Discordian Hymnal #014

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, August 27, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #012: "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture" by Atari Teenage Riot

(Note: Sorry for the serious lack of posts lately. Work has been kicking my ass. Things will be better next week, hopefully. Remember that you can follow me on the Twitter if you start missing me too much.)

Americans for Godwin's Law

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, August 22, 2009 | Published in

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that it is time for us to enact Godwin's Law at the federal level. For too long political pundits and debaters have gone the easy way out by comparing and every politician and policy change to the evil evil Nazi regime of the 1930's and 40's. Reductio ad Hitlerum is always the simpleton's way out. Comparing someone to the Third Reich has never added anything to the conversation. That is why I am proposing that Congress pass a law forbidding people to compare anything to the Nazis unless it involves killing millions of Jews, skinheads, or really shiny boots. Any time a bad analogy invokes the ghost of Der Fuhrer that person automatically loses 20 points and is not allowed to talk about politics for 5 years. No exceptions. I am hoping that Rep. Barney Frank will be my first sponsor:

Terry Pratchett at the Darwin Festival

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, August 16, 2009 | Published in

I didn't realize it until yesterday but it looks like the guys at the Naked Scientists are doing a whole podcasting series of interviews that that did at this year's Cambridge Darwin Festival. I already mentioned their coverage of Baba Brinkman's Rap Guide to Evolution. For this week's show they interviewed one of my all-time favorite authors Terry Pratchett:

A couple of comments about the interview: I love the fact that he did a Science of Discworld book completely on the subject of biology and evolution. The fact that he made Richard Dawkins into a priest makes it even better. He has his history of evolution down pretty good but I think he misunderstands the Creationism movement:
And perhaps it's possible, one could speculate, if there was this intelligent design theory of evolution at that time just possibly the two sides, the Church and Science, might just have thought, "Well, you know, this isn't the best there could be but it's got something in it for everybody. And we can more or less sorta live with it and so we'll just shake hands on that one because it doesn't cause very much trouble."

First off, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant "theistic evolution" instead of "intelligent design". I've seen many other people make the exact same mistake so I'll let it slide. It's just goes to show you how nefarious the Discovery Institute's propaganda truly is. Theistic evolution is a theological position that God created the process of evolution to create all of the species of life on earth. Intelligent design is an anti-evolution political movement that is purposely trying to destroy the underpinnings of the philosophy of science and force religion back into public schools.

Secondly, there were many natural theologians then and today that have absolutely no problems with the theory of evolution. Yes, there were big debates in the first 50 years or so after Darwin published but that all went away for a time after all of the evidence started piling up. Almost every denomination has put out statements affirming that evolution does not conflict with their theology including the Roman Catholic church, Eastern Orthodox church and most mainline Protestant groups.

Modern Creationism that denies evolution has only been popular for the last 50 years and only in denominations that follow a strict literal interpretation of the Bible (or Koran). Almost everyone accepted the theory of evolution until Henry Morris dusted off an old Seventh-Day Adventists book on flood geology that modern Young Earth Creationism took off. The only religious groups that officially back YEC are Evangelical Christians and certain Muslim sects. Unfortunately those Evangelicals have strong political power in certain parts of the United States. Those are the ones trying to undermine science education so that they might push their religion in schools. Everyone else seems to be cool with evolution.

Other than that one little section it was a great interview. It doesn't seem like the Alzheimer's has affected him too much so far. Here's hoping that Terry hangs on for awhile longer to give us many more Discworld novels.

Jake Day 2009

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, August 14, 2009 | Published in

Ok, this is a secret so don't pass it around too much. The Golden Apple Seed Mission (GASM) Command has declared August 23 as Jake Day 2009. On that day your mission, if you should choose to accept it, is to send tons of weird letters, faxes, post cards, etc to some poor unsuspecting schmuck. I can't disclose who the Cosmic Schumuck is here just in case the Greyfaces at Google are watching. If you want to know all about the mission then go over to the entry at the Black Iron Prison wiki. If that isn't enough, then go hunt down Professor Cramulus and beat the rest out of him.

(Caution: this message will self-destruct in 3...2..)

Discordian Hymnal #013

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #012: "The Fallen" by Franz Ferdinand:

Zerg Rush

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Published in

The Secular Student Alliance just recently had their annual conference in Columbus, OH at The Ohio State University and decided that they need a fun little field trip to add to the secular experience. Instead of going to the boring old Louisville Science Center or the Louisville Slugger Museum or even Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom they made a trek to Petersburg, Kentucky to the monument of stupidity and shrine to ignorance that is Ken Ham's Creation "Museum". 'Tis a truly heinous place that encapsulates all that is wrong with America right now. The fact that a large percentage of my fellow citizens despises science and embraces such dense religious dogma infuriates and confuses me. I would like to go see this monstosity some day but I'm a bit hesitant to give my money to their cause. It would have been nice to have gone with fellow skeptics on this little outing but my work schedule is always keeping me from doing cool stuff.

Thankfully though quite a few bloggers were along for the journey. PZ Myers has a post over at Pharyngula that has collected blog posts from just about everyone that went there. He's also been sparring with Ken Ham a bit over a couple of the exhibits. Jen at Blag Hag has a 9 part series on the madness (she also did me a favor by taking a pic of my favorite artifact in the history of the world!) Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist has also written a long blog post about it with tons of awesome pictures. Many people tried to tweet from inside the museum but had problems with their reception. However people are still using the #CreoZerg hashtag to talk about the mission.

I'll leave you with a single picture that helps capture the true absurdity of a Creation "Museum", PZ Myers riding a triceratops:

Everyone is Jesus in Discordia

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, August 9, 2009 | Published in

One of the single best time wasters on the internet right now is TV Tropes. TV Tropes is a Wiki site devoted to "devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations." Their articles are like little cyber potato chips; you can never stop at one. You'll start reading the article on "House" and 3 hours later you are somehow reading about Sherlock Holmes fanfic.

One of my all time favorite tropes is "Everyone is Jesus in Purgatory":
Memories of that overzealous English teacher who forced you to accept that every character, every scene, and every action had a deep inner meaning have led to widespread fear on the part of readers and viewers everywhere that every tale secretly contains some other story being told in subtext.

The end result of this is a state of mind that, for example, interprets every plot as an allegory for the afterlife and every protagonist as a stand-in for the Christ: Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory!
Which seems like a pretty good metaphor for Discordianism to me. Discordianism is post-modern religion. Everything has a deep symbolic meaning if you think about it long enough. Everything is true, false and meaningless (in some sense). Everyone is the Messiah and everyone is Satan AT THE SAME TIME. You are responsible for your own salvation. You are responsible for your road to Hell. You alone get to decide what meaning everything in your life has. It doesn't matter in the long run since the Author is dead and has been for a very long time.

Witchcraft in Nigeria

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Published in

Nigeria has a serious problem with witchcraft. Or more specifically, they have a problem with crazy people thinking that other people are doing witchcraft. Children are being abandoned, tortured and even killed everyday for simply crying at night or getting sick. You know that superstition has taken a strong hold when people are willing to sacrifice their own children.

The Nigerian Humanist Association and Stepping Stones Nigeria are doing their best to stop the insanity but Helen Ukpabio and her band of religious thugs aren't having it. When Leo Igwe, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, decided to have a conference called "Child Rights and Witchcraft" in Calabar last month Helen and 150 members of her Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries decided to break it up:
As the anti-witchcraft conference began at around 10.30am, the religious protesters dressed in orange raided the venue and began protesting loudly. The extremists were carrying a number of banners with slogans such as, "This protest is organised by The Akwa Ibom State Government", "We give freedom to the witches" and "Stepping Stone is not a registered organisation".

Among the other delegates attacked, Leo Igwe had his glasses smashed and his bag, phone and camera stolen by the mob, who were alternately singing and aggressively disrupting the conference. After an hour and a half, the police turned up and dispersed the mob. One person was arrested.

Speaking after the event Leo said: "The conference was a peaceful meeting for people to openly debate what could be done to prevent the abuse of child rights linked to the belief in witchcraft. This attack by Helen Ukpabio’s supporters once again highlights the depravity of this so-called "woman of God". Such false prophets should be immediately arrested and prosecuted under the child rights act".

Video from their protest has been uploaded to Youtube. It's rather eerie to see people act so violently while singing Christian hymns.

There's an online petition (yeah, yeah, I know) started asking the Nigeria government to bring Helen Ukpabio to justice. Let's hope they listen before more children are killed.

(Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist)

Dara O'Brian and Real Science

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, August 2, 2009 | Published in

Here's a hilarious clip of comedian Dara O'Brian covering everything from media "balance", homeopathy, nutritionists, and the scientific method. The winning line is "Science knows that it doesn't know everything. Otherwise it'd stop."