Friday, July 25, 2008

Going after your own

Cause sometimes you have to.

Atheist Experience did this with a guy who is proud of being an atheist and who is proud to have gone on a rather loud an obnoxious attack. He went after a stupid bumper sticker on Ray Comforts site and made the stupid threat of a lawsuit over it.

That makes us all look good, huh?

And as the Atheist Experience noted, even though they agreed and removed the product, they now have a new series of shows. About how mean and psycho atheist are over a bumper sticker (And, yes, the irony will be lost on them.). About how understanding they are and how their all know the schtick.

So it is just ammo for evangelicals with no return, no real point or argument for reason. Empty.

So the guy deserves a smack to the head.

Now, he is free to do what he wants. But we are free to think him a schmuck.

Wiccans, the problem?

Yes, the picture is unfair to Wiccan.

Personally, I have no problems with Wiccans, pagans, know those people, as vague a collective as most people care to draw out. In fact they can be quite interesting. I was reading through an IMDB thread on a light romantic comedy involving witchcraft being shown as not being bad. It was interesting, Christians raced in to denounce the movie, Wiccans, and all things not like them. And various people, including a number of Wiccan countered. On philosophy, they try to have a positive view, and no interest in conversion, pressure, or political power.

In turn like atheist, and other non-Christians, Wiccans do get picked on. In fact, the only the Church of Satan fits more perfectly into Christian sights as evil. Sure you might think Atheist would be premier, but Christians think that we are Satanic Witches, so we are just sandwiched in there.

Look at this story PZ Myers points to. Apparently Harry Potter is part of the big plan to sell those evil beliefs.

I would quote it, but I can break it down to this. The bible is true. Anything fantastical, even fiction, is evil. To let kids use their imaginations will lead kids from God. You are a bad parents if you let your kids enjoy fantasy.

So, yes, these are blowhards. Humorless and boring.&

This article also uses a site I visited way back, but lost the link in one of my PC meltdowns. Witchvox, which is a site for Wiccans and for information on them. It is interesting to look at some of the articles, particularly the ones on the attacks on the belief system by evangelicals and the Church. A couple of examples.

Breaking the Spell: The Hidden Traps of Wicca - look at Focus on the Family writing on Wiccans

The Cycle Continues - on the continuing risk and temptation to witch hunts

It was interesting to read to see these claims and attacks on this group. It is nice to see the other side to the Church screeds. Back when I was a church goer I saw some of this. In college my Roleplaying group went to a Campus Crusade talk on cults and claims about cult crime, to see what they were claiming. And as an atheist and a supporter of secular society, I see lots of stupid claims. These church groups spout a lot of garbage.

So, while I do like Wiccan, and sympathize with them, when it comes to the actual "magic" of the belief system, I part ways. Sorry. I don't pretend with that eucharist, the Jewish magic candles story, or...well, etc, etc, etc. So when I saw this story, I laughed.

Atheist Experience looked at one funny story.

Latest nugget of 40-carat irony from the irrational world (emphasis added):

A woman accidentally stabbed herself in the foot with a 3-foot-long sword while performing a Wiccan good luck ritual at a cemetery in central Indiana.

Better luck next time...

Funny. Some were upset about being picked on. But the people with Atheist Experience pick on all religions. So to complain is silly. A luck ritual led to being stabbed in the foot. Comedy. Like when Christians get themselves crucified on Easter then get illnesses from the nails put through them. You have to see this coming.

And to be fair. It should be appreciated that your being treated exactly like Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindi, Buddhist, etc.

And, as enjoyable group as Wiccans can be, their beliefs are up for scrutiny when a claim in made. Just as when Christians and others make wild claims about them, I am happy to laugh in there faces.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sad to see...

But I had to see it coming.

Oh South Dakota. You never cease to amaze.
Starting Friday, doctors in South Dakota must tell women seeking abortions that the procedure ends a human life and may cause them psychological harm, the state attorney general said.

...The 2005 law requires doctors to tell women "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." Women also would have to be told they have a right to continue a pregnancy and that abortion may cause them psychological harm, including thoughts of suicide.

So basically, they have to provide patients with false information. Nice. Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota is fighting back. "We remain optimistic that, in time, the court will find that the law is unconstitutional," says PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz. To find out how to get involved and counter the anti-choice agenda in South Dakota, check out PPMNS's action page.

Related: Ann blogged about the politics of "informed consent" when the court decision came down last month.

And, as noted, it is only compounded by the fact the statement Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, the only facility in the whole state, which has to fly a doctor from Minnesota on certain days (which just lets you know how big an issue and how important this was to get into law), is a partisan non medical statement. And there is nothing less than chilling then have courts and representatives dictating the functioning of medical practices.

The Mr. Diety Show

I saw this linked on Ex-Christian.Net. It is a funny series of shorts about the creation of the universe and the bible by Mr. Diety.

Here is a good episode from the second season. And I do love the relationship between Mr. Diety and "Lucy".

Mr. Diety - Mr. Diety and Murder

Religion hurts

Well, I was going through the current_ website, looking at some more of the funny Sarah Haskins, her comedy pieces are part of the infomania show they have. It is nice to find a new source of some good snark.

But in the midst of some snark, I got some uncomfortable reality.

Father tries to beat the 'gayness' out of own son with baseball bat

I guess the world's greatest dad saw that his son went to the local gay pride parade, and wanted to "dialogue" about it. He says it was to drive a demon from him.
The 49-year-old man greeted his son in the street after the boy had returned from the Anderson pride parade, already in a fit of rage. He commenced striking his own son with a baseball bat while cursing, praying, and “casting the demon of homosexuality” out of his 18-year old."
Nice. Jesus is love?

Women who don't submit to husbands are to blame for domestic violence, says Baptist scholar
One reason that men abuse their wives is because women rebel against their husband's God-given authority, a Southern Baptist scholar said in a Texas church recently.

Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said women desire to have their own way instead of submitting to their husbands because of sin.

"And husbands on their parts, because they're sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged--or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches," Ware said from the pulpit of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.


So women "act out"? Then men either abuse them...or wimp out on beating them? Am I reading that right?

So what does it boil down to?
"...A woman will demonstrate that she is in fact a Christian, that she has submitted to God's ways by affirming and embracing her God-designed identity as--for the most part, generally this is true--as wife and mother, rather than chafing against it, rather than bucking against it, rather than wanting to be a man, wanting to be in a man's position, wanting to teach and exercise authority over men,"

Knowing ones place. How nice. Especially nice when you are on top.

The Golden Compass sequel canned
Not surprised, But really, "criticised last year for being anti-God and anti-religion"? So it is okay to make pro-God and pro-religion films? But to make one that is critical is bad...Hmm. Makes my head hurt.

Friday, July 18, 2008


A new direct to DVD animated DC Heroes, starring Wonder Woman, is coming.

Sounds good, I am a fan of Wonder Woman, and wouldn't mind a good yarn. Especially since the live action film is DOA now.

But...sign take a look at the full promo image.
An ass shot?
Hey, here is our hero. She's powerful, brave, noble, and...she's got a nice one.
Really? Honestly! Think of Superman or Batman promoted like that. It is like they just think, "Hey, I know it's a chick hero, but look at what you get to ogle if you buy. Heh. Heh. Heh."

Netroots is on

And TPM is covering it.

Here is a coversation they had with Richard Clark on foreign policy.

But on the bright side.

The Watchmen's trailer is now out.

Give it a look and get giddy.

Ready to Lead?

McCain in 2002.


In January of 2002, John McCain was also speaking out. McCain was warmongering to attack Iraq ten months before he voted for the war. McCain already wanted another war before the first one was finished:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) visited the Roosevelt yesterday and shouted, "Next up: Baghdad!" from the carrier's bridge.

McCain has been pushing the administration to make Iraq and its dictator, Saddam Hussein, the next targets in the war on terrorism.

Pentagon officials and Powell have cautioned against focusing on Baghdad, but McCain said yesterday that Iraq poses "a clear and present danger" to the U.S.

"I think Iraq is going to have to be considered," he said.
McCain couldn't wait to start the next war.
And now...

Using the vernacular of the GOP, I believe that this is called a "flip-flop":
After months of saying additional troops were not needed in Afghanistan, McCain changed position Tuesday and called for an additional three brigades -- or roughly 15,000 troops -- to be sent to the country. It was unclear if those troops would be redeployed from Iraq or come from NATO forces.
In other words, McCain is not only flip-flopping. He's not even sure how far he's actually flopped. Clearly, McCain's hand has been forced because of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. But, that situation has been deteriorating for years. Where's he been?


Crooks and Liars has more.

While talking about the war in Afghanistan yesterday, John McCain predictably went after Barack Obama, saying Obama “has no strategy.” It was an odd attack, given the fact that McCain had just flip-flopped on his Afghanistan policy, and embraced Obama’s strategy as his own.


The key quote, of course, was pretty straightforward: “[O]ur commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available, and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them.”

What’s important to realize, though, is that while Obama has been arguing for a year that he wants to send additional troops to Afghanistan, McCain has always held the opposite position, opposing the deployment of more U.S. troops, and arguing that any additional troops come from NATO.

Yesterday, however, McCain reversed course, change his position, and embraced Obama’s policy as his own. As Josh Marshall explained, “So let’s all say it out loud: McCain is now copying Obama’s position on Afghanistan. And with troops that he doesn’t have since he’s against pulling any out of Iraq.”

But it gets worse. McCain has actually held multiple positions on Afghanistan in the last seven days.

So McCain is all over the place and making bad arguments for how to move policy and the armed forces.On to Baghdad indeed. A bit of that old bomb bomb Iran gusto. Is this guy ready to lead?

McCain's hard work on the trouble in Afghanistan

Crooks and Liars:

ABC reports tonight that McCain is 0-for-6 when it comes to Afghanistan...

It turns out that presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, has attended even fewer Afghanistan-related Senate hearings over the past two years than Obama’s one. Which is a nice way of saying, McCain, R-Ariz., the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has attended zero of his committee’s six hearings on Afghanistan over the last two years.

The fact that ABC even bothered to question McCain's claims here surprises me. But then again, I doubt there will be any followup or further coverage from other networks.

But where is McCain? Chatting with the press instead of in the meetings.

Being John McCain

Must be great. You can a say or do most anything and the media will laugh and just shrug.

Say, make a rape joke about a gorilla and a women. The media will understand, particularly is it was years ago. And even if your campaign shows pride in the joke now, oh well.


McCain campaign refuses to deny that McCain used to like to tell rape jokes. In fact, they say rape jokes are the kind of thing that Americans love him for.



Yes, the "joke" is appalling. But I think the McCain campaign's response to the joke resurfacing was even worse. A spokesperson defended McCain's humor this way:

"He's long said that he's said and done things in the past that he regrets," Rogers said. "You've just got to move on and be yourself -- that's what people want. They want somebody who's authentic, and this kind of stuff is a good example of McCain being McCain."
I think there are enough examples that we can conclude this is true. Just McCain being McCain.
An example of pure McCain? An animal rape joke? Great. Uses nasty language about his wife. Likes a good rape joke. Thinks killing people through bombs and cancer is HI-larious. That's just McCain...and what does that tell you. Tell's me he is kind of an asshole. And it tells me the media couldn't care less, as long as they get their fun interviews, comfy seats on the bus, and a endless supply of donuts and coffee. OUR PRESS, folks.

Olbermann's take on McCain and his perfection.

On Contraception and Birth Control

Crooks and Liars:

It’s an Anti-Contraception World
And all you
ladies just live in it.
In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion. Doing so protects extremists under the Weldon and Church amendments. Those laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services…read on

No matter how many times this is explained to Will Saletan he’ll fail to understand, but hopefully we can get the message out to the rest of the population that the “pro-life” movement is adamantly anti-contraception as well.
This the worry I always have in looking at the Right, particularly the Religious Right and these issues of Women's Reproductive Rights.

It seems to start with banning an aspect of abortion, then we are talking about how unfortunate it is to have any abortions occurring. Yeah. Suddenly, we are on to how contraceptives only encourages sex and pregnancy...and it feels like we are going to turn around and we'll be talking about how a woman's place is in the home. And the ball continues to roll...

Now not everyone agrees with that, but that is what the pushing seems to head towards. Abortion bad. Birth control bad. Single parents bad. Gays raising kids bad. Mom not raising the kids bad. Mom working bad. And these arguments get looped together and linked, each backed with poor evidence and reasoning, building on each other. And then the mouth pieces reiterate the feeble arguments and nod along. And that is worrisome.

It is odd to talk on this, as it feels paranoid, and it largely is. But it is also important to be wary and vigilant because there is a segment of society that wants that simple and nonexistent past back, and who see in old myths of the nuclear family the future. It is important to keep the arguments up, and honest and clear. Because the counter arguments are out there. People arguing about how horrible working moms are. How destructive single parent homes are. How women should just be thankful, period. We still live in a society that carries a veneer of shame about buying condoms (yes there are commercials about condoms, sometimes you have to be thankful for the pressures that marketing and money can bring to bear). The counter arguments need to be out there when ever the bull that tries to shame women and others to bow their heads. So a lot of thanks has to go to sites like Feministing, who don't put up with any of this crap.

Birth control is abortion? When is making eye contact with a man going to be considered consent?

Maybe I can see it if I squint a bit.

Crooks and Liars has a good piece on the popular meme among Republicans.

The party of Lincoln.
The party who truly stands for civil rights.

Oh, please.

In light of John McCain’s appearance before the NAACP’s national convention, Bruce Bartlett makes the case in a WSJ op-ed that McCain should argue that the Republican Party, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, is the party of civil rights. (If this sounds familiar, Bartlett wrote a book on this subject, called “Wrong on Race.”)

Everyone knows this, but it’s worth repeating: the Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and was established in 1854 to block the expansion of slavery. The Democratic Party was the party of slavery. […]

After the war, it was the Republican Party that rammed through the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution over Democratic opposition…. Historically speaking, the Republican Party has a far better record on race than the Democrats. Sen. McCain should not be shy about saying so.
This comes less than two weeks after the National Black Republican Association put up billboards in Florida and South Carolina saying the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican (a claim which is demonstrably ridiculous).

Now, we’ve been down this road before, but if the right sincerely intends to push this argument again this election year, we might as well go to the trouble of pointing out how foolish — and frankly, intellectually lazy — this entire tack really is.

The inescapable fact is, the Republican Party of the 19th century bears no resemblance to, and has no bearing on, the modern-day Republican Party. The problem isn’t that Bartlett’s history is wrong; it’s that his history is irrelevant and badly misses the point.

It is just as the rejoinder to these memes notes, "Lincoln wouldn't recognize or be a part of the Republican Party of today. "

I like the ending to the piece.
Ultimately, this isn’t much of a campaign pitch: “Vote Republican: The Party Was Right Before It Was Wrong.”

It must be completely different.

As was noted back in March, and again now:

McCain is already on the verge of breaking U.S. campaign finance laws by busting the spending cap. He's been having trouble raising money in the U.S., too. But, this borders on the absurd:

Sen. John McCain plans at least one campaign event on his week-long congressional trip to Europe and the Middle East: a March 20 fundraiser in London. An invitation sent out by the campaign says the luncheon will be held at Spencer House, St. James's Place, "by kind permission of Lord Rothschild OM GBE and the Hon Nathaniel Rothschild." Tickets to the invitation-only event cost $1,000 to $2,300. Attire is listed as "lounge suits."
It seems no one really cared that McCain, was using this trip to show off and grandstand on how greet he would be as president (Joe Lieberman, his staunch and true cheerleader - this was the trip where McCain had one of his Sunni/Shia stumbles) and then meet with a member of a foreign government to get cash to take home. No biggie.

But why this then?

Given that, McCain's latest swipe at Obama is even more absurd:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Thursday he believes Democrat Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Europe is tantamount to holding political rallies abroad.
So, it was okay for McCain to hold political fundraisers abroad? McCain's a hypocrite. But, the traditional media loves him, so he gets away with it.
I wonder what is different. Hmm.

The media and birth control access.

As noted earlier, McCain is rather blase about birth control access for women. Apparently it doesn't care to have to think about such dirty things, no, his minds full of beauty.

But this is such a serious and important issue, and the media...say it along with me...isn't bothering to cover it.

Where is the discussion of the real issue, which is that for over 20 years John McCain has voted against contraception every time it came up and—now he tells us!—he doesn't even care or know enough to explain why?

Women—and men—need to know where he stands on this issue so basic to health and human flourishing if they are going to make informed decisions in the polling booth. But so far the media has refused to present McCain's anti-contraception record as a big, coherent story that tells us a great deal about who he is and what policies he would pursue in the White House.

Maybe The New Yorker could do a cover about it. Then the media might find it interesting enough to discuss.

Maybe. But the only real coverage I found was from Jack Cafferty, where he didn't surprise me by showing that he and I really do part ways a good deal when not mocking our president.

Crooks and Liars: (with video)

In discussion of McCain’s painful fumbling over why health insurance covers Viagra but not birth control, The Situation Room panel of Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Stephen Hayes and Jack Cafferty debate the position between a rock and a hard place that McCain finds himself, eager to win over those feminist Clinton supporters but hesitant to speak out against that mainstay of the Republican platform: restricting women’s reproductive freedom.

Ignoring for the moment that CNN cannot bother to have a single pundit on for “balance” from the left against The Weekly Standard’s Hayes and US News’ Gloria Borger, it’s Jack Cafferty who issues the befuddling “answer” to McCain’s predictament:

CAFFERTY: Well, you know, the answer is Viagra is used to treat a medical condition, erectile dysfunction. Birth control is a lifestyle choice. And that’s why insurance companies don’t reimburse for it unless pregnancy represents a danger for the woman. And then there’s a gray area where you can do a negotiation.
Excuse me? I know that most men don’t have a huge well of knowledge on the workings of a woman’s body (any more than I completely understand all of your equipment), but I think that in absence of knowledge, it might be smarter to avoid definite declarations like that. Oral contraceptives are absolutely used to treat medical conditions:

Although they are most commonly prescribed to prevent pregnancy, birth control pills are also used to treat a variety of menstrual disorders including amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), dysmenorrhea (abnormally painful menstruation) and hypermenorrhea (abnormally Menstruation is the periodic shedding of the lining of the uterus, causing bloody vaginal discharge.heavy menstrual bleeding). They may also be prescribed to treat a number of other conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hirsutism (abnormal hair growth) and endometriosis. In addition, birth control pills may be taken to regulate irregular menstrual cycles and to help in the transitional period prior to menopause.

In addition to preventing pregnancy and treating various medical conditions, birth control pills also offer women a number of significant health benefits, including a decreased risk of colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
And since when is the life of a woman to be considered a “gray area” for negotiation? But there’s no gray area about a man’s desire to get it up, nor any consideration to the consequences of what happens when he can? Jack, you disappoint me.

And at the end of the chat.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s have a — let’s have a laugh

Yeah, let us all have a good laugh, not like this affects anyone's life or anything. Our media.

And on the point at the top set aside. What is with the Situation Room using Berger (who is perpetually smirking at those who do not live by the conventional wisdom), the Weekly Standard (weekly damning those damn liberals), Cafferty (who I enjoy, but whose job has evolved into finding something to gripe about), and Blitzer (who seems to live in perpetual fear of offending). What is with that?

Feedin' the Family

Feministing is pointing to this online video. And I want to as well as it is a great bit of witty writing and acting by Sarah Haskins. She does a great job on making one laugh and think on issues of social commentary.

Check out some of her other fun and sagacious comments.

Jesse Helms: Champion of AIDS

How true.

It is odd, and to her discredit, that Sen. Dole (the Elizabeth, not Bob) seems eager to honor her old deceased colleague, Jesse Helms, with a bill named after him. Sure people do this sort of thing all the time in congresses and parliaments. Why not?

Why not? Well, this is a bill about fighting against AIDS and HIV globally. So?

Well let's look at Helms history on this subject.


Why is this so unbelievably wrong on so many levels? Because of what Jesse Helms said about AIDS:

Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God says it all: Jesse Helms, the man who in 1987 described AIDS prevention literature as “so obscene, so revolting, I may throw up.”

Jesse Helms, the man who in 1988 vigorously opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS research bill, saying, “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

Jesse Helms, the man who in 1995 said (in opposition to refunding the Ryan White Act) that the government should spend less on people with AIDS because they got sick due to their “deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct.”
I don’t know about you, but I smell a Worst Person in The World award going to one Liddy Dole for this crushingly insensitive move.
Indeed. What was she thinking? Does she think it is that easy to wallpaper ones past?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Spirit is coming...

Sadly, Frank Miller is driving him over.

You know what that means. Having to listen to the old guy in the corner screaming, "Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!" all night. Sigh.

Well The Spirit movie is approaching, and Frank Miller, of the God-Damned Batman and Sin City has put it together. The new trailer is out and surprise surprise, like the earlier teaser hinted, it is all too like Sin City in feel. It's The Spirit, come on.

Like I said, I am not sold on this movie just yet. I dig the concept, I loved the comic and I am also a fan of Frank Miller’s work, at least the kind he does on paper. This however, isn’t doing it for me. The dialog sounds awkward, the effects seem forced and over-the-top and I don’t know if it is going to be anything but another excuse to go heavy on the use of green screen to make a “innovative” comic book flick. I am wondering whether this will end up on the Sin City side of the spectrum or the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow side. At this point, it is still too early to tell for sure.

I am not a fan and not remotely optimistic.

And more.

Frank Miller is banking pretty hard on the whole "sex sells" idea in this new trailer for his movie of Will Eisner's classic comic book The Spirit. The black, white and red motif looks like a page torn right out of Miller's Sin City, despite the director's protests that he's not copying his first movie. What follows is a parade of "OMG, look at the celebrity hotties in my movie," dotted with some strange acid-hit moments. One thing that does fit in this crazy trailer is eye-linered Samuel L. Jackson as arch-villain The Octopus. I don't know if I agree with the casting, but Jackson's nutso attitude fits in well with this "vision."

Let's disregard the godawful late-90s rock music in the background for a moment, and focus on the big bad. First, you've got a ton of things going on that make no sense. The Spirit is seen climbing across big fat lady lips, that's a bit jarring. Next there's the dialogue: it's rotten. It reeks of trying too hard. "You're so close," coos Lorelei. Finally, the barrage of Hollywood hotties seems more like a desperate play for sexiness than picking the right actor for each role.
Hey, see my movie, I put a lot of hot girls in it, saying dumb things.

But on top of it...drum roll, Mr. Samuel L. Jackson.

Now I have an excuse to rant. Jackson. I have liked him he has done some great work in his life. Interesting and diverse rolls. Granted most people don't see them. Most people see Samuel Fucking Jackson movies. You know. When he plays the load cussing wild shooting jerk off. It is sort of like the archetypes of Nick Cage and Tom Cruise, where you often know what you are going to get. It is the role he is usually offered. Where he goes on to a set and they ask him to be his Sam Jacksonist. And he does it, I like to think, at this point, for the fat paychecks. But, damn, I am sick of it. If anything, and there was plenty more, that turned me off of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, it was Col. Samuel L...I mean, the new Nick Fury. I mean, I skim through Ultimate comics from time to time, and man, is that character an annoying, smug little Mary Sue character. And that character epitomizes what Jackson has been turned into in Hollywood. It is said people don't films he has done like Red Violin.

Also out soon in entertainment are some new DVD's.

Hulk Vs. Where the Hulk...fights...famous characters from Marvel

And some Teen Iron Man. Really. A teenage Tony Stark, in his armor fighting crime, with teen Jim Rhodes at his side. I'm not joking. Take a look.

But on the plus side of things. Looks like the Watchmen is approaching. And I am trying to keep hopeful on that. Apparently there will be some news and/or buzz Friday at Comic Con. Can't wait to hear good news or new clips.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nice to learn

One reason to get into podcasts is to hear about things you know and here the latest thinking, or other opinions. And there are many podcasts for that. But it is also nice to learn, or learn about learning resources.

I have to thank for finally saying I don't have to be embarrassed about having Vista on my computer. Really, as I go through tech podcasts (yeah, I mean you CNET and the rest), the default line is Vista sucks, Vista is bad, you shouldn't use Vista. Vista is flawed. But so was the last OS, and the one before that. But the same troubles arise for the other OS series as well. And in the end, I don't have a choice, short of buying a system, and then buying a copy of XP. And their are plenty of businesses making sweet profit off people determined to do that. I can't stomach wasting money like that. Yeah, I have many games that I can never play again,but life goes on. So thanks for reminding me that my Vista is running fine and getting the job done. Not to mention the rest of the show they do which is fun.

Also, WebbAlert sent me to CommonCraft to learn about some tech concepts which I sadly let slip by. In some of the cases I use sadly advisedly. For instance, for the story Morgan mentions how it is great to have an easy way to explain to grandma how great Twitter is. Now, I admit I have heard Twitter mentioned, but never in context (though the more tech podcast I listen to the more I am becoming aware of the uses). So she explains CommonCrafts demonstrations which lay it out for the layperson. And CommonCraft's craftings are good. I quickly came to appreciate what Twitter is. Good for them. And a good resource for you.

The trouble is, now that I know what Twitter is, I know find it amazingly STUPID. Yes. I said it. It is stupid...for me. Have a constantly running miniblog of what you are doing throughout the day. I find it hard to justify foisting myself on people like this. I am not so deluded to think my day to day life is that interesting, it kills me to live.

Now, their are caveats. If you are selling or promoting something, like yourself (i.e. a celebrity or media personality) then it makes sense. For Webb, or Leo Laporte, it is a cool use of tech and a way to give fans a peek in. Or as a TV/Movie star, a way for fans to connect. Or with a product, or candidacy for higher office, a way to sway votes, maybe. But otherwise, it is like...Facebook. Why? So people can send you images of martinis? Brian Cooley, on Buzz Report from CNET, The humiliation of Vista episode, wittily points to how stupid it is, particularly when a group of adults get going sending little pictures of unicorns and poo around. This is plain silly.

But the caveats. Yes, it can be a way to connect and draw in customers, or build interest or support for project one hopes to turn into a TV show, or to get people into your organization. But it is all still silly.

And if people want me to feel bad about running on Vista, all I have to say is,

"Uh hu. Are you on Facebook?"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Once more over Ritz ridge.

Rosenhouse at EVOLUTIONblog has offered his own insight on the cracker crucible.


In his book The End of Faith, Sam Harris has a section on the misery meted out by various church officials over the years for the crime of host desecration, that is, mistreating the communion wafer. Harris made the usual remarks about the insanity of this, especially in light of the fact that muttering a few Latin words over a wafer simply does not alter it in any significant way. I have seen more than one critic excoriate him for this, using it as a prime example of his unsophisticated understanding of theology. Of course, he was lectured, no one really takes the ritual literally.

Well, a lot of people do. A lot of people take their religious doctrines very literally indeed, and that is something the rest of us need to worry about. What we have in this sorry incident is one more example that it is Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens who understand what religion is really all about, while their overeducated academic critics are the ones promoting caricatures.

He has also pointed to some ridiculous comments from Andrew Sullivan. Apparently he finds Myers comments utterly unacceptable. Apparently, things have changed in his mind.


But wait a minute! Wasn't Sullivan leading the charge in defense of the Danish newspapers that published caricatures of the prophet Muhammed? Yes, I believe he was. ...

Pathetic, no? Publishing a caricature of Muhammed is every bit as offensive and blasphemous to Muslims as host desecration is to Catholics. But in Sullivan's eyes the former is merely an instance of free debate and serves a legitimate purpose, while exhorting people to the latter makes you an anti-Catholic bigot.

In fact, it is worse than that. In his initial post Sullivan singled out the part where Myers referred to the host as a “goddamned cracker” as the place where Myers crossed the line into bigotry. This he considered such a violation of baseline civility that Myers is to be deemed a bigot just for saying it. Not, mind you, the part where Myers encouraged people to abscond with consecrated hosts. Being disrespectful towards a doctrine of Catholicism makes you a bigot, but caricaturing a figue of veneration among Muslims is perfectly fine. Charming.

And this does bother me. As plenty of Catholics have contacted Myers, and other atheist out in the public, demanding acts of denigration of Muslim sacred cows. Some may see it as turn about is fair play, but they fail to see the irony of being enraged at sacrilege leading to the demand for further sacrilege.

He ends with:
The reality is this: In both cases religious attitudes in desperate need of goring were criticized in provocative ways. Also in both cases the bounds of good taste were crossed, and both the Danish newspaper editors and P. Z. Myers would probably have done better to find a more tactful way of making their points. But, again in both cases, the insane reaction from many religious people and institutions was so out of proportion to the offense that it made the point far more powerfully than any blogger or newspaper editor could hope to do on his own.
Exactly. They could have risen above the remark, particularly as a science blog is as out of the way as could be imagined for the Catholic League of Justice, and wrote a witty and cutting letter to Myers about what they thought of his idea. It would have been the classy and adult thing to do. But they choose, in all the cases, from all these faiths, to be children.

How pathetic.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Eucharist

The eucharist. It has made quite a buzz on the Net this past week. And, I know, for many of us out here it has been a bit of a surprise.

The anger. The outrage. The indignation. The apoplexy.

For a cracker. Sorry, holy cracker.

It made no sense. It was ridiculous.

But I got into a conversation with a family member, as I was watching events unfold online. It was a person with far closer ties to the Church than I, and someone who lived far south of our US borders. And they told me that they were utterly unsurprised at the anger, outrage, so on and so forth.

In fact they related to me that in some places in the world, doing what that college student did, could well have ended in bloodshed and death. For a cracker. And has likely occurred in places where a person decided to so flagrantly run counter to the local church.

It is seen as a holy item. Yes. But bloodshed? It is a cute little, a quaint sort of belief...but...

On either the JREF or SGU forums (I forget which now), one person related the story of a family member, who suffered from a limited form of autism, who tried to return to his seat to pray and eat his cracker, which he did at his normal church. They tackled him, hit him, and someone maced him. Then he was arrested and cuffed. Later he was released, but what were the charges? And the attack on him, the macing, the police weren't interested?

That is what worries me with too much tolerance of religion and acts related to it. What happened here, and likely has and will happen elsewhere is acceptable and supported. There is something wrong here. It's the "boys will be boys" attitude. Something to paper over a host of sins.

And that is what we get down to. The kid running off with the holy cracker is being disrespectful and being provocative. Yes. But the response to it all, from those there, on the campus, in the Church, and the halls of the self-appointed advocates of the Church...WOW. Then Myers quips on a private blog. The response...WOW. Overreact much?

Because that is what it is. An overreaction. The treat a treat like a scared relic. Don't worry, the priest has at least one more case of the crackers in back. And he has a 800 number for quick delivery of more. Many of those reacting since have called on Myers and other challengers to defile Islam and Judaism, which makes little sense if they actually think such acts are abominable. They like to shake their head at Islam and the tizzy fits over treatment of a copy of the koran, or imagery of their precious prophet. But they turn around and scream bloody murder about chocolate Jesus or crackers.

Crackers. Holy crackers. Crackers that, apparently are just crackers until they hit your tongue and then become a bit of Jesus's skin, a hunk of meat from the old carcass. So you have a hunk of Jesus in your mouth, literally, LITERALLY. Then it is followed up with a bit of wine, which becomes a splash of his blood, fresh out of his veins, as it washes against the back of your throat. So his blood his coating the back of your throat, literally, LITERALLY.

Does this not sound a bit...I don't know, weird? It isn't even a symbolic sacrificial offering. It is a LITERAL one. It's joining in an actual blood letting. one finds themselves knocking back his blood to be consecrated. How can someone look at this process and not think, "Theirs something a bit off here."

Scientologist and Xenu are off? The Mormans, the magic plates, and magic stone, coo coo? Those splinter Christian groups and their dates with The End, kinda wacky. Eating magic crackers, the most logical and reasonable thing imaginable. It is the nice thing about lifetime indoctrination, it makes the silly seem sensible.

People are free to believe what they want. And we are free to critique those beliefs and the practices that follow. Unless, it seems, the group in question gets its dander up, and many many of them do. But should society be permissive of the excesses that follow on belief? And if a country is going to be one that does stand up to this, I can only hope it will be the US. Not likely, but one can hope, and vote, and be active.

So, again...


Dr. McCain and the ladies

McCain has been trying to curry favor among the majority of the populace (Sex: F) of late, since Clinton left the race. Sure he laughed along as his supporters used the B-word to describe Clinton, but like a good Republican McCain has nothing but disdain for the messy truths of the past.

He is a major supporter of women, you know. He has long long supported equal pay for women. Granted, as Crooks and Liars (with video) notes, he has actually been an opponent of it, repeatedly, year after year, voting against it, but that is the past. Ignore it.


Adam Jentleson explained, “In April, McCain opposed a major Senate bill seeking equal pay for women…. In 2000, McCain opposed an amendment that aimed to ‘provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.’ In 1985, McCain voted against a study to investigate pay differences among federal employees, and determine whether they were the result of discrimination.”

Indeed, after the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter, McCain “dismissed the importance of equal pay, saying that women simply need ‘education and training.’”

In other words, McCain was campaigning today on women’s issues, hoping desperately that voters don’t know anything about his record of women’s issues. Once again, McCain is counting on public ignorance to get him through the campaign.
And then there is the charming video of McCain stymied by the thought of birth control. Simple question, why if Viagra covered by insurance, why not birth control? I mean, if we have to support boner medicine, why not a medicine that prevents unwanted pregnancy which add the pressures and burdens on society? And McCain can't answer, or could he?

Feministing: (with video)

So does he not know that
he voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control for women? Or does he just not want to talk about it?

And which constituency does he want to put off? As he freezes there, you can see he is pondering. And would be more pissed, the women he wants to woo, or the fundamentalist who he is trying to keep in line?

I guess it can be hard to be all things to all people, while giving the straight talk.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rove on the run?

Crooks and Liars:
Perhaps Turdblossom got a little nervous that Democrats might actually locate their spines and charge him with inherent contempt and have him arrested? Video and more from Alternet:
Karl Rove was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. He didn’t show. Not only that, the Committee was told that Rove had left the country on a “long scheduled” trip.


Faith-based Initiatives

PZ Myers has already touched on this matter.

But Faith-Based Initiatives...Um, why?

For that matter why, Sen. Obama? This is on my list of things that have displeased with Obama in his run. Others could be touched on later.

But, why? Religious charities need to have funds funneled to them like wild bears need you to go out find them and hand feed them. You shouldn't be seeking them to feed them, and they don't need you to. They have their resource, parishioners that are weekly pressured.

So why give to them? And why give to organizations who often operate under rules that would be deemed illegal if enacted by a government agency. Sexism, bigotry, and intolerance are fine in your Main Street religions, but to be funded by the government? Oh, no.

If we want to augment and assist existing charities, fine. Let us find the ones that exist and help all, fairly, and unquestioningly. If they have limited range of service, we could help them expand, to offer fair and unbiased aid coast to coast.

But why these Faith-Based Initiatives? The votes. Belief in them. And through these and other ideas, one can be blind to these orgs flaws and foibles.

We can do better. Yes we can.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Does it make you think?

This is a comment off of PZ Myers blog:

"I remain disappointed that PZ's liver, pancreas, lungs, and brain haven't exploded with virulent forms of cancer yet but perhaps before long. I'm keeping an extra hundred dollar bill handy to buy a few rounds of beers in a local pub in great celebration."

Said because he went on a bit of a riff, that started with:
Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?

And that was one of many nasty responses. Because Myers mocked and joked about a holy cracker and what could be done to it.

Does that make you think about religiosity? About faith? About WWJD?

It makes me think...about how, sadly, unsurprised I am.


Call the police, he's got crumbs on his chin.

I would have included this in the last post, but it deserves a separate view.

In the wake of Donohue's belly aching, his friends in power, no doubt beleaguered, weak, and need of protection like Donohue and his tasteless treats...ahem, well one Rep. Thomas E. Foley , who is a delegate to the RNC convention coming up in Minneapolis, is pushing for buffed up security for the convention.

Why? Terrorist? Hippies? The poor?


As PZ Myers notes, him. That's right. The RNC fears above all else a professor...of a near by university...where he...let's have another dramatic pause...BLOOOOOOGGGGGSSSSSS!!!
His concern is for the safety of Catholics attending this year's Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Myers' backyard. Accordingly, Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence.

Violence? Yeah, no one is wilder than those atheist and science bloggers. We are a wild lot.

But bloggers are a pretty tough know I am terrified. Oh, my god! I blog! I scare myself! EEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIYYYYYY!!!


Anyhow. The RNC, on the run from science, from bloggers, and from criticism. Yeah, they sound like a great group to have in power.

And should I mention again...THIS IS ABOUT A FREAKIN' CRACKER!!!

Are these guys looking less foolish yet? Are they giving us less to ridicule yet?


Crackers Do Matter???


The cracker doth continue to crumble!

No it does not involve include the stolen Wafer +1 (with a its special summoning spell). Apparently the student was pressured enough to surrender the holy cookie of blandness so it could be reverentially choked on with a sip of cheap wine. Amen.

No, matters have moved, to Minnesota of all places. As I noted in the previous post, PZ Myers decided to comment on this story and the events involved. Who could resist? He even wondered how he could acquire his own everlasting Christ snack.

That was not wise.

Not really. But when you are dealing with a lot as humorless as Cathollics have chosen to be, more and more these days, you are going to be looking for trouble. Espsecially when you have become noted. And with Bill Donohue (A man who no doubt has a encyclopedic index just for his enemies list.), there is nothing that is not worth pitching a fit over. Chocolate Jesus, start pitching? Cracker-gate, a pitching we will go. And if a noted critic dares…dares…quip about seeking a holy cracker, he will pitch a a whole camp for war.

And PZ Myers faces that. He is getting threats, and some suggest death, an all too Christian battle cry, sadly. But he has taken that before from Christ’s Cranks. As he has also had his universities president contacted with demands he be fired from his teaching post. How dare he, on a private blog, be honest about his identity and also criticize Catholicism. You are just not allowed to do that. I am sure the Church is just as upset when he critiques other religions, or pseudoscience. I’m sure. PZ Myers has given email and mail addresses, if you would care to express your thoughts to the president, pro or con, on the matter. Please feel free.

And as I said in the last post, all this does is make those Catholics and like religious sorts with their underpants in a knot look like fools. They look like puffed up, pompous twits of the first order. This started out silly. But the Church has made it a tale of small petty people trapped in their triffling little myths. FYI, if your picture is taken, you souls are not taken. Granted, the soul is a made up construct.

Bill Donohue is a dope. Why would American Catholics just blindly follow him into this?

Ah, right. Practice.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Christ on a Cracker

Hate Crime. What comes to mind? How about absconding with a cracker/wafer/desiccated corpse?

PZ Myers:


Here's a story that will destroy your hopes for a reasonable humanity.
Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn't eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.
This isn't the stupid part yet. He walked off with a cracker that was put in his mouth, and people in the church fought with him to get it back. It is just a cracker!

Catholics worldwide became furious.
It is a hate crime say some! Death threats are sent! And the Church is sending special forces nuns (Sadly they won't be the embarrassing comic book versions...I never read Warrior Nun..really.). Really, a nun has been sent for protection. And the university is putting in protection...


for a CRACKER.

So, a special cracker, eh. Fights evil, made of the body of Christ, and some wheat I hear.

But they have freaking boxes of them in back.

It is a cracker. Let him grab it and run off like an idiot. He looks like an idiot, like a frat boy whose stolen a light bulb for a scavenger hunt. But when you try to tackle him, bar the doors, and scream madly...and then you bring in the university admin and the Church you look like the idiot.

But then again you are the one fretting over a cheap, bland cracker.

That is sad.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fricking Heck

Well, another computer has decided to go potty on me. Thankfully, unlike the standard operating procedure of leaving a completely fragged computer, this just has needed to be restored to the factory state. But it does mean all the documents, pictures, and videos I was keeping on it are kaput. So begins the process of re remembering passwords, and finding the software. Thankfully this is happening before I built up data and documents for my current class, so I can focus my ire and nerve on what is yet to come in those classes.

But one bigger annoyance is the loss of all the podcasts I have saved and have been going through the last few weeks. As usual, I grabbed up more than I can handle (they keep mounting up). So I am trying to remember those, that aren't on the iPod at present. But while it seems to take ages to re download them all, they are offering interesting bits, which I will want to comment on. I have been grabbing a mix, some science, some tech, some gaming fun, history, and a bit of woo. You have to take some time for some silly woo, just to see how off kilter they are, and listening to them on podcast really gets you that view.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Freedom after all these years.

It has been stunning to see the sudden liberating of a large number of hostages in Colombia. It looks like tight operation, where the military slipped in in disguise and took 15 hostages away to freedom, convincing their captor that they were to be moved to meet the supreme commander of FARC (Yeesch, makes the guy sound like Cobra Commander.). Included were 3 Americans held for 4 years. Also a presidential candidate who was kidnapped while she campaigned, Ingrid Betancourt. Six years of captivity have ended for her. Many have been worried about her health, and many world leaders have tried to intercede to help. She seems far better now that she is out of captivity and able to be with her mother and speak her mind and stand unafraid.

But, thankfully, these people are out now. 100's are left in the hands of the FARC. But with the strike killing one leader. Another leader killed by one of his own for a bounty. More bounties are being offered for more leaders and for the freeing of more hostages. US satellites are spotting their camps. Their communications are being tracked. Plus the Colombian government is infiltrating the camps. And now these people who were being used as pawns, left in the jungle to suffer are out of the FARC's hands. I know right now many many Colombians are celebrating the hope restoked.

One can only hope that this is a sign of the soon to come end of the FARC. It would be a great day for Colombians if this nearly 50 years of warring could be brought to a quick and peaceful end. Listening to the families of the Americans react to their loved ones returning, and to Betancourt sharing her thoughts, it would be hard to not be moved.

I am glad to see CNN giving this extra coverage tonight, instead of running reruns. Three Americans returning from half a decade of captivity used to be a bigger deal.

AP report: