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Pwned by Richard Dawkins 29 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Non-Religion, Science.
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From BBC Radio Leeds, John the fundamentalist “challenges” Richard Dawkins and experiences epic fail. My favorite lines:

Dawkins: Go to a museum and ask to see, for example, Tiktaalik.
John: OK!

A note for John: if you think that the theory of evolution is a steaming pile of bovine excrement, you are allowed to do so. But if you think you’re going to win a debate about evolution with an evolutionary biologist, prepare to get smacked down.

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Not Watching the State of the Union Address 29 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics.
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I’ll admit up front: I hate State of the Union Addresses. I find them fundamentally unwatchable. First off, the “state” is always “strong”. It wouldn’t matter if the US was being sucked down into the seventh circle of hell, the president would still say it was strong. But at least they could find a new adjective.

And don’t even get me started by the rounds of applause after every friggin’ sentence. The thing is long enough as it is.

I tried watching last night’s address for a little while – a bit like trying some food that you haven’t liked to make sure that you still don’t like it. And yep, I still don’t like it. But I didn’t have to wait too long for an unintentionally hilarious moment:

All of us were sent to Washington to carry out the people’s business. That is the purpose of this body. It is the meaning of our oath. It remains our charge to keep.

Emphasis mine. If you don’t know why that’s funny, I’ll give you a hint:

George W. Bush is famous for his attachment to a painting which he acquired after becoming a “born-again Christian.” It’s by W.H.D. Koerner and is entitled A Charge to Keep. Bush was so taken by it, he took the painting’s name for his own official autobiography. And here’s what he says about it:

I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.

So in Bush’s view (or, perhaps I should say, faith) the key figure, with whom he personally identifies, is a missionary spreading the word of the Methodist Christianity in the American West in the late nineteenth century.

Here’s the kicker:

So Bush’s description of “A Charge to Keep” struck me as very strange. In fact, I’d say highly improbable. Now, however, Jacob Weisberg has solved the mystery. He invested the time to track down the commission behind the art work and he gives us the full story in his forthcoming book on Bush, The Bush Tragedy:

[Bush] came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

So Bush’s inspiring, proselytizing Methodist is in fact a horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob.

Seems fitting.

Australian Teen An Early Entry In DBOTY 17 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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DBOTY: Douche bag of the year

So this kid throws a party, and 500 people show up. They generally wreck the neighborhood and are finally broken up by the police. Is he sorry? Of course not.

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The American Dream, According To Republicans 16 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics.
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I’m having a hard time understanding exactly how Rep. Michele Bachmann thinks this is good news:

Today, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), the chief deputy Republican whip in the House, unveiled his proposal to stimulate the economy. His legislation — the so-called Middle Class Job Protection Act — does nothing for the middle class. Instead, it reduces the corporate tax rate by 25 percent.

At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:

I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.

Let me break this to you gently, Ms. Bachmann. People don’t work longer hours or have two jobs because they think 80-hour work weeks are peachy keen neato. They do it so their family can have food, clothing, and shelter.

The fact that people are working more is a bad sign, not a good one. For all you guys tout “family values”, you should be concerned that people have to work so hard that they barely have time to actually spend with their families.

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More Insanity 16 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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Idaho man sees “mark of the beast,” cuts off and microwaves hand

HAYDEN, Idaho — A man who believed he bore the “mark of the beast” amputated one of his hands, put it in a microwave and summoned authorities, Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies say.

The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when deputies arrived at his home in this north Idaho town Saturday afternoon, and neither he nor the severed hand bore any noticeable tattoo or other mark, sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger.

The man, whose name was withheld, was in protective custody in the mental health unit of Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene, where he and the hand were taken by ambulance. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson would not say whether an attempt was made to reattach the hand, citing patient confidentiality restrictions.

“He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn’t bleed to death,” Wolfinger said. ” That kind of mental illness is just sad.”

The New Testament Book of Revelation contains a passage in which an angel is quoted as saying, according to the New International Version of the Bible, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury.”

Two words: batshit insane.

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Tom Cruise Is Insane. Film At 11. 16 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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Actually, film right now. Supposedly a Scientology promotional video, it’s nine minutes of lunatic raving. A snippet:

When you’re a Scientologist, and you drive by an accident, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you’re the only one who can really help. We are the authorities on getting people off drugs. We are the authorities on the mind…. We are the way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures. Now is the time. Being a Scientologist. People are turning to you. If you are a Scientologist, you see things the way they are, in all their glory, in all their complexity… It’s rough and tumble. It’s wild and woolly. It’s a blast. It really is. It is fun. Because damn it, there is nothing better than going out there and fighting the fight, and suddenly you see — boom! — things are better. I want to know that I’ve done everything I can do, every day… I do what I can. And I do it the way I do everything

See if you can watch the entire video without your head exploding.

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Happy National Nothing Day! 16 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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January 16 is National Nothing Day. It was created by Harold Pullman Coffin and was first celebrated in 1973. The purpose of the day is “to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.”

So remember to take some time to kick back, relax, and not-celebrate.

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What The Huck? 16 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics, Religion.
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Mike Huckabee is at it again. During a rally in Michigan, he dropped this chestnut:

”Some of my opponents do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards.”

Wow.

This deranged statement was in reference to his call for constitutional amendments to affirm human life (aka outlaw abortion) and to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

I would love to have a few minutes to speak with Huckabee, but since that’s never going to happen, I’ll put what I want to say to him here.

You should be aware, Mr. Huckabee, that the King James version of the bible (which is probably your preferred translation) had been around for nearly two centuries before the Constitution was written. I’m sure that most (if not all) of the founding fathers, being learned men, had read it. Abortion and homosexuality are not new phenomena, either. They’ve been around since the dawn of humanity. The founding fathers were probably aware of them as well.

Don’t you think that if the men who wrote the Constitution, who knew “God’s standards” and were aware of the issues to which you refer, wanted the document to be more in line with the bible, they would have written it that way? Don’t you think it’s a bit telling that they didn’t?

And don’t you think it’s a bit presumptuous to imply that you are a better judge of what should be in the Constitution than the founding fathers? Delusions of grandeur much?

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Pope Cancels Visit After Galileo Protest 15 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion, Science.
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From CNN:

Pope Benedict XVI has canceled a planned visit to a prestigious Italian university after a protest by academics and students attacked his views on Galileo, the Vatican confirmed Tuesday.

The pope had been due to give a speech at La Sapienza university in Rome Thursday to open its academic year.

However, the visit drew criticism from academics at the university who signed a letter demanding that the trip be called off. Separately, students protested outside the university, carrying banners insisting the university is a lay institution and the pope is not welcome.

“Given the events of the past days regarding the visit of the Holy Father to La Sapienza university upon the rector’s invitation, which was scheduled to take place Thursday, January 17, it was decided to postpone the event,” the Vatican said in a short written statement.

Father Ciro Benedettini, a spokesman for the Vatican, confirmed to CNN the academic protests had prompted the cancellation.

In the letter, academics — pointing to a speech the pope gave at the same university as a cardinal in 1990 — claimed he condones the 1633 trial and conviction of the scientist Galileo for heresy.

The astronomer had argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun, in contradiction to church teachings at the time, and he was forced to renounce his findings publicly.

In comments made 15 years ago when he was still a cardinal, Pope Benedict is reported to have called the trial “reasonable and just.”

During his speech, the pope — then Cardinal Ratzinger — quoted an Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend, saying, “At the time of Galileo, the church remained more loyal (or faithful) to reason than Galileo himself.” (emphasis mine)

Apparently this is some definition of “reason” with which I am not familiar. But good on the students and profs for taking a stand for science. We need more protests like this.

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A Double Dose Of Woo 15 Jan 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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It’s always fun when two kinds of woo collide. In this case, it’s UFO believers in the rapture-ready crowd. It seems that some Texans reported seeing a UFO, and the religious implications frighten them.

“People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it’s the end of times,” said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. “It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.”

Yes, Jesus has shown up in a big ship to take the faithful to heaven.

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