I Wanna Be a Debaser

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, June 17, 2011 | Published in

Un chien andalou: Surrealism at its peak.

Peter Popoff, the Unsinkable Rubber Duck

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, June 10, 2011 | Published in

One of James Randi's most famous debunkings is when he exposed "faith healer" Peter Popoff on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Randi and Alec Jason showed that Popoff was using radio transmissions from his wife who was working the crowd. Popoff went bankrupt shortly after that and went into obscurity for about a decade. But like any good conman he didn't give up the game. He's been doing informercials on BET for several years now and has gotten back into the faith healing business. Recently CFI Canada caught up to him in Toronto and filmed this video:

Tyler Durden, Patron Saint of Mayhem

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Published in

[SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen or read Fight Club... well, fuck you. It's been out for 12 years (15 for the book). If anything is spoiled by this post it is your own damn fault.] fnord

It has been a long while since I have added anyone to the Discordian pantheon so I believe this is over due. Today I am adding one Tyler Durden to the ever growing list of Discordian saints. I haven't checked to see if anyone else has made him a saint but I am automatically excommunicating them, to be recommunicated at a later date.

Let me tell you a little bit about Tyler Durden...

When you think about it, Tyler Durden is one of the defining characters of our generation. The second best character of the 1990s and easily in the top 20 of the twentieth century. He is the archetype of the Sensei For Scoundrels and Chaotic Neutral. He is Anarchy incarnate. He look like you wanna look, he fuck like you wanna fuck, he's smart, capable and most importantly, he's free in all the ways that you are not. He is the constant reminder that you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake And the strangest part is that he is the imagination of an imagination, a fiction within a fiction. He is probably the most famous imaginary friend besides Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus and Blooregard Q. Kazoo. fnord

But more importantly, he is the Disorder in sharp contrast to the Narrator's Order. Together they reflect the Sacred Chao that is eternally struggling within all of us. Fight Club shows us that if you have too much Order in your life you end up with a soul-killing job, being owned by your possessions. But if you have too much Disorder you end up as a domestic terrorist with hamburger for a face.

But that's not to say that Tyler is without his good qualities. He was able to help many fatherless boys become the men they were supposed to be. He saved Marla's life (but that was probably for ulterior motives). And the "Human Sacrifice" scene is one of the best examples of Chaotic Good in modern cinema. fnord

If you want further proof that Tyler is perfect candidate for Discordian saint, just look at Project Mayhem, the terrorist organization that he put together to take down civilization. The committees are Arson, Assault, Mischief, and Misinformation. "Organized Chaos. The Bureaucracy of Anarchy." (Should have one more to make it an even five.) And the frames of porno he spliced into films is a great example of subliminal messaging. fnord

So, I've over-analyzed this too much already. By the power invested in me by the Goddess Eris I declare Tyler Durden to be the Patron Saint of Mayhem and Soap. Be careful invoking this particular saint though. Your survival rate may drop to zero very quickly.

I'll leave you with my favorite scene from the movie. This is a chemical burn:

Puns are a Disease

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Published in

My personal stance is that puns are never funny. They can be clever but never enough to get a laugh. More often than not they induce a groan instead. That being said, this clip from The Bugle podcast is impressive in a sick and twisted kind of way:

Not Waving But Drowning

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, June 2, 2011 | Published in

This story fills me with all kinds of conflicting feelings:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On the one hand, this man, Raymond Zack, chose his fate. He set out to die on his own terms in the waves off of San Francisco and that's just what he did. On the other hand, there is a high possibility he was suffering from a mental illness and could have been helped. But the Coast Guard didn't have the boats. The rescue copter was busy saving someone else. The local fire department was handcuffed by the cruel god Bureaucracy. The rest of the crowd was paralyzed by fear. I hate using the term Kafkaesque but that's exactly what this is. No one is a winner in this situation.

(title of this post is a reference to "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith)

Either the Best or Worst Movie Ever

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Published in

Speaking of messed up Christian sex values...

I'm not sure where to even go with this trailer. It seems to be a good example of how Christians fetishize virginity and "purity". As someone in the YouTube comments noted, the guy is more excited about losing his virginity than the fact that he's going to be getting married. This kind of attitude is the cause of some very bad marriages. And it's proof that lack of sex will eventually cause mental disorders.

(Hat tip to Unreasonable Faith, the Friendly Atheist, and Blag Hag. Yes, it took three people posting it before I'd actually watch the trailer.)

The Discordian Non-Coalition

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, May 30, 2011 | Published in

Thanks to a suggestion by Jerry Coyne on his blog Why Evolution is True I've been reading Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer. (And by recently I mean over the last 3 months. I'm a notoriously slow reader when it comes to books.) It's a very interesting book in that it tackles religion from the perspective of anthropology while other books on the subject that I have read have used the routes of evolutionary psychology, cognitive science and lots and lots of sex.

Boyer does a good job of tying a lot of things together like why human inference systems like to create supernatural beings, why funerals and weddings are so important, why religions that are based on holy books are so different from "native" religions, and, definitely the most interesting to me, why coalitions are so important to society.
One of the most solid and famous findings of social psychology is that it is trivially easy to create strong feelings of group membership and solidarity between arbitrarily chosen group members. All it takes is to divide a set of participants and assign them to, say, the Blue group and the Red group. Once membership is clearly established, get them to perform some trivial task (any task will do) with members of their team. In a very short time, people are better disposed toward members of their group than toward the others.
- Pascal Boyer - Religion Explained
As someone who is about as social backwards as a slightly retarded chihuahua I've never given much thought to the types of coalitions that make up society. I've never been good at joining or forming coalitions, but more on that later. Coalitions are the glue that keeps any society together. Whether you know it or not you are currently in a coalition with your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your local/state/national governments, and everyone else on this planet. In all of these coalitions you are expected to act a certain way at all times. Your family expects you to have their back, your friends expect you to talk to them every once in awhile, your neighbors expect you to not play your music too loud, your coworkers expect you to do your job on time, your government expects you to not violate someone else's rights, and everyone else expects you to not to go on a killing spree. It's a heavy burden but we all must share it together. Each coalition has its benefits and costs.

Where Discordianism comes into all of this, IMHO, is that Discordianism is very anti-coalitional. At least, it is anti artificial coalitional. What I meant by artificial coalitions are things like organized religions, political parties, schools of philosophy, cults of computer operating systems, etc. Coalitions not of the physical world but of the mental world.
Above an orange couch hung a huge oil painting in an elaborate gilt frame easily a foot deep on all sides. The painting was essentially a cartoon. It showed a man in robes with long, flowing white hair and beard standing on a mountaintop staring in astonishment at a wall of black rock. Above his head a fiery hand traced flaming letters with its index finger on the rock. The words it wrote were: THINK FOR YOURSELF, SCHMUCK!
- Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea - The Illuminatus! Trilogy
One of the most important teachings of Discordianism is that your thoughts should always be your own. You should not adhere too closely to one ideology because there is always the possibility that it could be wrong. Always be ready to walk away from a bad idea. And don't apologize for someone else's ideas just because they happen to attach the sample label that you are currently using.

I think that is why Discordianism has always appealed to people who either cannot or do not want to form coalitions. Discordians are outsiders, by choice or by ineptitude. None of us have the overwhelming desire to belong to just one group. Yes, we use the same label but we always stick apart. We are liberals and libertarians. We are pagans and atheists. We are chaos magicians and staunch rationalists. We are pot heads and Straight Edgers. We are Macs and Linux and PCs. We are always ready to fight to the teeth about these ideas, but we are also ready to drop them like the bad habits they are. We are a non-coalition of fools ready to protect each other from the other coalitions.

My Honest Opinion on Art Critics

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, May 13, 2011 | Published in

Dawn French is grossly underrated.

Selected Reading from the Illuminatus Trilogy: Anarchism

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 29, 2011 | Published in

This is a selected reading from the audiobook version of the Illuminatus Trilogy:

Bryan Fisher Comes Out Against Discordianism

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Published in

Recent message broadcast on Bryan Fisher's radio program:

There's this odd collaboration between Discordians in America and Muslims. Discordians reject the Judeo-Christian tradition just like Islam does and that's where, I think, the linkage is. I mean, you look at Islam, they're going to behead homosexuals; Discordians want them coronated; we want them helped. So these are poles apart, so why is it that Discordians in America are so fond of and go to bat for Muslims all the time? It makes no sense in any kind of rational world.

But there isn't any rationality in Discordianism. It's not rational. It's not logical. It violates everything we know about history, everything we know about logic, everything we know about morality. All of those are violated by a Discordian worldview. So what is that they share in common? Well, I think what they share in common, the reason that they bond together, you know the enemy of my enemy is my friend, they both have in common one enemy: the Judeo-Christian system of values, the Judeo-Christian system of truth claims and values. They both hate the Judeo-Christian tradition with equal with equal passion and so that's what bonds them together.

And they hate America with equal passion. And they hate democracy. They hate freedom of speech, they hate freedom of association. So what Muslims and Discordians share together is this hatred of the United States, this hatred of classical American values, this hatred of the Judeo-Christian values system.

And the illustration of the way in which Muslims hate democracy just as much as "Erisians" do ... I'm not saying "as much" because Muslims are willing to go much further in their opposition to democracy than Discordians are. They'll try to shut you down, they'll try to engage in electoral fraud, they will try to use intimidation, they will try to use the courts, they will try to shout you down, but so far they haven't taken to killing people.

Sex Studies in the US

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Published in

In America there are strange norms when it comes to sex. There is a constant shroud of silence when it comes to what goes on in bedrooms. Every church (and until recently even the government) constantly preached that sex is a dirty bad thing that should be saved for marriage. There is a supernatural mystique when it comes to virginity (especially for women). It is not considered a state of mind but as a physical thing that you can lose like a sock in the dryer. We even have Purity Balls where fathers and daughters worship her virginity like a fetish doll. We have to be the most sexually dysfunctional country in history.

And that's why I get a perverse thrill out of American sex studies. They have a way of ripping off the veil for everyone to see how we actually feel about sex and not just the company line we mouth when the children are around.

My favorite all time favorite study was released by the Guttmacher Institute in 2007. It was entitled "Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003". The title alone makes me giddy with excitement. The most important part of the study says this:

Of those interviewed in 2002, 95% reported they had had premarital sex; 93% said they did so by age 30. Among women born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 did. At the same time, people are waiting longer to marry; 2005 data show median age at first marriage is just over 25 for women and 27 for men.

That's right. All of us are horny hypocrites. It is almost a guarantee that every single abstinence-only educator and pontificating preacher had sex before they were married. (Hell, your grandparents most likely had sex before marriage. Wrap your head around that!) The same people saying that sex before marriage will leave you a sad husk that no one will love anymore and that you will get every single STD simultaneously did the horizontal mambo before marriage and turned out just fine.

This is one of the reasons I've been against abstinence only education for a long time. It's not just that is scientifically proven to not work and in many instances increases the number of teen pregnancies and STD rates. It is unrealistic model of how the world works. It's an outright lie. And if you lie to kids you'll have to face the D.A.R.E. effect where kids can no longer tell the truth from the propaganda and end up making bad decisions.

And I said all that to talk about a new study by Guttmacher that came out today called "Religion and Contraceptive Use". Another great title. The key findings of this study were:

  • Among all women who have had sex, 99% have ever used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. This figure is virtually the same among Catholic women (98%).
  • Among sexually active women of all denominations who do not want to become pregnant, 69% are using a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).
  • Some 68% of Catholic women use a highly effective method, compared with 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals.
  • Only 2% of Catholic women rely on natural family planning; this is true even among Catholic women who attend church once a month or more.

The big things I want to point out are that 98% of Catholic women use contraception and only 2% use the "rhythm method". 98%! Try to wrap your head around that because I can't. For those not up on Roman Catholic dogma, contraception is considered a mortal sin. Pope Paul VI called it "seriously evil". The current pope, Benedict XV, said that handing out condoms "aggravates the problems" when it comes to AIDs.

And 98% of American Catholic women are collectively saying, "Fuck the motherfucking pope". They would rather risk the fate of their soul than be told how to control their bodies. To that I say, "You go, girl!" (Do people still say that?) But I also say, "Why the hell do you put up with this shit?" Obviously a bunch of old men in dresses who've (allegedly) never had sex shouldn't be giving other people marriage advice. People need to stand up and tell them to be more realistic.

Oh, that's right! Women aren't allowed to have leadership positions in the Catholic Church. Silly me. Maybe several centuries from now they'll change their minds about the whole thing. There might not be anyone left to care at that point.

America's Most Hated Family In Crisis

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Published in

Yeah, I'm being lazy and making my fifth post in a row with a video. I think this one is worth it though. It's the first part of a news special by British journalist Louis Theroux about the Westboro Baptist Church. WBC, of course, is the hyper-fundamentalist group run by Fred and Shirley Phelps that likes to picket places with signs that say "God Hates Fags". I'm torn about the group personally. I feel that they have a first amendment right to picket in public and hold up whatever hateful slogans that they want. (Their Supreme court case is touched on briefly in this program.) On the other hand, I feel that they are attention whores who are experts at trolling the media. They almost always draw counter-protests that are 10-100 times bigger than they are. If everyone ignored them they would eventually go away.

However this special does do a good job of humanizing them. For the most part Louis Theroux let's them speak their minds and occasionally probes them with questions. He disagrees with him but doesn't yell at them, which is what almost everyone else would be tempted to do. Most of the interviews are with the younger female members, and several female members that have left the group.

The eeriest part of the whole special is that I actually understood the Christianese that the members were using. While growing up I attended Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches. The fire-and-brimstone I heard back then isn't radically different from the stuff coming out of Shirley and her daughters' mouths. Yes, they are on the very very far end of the bell curve but they share more in common with your everyday fundamental, Sola Scriptura Calvinist than they do with me. (If you look very closely you will see a TULIP poster behind Fred while he is preaching.)

The thesis that Louis is trying to pull out of the special is that the WBC group is losing members because their religious beliefs are robbing them of their humanity. The girls are not able to date, the boys aren't allowed to have friends outside of the family, the parents aren't allowed to talk to their children once they are exiled from the church. Strangely none of them seem to be angry or intentionally hateful. Their language is toxic but never venomous. The memes of their religion have taken over their minds and they don't even realize what is coming out of their mouth anymore.

Even weirder is that the Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs effect does not seem to be in play here. I think Fred's beliefs were so out there to begin with that "cooling" them even further doesn't nothing at all.

I'll just embed part one and link to the rest:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, April 8, 2011 | Published in

It took forever but the animated version of Tim Minchin's "Storm" has finally been uploaded to Youtube. I could have sworn it was supposed to have be released about 6 months ago. Oh well, good things come to those who wait...

Skepticism in India

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Published in

Discordian Hymnal #035

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, April 3, 2011 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #035 "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers

DSPN Presents: Opening Day 2011

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Published in

Ladies and Gentlemen, Rejoice! For today officially signals the beginning of spring (forget that noise about the equinoxes). Yes, today is the official start of baseball season in the United States. For the foreign people in the audience, baseball is a little like Cricket but the pitchers are more likely to throw at your head, there are four bases to run to, and hitting it over the fence is extremely good.

I've always felt that baseball is the sport of choice for the goddess Eris. Mainly because there are so many statistics involved. I know that sounds boring to most people who don't know their OPS from their WAR or their ERA+ from their WHIP. But baseball is so interesting because of sample size.

Baseball season is ridiculously long. It starts today, the last day of March, and won't be over until last out of the World Series sometime in October. During that time every single team will play 162 games (plus playoff games). Every starting player will see around 4 or 5 plate appearances during each of those games. There will be roughly 120 pitches thrown during those contests. On each pitch, almost anything can happen. A liner back to the pitcher. A dribbler to short. A monster 400 foot homerun. A weak foul ball to the third base side. A bean ball placed in the third rib of the batter. Each at bat is a paragraph. Each pitch is a sentence.

There are so many games each season that odd outliers start to crop up. Teams will score 20 runs in a game. Players will hit 4 home runs in a game. Guys will go on 30 game hitting streaks. Relief pitchers will hit three run homers in their first major league at bat. Second basemen will pull off unassisted triple plays. And yes, at some point you will have a pitcher throw a no-hitter while high on LSD.

Baseball is exciting because the possibilities are endless and ever new season is a blank canvas just waiting for something strange to happen. So get the lawn mowed, pop open a beer, and let's play ball.

Go Cardinals!

Why Immortality Would Suck

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Published in

(Comic via SMBC.)

At some point in the future mankind will figure out how to live forever and I am convinced that that is what will cause the final destruction of our species. I know that sounds contradictory, but just hear me out.

Society currently has a way of refreshing itself every 20 years or so and that it called "Kill off the old fuckers and make some new babies." It's not the most efficient method in the world but it has served us well for the last several millennia. This is caused by strange bit of brain chemistry. Almost all of your beliefs about the world are set by your mid 20s. Not set like concrete but set more like a tasty jello mold. Your brain is done being bombarded with hormones from puberty, your pineal gland calcifies around the age of 23 (fnord!), and after that it is almost impossible to change someone's view of the world. Once you hit your 30s you are set in your ways and your personal narrative is a third of the way down its path.

What's good about this though is that during their teens and twenties most people are open-minded, liberal, tolerant, and willing to consider new ideas and try new experiences. Every generation says, "Let us strive to be better than our parents!" But also says, "Hey, let's not take this too far." And so, society changes by generational quanta. Things never progress steadily but in small leaps. And not always for the best but always in a new direction. Each generation has their own memes, causes, art, and beliefs that makes the culture has a whole just slightly different.

Immortality would mess this up is that we would miss out on the "Kill off the old fuckers" part. People with antiquated ideas would linger on for eternity. Just imagine your grandparents not only alive but healthy, active, of sound mind, and eager to vote. Ok, now imagine your great-grandparents alive, healthy active, of sound mind and eager to vote. And now your great-great-grandparent. And so on. Immortality would change the average age of humanity, if not the mean age. Over time young people would be forced out of the marketplace of ideas. We would have the equivalent of not only geocentricists, as in the comic at the top of the screen, but also people who still think slavery is a great idea, that women should never leave the home, and think that germs are "just a theory". (Wait, we still have the last two.)

At any rate, society would quickly stagnate. New ideas would never stand a chance. We would repeat the same memes for eternity. Nothing of interest would be produced without everyone complaining about how derivative it is. Hopefully people would refuse the immortality treatment or start to kill themselves out of sheer boredom.

The Secret Life Of Chaos BBC

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | Published in

Everything Went Better Than Expected

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, March 13, 2011 | Published in

I know I've been blogging about Facebook stuff too much lately, but this is too good not to share. Unless you are living under a rock, you already know about the situation over in Japan. Earthquake, tsunami, possible nuclear meltdown. Horrific stuff. "Pray for Japan" was a popular topic on both Twitter and Facebook this weekend. You can imagine how I feel about that. I posted "Prayer: the original slacktivism. Get off your knees and give to the Red Cross" to both Facebook and Twitter to get the word out that the Japanese people need food, shelter, and clothing more than they need prayer and empty platitudes. Got a pretty good response although I have no idea how many people took my advice.

About 24 hours after I posted that status on Facebook I got a notification text on my phone that one of the three preachers that I'm friends with had posted a response to my status. I was busy playing Wii bowling with my daughter so I just glance at it, see that it's a Bible verse and expect the worst. I didn't check my Facebook wall until several hours later because getting into a public theological debate in front of most of my friends and family is not exactly my idea of a fun time. When I finally did check it, I was pleasantly surprised:

Everything went better than expected. Sometimes it's good to remember that not all Christians are evil conservative bastards who ironically hate the poor and meek.

Sorry for the smudging in the picture, btw. I decided to share this with Reddit before I put it here. (Upboat if you love me.)

At any rate, go donate to the Red Cross RIGHT NOW. Give whatever you are capable of. You can even specify that your donates go towards Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. If you have a cell phone you can Text REDCROSS to 90999. If you don't have money then give blood. Every drop helps.

Running the World

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, March 6, 2011 | Published in

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut

I made the simple mistake just the other day of looking at my hometown newspaper's website the other day. I don't do this very often because typically the only thing they are good for is obituaries, high school sports, and whatever the chamber of commerce has been up to lately. But it was through this little website that I discovered someone that I went to high school with is currently the mayor of the tiny town my older sister currently lives in.

As you can probably surmise from the Vonnegut quote up there, this kinda freaks me out. Sure, this is a village of barely 300 people and I assume that he got the job because no one else wanted it but still this is a bit hard for me fathom. This particular "kid" wasn't even that big on leadership in school. I remember him as an annoying little ginger that hung around the band nerds. And now he is running his own village.

It bothers me even more to realize that this isn't an isolated incident. People I grew up with are now executives, police officers, lawyers, teachers, doctors (and chiropractors, unfortunately), and yes, politicians. In a few short years, people my age will be running the world and that scares me. I know what these people used to be like. I remember them with acne and bad braces. I remember them being unable to go a week without relationship drama. I remember many of them being unable to pass basic science, math, and social studies classes. Hell, I've seen about half of these drunk. These are not the people you want running the planet.

If you thought things had changed, friend you’d better think again. Bluntly put in the fewest of words, "Cunts are still running the world." - Jarvis Cocker

But then, I take a step back and making an interesting realization. These are the people that have always been running the planet. My generation is not unique in any way. This is the way things have always be done. One generation passes and hands the reigns off to a younger generation that is roughly the same in capability but with room to improve.

Someone has to fill the shoes when our leaders retire and it doesn't always go to the Best and Brightest. It typically goes to a person that was at the right place at the right time. If it is a good position it goes to the asshole most willing to stab everyone else in the back. Not exactly the best process to decide your leaders but "the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."

The world has always been lead by mostly mediocre men. We are destined to have more George W. Bushes and Warren G. Hardings than we are Lincolns and FDRs. The Fates have decided to curse us with more shitty leaders than good ones. It's amazing we've even made it this far.

The King of Limbs

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, February 18, 2011 | Published in

Can't talk now. I'm going to be listening to the new Radiohead album for the next 72 hours.

I'm not sure, but it looks like Thom is wearing jeggings.

Coffee Enemas and Your Local Chiropractor

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | Published in

My Facebook feed is a very interesting place. On top of 65 Discordian friends that I've picked up online, I'm friends with at least three preachers and one chiropractor. This isn't because I have a freakish number of Facebook friends either. I have never let my number of friends get over 300. I like keeping my number of friends small so I don't have to wade through a long string of jackasses to get to people I actually care about. The preachers and the chiropractors were people I just happened to go to high school with. This wasn't a big high school either. My hometown currently has just over 7000 people, my graduating class was less than 120 and according to Google, there are roughly 40 churches within the city limits. Typically Small Town, USA, I suppose.

And, unbeknownst to me until now, there are four chiropractors in my hometown. (It seems odd to me that a town would have 4 chiropractors and zero OB/GYNs but there is neither here nor there.) One of these is an osteopath carrying on his father's business so I'll let him slide, for now. However, the one that I am friends with on Facebook appears to have gone over to the woo-side. (I'll refrain from mentioning names because I have no personal beef with her and don't want to appear to libel her.)

I knew something was up when I saw her promoting immune boosters and anti-vax BS on Facebook several months ago. No, I take that back. I'm naturally suspicious of chiropractors due to it's rather dubious beginnings when a magnetic healer named D. D. Palmer claimed to have cured a deaf man by cracking his bones. As we saw during the Simon Singh incident there are still chiropractors willing to "happily promote bogus treatments" while refusing to back up their claims with scientific evidence.

Where was I? Oh yes, my Facebook friend. This afternoon she suggested that all of her friends (and presumably all of her patients since she uses a picture of her office as her Facebook profile pic) to watch the movie "The Beautiful Truth." Just like you, I had never heard of this movie since it had an extremely short run in very few theaters. Long story short, it is about an Alaskan home-schooled teenager who is a True Believer in Gerson therapy. Despite trying to be a well-rounded skeptic I had never heard of Gerson therapy so I did the requisite research. SkepDic has this to say about it:
Gerson therapy is the name given to a regimen that claims to be able to cure even severe cases of cancer. The regimen consists of a special diet, coffee enemas, and various supplements...

Gerson says he started on the road to his regimen when his migraines went away after going on a vegetarian and salt-free diet. The diet in the regimen eventually came to include lots of juice from organic fruits and vegetables, and to exclude coffee, berries, nuts, dairy products, tap water; bottled, canned or processed foods; and cooking in aluminum pots and pans. The supplements came to include linseed oil, acidophilus-pepsin capsules, potassium solution, laetrile, Lugol's solution (iodine/potassium iodine), thyroid tablets, niacin, pancreatic enzymes, royal-jelly capsules, castor oil, ozone enemas, vaccines, and vitamin B12 mixed with liver...

Gerson believed that the need to detoxify resulted not only from the internal generation of poisonous substances but also from the external supply of toxins created by the use of insecticides and herbicides in commercial agriculture. Accordingly, his dietary regimen emphasized the use of food grown organically. He reasoned that treatment for cancer must replenish and detoxify the entire body to allow its innate healing mechanisms to be restored.

He maintained that the coffee enemas helped to stimulate the flow of bile, thereby increasing the rate of excretion of toxic products from the body.

That's right. Using vegetables, a handful of supplements, and coffee enemas to cure cancer. It's a bit of the naturalistic fallacy, a touch of the toxin gambit mixed with a whole lot of conspiracy theories about Big Pharma not wanting to cure cancer. The therapy has been tried by several famous people including Sacramento newscaster Pat Davis and comedian Pat Paulsen. Unfortunately both of them died while seeking treatment at the Gersons' institute in Tijuana. I should mention that their clinic is located in Mexico because it is currently illegal to offer the Gerson treatment as a cancer cure in the United States. I'm sure that is all Big Pharma's fault.

At any rate, Orac has a great takedown of the movie over at Respectful Insolence with clips from the trailers if you'd like to know more about it. He compares it unfavorably to the Ben Stein hit piece "Expelled".

Back to chiropractic friend. I felt like I needed to interject a little skepticism into the conversation so this happened:

I'm Mr. Green, obviously. I don't know Mr. Red but if I ever meet him he gets a high-five.

Now, was this the right tact for me to take? Maybe, maybe not. There is a high likelihood that the comment will get deleted and I will be de-friended PDQ. It made me laugh so that's what I did. (And I have poor impulse control.) I'm hoping that opening with some levity will take the conversation somewhere. I don't have my hopes up that it will change her mind about pseudoscience completely. She is obviously already committed to that position and has financial incentive to not change her mind. At the very least it will get some passersby to think and I will try to warn her that recommending Gerson therapy is very dangerous and currently illegal. I will keep you updated if this goes anywhere.

Happy Darwin Day 2011

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Published in

It is February 12th once again, which means we get to celebrate one of the greatest scientific minds of the last 200 years, Charles Darwin. I don't really feel motivated to say anything that I haven't already said before. Instead this year instead of making fun of Creationists I thought I'd share a couple of videos of religious leaders who have no problems with evolution.

First up, an orthodox Christian priest who says that people who try to read Genesis literally are dancing with unicorns.

And here is a great interview with Rev. Michael Dowd, author of "Thank God for Evolution":

Discordian Hymnal #034

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #034 "Pablo Picasso" by The Modern Lovers.

Half a Nose

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, February 7, 2011 | Published in

You are now aware that you are only breathe out of one nostril. It's bugging the hell out of you, isn't it? Every time you breathe out air only comes out one side. One of your nostrils is constantly being obstructed. There is nothing you can do about it.

In about 150 minutes you will notice that the nostril you were breathing out of is now blocked and you are breathing out of the other one. You didn't do anything to make this happen, it just happened. On it's own.

In another 150 minutes you will find that your nostrils have switched place yet again. Why does this keep happening to you? Is this normal? Is something wrong with you? Are you sick? Are you a freak of nature? Are you going to die? Should you pick your nose or try to find a Neti pot? What if unblocking your nostril makes it worse?

What are you going to do? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO????

The Only Three Phrases You Will Ever Need

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, February 2, 2011 | Published in

I'm not to sure who Paul Crik is but he sure seems to have life figured out. Here he shares with us the only three phrases you need to get through life.


Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, January 31, 2011 | Published in

Exactly 4 years ago, the single funniest event in our lifetime occurred.

That's right. On this day, the promoters of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters created an all out terror panic in Boston simply by putting up some promotional Lite Brites that the police mistook for IEDs.

Wikipedia article.

What followed during the aftermath was the best press conference ever!


Tone It Down!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, January 27, 2011 | Published in

If you didn't notice, a lot of time on the internet last year was dedicated to the topic of "tone". Not the musical pitch changes kind but the literary  "how-an-author-treated-his-audience" kind. Whether is was skeptics telling each other to not be dicks or accommodationists telling New Atheists to not scare people away or subreddits calling each other circlejerks or Discordians fighting with each other about how best to get our message out or even every single forum complaining that content used to be so much better, everyone spent a lot of time in 2010 picking the lint out of their own belly buttons. No matter where I turned it appeared that everyone was trying to have deep meta-conversations about how best to communicate with one another.

And all of those conversations were shit. I'm not going to include any links in this post because I feel your time is too important to waste on such trivialities. All of them can be summed up as followed:

A: "You should be nicer to people. People like it when you are nice to them."
B: "Whateva! I do what I want!!!"

As a Discordian I am all for internal strife because it helps to get rid of the riff-raff and pantywaists who weren't going to put in any effort anyways. But at some point you have to stop having committee meetings and backstabbing contests and get shit done. If you notice, while everyone was talking amongst themselves about how best to get their message across no one was actually working to get the message across. An outsider who came along wanting pertinent information was met with a bunch of monkeys throwing shit at each other.

The thing is no single tone works to get the message across. No two people communicate the same and no two people receive messages the same. What works in one situation might not work in another. We need as many voices as possible translating the message into their own personal language. We need people saying that Christians can believe in evolution as well as people saying that the Bible is all bullshit. Yes, being nice attracts people to your side but being a dick is more entertaining.

So please, for the sake of everyone can we stop fucking yelling at each other and go back to yelling at the world?

Uncomfortable Trutthasaurus

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, January 23, 2011 | Published in

Yeah, I know that it's Sunday morning, not Saturday morning, and that this comic was from almost 2 months ago. Shut up and eat your damn cereal.

The Scariest Horror Movie You Will Ever See

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Published in

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a charismatic summer camp, where children spend their summers learning and practicing their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ." According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and tries to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community".

The scary part is that every single thing in this movie is 100% true. As far as I know nothing was scripted. This is not a work of satire and there is not a hint of irony involved. The camp in this movie no longer exists but there are tens of thousands of people scattered throughout America that look, think, and act like this. I know, because I've met them before. This is what fundamentalist Christians actually believe. Hopefully you'll still be able to sleep at night after this.

Also: LOL, Ted Haggard!

I Believe...

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Published in

For some reason both atheists and Discordians have been stereotyped as people who don't believe in anything. Atheists because people often confuse it with nihilism (thank Nietzsche for that). And Discordians because people often confuse it with absurdism (and Robert Anton Wilson was a big proponent of Model Agnosticism). I, however, am not afraid to admit that there are things that I believe in. And yes, some of the things that I believe in based on nothing more than optimistic faith that the world isn't a complete pile of shit. Some of the things that I currently believe in:

I believe that humans are simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to this planet. Us humans have made this tiny blue and green orb in the middle of a rather boring galaxy into a compelling story with a heavy underdog overcoming substantial odds to rise to the top of the heap. On the other hand there is a non-zero chance that we will destroy all life on this planet someday.

I also believe that as humans we are all that we have. There is no Superman, Spiderman or the Second Coming of Jesus to rescue us from ourselves. If we are to solve our problems we must rely on one another, quit our bitching and fix the goddamn problems. Then again, usually we are the problem in the first place. We can't get out of our own way because everyone wants what they want.

I believe that justice, purpose, beauty, good and evil do not exist outside of the human mind. But that doesn't mean that they aren't real.

Life will never be fair but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try with all of our might to tip the scales into the right direction. Never be afraid to overcompensate those who have been wronged.

We have to create our own purpose in life outside of breathing, eating, and reproducing. Do what you must to make the world a better place for those that come after you. Learn, laugh, love, cry. Connect with other people. Enjoy the people that you love. Torment the people that you hate.

There are no sins other than harming another. That's not always an easy thing to determine though. What hurts one may help another. There's never an easy answer. Choose as best you can and beg for forgiveness and empathy when it doesn't turn out like you hoped.

I believe that logic, empiricism, and rationality will also win out over metaphysical guesswork. As Tim Minchin said, "Throughout history every mystery EVER solved has turned out to be Not Magic." Wishful thinking and talking to the ceiling will make you feel better but at some point you are going to have to get off of your knees and do the hard work. Likewise, if you really care about knowing the truth then you must have enough courage for your ideas to be tested to the breaking point.

I believe that Chaos is the most powerful force in the universe. The ability to create Order from Disorder and Disorder from Order is the closest to magic we will ever have. Unexpected creation/destruction has an amazing effect of producing both horror and mirth at the same time. It can evoke joy and sadness, trust and disgust, fear and anger, surprise and anticipation all at the same time. And it will never be the same emotions between different people. Chaos needs us to tell the story. And no two stories are the same.

And most of all, I believe that I'll have another beer.

Etc. Discordia

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, January 17, 2011 | Published in

Reposted from 23 Apples of Eris.

In 1958 or 1959 (we’re not sure which), Eris, the Goddess of Confusion, sent an Emperor Penguin to a bowling alley in California. It appeared before Malaclypse the Younger and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst and inspired them to create the Discordian Society: a tribe of philosophers, theologians, magicians, scientists, artists, clowns, and similar maniacs.

The Et Cetera Discordia proudly celebrates 50th the anniversary of this prophetic vision. It is a collage of the funny, weird, and often profound writings and art created by numerous modern (and post-modern) Discordians. This book is an invitation to join them in exploring, celebrating, and remixing this strange and exciting century
A bit of background: Triple Zero and Cramulus had this idea back in 2008. The original idea was to create a quick one-shot internet forum which gathered content for quick publication of a new Discordian text celebrating Discordia’s 50th anniversary. So we threw THE PARTY AT LIMBO PEAK, an intentionally shortlived Internet forum, where people could post anonymously and then later unmask themselves at the end of the party. The project got out of control and we took a million years to finish it. And the finished product is a beautiful 128 page paperback, the latest addition to Grand and Glory Old Discordjia!

The Etc. Discordia can be purchased in paperback or downloaded for free in PDF form here.

et cetera discordia

I'm Sorry You Were Offended

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, January 14, 2011 | Published in

On the Origins of Everything

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, January 6, 2011 | Published in

Current scientific evidence points to the universe forming out of the expansion of a Singularity around 13 billion years ago. After about 9 billion years of matter forming, galaxies forming, dying and then reforming, our tiny star was born. Out of the refuse left over from the Sun came our minuscule blue planet. Around 3 billion years ago complex organic compounds formed in the oceans. For the first 2 billion years or so those organic compounds reproduced like crazy forming more and more complex life forms. Eventually fish appeared, then amphibians crawled onto the beaches, then reptiles braved the continents.

At some point some of those reptiles developed fur to help keep themselves warm. Some of these mammals roamed the forests and learn how to climb through the trees. But then the trees were not good enough for them so they came back down to the ground and formed tribes to keep each other safe. These upright apes roamed the lands hunting down other animals until that wasn't good enough either. They settled down, built huts to live in, and started planting their own food rather than searching constantly for it. At some point they learned how to read, write, do math, harness electricity, and kill each other very effectively. It's all been down hill from there.

As for the purpose of all this, it doesn't exist outside of your mind. However we constantly want purpose to be there so we start making stuff up until the world makes sense again. Some stuff actually does make sense. Others don't because we just don't have enough information. A lot of times the made up stuff is more interesting and exciting than the real truth. But that some people's made up stuff is very different from other people's made up stuff. That is the main reason why we learned to kill each other so effectively...