Archive for June, 2008

Internet Infidels All Over Again

Yes, that’s right, everyone. Looks like the world has been unable to get its fill of sadism through inflicting stupidity on us through normally stupid people, and has resorted to turning normally not-completely-moronic balls of chemicals we call people into festering piles of rotten corruption and idiocy.

In case you are unaware of the situation, the administrators and moderators at “Richard Dawkins chat” (linked to from http://www.richarddawkins.net) have finally used up their last collective shred of brainpower and turned into some sort of retarded half Dalek, half troglodyte hybrid which regularly fails to pronounce “EXTERMINATE!”.

Still, “EXTERMINATE!” they do. I’ve lost count of the number of users they have banned so far, almost all of them regular, contributing members. Two moderators, including myself, have been stripped of their powers, and one is among the banned (I don’t count my ban because I asked them to ban me due to my disgust at the situation).

Fortunately for the banned users, there is a Skype room consisting of disgruntled former RD.net chat members. The room has nearly doubled in size since the bannings began. Our rather specific “people who despise the RD.net room but want to talk to each other” room is now actually larger than the real chat in terms of users online at a given time.

Back to the mockery, though. For anyone wondering, I was stripped of my moderator powers in a demonstration of the human capacity to jump to insane and generally stupid conclusions. None of their Loyal Comrades of the Banning People Left and Right party could possibly have leaked private moderator information, so clearly I was the only one who could possibly be disgruntled. As Reed said over at his blog, “nice one, assholes! You punished an innocent person” (paraphrasing). For the record, I most certainly was not the source (though had I known the way things would turn out, I’d certainly be inclined to give out any information I could find) of whatever they seem so butthurt about. Don’t they know the users they’re screwing over are supposed to be the ones hurting?

To give an idea as to what they’re banning for, here’s the most recent ban, relayed by Darius:

aeronautical_atheist: yes change the subject please,,,, how about those power hungry mods huh?
mrmister: some mods*
aeronautical_atheist: yes some
JoelWildtree: *eats power*
aeronautical_atheist: my theory is that mat and myxoma have a bit of trouble in paridise, and are taking it out on us
aeronautical_atheist has left the room General
aeronautical_atheist was banned by admin Rob

Someone dares to question Big Brother Moderators, and they are promptly terminated. I don’t see any resemblance to various regimes us atheists like to distance ourselves from. Do you?

To add insult to what would already amount to a 390 broken bones and a ruptured spleen were this a human (breaking bones that don’t even exist is hard to do), the admin Zukiwi is threatening legal action against various banned users. She has no grounds, of course, and about as much funding as the United States Department of Communism, so she’s likely managed to successfully fail every IQ test ever printed simultaneously with this particular act of obtuse posturing.

Having covered Zukiwi’s stupidity not mentioned previously, there’s myxoma. myxoma is a thoughtless, cunting bitch with the social skills of a dead elephant and a figure to match. She has handled every issue in precisely the wrong way since she and matalanifesto, the site’s chief admin, returned from their little four month “neglecting the chat” spree. Everything is someone else’s fault, and if they don’t agree they win a one way ticked to banland. matalanifesto is about the same, but with a British accent and a whole new level of asshattery I won’t go into here.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, either. It is the first time this has happened to half the users simultaneously, but it’s still helpful to know that this isn’t the first time regular, contributing users have been banned without good reason.

The moderators claim their chat and the richarddawkins.net forums follow the same rules and guidelines. I’m all for trying new foods, but I’d rather not try this pile of steamed horseshit coated in Superiority Complex and burned to a crisp by the entropy of the administration’s brains.

On the richarddawkins.net forums, people routinely get away with passive aggressive personal attacks (though for some reason calling a Mormon a Moron is frowned upon), and obvious trolls seem to have tenure. Being banned for saying the moderators are being a bit overzealous is simply absurd.

At this point, the best thing the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science can do is to cut all ties with “smallpophypothesis.net” (the current URL of the chat). This chat serves only to soil the name and reputation of Dawkins, atheism, and smart people in general.

To the administrators and moderators of the “Richard Dawkins Chat” (excluding perhaps maiforpeace, she seems to have been decent through this whole affair), I offer a hearty shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker and tits to you, you asinine pigs.

On a completely unrelated note, my search for unicorns has been fruitless so far.

Bunnies.

There Goes My Faith in Humanity Again

“Everyone’s opinion is of equal value in matters of nuclear physics.”

PZ Myers

PZ Myers has another poll to crash, and so I check it out. AOL writes an article which one would think rationally explains why the LHC isn’t going to be the end of the world, and then puts up a poll asking whether the LHC is worth the risk.

Here are the results so far.

First let us bow our heads with reverence to the almighty power of Firefox. Now, let us read the statistics.

No- 61%

Yes- 39%

Now, let us scream in pain at the scientific ignorance of the world.

Google is My Religion, and You Can’t Say Anything Bad About That

Praise Google!

The old version of Google Earth was completely awesome. The new version of Google Earth is completely awesomer!

It has a new “Sky” feature that lets you look at the night sky from your location and it is sweet!

And, and, and you can click on “Current Sky Events” and it will link you to podcasts from Earth & Sky, StarDate, Hubblecast, and VOEventnet.

And I’m pretty sure that there are more features which I haven’t found yet because I had to type this post in my sudden religious revelation that I must convert the world to Google.

The astronomer within me is squealing with joy!

Haggard Fails

From The Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — An e-mail released by a purported friend of ousted pastor Ted Haggard alleges the former leader of New Life Church admitted having sexual contact with and buying drugs from a male escort.

In the October 2007 e-mail obtained by KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Haggard allegedly writes he bought drugs five times from Mike Jones and that he allowed Jones to masturbate him after a massage. The e-mail was released by Kurt Serpe. The television station also provided a copy of the e-mail to The Associated Press.

Then again, making fun of the hypocrisy of Ted Haggard got old at least a year ago and this is just old news… But let’s point and laugh at Ted Haggard anyway and celebrate his further exposure as a hypocrite with this video from Roy Zimmerman:

Okay, yeah. That’s kind of boring now.

Banned!

I hang out often in the RichardDawkins.net chat room… that is… I used to… until I was being too much of a freethinker.

So, here I was in the RDF chat when Andrew came in. I said something along the lines of “Hi chatbuddy!” and the chat resumed. Then, Andrew started joking about Scientology and as part of the joke he said…

andrew: ZUKIWI IS A SCIENTOLOGIST!

Zukiwi told him that that wasn’t part of the “rational discourse” and he had to stop making comments like that.

Wait, what?

You’ll have to understand, I’ve been in the chat for a long time and I was used to it being a mixture of frivolity and rational discussion. The mods had never before kept us from fooling around once in a while.

I started asking why all of a sudden we were supposed to participate in nothing more than rational discourse. When I wasn’t getting a satisfactory answer, I said to another user (Servetus, who is Dan Barker’s brother FYI) “SERVETUS IS A SCIENTOLOGIST!”

There was no response from the mods. I asked Zukiwi why I didn’t get a slap on the wrist for it.

Zukiwi @ Elles: Elles – we are more tolerant to some users we know of 😉 but do not push it

Elles @ Zukiwi: Well, isn’t that a bit of a double standard if Andrew gets punished more for the same thing that I did?

At this point, Andrew had said the word “SCIENTOLOGIST” again and was banned. I was a little stunned. I kept asking why the chat couldn’t have any more frivolity.

JoelWildtree     Elles: If you have a complaint … PM it. or email

Elles @ JoelWildtree: I think that since the complaint pertains to the structure of the chat it’s only fair to let other chat members at criticisms if they wish. That’s the point of a discussion, to share all ideas and viewpoints openly and freely.

At one point one of the mods accused me of trolling. I asked how I was being a troll.

myxoma: Elles for one thing you are arguing with mods in the public room. If you don’t take your complaints to PM that is a bannable offense in itself.

Elles     myxoma: We’re not allowed to argue with mods in public? Isn’t publicly questioning authority – all authority- integral to free thought?

myxoma: Elles first warning. Take it to PM or email.

myxoma: This is not a public service. It is a private club and you are a guest.

myxoma: You dont have freedom of speech here

You don’t have freedom of speech here? I couldn’t believe that she had actually said that the chat no longer permitted freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

I persisted up until my second warning when I decided to give up. But, I didn’t think that they would ban me for saying this…

Elles: Freedom of speech…

Those were my last words when a window popped up which said that I had been banned by Myxoma.

I’ve recently noticed that the mods seem to have gone mad with power. Reed has some other examples of long-time users who have been banned for the silliest things.

It’s not that I have anything against the Richard Dawkins Foundation, but I kind of expected the chat on his website to embody the values which he holds dear and for some odd reason I think that Richard Dawkins would support freedom of speech. The mods certainly can enact whatever rules they want, and since it’s not a democratic chat system we can’t question it, but us grunts should be allowed to question their decisions since this is integral to freethought which RDF supports.

Taking away freedom is a poor reflection not only of the Richard Dawkins Foundation but also of Atheism.

ZOMG ORBS!

First of all, this is a picture of Richard Dawkins in a trench coat shortly after he got out of the free screening of Expelled which PZ Myers was expelled from. Ignore the epicness of that picture and concentrate on the little things which I have circled.

What do those look like?

SPIRIT ORBS!

ZOMG, there are spirits around Richard Dawkins. The one on his shoulder must be whispering words into his ear which he then writes in his militant Atheist literature, the one at the top must be watching him and making sure that he doesn’t do anythign that Satan doesn’t like, and the one by his pocket must be controlling his hand gestures!

Or… they could just be the camera flash reflecting off of dust or water particles in the air.

Seriously, if you want a picture of a ghostly orb, go outside with a digital camera while it’s raining lightly and snap random pictures. I can virtually guarantee you’ll see some ghostly orbs.

And that’s my try-it-yourself recommendation for the day.

Carry on.

RAmen.

Ignunt Fool of the Week

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is committed to a man who is passionately committed to having our splendid country march back into the Dark Ages.

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…

HIS

Today is indeed a sad, dark day as Governor Jindal decided to value fundamentalist evangelical voters over reason when he signed Louisiana’s anti-evolution (which was also anti-insert scientific theory which conservatives and fundies don’t like here) bill. But what’s more depressing is one of the comments left at the bottom of the article. I have taken the liberty of breaking it down ignunt statement by ignunt statement.

I am amazed at the lack of intelligence by the comments here concerning the THEORY of evolution. Did you not notice the little word “theory”. This is not a proven, scientific absolute.

Don’t you love it when people make fools of themselves as soon as they open their mouths (or start typing sentences)?

I suppose he never noticed the little word “theory” in front of several other scientific theories in his grade-school science textbooks. Ever heard of the atomic THEORY of matter? The germ THEORY of disease? The THEORY of relativity? The THEORY of gravitation? If you want to say that gravity is not a proven, scientific absolute, you are welcome to come with me to anything above oh… three stories with me and jump off. If you jump off, you win!

In fact, if you did some objective research you will find that more & more real scientists are dropping this theory altogether because of the mounting physical, factual evidence to the contrary.

Uh-huh. Real scientists dropping this theory altogether, I see… Except…

Not a single one that I have ever met. At least not a single real biologist, and I have met many. For some odd reason, the majority of scientists who reject evolution aren’t biologists but are chemists, physicists, engineers, and other people who don’t actually specialize in that field.

As for “mounting physical, fatual evidence to the contrary,” I’d like to know why DNA, the fossil record, and all that jazz are completely compatible with evolution.

It is nothing more than a man’s theory !

And you think that your Bible isn’t? What about Greek myths, do you believe that the Greeks made those up? If so, why isn’t your Bible made up by a man?

It amazes me at the lack of integrity people posses in the fact that they can believe in something so whole heartedly, & passionately in something just because “alot” of other people believe in it. This is no different from old wives tales, where people believe in something just because it was taught them & believed in by others. They need no proof or evidence, it’s just blindly accepted & what’s worse is even passionately defended out of pure ignorance.

First of all, the most recent Gallup poll has shown that there’s still a lot of people who believe in creationism. And no, I did not blindly accept evolution.

I in fact had my doubts about evolution for quite some time in grade school. During my middle school conservative phase, I was very much in favour of equal time for evolution and creationism Intelligent Design. But then, in 8th grade I actually read some creationist literature and realized how fucking dumb people like Ken Ham are. It was after that that we studied evolution in my 8th grade science class and the teacher presented us with loads more evidence for evolution. Even after that, I wasn’t sure about some things and I read and read and read books about evolution until all of my doubts (mostly from creationist propaganda which I hadn’t realized was creationist propaganda until then) were answered.

Is this guy going to realize soon that he should be asking himself why he’s blindly accepting his faith?

If you want to believe in something, believe in God & do this whole heartedly & passionately. The real igorance is in shunning God, His love & wisdom in favor of the narrow minded & short sighted wisdom of little men.

Why should I?

Why your God? Why not Zeus, Allah, Thor, Ba’al, Ra, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

This country is messed up & getting worse by the day not because you people can’t get all the politicians to do what you selfishly want but because there is no longer any genuine reverance for the God who created you & this creation in the first place.

Gotta love Jerry Falwell’s quote from September 13, 2001.

How’s this for ignorance ? You liberals do not want religion being taught in schools basically because it is based upon “believing” in something.

No. We (and I’m not a Liberal) don’t want religion taught in schools because this is a secular country. There’s a reason the founding fathers wanted to keep church and state separate and I think you are a good enough reason why. Creationism doesn’t belong in the science classroom because it’s based upon blind faith.

Believing in something that supposedly has nothing factual in this world with which to substantiate it’s validity. Instead you wish to “impose” a BELIEF that there is no one & only true God that created you & me & all that there is in existance. There’s not enough room here, but there is more than enough evidence to believe in God then there is to not believe in God so that it takes more faith to not believe in God then it does to believe in Him. The truth is, not believing in God who has made Himself known to all men, in your innermost being, is more an act of simple deffiance than that of disbelief.

Again, give me a reason why I should believe in your God and don’t just ramble about “evidence”. Present your evidence.

With that being said, I am not a proponent of telling or forcing people to believe in God & neither is God. He gives all people a free will to choose for themselves. Therefore, when it comes to child eductation, there should exist every opportunity for the child to be given the right to choose for himself.This cannot be a legitamate opportunity if it does not contain the true “options”. To force either Christianity or Darwinisim or any other thing is outrageous & hypocracy. If anything at all is going to be exposed to impressionable children it should be done in such a way as to allow them the opportunity to choose just as God Himself proposed in the garden of Eden.

You know, there is a difference between teaching and indoctrination. Children don’t have evolution forced upon them, but they do have to have a basic understanding of it to pass the class. Something which you obviously lack.

Yes, children should be able to choose. But they should also have a good understanding of the subject before they choose, unclouded by creationist propaganda which this bill is obviously trying to inject into the classroom.

I find it interesting that these people make arguments about giving children the right to choose and then label their children as “Christian children” and send them off to Sunday School.

Personally, I think that because it is vertually impossible to present opposing beliefs objectively, I would tend to lean towards not teaching these types of things at all in public schools. The only way this could be done properly would be to “offer” these as electives to be taught by teachers who themselves believe in what they are teaching.

You know, I’d agree. Have a elective course called “comparative religion” or “mythology” where they can study creationism along with Greek creation myth, Mayan creation myth, Lakotan creation myth, Aborigini creation myth, etc. But sorry, science is still going to be a required course.

Praise the Lord !

Fuck your “Lord” with a female seahorse.

RAmen, and congratulations on making Ignunt Fool of the Week!

Cake.

Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake.

Yes, that’s right: cake. If everyone had cake, the world would be a better place. Cake often contains chocolate, and it is a well known fact that chocolate improves mood. If everyone is in a better mood, it is clear that the world would be a better place. Thus cake.

Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake.

Elitism is good because it keeps the non elite people out.

Bunnies.

I’m an Elitist Bastard

Why didn’t I find out about the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards sooner? I missed the maiden voyage of the HMS Elitist Bastard!

And so, I’ve decided to make a giant leap between the dock and the HMS Elitist Bastard by creating a post reflecting on why I’m an elitist bastard.

I love the Oxford English Dictionary.

élitism

Advocacy of or reliance on the leadership and dominance of an élite (in a society, or in any body or class of persons). Hence élitist n. and a.

Am I an elitist bastard?

I just want to get along with people. At the end of the day, I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, male, female, hermaphrodite, Thrawn, bisexual, or homosexual. But, I don’t get along with people. Sometimes I have no idea why. Sometimes I think that the people I don’t get along with are to blame. Sometimes I think that I’m the one to blame.

Even if I don’t get shit from kids my age because I actively try to seem superior to them, I’m quite sure that the term “elitist” now equals intellectual.

As one of Stephen Colbert’s grade-school videos informed me…

“Has your teacher ever tried to tell you something that you don’t need to know? Like where to find Europe on a map? What comes after the number 9? Or how to escape a burning building? Then your teacher is an elitist. Yes, an elitist. An “ist” worse than communist, feminist, and harpist combined… What do these elitists want? [They want] to put in our brains the belief that books are for reading instead of for tenderizing meat.”

If that makes me an elitist, then I think that I’ll have no trouble making myself at home on the HMS Elitist Bastard. I’m proud to be an elitist bastard.

Ok, so I ocasionally tell people that I think I’m smarter than them because I know the reason why the American Revolution was fought, what words like “forgery” mean, or because I don’t think that females are in a different species from males (those would be two doomed species). But, I don’t know a lot of stuff. I’m ignorant of many things. However, it’s not because I’m wilfully ignorant.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone through a scenario where I’ve used a term that the person I’m talking to doesn’t understand and they say “what?” I proceed to define the term in as simple words as I possibly can but they just say “I don’t care… I’m going to go listen to my iPod/play computer games/talk about my friend’s sex life/watch MTV/etc.”

There’s a certain quote which I’m often reminded of when met with such hostility towards knowledge.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Thomas Jefferson

Ignorance is not just bliss. It’s all too easy. Learning requires the use of the brain, and the very thought of this particular organ seems to stir terror within the hearts of other kids my age. I justify taking the risk and using this brain power because of my curiosity. I want to know what those funny lights up in the sky at night are. I want to know how the Solar System formed. I want to know how the beautiful and complex forms of life arose on Earth by natural selection. I want to learn vector calculus so that I may someday understand Maxwell’s tantalizing equations.

I’m no more special for possessing curiosity than I am for possessing knowledge. I believe that all humans are capable of learning. I believe that we all come into the world hungering for knowledge.

“You’re weird,” is the reaction I get from my fellow classmates when I express this curiosity.

So the high school students I interact with on a daily basis are apathetic to such wonders as spectroscopy. To them it’s just another Chemistry lesson between the start of school and lunch time when they can hang out with their friends.

But, I find that explaining these scientific concepts to a younger audience, elementary to middle school children taken to the museum by their parents, elicits huge grins and “wows” when they understand the concept of looking at nothing more than light to find out what a star is made out of.

Something happens as they get older that makes learning uncool. Perhaps the school work gets harder, making all school-related things (including learning but excluding sports) no longer fun. Maybe it’s peer pressure to not do well in school in the first place. Maybe it’s all sorts of factors, but it definitely seems that this is the age when anti-intellectual hostility takes root.

That’s when I truly think that I’m better than them. I care enough to want to learn. I care enough to want to think. I care so much for these pursuits that I’m willing to take all the shit that’s hurled at me for my personal enrichment.

There’s a reason why it was a heinous crime to teach slaves how to read and write in the South before the Civil War. Education and freedom go together like bees and flowers (hooray symbiosis!). I find a refusal to think and learn a message that the person desires nothing other than mental slavery.

Speaking of mental slavery, there’s another quote which I feel should remind us of why we value literacy, knowledge, and thought.

“How fortunate for governments that the people do not think.”

Adolf Hitler

Yes, isn’t it telling that Adolf Hitler said this?

If you explain to a teenager that thinking is essential to the fuctioning of a democracy, they probably won’t try to understand it. Or they’ll say “so what?” Either way, I doubt that telling them that society will become 1984-esque if they don’t put an end to their anti-intellectual sentiments is going to cause them to wake up.

They’re basically asking for totalitarianism. Why not give them what they want? As appealing as it may be to ship off the wilfully ignorant to North Korea, I’m no more in favour of this than I am of wishing cancer upon someone (though there are certain quacks I know of who might deserve it).

Besides, if I walked out my door tomorrow to find “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” emblazoned all over the place, I doubt that they’d notice.

And Now to Get Some Randomness Out of the Way

Imagine we’re on a dandelion seed blowing across the cosmic ocean, drifting forward through time towards a brighter future. Suddenly we reach it.

Now, imagine, you’ve just gotten home from work or school, you’ve settled down in front of your computer and open up Hotmail (I hate Hotmail) GMail to find that you have one new message in your Inbox. You click on it, idly noticing the little paper clip icon next to it indicating it contains an attachment that says “CarlSagan.ppl”.

‘That’s odd,’ you think, ‘I’ve never heard of a .ppl file before…’

Until now.

You find your cursor hovering over the attachment as if it had a mind of its own… as if… it were drawn to it…

As if you no longer have any control over your own thumb you click twice.

Your computer runs a virus scan, it comes up clean. Finally, you click “open file” and Carl Sagan crawls out of your monitor.

“Hi Carl Sagan!” you say enthusiastically and then begin a profound conversation on the wonder of the Cosmos.

Would not the world be a better place if we could send and receive people like Carl Sagan on the slightest whim? And we wouldn’t have to just limit it to Carl Sagan, we could send and receive Harry Potter, Batman, George Carlin, Tim Russert, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Cookie Monster, Douglas Adams, James Randi, Stephen Colbert, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Phil Plait, PZ Myers, or whoever you want!

Need to teach somebody about the letter C? Send Cookie Monster!

Need to investigate un-American activities? Send Stephen Colbert straight into their home or workplace!

Need to correct some misperceptions about astronomy? Send Phil Plait!

‘You had me at Carl Sagan’, you think as you read this, ‘Where can I get some awesome technology like this?’

Well, for only 90 easy payments of £48.95…

OK, that’s just a random thought of how we can make the world a better place. I think that Thrawn is rubbing off on me. I blame the video of his Spore Creature: