Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

European History, Science, and Eternal Life

So I’m taking European history this year in school and I have this teacher whom I’m rather fond of. She’s not exactly a fundamentalist Christian, but she is at least moderately Christian. Today we mentioned the scientific revolution while studying about the witch trials and she goes on a small tangent that goes something along the lines of…

So are you going to put your faith in the scientific revolution? Tell that to a dying cancer patient! Science isn’t going to get you eternal anything.

So it’s not exactly standing up and preaching, but it is sort of clear that she’s trying to convince her audience (public school students) that they need to worry about how they’re getting eternal life and science is useless because of that.

Of course, I disagree with her argument. Epistemology does not get chucked out the window as soon as you’re uncomfortable with what it says because that would be beside the point of having an epistemology (unless you’re of the truth-is-whatever-makes-me-feel-comfortable-with-death-ists). I’m more concerned with how I live the life I know that I have than with another life which can be verified about as convincingly as Invisible Pink Unicorns.

But here’s the thing… for the most part this teacher does not talk about her personal dislike of science, but this is not an isolated incident. It’s happened once or twice before. Do I…

  1. Let it drop
  2. Just speak out in class the next time
  3. Start recording and call the ACLU (I list this in jest… sort of)
  4. Do something else?

Oh, and why the bloody hell do people like to bandy about the word “faith” to people who happen to like science and reason? The most faith involved in science is that this isn’t all some giant hallucination that we’re all sharing, or that we’re hallucinating that people are sharing the same reality. It’s a small amount of faith, yes, but I think of it more as agnostic disbelief. I can’t prove that I’m hallucinating and I can’t prove that I’m not… but if this is a hallucination, it sure is an elaborate one and no harm is done in carrying on with 99.9% certainty.

“Dora the Fashionista with Stylish Purse and Stilettos”: A Fashion Lesson from a Girl Who Doesn’t Know Nothin’ About Fashion

So here’s the deal. Dora the Explorer is expanding into new horizons and audiences and a “tweenage” version of the popular, young cartoon character has been unveiled which will be made into an “interactive doll” (whatever that means).

Parents are pissed. They think that the new Dora is too “sexed up” and the description of her in the above linked article does not help:

Next fall, Dora the Explorer may be trading in her androgynous bob and shorts for big hair, pumps and a miniskirt.

Even better is the petition that is now online, with over 11,000 signatures already, which declares in the opening rant:

Alas, we saw the signs. The cute flower lip gloss, the pinkified look, the sudden separation of Dora and Diego shows. We could have, should have predicted this after we saw the likes of Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby, and Trollz (now with the ubiquitous commodified girl power “z”), all made over in the cute sexy way that marketers sell maturity to girls–the sassy wink, the long flowing hair, the thin waist, the turned out hip pose of practiced lingerie models.

Oh noes! I sense a slippery slope coming up…

What next? Dora the Cheerleader? Dora the fashionista with stylish purse and stilettos? Dora the Pop Star with Hoppin’ Dance Club and “Juice” Bar? We can expect it all, because that’s what passes as “tween” in the toy department these days.

Aahhhhh! And then God will smite all of America and there will be plagues of locusts and blood raining from the skies!

Hold on. What exactly does this new sexed up Dora doll look like?


OMG, like, she looks like... such a whore!

Oh kay… Now, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about fashion. If an outfit requires more than one minute of thought to put together it’s not worth it for me, and the same goes for hairstyles, but those are hardly pumps and a mini-skirt, k?

She happens to wearing a type of shoe known as “ballet flats” (i.e. these) which I should think are more conservative than sexed up. Hell, even some mary janes have a bit of a heel.

That is not a mini-skirt. It’s… well, I don’t know the term for this, but the point is she’s wearing it over leggings. She has her legs covered and they’re not covered in nylons or fishnets. It’s leggings. I have personal feelings about the aethetics of girls wearing leggings which I will not comment on (because who am I to comment on fashion?), but the key thing is she has her legs covered and it’s not nylons or fishnets. It’s leggings which are sort of like… skin-tight-ish capris.

I think when it comes to leggings, the place where even the prudest of parents should draw the line, which happens to be where my school’s dress code draws it, is when it’s just leggings and a t-shirt and nothing really to cover anything below the waist.

What are you dressing your girls in anyway? Heel-length dresses and petticoats? Are you members of the FLDS or something?

Back to the petition:

We don’t need any more tween dolls teaching girls that growing up means turning into a fashionista, excited about secrets and crushes and going shopping.

What’s wrong with fashion, secrets, crushes, and going shopping? I hardly get excited about shopping, fashion, and secrets, but I don’t have a problem with being dragged out to the mall once in a while. My only qualms with that would be if were the only thing tweens get excited about. There is, after all, a whole other universe out there.

Any other complaints?

We don’t need dolls that replicate the thin ideal. The APA Sexualization of Girls Task Force report shows that teens only rarely achieve this body type and when they don’t they are vulnerable to depression and body image problems.

Body image is a valid concern, but are you bloody kidding me? I can’t really tell in real life people, or from animated people but she hardly looks like a size 0. If anything the dress-thing, while fashionable, may make her look like she’s not entirely flat around the belly.

Sure, all of the above are valid concerns, but I think that they’re obviously misplaced in the case of the new Dora. Feel free to disagree with me. Like I said, I don’t know nothin’ about fashion either way.

But I can sympathise. Fashion is not the most important thing in the world. Not by a long shot. I’m going back to reading about science now.

Is Twilight-Fandom a Problem?

we’ve been blogging about abortion, politics, religion and boobs. turns out, people want to read about Twilight and guys wearing headsets


I honestly don’t care about Twilight anymore. I never really continued after chapter 14. The best way to describe the book’s plot is the Douglas Adams quote “For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen,” except nothing continued to happen for 300 pages.

Given the commenters on my post I wrote on Teen Skepchick, and MasalaSkeptic’s post on Old Skepchick I’ve since given up on doing what I had originally set out to do: Get people to think critically about a popular cultural phenomenon.

The key thing is I never advocated banning the book, nor did I truly ever say that there was a problem.
To quote myself in my post…

The way a girl reacts to a fictional novel is most likely not the same way she would react in real life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think there’s much to worry about, but I do think that it can only be healthy to point out more often that the level of stalkerishness in Twilight might be on par with the level of stalkerishness in Lolita.

All I ever really sought to promote was not to get teenagers all across America to drop Twilight and begin reading Demon Haunted World (although I would like to promote reading Demon Haunted World), but to just use that as a way to stimulate some discussion of the book.

What do I get? A bunch of angry comments with poor grammatical skills and a lot of ad hom.

Special commendation is to be given to this commenter for what I found to be a rather polite, well-reasoned dissenting comment, although I do disagree with her. The issue about Edward’s stalkerishness that I find potentially worrisome is not that he’s unaware of his stalkerishness but that Bella, and the droves of readers are. Also, even if Edward is hormonally a teenage boy, he still has quite a lot of experience which should have given him a fair amount more wisdom.

Truly, I’d like to say it’s just a minor annoyance, but it’s not. It would seem to me that these people follow Twilight more religiously than religious people follow their religions. I’ve seen civilized conversations between religious people and people critical of religion. I’ve yet to see civilized conversations between Twilight fans and those critical of Twilight.

Perhaps it is far too extreme to say that Twilight fans follow Twilight religiously, but they get offended in the same way as religious people do to the point of saying…

You have no right to say that and u ought to keep ur opinions to yourself!

One blogger suggested that Maria would have angry mobs go after her if she didn’t take down her post. I really doubt that anybody would really kill for Twilight, and I really doubt that they are offended enough to do any sort of violent action. Let me make this clear: There is no evidence to suggest that Twilighters are offended to the point of forming violent mobs.

But they certainly get offended enough that they seem to want to leave behind all civilized, reasoned discussion.

Forget the stalkerishness, the creationism, the Mormonism. The readers are obviously not going to face any problems because that sort of thing is idealized as long as they’re thinking. The real reason why Twilight is  a problem is because people are so fervent about it that they stop all rational discourse.

On the other hand, I’m going to say that in the real world the vast majority of the Twilight fans are perfectly reasonable. They know that the things being idealized in Twilight are silly, but they just read it for entertainment and that is wholely, perfectly fine. But we may want to keep an eye on the rabid Internet fangirls.

I want to say that there isn’t much of a problem, but I think there does seem to be some encouragement of not using intelligence going on here in the phenomenon of Twilight fandom. It would be idiocy to suggest that there is a causal relationship between reading Twilight and having YouTube-quality comments. I don’t think that Twilight makes people stupid. But there seems to be something going on here.

I’d like to open this up to the readers:

Is Twilight-fandom a problem or is it just an extension of the general Internet discourse expected from the masses? Should we do anything about it?

Personally, I just want them to go away, for my posts to sink into oblivion, but then, maybe I will do what I set out to do and get just one or two of those Twilight fans to think about what they’re doing for a little while.

Cue the angry Internet Twilightites.

Just Read and Weep


So I send out the FFRF lawsuit thing to my friends in the school district. Here are the responses I’ve been getting. I’m not going to bother giving any further responses to the latest two as easily as I could pwn them.


this is disgusting
i fail to see whats wrong with an environment that teaches children basic morals and values


I fail to see why you need to violate the secular values this country was founded on to teach morals.

While I’m at it, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Therefore your argument is invalid.


im not christian so i dont follow your argument

besides, said sign is encouraging freedom of religion cuz it encourages religion in general which could range from budhism to atheism
the ffrf is just trying to restrict religion or in other words, violating the 1st secular value this country was founded


how is teaching kids values such as the ten commandments not morrally right
or do you have issue with not stealing or being respectful to parental figures

i guess their perfect world would be one in which their is one philisophical belief: nothing
and in this world their would be no guidlines to living a fullfilling and ethical life and any attempt to disrupt this eutopia would result in a lawsuit that helps no one


You’re all over the place.

First of all, the FFRF isn’t saying you can’t practice your religion. It’s saying you have a right to not practice religion if you don’t want to.

Speaking of the 1st secular value this country was founded on…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In other words, there shall be no state endorsement of religion.

The Ten Commandments do say a few agreeable things. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t be mean to your parents, etc. Let’s ignore for a moment that they recommend the death penalty for all of them (and even if you support capital punishment as I do in some cases, we can surely agree that you shouldn’t be killed for not helping your mum do the dishes cause you have homework), and look at the first four of them.

1. I am the Lord your God
2. You shall have no other gods before me
3. You shall not make for yourself an idol
4. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God

Not much room for polytheists, eh?

Now, if the state were to endorse these four commandments there would be no freedom of religion. That’s why we also need freedom from religion.

I also reject your suggestion that Atheists have no philosophical beliefs about morality, and that we can have a fulfilling life. What have I ever done to you, hm? Are you really going to insinuate that I’m a murdering, raping, pillaging, disrespectful twat based on my lack of belief in a supreme deity alone? What makes you think that kind of sick prejudice is morally justifiable?

I volunteer every weekend in a museum, I give money to charities, I’m polite, and, God damn it, I enjoy life. I think that the universe is an awesome place and I have some wonderful friends, teachers, and family. I’m no less happy than the next person.


first of all
you are focusing in to much on specifics zoom out a bit
the ffrf is sueing because a sign was posted by a school district saying that kids can find support in a religious community

if you have ever been to a sunday school type program they dont actually force religious beliefs upon the kids, but teach them essential values such as not to steal and to do right by your mom and dad, not the gory details, so that one day they will be able to make an educated decision on what beliefs to follow

advocating for that isnt a breach of church and state
so if they were forced to take that sign down it would be interfering with their free speach rights

im sure this wouldnt be a problem if their was an established religion called atheism
but since there isnt they can still stand and openly oppose all religion and sucessfully combat moral values

you are twisting my words
i am saying that by the forceful taking down of this sign is setting a precedent by which any good that could come to children by means of religious establishment can not be advocated by a school district, or basically any secular force in society henceforth placing personal beliefs over the common good

also i never said anything about classifying atheist as possesing no morals
i respect all religions, and more importantly the support and good that can come from religious institutions, which is why im advocating the side of what is most likely the lutheran church even though i desagree wholeheartedly with many of their views

i dont respect the general denouncement of religion, which is the problem i have with most atheists
i dont have a problem with people saying they dont believe in a higher power or any of the other beliefs held by atheist, but when they go on to criticize established religion and say that it holds no validity i have a problem


I have been to a Sunday school program. They told me a story about a guy who got eaten by a big fish and stayed in its stomach for three days, and was told that he was punished for not following the Judeo-Christian god. They then essentially told me I was a sinner and that I was going to Hell if I didn’t keep coming to their church.

Do I necessarily object just because it’s religious values being advocated? No.

I do, by the way, go to a Unitarian Universalist church. I do enjoy the sense of community, and being taught values like being nice to each other without having them invoke their particular brand of god.

Yes, they teach you values, but what makes you think you have to go to a CHURCH to learn those values? What you get support from is having a community and there are other ways to find a strong community without being told you should participate in religion every week. If I don’t want to participate in a religious thingy to learn my values, I shouldn’t be told to.

First of all, taking the sign down is not criticising established religion. It’s just saying that the government can’t endorse an establishment of religion. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech, but everything to do with the first amendment.

Second of all, why shouldn’t we be allowed to criticise establishments of religion? I have no problem with people practicing what they want. No problem with freedom of religion at all. The problem is sometimes those practices include actively screwing with government and taking away other people’s civil rights. There are people just two and a half hours south of Denver who would stone people for privately, in their own home, committing a consensual act of love with a person of the same sex. Would you hesitate to criticise a piece of legislation that advocated that?

The rest was just me pointing out again that I have no problem with community, but you don’t need a religious community to get a feeling of community.

Other kid:

Hey, why dont we go ahead and take more money away from our already poorly funded school systems with a lawsuit. Our state is only 48th in the nation in school funding. So yes, lets take money away, lay off teachers, increase classroom sizes, and neglect building maintenance and upgrading. Heaven forbid the ONE plaintif be offended.
Ive been in this school district for almost 11 years, and not once have those 40 assets had any impact upon my education or the way i live. I have known that they exist for a long time, but hardly any students take the time to read them. Our constitution was also loosely based on teachings from relligion. In god we trust is written on every piece of our monetary system. Why dont you sue the entire government. See how far that gets you.
I am christian, and i dont care if the quaran is referenced in one of those assets, or nothing is referenced at all. Good can be derived from almost any religious text or not from one at all. Borden your horizon

As far as I’m aware the lawsuit has nothing to do with money and I’m not sure where she got that from. I’ll look into whether or not money’s involved anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’s class-action cause that’d make the most sense.

Other other kid:

Sorry, quick question. What are the other 39 “Developmental Assets” implemented by this program?

Also, I fail to see the harm in recommending that a child adopt a religious lifestyle. Please, before you all bitch me out-
All that this program does is RECOMMEND that a child adopt a religious lifestyle, which means that the child gets a choice. By simply recommending that a child make that choice, there isn’t technically any ammendment “breakage” here. If the document flat out said “you must worship this particular god or you will burn in hell,” then there would be an issue. This document doesn’t seem to be laying down a certain set of rules and regulations for a child to follow, just suggestions. It isn’t actively forcing anything on children here. But then again, I can see how that poster could be considered propoganda. In which case, it becomes a matter of what’s legal and what’s right.

For all you students out there who went through the first year of US History with me and forgot the first amendment, here’s the text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And in case you missed that, I think I’ll make it clearer. The government can’t endorse religion. My school paid for a subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary, but endorse means to support.

If they still fail to see what the problem is… to Hell with it. Edumacation has failed us. This post has a word count of 1776.

Why I’m Proud to be Coloradoan

Ah… Colorado. The upcoming DNC, Focus on the Family, and Stan Romanek. A list of reasons why I am so fucking proud to be Coloradoan right now:

1. CBN is claiming that the Bible could be censored in Colorado due to Section 8 of Senate Bill 08-200.

Mmm… Legalese, I know. But it basically just says that you don’t get to publish things that would discriminate on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry if you work for a place that offers some form of public accomodation. The big question is if this means employees can’t do this in their private time or if they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business. If they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business then the worst that could happen would be the Bibles they leave in motel rooms would have to be removed but only if you could prove that it does discriminate against sexual orientation. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t keep a Bible on your shelf at home.

Via Skepchick

2. Oh, and you know how everybody’s hyped up about the DNC? The inter-faith panel won’t include the second largest religious group in America, those without faith. The Secular Coalition for America protested this and an opinion article appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on the subject:

Yet an amazing number of atheists have taken to confronting and insulting believers of other religions. They pretend that atheist beliefs are proven true, while others are proven false.

It’s not so much that I am (or any atheist I know is) aiming to insult religious people as I am aiming to criticise their beliefs. I respect good people. Not stupid beliefs. If they don’t like me not respecting zombie Jesus then they don’t have to respect my belief in dancing pink unicorns on Neptune. At the end of the day, if they want to come with me to get some gelato or lunch and just hang out I’m fine with that… even if they believe in a 6,000 year old Earth.

I don’t believe that my beliefs are proven or that religious beliefs are disproven so much as I believe that religious beliefs aren’t proven and are highly improbable. I’m open to evidence like the Ten Commandments suddenly appearing on the moon in letters so big you can see them with binnoculars or something appearing magically.

Hitler imagined a world without Jews. The Freedom From Religion Foundation rented a billboard near the Colorado Convention Center that says: “Imagine No Religion.”

Ok, ok. John Lennon was Hitler and mass-murdered religious believers for saying those words.

Atheists might bring pseudointellectual proselytizers, who are intolerant, self-aggrandizing and rude. Atheists should fund universities and hospitals. They should feed and clothe starving kids. They should act more like Christians and Jews. If they do some of that – if they contribute to a diverse humanity – they might get better party invites.

That’s right. Atheists never volunteer for non-profit organizations, never send money to the Red Cross, and are involved in an evil eugenicist plot to murder starving black kids in Africa.

What a polite article!

Seen, ironically, at Friendly Atheist.

3. Oh, and yesterday I had the opportunity to see evangelicals waving a Christian flag with a sign saying “Support Amendment 48” which would define a fetus as being a person at the moment of conception. This would also mean that a woman who had a miscarriage could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

4. And to top it all off, Denver might be the first city to have its very own Extra-Terrestrial Affairs Commission. I can’t think of a better way of spending tax dollars and time…

The good news is there will be a lecture at Auraria campus in Denver, CO on October 23 from 3-5 pm in the North Classroom building of University of Colorado Denver by science author and curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Grinspoon on why astrobiology says we don’t need an extra-terrestrial affairs commission. I’ll post again on this later.

Why does Colorado feel more and more like the Bible Belt all of a sudden?

Duck and Cover

From the front page of today:

I’m no fan nor despiser of John Edwards but… A politician had an affair? Oh no! That’s going to mean whatever foreign policy plan he makes is going to cause global thermonuclear war! The world is going to come crashing to a halt! 8/8/08, it must be a sign! It’s the end! THE END!!!

Run to the grocery store, stock up on food and water, and most importantly… DUCK AND COVER!

When a normal man has an affair, it’s a private matter. When a public figure has an affiar, not only to the supermarket tabloids but also to the mainstream media, this is a “developing story”. I didn’t bother to click.

Piss Off The Catholics Month

EDIT: Apparently my tactics are considered a bit extreme. I do not want people ransacking the homes of Catholics. I want them to mock them for their beliefs. Religion is not immune to criticism. It never has been, never should be, and if we can pull this off, never will be. Keep this is mind when reading the post.

The Inquisition has recently targeted one of our own, PZ Myers, so it’s time to retaliate with excessive force. I intend to desecrate as many Jesus-bits as I can over the next month. I think I’ll make it into a game.

Why am I doing this? Good question. Primarily because it’s really, really fun, and because we’re showing that we will not be intimidated into respecting idiotic beliefs. Fuck transubstantiation, it’s a piece of crappy pseudo-bread that tastes like cardboard.

For anyone who wants to participate in Piss Off The Catholics Month, there are plenty of guides which will tell you how to take communion. Consider the church service you sit through to get a Jesus-bit a learning experience. If you’re lucky, they might have some pretty music.

The key is to get the Priest to place the Eucharist into your hand, and somehow make it look as though you placed it onto your tongue and let it dissolve, when you’ve really kidnapped the Jesus-bit. If you don’t make it look like you ate it, I assume no liability for your funeral expenses.

I mentioned that I’d make this a game, so here are the rules:

Piss Off The Catholics Game

For the month of July, do as much as you can to piss off the Catholics. The more points you get by the end of the month, the more you win. You don’t actually win anything, but it at least makes it fun. Compete with your friends. Brag to your enemies. Eat chocolate. The rules are included in parentheses beside the point values.

The following actions earn you the specified numbers of points:

1 Point – Sit Through a Minute of a Catholic Church Service (One point per minute. A two hour Sunday service gets you 120 points, plus more if you can kidnap a bit of Jesus)

10 Points – Wear Anti-religious Clothing (The clothing must be visible and worn in public for a minimum of three hours.)

10 Points – Sinful Sexual Activity (Participate in a sinful sexual act such as masturbation or premarital sex. Another 10 Points if it’s gay.)

15 Points – Anger a Catholic through the Internet (They must make obviously angry remarks through some Internet medium relating to your Piss Off The Catholics actions)

15 Points – Get Someone to Participate in Piss Off The Catholics Month (The person must play the Piss Off The Catholics Game and score at least 100 points of their own. They may only be counted once, so make sure others don’t recruit them.)

20 Points – Be Mistaken for a Satanist (Self explanatory. If a catholic is under the impression that Atheists are devil worshipers, 20 points. Each catholic only redeemable once.)

20 Points – Break One of The Ten Commandments (Please don’t kill anybody, obviously. Lusting, worshipping false idols, etc. gets you the points. Kidnapping Jesus-bits doesn’t count since that’s already counted. Only one broken commandment per day.)

25 Points – Anger a Catholic in Real Life (They must make angry remarks related to your Pissing Off the Catholics actions in real life. Yelling makes it an automatic Anger a Catholic score.)

25 Points – Receive Hate Mail (25 points for every piece of hate mail you receive. This must be through e-mail or the archaic and mythical “paper mail”.)

50 Points – Link to This Post or Post About Piss Off The Catholics Month on Your Website (May be redeemed once per website per Piss Off The Catholics Month)

50 Points – Kidnap a Eucharist (you must obtain the Jesus-bit at a Catholic Church and get it back to your home intact. After that, you have successfully kidnapped Jesus and can do what you want with it. Remember that it is only the “actual body of Jesus” for the time between when the Priest gives it to you, and you eat it. The key is to not eat it.)

50 Points – Confess To Heinous Sins or Be “Disrespectful” at a Confessional (Confess to obscene and incredibly sinful activity at Confession or disrupt by talking on a cell phone, etc. in the booth)

50 Points – Submit Your Score (At the end of the month, submit your actions and score to

100 Points – Obtain some Holy Water and Use For Daily Tasks (Drink it, water your plants with it, etc.)

100 Points – Desecrate the Eucharist (do something demeaning to the Jesus-bit)

250 Points – Read Atheist Literature (This includes books such as The God Delusion, god is not Great, etc. Books read previously do not count. 30 points per book. Must read entire book.)

250 Points – Debate a Catholic and Win (You must win a debate with a Catholic which would fill a minimum of two pages of text were you to transcribe it into a word processor. IM conversations should be four pages due to the formatting involved in copy pasting them into a word processor. You may consider yourself victorious if they concede, resort to declaring logic invalid, saying you “need to have faith” and presenting no evidence when pressed, or repeat already discredited points more than twice.)

500 Points – Receive Death Threat (500 points for every piece of hate mail containing phrases such as “I will kill you…” or “These people will kill you if…”. If they appeal to the Muslims being willing to kill you if you were to do a similar thing to their religion, it doesn’t count as a death threat.)

1 000 Points – Convince a Catholic Fence-sitter to Give Up Their Religion (A conversion to Atheism or Agnosticism is acceptable. Unitarian, Deist, Pantheist, etc. all count as well. As long as it isn’t Catholicism, you get the points.)

Try to get as many people to play as you can. If I get enough valid responses, I’ll recognize the winners in a post at the end of the month. Remember, scores, suggestions, and anything else related to the game should be sent to Merry POTCM, and happy Christaunting!


Fuck Cen***ship

I don’t like censorship. I don’t like asterisks, bleeps, black bars over “naughty areas,” or fluffing dubbing. According to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (courtesy of Elles), since my copy of the Oxford Not-Completely-Unabridged-But-Still-Huge English Dictionary is at home,


1.    an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
2.    any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
3.    an adverse critic; faultfinder.
4.    (in the ancient Roman republic) either of two officials who kept the register or census of the citizens, awarded public contracts, and supervised manners and morals.
5.    (in early Freudian dream theory) the force that represses ideas, impulses, and feelings, and prevents them from entering consciousness in their original, undisguised forms.
–verb (used with object)
6.    to examine and act upon as a censor.
7.    to delete (a word or passage of text) in one’s capacity as a censor.

censor, v.

trans. To act as censor to; see CENSOR n. 2b; spec. with reference to the control of news and the departmental supervision of naval and military private correspondence (as in time of war) or to the censorship of dramatic or cinematographic productions. Often in ppl. a.

censor, n.

2b. spec. An official in some countries whose duty it is to inspect all books, journals, dramatic pieces, etc., before publication, to secure that they shall contain nothing immoral, heretical, or offensive to the government. More explicitly dramatic censor, film censor.

Censorship is the act of altering media “for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.” Save for censorship of important military or legal information, none of the above are justifiable.

Most of what we see as obscene today is the result of the rotting remains of puritanism clogging our collective common sense-nostrils. Material containing or suggestive of swear words, nudity, violence, or drugs are all considered obscene in most cultures, except in America where the list excludes violence.

I’ll address why censorship of all of these is stupid and pointless in turn, starting with profanity. I’d list all the words we’re not supposed to say, but I prefer to make my word counts variations of the devil’s number naturally.

A proper answer as to why exactly these words are “bad” is very difficult to find. “They just are, respect mah authoritau” seems to be the most common response. Let’s take a look at what could make these words bad.

Could it be sound? No, if it were sound, fuck and duck would be just as profane. This is certainly not the case – “fuck” gets shocked looks in some circles, while “duck” makes people reach for the nearest slice of bread. “Aren’t they cute?”

It’s not meaning either. If it were, saying “to doom to eternal punishment or condemn to hell” would be just as bad as “damn”. Since one can presumably read the bible on television, this isn’t it.

All that’s left is “that particular combination of letters and the sounds they make are intrinsically bad because we say so.” Given the permeation of religious hangups and stupidity in the world, it seems likely that this person who says so is Jesus.

The last time I checked, zombies were not allowed to dictate morality (I’m pro-life when it comes to brain eating.) Non-existent zombies are even more un-allowed (non-existent since the bible lacks truthiness). There is no good reason to censor profanity. You can’t keep kids from learning “bad words”, they don’t harm people, and they can help one to make their damn point if used correctly (see what I did there?).

Next up, nudity. Puritanism strikes again. It smells a lot like burnt almonds. Actually, I don’t know what burnt almonds smell like, but I’m sure they smell like puritanism. Regardless of the smell of burnt almonds, we have another case of things being “wrong” because a bunch of upper class Victorians were told by Jesus that it’s “just wrong”. Nice reasoning there, eighteenth century British culture.

By stigmatising the human body, we manage to destroy the body images of anyone’s Hollywood hasn’t destroyed yet. People can do with a lot less confidence in their mental faculties, and a lot more in their bodies (excluding situations involving trailers, the southern United States, and people who could do with a lot less confidence in both areas). All the non-rednecks, however, certainly shouldn’t feel that there are parts of them that are approximately as evil as Mordor. To anyone who will never be able to see The Lord of the Rings the same way again, I apologise.

Still, a person should be able to be comfortable with a figure somewhere in between “anorexic” and “morbidly obese”, and a complexion slightly less perfect than you’d expect from a skin cream advertisement.

The Black Bars of censorship fail to do what they are intended to do. People know what breasts, penii, and vulvae look like (I admit that this sentence is almost entirely a perhaps excessively nerdy exercise in pluralization), and covering them with magical black bars or pixelating them certainly doesn’t decrease people’s desires to see what’s underneath. Christians, who are mostly responsible for this, of all people, should know what forbidden fruit tends to do.

Now for humanity’s favourite pastime: violence! Violence in media, be it games, television, movies, or “other” is a convenient scapegoat often used to explain actual violence. The problem is that, as most people should be aware, correlation does not equal causation. If violence in media is grounds for banning it because violent people often enjoy it, we should probably ban socks. I’m sure most school shooters were wearing socks at the time of their killing sprees.

A better explanation is that violent people like violent media because it’s a convenient outlet for their tendencies. It’s far better to kill simulated people than it is real people. The skills someone might gain through playing violent games or watching violent films or movies is almost completely inapplicable to real life. The skills needed to play a First Person Shooter game and actually shoot people are completely different. Being good at aiming with a mouse does not make one a sniper in real life.

Next up, drugs. Without getting into why the war on drugs is stupid, I’ll say that the war on information about drugs is really stupid. Yet again, we turn drugs into forbidden fruit by saying nothing about them and making actual information about them rather hard to find. There are substances that people put into their bodies to make them live longer. There are substances people put into their bodies to numb pain. There are also substances people put into their bodies to make songs sung by the Beatles make sense, and make themselves feel really good.

We should feel just as obligated to tell people the effects of tetrahydrocannabidol as we do to tell them of the effects of excessive acetaminophen on their livers. For the less chemically inclined, those are the active ingredient in marijuana and Tylenol, respectively.

All the things I’ve described above exist. Covering them up doesn’t help, and in fact does the opposite. Covering things up because we don’t like them is childish and stupid. Let the ideas roam free(ly).


Prudishness and Viagra

How can an article about Viagra be so prude?

Not that I had much respect for the Daily Mail in the first place, but I definitely don’t have any respect for this writer now.

The article is about how “Viagra has turned old men into a generation of delinquent nymphomaniacs.” She cites two numerous anecdotes to back up her thesis about how old men are more flirtatious because of Viagra. Some of my favourite ignunt lines (emphasis added to some).

Since its launch in 1998, Viagra has largely escaped criticism. However, a report compiled by researchers in the West Midlands announced yesterday that Viagra was responsible for a rise in promiscuous behaviour amongst Britain’s over-50s.

Apparently you can do a respectable research study in which you are able to measure promiscuous behaviour. How the hell do you do that anyway? Sit around on a beach a keep a tally of old men wearing Speedos? It is times like these when I become nostalgic for the “Works Cited” pages of academic papers. That way you can verify that the person isn’t just being stupid.

Such men are a disgrace to dignity. Elderly men, whom biology dictates should spend their twilight years occupying an easy chair, pipe in mouth, are now leaping from their Zimmer frames like wild animals from a cage. Viagra has turned them into wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

Is she really suggesting that men are genetically predisposed to sitting in easy chairs and smoking pipes once their telomeres reach the shorter ends? Has anybody ever seriously opened up a biology textbook and read that elderly men should spend their twilight years smoking pipes and sitting in easy chairs? This is why we need more remedial science classes.

Please women? Are these relics, who should be in pickle jars, under the illusion that women find them attractive?

Sorry, old boys, we don’t. Nor do we consider your behaviour morally acceptable.

So most of my friends probably wouldn’t be attracted to older men, but so what if they do? After all, longevity might indicate a lack of lethal genes which you wouldn’t want your off spring to have. Everybody has their own sexual preferences. If young attractive women are into that sort of thing (obviously there must be some if the old men are that confident) who’s to say they shouldn’t be?

And how the HELL is it immoral? If the woman consents and they go have a fun sexy time, what harm is being done? Only a prude would be offended by what men do with women if they’re thirty, twenty, forty, fifty decades apart.

So ladies, rise with me in revolt! End this now before the streets are no longer safe from Zimmer frame lotharios.

Put your foot down before your husband scampers off after a 24-year-old Russian model. Join me in protesting at the monstrous notion that our octogenarians should be emulating Errol Flynn.

Courage, my braves! Save your relationships by going through your partner’s personal effects every day. Viagra tablets in the bottom of his underwear drawer? Throw them out now!

And, my advice to my single sisters: if an elderly man on crutches asks you out for dinner, be sure to take a knuckleduster and a can of pepper spray.

Add paranoia to prudishness.

How can this article exist without people’s brains imploding with dumbness and the space-time continuum collapsing?

The Audacity of Pathos

It’s probably one of the darkest truths I can admit to… I use to be a conservative. Back in my youthful days of elementary and middle school, I listened to people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and I ate up everything they said. I challenged my teachers on everything they said that I thought sounded too Liberal.

Most fearful of all, I have to admit that I had unquestioning faith in George W. Bush. I honestly never dared to criticise a single thing Bush ever said. Imagine being a bipedal version of the sheep in Animal Farm. I must have sounded like… “Conservatives good… Liberals bad… Conservatives good… Liberals bad… Bush is always right.”


So now imagine how very refreshing disillusionment must feel. My disillusionment didn’t quite come as a sudden rush, but it feels like I’ve been taking a very deep breath of fresh air for the past three years.

It was around 7th grade that I began to think about philosophy. It was around 8th grade that I began to question everything, and developed a passion for what is true. That’s about the time when I decided that I no longer considered myself Conservative. I’d begun to be a freethinker, but I was still recovering from my past of listening to the likes of Sean Hannity. I still winced at liberal remarks unthinkingly when I first heard them, though when I thought about it, I agreed with them.

I think that one of the things that made my transition slowest was that I had a passionate objectivist, social darwinist, anti-socialism, anti-communism “friend”. But, I’d begun to wonder how it was possible for a person who thought that selfishness was the highest virtue to have friends. It became apparent to me that it was not. Now, I’m free from her paranoid ramblings about how Obama is a socialist, and how we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I finally began to taste disillusionment.

Shortly after deciding that she was wrong afterall, I began reading The Audacity of Hope. I think that the reason why is now that I could see above the smoke-screen erected by my anti-socialist “friend”, I found that I could relate to Obama. He supports science, for one thing. The fact that he’s not an evolution denier puts him ahead of the majority of the people in this country. His father was an Atheist, so it feels like he can sympathize with us more. A lot of Atheists have been disputing whether or not he’s really an in-the-closet Atheist who really just talks about faith to get elected… I think that that’s just wishful thinking because we’ve gone for so long without having presidential races decided based on faith.

But to be entirely truthful, the reason why I had a sudden interest in Obama was because he was accused of being an ‘elitist’ so many times. He’s seen as out-of-touch by many because he uses words like “arugula” where the common man is familiar with “beer” (see the cover of Newsweek). People don’t feel like he shares the same past times as them, like bowling.

I think… I think that he is a victim of anti-intellectualism. I think that people are suspicious, hostile to him because… he’s different.

It’s because of my perception of this lack of acceptance that I feel that I can relate to him.

The parts that I’ve read of his book so far do make me want to believe in him. It would be nice if I could believe that he’s an honest politician (which I believe in about as much as I believe in the Yeti). But I don’t want to have faith in him.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve been avoiding endorsing politicans for so long. It feels like I have to have faith that they are the least bit honest. That part within me which causes me to want him to win, I feel, is based far more in pathos than in logos… and that worries me a bit.

So… I will end this musing, hoping that it will not be seen as exactly an endorsement but just as a musing. Expect my review of his book when you see it.