Henry Rollins on Evolution

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Published in

I hate doing two YouTube videos in a row, but I completely forgot that I wanted to put this video up for Darwin Day. (And I need one more post to make it exactly 23 for February.) It's heavy metal rocker/spoken word artist/talk show host Henry Rollins doing an excellent rant on why evolution is so important and why fundies need to DIE DIE DIE!!! Enjoy.

John Edwards Gets Kicked in the Nuts

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

There's a new site out there called Skeptically Pwned. Their unholy mission is to seek out proponents of pseudoscience, woo, and quackery and kick them square in the jimmies. Victim #1: TV psychic John Edwards.

Dobson Steps Down at Focus on the Family

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Speaking of crazy religious leaders, James Dobson officially stepped down as chairman and CEO of Focus on the Patriarch Family on Wednesday. Dobson cited age and the need for a good succession plan as the reason for him leaving:

"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said in a statement. "... Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."
He'll still be broadcasting his radio show where he is the most popular right-wing Christian mullah. Hopefully, as Dobson slips into senility, we can get even more gems like when he compared homosexuality to pedophilia or that liberals despise America or when he called Foleygate a harmless prank.

Available Online for Free

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 27, 2009 | Published in

Artist (and writer of the Bad Ass Mother Fucker blog) Evan Roth just finished a book called "Available on the Internet for Free" and to celebrate he made stickers!

The book (warning PDF!) is pretty interesting too. Kinda reminds me of Intermittens but with slightly worse layout. Evan is a great artist who is a constant promoter of open source. He's getting close to Discordian sainthood but hasn't quite earned it yet. He needs to step up the lulz.

Democrats, in My Regents? It's More Likely Than You Think!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, February 26, 2009 | Published in

Almost every single college in the United States has a Democrat student organization. That's a given. Most young people are Democrats by default and college educated people more so. One of the last places you'd expect to see such a group is ultra-conservative strong hold and Pat Robertson's personal fiefdom, Regent University. Robertson has hitched his wagon to the Republican party since the days of Reagan and even ran for president himself back in 1988. For the Democratic party to get any kind of foothold in the school he founded more than thirty years ago is quite a coup, but I guess times they are a changing:

Carlos Campo, Regent’s vice president for academic affairs, said Robertson gave his thumbs up to the new group.

“He said, ‘You know what, it reflects the openness of our campus and how open we are to sharing of ideas,’” Campo said of his talk with Robertson.

Brandon Carr, Regent Democrats’ vice president, described the group as “Democrats and independents who want to be Christian leaders to change the world … explaining to others how you can be a Christian and agree to some Democratic principles as well.”

As a Christian-based school, Regent has a strongly evangelical, charismatic accent, and all faculty are expected to be Christians. They sign a statement binding them with Regent’s Christian beliefs, such as the infallibility of the Bible.

Granted, the group has only about 30 members so far, but I guess you've gotta start somewhere.

xkcd FTW!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | Published in

I now have moral justification for buying myself a Kindle. Now I just have to wait for my stimulus check to reach my checking account!

(I couldn't post the comic in line because my blog is teh ghey doesn't have enough girth. Go check it out at xkcd, instead.)

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Published in

Jonathan Jarvis, a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, has put together a great video explaining exactly why our current financial meltdown happened and why we will all be living in dumpsters in the near future. FUN!

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Quizzes are Fun!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

I usually hate those annoying quizzes that clutter up the internet like "How Pure are You???" or "What Kind of Lover Are You?" I'll make an exception for this quiz though. It's entitled "Do You Have Biblical Morals?" To give you an idea of where it's headed, here is question #1:

Two strangers visit your home, and you are kind enough to provide them with accommodations for the night. They tell you they are angels appearing on behalf of the Lord. However, later in the evening, an angry mob turns up seeking to sodomize your guests. Do you:

Protect your guests and call the police.
Expel your guests and call the police.
Turn your preteen daughters over to the crowd to be raped.

Somehow I ended up getting an 8%. That last question was just too tricky for me, I suppose.


Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, February 22, 2009 | Published in

Some anonymous person over at Chaos Never Died pointed this out a few days ago and I just now saw it.
I swear that that wasn't intentional but I'm going to aim for 23 posts per month from now on just to see if I can do it.

Musical Break

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Published in

I've got nothing interesting to write right now, so how about a little musical break. Here's one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, "Nothing But Flowers", performed by David Byrne at Union Chapel back in 2002. Enjoy.

Christian Tribalism

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 20, 2009 | Published in

John W. Loftus has an interesting post over at Debunking Christianity about an online conversation that he recently had with a Christian:

For you Christianity is your social life. That's all it is. That's all it ever is... You believe because you worship in a community of other believers who give meaning to your life. Take you out of that community for a few months or more, read some books, and your faith could suffer and even die. A faith like yours should be sustainable apart from the Christian community of believers but you'll never attempt this, will you?

While John's intent was to show that most Christians would lose their faith after a short time away from their group it reminded me of an incident that happened to me several years ago. My wife and I were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at her aunt's church. I was still in my "angry at the Church" phase, but I decided to go along with it to be polite and hey, why pass up free food. As we were walking up to the church I kept asking myself "Why would anyone want to go to a church week in and week out anyways?"

Then something very odd came to me. One single word: TRIBE. Churches have managed to completely replace tribes over the centuries. After Man decided that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was too costly they switched to an agrarian culture. This agrarian culture allowed Man to urbanize but completely killed the tribe concept. People still had their extended families to rely on but the large tribe of many families that needed one another was gone.

So, what stepped in and took the place of the Tribe? Organized religion of course. Churches have become a social division of like-minded people. Belonging to a church means belonging to a super-extended family that cares about your well being. That's one of the ways that the super meme of organized religion has propagated over the years, by becoming powerful social clubs that help and protect its members.

This makes it very hard for people to willing leave church groups. The socialization and protection is more valuable than principles and beliefs. When church beliefs and personal beliefs no longer match up a person is forced to either speak up (and risk being forced out) or be quiet about it (and remain in the group). From personal experience I would say that roughly 75% of church goers do not agree with their church's doctrinal message. This is mostly due to laypeople being ignorant about what church doctrine really says. However there has to be a large group of people who know the doctrine, disagree with it, but remain in order to take advantage of the social group.

Sadly I doubt there is anyway to test the theory because no one would be this honest on a questionnaire.

Demetri Martin Harnesses the Power of Religion

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, February 19, 2009 | Published in

If Demetri Martin keeps this up I may actually have to start watching his show:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Irony

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Published in

In what may turn out to the the strangest story of the year, a man in Garden Grove, CA walked into the Crystal Cathedral megachurch (home of the "Hour of Power" television program) and shot himself in the head.


Police were called to the church at 9:40 a.m. in response to a shooting, Garden Grove Police Lt. Dennis Ellsworth said. The incident is being investigated as a suicide. The man was not immediately identified, but police said he was a white male in his 40s last known to have lived in Whittier.

The man walked into the sanctuary area of the church and handed over a handwritten note. He then walked to the front of the pews, knelt in front of the cross and removed a semiautomatic handgun from a backpack. He put the weapon to his head and pulled the trigger.

That's the horror part. Now for the mirth part:

Yvette Manson, a volunteer usher, said she was talking to the tourists when she heard a shot that she likened to a firecracker. "I had just been telling them about the suicide prevention ministry we have."

The Gods of Irony have spoken.

Podcast Review

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Published in

I've always been a sucker for talk radio. I guess I must be an auditory learner because I seem to process information better by hearing it (as opposed to reading). Plus it's just plain entertaining to hear people talk for an hour or so about interesting topics. I became a huge NPR junkie right after 9/11. After I got bored with that I listened to ESPN radio 24/7 for a couple of years.

That too got boring after a bit but thankfully I discovered the wide world of podcasts. Podcasts are probably the number one reason that I call myself a skeptic. There's a nice community of skeptical podcasts out there and I thought I'd go through them and give a small review of each:

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe: This is the granddaddy of all skeptical podcast IMHO. Since 2005 it's been hosted by Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist, president of the New England Skeptical Society and writer of the blog Neurologica. The current panel of skeptical rogues includes Steven's brothers Bob and Jay, Evan Bernstein, and Rebecca Watson (Skepchick). There's always hilarious banter around their news stories and manage to get amazing people for the weekly interview. I make it a point to listen to podcast every week.

Skeptoid: Hosted by Brian Dunning. Skeptoid is a weekly podcast that tries to bunk various hoax, urban legends and pseudosciences. He's covered such varied topics as creationism, multilevel marketing, Big Foot, and wheatgrass juice. The podcasts are usually fairly short (8-15 minutes) but Brian does a great job of researching the topic. It's usually a good primer if you get caught up in an argument with a True Believer.

Point of Inquiry: The official podcast of the Center of Inquiry is hosted by their VP of Outreach Programs, DJ Grothe. Each week they interview an interesting person about religion/secularism, science/pseudoscience, and/or alternative medicine. I don't like the agressively atheistic commercials at the beginning and end of the shows and they do seem to go through dry spells with their guests. Otherwise it's a decent podcast that I try to listen to a couple of times a month.

The Naked Scientists: This one isn't strictly about skepticism but it is the best science podcast that I've listened to. It's hosted by a slew of naked scientists from Cambridge University including virologist Chris Smith, archaeologist Diana O'Carrol, and marine biologist Helen Scales. They do a great job of staying on top of a wide variety of science stories and the Kitchen Science segment is always at supplying ideas for mayhem.

Declaring Independence: This one has only been around for 2 months but it seems to have promise. It's a local radio show hosted by Ed Brayton who also does the blog Dispatches from the Culture War and co-founder of The Panda's Thumb. This one also isn't solely about skepticism but is more about religion and politics. Ed has been a warrior in the fight against creationists and other right wing loonies for a long time. I'm a fan of the show even though they still need to work out the kinks production wise. There hasn't been a new show posted in two weeks and I'm hoping that it hasn't been cancelled already.

The Rest: There are quite a few other skeptical podcasts that I've heard are good but I can't officially recommend them since I haven't listened to them. A quick list would be Atheist Talk, This Week in Science, Skepticality, and anything Nova does.

On the Discordian front, there don't seem to be much in the way of podcasts. 23 Apple of Eris has done a very limited number of podcasts. POEE has done some POEEcasts over the years. The Good Reverend Roger has started doing vodcasts over at YouTube. Looks promising so far.

Puzzling Evidence TV

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 14, 2009 | Published in

Subgenius High Priest and radio personality Doug Wellman (aka “Puzzling Evidence”) has decided to launch his own YouTube channel to chronicle all the crazy irreligion that he has partaken of over the last quarter century. As a quick sample, here's the original Dr Hal's Hour of Prophecy that was pirated to millions of tvs in the western United States back in 1985:

(Hat tip to Laughing Squid)

St. Darwin the Innovator

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Published in

One of my favorite age old traditions in Discordianism is the practice of sainting those that we feel are worth of praise. Any Discordian pope (which would be every man, woman and child) is free to grant sainthood on those that inspire them the most. This can be the bold, the brilliant, the brave, or the just plain bonkers.

So, on this the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin I have decided to venerate the most important thinker in the history of biology. Darwin was a singular genius that tied together many ideas that had been floating around since before the time of his grandfather, Erasmus. He showed that a common thread flowed through all living things. That we are all connected in one way or another, even though the last official connection might have been 2 billion years ago. And that nature has a way of selecting those that are most adapted to their surroundings.

His theory also showed that all of life is one giant emergent system. It helped champion the idea that from very basic components and rules that complexity is not only possible but it is inevitable. It shows that a fine balance of both Disorder (genetic mutations) and Order (natural selection) can produce the most beautiful magic in the universe.

And so, by the power invested in me, Pope Iason Ouabache the Skeptic, by the Most High Goddess Eris I pronounce thee Saint Darwin the Innovator.

Get Out of Hell Free

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | Published in

The Catholic Church is partying like it's 1499. Pope Benedict has decided to bring back the Catholic tradition of indulgences. For those not up on the Catholic mythology (From the New York Times):
According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day.

Translation, do a favor for the Church and you'll get a "Get Out of Hell Free" card when you get to the afterlife. The concept fell out of favor after Vatican II: Electric Boogaloo but Pope Benny decided to dust it to celebrate St. Paul. All you have to do to receive this once in an afterlife time offer is show up at one of the designated churches, talk about much of a dirty monkey you are, sip a little Jesus Juice, ask the Big Guy to be nice to the pope and achieving “complete detachment from any inclination to sin.” That last step looks like a doozy.

Its a shame that they aren't going to be selling indulgences this time around. I guess they finally learned their lesson from that whole Martin Luther fiasco.

Discordian Hymnal #003

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #003: Thou Shalt Always Kill by Dan Le Sac:

Aaand Here We Go Again

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, February 8, 2009 | Published in

Looks like word of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case hasn't reached Florida yet, because State Senator Stephen Wise has decided to try to force Intelligent Design into the class room.


State Sen. Stephen Wise, a Jacksonville Republican, said he plans to introduce a bill to require teachers who teach evolution to also discuss the idea of intelligent design.

Intelligent design is the concept that life is so complex that it couldn't occur naturally but must have had an intelligent force working to make it happen.

Wise, the chief sponsor of the bill, expects the Senate to take it up when it meets in March. He said its intent is simple: "If you're going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking."

Ah, yes. The old "Teach the Controversy" chestnut. I thought that thing had been sacrificed at the altar of the Flying Spaghetti Monster but it looks like a zombie that just can't be stopped.

Wise said that if the Legislature passes the bill, he wouldn't be surprisedif there's a legal challenge.

"You just never know. They use the courts all the time. I guess if they have enough money they can get it in the courts," he said. "Someplace along the line you've got to be able to make a value judgment of what it is you think is the appropriate thing."

Yes, that is how these things usually work. If you write a law that is clearly unconstitutional and has already been knocked down once in federal court then people will challenge that law again and again. That's how the judicial branch works. You'd think a state senator would understand that. Apparently Wise isn't the only senator without a clue though:

Rep. Alan Hays, a Republican from Umatilla, sponsored [a] "critical analysis [of evolution]" bill in the House last year and said he would support a similar effort this session. He thinks it's likely to pass this time in a close vote.

"The thing we learned last year is that, No. 1, we must keep the discussion scientific. I don't know of anyone who is in favor of teaching religion in public," he said. "We want the students to know that the theory of evolution is only a theory, it has never ever been scientifically proven, and it should be accepted as that."

*Head desk head desk* Why won't this meme die!!! How many times do people have to go over and over again what a scientific theory is? Theories are the closest things to fact in science. They aren't just "something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.” They are very well tested models on how systems work. Theories are facts. It's time for the National Center for Science Education to start an advertising campaign to explain what a scientific theory is to the American people. Because it seems like most of us have already forgotten our third grade science classes.

And yes, if this does actually get passed by the Florida legislature and becomes a law it won't last very long. The very first school board that tries to teach from Of Pandas and People will get hauled into federal court. The federal judge will rule that intelligent design isn't science but a religious idea and the law will be stricken from the books. Yes, again. It's like these people never learn. They should have gone with the "academic freedom" gambit instead. At least that one has shown some success in the last couple years.

Fundie Telephone Game

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Published in

And now I shall present to you a dramatic reading that I have entitled Fundie Telephone Game. Please enjoy.

CONGRESS: Hey! Because of that whole church state thing colleges can't use bailout money to repair any religious building. LOL, SORRY!

Jay Sekulow, ACLJ: ZOMG!!1 Congress is totally discriminating against Christians. Religious organizations deserve the right to use those buildings. You can't take that away from them!!


OneNewsNow (while lashing self): Persecution!!!

CONGRESS: Hai, guyz! Did you even read the thing?

Sen. James DeMint: Democrats hate Christianity and eat babbys!

CONGRESS: I thought you was one of us...


CONGRESS: *facepalm*

And scene!

Face of Darwin Appears in Ice!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

As proof that "god" approves of the upcoming Darwin Day events, an icicle in the Pacific Northwest has formed in the shape of Charles Darwin's face completely with beard and wizened eyes. Scientists are baffled about how such a large and detailed ice crystal can appear without the help of an unspecified designer. Praise Darwin!!

Fun Quote of the Day

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Niall Ferguson via Vanity Fair

The motto “In God we trust” was added to the dollar bill in 1957. Since then its purchasing power, relative to the consumer price index, has declined by a staggering 87 percent.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Tim Minchin

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | Published in

Obviously I am the only skeptical blogger that has not posted a link to Tim Minchin's nine-minute beat poem "Storm" so I'd better jump on the bandwagon before it's completely gone. (By the way, my favorite line is "Do you know what they call alternative medicine that has been proven to work? Medicine!")

He also did a kick-ass interview on last week's The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast (episode #184). The Skeptic world definitely needs more rock stars like him.