Seven Deadly Sins Map

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Published in

I guess geographers are occasionally good for something:
Geographers from Kansas State University have used certain statistical measurements to quantify Nevada’s sins and come up with a county-by-county map purporting to show various degrees of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride in the Silver State. By culling statistics from nationwide data banks of things like sexually transmitted disease infection rates (lust) or killings per capita (wrath), the researchers came up with a sin index. This is a precision party trick — rigorous mapping of ridiculous data.

Greed was calculated by comparing average incomes with the total number of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line. Envy was calculated using the total number of thefts — robbery, burglary, larceny and stolen cars. Wrath was calculated by comparing the total number of violent crimes — murder, assault and rape — reported to the FBI per capita. Lust was calculated by compiling the number of sexually transmitted diseases — HIV, AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea — reported per capita. Gluttony was calculated by counting the number of fast food restaurants per capita.Sloth was calculated by comparing expenditures on arts, entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment.And pride, lastly, is most important. The root of all sins, in this study, is the aggregate of all data.
The link also has a good slide show with all of the sins mapped out over the entire country. Unfortunately you can't zoom in to get a good look at all of the counties. From the looks of it though, South Carolina must be the evilest state in the country. They got high marks in Lust, Pride, and Wrath.

Why We Believe in Gods

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Published in

Ok, this is a long Youtube video (almost an hour) but it is definitely worth it. It is Andy Thomson's lecture from the American Atheist 2009 convention entitled "Why We Believe in Gods". He does a good job of explaining evolution psychology and how religion hijacks many of our cognitive mechanisms to create a sense of the supernatural.

Intermittens: Lesser Poop

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, April 27, 2009 | Published in

And there is yet another issue of Intermittens. Despite ongoing legal problems with issue #4, Professor Cramulus has decided to push on and publish issue #6: Lesser Poop.
Lesser Poop is a "Bathroom Reader" edition of Intermittens. It focuses on short submissions which you can enjoy during a brief shitting sitting. It's the perfect issue to leave in the bathrooms of coffee houses, bars, doctor's offices, etc.

In case you missed it, the title is a reference to this page of the PD:
You can find the issue on Scribd right now: I'll add an update when it is also posted to the Intermittens website.

Discordian Hymnal #007

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #007: "Running the World" by Jarvis Cocker

The Druze

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 24, 2009 | Published in

There is a little known sect of Islam called the Druze. They are a small group mostly located in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Their faith is similar to that of other Ismaili Shi'a Islam with a little bit of Gnostic Unitarianism thrown in for good measure. What makes the Druze interesting though is the number one Pillar of their faith:
1. (Truth in words) Speak the truth to other Druze. However, lying to unbelievers to defend yourself or the community is OK.
That's right, rule number one of Druzism is that you don't talk about Druzism. And if you do talk about Druzism, feel free to lie through your teeth about it. This, of course, makes it completely impossible for outsiders (especially anthropologists) to study their religion. As Daniel Dennett put it in Breaking the Spell:
But if it was true, this would create a dilemma for any anthropologist: the usual method of questioning informants would be a hopeless wild-goose chase, and if he made the ultimate sacrifice and converted to Druze himself so as to gain entrance to the inner sanctum, he would have to admit that we on the outside shouldn't believe his scholarly treatise, What the Druze Really Believe, since it was written by a devout Druze (and everybody knows that the Druze lie).
This naturally leads you to a Liars Paradox: if all Druzes lie about their religion then how do we know that they are telling the truth about their First Pillar? Maybe the Druze have become expertly adept at knowing when to tell the truth and when to tell a lie. They know to mix honest fact in with complete bullshit to constantly befuddle anyone trying to discover what they really believe.

And that seems like an admirable quality to me. Since beliefs are so immutable and silly in the first place why should we treat them so seriously? Lie about your beliefs as often as you can. Completely confuse your friends by telling them you are a Baptist Pagan. Mindfuck your family by saying that you believe every word of both The Urantia Book and Dianetics. Tell them that you believe six impossible things all at the same time! It's not like they can prove you wrong anyways. Follow the path of apologetics everywhere by coming up with the most twist pretzel logic in the history of man. And tell them that Eris made you do it.

Elder Sign

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Published in

Do you suffer from an overwhelming sense of dread brought on by the realization of your own insignificance in the universe? Then Elder Sign might be right for you!

Memebomb Database

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Published in

A memebomb is defined as a short one sentence "mind virus" that can be used at various times and locations to get an audience to stop being a schmuck and start using their brains. To help propagate these memebombs Triple Zero, programmer extraordinaire, has graced us with a new project to capture these memes from the wild and put them on display for the whole world to see. In other words, he has built an Official-like Discordian Memebomb database. It's mostly in the spirit of in that there is a way to submit your own quotes, vote other quotes up and down, look at the current Top 100 (and Bottom 100), or just look at a random sampling. This looks like a really worthwhile that could produce great results from years. It's nice having all of these good memebombs in one place for easy perusal. So, go over there and help add to the madness:

Your Inner Fish

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 17, 2009 | Published in

I'm currently in the middle of reading Neil Shubin's great book Your Inner Fish which is about his discovery of the transitional fossil tiktaalik in the far reaches of Arctic Canada back in 2004. I'm only about half way through the book and it's absolutely amazing. It is a little more on the technical side than recent books on evolution but it makes you feel that he never talks down to you. And he does a great job of linking the anatomy of ancient fish to what you see in modern day amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (yes, including humans). I now know more about animal physiology than I ever thought I would care to know. He makes the subject interesting and has a good style. I'd recommend the book to anyone who is interested in biology and evolution. Here is a quote that I'm loving right now:
One of the joys of science is that, on occasion, we see a pattern that reveals the order in what initially seems chaotic. A jumble of that becomes part of a simple plan, and you feel you are seeing right through something to find its essence.
And here's a cute little music video from the Penn Reading Group on tiktaalik:

RAW on Language

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | Published in

Here is a great clip from Maybe Logic with Robert Anton Wilson discussing e-prime (language without the use of "is).

In Defense of Organized Religion

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, April 13, 2009 | Published in

Ok, hopefully that title caught your attention a little. As a Discordian and a Skeptic I should 100% opposed to all forms of organization, especially religion. But I've got to admit that I am in awe of how powerful of a memeplex that organized religions can be.

As you know, yesterday was Easter/Eostre/Erister. I somehow got conned into wake up way too early and dragging my ass to my in-laws' Fundamentalist Christian church. (I'm not exaggerating about the fundamentalist part either. It said so right on the sign!) Like I said before, Christian rituals have zero effect on me so the service was rather boring. I was amused by the remark about "colored people" not liking the dead though. And I got my hopes up when he said there would be no Skeptics in Hell. That was until I realized what he really meant.

Anyways, the service was a bore. I'm not sure anyone really enjoyed it. However, the thing about the experience that really stuck out to me was the time before and after the service. Everyone was laughing, shaking hands, hugging friends and family that they hadn't seen since Christmas. That is the real reason that people get up and go to church every Sunday, to be with people they know. It is a social ritual that people do out of tradition. They do it so that they can belong to a strong cohesive unit.

I would wager that 90% of Christians could care less about theology and apologetics. They can spout off the typical talking points about believing in God and Jesus but few know about the philosophical underpinnings and that is fine for them. Church is a place you go every week to be with people you care about. It's a place to laugh with friends and catch up on the latest gossip. The service is just something you have to slough through. It's an excuse to show up, not the reason to show up.

St. Carlin: Fan of Entropy

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 10, 2009 | Published in

This is the exact reason George Carlin was declared a Discordian saint so long ago. St. Carlin understood Chaos and Disorder. He understood that you needed destruction in order to have creativity. Rest in piece, man.

Intermittens #5

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | Published in

This is a note to let you know that issue number five was officially released today. This one was guest editted by Cainad and features some great art work as you can see from the cover:

It has some great articles from LMNO, Sepia, Telarus, Rev. What's His Name, Thurnez Iza, Nigel, Payne, one of the best breakdowns of Discordians ever by The Good Reverend Roger, and many others. As an added bonus there's a pair of chapters from the Dao De Ching in the back. Go download it today, Spags!!!

(UPDATE: There have been a few snags with issue #4 which is why Cainad went ahead with issue #5. I'll make an official announcement about #4 when things are cleared up.)

South Park vs Hitchens

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

It's quiz time again! Reason Weekly currently has a quiz up with a very simple basis. They give you a quote and you have to figure out if it was said by a character from South Park or by atheist author/journalist Christopher Hitchens:

Some of the quotes are easier than others ("God takes those closest to us, because it makes him feel better about himself. He is a very vengeful God"). Some are just bizarre ("The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.") I won't spoil it by telling you who those were from. I managed to get 21 out of the 25 questions correctly even though I've never read anything from Hitchens. I guess watching every single episode of the first 8 seasons of South Park has finally paid off.

Open Mindedness

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

This viral video has hit just about every single other Skeptic site so I guess it's my turn to post it. It's a great video from YouTuber QualiaSoup who also did the amazing "Instruction Manual for Life" clip. This one is about the "you are just closed-minded" gambit that advocates for the supernatural and the paranormal like to throw at anyone who questions their beliefs. He makes a very good point that asking for solid evidence doesn't make you closed minded, it makes you open-minded.

RIP: Santa Cupcake

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, April 6, 2009 | Published in

Sadly, I have to report that the Discordian community lost an important member on Saturday. Santa Cupcake was more than a mascot and a vagabond, he was an inspiration to everyone. He didn't let the fact that he was just a holiday time convection stop him from spreading his message of hope and togetherness around the globe. He was officially sent off of this Mortal Coil with a proper Viking funeral. You will be missed, lil buddy.

Squid's Eulogy:

It started as a joke.
In December of 2007 my friend presented me with Santa Cupcake. I was supposed to eat it but as I began to pull back the paper I looked down into his glassy, shiny frosting eyes and I couldn't bring myself to do it.
I set him on my desk and there he sat. For a year and four months. Without any decomposition at all.
He's been on many adventures. He survived the election, he's fallen off the desk, been trampled, licked and sat on by cats.
Toward the last few weeks of his life my sympathy started to grow for his condition. He reminded me of a person in a coma on life support. The back of his head had fallen off and been re-squished back into place several times and I felt it was time to end his suffering.

On April 4th, 2009 we did the humane thing and put Santa Cupcake down.

then we laughed till we peed.

Chaos Magic and the Dark Side of the Moon

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, April 5, 2009 | Published in

I am not a expert at Chaos Magic. Hell, let's face it, I downright suck at it. As a skeptic I barely believe that it exists. I personally feel that it is just a way of putting yourself in a trance like state that changes your subjective view of your surroundings. It is just an occult tradition that has no traditions. It is DIY and MYOB religion. It is the refusal to listen to anyone else when it come to what works for you.

And it almost never works for me. I'm entirely too antsy for meditation. I can't sit still for more than a couple of minutes before my skin starts to crawl and my muscles rebel against me. Pagan rituals don't seem to work for me either. I just can't turn off the disbelief center in my brain. I also couldn't do it back when I was a Christian. I'd often hear people after a service talking about how "the Holy Spirit sure moved here today" and be completely dumbstruck by the concept. It was just so foreign to me. Props or pageantry don't seem to help either.

Having said that, there are a couple of things that do actually put me in the ultra-fine religious state of gnosis. I'll just cover the first one in this post and talk about the others later on.

One thing that seems to work about 75% of the time for me is a simple music relaxation technique. As I've said before I am a very auditory learner and music can have a very strong effect on my psyche. First, I isolate myself in a distraction free room, which isn't easy when you are married and have a 2 year old. The only equipment I need is an MP3 player and a good pair of headphones. I'm not an obsessive audiophile but good headphones are a must for this. I like hearing every single note clearly and it helps to block out any background sounds around you. I then lie as still as possible while listening to an album with an ethereal feel to it. The old standbys like "The Dark Side of the Moon" almost always work. I get chills every single time I get to "Us and Them". I've also used Radiohead's "Ok Computer" and Broken Social Scene's "Feel Good Lost"with good results.

As with any Chaos Magic this technique doesn't work for everyone and doesn't work every single time. This particular technique can get me into a shallow trance-like state and positively affect my mood. However it doesn't seem to be good for much else. I'll get to the more powerful stuff next time around.

JREF Unbanned by Youtube

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, April 4, 2009 | Published in

Looks like the James Randi Educational Foundation is back and running on YouTube. The ban happened because of a little copyright issue as Randi explains here:

This still doesn't excuse the fact that the JREF's videos were blocked for four days. Especially since the issue was over a copyright that the copyright owner had no problem releasing to the JREF. YouTube's terms of service and the DMCA are still crap. There should be a better way for Youtube channel owners to resolve copyright issues without the Ban Hammer falling without warning. This has been happening too often lately and is quickly becoming a disturbing trend. If Youtube insists on being so draconian with their rules than another video hosting site will quickly overtake them. To paraphrase Gregg Easterbrook: There is no immutable law that says YouTube will always be the most popular video site on the internet.

NJ pwned by UFOs

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 3, 2009 | Published in

Over at e-Skeptic they have an amazing story on how a couple of guys were recently able to fool the entire town of Morristown, New Jersey into thinking they had been visited by a UFO using nothing more than large helium balloons and a couple of road flares.

On January 5, 2009, we set out into the woods on the border of Morris Plains and Hanover, NJ, carrying one helium tank, five balloons, five flares, fishing line, duct tape, and a video camera. After filling up one 3-foot balloon with helium, we tied about five feet of fishing line to the balloon, secured the line with tape, then tied and taped the flare to the other end of the line. Once all five balloons were ready for takeoff (with our fingers on the verge of frost bite), we struck the 15-minute flares and released them into the sky in increments of fifteen seconds apart from each other. We filmed the “UFOs” as they floated away, and then walked the half-mile stretch out of the woods to our car. The hoax was underway.

The media coverage the incident received over the next few days was extensive. Both local and national news stations were covering the UFO over New Jersey. The local paper had a field day with it, quoting a doctor who said the mysterious lights traveled against the wind, and quoting another man who said the object “didn’t appear to be manmade.” The most sought after witnesses were the Hurley family. Paul Hurley, a pilot, along with his family, made appearances on just about every major news station, describing the strange lights that they saw in the sky. The “Morristown UFO” became the talk of the town.
There's some good video in the link showing exactly how they did it. It's amazing how easy it is to fake something like this. The conspiracy nuts and the media eat it up every single time too. I wish I could have fun shenanigans like this too.

(Tip of the tinfoil hat to Bad Astronomy)

Radio Free Discordia

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Published in

After months of anticipation Radio Free Discordia is finally on the air. The web radio station for all spags and spaggettes has hit the interwebs just in time to rock your face off! The schedule is kinda sparse right now but there are plans to replay Emmanuel Goldstein's "Off the Hook" podcast on Wednesday nights, followed by Robert Anton Wilson clips. There are also several music shows lined up with DJ's Triple Zero, The Dark Monk, The Borderline Simpleton, station owner Mourning Star, and yours truly. I have plans to do an independent music show in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. The time isn't 100% set right now.

To listen to the RFD, just head over to their website There are links on the sidebar to listen in Shoutcast and Windows Media Player. Rock on!