January 28, 2015

Dog is actual dog breed. Who knew?

Y'all know Dog, the creature from a distant galaxy who visited Earth recently. Conor Cunningham drew the image you see at left, and I've used it in all my posts about Dog.

But unbeknownst to me, Conor used a real dog breed for the image. It's called a shiba inu. Down below on the right is a photo I found at Wikipedia Commons, taken by this cute puppy's owner, Mrs. L Selle. Is he a little darling, or what?

I've been thinking about getting a dog. Wouldn't it be fun if I got one of these and hung a gold peace sign around his neck? And of course, I'd name him Dog.

This could be fun.

January 27, 2015

Hey kids, let's redefine marriage

Despite the headline, I don't really want to "redefine marriage". I want to kill it. I say we toss marriage in the dumpster and treat it like a plague from olden times. 

Seriously, with all these puffy old conservative gits saying we have to pass a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples (it sure sounds messy when you say it that way, doesn't it?), I figure the term "marriage" is permanently ruined. It stinks of wingnut.

So let's create a new deal. We'll "join with" others, and these others will be whoever the hell we want to join with -- singles, groups, kids and grandparents, whatever. Let's do this as a time-framed contract where you enter into a joining for five years, one year, 20 years -- whatever works for the two (or three or nine) of you. And at the end of the contract, the joining goes poof. No strings attached.

This way people could avoid divorce and courtrooms. You sign up for five years, you get five years and that's that. You can re-up at the conclusion if that is your (and your partner's or partners') wish(es). Neat and clean.

If you want to protect kids, a couple (or trio or whatever) can take out a contract for 20 or 25 years. Got that? I don't want to hear a woman's voice yelling "Won't someone please think of the children?!" We can do it in a way that protects kids just like dumb old marriage used to.

If everyone starts joining instead of marrying, marriage will die out. It will be seen as a tired thing that old farts used to do. That would be fine with me. So I say let the gits have their goddamned marriage amendment. We'll just move on to something new. And this time it'll be something that works for everyone.

PS: The "historic" snowstorm dropped about...an inch of snow. I've still got power and I don't even have to shovel the sidewalk. (Not that I ever do that, of course. I'm just saying.)

January 26, 2015

Lotsa snow on the way

My area is about to get two feet of snow. And I'm told I should feel happy about this because some areas are getting three feet. Whatever.

Undoubtedly, I'll lose power. This is what happens when you live in the woods. So if you don't see me here for a bit, have no fear. I shall return! Stronger, finer, taller and with longer hair.

See you soon.

Why religious people fear death

I always wondered about this. Over the years, I've seen many friends and relatives die. One thing I've noticed is that religious people become terribly fearful as death approaches. This always seemed odd to me. If they expect to die and go to heaven, shouldn't they look forward to dying?

On the other hand, dying atheists that I've known, though they weren't thrilled to be dying, accepted death. It wasn't the scariest thing ever for them. It was just death, which they always knew was coming. They wanted their lives to continue but they didn't fear death itself.

But why were the religious people so frightened? I wondered endlessly about this and ended up attributing their fear to the idiotic melodrama they think will take place after they die. The approach of death meant they were going to be judged. And this terrified them...or so I thought.

Recently I began reading Greta Christina's book, "Comforting thoughts about death that have nothing to do with god". In it, she offers another explanation for the fear that religious people experience when death is nigh.

It's because they thought they'd live forever. Immortality, heaven, it was all theirs -- or so their priests told them. Christina's idea is that religion hides death behind a curtain. "Don't think about that. Here, watch this shiny thing: I'm going to transform wine into blood, right before your eyes! Abracadabra. Poof!" Essentially, they've been taught that since they're religious, they don't have to think about death. It's all just an illusion, you see. Religious people are special. Death can't harm them because Jeebus wants them to have eternal life. And so a life passes without reflecting on the inevitability of death.

But the real-life effect of this insidious belief system is that religious people never confront their fears about death. Why would they? They're going to live forever.

So when death comes calling, they freak out. They don't understand the basics, like the fact that people couldn't exist without death. Evolution produced us, and it is a mechanism for change that works through successive generations. The very concept of "generations" requires death. If nothing died, there would be no new generation for evolution to work through. And without that, we wouldn't be here.

It's nice to finally have a satisfying explanation for the rabid fear of death seen among religious people -- and here I'm referring to Christians, as I don't really know people who believe in other faiths. Obviously Muslims seem to think of death as a joy. But note that in neither case are the actual lives of believers helped by their religious concept of death.

Forget the fairytales. We live, we die, and it's okay. Read Greta Christina's book (it's only $2.99 for the Kindle version) if you want to get lots of other helpful tips about death, with an atheist slant.

Death, it's just natural. No boogeymen are involved.

January 23, 2015

Just wow

Came across this today: 
University of Colorado Boulder researchers will update NASA officials next week on a revolutionary space telescope concept selected by the agency for study last June that could provide images up to 1,000 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.
Just wow. I guess we'll have to consider our current spectacular Hubble pix "low-rez" images. That's so weird. This new telescope sounds fabulous. A thousand times sharper than the Hubble! I can't wait to see the high-resolution photos. Maybe we'll see aliens waving back at us.
University of Colorado Boulder researchers will update NASA officials next week on a revolutionary space telescope concept selected by the agency for study last June that could provide images up to 1,000 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-01-space-telescope-concept-image-higher.html#jCp

Quick thing

I often enjoy hearing the words of local news reporters. The news anchors read copy that is written for them by someone else, but the reporters in the field write their own stuff. This is where the hilarity ensues.

Case in point. Two nights ago I was watching the news when a reporter told the tale of a mother and son who were both dealing drugs, though neither knew what the other was doing. They only found out when they were both arrested on the same day.

The reporter ended the story with this absurd sentence:
"Two family members, unbeknownst to one another, swimming in the same sour sea."

January 22, 2015

Spotty blogging

I haven't blogged often in the past few days because I'm trying to get to my "must read" pile. I keep putting things aside to read later, but later never comes. It's the damned internet.

New, shiny things pop up daily and I hafta read them. I hafta! For instance, the annual Edge question for 2015 sucked my attention away for days. I love this stuff. In case you don't know, each year Edge poses a different scientific question to noted scientists, science writers, philosophers, etc. This year's question is "What do you think about machines that think?"

Some of the responses are wonderful. I particularly enjoyed Susan Blackmore's response, as well as that of Frank Tipler. But lots of them were thought provoking. The Edge question is one of my favorite annual events. Sure beats the Academy Awards.

For the next few days I'll continue blogging, though spottily. Gotta read several books (one of them written by a relative). It's just so hard to pull away from the computer. It's the ultimate bright, shiny thing. (Okay, you knew that already.)

Matt Taibbi nukes "American Sniper"

I enjoy reading Matt Taibbi, but only now and then. I couldn't take him on a regular basis. But once every month or two, I enjoy reading his words. The man murders his subjects, which is fitting for a review of American Sniper. Here's a link to the article and here's a paragraph from it:
Sniper is a movie whose politics are so ludicrous and idiotic that under normal circumstances it would be beneath criticism. The only thing that forces us to take it seriously is the extraordinary fact that an almost exactly similar worldview consumed the walnut-sized mind of the president who got us into the war in question.
And that takes care of that. In case you're not familiar with Taibbi, the man typically rips the life out of his subjects and then tears their corpses to shreds. In this case, it's well deserved. More at the link.

January 20, 2015

Pope Francis on a roll with stupid remarks

Lately, the pope's really been on a roll, extinguishing people's expectations that he might be reasonable and modern. Ha. He said contraceptives are evil, gays are a threat to "traditional" marriage, and now he's said this:
“Women have much to tell us in today’s society,” the Pope said, drawing applause from the crowd at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. “Sometimes we’re too macho, and we don’t leave enough room for women.”

Pope Francis also said that women should be included because they’re able to “see things with different eyes” than men.

“Women are able to ask questions that men can’t understand,” he said.
You mean, questions like "why can't we be priests and cardinals and popes?"

Same old church, same old restrictions on liberty, sex and enjoyment. Did you know you're not allowed to have fun during sex? This is a real Catholic teaching. Bizarre. And of course, they see gay marriages as being all about teh sex. Love ain't got nuthin' to do with it.

Pope Francis is just another sad, silly man in a dress. Move on, nothing to see here. (Nothing new, anyway.)

PS: I have nothing against men in dresses, of course. Go for it, if that's your thing. But religious men in dresses who go around launching verbal missiles at gay men...that, I have a problem with.

January 19, 2015

Gotta run

I'm busy today but I wanted to share this link. It's unbelievable. These religious gits are such misogynists.

Here's the lede:
An Orthodox Christian diocese in eastern Macedonia has banned female swimmers from taking part in the annual blessing of the waters ceremony to mark the Epiphany holiday.
It's even worse. Read the full story.