Our terrible secret exposed!

I am dismayed. Freethoughtblogs has been accused of being a den of Feminazis, Femistasi, totalitarian thought, and being equivalent to a totalitarian state, by no less a person than Paula Kirby. This is terrible news!

We aren’t ready! The interrogation rooms haven’t even been furnished, all the razorwire is sitting in spools and hasn’t been deployed, and we haven’t even settled on the final design for the uniforms. I mean, we’ve picked the colors (black, of course, with blood red highlights), but we’re bickering over the retro and dapper 1940s look, or this spectacular futuristic art deco Ming the Merciless style. They both look so fabulous it’s impossible to make up our minds. We have settled on the symbol: skulls — absolutely required — and tentacles.

But it’s not enough and we’re nowhere near prepared! I’ve had to spend my evening browsing through military surplus catalogs — it’s amazing what you can buy online — to get the gear for the 1st Pharyngula Panzer Division, since as you all know, fashion is more important than guns for a good solid popular fascist movement, so we waited until the last moment. We’re going to have to settle for some rather marginal tanks, I’m afraid, but it should be adequate to roll over the Dakotas and Wisconsin, especially since they don’t suspect a thing, and once we’ve seized a few depots we can upgrade. But still! We had a goddamned timetable (you know how we fascists love our timetables), and this just messes them all up!

Oh, well.

Say, if I put up a chipin widget or create a kickstarter to build a war machine, you’ll all contribute, right? We’ll take your name off the purge list if you do!

And, well, you all know what will happen to you if you don’t.

Pharyngula Podcast #2: The silly things those creationists say

I’ll be starting our second Pharyngula podcast on Google+ in one hour, at 10am Central time. You can look for it on my google+ stream, or wait patiently and I’ll post a link to the Google+ hangout and the youtube live stream somewhere early in the process. So get your webcam and your headset ready if you’d like to join in the conversation about those silly creationist claims.

I’ll also embed the video right here when the recording is all done.

We’ve started. I think these links will work:

The Google+ hangout, if you have a Google+ account.

The YouTube stream, for everyone else.

I think you can leave comments in real time at either place, I’ll try to monitor them and bring up any interesting points people might want to make.

Anybody want to try those and let me know if they’re working? Leave a comment if I need to fix something.

Hey, we sort of got it working. I think the problem was that I have to send invites to a discrete set of individuals, and a lot of people weren’t getting that and couldn’t log in. Next time, we’ll arrange it better ahead of time, and I’ll have a group of 8 or 10 people lined up to participate.

Here’s the video anyway. Ignore the first half hour or so (make that the first 15 minutes — it didn’t take as long as I thought), it’s just me and Russell Glasser floundering as we try to figure out why we’re not making contact.

Woo hoo! ‘Shrooms and acid party at my house tonight!

We do not have a rational drug policy. There are potent and dangerous drugs that are socially accepted because hey, we’ve always drunk alcohol and smoked cigarettes, while there are milder, far less dangerous drugs that are damned because they’re new and unfamiliar. And so we throw people in prison for long jail terms if they are caught with some marijuana, while people can go out every weekend and drink themselves into an abusive, obnoxious state, and we just tell them they’re cool.

It is possible to take an objective look at the effects of various drugs on individuals and society, and ask “where’s the harm?” Here’s an example, the dangers of an array of drugs characterized and ranked.

There’s lots of small print there, so you may have to click to embiggen, but I can tell you what the extremes are: alcohol is the worst, and psychoactive mushrooms are the least. Heroin and meth are bad, LSD and Ecstasy are among the least dangerous.

And there are good biological reasons for this ranking.

The particular type of neurotransmitters that a drug affects in the brain has a huge impact on the harms the drug can contribute to. A major similarity between the drugs that tops the list above is that these drugs, in addition to other areas in the brain (click here for a discussion), directly affect the dopaminergic “reward system” in the midbrain. This area has been shaped and “designed” by millions of years of natural selection in mammals to reward for adaptive behavior such as sex and the intake of nutritious food. When they are artificially stimulated by drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine they have adverse consequences for addiction and health (that is the reason why drugs such as nicotine and heroin have the characteristic addictive effects). Drugs at the bottom of the list, such as MDMA (ecstasy), mushrooms and LSD stimulate mainly serotonergic neurons (several places in the brain), and does not directly stimulate the mesolimbic reward systems (which is why they are not addictive).

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we had laws and penalties that were actually informed by science, rather than fear and naivete?

I will add, though, that there’s more to this than just biology: there are the sciences of sociology and pyschology that have to be taken into account. We’ve done the experiment of trying to criminalize alcohol in the same way we do heroin; it didn’t work.

Why I am an atheist – Danielle

I am an atheist because of Alcoholics Anonymous. My mom is an alcoholic, and had been in the group and sober for as long as I can remember. AA was my religion growing up, even more than Christianity. While I would go years without setting foot in a church, I sat outside of AA meetings and listened to everyone share and repeat the twelve steps and the Lord’s Prayer several times a week. I learned all of the twelve steps and all of the slogans. I was taught my mom had a disease, and that her disease would kill her if she didn’t attend these meetings. I was taught that while I was important, god and AA had to come first in her life. I was also taught that alcoholism was a family disease, that it was genetic, and that I was doomed to either become alcoholic myself or marry an alcoholic.

[Read more…]

Change of focus

I have just completed an informal survey of the community by scanning through the New York Times, the Washington Times, the LA Times, High Times, Fortean Times, and World Net Daily, and have come to the realization that this blog does not conform to the wider interests of the world around us. Most people in the world do not care much at all about science, as long as their TVs work, are completely ignorant of evolution, and find atheism completely repellent. Therefore, my interests are out of sync and not worth doing.

From now on, I’ll be changing what I write about to something more reflective of the status quo. My time will be better spent writing about stuff white people find awesome, cars, cosmetics, Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, cats and kittens, the attractiveness of slender women in bikinis, martinis, football, and jokes about women making sandwiches.

I understand that these are the topics of prime importance. I’ll also be yelling at everyone else on FtB that they’re wasting our time and being non-representative of people’s concerns by being all disagreeable and failing to conform and stuff.

Also, at last, all those women scribbling away here can find something more productive to do: making my sammiches.

Secular Woman

Say, look: it’s a new organization promoting godless values, called Secular Woman. You should join. I just did, and they didn’t even balk at my Y chromosome!

The Blaze is hot on this story! They say it’s “yet another point of evidence that non-believers are working feverishly to harness and secure power”. They’re wrong. It’s another point of evidence that we’re working steadily and confidently to take over the world.