Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sweet baby Jesus

It being Christmastime and all, and remembering the reason for the season, I figured it was about time for a God post. I was reading a random lengthy message board conversation about proving and disproving God's existence, and it made me reflect on my own opinions on the matter. Sometimes people want to challenge their faith, sometimes people want to challenge my lack. I end up talking about such things from time to time. For what it's worth, I would advise that anyone who wants to have such a discussion with me first consider the following, because if you understand my point here, you understand essentially my entire argument for believers. If you would rather argue evidence, that is a different and much simpler beast to tackle, but this is my argument against faith.

Why don't you believe in Zeus? Thor? Mithra? Find a reason to disbelieve in these popular gods of the past that isn't equally valid for your god of choice and we'll talk.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Old Negro Space Program

The Old Negro Space Program

The completely false story of America's first blackstronauts, Ken Burns style.

[via SFSignal]

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I just finished transferring my Bloglines feed list to the Sage extension for Firefox. If you're still reading blogs by manually browsing each one rather than simply aggregating feeds, and you want to get with the program, Firefox with Sage is a good way to go. Check it out.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Things I Hate 1

I am not a very angry person. I don't yell much, and it takes a lot to upset me. But there are a few things that get to me. And so I present an installment of my ongoing series: Things I Hate.

System of a Down: Look, I don't expect much from popular music these days. I'm not one of those elitists, I just think that Sturgeon's Law is universal: 90% of everything is crap. But if I'm going to enjoy some music, I require at the very least a modicum of talent. System, you guys suck more than a drunk cheerleader in the locker room on homecoming weekend. Seriously, horribly bad. I would go so far as to say you are the worst band ever, even worse than Nickelback. At least Nickelback has the skill to blatantly rip off Pearl Jam, Creed, Staind, and the other seven hundred identical bands around. You thought you'd be clever and try something new, but forgot that such things require innovation and vision, not utter shittiness. That was your mistake, and now my ears are paying the price every five minutes that I am foolish enough to listen to the radio.

Dirty Bohemian Hippies: I think every college campus has these types hanging around the fringes. Most have dreadlocks, there's usually a dog clinging to life on a chain nearby, one of the guys is wearing a skirt, they smell like the bowel contents of a three-week-old corpse, and they're probably going to bust out a hacky-sack or perhaps a fucking fifth-grade recorder if you stick around long enough. They will inevitably ask for money. I am a socialist, okay, I'm not down on the poor, or the homeless. It is hard to get and keep a job when you couldn't get a decent education, and you got raped at fifteen and couldn't get an abortion because the fundies keep fucking up the system, and you have a name like Shanikwa or Muhammed that turns the rather fair-skinned employers away. But you dirty folk aren't poor out of necessity, you're poor because you just decided you wanted to stand around all day instead of learning or working or creating. And maybe that's a valid choice. But would a shower every now and then kill you?

Christian Fundamentalists: I've got no real beef with Christianity. Honest. If you want to believe that an invisible man created the universe, then raped a virgin and the bastard child needed to die to somehow forgive all of humanity for the invisible man's original mistake of creating faulty humans in the first place, by all means. If it makes you feel better to think that if a plane crashes and somebody survived, it is because the arrogant invisible man heard them babbling to him and punished the other two hundred people because they didn't, no problem. If you believe that when the aforementioned faulty humans got all uppity, the invisible man told a guy to build a boat and then retrieve two of all untold millions of species -- including every disease-causing bacteria and virus -- who then fit on this boat and had enough food to survive for forty days without the carnivores eating the herbivores so that a flood greater than the total water capacity of the planet could wipe the slate clean, knock yourself out. If you think that in the near future, dragons and plagues and falling stars are going to show up before the bastard child of the invisible man appears in the sky with a sword in his mouth and rotting corpses are going to fly out of graves, who am I to argue? But I do have to ask: are you fucking insane?

Until next time...

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Incompetent Design

The Other I.D.
No self-respecting engineering student would make the kinds of dumb mistakes that are built into us.

All of our pelvises slope forward for convenient knuckle-dragging, like all the other great apes. And the only reason you stand erect is because of this incredible sharp bend at the base of your spine, which is either evolution's way of modifying something or else it's just a design that would flunk a first-year engineering student.

Look at the teeth in your mouth. Basically, most of us have too many teeth for the size of our mouth. Well, is this evolution flattening a mammalian muzzle and jamming it into a face or is it a design that couldn't count accurately above 20?

Look at the bones in your face. They're the same as the other mammals' but they're just squashed and contorted by jamming the jaw into a face with your brain expanding over it, so the potential drainage system in there is so convoluted that no plumber would admit to having done it!

So is this evolution or is this plain stupid design?
Now this guy has the right idea.

[via Daily Kos]

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

X-Men 3

The teaser trailer.

What can I say? I am a comic book movie whore.

I am very ambivalent about this film, though. As you may be aware, Bryan Singer left the X-Men franchise to direct Superman Returns, leading to a very rough development cycle for this third installment, compounded by studio refusal to push back the opening. Matthew Vaughn was brought in to direct, and worked on a script the leaked details of which are highly troubling. The good news is that it introduces Angel and the Beast in compelling ways, and it deals with Jean Grey's return as the evil Phoenix. The bad news is that [MAJOR SPOILERS] Cyclops, Magneto, and Professor X are killed by her. Seriously!

But Vaughn departed the X-Men 3 project and Rush Hour director Brett Ratner was brought in for a last-minute, well, rush job. There was some question as to whether Ratner would be forced to use the Vaughn-era script, as there seemed to be little time for substantial rewrites. By way of comparison, Superman Returns opens a month later than X-Men 3 but was essentially finishing shooting when X-Men 3 began. The trailer makes it clear that the story is in fact the same script, or a variation thereof.

Now, Brett Ratner is a competent director. He's not a visionary, he's probably not going to rock the boat, but he knows his way around the camera. He is also good friends with Bryan Singer, and it is clear from the trailer that he is keeping the visual style Singer established for the franchise. But I have serious doubts about the quality of the story that is going to be told, and the fact that Fox registered the domain name combined with the spoilers above strongly suggest to me that this will be the final installment in the series. I only hope it is a good one.

All that said, the trailer itself makes the film look quite awesome.

Saturday, December 3, 2005


Brokeback Mountain and The 'Yuck' Factor

Jared Wilson writes on the wingut website WorldViews about his belief that everyone in the country shares his bigotry:
For all of our modern cultural "enlightenment," and despite the pervasiveness of gay characters and stories all over American media, and regardless of the success of shows like "Will & Grace" and "Queer Eye," by and large Americans -- blue state, red state, Christian and non -- innately find homosexuality repulsive. [...] To be blunt, we know anal sex is gross, and we especially know anal sex between men is repulsive. Even for most of those who have no basis for which to call it a sin find the act itself "gross." [...] Like Homer Simpson, we like our homosexuals flaming. So they can joke about sex and they can swish their way from the silver screen to the TV screen, they can even pontificate about their rights and move us to tears with their experienced repression and persecution. We'll sympathize with them on "Oprah" and laugh at them on "Will & Grace" and appreciate their good fashion sense on "Queer Eye" and nod our heads with the "Seinfeld" gang that there's not anything wrong with that. [...] Brokeback Mountain may win awards, but it will not have an audience who is not attending either out of perverse curiosity or some sense of liberal duty. [...] America likes her gay cowboys standing on stage with others in costume, singing "YMCA." Beyond kitsch, beyond sentimentality, the reality is yucky.
Wilson defines homosexuality as an activity: anal sex between men. It seems to me that millions of lesbians would be surprised to learn that they aren't in fact gay as they had been led to believe. I am confident that Wilson would be a strong supporter of female same-sex marriage, since there is no homosexuality involved. And as long as two men never have anal sex, countless hours of kissing and and blowjobs would be completely heterosexual. It's also rather amusing that he says that "we" know anal sex is gross, when 40% of men and 35% of women aged 25-40 have had anal sex. It is also routinely featured in pornography enjoyed by countless straight people. There are large numbers of people who don't find it gross at all.

What Wilson and other bigots social conservatives always forget is that lesbians and gay men are people and subject to human emotion. Regardless of its origin, homosexuality only orients where love and attraction are directed. It does not proscribe a certain activity. Gay men have anal sex because it can feel good, the same reason every third person you see walking down the street has had it. They happen to have it with other men because those are the people they are attracted to. But it does not define them any more than saying that a heterosexual is one who has vaginal sex, excluding all virgins from being straight.

[via Pandagon]