left biblioblography: 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006


And they hae ta’en his very heart's blood,

And drank it round and round;

And still the more and more they drank,

Their joy did more abound.

- John Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic

The Winter Solstice hath come and gone, and it marks the end of an old cycle, the beginning of a new.

It is no small wonder, that our ancestors regarded light and darkness in the manner that they did. Nor that they divided the year into quarters (hence, the creation of a cross as a holy icon). It is in the nature of the child to personify, to put a human face to a lack of understanding.

Cycle of life to death, death to life. To grow, and to wither away, back to the womb of the world one sprang from.

An intricate dance of light and darkness, one overcomes the other, new life replaces the old.

The pagans have an interesting tale to tell: “The Holly King and the Oak King are part of Celtic mythology, and they represent two sides to the Greenman, or Horned God.

They battle twice a year, once at Yule and once at Midsummer (Litha) to see who would rule over the next half of the year. At Yule, the Oak King wins and at Litha, the Holly King is victorious. In other words, the Oak King rules over the lighter half of the year, and the Holly King over the darker half. The change from one to the other is a common theme for rituals at Yule, and also at Midsummer. “

It is odd, is it not, that the outcome was always simple to see?

Stranger still:

“Another version of the Holly King and Oak King symbolism is that they do not directly switch places twice a year, but rather both live simultaneously. The Oak King is born at Yule, and his strength grows through the spring, peaks at Beltane and then he weakens and dies at Samhain.”

And the dance goes on.

Happy New Year, to one and all.

Till the next post, then.



It's that time of year again.

Thousands of Muslim pilgrims surround the Kaaba in Mecca
New security measures are in place for the Hajj

Millions of Muslim pilgrims performing the Hajj in Saudi Arabia have thrown stones at three pillars representing the devil, as part of a ritual.

"New security measures have been added in an effort to control the movement of pilgrims and prevent stampedes that have killed hundreds in the past.

"Saturday's ritual coincides with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. The Hajj ends on Monday.

"Muslims are obliged to undertake the pilgrimage at least once, if able.

"An estimated 30,000 Saudi police and security forces have been deployed to marshal the crowds at this year's Hajj.

"On Saturday, pilgrims passed the three pillars in Mina, throwing stones at them."

A big day for stone salesmen, ey?


"On Friday, pilgrims took part in a prayer ceremony on Mount Arafat - one of the main events in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The ritual formed the spiritual climax of the Hajj.

Before the pilgrims complete the Hajj they must walk seven times round the Kaaba, a cube-like building in the centre of the city's Great Mosque, in an anti-clockwise direction.

The Saudi authorities have imposed a strict quota system to try to keep the number of foreign visitors to a manageable level."

(End snip)

Do they walk around the thing blindfolded? Oh, wait, that's the

Throwing rocks at a rock. Yeah, that's civilization for ya.

Should we add these tallies to lives lost to religion? You be the judge.

2006: 345 die in a crush during a stone-throwing ritual
2004: 251 trampled to death in stampede
2003: 14 are crushed to death
2001: 35 die in stampede
1998: At least 118 trampled to death
1997: 343 pilgrims die and 1,500 injured in fire
1994: 270 killed in stampede
1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in tunnel leading to holy sites
1987: 400 die as Saudi authorities confront pro-Iranian demonstration

Till the next post, then.


Thursday, December 28, 2006


Since my DINING WITH ALIENS post seemed to garner a huge degree of popularity, I will share with the rest of my faithful readers (all ten of 'em, heh) some other personal stories.

This Xmas was semi-uneventful. Nobody really shrieked at one another. My brother-in-law (herein referred to as my BIL) still feels obliged to debate/discuss/pontificate about the possibility of possessing a soul, and my (little) sister felt obliged to share her proof of an afterlife.

It's difficult at best to have a debate with him, as I've noted before, he tends to get more than a little sloshed at our family functions. At one juncture, he tried to do the old shift-the-burden-of-proof nonsense on me, to paraphrase, "You have to be able to prove that gawd doesn't exist." This is what I told him:
"I'm NOT going to disprove something you can't prove exists." (Yeesh, why can't people see the essential logical disconnect in a statement like that?).

Little sis told an interesting story (problem is, she told it SEVERAL times, as if my short-term memory's shot: that bugs me, it does. Maybe it's because of my BIL - he tends to go on tangents, while all the while she's nagging him to listen to her. We call them Mr. and Mrs. Constanza on occasion).

A little back story, for the folks who don't know:
About nineteen years ago, little sis (herein referred to as LS) got pregnant. My folks were in a bit of a funk about that, seeing as BIL and LS were cohabiting but unmarried. The night BIL proposed (in front of the whole family sans me), is the night that my father passed on (in his sleep).

That established, fast forward to the present:
The story as I heard it, was that LS, right after she got home from the hospital, claims that she actually saw a vision of my deceased father bending over my niece's crib.

A view words about the recipient of said vision are in order.
She's not a church-goer. Her knowledge of the bible is about below average for the cafe Christian. She's not one of those folks that sees hidden divine mysteries in the falling of a leaf or a shooting star. She's made efforts in the past to squelch any and all discussion about religion. She'd rather blather endlessly about some minor confrontation she had at the grocery store than engage in philosophical debate. I doubt she's seen the inside of a church outside of family funerals or my niece's baptism (and therein lies a tale, for another day).

The old saying is this: "Small minds discuss people, mediocre minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas." Sadly, she falls in the first category.

I made the effort to explain this phenomenon, but I was hesitant: she said something that touches the Great Debate - "That was my moment, and I don't want anyone to take it away."

So I asked her, if my niece's birth had an association with my dad's death. Of course it did. I then explained (the short version: she's a good heart, but not very intellectual), that familiarity is an association with neural pathways. Emotions elicit chemical responses, forming neural pathways via the hypothalamus, etc. Pretty much a "Yessss...?" response. I of course laid out the disclaimer that I am neither biologist nor psychologist (truth is, I was a little buzzed meself). I could've gone on about the bicameral mind, temporal lobe epilepsy, and a little research (the next day) has shown me that postpartnum depression can prompt a psychotic episode (varying between minor to major), but I am loathe to broach it on that level, as most people bridle when you try telling them they had a mental breakdown of some sort. ("What?!? My epiphany was because I was NUTS!?!?! [expletive deleted] YOU!")

And the truth is, occasionally (approximately twice a year) I have odd dreams, where my deceased father shows up, and some back story (in the dream itself) is that he didn't really die, he just went elsewhere for said amount of years - it's all strange, strange, strange.

Any thoughtful input, analysis, or criticism is welcomed on this one.

Now for a bit of humor.

Some years ago, my (older) sis had a boyfriend, who I referred to as a bro-in-law (he's now since gone - a more recent xmas incident was the catalyst for their splitting up). Older sis is a major league prude. So I gave him an utterly wild gift. Prior to opening it, I told him: "Remember: you always have options."

When he opened it, he turned a deep crimson, blushing. Normally, he was unflappable.

It was an inflatable love-doll. Not just any model, though: it was the 'perfect date'. Inflated, it stood at waist heighth (guess where the mouth was?), with a flat surface on the head to rest your drink on.

Needless to say, all the menfolk thought it hilarious. The womanfolk were...not amused. Older sis shrieked "That's completely inappropriate!", and the pictures in the xmas album have a number of shocked looks. My two BILs blew it up and had a field day (in a manner of speaking).

My nephew (he was about 6 or 7 then) began to play with it however. So I had to go hide the damn thing.

No word of a lie, squire. I have photographic documentation of the event (available upon request).

See? I was quite irreverent BEFORE I 'converted' to atheism.


Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Here’s another flashcard in the ongoing debates about evolution.

We’ve all heard the tired old refrain – “Show me where new species have come into existence!”

And so, I give to you, ligers, tiglons, and ursids.

Also wholphins, coydogs, dogotes, coy-dingoes, guin-hens and pea-guineas, dzos and zorses, not to mention zedonks and zonies.

These are all interfertile species, known as hybrids.

Of course, the response will be: “Hey, the horse is an entire species!” or “Hey, tigers and lions are all the same species, they’re cats!”

Not even close. Kinda like saying a tree and a weed are in the same species. Family? Yes. Species? No.

The Science dictionary defines it as “In biology, the classification lower than an order and higher than a genus. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and house cats belong to the same biological family. Human beings belong to the biological family of hominids. (See Linnean classification.)”

Linnean classification catalogues it thusly: “A way of organizing living things. In biology, plants and animals have traditionally been classified by the structure of their bodies, in a descending hierarchy of categories: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. For example, human beings are classified as belonging to the animal kingdom, the phylum of chordates, the class of mammals, the order of primates, the genus Homo, and the species sapiens.

The scheme is based on a system developed by the Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus in the eighteenth century.”

Note the phrase: descending hierarchy – the list ascends, top to bottom, species being the bottom rung of the ladder.

That out of the way, let’s looks at the wholphin, that mix of Flipper and a fake Shamu.

“A wolphin or wholphin is a rare hybrid, formed from a cross between a bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (mother), and a false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens (father). Although they have been reported to exist in the wild, there are currently only two in captivity, both at the Sea Life Park in Hawaii.”The next portion, while it illustrates natural selection perfectly, regrettably, shows why they aren’t all that prolific:

“The wolphin proved fertile when she gave birth at a very young age. The calf died after a few days. However, in 1991, Kekaimalu gave birth once again, to daughter Pohaikealoha in 1991. For 2 years she cared for the calf, but did not nurse it (it was hand-reared by trainers). Pohaikealoha died at age 9. On December 23 2004, Kekaimalu had her third calf, daughter Kawili Kai. This calf did nurse and was very playful. Only months after birth, it was the size of a 1-year-old bottlenose dolphin.”

What about the liger, you ask?

“The liger is a cross (a hybrid) between a male lion and a female tiger. It has also been known as a lion-tiger mule. A liger looks like a giant lion with diffused stripes. Some male ligers grow sparse manes. Like tigers, but unlike lions, ligers enjoy swimming. Unlike other hybrids, female ligers can reproduce.

A cross between a male tiger and a female lion is called a tigon. [1] This would have referred to the Gir Forest in India where the ranges of Asiatic Lions and Bengal Tigers overlap. Under exceptional circumstances it has been known for a tiger to be forced into ranges inhabited by the Asian lion, Panthera leo persica, which is the same genus as the tiger. Reports have been made of tigresses mating with lions in the wild and producing offspring known as ligers.”

And before you cry ‘Mule!’, witness:

”Male ligers are sterile, but female ligers are fertile and can breed with tigers (resulting in ti-ligers) or to lions (resulting in li-ligers).
Ti-ligers are more tiger-like, having a greater percentage of tiger genes. Li-ligers are more lion-like, having a greater percentage of lion genes. The fertility of hybrid big cat females is well-documented across a number of different hybrids.
This is in accordance with Haldane's rule: in hybrids of animals whose gender is determined by sex chromosomes, if one gender is absent, rare or sterile, it is the heterogametic sex (the one with two different sex chromosomes e.g. X and Y).”

In most cases, it’s almost always the female that’s fertile, the male sterile.

And, for a taste of East meets West, there’s the yakalo:

“The bison (American "buffalo") has also been bred with the domestic Tibetan yak to create the yakalo. In Nepal, yak/cattle hybrids are bred using yak bulls with domestic cows or, less often, domestic bulls with yak cows. The yak/cow females are fertile, the males are sterile and the meat is generally considered superior to beef among gourmets. In Nepalese, the hybrid is called a khainag or dzo (male)/dzomo (female). A dzomo crossed with either a domestic bull or yak bull results in an ortoom (three-quarter-bred) and an ortoom crossed with a domestic bull or yak bull results in a usanguzee (one-eighth bred). As a result, many supposedly pure yak and pure cattle probably carry a dash of each other's genetic material.”

There’s actually a very, very long list of creatures that range from the Jaglion to the Lepjag, to Camas and the beefalo.

Not to be confused with chimeras, such as Lydia Fairchild, or the tortoishell cat.

And here, is the pivotal crux: if Ligers or Tiglons become extinct, then they can be brought back into existence, easily.

So carry this around in your backpocket: and the next time some creationist doof starts yapping about 'no new species', enjoy the resulting confusion when you spring this little ditty on their blinkered viewpoints.

Till the next post, then.



I will be switching over to a new, improved template. The new Blogger doesn't allow the new layout GUI feature on a template chosen in the old blogger. The HTML has changed radically, enough so that it's a real bear to implement the expanding/collapsing post options. So this blog will seem a tad...askew as I put items in the places I desire most. This will be temporary only (probably in the course of a few hours), and I should have a finished product by today. I have saved a backup of the old HTML/template, and have been fiddling with a test blog, to acquaint myself with the newer features (and the shortcuts I can implement).
For the nonce, you should be able to read freely, and comment.
Multiple and profuse apologies if the remodeling inconveniences anyone.


Sunday, December 24, 2006


For today’s Sunday sermon, I will keep it brief, and combine the Christmas post with it, thereby killing two pigeons with one stone, metaphorically speaking.

The following says it far better than I ever could.

Christmas Sermon (1892)

Robert Green Ingersoll


This is the famous Christmas Sermon written by Colonel Ingersoll and printed in the Evening Telegram, on December 19, 1891.

In answer to this "Christmas Sermon" the Rev. Dr. J.M. Buckley, editor of the Christian Advocate, the recognized organ of the Methodist Church, wrote an article, calling upon the public to boycott the Evening Telegram for publishing such a "sermon."

This attack was headed "Lies That Are Mountainous." The Telegram promptly accepted the issue raised by Dr. Buckley and dared him to do his utmost. On the very same day it published an answer from Colonel Ingersoll that echoed throughout America.


"The good part of Christmas is not always Christian -- it is generally Pagan; that is to say, human, natural.

Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition hereafter.

It taught some good things -- the beauty of love and kindness in man. But as a torchbearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power.

And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas.

Long before Christ was born the Sun God triumphed over the powers of Darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshipers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has.

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not enough play. We are too much like the English.

I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing object to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good free days -- the more the better.

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget -- a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds -- a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine."

- Robert G. Ingersoll

Happy Holidays, a wicked Winterval, or whichever phrase you choose to share with others.


Saturday, December 23, 2006


...to the new blogger software.

Fooled ya? Made ya flinch?

I became tired of blogger.com always needling me to 'convert'. Problem is, I tried to do so several times, and received an error message about too many posts/comments. Oh, the problems with prolificity!

Finally, I was able to switch over (once the Beta was gone).
There are, as always, pluses and minuses.


  1. Labels. Now I can organize my items via labels (kinda like tags). I've been meaning to do this, but shied away from tags. Once I switched, blogger provide a very easy-to-use GUI by which the blog owner is able to ferret out select posts, create new labels, etc. It's pretty darn neat. I will, in the near future, provide a sidebar for anyone interested in looking up a specific topic. It provides a neat little interface, via which you can select specific posts (checkboxes), and apply labels. You can also remove labels as well, on a per post, global, or select grouping (as well as add them). Also, if you're at a post, and click on the lable, it'll take you to a page full of the posts that are labelled similarly.
  2. Posting. I can now make comments on my own posts without being regaled by that irksome random lettering schema.
  3. Former format. It kept all my stuff. Cool!
  4. Publishing. Hey, none o' that old '3% finished, 13% finished' crapola, it does it automatically. Sweeeet! (I ran into the occasional disconnect, where if Blogger disconnected during the indexing, it truncated the post. It would keep the entire post, but you'd need to re-publish for ALL of it to appear.)
  5. Now it emails the blog owner with not only the blog name and comment, but also which post! WHEEE! So if someone posts a comment, I can figure out (easily) which post it's in, as opposed to the old way, where I had to A. Wait for Google to index, and B. run a search on the blog for said poster. So comment away on any ole thread you like: I'll be able to get back to you in a timely manner.
  6. Editing posts. Right underneath, there's a little box, that says 'Labels for this post:' Click on 'Show all' , and it shows all the labels you've created, and allows you to click on each applicable one. Also, if you click on Post Options, it gives you per post options, i.e., Readers Comments and Backlinks. I haven't experimented much yet, but with this post, I chose 'Don't allow, hide existing' (Reader comments) and the same for Backlinks. Afterwards, I checked the global settings. It seems as if it's per post.
  1. Software: once converted, I now have TWO logons, TWO passwords (I think). As a result, I can't use my preferred editors, Word for Blogger and Bloggar. I can copy and paste (I use Word), but it's an extra step, where there was none. It's a pain, and I don't want to have to dig into the API to diddle around with it.
  2. Posting on other blogs: if said blog ISN'T on the new Blogger, I run into a loop, where it keeps on prompting me for that irksome random lettering schema ad infinitum. This is sporadic, by the way, and doesn't apply to EVERY older Blogger.
  3. While the label interface is very nice, it shows how many comments per post. However, if you click on this, it just opens up a screen showing name, time/date stamp, etc. not the commentary made. Minor nuisance, but nuisance nonetheless.
  4. The new drag 'n drop only applies to choosing a new template: the old one consists of the same old HTML editing. In other words, if you go to the new, but keep your old template, you're stuck.
  5. Multiple blogs: if you have a blog that's still the OLD blogger, occasionally (post login), I'll see the message 'Can't connect to [blogname]'.
  6. Remember Me? If you have a blog, you go to blogger.com, you'll see this up in your right-hand corner. I used to have the checkbox checked, but one day, it became an infinite loop, and so I had to clear out my cache (firefox). Talk about a buttpain!
  7. The CSS style sheets have changed, the only hacks I can find for expandable posts are few and hardwired into skins (templates).
Just about everything else (looks like it) is the same. Feel free to let me know if you run into any problems, weirdness (posting or browsing), etc.

My biggest kvetch, is that semi-incompatibility with the old blogger. Select blogs (like beepbeep's) give me nothing but grief, and I have to post anonymously (both user and other choke). Others (like the bacon eater's) are no trouble at all.


Thursday, December 21, 2006


The timing could’ve been better: but close only counts in horeshoes, hand-grenades, and love.

Oh, and in religion, apparently.

Hat tip to alexatheist at the NGB for alerting me to this.

'Virgin births' for giant lizards

“Scientists report of two cases where female Komodo dragons have produced offspring without male contact. Tests revealed their eggs had developed without being fertilised by sperm - a process called parthenogenesis, the team wrote in the journal Nature. One of the reptiles, Flora, a resident of Chester Zoo in the UK, is awaiting her clutch of eight eggs to hatch, with a due-date estimated around Christmas.
Kevin Buley, a curator at Chester Zoo and a co-author on the paper, said: "Flora laid her eggs at the end of May and, given the incubation period of between seven and nine months, it is possible they could hatch around Christmas - which for a 'virgin birth' would finish the story off nicely.
"We will be on the look-out for shepherds, wise men and an unusually bright star in the sky over Chester Zoo."
Flora, who has never been kept with a male Komodo dragon, produced 11 eggs earlier this year. Three died off, providing the material needed for genetic tests. These revealed the offspring were not exact genetic copies (clones) of their mother, but their genetic make-up was derived just from her. The team concluded they were a result of asexual reproduction, and are waiting for the remaining eight eggs to hatch.
Abnormal phenomenon?
Another captive-bred female called Sungai, at London Zoo in the UK, produced four offspring earlier this year - more than two years after her last contact with a male, the scientists reported in the same paper. Again, genetic tests revealed the Komodo dragon babies, which are healthy and growing normally, were produced through parthenogenesis.
“Sungai was also able to reproduce sexually, producing another baby offspring after mating with a male called Raja.
“Richard Gibson, an author on the paper and a curator at the Zoological Society of London, said: "Parthenogenesis has been described before in about 70 species of vertebrates, but it has always been regarded to be a very unusual, perhaps abnormal phenomenon."
“It has been shown in some snakes, fish, a monitor lizard and even a turkey, he said.
"But we have seen this in two separate, unrelated female Komodo dragons within a year, so this suggests maybe parthenogenesis is much more widespread and common than previously considered."

Time for a chorus of ‘Silent night, Sibilant Night’, ey?

Whiptale lizards are also known to be parthenogenetic.

No doubt the religious world will be all a-flutter: a dragon giving virgin birth? Wonder what old Benedictine’s got to say about this one? I can guess: “It’s SATAN’S doing!”
Especially since a lizard is a snake with legs.

I also wonder what the old Shrub-a-roo will do/say, when confronted with this obvious refutation of the 'natural paradigm'.

Oh, that's right: IT DON'T COUNT.

The Christian apologists will be 'apologizing' about this for years to come, is my prediction.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


“O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum
Thy leaves are so unchanging
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum
Thy leaves are so unchanging
Not only green when summer's here
But also when 'tis cold and drear
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum
Thy leaves are so unchanging”

(For a list of ‘converted’ Xmas carols, check this site out)

It’s no small wonder that I like trees. I’m not a tree-hugger: it’s hell on wheels to get sap stains out of your clothes, and strange looks from your dry-cleaner should be avoided.

I grew up around this tradition: there are comforting associations. A feeling of family (albeit, in my circle, it’s not usually a peaceful one), community, and hey! Shiny objects! Tinsel! Blinking lights! Presents!

I don’t have a problem with Xmas trees. I rather enjoy them. I’d not go out of my way to chop one down – I’m lazy: if ever I own a tree, it’ll be one of those fake trees (everyone in my family has one. It’s more economical, anyways. You can re-use the bloody thing for just about forever).

Besides which, it’s not even a Christian symbol.

From here:

“The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life. In Roman mosaics from what is today Tunisia, showing the mythic triumphant return from India of the Greek god of wine and male fertility, Dionysus (dubbed by some modern scholars as a life-death-rebirth deity), the god carries a tapering coniferous tree. Medieval legends, nevertheless, tended to concentrate more on the miraculous "flowering" of trees at Christmas time. A branch of flowering Glastonbury thorn is still sent annually for the Queen's Christmas table in the United Kingdom.

“Patron trees (for example, the Irminsul, Thor's Oak and the figurative Yggdrasil) held special significance for the ancient Germanic tribes, appearing throughout historic accounts as sacred symbols and objects. Among early Germanic tribes the Yule tradition was celebrated by sacrificing male animals and slaves by suspending them on the branches of trees. According to Adam of Bremen, in Scandinavia the pagan kings sacrificed nine males of each species at the sacred groves every ninth year. According to one legend, Saint Boniface attempted to introduce the idea of trinity to the pagan tribes using the cone-shaped evergreen trees because of their triangular appearance.”

This is by no means conclusive, though:

”The modern custom, however, although likely related, cannot be proven to be directly descended from pagan tradition. It can be traced to 16th century Germany; Ingeborg Weber-Keller (Marburg professor of European ethnology) identified as the earliest reference a Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 which reports how a small fir was decorated with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers, and erected in the guild-house, for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas day.”

And of course, the obligatory anti-scriptural basis for the tradition:

“For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it moves not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”

To be fair, though:

”In other English translations of the Bible the verses more explicitly refer to the practice of making idols to be worshipped:

“For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with a hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good. (emphasis added)

“A full study of the passage shows that the people would cut down a tree and work it with a chisel to engrave an image in it. They would also carry it from place to place as an object to be feared and worshipped. The only consistencies with Christmas tree customs seem to be that both are made of wood and both are decorated.”

I’m relatively sure that it is a YACC (Yet Another Co-opted Custom, in case you Unix geeks get all lathered up, hehehehe).

Nutshelling it: the tradition in the USA dates back to 1837. It’s a minor affectation, hardly worth the lather some folks get worked up over.

Here is my re-working of Oh, Tannenbaum, submitted for your approval:

“Oh Yggdrasil, oh Yggdrasil,

Odin was crucified upon thee

Oh Yggdrasil, oh Yggdrasil,

Thy roots pierce the worlds three

The nornir keep thee green

The four stags feed upon thee

Oh Yggdrasil, oh Yggdrasil,

It really sucks to be thee.”

In the meantime, have a wicked Winterval on me.

Figuratively speaking, of course.


Monday, December 18, 2006


I personally think that Lewis Black beats out Larry the Cable Guy (who, according to 60 Minutes, is the King of Comedy) by a country mile (I do find the Cable Guy funny, but for side-splitting laughter and exhausted smile muscles, my money’s on Black).

In his ‘Red, White and Screwed’ HBO special, he does a few great rants, one of which was on my favorite topic, evolution.

I’ve transcribed it here, for the benefit of any readers who are still using a dial-up connection.

“I should’ve known earlier, about President Bush, but I gave him some rope. A lotta rope, & then he hung all of us with it. I should have known, when I heard him say ‘When it comes to evolution, the jury’s still out.’
What jury, where? The Scopes trial is over. I never thought, during the course of my life, that a president who didn’t believe in evolution would be elected, or at least in the ball park, thought, ummmmm, MAYBE IT’S GOT SOME MERIT. But NO! He believes the earth was created, in seven days. Hoo! Takes my breath away.
And why does he believe that? Because he read it in the Old Testament, which is the book, of my people. The Jewish people. And that book…wasn’t good enough…for you Christians. Was it? No, we’ve got a BETTER book, with ANOTHER character, you’re gonna LOVE HIM! And you called your book NEW, and said OUR book was OLD!
And yet, every Sunday, I turn on the television set. And there’s a priest, or a pastor, reading from mah book. And interpreting it. And, their interpretations, I have to tell you, are usually wrong. It’s not their fault, because it’s not their book.
You never see a rabbi on TV interpreting the New Testament, dooo yew?
If you want, to truly understand, the Old Testament, if there is something you don’t quite get, there are Jooos who walk among yew. And THEY, I promise you this, will take time out their VERY jewy, JEWY day, and interpret for you anything you have trouble understanding, and we will do that, of course, if the price is right.
Was…the earth created in seven days? No. For those of you who believe it was, for you Christians, let me tell you, then you do not understand the Jewish people. We Jews understand that it did not take place in seven days, and that’s because we know what we’re good at, and what we’re really good at, is bullshit.
This is a wonderful story, that was told to the people in the desert, in order to distract them from the fact that they did not have air conditioning.
I would LOVE to have the FAITH, to believe that it took place in seven days, but I have thoughts. And that can really fuck up the faith thing. Just ask any catholic priest. And then, there are fossils. Whenever anyone tries to tell me, that they believe it took place in seven days, I reach for a fossil, and go, ‘Fossil’. And if they keep talking, I throw it just over their head.
There are people, who believe, that dinosaurs and men, lived together. That they roamed the earth at the same time. There are museums that children go to, in which they build dioramas, to show them this. And what this is, purely and simply, is a clinical, psychotic reaction. They are crazy. They are stone, cold, fuck, nuts. I can’t be kind about this. Because these people are watching the Flintstones as if it were a documentary.
The first time, uh, that I ever talked about this was in Georgia. That’s, that’s what we call a comic faux pas. Gentleman came up to me, wanted to talk about it, umm, it was at this point in time that I realized that this is where we have our problem. This is a big problem in this country. He had his set of beliefs, and I had mine. It makes it tough, because evolution is a major thread in the larger tapestry that I like to call (yells) REALITY!!!
He said, “Louis, fossils are the handiwork of the devil.” (Looks at camera cross-eyed)
I had to remind myself to breathe. I’d been tasered by the concept of the DEVIL! Something I did not quite understand, apparently the devil is like Wily Coyote, only he is evil, and he has a factory, where he makes…fossils. And he sends his minions to scatter them across the earth every day in order to confuse my tiny, Joooish brain.”

Rent it, buy it, or, if you overhear this dialogue, knock on your neighbors door and ask if you can watch it with them.




Sunday, December 17, 2006


…IS that they’re usually a three-pronged pitchfork.

A trilemma is defined as “a choice between three options, each of which is unacceptable or undesirable. Two of the most commonly referenced trilemmas are those relating to Christian apologetics and international economic policy.
There are two logically equivalent ways in which to express a trilemma: it can be expressed as a choice between three undesirable options, one of which must be chosen, or as a choice between three desirable options, only two of which are possible at the same time.
The term derives from the much older term dilemma, a choice between two unacceptable options.”

This is about as close as we’ll ever get to a multiple-choice answer in the question of religious belief.

“The most famous trilemma – often referred to simply as "the trilemma" – is a form of apologetics meant to prove that Jesus is God, or at least to prove that he couldn't have been simply a "good teacher." Often summarized either as "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord", or as "Mad, Bad, or God", it assumes that Jesus claimed to be the God, and as a result one of three things must be true:
Lunatic: Jesus was not God, but he mistakenly believed that he was.
Liar: Jesus was not God, and he knew it, but he said so anyway.
Lord: Jesus is God.
Christian apologist C. S. Lewis originally proposed the argument in his book Mere Christianity. He contends that there are three probable alternatives, all or any of which, or some variant, may logically be chosen over the choice of calling Jesus a "great human teacher". Lewis's trilemma is therefore a straightforward question on the basis of the Biblical view of Jesus: it compels a choice of any option except the logically excluded alternative that Jesus was "a great human teacher" (and from among the remaining alternatives, he argues that Jesus is God). Lewis does not propose the argument as a proof of the deity of Christ, but attempts to portray as foolish those who dismiss Jesus as merely a moral teacher. However, he was ultimately persuaded that the choice of Jesus as Lord is no less probable than the alternatives, and far more preferable.
C.S. Lewis dwells more on Jesus's claim to forgive sins, behaving as if he really was "the person chiefly offended in all offences." (Mere Christianity, Simon & Schuster. p. 55.)”

And, as par for the course, the debate rages on…

“Over a hundred contemporary secular scholars contributing to the Jesus Seminar concluded that Jesus never claimed to be God [1], thus rejecting the premise on which the trilemma is based. There also exist counter-arguments[2] disputing the possibility that Jesus' reported claim to divinity was either fabricated or misinterpreted by early Christians. Skeptics have offered numerous alternatives to the trilemma. For example, Jesus may have been a fictional character (either wholly, as someone invented to portray moral principles, or partly, based on a real person but exaggerated); his words may have been misquoted or misinterpreted; he may have been honestly mistaken about his nature; or he may have suffered some mild delusions without being completely insane. In his book "The Case For Christ", former investigative journalist Lee Strobel offers answers to several of these objections. Apologists argue that there is reliable evidence that Jesus really existed and made claims to forgive sins and send prophets, which in the Jewish monotheistic culture would be taken as claims of Godhood.”

Didja get that? Reliable evidence? Temporal lobe epilepsy, is more like it. We have far more proof that Tiberius, Cicero, Augustus, and hell, even Apollonius of Tyana existed, than the crucified lamb ever did.

In economics, the phrase is used of the ‘impossible trinity’ – we should co-opt that, I think.

But here’s a trilemma I’m going to start using: the Munchhausen-Trilemma (AKA ‘Agrippa’s Trilemma’).

“It is the name of a logical proof in the theory of knowledge going back to the German philosopher Hans Albert. The term is ironically named after Baron Munchhausen, who allegedly pulled himself out of the quagmire by seizing himself at the shock of his hair. This proof runs as follows: All of the only three ("tri"-lemma) possible attempts to get a certain justification must fail:
  1. All justifications in pursuit of certain knowledge have also to justify the means of their justification and doing so they have to justify anew the means of their justification. Therefore there can be no end. We are faced with the hopeless situation of 'infinite regression'.

  2. One can stop at self-evidence or common sense or fundamental principles or speaking 'ex cathedra' or at any other evidence, but in doing so the intention to install certain justification is abandoned.

  3. The third horn of the trilemma is the application of a circular and therefore invalid argument.”
This should be fun. Put this one in your back pocket, and drop a reference to it in any blogversation with a theist. Especially when the old negative proof fallacy rears its malformed head (you know the sophistry I’m talking about: that “You can’t prove gawd DOESN’T exist”). Then watch the little dears run around in circles like beheaded poultry, getting terribly, terribly confused.

And to top it off:

“In Albert's view the impossibility to prove any certain truth is not in itself a certain truth. After all, you need to assume some basic rules of logical inference in order to derive his result, and in doing so must either abandon the pursuit of "certain" justification, as above, or attempt to justify these rules, etc. He suggests that it has to be taken as true as long as nobody has come forward with a truth, which is scrupulously justified as a certain truth. Several philosophers defied Albert's challenge. Until now he refuted them all in his long addendum to his Treatise on Critical Reason (see below) and later articles (see publication list).”

Yippee skippy, more fun with theists.

Till the next post, then.


Friday, December 15, 2006


Got another email from the American Family Association. Guess what they’re pissing, bitching and moaning about this time?

“CBS and actor Charlie Sheen have used the Christmas season to ridicule and mock Christ, Christmas and Christians. CBS approved actor Charlie Sheen’s vulgar adaptation of a favorite Christian Christmas carol. On the December 11 program, the network included in their Two and a Half Men an episode featuring Sheen singing about his sexual activity to the tune of the traditional Christmas hymn "Joy to the World."
CBS and Sheen knew that the lyrics would greatly offend Christians, but did not hesitate to air them. Click here to see the episode on CBS.

The episode opens with series star Charlie (Sheen) singing:
“Joy to the world, I’m getting laid; I’m getting laid tonight. We’ll light the yule log, deck the halls, and then we’ll play some jingle balls. It’s been a real long wait – this is our second date! It’s Christmas Eve and I’m getting laid.”
His housekeeper/cook comes in and asks:
“Hey, I’m mixing up the egg nog. You want this broad lit up or just slightly glowing?” “Well,” Charlie says, “let’s see, we’re celebrating peace on earth and good will towards all mankind, so let’s get ‘er plowed!” “Hallelujah!” says the cook.
Charlie returns to singing, “Glo-oh-oh-oh-oh-ria, tonight I’m boinking Gloria!” CBS punctuates every single line with a laugh track.

Take Action
Such actions send a signal from CBS and Hollywood: “It’s ok to bash Christians, their religion and their God.” If you are tired of this bigotry from CBS and Hollywood, please take action and then forward this to your friends and family.”

Oh, the horror! Oh, the humanity! Oh, the blasphemy! (/sarcasm off)

I live in sunny N. California, and I watched this episode already (yeah, yeah, it’s lowbrow, non-intellectual humor: I like it. Gotta problem with that? Complaint department’s down the street) – don’t these people have better things to do? Yikes, get a freakin’ hobby already!

I don’t recall any atheists getting up in arms over this little ditty:

Why? Because we don’t take ourselves that bloody seriously. Lest we forget, there’s that little thing called freedom of speech, which leaves all forums (religious or no) open to criticism.

Don’t like it?

Then move somewhere where you CAN regulate criticism. Otherwise, welcome to the U.S. of A.



I saw this clip in Stewie: The Untold Story, and found it utterly uproarious. It finally showed up at Youtube.

I got a special kick out of the shocked looks on the spectators' faces.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Hat tip to Pharyngula for this amusing test:

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

And here you all thought I was humble. Fooled Ya!



“You have to show them that you’re really not scared
You’re playin with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare
Theyll kick you, then they beat you,
Then they’ll tell you its fair
So beat it, but you wanna be bad” – Michael Jackson, Beat It

I was reading a Hellblazer graphic novel Empathy is the Enemy (Yeah, yeah, I read comic books for the fun of it, I’ve also read Dawkins, Shakespeare, Ellison, a plethora of divergent topics: get over it, onwards), and I came across a bizarre word – Circumcellions.

The shadows cast by the Christian world are more oft than not bizarre, even grotesque at times.

The Circumcellions, also known as the "agonistici", were a donatist sect in North Africa that overvalued martyrdom and had a special devotion for the martyrs, rendering honors to their graves.”

I find this obsession with death…morbid, to say the least.

The Circumcellions had come to regard martyrdom as the true Christian virtue (as the early Church Father Tertullian said, "a martyr's death day was actually his birthday"), and thus came to disregard chastity, sobriety, humility, charity, and other virtues. Instead, they focused on bringing about their martyrdom-- by any means possible.”

Yeesh, there’s a birthday party I’d gladly skip. Who gets to be the piñata? The birthday boy?

Since Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions piously avoided bladed weapons and instead opted for the use of blunt clubs, which they called "Israelites." Using their "Israelites", the Circumcellions would attack random travelers on the road, while shouting "Praise the Lord!" in Latin.”

Err…ummm, did these clowns know how to read?
Matthew 26:52. "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
Luke 22:36. "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

Hmmm…I wonder if these fellows migrated to Ireland?

The object of these random beatings was the death of the intrepid martyr, who hoped that hitting someone over the head with the club would provoke the victim to attack and kill them.”

I take it that the concept of ‘turning the other cheek’ was somewhat foreign to them?

They survived until the fourth century in Africa, when their desire for martyrdom was fulfilled due to persecution.”

Gee, THAT’S a surprise. I rather doubt they were too popular by half.
I’d call that poetic justice, of a sort.

Just another boy’s club gone defunct, I guess.

Till the next post, then.


Monday, December 11, 2006


“Do we inhabit some micro-space
and interface through wires.
Dance on a printed circuit board
throw the software to the fires.
My memory is slim -- so volatile
but I'm learning.
Plug yourself in. Stay for awhile
- Ian Anderson, ‘User Friendly’, Walk Into Light

Unbelievably, the year I began my own blog flew by, as did my fingers over the QWERTY keyboard.

‘Time is that bridge of ashes each man must cross” – Roger Zelazny, Bridge of Ashes

This post was inspired by my friend, the Intolerant One, and I began to ponder the bulk the breadth and depth of my work over the year. Bordering on nearly 200 posts (the volume of which daunts even myself, and I wrote them all!), I muse upon the multitude of subjects I have, in my humble way, attempted to explore.

Allow me to indulge myself: break an arm patting myself on the back, so to speak.

I have laid into the No True Scotsman fallacy here. I have shown the Pavlovian conditioning of religion, illustrated the point of Original Intent in three parts, proven that homosexuality is only natural, have posted on evolution to the extent that only an irrational mind would reject it utterly (and truth is, there are other more eloquent pundits than I, whose work I have built upon, so I cannot take more than a footnote’s worth of credit), have demolished Paley’s Watchmaker theorem in my own way, shown that evolution is the parent of religion, and even dipped into the well of quantum physics.

Whew! In the meantime, I’ve shared some poetry, a couple of short stories, some quick slice-of-life hilarity, bashed a bigot or two, alternately defended and lambasted Islam, did a quick mockery on some bible stories, shared some fringe theories (religious and scientific), slammed Scienmythology and mulched Moronology, clobbered Christianity (multiple times: I’ve even used the bible to throw out the entire New Testament, no less!), been assaulted by the occasional troll, had a sock puppet play in my sandbox, and shared an in-depth look at my inception into the dubious honor of becoming an atheist. Not to mention that I have changed my moniker to the Krystalline Apostate. (There was one other reason that I took that name: aside from the nod to TNG – the little known fact that crystals…drum rolls, please... Tah dah! Design themselves.)

Are you exhausted yet? C’mon, I’m an old man! Pace yourself, that’s the secret. That, and lots and lots of java (the beverage, not the language, hehehehe).

And I have made some friends. Probably more enemies: ‘Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.’ What then, is the accurate measure of a man: his foes or friends?

It has been a full year. In that brief measurement of human time (what is short for a butterfly is long for an elephant), I have come to some conclusions, some preset, some startling:
  1. Atheism is the default position (preset)

  2. Every woman has the right to choose (preset)

  3. Homosexuality is not only natural, but that gays deserve (like us) the right to marry (startling)

  4. Evolution is the default position (preset)

  5. Christ never existed (startling)

  6. The bible should be sold in the Fantasy section of any bookstore (let’s relegate any and ALL religious propaganda to that area, shall we?) (Preset)

  7. Relationships are better made with real people, not imaginary friends (preset)

  8. Not all Christians are the enemy (preset/startling)

  9. Creationism is for the hopeless romantic, not the real scientist (Preset)

I think I do a little bit of all right for an armchair philosopher.

In the coming year, I will endeavor to the fullest to bring you the best, the brightest, the strangest, the wildest, all from my unique and ‘quirky’ point of view.

To all my beloved readers (atheist and theist), my thanks. It’s been a memorable year – here’s to many, many more.

Your humble correspondent, signing off (for now).



Sunday, December 10, 2006


I have railed against allegory, here and here, and I find myself in agreement with old J.R.R. on this one:

J.R.R. Tolkien's emphatic statement in the introduction to the American edition ""It is neither allegorical nor topical.... I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence."

Let’s chew on this one for a bit.

This morning I was in the park. I had just about finished my workout. At the end, I start swinging my broadsword around. (Waitaminnit, you say: You’re a grown adult, swinging a weapon in the air, in a public place? Yep – I do it all the time.)
Some fellow in his thirties uses the bathroom, and then goes and does some weird little workout of his own (hanging off the monkey bars, chin-ups, etc). I finish my sword form (kata, call it whatever), and he says to me, “Sorry for disturbing your tranquility.” “What?” “Sorry to disturb you.” “Oh, no, I was finished.”
This happens occasionally. Someone begins to watch, and when I sheathe my big ass saber, they’ll say something akin to “Hey, don’t stop on my account.”

My point here is: people assumed that I stopped because they showed up, were watching, etc. When in fact, I was simply done.

We all do this. We try to interpret items in some way as being directly (or indirectly) related to our presence. We as a species are constantly doing this. Whether it’s wooing someone we’re attracted to (hey, is that simply a smile, or a ‘come-hither’ look?), a stranger looking at us cross-eyed (“What’re you looking at?”), a boss’ dropped innuendo, a lover’s insistence of ‘nothing’s wrong’ when obviously there is (sighing, gazing off into the distance, the crinkled brow, who isn’t bugged by that?), and a multitude of other signs/hints that I leave up to the reader to fill in.

Allegory: the reading of subtle signs.

Our ancestors used it in a much different manner.

The light scent of wet fur on the wind, the sound of a branch breaking, the movement of underbrush, the spoor of claw or hoof: these signs, taken individually or collectively, could signify food, flight, or fight. Life or death. A hungry belly, or the filling of predator’s.

As we became more complex, these simple indicators also multiplied: the written marquis declaring entertainment or designating a marketplace, aromas to wet the palate or bring the prospective mate, the eloquent waltz or the soothing sexiness of jazz, the gentle curve exposed ever so slightly or the sashay chosen to attract the opposite sex, these have propagated, either to fold each in the other, or to blossom outwards, plum petals cast upon the waters of metaphor.

Allegory: it is in our pulses; it powers us, it pushes us to read each other’s body language, eavesdrop on the nuance on our tongues, conjures context (from thin air, on occasion), and proves the Pavlovian conditioning we have inherited from the pool of evolutionary processes.

A jigsaw puzzle, constantly growing, in piece and fit, always outwards. There are hidden meanings within each of us. Multiple facets in the jewel of our individuality. But in us, as a species only. Seek only those secret formulas in each other: there is no meaning in nature itself – that is reification, which another path we should avoid altogether.

Allegory: it can own us, or we can own it. When sometimes (as Freud put it), “a cigar is just a cigar.”

Till the next post, then.


Thursday, December 07, 2006


Just received this doozy in my email the other day:”Gap, which owns Old Navy, Banana Republic, Forth & Towne and Piperlime, has become the latest politically correct retailer, intentionally censoring the use of "Christmas" in their in-store, online and printed advertising. Instead of referring to the season as Christmas, Gap instead uses the word "holiday." As hard as we tried, AFA could not find a single instance in which Gap-owned stores use the term "Christmas." Not a single time! When one Old Navy store manager was asked by AFA if the word Christmas was in his store, he answered, "We have a lot of Christmas gifts in our stores, but the word Christmas is not used here. Everything is 'holiday.'" Gap wants you to do your Christmas shopping with them, but they don't want to mention the Reason for the season. Gap doesn't want to offend non-Christians by using Christmas. The fact that their censoring the use of Christmas might offend Christians seems to be of no importance.”

Oh my stars and garters, we certainly can’t provide nods to the diverse subsections of our culture, now can we? We most assuredly can’t slap on various extra mottos, like say, ‘Have a ripper Ramadan’, or ‘Happy Hannukah’, ‘Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri’ or whatnot, can we?

/sarcasm off

Of course, it provides a link threatening a general boycott by (guess who? Yep, got it in one) Christians, who of course want to shove their bloody religion down everyone’s collective throats. Striking yet another blow for intolerance. Never occurred to these flapdoodle fools that it’s simply more economical, and appeals to a broader demographic, ey?

I’m not a huge advocate of political correctness, but sometimes right is right, and wrong is wrong, regardless of what political/sociological umbrella it falls under.

Time better spent feeding the poor, and fixing the problems our country suffers from, I’d say.

Here’s the link, in case you feel a little feisty, and want to do a bit of mischief. Be forewarned, though: you’ll start getting emails from these idiots.

And have a slammin’ Solstice on me (figuratively speaking, of course).



Monday, December 04, 2006


Professor Dawkins is in the public eye and under fire – again.

From here:

"IN the 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous--though of course they would not have used that phrase. Today, I suspect that the idea is too dangerous for comfortable discussion, and my conjecture is that Adolf Hitler is responsible for the change."Nobody wants to be caught agreeing with that monster, even in a single particular. The specter of Hitler has led some scientists to stray from 'ought' to 'is' and deny that breeding for human qualities is even possible. But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability? Objections such as 'these are not one-dimensional abilities' apply equally to cows, horses and dogs and never stopped anybody in practice."I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler's death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them. I can think of some answers, and they are good ones, which would probably end up persuading me. But hasn't the time come when we should stop being frightened even to put the question?"

As I understand it, this was originally published as an afterword to one of his books. Here is the article in question, and here is an examination worth noting. Here is the article in question at Dawkins’ own site

Here’s an article about eugenics by G.K Chesterton.

Of course, Hitler’s dark shadow has stained this venue. It brings to mind racial inequality, it shuts the doors of dialogue (slams them, really) in many minds: when mentioned, the swastika is the first image we conjure. Then comes the Frankenstein Syndrome – dare we take upon us the moral equivalence of some divine entity? Accusations then fly – the criticisms are of prejudice against the disabled (would anyone actually choose to be disabled?), declarations of racial superiority ensue (let’s be honest: genetic tailoring would be available to the haves as opposed to the have-nots – it takes no economics degree to see such a procedure would cost a bundle of money), and moral dilemmas are pursued much like a terrier worrying a rat. I’m sure there are those among the Sunday morning quarterbacks who would jump at fathering a future linebacker.

Of course, the theists’ first response is that we should not have the hubris to take upon ourselves the mantle of ‘creator’ – that to meddle in the clay we are made of is tantamount to blasphemy.

Whether any of us believe or disbelieve, there are options that need consideration.
Now I will use that old theistic ploy (and turnabout is fair play, after all): “Think of the children!”

Here is the definition of eugenics, from the Science and Technology Encyclopedia:

“The study of factors that influence the hereditary qualities of future generations. It may be thought of as both a science and a social movement. Eugenics proposes to improve humanity's future by increasing the number of children produced by persons who are, by some definition, superior and by reducing the number produced by persons who are physically or mentally deficient. Attempts to encourage larger families from superior parents are called positive eugenics, attempts to reduce the number of children from defective parents negative eugenics.”
Also:”While eugenics was indeed popular during the first half of the twentieth century, it was poor science and was eventually rejected. Discoveries from the Human Genome Project in the early twenty-first century will likely reveal much about human genetics and will surely lead to improvements in medical treatment. But just as people are not simply an expression of their biology, genes do not produce behavior. Genes produce enzymes, and enzymes control chemical processes. Many scientists believe that nature cannot be separated from nurture in the production of complex human behavior and that human traits are not to be improved solely through manipulating nature.
It might be said that there has been a return to eugenic ideas as represented in an increasing interest in in vitro fertilization, sperm banks of Nobel laureates (allegedly guaranteeing an intellectually superior fetus), and cloning. These twenty-first-century initiatives are different from earlier eugenic attempts. This is due, in part, to their medical purposes rather than their racial or nativist motivations. Yet, these initiatives should be subject to careful consideration from the public. The ethical issues raised by eugenics may be even more important in light of advances in human medical genetics. However, despite advances in science, it remains true that policies directed toward human improvement and social justice can best be achieved through political, educational, and ethical action.”

It’s obvious that, if put in the wrong hands (as per the Nazi regime), it has a number of tenets that are open to abuse.

However, let’s think positively about this:

Who among you, if you had some congenital disorder that was passed down via inheritance, would opt not to pass it to your children? Would you wish some inheritable heart disease upon your offspring? Perhaps circumvent some deleterious condition that endangered the child’s life and/or future? Or how about extending the lifespan of our species? Who among us wouldn’t desire better health, increased intelligence, or any plethora of virtues deemed ‘superior’ in our cultural settings? Much of our genetic makeup preordains us to be an ectomorph, endomorph, or mesomorph.

And yes, these items fall under the umbrella of the topic.

Best not to meddle, sayeth the naysayers. Crimes against nature, the invocation of that dark spectre of the Twentieth Century that sobered our collective minds, visions of science gone bad (Gattaca and Godsend, for instance), and of course, that old standby of the religious – best not to ‘play God’.

As in any system created by human hands, the abuses are always potentialities: strict guidelines (upon adoption) must be put into place.

So, in a nutshell: we should consider using genetics to improve our lot on this planet. I find myself leaning towards the Transhumanist camp – with serious reservations.

“Read not to contradict and confute,
nor to believe and take for granted,
nor to find talk and discourse, -
but to weigh and consider. “ - Sir Francis Bacon

So, weigh, and consider. Get back to me on that one.

Till the next post, then.


Friday, December 01, 2006


(Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)

I was watching this hilarious video over at the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew’s blog, when something flashed by in the video (somewhere in the twenty minute mark), and I blinked.

Perhaps the most ridiculous use of statistics I’ve ever seen.

  1. Birth rates up 100% among unwed girls.
  2. Sexually transmitted diseases – Gonorrhea up 385%

Now, I’ll be happy to admit, that I did poorly at math in my formative years (and still am not too wonderful at it), but I can tell you, right off the bat, this is most assuredly NOT how one calculates percentiles.

Look at sentence number one. What does it say? By saying that birth rates are up 100% among unwed girls, this is effectively stating that every single unwed girl is pregnant.

Look at sentence number two. Gonorrhea up by 385%?!?

Being a writer, I’ll use the method of word count (prior to the days of the word processor) to illustrate the point.

In the bad old days, the way a writer calculated the word count was as such:
  1. You count the amount of words on three pages, selected at random

  2. You add the sum total of three pages

  3. You then divide by three

  4. You then take the word count average, and multiply it by the amount of pages, giving an approximate amount.

NOTE: This formula applies to estimating verbiage in a short story, novella, novel, etc. It is most emphatically NOT to be used in calculating demographic statistics. It was simply the easiest example to give. I could’ve left out D, but felt obliged to complete the formula.

Also, one must calculate the mean value:

"The simple mathematical average of a set of two or more numbers. The mean for a given set of numbers can be computed in more than one way, including the arithmetic mean method, which uses the sum of the numbers in the series, and the geometric mean method. However, all of the primary methods for computing a simple average of a normal number series produce the same approximate result most of the time.

Investopedia Says: If stock XYZ closed at $50, $51 and $54 over the past three days, the arithmetic mean would be the sum of those numbers divided by three, which is $51.67."

Also, it's necessary to calculate the median:

In statistics, the middle value of a set of numbers or data points; half the figures will fall below the median and half above. (See average; compare mean and mode.)"

It becomes blaringly obvious (at least in the Gonorrhea stats), that Dr. Dufus is simply adding his percentiles until they show up as over 100 percent (if he’s even trying to do the math: I think he’s pulling most of this outta his ass, personally).

So, treat yourself to this bit of hysteria:

“Since that ruling in 1962 to remove prayer from school and later from all forms of government, pregnancies for school girls age 10 - 15 are up 553 percent, as are all high-school pregnancies; single parent families are up 140 percent; unmarried coupled living together are now up 536 percent. While prior to 1962 all these statistics remained relatively constant and were even declining.”

553 percent? You gotta be joshin’ me. 536 percent? Do these loons even KNOW how to apply statistics? Obviously not.

Nutshell: Anyone who ever quotes one hundred percent or MORE is a retard.

And that, dear readers, is my nickel's worth. Spend it wisely.


Thursday, November 30, 2006


I just received this via my email, and it’s cold shudders time again.

I just received this today. I went onto this website, and wrote a letter saying Madonna SHOULD be allowed to air on Thanksgiving (sure, it was a little after the fact…shhhh! Don’t tell anyone).

First, it begins with the usual twaddle:

Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
A first for America...The Koran replaces the Bible at swearing-in oath
What book will America base it's values on, the Bible or the Koran?

Bad news: America bases it’s values on English common law, which was in effect by the 7th century, two centuries prior to Christianity arriving.

America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on By Dennis Prager - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

That pesky ole First Amendment in action.He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

No, it loosens the stranglehold of your religion.First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture.

Fucktard. America IS a mulitcutural oasis.

What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

First Amendment again. Man, how annoying.Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is.

Any more than we should give a hoot about your book.
Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

Apparently, these idiots haven’t read the Constitution. ‘No religious oaths will be required to hold office’. Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress.

Ummm…Strom Thurmond? Trent Lott? David Duke? Howzabout Woodrow Wilson?

Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?

Easy. Mein Kampf isn’t a religious book. Playing the race card, and badly too.Of course, Ellison's defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either.

Jews believe in the Talmud. Which parts are contained in the bible. Short version: nobody had a choice. In a free country, that’s a BAD thing.

Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.

I say we dump the whole religious swearing in thing altogether. It violates the Separation of Church and State.So why are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done -- choose his own most revered book for his oath?
Maybe because it’s the 21st century? We need to scotch this stupid tradition anywhoways.
The answer is obvious -- Ellison is a Muslim. And whoever decides these matters, not to mention virtually every editorial page in America, is not going to offend a Muslim. In fact, many of these people argue it will be a good thing because Muslims around the world will see what an open society America is and how much Americans honor Muslims and the Koran.

It is a good thing in some ways. This argument appeals to all those who believe that one of the greatest goals of America is to be loved by the world, and especially by Muslims because then fewer Muslims will hate us (and therefore fewer will bomb us).

Really, playing the racism card again. Wait: you’re against people LOVING us? But these naive people do not appreciate that America will not change the attitude of a single American-hating Muslim by allowing Ellison to substitute the Koran for the Bible. In fact, the opposite is more likely: Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America.

Oh, sure, they’ll be lining up with bombs in hand, sniffing weakness. Islamicization? Are we even living in the same country?When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble. (End Commentary)

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” – Samuel Johnson

“I have often expressed my sentiments that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience. “George Washington, letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789

Let’s get this straight: I’m against the concept of theocracy. The bible played a role in the days of our Founders, but by NO MEANS are we beholden to that ancient book of fables. Ninety percent of the morals we live by have been in good standing in other countries that have never drunk deeply of the draught of Christianity. Secular countries have LESSER rates of crime, and higher instances of morality.
This is the weary old canard again: hate the difference. I’m not a big fan of Islam, by any stretch: I am also against Christianity. Invoking the looming sceptre of ‘Islamofascism’ is a fascist manuever, in and of itself. Fearmongering like this is a piss-poor effort to put the heel on the neck of the populace.

Using this as my barometer, I came up with six out of fourteen signs that this is blackshirt propaganda.

Count ‘em yourself, and see what you come up with.