Open thread

Instead of waking up early and preparing some blog entries to autopost, I decided to sleep an extra 45 minutes this morning. And by that I mean I slept through my alarm and ran through my house swearing as I frantically got ready to leave for Ohio.
So, open thread! Talk about whatever is on your mind, and feel free to shamelessly self promote.

I may or may not blog more while here – wifi doesn’t work and I’m going to be super busy, so we’ll see. Sorry guys, blogger fail.


  1. LS says

    I decree that this conversation will focus primarily on whether or not dinosaurs and machine guns were contemporary. As rational skeptics, we can be reasonably certain, of course, that humans and dinosaurs did not coexist. However, there is compelling evidence which implies that Dinosaurs and Machine Guns did, in fact, coexist. Which, of course, brings into question the true origin of the machine gun.Even a cursory examination of the evidence is telling. Dinosaurs are awesome, and Machine Guns are awesome. Awesome things attract, and as we all know, Dinosaurs with Machine Guns are the MOST awesome.I don’t think there’s really much room to debate this issue, but we should probably talk about ways in which we can travel back in time to witness some of the awesome gunfights between tyrannosaurus and triceratops.

  2. says

    Oops. Double comment. That’s alright, because Dinosaurs and Machine Guns both deserve many comments about their intrinsic and extrinsic awesomeness.

  3. says

    That’s sort of a Cartesian answer– “I imagine a supremely perfect dinosaur, which of course must both exist and have a machine gun.” I like it.I’ve never seen a good explanation of T-Rex’s small arms, but they are perfectly formed to wield a tommygun. So really, if they weren’t there to handle midsize projectile weapons, what were they for? Dinoguns win.

  4. LS says

    Precisely! This paradigm example of archeological research on your part is precisely what we need more of. You have no bias towards proving or disproving a particular theory in your work. Your only bias is towards the truth. And the truth? The truth is awesome.

  5. says

    Or ways we can bury some guns some place and then dig them up to prove our point. I vote some place warm. Fly me there?

  6. says

    Sooo, you’re just going to ignore our EVIDENCE and superior arguments to make the same point? Some SKEPTIC you are! You gotta stick with the crowd, not go rogue! TEAMSKEPTIC! Do you want to be excommunicated from TEAMSKEPTIC? Huh?No, but seriously, what about OUR FREAKING *EVIDENCE*?lol ;D

  7. fox says

    Shameless self-promotion ftw! I’ve built myself a shiny website for which to throw down all the crazy crap that piles up in my head. I don’t have a domain name yet but it will be once I get everything in order. Look for it this fall. Back on topic, I’ve always thought Velociraptors to be more of a shotgun-wielding dino. Their speed would make the rapid-fire qualities of a machine gun unnecessary, but give them a shotgun and they’d be able to do anything!

  8. says

    Even as irrational non-skeptics, we can be reasonably certain that dinosaurs and machine guns coexisted:Nowhere in the Bible does it say that dinosaurs didn’t have machine guns.

  9. says

    >>”… we should probably talk about ways in which we can travel back in time to witness some of the awesome gunfights between tyrannosaurus and triceratops.“Given that triceratops didn’t really have any fingers, I imagine it would have to use something similar to the automated shoulder cannons used in Predator, lol

  10. LS says

    Triceratops were really into body modification. They would replace each of their horns with a machine gun.

  11. Rrr says

    yeah but but. tommy guns aren’t exactly small arms, yeah? on the other hand (heehee) this might explain the apparently simultaneous, mutual exterminations. and that diogenes, wasn’t he the guy with the really big barrel?

  12. NotThatGreg says

    You’re right — in fact it doesn’t mention dinosaurs at all, nor does it mention machine guns. Proof positive that they coexisted!

  13. ebc says

    I have a question for your… speculation. We often hear that evidence of design is all around us. So my question is this: What does a universe without design look like?

  14. says

    And this explains the evolutionary necessity T-rex had to stand up on their hind legs, freeing up their forelimbs to become arms! Clearly, T-rex needed arms so they could shoot from all angles, and needed bipedality to get behind (or simply dodge) the triceratops’ deadly machine gun trio.

  15. ebc says

    Well, yes. Exactly my point. I was wondering what a creationist might have to say on the subject, in order to reinforce their point.

  16. says

    And considering that most dinos fought in close combat, and that a sawed-off shotgun is the most capable close-range weapon, is there not a case for a sawed-off shotgun-wielding velociraptor?Consider this too. Many dinos had large tails with which to balance their body weight. Perhaps there were species capable of despatching their competitors with martial arts? And could this be the reason for the veneration among the Orients of the ancient dragons? Could this be the explanation of the lack of firearms in the fossile record? Before there were Ninja Turtles, there were Ninja Tyranasaurs!

  17. says

    Not to detract from the excellent conversation above… I was wondering…and I often wonder when in traffic with *expletive deleted* drivers, why so-called non-theists use such theistic profanity every day?I mean really, why say “God” damn it? “Jesus Christ!!!” or “Mary Mother of God!!!” Why not say “[George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words deleted]” Oh, that’s right. The Christian Right would be eternally pissed if we said those words publicly. But they raise no Cain if we desecrate the holy name of YHWH. “All blasphemies against the Father or the Son shall be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall NEVER be forgiven.” ~JebusI propose then, if we atheists will ever be hypocrites and blaspheme either Father, Son, or Mother, we shall at least include the Holy Spirit and ensure our eternal damnation to non-existence!

  18. says

    A creationist would probably say something like, “Our universe must have been designed &mdash What caused the Big Bang? &mdash so an undesigned universe would be a nonexistent one.”At least, that infuriatingly shifts the burden of proof and sounds just as stupid as what I usually hear them say… but maybe they have a different retort for that?

  19. says

    I dunno, “The Holy Spirit is a lie foisted upon people when they’re too young to know better” takes quite a bit of time to say, lol. But I definitely like the idea of committing the unpardonable sin multiple times a day.We need to devote this thread to dinosaurs and machine guns, AND crafting the best expletive to secure our place in Hell.

  20. says

    And just think! If that meteor hadn’t killed them all off, we’d be descendants of sawed-off-shotgun-wielding Ninja Tyranosaurs instead of wimpy hairless apes!WHY must fate be so unkind to us!

  21. Jon says

    I can’t see a Tyranasaur with a machinegun – it would be disproportionally large for their little arms. Two 9mm pistols would look so much better.

  22. says

    Well there is always the boardgaming scene. There is a vassal module for most games, including Advanced Squad Leader and GMT Games,, has lots of options for paying their games online. I regularly purchase their products because they are some of the best on the market. Where are you located? There are wargamers, and gamers playing historical miniatures located all over the world. The Miniatures Page just recently announced that they have a member in Angola!

  23. says

    The earliest prophets were surely Pteradactyls who warned the war-mongering beasts below, first of the division of Pangea, then of imminent judgment from the sky if they did not repent. They were ruthlessly shot down to the very last one, but not before they created a new race of dino that would become todays avian species…and then the fire fell.That the birds are todays prophets I submit the following evidence: #1 Some birds are capable of speech. #2 these birds were frequent companions of Pirates, ordained to warn them of their evil ways. #3 These birds are capable of putting the fear of Dog in any burgler. Case in point:http://www.americanhumanist.or

  24. says

    Aping the Dinosaurs…Do you remember that famous scene at the end of “Planet of the Apes” when the Charlton Heston character finally realises that he is not in some far, alien planet but (gasp!) really on Earth when he sees a large chunk of pretty-well intact Statue of Liberty thrusting out of the sand?(And as an aside, do you know that I cannot for the life of me remember if the recent remake of the movie had that same denouement because that version left absolutely no impression on me whatsoever—well that’s not completely true, it did leave me with the decided impression that the technology of monkey-mask making had not progressed as far in the intervening 30-odd years as one might have hoped, but what can you do).Anyway that was a really effective image—the unmistakeable icon of New York in the wilderness. But of course, as with most really effective images it was completely wrong. What it showed us was just about impossible. I don’t know how much you know about the structure of the Statue of Liberty or, for that matter, about the chronology of the Planet of the Apes but let me assure you that the one is a flimsy shell over a hollow framework and the other is about two thousand years and I’ll leave you to guess which one is which. The upshot of this is that the chances of Charlton Heston seeing Lady Liberty after all that time are probably even less than the chances of him noticing that whatever the NRA says it is a hell of a sight easier to kill someone with a gun than without!The sad fact is that nothing lasts: entropy is king.Something like Liberty takes a lot of care to survive even a few hundred years (think of the repairs it’s needed already), but again think how even substantial buildings of stone only manage another order of magnitude—say a few thousands of years, and then, then, as time goes by, and as we get well up into the tens or eventually hundreds of thousands of years could you imagine that any buildings, even pyramids, would survive?And when you get up into the millions of years—well you’ve only got to look at how sparse the fossil record is to see how little survives. Yes entropy is very, very jugger-naughty and eventually flattens everything.Now, as you may well have noticed, I’m not a member of the current administration, and therefore I am fully aware that you can’t prove a negative, so I feel perfectly justified in presenting you with this probably undisprovable little hypothesis: but but before we get to that let’s start with a question. How much do you think is likely to be left to be a witness to our civilisation and our great intelligence and all our whatever it is after a really long time, say, oh, more than fifty million years?—Uh! Don’t wait for an answer that was rhetorical. Now from my observations of us here and now it seems clear that one obvious sign of civilization is mass extinction.Perhaps all that would be left of intelligence after 50, 60, 70 million years would be some soot and maybe odd distributions of rare metals platinum or, say, iridium and a lot of extinct species (though that last is no doubt a negative we can’t prove). And now we come to it, do you think that there is any way that you can prove that the dinosaurs didn’t develop intelligence and civilization (it has only taken us a few tens of thousands of years; tops: and they potentially had millions) and then (again to judge by ourselves) immediately develop weapons of mass destruction and then didn’t almost as immediately destroy themselves in pointless wars?That asteroid thingy was (if, that is, it actually were) probably just the gilt on the gingerbread.Cheerio for nowfrom Richard Howland-Bolton Is that shameless enough?

  25. says

    BTW having just read what I posted I should point out that that was a wireless essay from 2003–the then current administration being entirely unlike the current current administration.BBtw you can hear those in that brilliant bastion of all that’s good and kultured, WCLV’s syndicated Weekend Radio on many (mainly NPRish) stations traditionally on the first and third weekends of the month, though your weekendage may vary

  26. says

    Well, with web access you can game to your hearts content using Vassal. Feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to talk about history or gaming.

  27. VermontMan says

    I am twisting my nipples whilst staring at your picture. Can you feel my erection swelling from within my pants? I want to tickle your belly button from the inside…

  28. VermontMan says

    I once ejaculated on a cheeseburger to be served to a patron at a diner I worked at in Nova Scotia. I had no malice toward the man, only a deep seated pent-up inner hatred of myself.

  29. says

    I vote that, the next time the census rolls around, we all put our religion down as “Boobquakologist.” It’ll be a legit religion in no time!… and would Jen be the central deity of Boobquakology, or just female pope (popess?)/prophetess/whatever of it?

  30. says

    Well initially the wizards would suffer heavy losses due to arrogance at thinking the muggles couldn’t do anything, and the muggles use of sniper rifles. They would soon catch on and erect barriers to the bullets though, and then they would do something stupid that would kill huge numbers of muggles at once. At which point the muggles would use nuclear weapons and it would be the end of the world. So… no one would win.

  31. A-M says

    I don’t think it would end in the nuclear apocalypse because if the wizards had any sense, they would realise this eventually (hopefully before it was too late) and disguise themselves and mind-control whoever is in charge of the big red button. I think it would end in the muggles believing they had won, when in fact the wizards had won and were using certain high profile muggles as puppets to get what they wanted. How do we mere muggles know this isn’t the case right now? I get paranoid like this when I watch the Matrix too…and yet I call myself a skeptic. Shame on me.

  32. says

    When considering the question of Descartes’ Evil Daemon, I don’t feel the need to invoke Occam’s Razor or anything like that… I always just come to the conclusion that whether it is true or not, makes no real difference in any plausible scenario and, consequently, is impossible to determine. Similar to my view on, say, life after death.

  33. says

    Wizards don’t have science.They’d be sitting around going “hey, does anyone know how escalators work?” and we’d have abducted a wizard, run tests to figure out how magic works, and manufactured our own defense against it. Maybe even made our own magic-based weapons.In order to make wizards combat-ready, they have to go through all kinds of training with spells and such, while we muggles can just give people handguns. We’d have superior numbers, superior adaptability, and we’re much better suited to outright war than wizards are…. but they’ve got that bamf, Neville, on their side, so it’s pretty much 50/50, I think.

  34. says

    Long time lurker here… Big fan of your recent spy work (:Anyways, I made this video this morning of the Holy Laughter phenomenon set to music:

    If you are unfamiliar with Holy Laughter, it’s similar to speaking in tongues. Instead of babbling in gibberish, the church explodes into extended bouts of drunken laughter. With music, it’s somehow more disturbing and funnier. There are three songs, and they all match up pretty perfectly. I added a few images at the very end that I’m sure you will recognize (:

  35. says

    From where I’m sitting, neither. Neither of them make a version with no artificial colours, flavour, or preservatives, and no caffeine. In fact, I’ve found none that do…

  36. says

    So basically the Muggles would just zerg rush the wizards?You’ve also got to take into account the fact that wizards are damn good at hiding. Not only can they blend in easily enough with a little research, they’ve got thriving communities that Muggles literally are unable to find. All they’d have to do is apparate into a military base, cast a few spells, and leave. They could even go home to their families at night, if they wanted.

  37. says

    By “both are evil” you mean “are so tasty the Catholic and Mormon faiths probably tried and failed to ban them,” right? :DActually, arguably, the Mormons did… just no one really follows that rule.

  38. says

    I’ve always been a fan of the double mondegreen that happened with Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida.Edit…or maybe that would be an inverse mondegreen. Something, anyway.

  39. says

    Coke, if only because regional varieties of Coke are super-fun examples of geopolitical tensions and dynamics (hey, Coke from Mexico with real cane sugar and badass glass bottles!)Also, Coke is a *way* better mixer, which is basically the objective criterion to end all objective criteria.

  40. says

    Looking at the ingredients on their EU range, still got presumed-artificial flavourings, as it says ‘flavourings’ without saying ‘no artificial flavourings’ elsewhere. With allergies, one generally has to assume that it’s not suitable if it’s unclear.Plus, a lack of HFCS is not unusual here in Europe… most stuff is made of refined cane sugar, increasingly unrefined is popular too.

  41. says

    I think it’s only the US (& Canada?) where these sorts of drinks use HFCS rather than cane sugar. In fact, say ‘sugar’ in the UK, or the relevant word in the local language in most of Europe, cane is presumed.

  42. says

    Both are delicious, addictive beverages of which I drink far too much. Artificial flavors, colors, and hfcs don’t bug me at all. But the possible increased risk of pancreatic cancer…. that makes me stop and think about cutting back.

  43. says

    Given that correlation is always proof of causation, Jen must’ve made all you guys vehement soda haters…. or “pop” haters, if you’re one of those weird people.

  44. Katy says

    I love diet coke, for the flavor. Don’t really like full-sugar coke or pepsi, or diet pepsi. But when I was at a client’s office the other day, I said I liked diet coke, and he said “WHAT? No Republican drinks allowed here!” Who knew that coke was the Republican company? And that Pepsi is Democratic?!

  45. says

    We oughta organize a poll or something to see if there’s a legitimate correlation there. I mean, Coke’s label is red, and Pepsi’s is blue, after all… :D

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