131st Edition of Skeptics' Circle

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 26, 2010 | Published in

The 131st edition of Skeptics' Circle is up over at Providentia (but not at Circular Reasoning as of this posting). My post on being a well-rounded skeptic is featured this fortnight. He calls me "slightly disordered but personable" which is definitely the most interesting compliment I've ever received.

Also in Skeptics Circle is an article about a group of people putting together a Skeptics track at GenCon this year. I will definitely have to keep an eye on that. I've lived here in Indianapolis for close to 7 years and still haven't made it to GenCon. I may have to fix that soon.

Surprise Me Eris!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Published in

For those who aren't obsessive readers of the Principia Discordia forum, I'd like to bring to your attention a little experiment that Broken AI/Horrendous Foreign Liam Stoat is currently conducting:

It's obviously a take off of the Surprise Me, God program started by Christian author Terry Esau with the difference being that the god you are asking for a surprise from is a psychotic bitch that has the worst sense of humor in the Milky Way. Asking Eris for anything is to place a price on your own head. To ask Her for a Surprise is to invite a cosmic disaster the likes of which has never been seen. And yet, a bunch of us spags are still brave enough to try it for Thirty Days. Most of us started on Feb. 23rd but feel free to start whenever you think you have enough courage to withstand Eris's Wrath. Hopefully all of us will still be alive by the time this is over.

The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | Published in

And now here is an interesting movie called The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal. It's one of those things where it is impossible to tell where the truth ends and satire begins. On the one hand, graffiti removal should be considered a crime against nature for covering up legitimate art. On the other hand, some of the paint used for graffiti removal works really well as Minimalist Art. I am also intrigued by the thought of Subconscious Art put forth by this clip. Just like the Law of Fives, if you go in search of art in your everyday life then you will begin to see it everywhere. So that is your assignment for tomorrow. Look for subconscious art no matter where you are.

Tip of the paintbrush to Urban Prankster.

Intermitten #8: Self Reliance

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, February 22, 2010 | Published in

Looks like I am the last Discordian to cover it, but the eighth issue of Intermittens is finally up, this time with the theme of self reliance. Believe it or not but it's been more than 7 months since the last issue. I think it was worth the wait though since it includes Nigel's Parable of Steve, some advice from Richter on surviving not only a laser battle but also an anime-con, a great article from Cain on fascism and TGRR's Year of the Rat #2. Enjoy!

Intermittens, vol 8: Self Reliance

The Well-Rounded Skeptic

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Published in

Thanks to my super generous wife yesterday I received an Amazon Kindle for Valentine's Day (and birthday and anniversary and Father's day and...) So far I'm loving it, but I'll have to get used to reading everything in grey-scale. As my first major purchase I selected Chris Rodda's "Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History" because 1) It's been on my wish list for a ridiculous amount of time 2) I don't have enough rage in my diet 3) the Kindle edition is about half the price of the paper edition and 4) I've been meaning to dive into the debate about the social studies standards in Texas and Chris's book is perfect ammunition for it.

I haven't even begun to read the book so I can't even begin to give a review but it did get me thinking about something I find interesting. Do you realize how many different branches of knowledge you have to touch to even start to be a well-rounded skeptic? Ok, here's partial list I came up with off the top of my head:

Obviously, to go against theocratic revisionists like David Barton you have to know about early American history, Enlightenment philosophy plus quite a bit about Constitutional law.

To be a Nazi Killer going up against Holocaust Deniers you have to know World War II like the back of your hand. Being fluent in German doesn't hurt either.

If you are up against anti-vaxxers, homeopaths, and various other "natural medicine" woosters you have to know about medicine, immunology, and virology. (It's usually very easy to beat them with basic chemistry though.)

If you want to kick a psychic or medium in the balls you have to know cold reading, psychology and sleight of hand tricks. It's often handy to know all the neat camera tricks too.

Because Creationists are typically very very confused about everything you have to have basic knowledge in biology, genetics, geology, paleontology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, physics, astrophysics, cosmology, theology, psychology, and, if they are feeling really adventurous, neuroscience.

For cryptozoology you have to know real zoology.

If you want to wade into the climate change debate you have to know the difference between climatology and meteorology. (Basic chemistry helps here too.)

For dowsers... well, you just need your eyes for that one. (Dude, I totally just saw him move his elbow!!1!)

And on top of all of that, you have to memorize the entire list of logical fallacies, know how to do your own research plus know your opponent's arguments, your arguments, and your opponent's counter-arguments. Meanwhile, all they have to do is know how to make shit up on the spot. Doesn't really seem fair now, does it?

Discordian Hymnal #024

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #024 "Kick Out the Jams" by MC5.

Form Spring Me

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, February 15, 2010 | Published in

The newest sensation that is hitting the social networks lately is a little site called FormSpring.me. With this handy little invention you get to interact with your friends and "friends" by asking them questions and answering them back. I signed up for it several months back... and then promptly forgot that it existed. (Note: I seem to do this a lot. I had my Twitter account for more than a year before doing anything with it.) Thankfully they sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago reminding me that I had questions to answer. Here's the best questions sent to me and my response:

#1. WHY ARE YOU IMMANETIZING MY ESCHATON? from the always interesting RyanCacophony:

The typical answer of why I do anything is, of course, for the LULZ. For those that haven't read The Illuminatus! Trilogy, GTFO of my blog "to immanentize the eschaton" means to either bring about heaven on earth or to bring the end of the world closer to fruition. Personally, I feel that anyone who is praying for the end of the world can't be right in the head. How psychotic do you have to be to actively hope that not only your enemies die a painful and agonizing death but to also hope that you and all your friends and family go down with the ship? Of course, these people always assume that they will be scooped up by Jesus at the last second. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. The odds show that you aren't one of the Elect and Sheol waits for you just like everyone else.

Now, if you are talking about "immanentizing the eschaton" as trying to form a more perfect union here on earth: sure, I can live with that. Just don't expect me to lead the way. Idealists have a bad habit of getting shot at just the right time. Being a martyr isn't my style.

#2 What is your favorite extinct animal? from Anonymous

That's a very very easy question: The Motherfucking Megatherium!

The megatherium was a gigantic ground sloth the size of an elephant that lived roughly 5 million years ago. It was one of the largest land mammals to ever walk the earth. It is not very similar to its currently living relative, the three-toed sloth.

Growing up most kids have a phase where they are obsessed with dinosaurs. They can usually rattle off the names of dozens of dinos and tell you the subtle differences between types of raptors and why pterodactyls and plesiosaurs aren't really dinosaurs. But not me. I was more interested in the megafauna of the Pleistocene era like megatherium, moas, saber-tooth cats, Giant Beavers, and Glyptodonts. I find giant versions of animals similar to current species more interesting then really big lizards that died a long time ago.

So there you go. That is how FormSpring.me works, I guess. If you would like to ask me some dumb questions then go sign up and then click on my profile. If you ask something interesting I'll try to answer it here.

Happiness: It's All in Your Head

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Published in

Here's a little graphic I threw together awhile back when Professor Cramulus asked for some marginalia for Intermittens. I don't remember if it ever got used, so I might as well post it here.

I feel that it sums up my feelings on the mind-body problem that has been bothered philosophers and other wankers for the last two thousand years. Your brain IS your mind. Yes, this means that happiness, sadness, love, hate, jealousy and disgust are all in your head. They are the result of the interactions between chemicals and electricity in your brain. These connections make up who you are and how you react to the world. However, that doesn't make your emotions any less real. Many times, these emotions are the only real thing we have. Don't let that freak you out too much.

Happy Darwin Day 2010

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 12, 2010 | Published in

Today, February 12th, is the 201st anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday and the 151st anniversary of the publishing of his book "On the Origin of Species". Sure, they year isn't nearly as exciting as last year but it is still good to take a little time out to reflect on how awesome his insight was. He single-handedly changed the face of biology and helped mankind to find his place on this planet. In his honor here is a trio of lectures on evolution for you to peruse:

Discordians Demand Air Force Academy Close Christian Chapels

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, February 8, 2010 | Published in

Several Discordian leaders today were outraged today by the announcement that US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has decided to allow pagan prayer circles close to where Christian chapels are already in place. They are asking their fellow Erisian Brothers and Sisters to cry out in protest over this affront to our nation's Discordian Heritage™. Rev. Thomas "Tommy" Reinard of the First Methodist Church of Discordia sent out this message:
What we label today as "pluralism," Eris called "idolatry." The first commandment from Eris was, "You shall have no other gods before Me. The rest are pure rubbish and usually drunk all of the time." There is no evidence that Eris has changed Her mind on the subject. To openly violate this most basic law is to invite Eris's judgment upon our nation. Eris has judged idolatry in the past through military invasions, earthquakes, floods, and an occasional attack of explosive diarrhea. The book of Omitterre Libellus prophesies that Eris will employ the same agents of Her wrath during the final seven years of earth's history. There is no reason to think Eris is on hiatus during this present age.

"But doesn't our Constitution demand that all religions be treated equally?' you might ask.

Since Eris is not an American, there is no reason to think She has a particular affinity for our ideas about the separation of church and state. Nevertheless, although the First Amendment guarantees the right of every American to worship however they choose, it does not require government to provide a chapel for Christians - even if the same government provides a stone monument to facilitate the worship of Eris.

I don't know the cause of the Haitian earthquake, the Indonesian tsunami or 9/11. But I can say without hesitation that any nation that officially embraces Christianity is openly inviting Eris's wrath.

This past week government officials testified they are "certain" of another terrorist attempt on our soil within the next three to six months. One would think this would be a good time to seek Eris's protection rather than kindle Her anger.

Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.

The Slippery Slope of Gay Marriage

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

The real reason we can't allow gays to marry, brought to you by the guys at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:


Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 6, 2010 | Published in

Erisiana - What is it? Could it be a cabal of Discordians from the great state of Indiana? No, I'm very certain that I am the only Discordian within 100 miles of Indiana* and my cabal of one has a much longer name. Is it perhaps a Discordian adaptation of the 2005 geopolitical thriller starring George Clooney entitled "Syriana"? Is it a floor cleaner? Dessert topping? Both? No, stop making silly guesses.

What Erisiana is is a brand new holy text from everyone's favorite Finnish Discordian Masks of Eris. If you follow his blog you will no doubt be unsurprised that Erisiana is more atheistic then most Discordians texts and is math heavy in spots. I personally liked the physical description of Eris in chapter 19. All in all, it's a very good read. It's definitely worth adding to your collection.


* - Go Colts!!!

Emergence - Order from Chaos

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 5, 2010 | Published in

I completely missed it at the time, but apparently PBS's Nova series did a special on the science of emergence several years ago. Hosted by Skeptical Hero and nominee for Discordian Saint Neil Degrasse Tyson, even. Emergence, of course, is the way complex systems arise out of simple rules. How Chaos can arise from Order. It's an integral to Chaos Theory, and therefore integral Discordianism. Discordianism is, at its essence, the religion of emergence. We worship the complex from simplicity. We praise random patterns. Chaos is our goddess. Hail Eris!

This is your sermon:

The Immortal Henrietta Lacks

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Published in

(Happy Black History Month!)

Imagine having the opportunity to reach immortality. Not the fleeting immortality of fame that goes out of style quickly. Or even the pie-in-the-sky metaphysical immortality that supposes that your mind will keep on going even after your brain has turned to mush. Imagine having real immortality where part of your body goes on forever and doesn't stop. A state where your personal genetic code never changes or dies. Such a thing happened to one Henrietta Lacks:
In early 1951, Ms. Lacks, a 31-year old mother of five children, was found to have a malignant tumor of the cervix. During her examination at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, a sample of the tumor was removed and provided to Dr. George Gey. He was head of tissue culture research at Hopkins who for years had been attempting to produce a line of immortal human cells. When Ms. Lacks died in October 1951, Dr. Gey announced on national television that he had produced from Ms. Lacks’ tumor a line of cells that propagated as no other cells ever had before. He called them ‘HeLa’ cells in her honor, and showed a vial of the cells to the television audience.

Sadly Mrs. Lacks' consciousness left existence in 1951, but her cells are still growing. Unlike normal human cells which degrade over time due to DNA damage, they just kept going and going. They were so aggressive that they would often contaminate other cultures. Her HeLa cells were soon used by Jonas Salk to help end the polio epidemic. They've been used all over the world for research into cancer, AIDS, and the effects of radiation and toxic substances. Some cells were even sent into outer space on one of the United States' first satellites. Her sacrifice of a few cancer cells has definitely changed the history of mankind.

Unfortunately though, Mrs. Lacks never got to know about her ever-lasting cells. She was never asked for permission to use the cells. Her family wasn't even notified that they were her cells until the 1970s. As far as I know they have never been compensated for her very persistent cells. Then again, I think I would trade all of the gold in the world for a chance at immortality.

(To learn more about Henrietta Lacks and her amazing cells, pick up "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skoot.)