March 31, 2012

They finally noticed

Today, AP posted the first mention I've seen (in the MSM) of the Rock Beyond Belief Concert. They said just about nothing but at least they didn't trash it.

The Concert is a very cool thing -- the first official gathering of non-religious troops that is sanctioned by the brass. It took a ton of work on the part of the organizers. The military was not thrilled with holding an event for atheist military personnel. But they had to say yes, and they did.

It should be amazing. Dawkins is heading the event but there are tons of great speakers and acts. I'm very happy for all atheist military members. This is a monumental, first-ever event.

Trashing the Dalai Lama

Another twit.
PZ did it yesterday and I'll happily chime in. I detest the Dalai Lama and group him with Deepak Chopra. They both mouth nonsense to the gullible and call it wisdom.

But I've got a special distaste for the DL because of two things. One is that so many liberals love him. This makes me ill. The man says idiotic, unconnected things, smiles -- and liberals drop to their knees. This doesn't say much for the logic circuits of these folks.

The other reason is that I once saw him interviewed on TV, and he expressed his opinion of homosexuality. I don't have a transcript but as I remember it, he said homosexuality was a categorical error, a mistake. He said we aren't really homosexual, we just mistakenly think we're gay. Actually, according to the DL, there is no such thing as homosexuality.

Indeed. Another celibate man in a dress attacks gay people. And he often says he's against gay marriage. He's very clear about this. Still love him, liberals?

People, don't look toward religion for anything except nonsense and hatred. Both items are their stock in trade.

PS: The reason there is a focus on the odious DL of late is that he just received a ton of money from the oppressively idiotic Templeton Foundation. Isn't that sweet? The kings of woo crowned another favored messenger. Disgusting. (And I'm very upset with Sean Carroll for accepting money from the Templeton Foundation. It's a stupid thing for a scientist to do. They push religion, not science. Science and religion cannot co-exist, yet making believe they can co-exist is the purpose of the Templeton Foundation. It's a braindead organization and no self-respecting scientist should accept a dime from them. It's tainted money.)


I just tossed two aspirin into a dish . . . and they landed on edge and remained standing! Now, if this was merely a one-aspirin toss, you might write it off. But this was an official two-aspirin toss and both landed on edge. It must be a sign! It's gotta be!

After hours spent in meditation, I believe I know what this means. Dog has given me a sign because he's so goddamn happy about the upcoming publication of Xmas Carol. That has to be it! Dog is speaking to me!

Now I know how Pat Robertson feels.

March 30, 2012

What is wrong with the media?

I see so much off-the-wall wording in media stories. It's all over the place:

Romney trumpets rush of conservative endorsements . . .
Obama touts whatever . . .

Seriously, what's wrong with these people? They can't just write a clear and factual news item. Instead, they jam every story into one of their pre-fab molds that are designed to make politics into a game. It's not only stupid, it's destructive.

An emboldened Obama . . .
A volley of words from . . .
Gingrich soldiers on . . .

I mean really. They're myth-making. Their goal is not to report anything; it's to create waves, wonderful waves that will bring the papers and TV stations more business. Talk about ulterior motives. They're playing games with the lifeblood of our country and they don't give a damn. It's sickening.

And the following actual headline is no better:
April leap or May slog, Romney on pace to GOP nod
Oy. I think this means the headline writers have fallen off a cliff.

March 29, 2012

Republican candidates for prez

I don't understand why any attention is paid to the Republican primaries. What is there to say after you've taken one glance at these lying stooges? Nothing.

They've got a Ken doll running against a Mr. Rogers doll, and there's a nasty Troll doll in the background. And yet the media devotes endless hours of TV time to these clowns every damn day. Nothing could be more boring or meaningless.

If the media ever decided to get real again and report truthfully on things that matter to our country, all the stupidity would go poof in an instant. The kind of brainless banter that passes for American dialogue these days can only exist in an information vacuum.

But the media provides this very thing. As long as they fail to say this is true and that isn't, nothing will change. Without real investigative journalism and a firm commitment to truth, rationality and logic, the country will go down the tubes.

This accounts for the flushing sound you hear.

March 28, 2012

Please create this app

I want an app that can sort through the sea of ebooks and come back with a useful list of new ebooks that I might like. They're out there but there's no way to find them.

I should be able to give the app a list of the books that I Iove and then set it loose on the ebook ocean. But I don't want it to just compare genres. I want it to analyze ebook reviews. It should compare the words used in these reviews to the frequency of words used in reviews of actual, you know, good books. Seems this might produce useful results.

It also needs a filter that reads book samples and tosses aside all the illiterate books so they're not included in the results. Anyone can publish a book these days and most of them are dreck, including many of the most popular ebooks. Popularity does not mean quality. Today, it often means the reverse. It only tells you what the Illiterati think. (Personally, I view all "top ten" lists as a handy references for things to avoid.)

Certainly there's a need for an app like this. It's not only difficult for authors to get noticed but equally difficult for readers to find a book they might enjoy. There are just too many of them.

Someone start working on this today. Thanks.

March 27, 2012

Aw! Nobody wants to go to the popey guy's forum.

The Vatican tried to pull off a science scam but nobody bit. AP tells the tale in Vatican Cancels Stem Cell Forum.
The Pontifical Academy for Life had organized the "Responsible Stem Cells Research Congress" for April 25-28 at the Vatican. But its website said that because so few participants had signed up, the event was canceled. 
Awww. The poor popey guy. He must feel so bad. All those invitations and no RSVPs returned. I wonder why? Could it be that actual scientists have no interest in meeting with a bunch of stuffy, old priests who want to tell them they are evil? Nah, that can't be it.

Unable to simply say: "Nobody wanted to come," the Vatican web site tossed out this bunch of words:
"Unfortunately, the scarce number of sponsors and registrations would have adversely affected the positive outcome of the meetings, and therefore this prompted the organizers to take the necessary steps to cancel the conference," the Academy website's said. 
We get it. Popey guy holds party; no one comes. Awwww!

This cat thing

I must say I throw up a bit when I see otherwise interesting people post "cute" photos of cats that they then enthuse about ad nauseam. Something is definitely wrong with you if you feel this much love for cats. And anyone who posts "Kitteh" remarks has fallen right off the mental-health cliff.

Now, when a person posts about geese, that's a totally different story. Geese make for a fine, healthy, rewarding obsession. Face it: geese are what life is all about. And their cuteness easily trounces the alleged cuteness of cats.

It was a pleasure to sort this issue out for you. If there's any other topic needing clarification, let me know.

March 26, 2012

Pretty cool experiment

Double-slit experiment.
Largest molecules yet behave like waves in a quantum double-slit experiment is a story dear to my heart. You may have to be a physics freak to get into this, but luckily I am.

The short version is this: on the tinest levels of reality, stuff behaves differently. It's neither here nor there, neither point nor wave (like water). But up here on the big level where we live, everything is way more specific. Stuff is just where it should be and it's normal, everyday stuff.

So where is the dividing line? At what point does the fuzziness of the quantum level turn into the hard-as-rock reality we know? This experiment involves large molecules, not just single photons. Yet they acted just like quantum particles in the famous double-slit experiment. This effectively moved the dividing line up toward our big level, just a bit. This is shocking. Trust me on this. So where the heck is this dividing line? It's one of the most interesting questions in science.

March 25, 2012

Someone's heart is in Dick Cheney's chest!

I couldn't believe the news. They actually gave Dick Cheney a human heart! Disgusting! It reminds me that I've posted about this before. If only people took my advice. Ugh! A human heart in a monster's chest! It's so immoral.

Sweet Song

No video to speak of, but a lovely song. Lyrics below.

The Rose Captain by Sea Wolf

This part's for my love of old
How the rose in your heart you hold
Still all the water in your wells won't make it grow

Oh, the call of the nightingale
How I love beneath the ghostly sails
We move like gypsies 'neath the mist and beneath the gloom

Oh, how the river flows
Under the ice and snow
The keeper of the flame
The rose captain knows my name
This perfume breath I breathed
For you my dear, my love will never leave

This part's for my love of new
How the bulbs in my heart are true
They send the shoots through my fingers into your bones

Oh, the call of the collared dove
How I long to be your one true love
We'll move like gypsies 'neath the stars and beneath the moon

Oh, how the river flows
Under the ice and snow
The keeper of the flame
The rose captain knows our names
This perfume breath we breathed
For you my dear, my love,
Will never leave

Oh, the rose captain knows, knows our names
Oh, the rose captain knows, he knows our names

March 24, 2012

Nate Phelps, son of Fred the Hater, is a sensible guy

Westboro bigots. (Wikipedia image)
You know those insane Westboro Baptist Church folks who picket the funerals of soldiers while holding offensive signs? As you probably know, the church is headed by Fred Phelps, the most disgusting pastor in the world. Well, it seems Fred has an atheist son.

Nate Phelps, the son, is speaking at the gigantic Reason Rally this weekend. It's going to be the best atheist event ever so the Westboro lunatics plan to picket it -- because it's, you know, good.

To counter this, Nate Phelps is speaking at the event. I knew nothing about him other than the fact that he existed, so I was interested to see an interview with him in this morning's LA Times. It was great. The guy's so sensible. To think that this normal person came out of that hellhole of dimwits!

I hope everyone has a great time at the rally this weekend. We are finally coming into our own.

Good article on Keith Haring

The NY Times has an interesting article about the Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum. Just imagine what Haring might have accomplished if he lived a decade or two (or five) longer.

I remember being thunderstruck when he died at the age of 31. I couldn't believe it. He was a startlingly innovative genius.

March 23, 2012

Sounds like fun but don't do it

Anonymous killed the popey guy's web site, the one intended for use during his imminent tour of Mexico. Although this seems humorous because it involves our favorite villain (the popey guy, not Anonymous), I don't approve. We can't just cut off people's main means of communication because we don't like them. It's not right.

Let them have their little site. I have no problem with religious twits talking to each other. In fact, I wish they'd talk to each other more so they wouldn't have time to force their values on normal people.

But really: let people communicate. Imagine if progressive blogs were blocked by rightwing hackers. (Ha! Like they understand computers and can accomplish things.) It wouldn't be cool at all.

Think of Egypt and Syria. People must be free to communicate. It's the new inalienable right.

March 22, 2012

Marijuana inhibits HIV in late-stage AIDS

Read the full story for the details, but it seems marijuana helps people with AIDS to fight HIV, at least in late-stage AIDS.

But I was taken by the usual drug lobby take on the phenomenon. Yes, it works but it:
"...causes the drug high associated with marijuana, making it undesirable for physicians to prescribe."
Because you know how undesirable getting high is, especially when you're really, really sick and looking for relief. They say they want to:
"...prevent further progression of the disease without the undesirable side effects of ."
Damn those undesirable side effects! I mean seriously, people. They're talking about the high as if it's the bad part. Duh. This country has a bizarre relationship with marijuana.

March 21, 2012

Over 80 degrees in NY tomorrow

Snowflake (Wikipedia Commons)
I can't believe I'm using fans in the house. It should be almost cold at this time of year, out here in the woods where I live in upstate NY.

The weather forecasters are predicting a very hot summer. Alarmingly, they also say the non-winter we just experienced may become the new normal. And they don't pussyfoot around about the reason. What we're seeing is climate change.

There's a song that will seem more poignant with every passing year:
I'm dreaming of a white Xmas
Just like the ones I used to know . . .
It's going to sound different to our ears when snow is just a memory. And still, no one's doing a damn thing about climate change.

Humans: the new lemmings. Dog save us all!

Nobody likes this popey guy

The popey guy.
The popey guy is about to visit Mexico! Special, huh? Maybe not so much:
The imminent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Mexico is drawing little excitement, underscoring the stark differences between this pontiff and his predecessor, John Paul II, a figure beloved to Mexicans.
But that's not the end of his Mexican problems. Every good popey guy story needs a pedophile angle, right? Here you go:
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Mexico this week to a very public reminder of one of the Catholic Church's most egregious sex abuse scandals: A new book says internal Vatican documents show the Holy See knew decades ago of allegations that the Mexican founder of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order was a drug addict and pedophile. 
Oops. Is he the best popey guy ever, or what? If this guy could stay in charge for another 20 years, there'd be no church left. Go, popey guy!

March 20, 2012

Look at this thing

This race car was created with a 3D printer, using a liquid resin. It's tiny. That's a dust mite next to it.

Story here.

Photo credit: Vienna University of Technology

Vatican more disgusting than ever

Apparently, the Vatican is even more appalling than we thought. Andrew Sullivan has the story today, and it's guaranteed to turn your stomach.

The Roman Catholic church is evil. Write that down.

March 19, 2012

Thoughts from Blurb Land

Mother Gin Sling & poor innocent.
I wrote the blurb for Xmas Carol last week but I don't like it much. I just don't have a knack for writing pithy descriptions. I need more elbow room! Also, I hate blurbs. Since they often contain spoilers, and you don't know if one will or won't reveal too much, you can't read any of them. How does that make sense? I think blurbs should be vanquished. All we need is a title, an author, an image -- and an evocative phrase like "An Artificially Intelligent Horror Story". (Thanks, Casey!) Heck, what more do you need?

Anyway, because of this foray into short-form writing, I've been highly blurb-conscious of late. I see blurbs everywhere. I even see obituaries as "people blurbs". But you know who does the best blurbs? The folks who write the movie descriptions for TV listings. They have this itty-bitty space for a description and yet they have fun with it. Take, for instance, this treasure:
The Shanghai Gesture (1941)  Gambling den boss Mother Gin Sling drags her British ex-lover's daughter into decadence. Gene Tierney, Walter Huston.
Ain't that great? You hardly even need to watch the movie. Anyway, when I'm happy with my blurb, I'll show it to you guys. In the meantime, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

March 18, 2012

Adventures in reading

First edition (image Wikipedia)
I find that headline funny. It sounds like one of those boring Reader's Digest categories. How I detested that magazine and its goal of providing writing specifically designed for nitwits. But never mind. I'm talking about real adventures in reading.

When I was about 15 or 16, I was sitting in a chaise longue in the backyard, reading "Green Mansions" on a beautiful, sunny day. I was so into it. If you haven't read the book (it's ancient and mostly forgotten now), it's about a man who chases a sound in the jungles of Brazil (I think it was Brazil, anyway). He thinks he's seeking an "organ bird" but it's actually a woman making the beautiful sounds. She is the last of her people, a lineage of humans never encountered by homo sapiens. And she not like us at all. She's, well, magical. It's a great story (if you can fight your way through the old, stilted language of the day).

Okay, that's the set-up. So there I am in the backyard, wildly into the book, reading with bated breath as the male character walks through the jungle -- when suddenly he's bitten by a poisonous snake.

Exactly as it bit him, something fell out of the sky onto my bare leg, landing with a big, disgusting splat. I've never seen anything like it. It was a giant insect, maybe eight inches long, and see-through. It had a very creepy head, which was smashed to pieces on my knee. It was like something from another world. And it was a big, gooey mess on my leg. Ugh.

Adventures in reading. Ever experienced anything like this, where a scene you were reading seemed to enter the world and freaked you out? Reading. It can be wild!

March 17, 2012

Hate crimes legislation

This whole Dahrun Ravi/Tyler Clementi thing bothered me from the start. I will be irritated if Ravi gets much time for this. He was just being a stupid teenager, like zillions of other stupid teenagers. He didn't kill Tyler Clementi. Tyler (and society) did.

Today, I was surprised and pleased to find a story in the Times (attributed to AP) that deals with the issue in a nuanced, rational way. Go read it. It's surprisingly adult.

I don't think hate crime laws are sensible. The onus should be on the authorities, not the perpetrators. For instance, murder is murder and it's already against the law. (I'm speaking generally now; the Ravi/Clementi case didn't involve murder.) So since murder is already illegal, we don't need additional laws when a gay man is murdered. What we do need is legislation that penalizes the authorities when they fail to investigate a murder based on sexual orientation -- because it's a murder based on sexual orientation.

Isn't that where the problem lies? We live in a country where it was once commonplace for police to ignore crimes committed against GLBT people. And this still goes on today. That is the issue. Focusing on the perpetrators accomplishes nothing, as far as I can see. There are already penalties for murder and I don't think those penalties should be increased when hate plays a role in the crime. Life is life and all lives should be valued equally.

Gay people need respect. We need to be treated like others. And we need a police force that pays the same attention to crimes committed against us as they do to crimes against heterosexuals.

You also have to think of the consequences once you go down this road. These laws are the first step on a path that leads inevitably to anti-blasphemy laws. Think about it. We do not want to encourage this sort of thing. A crime is a crime. Let's not paint some crimes in special, lurid colors.

So who's this white guy?

For the past few days there has been an interloper in the flock. It's some white guy and we don't know who he is. The nerve of him! Insinuating himself into the flock, and all.

Look at the photo of him from the front. He's like a dinosaur! He's got that T-Rex little-arms thing going on. At least I think so. Or maybe he's a former smoker and the surgery left a hole in the middle of his chest. Hard to say.

Wary geese watch whitey.
Click on the photographs to see a larger version. Anyone know what this guy is? I haven't seen this species in the area before, though I've lived here for over 17 years. The geese think he's really weird and they pick on him, though it doesn't rise to the level of a major fight. Just a goose tussle. I think they've been trying to pluck his feathers out, which is typical aggressive behavior for geese. I assume he's a goose, too.

The poor thing. I hope he goes away while he still has some feathers. But for today, he's still here.

March 16, 2012

Popey guy makes sexy overture to Nazi priests

The popey guy.
So the popey guy wants to make nice with the "traditionalist" Society of St. Pius X -- otherwise known as the intensely Nazi faction of the Christian faith.

The popey guy likes the Pius guys because they hate gays and do all sorts of vicious things, as is right and proper. But apparently they're a little too Nazi for the Nazi popey guy. Amazing!

The "traditionalist" faction is mortally opposed to the church's outreach to "Jews, Muslims and members of other faiths". (Nice, eh?) Plus they don't like that damn hippie "Second Vatican Council, whose modernizing reforms included reaching out to Jews and permitting the Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of in Latin." The Nazis no likey.

Meanwhile, the popey guy is pissing off Jews who are horrified that he's sucking up to this anti-Semite bunch. But what can the popey guy do? He wants all the really, really hateful factions of Christianity to come home to Rome. Only then, when the hate is consolidated, can they act as one, attacking gay people and women worldwide. It's the popey guy's wet dream.

Can this vile creature do anything decent? Apparently not. The head of the Catholic church is a hate-mongering pig. So what else is new?

Greenwald satire

Glenn Greenwald.
I read Glenn Greenwald every day because he's what every investigative journalist should be: smart, logical, honest and penetrating. He says things no one else says and always stands up for what's right. Of all the bloggers I read, I most value Greenwald.

He's got a great satirical column up today. Give it a read. Satire is a great thing to do with one's anger, and no one does it better than Greenwald. The column is downright scathing.

I committed a mortal sin

Click for larger version.
No, not the fun kind. Darn. But I mentioned The Atheist Pig yesterday without linking to the site. Totally uncool, and now rectified.

This is one of his cartoons. I think the guy's great and he seems like a regular, normal guy, judging by his blog posts. I suggest everyone bookmark the site if they haven't already.

March 15, 2012

We stopped dreaming

I had to re-post this after seeing it at theatheistpig. This is a video that needed to be made. Kudos to Neil deGrasse Tyson and the production team. Watch it full-screen.

Great first paragraph

There's an article in the NY Times today, called Appetites ofa Poetry Virtuoso: "Collected Poems" by Jack Gilbert. I adore the first paragraph:
Several people in my life revere Jack Gilbert. They push photocopies of his poems solemnly across tables at me, as if they were salary offers or handguns or unusual drugs. Here, they say. Read this.
Isn't that great? Dwight Garner can write.

March 14, 2012

US exports religious bigotry

There's an AP article in the NY Times today, reporting on a US religious group that targets UK abortion clinics.
LONDON (AP) — One of Britain's main abortion providers says a campaign run by a U.S.-based religious group is intimidating women who use its services.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) says activists from the 40 Days for Life group have been holding vigils outside one of their central London clinics.

A spokeswoman for BPAS said Wednesday that some of the activists have filmed women coming in and out of the clinic.
Isn't that sweet? At the very end of the report, it says:
[A] campaign director of 40 Days for Life's London campaign says its members are carrying out a peaceful Christian prayer vigil. He says the group did not intend to film people using the clinic but some activists did have cameras to film people insulting them.
That last bit made me laugh. These Christian bigots are always primed for victimhood, aren't they? Well, I hope they take home the footage of people insulting them, and then hold large meetings where they play the insults to their members, over and over and over and...


When I check my local weather, this pops up on the screen. Click "to view women"? That's pretty disgusting. And I don't think it belongs on my weather page.

Good old Real classy, fellas. That's just what women want: to be viewed. Ugh.

March 13, 2012

A Catholic morality story

I love this one. It happened in Milwaukee, in the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. As usual, Catholic authority figures showed that that they can't tell right from wrong. (This is a GOP/Conservative problem as well; they're all the same ignorant gits: people without empathy.) You really have to go read it for yourself, but here are the highlights:
Washinawatok said her 12-year-old daughter, Miranda, interpreted the words "Hello" and "I love you" and then added how to say "thank you" [in the language of her people, the Menominee Tribe] when talking to two girls in class Jan. 19. She said Gurta overheard and "slammed her hands down on the desk and stated, 'You are not to speak like that. How do I know you're not saying something bad? How would you like if I spoke in Polish and you didn't understand?'"

The girl was benched from a basketball game later that day for having "an attitude problem," Washinawatok said she was told.
Here's the historical background:
Washinawatok explained the issue is sensitive because tribal members used to be beaten for speaking their language in the schools, which is part of the reason they are losing their language.
This is a situation that we liberals can understand in a heart-beat. On the other hand, Conservatives, Republicans and Roman Catholic authority figures never understand something like this because it requires empathy.

So what does the Catholic school teacher say in her "apology letter" to the family?
In Gurta's Feb. 22 letter, she wrote her "firm reactions" were not intended to single out the girl or the language. She said Miranda spoke to her in a disrespectful manner several times that day and had behaved inappropriately on other days as well.
"Unfortunately, the actions of your daughter were not brought to your attention as quickly as they should have been, and for this I apologize," Gurta wrote.
Isn't that perfect? It's just the sort of thing these people say when they're caught with their pants down. Their credo is to never admit you've done wrong, never understand the nature of that wrong, and never apologize in any real way. This was a dreadful thing for the teacher to have done, and when it was explained to her, when the stabbing nature of the offense was made fully clear . . . she didn't even apologize for it. No, her only fault was in not bringing the student's faults to the parents' attention sooner. Nice.

Just imagine what heaven must be like, filled to the brim with these hateful gits. Maybe it's just me but that sure sounds like hell.

March 12, 2012

Here come the ethical robots

I was particularly listless this morning, buffeted by the inanity of the news and cognizant of the fact that people are so stupid and ignorant these days that we can't expect better . . . when what did I bump into but this story. It's about the need for ethical robots. I find this a startling notion in a world where ethics is a lost topic, a useless relic from a prior age when people cared about such things. Here's an excerpt:
[A]n ethical governor would ensure that robot behavior would stay within predefined ethical bounds. For example, for autonomous military robots, these bounds would include principles derived from the Geneva Conventions and other rules of engagement that humans use.
That's so funny. In a world where Americans have decided that torture is fine and people can be held without formal charges -- indefinitely and in shameful conditions -- the robots will follow "principles derived from the Geneva Conventions". It's a riot; it really is.

The article continues:
The final point that the researchers touch on in their overview is ensuring that robots – especially those that care for children and the elderly – respect human dignity, including human autonomy, privacy, identity, and other basic human rights.
Can't you just see the GOP hopping on board with this? "We must protect basic human rights!" Hahahahahaha.

On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what the human race needs: artificial beings that know the difference between right and wrong. That would be a fresh, new item in the American landscape. So maybe the solution to our current mess is that robots will re-educate us about what it means to be human. That would be great because the current crop of Americans has no clue.

March 10, 2012

Odd headline at NY1

Fukushima (image:
The headline on New York's hometown cable news station, NY1, says "Many Still Displaced by Japan's Nuclear Near-Disaster".

Near disaster? Exactly what has to happen before NY1 considers an event a full nuclear disaster? Seems to me that losing a hemisphere of land with (at least) a 12-mile radius -- for several decades, if not forever -- should suffice. And dog only knows how many people will come down with cancer from radiation exposure.

Perhaps this reporter phrased this so inadequately because the American news failed to report fully on the tragedy, never digging deep -- and then turning the page and forgetting it entirely while the disaster was still raging.

Our media left us in the dark rather than offend nuclear advocates in this country. What piss-poor suckers the US media are. Truth be damned -- that's their motto. They have other matters to consider, like making money and sucking up to power.

March 9, 2012

The unnoticed spec

The new iPad sounds great to me. But I was surprised to see no mention in the news of one of its features: you can dictate to it!

I assume this means it uses Siri's speech recognition engine -- after all, they own it. Siri is great at understanding spoken English. Okay, so it doesn't understand my brother-in-law's voice -- but it did well with everyone else I know who has an iPhone 4S. And it even understood my gruff, bass voice (which everyone tells me they can't hear). Siri understood every word I said.

This means I can dictate my next novel.

Stealth atheist novels

Fairytale billboard, Orlando.
A while back, I wrote about feeling guilty over the fact that Xmas Carol is a stealth atheist novel. In other words, it's a sci-fi/horror story that doesn't warn the reader that it has a decidedly atheist viewpoint.

I focused on this issue after reading about stealth Christian novels, which were irking rational readers who bought the books without realizing they were actually missals. The article related the experience of readers who were enjoying a good suspense story when suddenly jeebus entered the plot--to solve everything, of course. Good old jeebus. Ugh.

Normal people were angry about this because it wasn't a one-time thing. There are apparently a ton of these books out there: it's an epidemic. The problem, of course, is that you can't tell these religious tracts from normal books. There are no hints that the book is only for idiots. That's what irked rational readers.

Reading about this, I couldn't help but wonder if I was doing the same thing in the opposite direction--and I am. I make fun of religion throughout Xmas Carol. In fact, the whole novel is a slap in the face of the Catholic church. Not only that, but Xmas Carol is the first installment of the (suddenly real) "war on Christmas". And there are no indications of this on the cover or in the blurb.

But you know what? I don't care. Lately I've been noticing how every goddamn thing on my TV turns into a faith story. You can't go five minutes without some blithering idiot praising jeebus. And if I hear about one more murder victim who was a "good, church-going, god-fearing man", I'm going to throw up. So the hell with them. I've decided this world needs a few stealth atheist novels.

Religion is everywhere. This is the nauseating truth. Every time we normal folks go out for a walk, we can't avoid bumping into churches, temples, nuns, priests and twits wearing 10-inch crosses around their necks. We live in a stealth Christian world.

I no longer feel guilty about writing a stealth atheist novel. In fact, I'm pleased as pitch that I wrote one. So there.

March 7, 2012

We're coming around the bend

Ed Brayton had an interesting post today on FTB (Freethought Blogs). It's about a scholarly study of secularism (life without gods). It told me something I didn't know. Here's an excerpt that lays it out:
Secularists make up some 15 percent of the global population, or about 1 billion people. As a group, this puts them third in size behind Christians (2.3 billion) and Muslims (1.6 billion).
Hoo boy! We're huge! And our group is growing larger every day. All of you: go out, blaspheme and enjoy! Life is great without gods.

Here goes nuthin'

I'm just getting back from an early morning medical "procedure". I love that word. They make it sound like you're getting your nails done. My "procedure" was the kind that involves propofol.  Shades of Michael J!

The nurse said not to operate heavy machinery today. I'm trying to figure out if that includes blogging. Hmmm, let's see . . . I'll try to type something fast: pleasedogsavemefromtheGOPpleasepleaseplease . . . seems okay. Now, let me try some satire . . .

I got nuthin'.

I'd better back away from the blog before I hurt myself. See you later.

March 6, 2012

Alfred is a very useful fellow

There's an app called Alfred. It's free at the Mac app store. This is truly a must-have app for Mac folks.

You type a key combination (the one you've set in preferences) to engage Alfred, and a simple line appears. This one line brings so much.

For instance, if I type "images Olympia Snowe" it opens my browser to Google images and suddenly there are hundreds of pasty, powdered faces on my screen. If I type "deriv" and hit enter, it takes me to the Online Etymology Dictionary. (You can set Alfred up to do whatever you want; I added the OED link.) It can also search my computer or my email, searching not only for file names but within documents. It googles things instantly, launches programs and even puts the computer to sleep, if you want it to. It does just about everything.

I don't know how I ever got by without it. And it's free!

March 5, 2012

Not half bad

Barrios sculpture.
When I saw this notice in the Associated Press feed at the NY Times this morning, I was immediately ready to dislike the artist:
NEW YORK (AP) — Nine stainless steel, multicolored sculptures of various geometric shapes will tower over Manhattan's Park Avenue in an art project by Venezuelan sculptor Rafael Barrios. 
I thought, "Shades of Christo and Jeanne-Claude: more idiot art work." But I looked him up and the guy's work is interesting. There's a magical sense of movement in his sculptures. I guess it's all about the placement of the shapes. I particularly like the positions of the rectangles in the above image. It's like a snapshot of time itself. Sculptures like this would look lovely over Park Avenue.

I therefore rescind my half-baked attack and remind myself not to dish things that I haven't seen. This would seem to be a good rule.

March 4, 2012

Funny on so many levels

Evil always smiles.
Red-hatted monster Timmy Dolan spoke at a catholic high school yesterday and said many funny things. The Times story begins with this:
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told Roman Catholics on Saturday that in an era when the church was fighting the government on several fronts, they needed to make their voices heard more clearly in the political sphere . . . We are called to be very active, very informed and very involved in politics.
Indeed. And that's exactly why we let your church skip out on paying taxes, Timmy: because you religiously stay out of politics and never make waves in the outer world. Keep up the good work!
The cardinal mocked a secular culture that “seems to discover new rights every day.”
“I don’t recall a right to marriage,” he said, describing marriage, instead, as a “call.”
“Now we hear there’s a right to sterilization, abortion and chemical contraceptives. I suppose there might be a doctor who would say to a man who’s suffering some type of sexual dysfunction, ‘You ought to visit a prostitute to help you.’ ”
Are you laughing yet? I liked this bit:
. . . [H]e emphasized the role of the laity. While priests and bishops “stick to principles,” he said, “we leave a lot of the messiness of politics up to you.”
Yes, and that's exactly why you're spewing this political nonsense from the pulpit of a church: because you "leave a lot of the messiness of politics" up to the faithful. The church has no access to a mirror, apparently. The story ends with a marvelous quote from Timmy the lad:
Obama officials have pointed to recent polls showing that most Catholics favor the new contraceptive rule, and in a recent blog post, the cardinal wrote that officials in the Obama administration had recommended that bishops “listen to the ‘enlightened’ voices of accommodation” within the church. At a news conference after Saturday’s speech, Cardinal Dolan said, “We kind of got our Irish up when leaders in government seemed to be assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups that are not the bishops.”
He added: “If you want an authoritative voice, go to the bishops. They’re the ones that speak for the truths of the faith.” 
You're a riot, Timmy. Now, go eat some more donuts. There's a good boy.

March 3, 2012

Mike Tompkins

At the risk of going viral video on you, I'm posting this guy's music. Every sound in this video is his vocalization. Everything. There are no instruments. It's a capella gone mad.

Blurbily yours

I wrote the blurb for Xmas Carol today. You know: the short description of the book that would appear on the back cover if it was a physical book. With an ebook, it's just a few paragraphs that you can call up with a click. But it's important: this is what draws readers into the book.

Before I began, I read a lot of blurbs by other authors. I wasn't impressed. But then, I'm not impressed with the content of many books these days so this wasn't a big surprise. In any case, it taught me nothing and I simply banged one out.

Let me live with it for a few days and then I'll put it up here. Comments will help me to sharpen it, I'm sure.

All is well with Xmas Carol. It won't be long now. Hang on. I know I've been saying that for a while but this time I mean it.

March 2, 2012

Let the sun shine in

Psilocybe Cubensis, the Magic Mushroom.
Image: Wikipedia
Your brain on 'shrooms is an article about what happens when the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms reaches the brain. Here's an excerpt:
The study found decreased blood flow and BOLD in the thalamus, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. The researchers concluded that the surprising results strongly suggest that the subjective effects of psychedelic drugs are caused by decreased activity and connectivity in the brain’s key connector hubs, enabling a state of unconstrained cognition.
In other words, it turns your filters off and lets everything in. It is cognition without blinders. When you're tripping and you see a white wall, you also see a rainbow rippling through the whiteness. That rainbow was always there but our brains filtered it out. And hey, it's just like they told us: white is the presence of all colors.

The odd truth is that our brains actively hide things from us, apparently as a protective measure. We are only aware of the things that evolution decided we should be aware of, in order to survive as a species. It is the brain, operating on these ancient rules, that draws a line in the sand and says "see this" but "don't see that."

There's lots more stuff out there, a whole world that goes on without our notice. And if what I saw on acid is any indication, it's gorgeous.

March 1, 2012


I BELIEVE there is no god but there is a heaven.

I BELIEVE life is a test.

I BELIEVE that if you think god is real, you fail the test. You are unsuitable for the afterlife.

I BELIEVE that when religious people die, they simply turn to ashes and blow away. There is no heaven for them.
I BELIEVE that only atheists go to heaven. To me, it's the only answer that makes sense.

(And don't you go disrespecting my BELIEFS, you hear me? I don't want to find any of you blaspheming me in the comments, or anything. Just saying.)


I found this today on Sean Carroll's blog, Cosmic Variance. It's so cute that I had to post it here. It's a bunch of robotic helicopters performing the James Bond Theme. No one's "playing" the helicopters. It's all pre-programmed. I love it.

Okay, so my timing was a little off

Minutes after I published the post below, it began to snow. Look at these poor, confused geese. Can you see the stress lines around their eyes? This damn Winter is out of kilter.

But this is just a joke snow. It will be near 60 degrees in a few days. So despite this tiny sign of Winter, eternal Spring continues.