, the obvious feminist objections against showing breasts (whether male or female) to raise awareness about cancer. I believed people would crawl out of the woodwork to shout me down over considering acceptable the objectification of women, the “sexification” of breast cancer, and that I was going to be accused of merely wanting to save “my playthings” rather than people’s lives. You see, because I’m a guy — a heteronormative guy, at that — and boobies are therefore obviously far more important to me than the brains situated a foot and a half above them.

I was surprised that no such outrage happened. And I have to suspect that it’s because it merely wasn’t widely read enough, considering the sudden and strange attack on Skepchick over at Greg Laden’s blog.

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Ebert: “New Agers and Creationists shouldn’t be President”

Roger Ebert is quickly becoming a force for reason to be reckoned with. He recently posted at his blog against creationists and New Age believers — stating outright that they should not be president of the United States. And naturally Sarah Palin and today’s Republican party, as well as the far-left bullshit-peddling new-agers, play heavily in his examples. Considering how often one hears that people would not vote for an atheist or an intellectual as president, this is a most refreshing change!

It’s curious that so many people of different camps are offended by opposing beliefs, but will accept just about anything in their own. Most progressives believe Kirk Cameron is playing the Village Idiot in his infamous video explaining how God shaped the banana to fit the nature of the human hand (still unreleased: his video about watermelons). Most non-New Agers believe Shirley MacLaine is nutzoid for her citations of her previous lifetimes. On mainstream talk shows, MacLaine gets away with it by kidding herself. Mike Huckabee is a charmer when he answers that, yes, he does believe the earth is pretty much 10,000 years old. But don’t let anyone unskilled tell Jay, David, Craig or Regis such beliefs and they’re taking a chance. The audience will take their cue from the host in deciding whether to laugh at them (MacLaine yes, Creationist no.)

Do click through — he posts a lot of interesting videos and images you really ought to see.

RCimT: The usual Sunday godlessness

Hi everyone, and welcome to the end of yet another weekend! I’m not feeling all that great — I think I’m starting to finally succumb to that cold I’ve been staving off for almost two weeks now. So, I’m going to phone this one in and throw a few funny links and a Cool Atheist of the Week, then go snuggle into bed and drink some tea, and read Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World. Or maybe I’ll just bring the laptop in and watch some Mythbusters instead, in honour of my pick for this week.

Jamie Hyneman, from The Discovery Channel’s popular show Mythbusters was interviewed by David Federlein, in the #42 episode of Skepticality. Both were attending The Amazing Meeting 4 last year in Vegas:

David: “What brought you to the skeptical movement here?”

Jamie: “I actually before this didn’t really know that much about the skeptics society, and I guess Adam and our producer were a lot more up on it and were more enthusiastic about it, but once I got into it, I became aware that unknowingly, I mean, I’m actually pretty adamant about the whole God thing. And it seems that skeptics are by and large atheists or something approaching that, which I strongly identify with, and so it turned out to be a good thing and I’ve become enthusiastically a part of it.”

On the topic of appeal to authority (as though having lots of famous people “on your side” is such a big deal outside of proving how mainstream an outgroup actually is), check out this bullshit Yahoo Groups question/answer, Can someone name ANY atheist famous for something other than being an atheist? The question was obviously asked by a theist, considering the ridiculous dig at evolution (what’s that got to do with atheism again??), and considering the “best answer” picked wasn’t one of the dozens of comments containing multitudes of atheists and what they’re famous for outside atheism but is instead one with lolspeak, no punctuation, and “no” as the answer.

Speaking of lolspeak, here’s something that’ll make you go WTF (there’s a tenuous segue at best): Klingons for Christ, a rather twisted attempt to make the case that Christianity is the right religion for every good Klingon warrior to embrace. I say twisted because the author pretty much has to perform acrobatics to reconcile the two — the scariest part is that it’s a rather successful amalgamation of the two fiction-based philosophies. As long as you can get past the “thou shalt not kill” thing, which you can do if you use the “murder” translation instead, and define “murder” as any killing that’s done in an honourless manner.

The Wikipedia page for Catholic sexual abuse scandals in Canada is sorely lacking in our latest example. Could someone with a Wikipedia account kindly rectify this?

And finally, ever wanted to prove you can fuck up less than Yahweh supposedly did in the Christian Bible? Here’s your chance. Pro tip: as an omnipotent deity, you can make everything perfect any time you want. Try not to fuck up too badly!

Religion as a mental parasite

Look at this picture for a moment — click to enlarge. Kinda stomach-churning, huh? Looks a lot like an alien chest-burster in fact. It’s a rare isopod discovered off the Jersey coast that eats, then replaces, the tongue of a fish. Interestingly, outside the eating of the tongue, the fish doesn’t suffer terribly much in the way of ill effects from this disgusting, horrific, and horribly effective parasitic behaviour. Also interestingly, neither do people whose reason has been eaten and replaced by religious faith.

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The Vatican is Bullshit

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Vimeo has up the Vatican episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. For now, at least. Watch it while it’s up.

Penn & Teller, Bullshit! The Vatican from Brewster on Vimeo.

I don’t think there’s terribly much I could add to this, as ever, insightful episode. I especially love the part where Penn explains why Ratzinger can’t be thrown in the clink in the US for being the one who ordered the covering up of the massive child abuse scandal in 2005. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it.

The scary confluence of religious fervour and political brainwashing

There’s a very disturbing trend going on in America at the moment. In the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, there’s a fraction of right-wingers who get all their information from OneNewsNow, Drudge Report, Fox News and their local churches. None of these news sources care about the truth — they all have their respective agendas. ONN wants to make sure everything is viewed through the filter of evangelical Christianity, the Drudge Report is more concerned with making money and getting scoops than verifying the truth through independent research, Fox News profits directly from the downward spiral of the Republican Party by playing to the fearful conservative low-information base and reinforcing their already crazy ideas, and their local churches of course care only about reinforcing their leaders’ religious beliefs, no matter how antithetical to their foundational teachings these beliefs actually are.

These folks are the common, salt of the earth folks. Folks that are easily swayed to believe they are right and good and just.

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