25 June 2008



It would seem that Dobson isn't as relevant as he used to be! A group of Christian pastors has repudiated James Dobson over his remarks on Obama, and what's more, they started a website with a title that just too rich not to type out in full caps:


And just LOOK at their statement! It's so much win!

James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

He doesn't speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;

He doesn't speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;

James Dobson doesn't speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn't speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor's views when they don't line up with his;

He doesn't speak for me when he seeks to confine the values of my faith to two or three issues alone;

What does speak for me is David's psalm celebrating how good and pleasant it is when we come together in unity;

Micah speaks for me in reminding us that the Lord requires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him;

The prophet Isaiah speaks for me in his call for all to come and reason together and also to seek justice, encourage the oppressed and to defend the cause of the vulnerable;

The book of Nehemiah speaks for me in its example to work with our neighbors, not against them, to restore what was broken in our communities;

The book of Matthew speaks for me in saying to bless those that curse you and pray for those who persecute you;

The words of the apostle Paul speak for me in saying that words spoken and deeds done without love amount to nothing.

The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus' command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.

These words speak for me. But when James Dobson attacks Barack Obama, James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

In addition, there's a run-down of what Barack has said in comparison with the distortions of Dobson.

Finally, people of faith are starting to wake up and smell the bullshit of these bigoted asshats.

(H/T to The Friendly Atheist)

lolphilosophers: Schrodinger's retort

Hehehehehehehehe!!! Although Schrodinger's kitteh looks more like Basement Cat! Oh noes!!!

Hello Pot? This is Kettle...YOU'RE BLACK!!!

Hehehe, ya gotta love the irony of sectarian bickering.

It was only a matter of time before one of the fundies-in-chief, this time the "reverend" James Dobson (head of a mass organization of religious bigots known as Focus on the Family), to formally attack Barack Obama as not being "Christian" enough. He's taking issue with a speech Obama made two years ago about the role of faith in democracy.

Now, Obama takes a very rational, pragmatic view of Biblical scripture, taking into account that we live in a secular, pluralistic nation and that in order for us to co-exist, we have to translate religion-specific morals and values into universals so that they are, in Obama's words, "subject to argument and amenable to reason." Further, Obama had the audacity to point out that using "god told me" as a justification for anything is totally unacceptable in our democracy.

But as is the case with most fundies, this painfully obvious fact flies clear over Dobson's head. Whatever, he said he wouldn't vote for McCain anyway, so he's just flailing about trying to still look relevant.

24 June 2008

lolphilosophers: Nietzche

Oh noes!

I get email

So imagine my surprise when I get an email in my box this morning with the subject heading "Press Release for the Reckoner."

Eh? Who's making press releases for my blog?

Well, no one, it's just someone named Victor Senchenko plugging their own thing, but wait til you see what it is.

Looking over your website, you seem to present yourself as a rational thinker with liberal, humanist views. It is for this reason that the following Press Release may be of interest to you.

Ok, it seems to start off innocently enough...I like to think I'm rational, somewhat liberal on some issues, and definitely humanist (though in the traditional sense of the word, not the strawman definition from the 1970s that fundies still mistakenly use today as a term of derision).

In your personal pursuit of knowledge, you may have come across an interesting phenomena: every year there are millions of children born, of whom many parents become aware that their children are very intelligent. These smart children are often given the chance – by either their parents or the society in which they live – to develop that intelligence, so that it could be used to enhance and improve human existence. This has been occurring, more or less, throughout human existence. Currently we find that never before in human existence has literacy been so wide spread. Never before in human existence have humans possess so much knowledge on how to communicate, heal, and duplicate. Never before in human existence have humans achieved feats of intellectual brilliance and physical endeavors, such as that of a space program, and sending of probes to other planets, so as to learn exactly what our Solar System comprises of. And yet, for all the widespread literacy, numeracy, and vast range of intellectual application advances in all forms of industries and fields of research, a simple but irrefutable fact remains: that humans, as a species, are no more humanely civilized today than they were thousands of years ago.

Ok, he contradicts himself in the first paragraph...not good. If we've "never before" seen such advancements as those he lists, how can he claim that we are still "no more humanely civilized today than [we] were thousands of years ago"? We are definitely more humane than we were 1000 years ago, and this guy is being silly. Are we still keeping slaves? Do we not fight for human rights on daily basis? Do we not have a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote peace and human rights between and within all the nations of the world? It is true that we are still violent and can be generally horrible to each other, but to say we haven't made any progress is just stupid. Moving on...

Human species, made up of races and societies, remains divisive, unjust and ignorant – prone to inflict suffering both on humans and other species – due to human selfishness, greed, and love of brutality. Take a random look at any part of this planet today, and there shall be a presence of human misery: death from hunger; suppressions and oppressions by military juntas and dictators; revolutions; mindless wars waged by bully nations – including those that claim to be democracies – and other military aggressions; retaliatory terrorism; crime with or without violence; degradation and theft of natural resources by desperate or greedy individuals; destruction and pollution of environment by uncaring populations and business companies. Lately, such human behavior has been so bad it has resulted in a vast and rapid degradation of living conditions on this planet, not just for humans but for all life forms.

Yes, all this may be true, but, again, in order for his previous claim to be true, we have to ignore all the good things that have improved life dramatically for human beings. One metric to consider is life expectancy. Do you think it nearly doubled in the last 150 years just on accident? But he's identified his target problem, let's see how he goes about suggesting a solution.

So how can it be that at the period of being so intellectually advanced in knowledge of technical and chemical applications, this, the very brightest and the most educated generation of humans have brought upon themselves the most dangerous situation concerning their existence, the likes of which had never occurred to any earlier human generations?

Ok, I'll bite: how?

The reason for this current human dilemma is that humans replicate the behavior and thinking of those before them. A younger generation accepts the teachings of the older generations, who teach the younger generation what they themselves had experienced at the hands of their own older generation who taught them. In this way, a perpetuation of the ideals held by older generation is guaranteed, so that when an older generation embraces lies, prejudices, and delusions, these lies, prejudices, and delusions are certain to be passed on to the younger generation, who then shall pass the very same lies, prejudices, and delusions onto their own offsprings. In this way, no matter how clever, smart, or intelligent the young generation may be, they are sure to be no wiser than their predecessors.

Ah. He thinks we're all indoctrinated with lies, which is true enough: most of us are raised to believe some pretty crazy shit. But the problem with his argument is that it's too simplistic. Not only does he ignore that not everyone is raised in the same culture with the same beliefs, but he also ignores that there have always been revolutionaries and rebels who continuously challenge the status quo. Besides, it's almost like this guy somehow got through childhood without actually being a teenager! Did he go straight from 12 to 20 and skip his entire adolescence? Viva la revolucion! :P

Needless to say, there are many well-intentioned humans who claim to seek the truth through reason, by exposing human misguided notions of superstition and other delusions connected with religions. The irony is that these individuals are also participants in delusions, without even being aware of this. This occurs because current humans, irrespective of their intellectual pursuits and endeavors, continue to accept the erroneous notions they were taught by their teachers; the very same erroneous notions their teachers were taught by those before them: notion based on misconceptions and fabrications rather than physical reality, but which they all accepted as being factual, and therefore, presumably requiring no examination. This is exactly how science became, and remains flawed: where principles invented by someone, continue to be accepted with no authentication by others.

Uh oh. It would seem he's not just after superstitious religious beliefs, he's after science. So what exactly is it that he thinks are the "misconceptions and fabrications" that have invaded modern science? Evolution? Abiogenesis? What is he after?

Take ‘time’, for example. ‘Time’ was, and remains, an early human invention: a notion intending to explain the physical process of change, which inevitably includes a deterioration – or ‘dispersal’ – of every physical object or body. This includes a physical process that can be observed in humans as an aging of the body, leading to death. This physical process of change can also be witnessed in the continuous rotation of Earth on its axis (by that producing a day and night effect), and the planet’s ongoing orbit of the Sun (producing seasons on Earth’s surface). But instead of understanding that change physically occurs from all the surrounding physical influences of all the surrounding objects and bodies, early humans gave in to a presumption that change was caused by an unseen and unfelt force of mysterious ‘time’. A supposedly, powerful, mysterious entity very much like those of gods; an entity capable of manifesting itself in all that it influences to age and deteriorate.

If you just did a jaw-agape double-take, you're not alone! Time is an entity???? Are you fucking kidding me?? It's almost enough to call "Poe's Law" on this guy, if he wasn't arguing against religion at the same time. But still, let's roll with it and see if there aren't some lulz to be had...

With the development of science, scientists did not bother to examine the notion of ‘time’ seriously. They simply accepted it blindly. After all, were they not taught to accept ‘time’ to be an integral companion of space: a togetherness of time-space continuum? From that blind acceptance, the non-existent entity of ‘time’ had become a valuable commodity to aid the expanding imaginations of scientists and academics. So instead of ‘time’ being simply a ‘measure’ of any duration of the physical process of change, (not unlike a mile or kilometer being merely a measure of distance between two separate points in space, or on Earth’s surface) ‘time’ had been awarded flexible qualities, making it supposedly capable, in its own mysterious way, of fracturing, warping, accelerating and slowing.

Oh, yes, there have been some paltry experiments conducted to establish the physical existence of ‘time’, by examining the effects produced on some elements with a constant rate of decay. But all that these experiments could show, if examined properly, is that physical change can and does occur according to the levels of physical influence imposed upon the decaying elements, causing a speeding-up or slowing-down of decay. This does not, in any way, shape, or form, provide any physical proof to existence of ‘time’, but mere that physical change occurs from other physical change.

Were ‘time’ to physically exist, then, a simple experiment would have long ago provided physical proof to physical existence of ‘time’. That experiment would consist of a refrigerating unit standing exposed to the Sun and the elements of the weather, and of two leaves being removed from the same branch of a tree. One of the two leaves would be placed on top of the refrigerating unit, exposed to the Sun and the elements. The other leaf would be placed inside the refrigerating unit. Were ‘time’ to exist, then the two leaves, few centimeters or inches apart (one on the outside and one on the inside) would be affected at a similar rate by the surrounding-them same speed of ‘time’. As ‘time’ does not exist, but the physical process of change does, the exposed leaf on top of the refrigerating unit would soon disintegrate – disperse – while the leaf incased in the refrigerating unit would remain virtually unchanged indefinitely, for as long as the refrigerating unit continues to function, despite that the refrigerating unit itself is exposed to the Sun and the elements.

Wow. Just let that soak in. It's like bathing in pure inanity, isn't it? I especially love the setup for his proposed "experiment!" ROFL! Apparently, this guy read a little bit on wikipedia about the theory of relativity and the accompanying principle of spacetime, but failed to grasp that spacetime itself doesn't exist, but rather everything exists within spacetime. Things exists in a certain space during a certain time, and no two objects can exist in the same space at the same time. Spacetime is a context for existence, it is not an object in existence nor is it existence itself. It's not a hard concept to grasp, but this guy just took it in a whole new direction it was never supposed to go.

There are other such flaws to the current understanding of science. But despite them being flaws, delusions, or simply lies, it will not be easy for current humans – be they also scientists and academics or not – to acknowledge them as such. Having based their sciences on such delusions, the full scope of human knowledge depends for those non-existent entities to exist. So much like theists depending on their non-existent gods to exist. For that reason, blinded by their faith – despite proclaiming their allegiance to logic and reason – those in sciences shall (and do), belligerently refuse to admit their delusions, just like theists who refuse to acknowledge the non-existence of their gods.

Despite such opposition to physical reality, sooner or later humans will have to recognize and admit that their current delusions apply not just to religions, but to sciences as well. They shall also be required to admit that the reason why they find themselves, as a species, in such dire straits, is totally due to them structuring ABSOLUTELY ALL of their societies on their flawed, erroneous, and deluded perceptions of themselves and all that surrounds them, despite of their individual high intelligence. Humans had devised their societies according to their own, flawed perceptions of physical existence, rather than doing so based on absolute rational of reason.

Ugh, he just compared science to a religious belief, with time as its "god." Notice how he also set it up so that he can call you "delusional" if you don't agree with him? Classic denialism. So then what, pray tell, is the "absolute rational [sic] of reason" we should be following?

There is, however, an alternative to this situation. It is now possible for anyone to learn all there is to know about humans, the reasons for their behavior, and all that physically surrounds them. A book, “Revelations of a Human Space Navigator", by Victor Senchenko, discloses all the human delusions, which continue to afflict human existence. This book reveals the very basics of who and what humans actually are, and why they behave as they do. It explains exactly from what all that is physical is physically made of, and why in the process of being they produce resultant physical functions, such as gravity and electromagnetic fields. By providing all this information, it becomes quite simple to understand exactly why ‘time’ and gods not only do not physically exist, but exactly why they cannot physically exist.

Aha! Finally we cut to the chase! He's plugging a book! Let's just let get that title by itself so we can have a proper look at it:

Revelations of a Human Space Navigator

Oh my. So he's proving that something which we already know doesn't exist physically, doesn't exist physically? Wow. Not only that, but he claims he can explain everything! Did he come across this knowledge while he was "navigating" through "space?" ROFL!

Of course, there is no compulsion for you to either accept the claims made in the book, or to purchase the book. The only important factor is that of your awareness: should you ever choose to acquire the knowledge humans had always claimed to want, without any illusions, delusions, fabrications and lies, then you should know that such information is available to you.

Oh, don't worry, I won't purchase it. And it's not because I'm not without "illusions, delusion, fabrications and lies," but rather because I'm not without incredulity when it comes to the claims of cranks who don't understand the first thing about what it is they're arguing against. Time is an "entity?" LMAO!!!

But now we're coming to the really funny part...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Furthermore, in defending the uniqueness and originality of the information presented in the book, the author issues a challenge to Any and Every person on the planet who purchases this book: were that person to provide the author with a physical proof that his revelations
had already existed at any period of the Human Age, (as knowledge not derived or sourced from this book), then the author, himself, will refund that person the full purchase price of the book.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! He's already shown how fucked up his understanding of spacetime is, so how much you wanna bet he wouldn't know it if anyone actually bothered to refute any of his other "claims?" It's just put there to give the credulous fools who do end up buying his book the illusion that his positions are intellectually defensible. But judging just from the content of this "press release," I'd say anyone who bought the book and decided to challenge it should be guaranteed to get his money back...that's if this guy not only understands how he's wrong but actually admits it, which is exactly what these guys DON'T do. Remember Kent Hovind's $250,000 Challenge? Yeah, it's like that, only not as big.

Anyway, here's the guy's website for those of you who are actually interested in pwning this crank. www.victorsenchenko.com

That whole site earns Victor his own special cap. Thanks for the lulz Vic! :P

23 June 2008

Rest in Peace: George Carlin

It was the first thing I saw this morning when I logged on. George Carlin is dead at 71.

One of the funniest, and smartest men of the last generation has passed. I'm really going to miss his incisive mocking of religion, among other issues that American go crazy over for the wrong the reasons.

I'll never forget this one...

"The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument, 'It came from God! Anything we can't describe must've come from God!'"

He had religion nailed a long time ago. He'll be missed.

21 June 2008

Update on Freshwater: FINALLY DOIN IT RITE

Well, finally sanity prevails over the town of Mt. Vernon, as we receive word from Ed over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars that the school board voted UNAMINOUSLY to terminate John Freshwater from his teaching position at the middle school.


I know there should normally an exclamation point after that "hooray" but I just feel like this isn't a victory for reason. This guy was able to spew his bullshit in students' minds for TWENTY-ONE FUCKING YEARS!!!

Why? Why so long to fire such a blatantly obvious religious ideologue who had no business whatsoever being in a position of authority over children?

What's more, John is probably going to be taken care of by one of the nutjob creationist/dominionist groups out there who are looking to help him "sell" his story of being fired for merely "keeping a Bible on his desk," which is the lie his local defenders are telling right now.

Such a waste.

20 June 2008

Update on Freshwater: It's worse than we thought

How this mother fucker wasn't fired YEARS ago I'll never understand. Apparently, he's been burning crosses into his students' arms for almost two decades, and his colleagues at the high school level have complained about having to "re-educate" his students after they've had him for 8th grade science, so thorough have his methods of indoctrination in naked creationism been.

The complete summary of the investigation is out. You can read it here.

There's word that the board is going to fire him soon. They should add a few more names to that list, like whoever shielded Freshwater from criticism over his 21 years of "teaching." Seriously, the damage that he's done over the years...outrageous!!! Of course, prepare for the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the religious right for "viewpoint discrimination" or some such non-sense.

(H/T to Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

19 June 2008

History: UR DOIN RONG!!! pt. 2

Ok, so apparently the religious right went digging around and they finally found what they were looking for: a 150 year old tome that purports to “prove” that the United States actually was founded as a Christian nation.

Is anyone else laughing at this? Instead of doing there own research into primary source material, doing their own analysis and work, what do they do? They go to an ancient tome! Sound eerily familiar?

Anyway, it’s available online both at Google books and ScienceBlogs has a downloadable pdf of it if you care to look, just head over to Greg Laden’s blog for the link. (H/T to Greg for the lulz!)

18 June 2008


Literally! At least, John Freshwater's Electro-Technics Products Inc. model BD-10A is burning with Christ's love. Apparently, the high school teacher was behaving a bit naughty, what with handing out Bibles on school time and, get this, burning the cross into student's flesh!!

How fucked up does a teacher have to be in order for the school board to kick them to the curb? We don't know what the limits of dingbattery the Mount Vernon City School District of Ohio is willing to put up with, because they didn't really do anything to correct this problem.

So now, predictably, there's a lawsuit.

I swear, this is insane. What was the board thinking? It's even worse when considering that the principal and superintendent of the school actually worked against the complainants! Check out this bullshit and then try not to vomit:

White also, according to the court documents, disclosed the identity of the plaintiffs to Freshwater, although Short had promised them anonymity. After the parents raised concerns of retaliation against their son, a field trip was scheduled, with their son assigned to a certain group and chaperone. The suit claims that once the child’s identity was revealed, his group assignment was changed to the one led by Freshwater. As a result, the parents “were forced to prohibit their son from attending the school field trip.” That caused injury by depriving the son of a valuable educational experience and discouraging the plaintiffs from continuing to exercise their right to free speech.
As Abbie over at ERV astutely asked, "what was Freshwater planning on doing to this child?" It chills the bones to think that the group assignments were changed so that Freshwater could again be in power over this kid.

Anyway, this is a loser for the district and for Freshwater, but don't be surprised if you start seeing this case put forward by kooks and cranks as evidence of secular oppression. "ZOMG! CRISTAINS R BEIN PURSEQUTID!!!" So stupid...

Introducing Cato the Elder...lolphilosopher

"The Happening"

So I took my dad to go see it on Father's Day (he and I always liked Shyamalan's movies). But after seeing it, I can't help but thinking that I should've paid more attention to reviews.

Here's the review that I think best expresses my opinion of Shyamalan's latest work.

17 June 2008


Oh my...Bill Maher made a documentary.

It looks good, no?

History: UR DOIN IT RONG!!!

So Christopher Hitchens has an essay in the latest edition of Newsweek in which he rightly takes Pat Buchanan to task over his new revisionist history of World War II speciously titled Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World.

World War II? THAT war was unnecessary??? I haven't read it, but already I can see Pat is once again wearing his daffy isolationism on his sleeve. Thankfully, Hitchens has summed up Pat's main points for quick refutation:

  • That Germany was faced with encirclement and injustice in both 1914 and 1939.
  • Britain in both years ought to have stayed out of quarrels on the European mainland.
  • That Winston Churchill was the principal British warmonger on both occasions.
  • The United States was needlessly dragged into war on both occasions.
  • That the principal beneficiaries of this were Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
  • That the Holocaust of European Jewry was as much the consequence of an avoidable war as it was of Nazi racism.

Point one is obviously ludicrous: it wasn't as if Germany hadn't ALREADY taken over two of its neighbours (Austria in 1937-8, and Czechoslovakia in 1938-39) and intervened in another country's bloody civil war to help install another fascist dictator (Spain, 1936-39). No, it's not like Germany wasn't aggressive all across the board. True, the Versailles Treaty was a raw deal for the Germans, but not in 1914!! Anyway, Hitchens does pretty well taking Pat apart on this one.

Point two is also ridiculous, and simply reflects Buchanan's dangerous belief that countries should mind their own business, apparently even when the business of that other country is to take over yours...

Point three is partially correct, ol' Winston was as gung ho as they came, but as Hitchens remarks, that he was unwilling to even be in the same room as the Nazis is a point in his favour, not against.

Point four is just plain stupid, old-fashioned, head-in-the-sand, isolationism. 'Nuff said.

Point five is confusing at first look, because Hitler had talked about invading the Soviet Union for years before he actually did it (as part of his push for more lebensraum or "living space"). But according to Hitchen's reading of the book, Buchanan apparently makes the case that Hitler invaded Russia to impress the British and show them that he was on their side. I don't think anymore needs to be said, that's batshit crazy enough. As for China, I think that Buchanan is forgetting that the Nationalists lost China, and had started to lose it as early as the 1920s, but hey, it wouldn't be a book by Pat Buchanan if it didn't include at least one old cold-warrior trope about losing China to the Reds.

The sixth point is not wrong, rather it's a distortion. It's true that without the war, the Holocaust could not have happened as it did. But even before the war started, the Nazis had already been imprisoning Jews and other "enemies" in concentration camps since 1933, and had been quietly murdering their handicapped at least a year before the war began. So much for point six...

Anyway, the REAL reason I wanted to write this is because I caught Hitchens in an error. It's a common error, and not a big deal, but because it's Hitchens, I HAVE to do it! How often does one get to correct one of the top intellectuals in the world today? :D

So here's the statement:

This might perhaps have worked if Germany had been governed by a right-wing nationalist party that had won a democratic vote. However, in point of fact Germany was governed by an ultra-rightist, homicidal, paranoid maniac who had begun by demolishing democracy in Germany itself, who believed that his fellow countrymen were a superior race and who attributed all the evils in the world to a Jewish conspiracy.

Ok, so we have two sentences, and only the first is wrong. It's true. The Nazis were ELECTED to power, they didn't seize it like so many think they did. It's easy to think they did, I know, because COME ON!! They're Nazis, after all, right? Yeah, but they were still elected by the German people in 1932-33, and Hitler was appointed Chancellor by the democratically elected President Paul Hindenberg in January 1933, following the previous July and November elections, and his cabinet was subsequently approved by the Reichstag. These two elections were both before the famous Reichstag Fire, which preceded the March 5, 1933 election that saw the Nazis achieve their greatest democratic gains and gave impetus to the Enabling Act which gave Hitler unfettered power over Germany.

The second sentence is correct: the Nazis wasted no time in dismantling the Weimar Republic with the Ennabling Act, and they believed unequivocally that they were the superior race on Earth.

So w00t for me! I got to correct Christopher Hitchens on something! I feel so empowered! :P

Atheist Q&A meme

So Abbie over at erv got tagged with this little meme and invited her readers (that would include me, and it should include you) to answer them. Here's mine:

Q1. How would you define "atheism"?

Atheism isn't a positive belief, it is simply a lack of belief in a deity. That's all. This non-sense that it's a "religious belief that takes faith" would be laughable if so many Christians didn't think it was a serious argument. The reason that's it's laughable is because it's a distortion of mainstream non-belief, as only a very few non-believers actively deny any possibility of a god or gods (yes, even Richard Dawkins acknowledges that god "X" is possible), otherwise known colloquially as "strong atheists." The vast majority of non-believers, in my experience, treat God as possible, but in the same sense that it's possible that the Earth was sneezed into existence by a chimera, i.e. not likely enough to even begin justifying a belief.

So atheism is just a lack of belief, not a belief in non-belief.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
I was raised in a "dual-faith" household, if you could call it that. Both my parents are Christian, but my mother is Catholic while my father comes from an evangelical protestant family. I say dual-faith because while my parents love each other very much, they have never, in their 36 years of marriage, agreed on the Christian doctrine. My mother secretly baptized me herself because my father forbade a Catholic baptism, and my father's mother used to worry that her son and grandchildren (my dad, my sister, and myself) would be drawn into Hell with my Catholic mother.

So how did they approach faith with my sister and I? Well, compromise mostly. Both my father and mother talked to me about their different faiths, and we attended Episcopal churches as our usual (Catholic rites pleased my mother, while the C of E's independence from Rome pleased my dad). I was read to out of a comic bible when I was 3, and got my first real Bible at age 7. I was encouraged by both my parents to explore the Christian faith in all its forms, which led to me attending many different denominational churches: Catholic, evangelical, methodist, unitarian, even a Jewish synagogue. (I never went to a Baptist church, though, my parents were pretty clear about not hanging out with them, and it wasn't until later on in my life that I figured our why: they're fuckin' crazy!!!)

Anyway, in addition to my parents, both sides of my extended family are very religious in their own respects. My mom's brother is a Catholic priest in Cincinatti, and the whole family is devout Catholic. On my dad's side, my grandfather was a minister for a time back in the 50s and 60s, and I have a cousin who started his own congregation, also in Cincinatti. The rest of my dad's family is mostly evangelical protestant. Thankfully none of them seems to be a creationist or dominionist, though the usual craziness over abortion and gay rights is alive and well.

I was a Christian for well over 20 years, before I realized that there really isn't much to Christianity at all aside from superstitions and wishful thinking.

Q3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?

Inane. See also: meaningless.

Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?

I love history, but I have a hard time considering it science, even as a "soft science." History is just too muddled by differing disciplines that it's impossible to really consider it scientific (I have to be a philosopher, a psychologist, a sociologist, an anthropologist, and a political scientist all at once in order to be a historian.)

So I'll pick my favourite "hard science," which has to be geology (Sorry Abbie!). I spend too much time climbing on all the wonderful ridges, cliffs, boulders, and rock outcroppings in southern Illinois for it NOT to be my favourite. Oh, and I love finding fossils at the roadcut on IL-146! I still have yet to find a coveted trilobite, but I'm sure I will someday!

So I like fossils, but geology is also the study of VOLCANOES!!! And I'm sorry, but forces of nature don't come any sexier than that! One of my fondest memories is the times I went tromping through the San Francisco Volcanic Field in central Arizona with my dad and best friend from high school Matt: the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater, SP Crater, walking the lava flows...so much w00t it should be illegal!

Plate tectonics is fascinating to me and every time I've been in an earthquake (3 so far) instead of running for the nearest doorframe like a sane person should, what do I do? I go outside to watch the world shake!

Anthropology was my first major, but I'll admit that I only got into it because I loved the idea of working with fossils. Biology continues to awe me, and I love getting into discussions of science regardless of the discipline, but I have to say that geology is what gets me excited.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?

I think it would be to get the ones who try to argue that science disproves god. These are usually the high schoolers who are just now discovering life without religion and are in rebellion against their upbringing. I went through a bit of it, but I was never so naive to believe that science definitively disproves any god. It can disprove a literal interpretation of holy scripture, but then, this was never a problem for me when I was a Christian. I was lucky enough to not have been so indoctrinated that I thought Genesis was a play-by-play for creation, and not the metaphor for creation it so obviously is.

Anyway, I think the effect this has is to further polarize the debate. I don't think that people who claim science disproves all gods are looking for a debate, they're looking to provoke an argument for the sake of argument, or to satisfy some juvenile need for validation.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?

"If you wanted to lie to people on a regular basis, why don't you just become a politician? At least that PAYS!"

Q7. What's your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Them: does that fossil have a date printed on it?
Me: Yes, only denialists and morons are unable to read the isotopes that say "OH HAI! I'z 1.3 billyun yeers olde!!1!!1"

I also like this one:

Them: The US was founded as a Christian nation!
Me: Then why isn't god or Christ mentioned anywhere in the Constitution? Article VI anyone? Establishment Clause? Treaty of Tripoli of 1793? Hello????

And the latest one, courtesy of "Expelled:"

Them: Science caused the Holocaust!!!
Me: Yes, it also caused the massacres and pogroms throughout Europe for 2000 years prior to the 20th century horror. Oh wait! No it didn't, that was CHRISTIANITY! My bad! (Then I begin by listing the many organized massacres, beginning with the Rhine Valley in 1096.)

Q8. What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I dunno. I've gotten a bit of flak from being a pantheist, but it's mostly just 13 year olds (in mind if not in body) who go after me. Other than that, I don't think I'm that controversial.

Q9. Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

I think Sam Harris. He seems to be the most appealing to me, mainly because he believes that there is still a place for the ineffable in life, as evidenced by his fascination with Eastern mysticism, which I share. I'd like to meet Dawkins just so I can say I did, but I'm not that enamored of him. Hitchens would be a riot, and we both like scotch a lot, so that would probably be fun. I've honestly never read anything by Dennet, though I did see part of his "debate" with Dinesh D'Souza, if you could call his smackdown of Di-know-nothing a "debate."

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Abbie said the President, and I can't think of a better answer. Maybe the Pope, but just for the lulz. :P

12 June 2008


So there's a new study out that claims that the smarter people are, the less likely they are to believe in God. Personally, I don't think it has as much to do with intelligence as it does with the ability to think critically, especially when it comes to one's own cherished beliefs.

Check it out.

11 June 2008


I'm sure I needn't explain the well-known internet meme of lolcats, so without further ado, I give you lolphilosophers! I made the first example myself. Not bad, eh? Cool points to those who can correctly identify each thinker!

09 June 2008

The most idiotic "I told you so" I think I've ever heard...

And it's from Charles Krauthammer, who had the solution to our current gas crisis 25 years ago. And what is that solution?

Why, it's a gas tax of course!

Some things, like renal physiology, are difficult. Some things, like Arab-Israeli peace, are impossible. And some things are preternaturally simple. You want more fuel-efficient cars? Don't regulate. Don't mandate. Don't scold. Don't appeal to the better angels of our nature. Do one thing: Hike the cost of gas until you find the price point.

Unfortunately, instead of hiking the price ourselves by means of a gasoline tax that could be instantly refunded to the American people in the form of lower payroll taxes, we let the Saudis, Venezuelans, Russians and Iranians do the taxing for us -- and pocket the money that the tax would have recycled back to the American worker.

Oh, he's serious, I assure you. But wait, he's only getting started. Apparently, completely unbeknownst to the rest of the world but knownst to Krauthammer, oil prices will fall if we cut back on our consumption.

Want to wean us off oil? Be open and honest. The British are paying $8 a gallon for petrol. Goldman Sachs is predicting we will be paying $6 by next year. Why have the extra $2 (above the current $4) go abroad? Have it go to the U.S. Treasury as a gasoline tax and be recycled back into lower payroll taxes.

Announce a schedule of gas tax hikes of 50 cents every six months for the next two years. And put a tax floor under $4 gasoline, so that as high gas prices transform the U.S. auto fleet, change driving habits and thus hugely reduce U.S. demand -- and bring down world crude oil prices -- the American consumer and the American economy reap all of the benefit.

Yeah, it's not like we have a dwindling supply of oil, or that India and China are drinking up more and more as they're economies modernize, or that a big chunk of our oil comes from volatile regions with bad people, or that speculators on the market tend to artificially inflate the price of commodities.

Yeah, let's tax it, that'll drive down costs. Who needs to develop alternative fuels? Conservation and reducing consumption? Hogwash!

Sorry Charlie, but you're just fucking stupid.

06 June 2008

...and the cycle begins again

As if the diplomatic situation with Iran wasn't precarious enough, here comes the Israeli deputy prime minister stating in no uncertain terms that Israel will be forced to attack Iran if it doesn't halt its nuclear program.

We already all knew Israel would act in its own security interests, and so did the Iranians, no doubt. Does Ahmadinejad really think Israel wouldn't strike Iran, especially with their blitz of Lebanon and Hezbollah, who didn't have nuclear weapons? So what is the significance of having it stated so publicly and unequivocally?

Personally, I think the Israelis just handed the Iranians a powerful propaganda tool. I could see the Ayatollahs using this as a excuse to drum up nationalistic fervor: "The Israelis want to attack us! So we MUST have a nuclear capability!"

It doesn't matter that the Israelis said hostilities would be conditional upon Iran abandoning its nukes; do you really think a totalitarian regime like Iran's really cares about context when quoting its enemies?

This was a diplomatic blunder. Not to mention the fact that such an increase in tensions also artificially increases the price of oil, but hey, at least we'll only have to deal with a recession, surely not an out and out energy crisis plunging us into a full-on depression, right? RIGHT?

But what's done is done. Bush's plan for peace in the Middle East marches on inexorably towards what I'm sure will be a stunning success. :\

05 June 2008

My cynicism is once again in ascendance

Yeah, so I got canned after my first night alone canvassing for GCI. It was kind of surreal. We were in Lincoln Park, where I knocked on 186 doors, talked to 46 people yet only raised $25. My goal was $100.

I've worked in sales a long time. I know the pitch, I know how to read people, and I knew their script and stuck to it. In short, I know how to get people to hand over their money if I want them to buy something from me. In this case, I was selling democracy, so to speak, but you get what I mean.

So why so bad? Because even good salesmen have lousy days, and this was just a lousy day. That it happened to be my first day was unfortunate, and I wasn't asked back.

But not because I only met 25% of my goal, no. The Ass't director, a valley-girl who just graduated college, apparently didn't think I fit in with her clique of young, idealistic, world-changers. Or she just didn't "love my face off" like she said to the other 5 team members, two of whom raised less than me.

Whatever, I've been fired before over personality conflicts. But this was just stupid.

I didn't meet my quota, but neither did half the team. One girl, who was on her second training day, only made two dollars! But she was young and bubbly like the AD, as her face must've been worth "loving off." (I swear, she said it all the fucking time).

So from my point of view, they dumped an experienced and motivated person from their ranks because a petty and judgmental bitch didn't think I would fit in with the clique. Seriously, I would tell a joke and everyone else but her would laugh. She even called me rude when I related a story of how one door I knocked on revealed a Republican who accused me of the old "tax & spend" trope that conservatives love to bandy about; to which I replied that it was better than the "spend and spend" of the Republican congress of the previous 14 years.

Yeah, she though I was rude to him! That the other team members were nodding at me in approval and smiling at me apparently didn't enthuse her.

So I guess I had to be removed. Oh well, petty valley girls area dime a dozen these days (why can't we shoot Paris Hilton into space? Please?). Doesn't make it suck any less.

So much for working for democracy, I guess. Back to the comfortable confines of cranky cynicism. (Does it count as alliteration even though "cyncism" isn't a hard C? I think I should get the points anyway. :P)

04 June 2008

New summer job

It's been a busy two weeks. I finally got a job, and it's a good thing too. The temp agencies that I had left my resume with probably never would've gotten back to me, and some of the other places I sent it to probably wouldn't either (how many students are there in Chicago looking for summer work?).

So what job is it?

I'm working as a canvasser for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. representing the Democratic National Committee.

I hate political parties, normally. Well, lemme rephrase, I hate the polarization that our two-party system has created in this country, especially in recent times thanks to quintessential douchebag Karl Rove.

But still, this election is too important to leave to chance...and I need the money. They gave me an interview and sent me out with a canvassing team to evaluate me and today I'm supposed to go out by myself canvassing and if I raise something like $100 then I'm automatically on staff.

So no waiting, that's good. I only have 8 weeks to work anyway, and I need to make the most of it. I move back to Carbondale in August.

Plus, this beats working some lame office job (I've done enough of those anyway), because I'm actually getting PAID to talk to people about politics!!! w00t!

I do have a script that I'm supposed to follow, though they explained to me that it's fine to personalize what I say to people, just so long as I stay "on the outskirts of the script."

Anyway, I'm a little apprehensive because on Monday, my "observation day," one of the team members I went with got a gun pulled on her when she knocked on someone's door. I wasn't with her, but she was freaked out, understandably. I realize that this doesn't happen often, and that it probably shouldn't have happened (we were in Evanston for pity's sake!). But still, it's a little scary to think about.

Anyway, I'll be campaigning for the Democrats this year. I usually support the dems anyway, but I've never worked for them. It's kind of weird, to be honest. The people are awesome, they're very energetic and enthusiastic, full of idealism. And it shows, sometimes in awkward ways. I've heard more than a few crazy ideas around that office, lemme tell ya. But the staff is young, on average I'd say about 5-8 years younger than me. The gap might not seem very large, but that 5-8 years means I remember more of what the Dems did when they were in power. I remember a lot of the things Clinton did pissed me off, and when I met Dick Durbin two years ago in Carbondale he pissed me off too with his lame answer to my question about why Dems weren't confronting the Bush Administration's denialism on global climate change (he claimed that nothing would get done by people in Washington, that change had to come from the people, starting at the local level, the grassroots. To which I reminded him that he was in Washington, and the way we little people change things is by changing the people in Washington. He seemed non-plussed by my response, but it's his own damn fault.)

Anyway, this should be an interesting job to say the least. I may even grow to like it. I just don't want to be one the sidelines this year. As much as I respect John McCain, a lot has happened since the 2000 election. I can't stand with him on foreign policy, much less domestic. I'm not totally happy with Barack's stated positions either, but he seems to have a much better grasp of the nuance of different situations. Plus, he talks to people like adults, unlike the Republican spin machine which only tells people who to hate and why, the truth be damned. So that's why I took this job.

Oh, and I need the money too. :P