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     Testify, Brother, Testify!  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Jul 20, 2006 at 05:39 PM
     Viewed:  3,897 times   
    Society

    Theists sometimes don't realize how utterly terrifying it can be to be openly atheist. There are people who literally want to kill you and will do so if given the chance. Look at what happened to Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Not to mention that we're the most hated minority in America. With that in mind, it's refreshing to see someone come out and shout it to the world.

    Personally, I agree that PZ Myers has done us all a great service by being unflinchingly and unapologetically atheist.


     Eternal Fuckin' Verities  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 10:15 AM
     Viewed:  3,619 times   
    Society

    If you're a Deadwood fan, we may have wondered at some point, what would Al Swearengen think of corporate vision statements?

    Well, enlighten yourself, cocksucker, lest your benighting fuckin' ignorance lead you to lope headfirst into Wu's slop trough, being no better than the hooplehead cunt that squeezed you onto the fuckin' Earth.


     When Our Minds Wander  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu May 11, 2006 at 04:06 PM
     Viewed:  872 times   
    Society

    New Scientist has reported that autistic people don't daydream the same way as the rest of us. While we tend to let our minds wander into our social and emotional thought centers, autistic people do not. While I think that's a fascinating distinction, I'm even more intrigued that that's what we do when we daydream--think about other people. It's as if we take our brain's idle cycles to work on the incredibly complex problems that are posed by other people and our own state of being.

    For a variety of reasons, I've found that to be true for me in the past few days.


     Dying At Disney  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 12:17 PM
     Viewed:  1,721 times   
    Society

    I admit, I'm as big a purveyor as anybody of the urban legend that "nobody dies at Disney World." Like most urban legends, it sounds like is should be true, even if it isn't, techincally speaking. Just the same, two of the most recent Disney-theme-park-related deaths occurred outside the park, although in "Celebration Hospital". Celebration, by the way, is a town created and run by Disney and is downright creepy.


     Hey! Cool Kids! Help Us Out!  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 01:31 PM
     Viewed:  951 times   
    Society

    Start wearing bandoliers. We geeks thank you in advance.


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     Human Evolution And Meat  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Mar 30, 2006 at 07:26 PM
     Viewed:  1,594 times   
    Society

    Anyone who's eaten dinner with me knows I'm vegetarian. And anyone's who's got me talking about it knows that many other vegetarians drive me crazy. Vegans especially. I mean, c'mon, you'd rather eat cane sugar than honey? Bees don't care! They're cool with it! They just make more! They're bees! Any clue about the historical human and ecological cost of sugar production? I studied Javanese plantation agriculture. People died of maltreament, disease, and starvation. By the thousands. For sugar. Don't get me wrong, I like the stuff. But if you're making an "ethical" choice to pick sugar over honey, well, fuck you.

    On that theme, I read a good breakdown of some really stupid vegetarian thinking. There are many excellent reasons to be veg. It's better for the planet, it's usually healthier (unless you eat only cheese pizza), it gives you something to lord over your buddies. But, as far as evolution goes, we're omnivores, which is a polite way of saying that we're scavengers. We probably occupied the same ecological niche as modern hyena and wild dogs--in fact, they may have been our competitors. And a big part of being a scavenger is eating whatever shows up. You go out to gather and you bring back what you find. If you gather meat, you eat meat. Simple as that.

    Of course, nowadays, we don't need to eat meat, at least not in the fully industrialized nations. And we'd do well, as a result, to limit or eliminate our meat consumption and save what arable land we have for crops that will feed with far less fossil fuel consumed per unit of food energy produced. Just the same, it doesn't help our cause to make bullshit arguments based on bad anthropology. It just makes you look like a hippie. A dumb stinky hippie. And no one wants to eat dinner with that.


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     I Was Just Talking To Ethel About That!  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Mar 30, 2006 at 11:56 AM
     Viewed:  931 times   
    Society

    I'm not above blogwhoring, especially now that Antholog has Trackback capabilities. But it can produce some happy unintended effects. I saw a new link to us pop up on Technorati that linked to my rant on atheist hatin'. Checking out the story, I found a description of something I've often wondered about, but couldn't name: Baader-Meinhof phenomena. It ties into something I was taught in anthro class to call "foregrounding," which is our ability to pull semantic elements from the data soup of the real world and combine them to form meaningful patterns that attract our attention. Foregrounding is also a computer science term for bringing a running process into the foregound. This has obvious relationships to cognitive science, as do many other computer-mind analogies of varying usefulness and accuracy. All interesting stuff.


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     I Knew This Day Would Come  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:49 AM
     Viewed:  839 times   
    SocietyWell, it's been nice knowing y'all. More fun here.

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     Squid Are Not Alive  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 02:05 PM
     Viewed:  1,463 times   
    Society

    I admit to getting spurred pretty hard in the anti-clerical direction by the survey I found yesterday. So bear that in mind when I take great pleasure in pointing out to you that squid are not living creatures, at least according to some biblical scholars. Yikes.

    To be fair, as a guy with an anthropology degree, I actually find the reasoning fascinating. Every society has its own way of classifying natural phenomena, deciding what is clean, what is verboten, what is alive, dead, what has an animus and what does not. These systems are really interesting loci for study of a given people. For the ancient Israelites, as it turns out, squid would have been in a sort of questionable category, much the same as shellfish, pigs, and other creatures that are treif. It is not at all uncommon to see animals that don't fit into a category declared as unholy, taboo, dirty, what have you. This is true for all people--we don't eat bugs, though apparently they're quite tasty. They just aren't in a category we consider clean or edible.

    Having said all that, the operative phrase is "for the ancient Israelites." The authors of the Bible lived in a time where certain ideas about the natural world pertained. We no longer live in that time. We have the Linnaean system. We know about hemoglobin, DNA, and evolution. Squid are as much alive as fish or pigs or human beings. It is therefore foolish to try to reconcile an ancient society's view of the natural world with our own understanding of biology. The Bible is an interesting cultural artifact in this case, but it is nothing more--discovering that squid aren't alive through Biblical exegesis is about as unhelpful a thing as you could add to the collective knowledge about our cephalopod friends. It's just dumb. I mean really, really dumb.

    There are some really fine parts of the Bible. Even having being an atheist for most of my life, I still find 1Cor:13 to be one of the most beautiful pieces of Western literature--and I'm not alone, given how often parts of that chapter are referenced. But it's not a nature guide, a science text, or a microscope. It's constrained by its time and place. To pull it out and try to apply it to modern biology only denigrates it. So stop trying, people. Let's work for a living Bible alongside our living squid.


     America Hates Me  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 10:43 AM
     Viewed:  3,692 times   
    Society

    Awesome:

    From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

    ...

    Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

    I am sick and fucking tired of people thinking that we atheists have no moral boundaries because we don't believe in a facacta set of rewards and punishments cooked up by an old codger in the sky and his subterranean nemesis. Seriously, do you honestly believe that promise of spending an eternity on top of a cumulus cloud in a sub-zero layer of the upper atmosphere playing a fucking harp is going to encourage me to beat the shit out of a gay person in the name of the Lord? Or, rather, does my inate and reasoned sense of right and wrong tell me that, hey, beating the shit out of anybody is bad, no matter what this preacher or that mullah is saying?

    You want morality? Bush is a devout Christian. Osama is a devout Muslim. And Stalin was an atheist. So maybe, just maybe, morality has fuck-all to do with your religious preference and everything to do with your upbringing, your own sense of justice and fairness, and the circumstances in which your judgements are put into action. Frankly, as an atheist, I think that there is no afterlife, and, therefore, it's the most egregious crime possible to murder an innocent person and deprive them their only true possession, their life. And that's true no matter what God, country, or ideology may seem to justify otherwise.

    Don't like us, America? Fuck you. Fuck your religious president, fuck your justification for war, fuck your blinkered morality, fuck your piss-poor understanding of science, ethics, history, anthropology, politics, economics, and religion. We're having crazy acrobatic atheistic monkey sex with your fresh-scrubbed nubile college-aged children right now and there's nothing you can do about it. Guess who's coming to dinner next?

    Mad props to scientist and atheist PZ Myers for tipping us off about this.


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