Imaginary lesbians and the sexual singularity

Manboobz blows my mind again. He’s got quotes from MRAs denying the existence of lesbians. Apparently, in their privileged little brains, women can’t possibly be interested in sex, because if they were, they’d be having sex with them. They aren’t, QED.

I was enchanted by one fellow’s vision of a future paradise, though. He’s anxiously awaiting the technology that will allow him to put on some goggles, strap a widget onto his genitals, and let Ray Kurzweil diddle him.

It will be very interesting to see how much sex men have vs. how much sex women have with their virtual reality computer generated men and women in the year 2020. I bet most men get laid everyday while women try it a few times and not bother with sex anymore when she realizes there’s no money in it. Women will use VR men for his virtual money while men will be with virtual women for virtual sex.

I like that future. I see an end to the MRAs and PUAs, when they’ll all mind-meld with their Macs and immerse themselves in World of Whorecraft, where their fantasies of servile mindless females with large breasts can come true. The rest of us will have normal human lives with each other.

It’s the world most of us are already living in, of course.

I thought that was the natural state of all philosophers?

John Wilkins is an unemployed philosopher right now, so he’s looking for donations to tide him over. Give him a little assistance if you can, especially since he’s threatening to have a god take him to heaven if we don’t cough up. Let’s not give a damned agnostic an excuse to wobble over the correct answer on that one.

Don’t leave any comments over there, though! He fears and hates the Horde, ’cause he ain’t got one.

(Also on Sb)

Lavender becomes us

Minnesota Atheists are highlighted in Lavender magazine. The reason? Gays and atheists often find themselves fighting on the same side in battles against the Religious Righteous, and Minnesota Atheists recently filed a friend of the court brief in a pending argument against the odious “Defense of Marriage Act”.

The amicus brief filed by Minnesota Atheists supports the couples in their effort to get rid of the law and argues the unconstitutionality of DOMA, noting the law’s theological basis.

The Minnesota State Constitution, with clauses guaranteeing freedom of conscious and freedom of religion, and the U.S. Constitution, which establishes freedom of religion in the First Amendment and equal protection for all in the Fourteenth Amendment, are violated by DOMA, according to the brief.

Berkshire said the religious roots of the law are grounded in “conservative Christian” views and leave those who have differing beliefs out in the cold.

“[DOMA is] a religious law that’s not just a difference of opinion,” Berkshire said. “It’s a religious law that’s harming people.” The amicus brief gives several sectarian arguments why same-sex marriage is considered unacceptable by some religious institutions, but says there is no secular reason to bar same-sex couples from opportunities given to heterosexual couples.

There those atheists go, making the world more tolerant and wiser one step at a time.

Ick, Easterbrook.

I should probably rotate the objects of my ire more often. Way back in the days before Scienceblogs, a couple of my common targets were people I rarely talk about anymore, like George Gilder, or Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook is a pretentious sports writer and creationist who hates godless books and movies, who somehow managed to land commissions with Slate and Wired as a science writer (this is comparable to me getting hired to be a sports writer — Armageddon is nigh if that ever happens).

I am very pleased to see, though, that someone else shares my contempt for the guy: Tom Levenson can be provoked to peevishness by an Easterbrook column. Easterbrook’s not just bad at science, he sucks at writing. What does this mean?

A Cosmic Thought: Last week researchers announced they had found, in a South African cave, evidence of painting 100,000 years ago. The previous oldest evidence of painting was from 60,000 years in the past; the famous Lascaux cave paintings in France were made about 17,000 years ago. The latest find, in South Africa, shows both that our ancestors were experimenting with iron oxides to make permanent paint 50 millennia in the past: all that time ago, they painted inside caves, seeming to hope their work would last long enough to be seen by distant descendants.

Each time telescopes improve, the universe is revealed to be larger, older and grander. Each time anthropology makes an advance, the human experiment is shown to be older and more complex than thought. Who can say where the cosmic enterprise may be headed?

Hey! I’m talking about that really cool discovery of a 100,000 year old pigment set in New Orleans this coming weekend! It really is a nifty story that shows people have been doing art for about as long as they’ve been Homo sapiens.

But I haven’t a clue what Easterbrook is talking about. I think the cave art was painted for the people of that time, and they don’t seem to have been doing it for posterity, or Gregg Easterbrook; I’m also baffled by the odd implication of a prediction of greater, older complexity of human culture far back in the past. People 100,000 years ago were fully anatomically human; I think everyone expects that their would have been cultures existing coincident with our evolution.

Let’s not even get started on his math confusion that 100,000 years = 50 millennia.

I do wish someone could explain to me how that hack continues to publish.

Watts wrote a check he couldn’t cash

That wacky climate change denier and radio weather broadcaster Anthony Watts took a brave step a while back, and I commend him for it. He was enthused about an independent research project, the Berkeley Earth Project, that would measure the planet’s temperature over the last centuries and compare it to the work of NOAA and NASA on earth’s temperature — he apparently expected that it would show that NASA and NOAA had been inflating the data. He was so confident that he went on the record saying:

I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.

Excellent! That’s a good scientific attitude.

So the results have been published, and they look like this:

Results from the Berkeley Earth project data fits existing NASA and NOAA temperature records like a glove

You can probably see the NASA/NOAA data wiggling beneath the dark bold line of new data from the Berkeley Earth Project. They’re rather…close. Intimate, even.

What do you think Anthony Watts’ response was?

I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked.

Yep. Didn’t give the results he wanted. Therefore, the experiment is bad.

(Also on Sb)

Why I am an atheist – Julia

For the first twelve years of my life, my mother frantically tried to bring me up in her Baptist church. She was elated that one of the first words I learnt to spell was “Jesus” at age 2. My father (who I found out to be an atheist last year) is a pilot and would conveniently bring me on fishing trips every few Sundays. It struck me as odd that he never had to go to church, but I didn’t really ask about it.

It wasn’t very long until I started questioning. When I was 5, my Sunday School teacher “disproved” the big bang by throwing a bunch of hard plastic animal toys into a plastic bag and shaking them up together. “See?” he said. “Everything is the exact same as when it went into the bag. This means that the only way the universe could have started was through god!”

Well, I was 5. It was the ’90s. I was irrevocably in love with Bill Nye. I told my Sunday School teacher that actually, no, he had done nothing to increase the entropy inside the bag, and how on earth can you perform nuclear changes by banging a bunch of polymers together?!

This would mark the first time I embarrassed my mother in church. I’m sure it wasn’t the last. There was so much they taught that just never made sense to me—How can everyone in heaven be happy if they know people they love are in hell? Why didn’t this all-powerful god hint to my aunt who died of rare duodenal cancer that she should get an endoscopy earlier? Moreso, why is this god such a jerk in general? Why is every religion “right”? What if religion is a farce and I waste my entire life—all that I have to live—following obscene rules instead of doing what I want? Why do these people say that without god, they would just be out raping and murdering all day? And why on earth do my Sunday School teachers keep telling me I’m going to burn in hell for listening to Queen?

By the time I was about 12, I didn’t have to go to church anymore. Whether news of my questions reached my mother and she decided I was too much of an embarrassment, or she decided that if church and years of bible camp couldn’t sway my mind, nothing would, I don’t know. I’m now involved in an atheist club in my university where I’m studying biochemistry—a combination she’s not pleased with, but has learned to accept.

So, why am I an atheist? Bill Nye helped me how to think and introduced me to science before my anyone else did. My childhood curiosity refused to take “Goddidit” as an answer. My amazement for the universe and how it works grows each year, and I refuse to stop at such superficial answers and instead look for the elegance of what truly goes on. I’m an atheist because I’ve always been an atheist, and can’t imagine being limited by believing in magical sky fairies.



I grew up in a family that, on my mother’s side, was rather strongly Scandinavian, and throughout my childhood, I vaguely sensed some strain between the various nationalities, a tension between the Norwegians and the Swedes (we had nothing to do with those Danes, and the Finns — completely beyond the pale). Now, at last, the stereotypes are illustrated for me in this strange webcomic, Scandinavia and the World.

Teresa at Making Light explains it well.

Basically, it’s about national stereotypes as seen from Denmark, with lots of explanatory comments and a fair amount of yaoi action. Iceland is sparkly and conceited. Finland is a semi-mute knife-wielding depressive in a Jayne hat. Germany lives in a funk of perpetual guilt. Denmark is laid back, constantly horny, a clueless racist, and phobic about nature, and has a beer bottle glued to one hand. Netherlands is much like Denmark — tolerant, easygoing, polymorphously perverse, and crazy about bicycles — but has a joint rather than a beer bottle. The Baltic States are like the Bronte Sisters on a really bad day. The United States is clueless, bullying, and wears Canada as a hat. And so forth.

I read a bunch of the strips tonight, and now I’m feeling like a traitor: I identified with the cartoon Finn the most.

Also, the one about the fish reminds me of Christmas.