Saturday, April 30, 2011

Seth Myers killing at WHCD (Assuming, like me, you missed it due to Doctor Who)

Seth Myers

Doctor Who Series Six, Episode Two Review Round Up

Doctor Who series 6 episode 2 review: Day Of The Moon - Den of Geek:

The sudden appearance of all those marks was quite well done.

Does that make the baby the Doctor’s (it’s sounding a bit like a soap opera, granted, but bear with me)? Or, could it be a young River Song? After all, the Doctor and River are moving further and further away from each other. Could River be a Time Lord? Or, here’s theory three: is the regenerating girl the return of Donna Noble in some form? That’s the long shot, but it can’t be young Amelia, as we know what she looks like at that age.

Or do we? For here's a further thought: could the girl be regenerating into someone who is far more familiar to us? Perhaps regenerating into Amy or River? That strikes me as the thread to follow. Heck, if we play this game too long, we could end up with River Song as Amy’s daughter.

My head hurts now.
Donna? No, I hadn't gone there in any conjecture. But, the rest, yeah, those things crossed my mind, too.

One thing this review didn't touch on that drove me nuts was how quickly Pond went off on her own in the creepy old Children's Home run by the crazy man.  And what was with the (dream?) imagery of the woman with the eye patch looking through the sliding window in the door, that wasn't there?

Doctor Who, “Day of the Moon” — A Slice of SciFi Review:
I couldn’t shake the feeling I used to get during Lost and The X-Files–namely that we were answering one question only to replace it with six or eight more.
At this point, I still have faith in Steven Moffat to deliver the answers. But I still have a bad feeling no matter what answer we get to the puzzle that is River Song, it won’t be nearly as satisfying or as interesting as many of us have speculated and dreamed up on our own. (Or worse yet, it won’t jive with what we’ve dreamed up and we’ll take it out on the show in a backlash).
There's definitely that. I hope and trust Moffatt has a reasonable plan, but I worry that when it's all revealed, it won't feel like a satisfactory answer. Like, remember that time you tried to explain last series to someone and it was really challenging and you weren't sure when you were done that you didn't get something wrong?  "No, Rory's not an Auton any longer. But he remembers being one. Sort of ..."

Invader Debrief | Lawrence Miles' Doctor Who Thing:
And I'm sure you know by now not to look for Lawrence Miles to fawn. He makes fair points even when he's being a bit vicious. To wit:

Later, back at Silence HQ...

"Jesus, Barry. For someone who calls himself 'Silent', you've got a f***ing mouth on you."

"Er... what?"

"You should kill us all on sight? You actually said you should kill us all on sight? Into a mobile 'phone? Christ, why didn't you tell them to shag your sister while you were at it? It doesn't even make sense within the context of the dialogue, you twat!"

The larger point here is Earth has been invaded any number of times, and while Moffatt's been planting the seeds for the Silents/Silence (whichever it is, I think the former but am seeing lots of the latter) nobody else in the history of Doctor Who has, so they have a bit of the stink of retcon to 'em.  Not enough to ruin my enjoyment of  the show, it was a blast tonight. A spooky, though-provoking blast. There's just this nagging feeling, like the blurry shape on the other side of a some plastic sheeting we just can't make out ...

There's a lot of that going around.

Review: 'Doctor Who' - 'Day of the Moon': One small step | What's Alan Watching?:

In fact, there's precious little explanation in "Day of the Moon," which is less the conclusion to a two-part story then half of an extended prologue to what promises to be one of the more heavily-serialized "Doctor Who" seasons yet. We know that the Silence have been secretly manipulating human history in order to get a spacesuit for the girl, but we don't know exactly who the girl is - though the final image of the episode pretty strongly suggests she's somehow a Time Lord. (Jenny from "The Doctor's Daughter," perhaps? Moffat did ask Russell Davies to not kill her off, after all.) The Silence also turn out to be the forces behind the events of the previous season(**), but we still don't know what the agenda was there or why they would want to crack the universe into pieces. And we don't have any explanation yet of how Amy can simultaneously be pregnant and not pregnant, other than our own wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey guesses. (Are there two timelines happening at once? And, if so, is that how they'll undo the Doctor's murder from last week?) Nor is there any kind of clue about the woman with the high-tech eyepiece who Amy briefly sees through a window at Graystark Hall.

Ooh, high-tech eyepiece. I saw it as a patch, as I mentioned above. (Can you tell I'm going through my feed and responding to each in turn as I read it?)  Jenny? Again, no, I don't think so, or hope not. Wait, maybe ...

A Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Atheist

I came to atheism young. I was never a believer. My family went to church and I attended Sunday school in the basement of South Church, the Congregational church in downtown Hartford a few blocks south of the Wadsworth Atheneum. We got dressed up, put on uncomfortable shoes, and I listened to the sales pitch, week in and week out.

Coffee hour after was fine -- coffee cake, donuts, juice -- I liked that bit, it was the Sunday school part the bored and confused me. It's all a bit hazy, I might've been in first or second grade but all I can remember clearly is thinking the teacher must be either a fool, a liar, or both, because it was clear these stories were fairy tales, yet this grown-up who must've known better was pretending to believe them and, worse, wanted us to pretend to believe them as well. It bothered me that I couldn't figure out why. I finally landed on hypocrisy instead of mental retardation since these adults were able to function normally and acted in accordance with the behavior I expected of people who knew they lived in a real world -- a world where miracles don't happen and only the mentally ill hear voices nobody else can hear.

There was one thing in that church that made sense to me. Above the exit was a bit of Micah 6:8: "Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God." That's enough, I thought, if they could just leave it at that, and let the "with thy God" part be optional, I'd have no problem being a church-goer. The problem was they read and preached from other parts of the Bible, and despite all the cherry-picking, it was clear to me even as a youngster that it was full of crap: ranging from insufferably boring to outright evil. I read it from cover to cover to be sure. Certainly, the odd passage of surpassing beauty can be found, but those were few and far between. The idea that a book that lousy could be divinely inspired was obviously, even to this grade-schooler, ludicrous. Far more reasonable to believe it was the writing of primitive men who didn't know much about anything, and couldn't even keep their story straight.

South Congregational Church Hartford
That's it, it's not very exciting. I was shown a bunch silliness and rejected it as such. To this day it confuses and saddens me why people can't come together to enjoy fellowship, resolve to help one another, and seek to improve society and themselves without centering the whole activity around a load of nonsense -- making it impossible for reasonable people to bear. We could accomplish so much with that time and energy ...

(South Church is a stately old building and I recommend taking peek inside if you're ever in Hartford. Then head south on Main, bear right on Maple, go left at the fork onto Franklin Ave, and keep driving south until you find Mozzicato's. Get yourself an espresso and some cookies. Now you're enjoying some of the best of Hartford.)

The Cabin In The Woods may get an October, 2011 release.

Joss Whedon's The Cabin In The Woods may finally see release | Film | Newswire | The A.V. Club:

Looks like a nice enough cabin.

And as it turns out, the delay could actually end up being something of an asset: Although the film features plenty of fine actors—including Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Whedonverse alumni Amy Acker, Tom Lenk, and Fran Kranz—its biggest selling point may turn out to be Chris Hemsworth, who was cast long before he became Thor. In fact, it was his work on Cabin In The Woods that got him the part after Whedon recommended him—and now they’re reuniting on The Avengers. Wheels within wheels within Whedons.

I don't care if the Bensons of the world don't like me; I can't abide privileged whiners, so I guess we're even.

Why do Americans still dislike atheists? - The Washington Post

From the comments on the linked article.
Frankly, without knowing what horrible persecution Benson may have suffered, or thinks he's suffered, at the hands of secularists, I find it very hard to believe a roving gang of atheists came along and knocked over his Christmas tree and told him he couldn't celebrate. Never mind a roving atheist gang, I doubt anyone ever told Benson he couldn't celebrate Christmas, period.

I suspect something like people complaining that the government shouldn't endorse any religion by, for instance, putting a Nativity scene in front of Town Hall is what he's on about. He may not think Nativity scenes are a way of telling people what they should believe, but I wonder how he would feel if, instead of that Nativity, he saw a big Star of David or a Mohammed ascending on a Pegasus in front of government building, I wonder if he would feel like that government was marginalizing his beliefs (or lack thereof)?

Friday, April 29, 2011

YouTube - Superchunk "Crossed Wires" (This one's for the cat lovers out there.)

YouTube - Superchunk "Crossed Wires" in HD. mov

Mac and Laura's cat gets up to stuff.

YouTube - Daleks in Looney Tunes Back in Action (?!)

YouTube - Daleks in Looney Toones [sic] Back in Action:

Now, as I recall, there were lots of issues getting the Daleks back on Doctor Who proper due to legal wrangling with the Terry Nation estate. That all worked out, of course, since the new series is positively littered with Daleks of all colors. So how is it the Nation estate licensed them out for this without so much as a blip on the radar? Must've been some mad Warner Bros. money at work.

Dalek in Looney Tunes Back in Action

Endeavour will carry the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS

Aboard The Shuttle, A $2 Billion Bid To Find Antimatter : NPR

Image via NASA

Despite the controversy, the AMS will do solid, state-of-the-art science, says Sheldon Glashow, a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist at Boston University.

'It will finally be true that there will be real science on the space station, something that has never been true before — it's been like high school experiments and a bunch of silliness,' Glashow says.
Among other things

Foxhole atheists seeking chaplaincy roles

Atheists Seek a Place Among Military Chaplains -

MASH meeting (Image via NY Times)

Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.
My first thought on seeing this article was that it would make more sense to have trained, professional therapists instead of chaplains ... but, if you're going to have chaplains, it seems the least we could do is remove the "believes in magical bullshit and fairy tales" requirement from the role.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Half asleep, literally.

The brain really can be half asleep, claims research - Telegraph:

Researchers discovered that contrary to popular opinion the brain is not always entirely asleep or awake but parts of it can go 'offline'. 
This they claim accounts for the feeling of being 'half asleep' which causes forgetfulness and small errors such as misplacing keys or putting the milk in the cupboard or the cereal in the fridge.

Did a religionist poison a secularist's service dog?

Dog poisoned, Academy investigates | IndyBlog

Mullin took the dog to an animal emergency center where blood and other tests showed he had been poisoned with rat poison or a prescription drug used to thin blood. After several transfusions, Caleb improved but Mullin reports he's still being watched closely. Test samples have been sent to Colorado State University for analysis. 
What makes this case suspicious is Mullin has been an outspoken critic of the academy's handling of religion issues. He testified in a federal court case in February that sought to block an evangelical ex-Marine from speaking during National Prayer Day, for example.


Service dog belonging to a critic of religious indoctrination at the airforce academy is poisoned. Apr 28 22:18:56 via TweetDeck

Planned Fugazi archive would have me scanning the audience for younger, skinnier early 90s me.

Fugazi to archive every concert they ever played « Consequence of Sound

Joe and Guy, Fugazi, UCONN, 1991
Even after all that time, the expansive process is still arduous, and plans originally had a website going live last fall. “It’s a fuck of a lot of work. We’re hoping it will be up in the near future. The idea at the moment is to start it with 100 shows. Then put 20 more on every month or something.” Though no firm details were divulged, Fugazi’s history of barebones and red-cent business principles would put access to the digital archive at a reasonable price.

U.S. Knowingly Imprisoned 150 Innocent Men at Guantánamo (Projected Fox News version of this headline: "Traitors Accidentally Reveal U.S. Insufficiently Tortured Known Terrorists at Gitmo")

WikiLeaks Documents Reveal U.S. Knowingly Imprisoned 150 Innocent Men at Guantánamo

Democracy Now!

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing thousands of secret documents from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay that reveal the Bush and Obama administrations knowingly imprisoned more than 150 innocent men for years without charge. In dozens of cases, senior U.S. commanders were said to have concluded that there was no reason for the men to have been transferred to Guantánamo. Among the innocent prisoners were an 89-year-old Afghan villager and a 14-year-old boy who had been kidnapped. Some men were imprisoned at Guantánamo simply because they wore a popular model of Casio watches, which had been used as timers by al-Qaeda.

DADT training for Marines

Marines gets trained on new policy as military prepares for end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ - The Washington Post:

Artillerymen in line. To enter the gay bar. Don't ask what the cannon is for.

The latest round of training material asks Marines to consider their reactions to a wide range of scenarios, from seeing a member “hanging around” a gay bar to hearing locker-room jokes from others who refuse to shower in front of gays. Members of the 1st Marine Logistics Group report to class Thursday at Camp Pendleton.
Pssst ... *sotto voce* If you see a fellow Marine "hanging around" at a gay bar, it means you are at a gay bar. 

Exciting fossil find yielded surprising discovery: the mantaphasmatodes have been among us, unnamed and unrecognized, all along.

Guest Blog: Man discovers a new life-form at a South African truck stop

Order: Mantaphasmatode

What was required to discover the Mantaphasmatodes, whether the species on top of the Massif or the species at the truck stop, was the realization that no one else knew what they were. Once that realization was made, discovering them was both easier and more interesting. Until then, the Mantaphasmatodes, like much of life, seemed (wrongly) likely to be known by some expert in a university somewhere. Yet they were not known, just as most of life is not known.

It was only recently that it was discovered that mice sing to each other. It was not so very long ago that it was discovered that clouds are filled with bacteria. What else remains to be known? Nearly everything.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beautiful/depressing photos of monkeys in chains, performing on the streets of Indonesia.

Indonesia: "Monkey Mask Show" (big photo gallery) - Boing Boing:

While the practice is described as 'traditional,' and viewed fondly by some, others in Indonesia consider it a cruel abuse of animal rights.

Raider's return. (Dog carried away by Fayetteville tornado returns home.)

Family finds lost dog one week after tornado lifted it away ::

Raider and family.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A Fayetteville family was reunited with their German Shepherd one week after it was picked up and blown away in the tornadoes that ripped through the state April 16.

Kim Stanley Robinson editing and writing introduction for a collection of Rexroth's Sierra poems - Upcoming publications: Rexroth in the Sierra:

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was an American poet whose biography is too rich and varied -- to a newcomer like me -- to be summarized in two-three lines for the purposes of this article. His poetry involved themes of love, sexuality, ecology, sociology, mysticism, he was involved in anarchism, communism, buddhism, taoism, dadaism, wobblies and all kinds of radical and free thinkers groups, he is considered as a founding figure of the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s, he influenced the Beat generation, he translated lots of poems into English and notably Japanese haikus, he mixed his poetry with jazz, he was a pacifist and conscientious objector of World War II ...
This is one of those instances where I'm going to let my KSR fandom drive and read up on a poet that I haven't heard of now.

A bit of Rexroth's "Toward an Organic Philosophy":

The lake is immobile and holds the stars
And the peaks deep in itself without a quiver.
In the shallows the geometrical tendrils of ice
Spread their wonderful mathematics in silence.
All night the eyes of deer shine for an instant
As they cross the radius of my firelight.
In the morning the trail will look like a sheep driveway,
All the tracks will point down to the lower canyon.
“Thus,” says Tyndall, “the concerns of this little place
Are changed and fashioned by the obliquity of the earth’s axis,
The chain of dependence which runs through creation,
And links the roll of a planet alike with the interests
Of marmots and of men.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Uh-oh, I wasn't going to get addicted to a game ... but Fleck is built on Google Maps and lets you roam #Fuquay killing zombies.

Fleck: Grow Your World!

My Fuquay-Varina base of ops in Fleck.
Conveniently located next to Aviator Smokehouse.
So, yeah, I gather it's like Farmville or one of the Facebook games we're all annoyed our friends play and pepper us with requests for. Only, it uses Google Maps and, apart from this post, I won't litter my social stream with announcements and requests from it, and you can take over your own hometown. Me, I just wanted to make enough money to buy the Aviator Smokehouse so I can load up on Aviator Monster sandwiches whenever I please. If blogging is light the next little while, blame this.

One thing you can do in this game, which I don't think the plant-stuff-and-harvest-it-later games have, is the ability to join up with whoever else is online to dig up graves and fight zombies.

If you do check it, stop by 600 Broad St, Fuquay-Varina, NC, it will pop you in the middle of my lilac bushes in-game.

The trouble with Dr. Oz (Another reminder of the importance of skepticism for Hume's birthday.)

Science-Based Medicine » The trouble with Dr. Oz

Most disturbingly, though, of late Dr. Oz has been also promoting pseudoscience and what can only be described, in my opinion, as quackery. The snake oil that Dr. Oz has promoted over the last several months includes Dr. Joe Mercola, one of the biggest promoters of “alternative” health, whom Dr. Oz first had on his show about a year ago and then defiantly defended in a return appearance in early 2011. Then, in a rapid one-two punch, Dr. Oz had an ayurvedic yogi named Cameron Alborzian, who promoted highly dubious medicine, including “tongue diagnosis,” to be followed a few days later by something I would never, even in my most cynical assessment of Dr. Oz, expected, namely the appearance of faith healer Issam Nemeh on his show. Worse, Dr. Oz showed zero signs of skepticism. Unfortunately, Dr. Oz wasn’t done. In rapid succession next Dr. Oz endorsed a diet that he once eschewed as quackery and then, to top it all off, invited psychic John Edward onto his show, asking Is talking to the dead a new kind of therapy?

Happy 300th Birthday, David Hume!

OUPblog » Blog Archive » Happy 300th Birthday, David Hume!:

Hume is indeed sceptical about the power of reason to determine what we believe. But he is not sceptical, for example, about whether the sun will rise tomorrow. He just has the calm understanding that our confidence in uniformities in nature, such as this one, is not the result of logic or of any exercise of pure rationality. It is just the way our minds happen to work—as indeed, do those of other animals.

Similarly when it comes to understanding the springs of action, Hume again dethrones reason, arguing that nothing that reason could discover would motivate us without engaging an inclination or ‘passion’. He entirely overturns the Platonic model of the soul in which reason is the charioteer, controlling and steering the unruly horses of desire. ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’. We can correct mistakes about the world in which we act, and choose more efficient means to gain our ends. We may even be able to persuade ourselves and each other to alter our courses, for better or worse. But we can only do this by mobilizing other considerations we care about. These concerns, or in other words the directions of our desires, are themselves a bare gift of nature, again. Hume excelled in adding detail to this: his account of the evolution of what he called the ‘artificial’ virtues—respect for such things as reciprocity, institutions of justice, social conventions, law or government—is the grandfather of all later decision-theoretic and game-theoretic approaches to the evolution of cooperation. But it took over two centuries before this would be recognized. Only recently has Hume’s naturalism become the gold standard for everyone at the cutting edge of contemporary investigation, whether in philosophy, psychology, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, or neurophysiology.

Hume's Wikipedia page.

Ni hao, Second World status. (IMF forecasts it will take five years for China's economy to surpass America's.)

IMF bombshell: Age of America nears end Brett Arends' ROI - MarketWatch

For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the “Age of America” will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China.
IMF sees China topping U.S. in 2016

According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China's economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now. Brett Arends looks at the implications for the U.S. dollar and the Treasury market.

And it’s a lot closer than you may think.

According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now.
Will our domestic tweeters shift to using the #SecondWorldProblems hashtag on schedule?

"today is the day i postulate a deist universe powered by skepticism, that should make EVERYONE in religious debates happy and/or extremely unhappy"

Dinosaur Comics - April 26th, 2011 - awesome fun times!:

Detail from a larger panel. Clickthrough for full comic.

I-40 widening project almost done ::

I-40 widening project almost done ::

Raleigh, N.C. — Highway crews on Monday began removing cones to open new lanes on Interstate 40 between Raleigh and Cary.
It's not happening all at once, so mind the cones and watch for merging traffic, my fellow commuters.

I'm a little surprised it takes a week. I guess they don't have a cone sucker-upper machine that can roll along and pick 'em up. 

TV junkie that I am, I immediately thought of a volunteer road adoption crew of dubious skill:

Kramer, widening lanes on his adopted stretch.

Scott Hendrickson and Nikea Randolph (It's about music, having a dream, and friendship.)

Class Gift — North Carolina Public Radio WUNC

Scott Hendrickson presents a class gift to Nikea Randolph

Nikea is not your average student, and she doesn’t attend your average school. She’s a senior at Wayne Early Middle College High School. When she graduates in May she’ll get two degrees – a high school diploma, and an associate’s degree.
But her dreams have always been bigger than that. Since elementary school, she’s set her sights on Juilliard – the world-renowned arts school in New York City.

So she practiced. A lot. She’d get up before school and practice for two hours. Then four more when she got home. She plays the piano, guitar, clarinet, drums, even the autoharp - whatever she can get her hands on. And she writes her own music, too.

Randolph: "Well, my mom and my dad, they played like random instruments, so my dad was in the band and he played like the cymbals or something and my mom played the accordion, which is totally random, but ..."

Nikea’s father is a press operator at Georgia Pacific - her mother works at a local high school. Nikea and her sister are the first generation in her family to go to college.
Not every store gets a fairy tale ending. This one doesn't end at Juilliard, but it's pretty good just as it is.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Studio 60 Twitter Streams

Read the Studio 60 Twitter Streams You Didn’t Know You Wanted -- Vulture:

These Twitter streams are hilarious, but they're written by and for people who still have a solid functioning familiarity with the show, which makes this the perfect opportunity to define a new term: Studio 60, v.: to obsessively collect knowledge about a subject so that one may better ridicule it; to pursue with the passion of fandom, but instead of seeking joy, seeking only a deeper understanding of one's disappointment.
My love of Sorkin shows is strong. But now I want someone to do a Sports Night version of this.

And there's even a Doctor Who reference!

@PaulScheer Nice running into you. I'll have to check out the new Dr. Who. I remember it fondly from PBS. Curious to see how it's evolved.Mon Apr 25 21:24:05 via Echofon

An atheist blogmap – oooooh, how handy | My Not So Fictional Life

An atheist blogmap – oooooh, how handy | My Not So Fictional Life:

Snapped from My Not So Fictional Life

So an atheist blogger in the US has come up with the neat idea of starting an atheist/secularist/humanist bloggers map. Now if – like me – you lean towards that way of thinking and you run a blog that reflects that from time to time, then why not head on over to cryptonaut-in-exile and put your blog forward to be included.
Yeah, I set up this blogmap to give atheist/secularist/humanist bloggers a way to put their blog on a public google map, then I -- P. T. Barnum Genius Level Promoter that I am -- told almost no one* and didn't even mention it on my own blog. Luckily, a few of the folks I tapped on the (virtual) shoulder via the Atheist Blogroll and let know about it submitted their blogs and it has started to grow. Still lots of states, regions, countries, continents, and hemispheres unrepresented, but it's early yet and I'm hoping it'll grow at a pace where I can continue to manage reasonably quick turnaround from submission to addition.

I've already added several new blogs to my Follows, or Greader subscriptions, and/or blogroll as I've read through the submissions and found some intriguing posts.  Thanks to those that have submitted, big thanks to Emily for the mention, and thanks in advance to those of you that will take a look and submit.

* I did tweet a few times using the #atheism tag and I specifically @ mentioned two of the bigger names in Atheist blogging that I know of, in addition to leaving comments on a few of the newer blogs on the Atheist Blogroll, so it's not like I was completely mum about it.

Rep. Ellmers (R-NC): lying, ignorant, or some combination of both? You decide.

Fact Checking The Sunday Shows - April 17, 2011 | Political Correction:

Renee Ellmers, channeling SNL alum Victoria Jackson (via HuffPo)

REP. RENEE ELLMERS: Medicare is an issue that we absolutely have to deal with. And as you know, you mentioned in the Ryan budget that this issue is going to be addressed. It is not a voucher system. Basically what we will be doing is allowing seniors to be able to make the choices for their health care the same that we in congress are doing. It's the very same basic plan.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don't try to tell 'em stuff about the moon that isn't in their bible. They won't like it.

Report: Bill Nye “The Science Guy” Exposed as Godless, Soulless Blasphemer in Texas  JONATHAN TURLEY:

Nye ran afoul of the faithful by remarking that it is not true that the moon generates its own light as opposed to reflecting light. This contradicted Genesis 1:16, which says quite clearly (if only Nye bothered to read it) that “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” Fortunately, there were educated people in the audience who proceeded to boo Nye and walk out. One woman with three children reportedly screamed “We believe in God!” while storming out.
This is old stuff from back in 2009, but I missed it the first time around. The ThinkAtheist post is here. Caught my eye today via Friendfeed's m9m.

It's easy to mock the buffoonery documented here, but there's a sad, tragic aspect to this that is, perhaps, easy to overlook. The woman who screamed "We believe in God!" and stormed out had three children with her. I worry for those kids. Soaked in fear and ignorance, their intellectual curiosity quite probably stunted, one fears what kind of adults they'll develop into.

Who knows? Hopefully there's a rebellious streak in them and they'll see the environment they were raised in for what it is. I'm not saying they're doomed to grow into ignorant bigots as a result of a fundamentalist upbringing, but I am saying they're not getting a fair chance. Sure, if we asked them then, or now, or if we asked them ten years from now, they might thank their parents for their religious upbringing. But imagine those kids had been born in Pakistan, and they were raised as Muslims, or born in Israel and raised as Jews ... don't you think it's easy to imagine the same kids, indoctrinated with different ideology, would do the same in those contexts? Of course it is, because kids are born and raised in the religion of their parents all over the world and we see the results every day. Religious indoctrination, perpetrated on individuals on a daily basis, almost from the moment of their birth, is quite effective.

People who don't acknowledge that the moon reflects the light of the sun, who don't acknowledge the power of theory of evolution to explain the development and diversity of life on earth, are wrong. Attempting to force kids to believe things that are plainly wrong, as a parent whose responsibility it is to protect them, and give them the tools they need to make in the world, is also wrong. But dare to say it, dare to insist the schools we educate our children in not traffic in mystical mumbo-jumbo, and watch how quickly those parents make themselves into victims and claim they're being persecuted. 

"We've grown up around firearms. We know the safety and we practice it."

"We've grown up around firearms. We know the safety and we practice it." : Greg Laden's Blog:

Maddy Montanye, 11, shot in the head while in her living room.

In the state of Minnesota, in a typical year, about 700 or so people will end up with a bullet somewhere in their body. Gun proponents will tell you that some of these are criminals shot by law abiding gun owners who were defending their homes from armed invaders. But the truth is, almost none of them are. Indeed, about half of those injured are shot in a similar manner to the little fifth grader up in Pine County; [t]hey are shot and wounded or killed because of the accidental discharge of a firearm. 
So in order to preserve our ability to kill someone who enters our home ... we have adopted a system in which about half a percent of our population is shot yearly for no good reason. 
... Most of the people who are shot by accident are children between the ages of 10 and 19. (Some of the injuries are hunting accidents, of course.) 
The source article the blog post I've quote from is based on is pretty depressing.

ESPN Sports Film Series at Tribeca Festival

ESPN Sports Film Series at Tribeca Festival -

The Windies (Image via NY Times)

Transformation may be the subject of every sports movie, in one way or another, but the seven documentaries that constitute the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film series — part of the Tribeca Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday night — make a fetish of it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Doctor Who Series Six premiere review round up

Well, it sure had a breakneck pace. After a big show, I look to Sepinwall, Ryan, and AV Club to see if the same things struck them as me. Ryan's review isn't up yet, but Sepinwall had:

And even in the midst of all the time puzzle questions, the tears and the creepy monsters, there was still plenty of room for Moffat's brand of madcap comedy, from the opening montage of the Doctor deliberately making a nuisance of himself throughout history so Amy and Rory would keep track of him during his long time away to the Doctor introducing his three operatives as "The Legs" (Amy), "The Nose" (Rory) and "Mrs. Robinson" (River). And, of course, we got a continuation of the running gag about Eleven's fashion sense, though in this case, I think he was right: Stetsons really are cool.

And the AV Club:

OK, here’s where the show eludes me: If The Doctor is 1100-some years when he first reunites with Amy and Rory this episode and 900-some years when he returns, does that mean that this incarnation of The Doctor exists for at least 200 years, presumably having two centuries worth of adventures between those two appearances? And then does it then follow logically that if he does die, the Matt Smith Doctor is the last Doctor? The head spins. Or at least mine does.
I always have an issue with episodes that start by killing a character that structurally, for the integrity of the show, can't stay dead. It takes me out of the episode by forcing me to think, "how is the writer going to undo this?" Which is qualitatively different than wondering, "how are the characters going to get out of this mess?" Matt Smith will not be the last actor to play the Doctor, so there's really no tension in wondering how the show will wind down. So, even though they go to lengths to make him dead and gone, including a viking funeral, he never feels gone. And Moffatt, cheeky bastard, rubs that in your face by having River slap the Doctor when emerges (in a younger, oblivious incarnation) because he knows full well, that pulling that stunt, it's what we want to do to him.

I loved everything else about the episode. The monsters are a great Grays/Weeping Angels/Silurian(!?) hybrid of motives, history, and abilities. The tone was great, Moffatt is a master of shuffling the tarot deck so with each card revealed we go from the Joker, to Death, to the Fates, and enjoy his reading as he goes.

I'm staying spoiler-free and don't dare hazard a guess as to what the nature of the astronaut is for fear of winding up with egg on my face. I can't wait for next week.

Billboards highlighting passages of the "Good Book," which are not at all "soul-destroying," that spiked's Brendan O'Neill might like to sponsor.

Billboards - Imgur

 I think it's Ezekiel 9:5-6, if we want to nitpick, being paraphrased here.

Yeah, I still have a burr under my saddle about Brendan O'Neill's haughty, snide criticism of Grayling (and atheists in general).

Rewards that confer status among competitors increase team oriented effort. (Or, guys will try harder if they can win a sticker.)

The Science Behind College-Football Helmet Stickers | Playbook:

What seemed like a simple nod of recognition has now become a time-honored tradition. In all, 22 Division I FBS teams currently use helmet-sticker rewards. Yet these decorations are much more than small tokens of thanks. They embody a rite of passage, with a player’s status among his teammates measured by how heavily adorned in stickers his helmet becomes during the course of a season. 
Now, a study published this month in the online journal PLoS ONE, has given a fresh perspective on this practice: When small rewards become visible trophies of status within a group, male players change their approach in competition, sacrificing their own best interest to serve the needs of the team.

#Flickchart vs. MovieWeb | Haven't seen the latter and don't care to.

Flickchart vs. MovieWeb | Flickchart: The Blog:

We wholeheartedly welcome fair competition and innovation, but when faced with what is plainly obvious to us and others that MovieWeb has knowingly copied, reproduced, and duplicated what we have worked to perfect over the years and refer to it as their own new idea, we feel their attempt is neither morally right, nor is it legal. MovieWeb has never contacted us formally or informally to indicate interest in licensing the use of Flickchart – which we would have certainly considered if approached, as we would of any potential business partners.
So, what I'm saying is, please, don't have anything to do with MovieWeb. They're hacks and cheats. If you like the idea of ranking movies by choosing one over another (like I do), then check out Flickchart. Me, the only thing I'd ever do on MovieWeb's site is leave them a message letting them know I see what they did there and I don't like it.

‘Doctor Who’ U.S. Premiere Will Not Be Delayed (for long)

‘Doctor Who’ U.S. Premiere Will Not Be Delayed -

Like Mr. Simon, she cited piracy as a primary reason. “While I think fans very much want to do the right thing,” she said, “they’re not going to wait months and months and months for something that they’re that eager to watch.”
I downloaded the episodes as soon as they were available in the past, but won't bother in this case because the wait is reasonable. Even when I did download them, I still watched them once they were on US TV; I imagine, however, many didn't. The real news here is that some idiots thought the delay was ever a good idea, and as a result, merely encouraged pirates at their own expense.

I'll be off the computer coloring eggs with the kids, but will not be going into recluse mode with regard to the internet and twitter and staying that way until 9 PM ET, so I don't accidentally see anything I don't want to until the broadcast.  

Many Bullies Get Pushed Around At Home (Violence begets violence, surprising exactly no one.)

Many Bullies Get Pushed Around At Home : Shots - Health Blog : NPR:

Bullies, their victims and kids who were both bullies and victims were far more likely to have been hurt by a family member or to have seen family violence than peers who weren't involved in bullying, according to data from Massachusetts that were just published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

spiked's Brendan O’Neill gets his undies in a bunch, lashes out.

This Easter, try to avoid the Gospel of Grayling | Brendan O’Neill | spiked:

This bible bonanza tells us a lot about the New Atheists. About their arrogance, their ignorance about where moral meaning comes from, and, most fundamentally, their allergy to, their utter estrangement from, the idea of transcendence.
At the risk of being so derisive as to be cruel, I will make three quick points and be done ...

  1. "[M]ore soul-destroying than anything in the original Good Book."? Really? Now, I haven't read Grayling's yet, but I will be very, very surprised to find anything in his tome that endorses or demands infanticide, homophobia, rape, or genocide. Those things must not be very soul-destroying in O'Neill's view. But, at least he seems to be acknowledging with the "more" that there are soul-destroying passages in his "Good Book."
  2. I'm so sick of atheists being called arrogant, ignorant, immoral and/or amoral when it's the religious that routinely kill for their faith. Routinely. There is nothing so arrogant as imagining a deity will act upon your "wailings and incantantions" and condemns to eternal torment all those who don't subscribe to your denominations peculiar interpretation of some ridiculous old text. One written, by the way, by truly ignorant savages.
  3. Imagine you are given ten slides in a power point presentation to communicate ten injunctions to promote the moral well-being of your audience. If you can't do better than the Ten Commandments, I would posit your morals are so stunted, defective, and useless as to be terrifying to people who actually want to do good in the world and live in peaceful, productive society. Arrogance would be telling people they can't possibly do better. 

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre implore Kate, with light-hearted terrorist threats, to keep her hands of their Willie

YouTube - Hands Off (Royal Wedding Song) - Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre:

"You'll give me the man of my dreams or I'll blow you to smithereens."

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous ..."

Message to American Atheists - Christopher Hitchens - AA Conference, via Pharyngula -

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

Contrast Mr. Hitchens' principled intelligence with Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent request that Texans pray (precisely the "wailings and incantantions" Hitchens addresses) for rain to help combat wildfires. And the MSM, ABC News in this case, covers this without, so far as I can tell, a trace of irony:
Perhaps it's working. The first day of prayer began today, on Good Friday, and is forecasting isolated thunderstorms today and tomorrow -- with a 30 percent chance of rain in Fort Worth.
So wrote ABC's Tia Castaneda, willing to ascribe a 30% chance of rain the forecast to the power of prayer. The power of which will have been proven should it rain; the failure of Texans to pray hard enough -- perhaps due to the presence of homosexuals and atheists within the states borders? -- demonstrated should it not.

Pathetic indeed.


iPads and restaurants: How waiters will be replaced by tablet computers. - By Annie Lowrey - Slate Magazine

Image via Slate

It works like this. The company manufactures tablet computers with full-day battery lives and a credit-card reader attached. The interface is easy enough for a grade-schooler to use. You select what you want to eat and add items to a cart. Depending on the restaurant's preferences, the console could show you nutritional information, ingredients lists, and photographs. You can make special requests, like 'dressing on the side' or 'quintuple bacon.' When you're done, the order zings over to the kitchen, and the Presto tells you how long it will take for your items to come out. Want a margarita in the meantime? Just add it on the console, and wait for the waiter to bring it. Bored with your companions? Play games on the machine. When you're through with your meal, you pay on the console, splitting the bill item by item if you wish and paying however you want. And you can have your receipt emailed to you.

Russian Dead Alien Video

Russian Dead Alien Video Surfaces : Discovery News:

Via Discovery News

Video of what appears to be an alien body recently found in Russia following reports of UFOs last month has set off a furor among UFO communities and in the blogosphere.
The Daily Mail reported that 'In the frozen wastes of Siberia two walkers claim to have found the body of an alien. On its side with its mouth slightly agape, the slender, badly-damage body lies half-buried in snow close to Irkutsk, Russia. Video of the alien's corpse has become a massive worldwide hit with hundreds of thousands of followers after being posted on the internet. The corpse of the badly-damaged creature which resembles ET is two feet high. Part of the right leg is missing and there are deep holes for eyes and a mouth in a skull-like head.'

Who Are We to Resist Its Charms? (Counting the hours 'til the premiere ...)

'Doctor Who' Makes a Dazzling Return, and Who Are We to Resist Its Charms?:

Among the show's many pleasures is its dialogue, which may be the best on television right now. For me, the show's clever conversations recall the golden age of the Joss Whedon era, and, as was the case in the Jossverse, it's not all shiny smartness on display: There's a scene between River and Rory that is heartbreakingly written and acted, and Amy and Rory are put through different emotional wringers as well. Whatever the tone of a scene, however, Smith may be the perfect delivery system for Moffat's words.
It's liable to get a little Who-heavy around here as we draw near the premiere. Big day coming, I can hardly wait. 

Celebrating 420 on the 21st, UConn's Coombs-McDaniel nabbed by Johnny Law.

UConn Men's Basketball Player Jamal Coombs-McDaniel Arrested On Drug Charges - CTnow:

Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, a sophomore forward, and two others were caught with 5.6 grams of marijuana, a marijuana grinder and a package of cigars that are used to smoke marijuana, police said.
It shouldn't be illegal but, until it isn't, guys gotta be smart. Calhoun doesn't need this on top of all the other garbage.

Watch the Doctor Who Cast Challenge Each Other to Doctor Who Pinball

Watch the Doctor Who Cast Challenge Each Other to Doctor Who Pinball -- Vulture:

The current cast of Doctor Who, the long-running British sci-fi television show, breezed through New York City recently to drop off doughnuts to screaming fans anxiously awaiting the show's sixth season, which begins Saturday on BBC America. Lucky for you, they didn't stop there. We convinced cast members Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) to swing down to Recipricol Skateboards in New York's East Village to play a little pinball on one of the semi-rare Doctor Who pinball machines.
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