Oh, no! I’m related to…a gamer!


Only by marriage, though, and he’s a gamer-in-snark, so that might make it tolerable. My son-in-law, Kyle Hughart, is trying to get a parody rpg, Ragequest: the Worst Game, greenlit on Steam.

“You know I can’t stay,” he said softly. “And you can’t go. The house wouldn’t be the same without you.” She didn’t speak. She couldn’t find the words to respond. She just watched his figure grow smaller, and smaller until it was gone. That’s how I would end a romance novel about a congresswoman and a snowman if I were to write one, but I didn’t. Instead I made Rage Quest: The Worst Game! A snarky, low-def odyssey through the trials and frustrations that unite gamers everywhere.

You’ll play as Ivy, a daring and cynical adventurer, as you spend 3-4 hours traversing a modestly-sized world of cheeky dialogue, terrible puns, and lovingly crafted artisanal frustration. Will your skills and irrational dedication to finish what you’ve started triumph over the forces of bad camera tracking, long cut scenes and useless allies? What other perils might lie in store for your delicate temper and extra-throwable wireless controller!? Find out for yourself as you explore the game already being called “Game-changing,” “Extraordinary,” and “Graphically extant” by a sentence you’ve read! Rage Quest! Mean-gift it to your enemies!

I worry that my daughter will starve. If you have a Steam account, vote for this game so my son-in-law can buy a package of ramen. Or maybe two.

Proving men will sneak into the ladies’ room…by sneaking men into the ladies’ room

I don’t get the logic. The American Patriarchy Association is going to prove that these transgender-tolerant restrooms at Target are a problem, by sending fundamentalist men into them.

In an interview this morning with “Breitbart News Daily,” the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, said that activists have been “testing” Target’s policy by sending men into women’s rooms at the retail chain.

That makes no sense. Shall I test the problems with American gun laws by putting guns in the hands of toddlers and pointing them at Mommy? Shall I prove that the security at big banks is inadequate by robbing a few of them?

This is like the story of the self-appointed civilian bathroom police, or the cops harassing a lesbian woman for using the women’s room. There wasn’t a problem until these assholes created one.

Did you all miss Andrew Sullivan?

Just in case you didn’t get enough of a gay Catholic man scribbling apologetics for the conservative establishment, he is trying to stage some kind of comeback as a pundit (although, actually, he seemed to pop up all the time anyway — it’s like he was on Maher all the time, which may be a misapprehension on my part, since I so rarely watch Maher). Anyway, the existence of Donald Trump has driven him to pontificate, and you will not be surprised to learn that Trump Is All Liberals’ Fault, and that the solution is for Democrats To Unite With The Good Republican Party.

No, I don’t think so. Just as he was wrong about the Iraq War, we all have to realize that he is still wrong about everything.

What are your comfort books?


The Bloggess brings up an interesting question about comfort books — those books you read multiple times, because they inexplicably make you feel good.

I was just talking with Victor about comfort books…those books that you read over and over because you find them comforting even if you don’t understand why. He thinks I’m insane and possibly I am, but there are certain books I turn to when my head is in a weird place and I need to go somewhere I’ve been before and relax. I’d tried to explain it to him and he almost understood until I started listing a few and then I realized that most of my comfort books are full of murder and angst and bizarreness and are not really what anyone in the world would consider to be a happy or relaxing read. Books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Geek Love and From the Dust Returned and The Stranger. Worn copies of Bloody Business and Stiff and The 3 Faces of Eve and Alice in Wonderland and pretty much any of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Books that may not make it on my top ten list, but that I compulsively read again and again.

I thought about it, and I mostly lack anything like that — I like newness, so I keep digging up new authors and new stories, and I don’t do much re-reading. But there’s one exception, one book that I dredge up every few years to re-read. It’s probably one you never heard of.

[Read more…]

Harry Kroto has died

Oh, crap. This is another big loss. Kroto won the Nobel 20 years ago, and most admirably, turned his fame and money towards advancing science education. Somehow, I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of lengthy conversations with him at meetings, and while one thing we had in common was atheism (he was also a freethinker and humanist and vocal atheist), it seemed we always spent most of our time talking about science education and his work on global educational outreach. He was opinionated and outspoken, but always broad-minded.

He also knew that science is a philosophy.


I always enjoyed talking with Harry. I’m going to miss that.

I totally missed Loyalty Day

I forgot. I never knew about it. And if I had, I would have spit on the idea.

Did you know that yesterday was Loyalty Day?

In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2016, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

Like so many evil things*, this bad presidential tradition came out of the 1950s, the Red Scare, that knee-jerk anti-Commie crapola that still fuels the fevered brains of conservatives. Of course it is on May Day, or International Workers’ Day, because there’s nothing our wealthy overlords would like to do more than replace autonomy and self-respect with mindless obedience.

I do not pledge allegiance to anything. Sometimes the greatest loyalty is a willingness to change old institutions to make them better.

*Like, say, me.

The message of God’s Not Dead 2 is…


…Christians are stupid. Sadly, the audience at the Morris Theater today gulped it right down and confirmed it.

This movie and its predecessor has only a few simple premises: a) all atheists are bad people; b) all Christians are good people; and c) if they close their eyes real tight and pray real hard and pretend, those arguments their pastor made to them will hold up in a court of law. So right off the bat, we meet a heroine of the movie who is grieving over the offscreen death of her brother, while her parents don’t seem to give a damn at all that they’ve lost a child. Her parents are “freethinkers” obviously, while she’s going to convert to Christianity. The father of the Chinese fellow who found Jesus in the last movie shows up to slap him around and disown him for his faith. A team of ACLU lawyers show up to persecute another heroine who dared to quote the Bible in a high school classroom; the lead lawyer is a sneering reptilian buffoon. An ACLU lawyer who is completely dumbfounded by the arguments of Lee Fucking Strobel.

The story is all about a court case. Above heroine who mentioned Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr in a class about non-violent protests gets dragged before an inquisition of fellow teachers, school board members, and lawyers who, obviously, are all atheists who detest Bible-believing Christians (where is this school? I’d like to move there) and when she refuses to apologize for proselytizing — because she didn’t — they all smack their lips in anticipation, because they’ve called in the Evil ACLU, who will destroy her in a court case.

Let me just say, speaking as a certified Evil Atheist myself, who also tends to be more strident than most, I did not believe this persecution scenario at all. The movie was very careful to set the scene so that there was no doubt at all that she wasn’t promoting religion at all, but was responding to a student question asking for a comparison between a set of historical (well, semi-) figures, and the teacher’s response was more cautious than even I would have been in quoting the Bible. It was set up from the beginning as a trumped up case.

What follows is incoherent. The legal case her lawyer tries to make at first is that she was simply speaking her conscience, rather than that she was responding directly to a student question. Then he switches gears and decides that the best strategy is to claim that she was making a secular argument, merely quoting historical figures. Then later he decides to rant and rave and claim that if they silence a Christian for speaking her mind, next thing you know they’ll be coming to arrest everyone for mentioning the Bible. It makes no sense, but of course the jury sees it as valid and votes to declare her innocent.

That wasn’t a spoiler. You know no Christian will suffer any consequences in this kind of movie.

Another irritating thing is that, although apparently this whole sham of a court case was all about proving that Jesus was real, the slimy ACLU lawyer allowed the defense to trot up a whole string of Christian apologists making ludicrous arguments, and not once did they disagree or bring up counterarguments. According to this movie, there are hundreds of contemporary first person accounts of the crucifixion, and no one disagrees with that.

One good thing, though: at least this one didn’t kill any atheists to get a deathbed conversion. It did have the woman from the first movie who had been diagnosed with cancer and converted to Christianity, though; instead of killing an atheist, they had prayer cure a Christian of cancer, praise Jesus. It also had a string of cameos from Christian culture warriors, like Pat Boone, Mike Huckabee, that same abominable Christian musical group, the Newsboys, from the first movie.

One more damning thing: it’s boring. It just goes on and on. It’s so bad that my wife had to nudge me awake in the middle.

Skip it. Total waste of time.

I’m content to let it stand as a testimonial to the paranoia and inanity of modern American Christians. I would think that the people who ought to be most indignant about it are Christians themselves.

Not a good day


I had braced myself for a long miserable day: I’m committing myself to grading, grading, grading all day long. It’s term paper time, and I’ve got a stack of exams, so I left early to come into my office…and as I’m getting ready to go, my wife reminds me that I’d promised to go see God’s Not Dead 2 at the noon matinee. So I’m committed to taking a break from drudgery to watch an abysmally bad movie which will reaffirm my contempt for Christianity.

Such fun.

Anyway, if you’re in the area, and if you want to be miserable together, I’ll be at the Morris Theater at noon, not knowing whether to be happy that so many Christians show up for an evil movie that I can’t get in, or to be disappointed that there are so few Christians attending that there are plenty of seats for me. It will be a very confusing time.

At least I’ll go out to Old #1 afterwards for a beer, I’ll need it. I’ll try to put something cephalopod-related on the table, so if you’re looking for like-minded godless folk you’ll know how to recognize us.