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28 March 2010

An open letter to conservatives

I know most people in the teabagger (or douchebagger) movement are incredibly reality impaired, but maybe some people will see the incredible contradiction and ferret minded thing that is going on here. Ignorance and anti-intellectualism shouldn't be a family value, yet here are these fucktards going on like the lowest level of socially evolved primates. I do find it ironic that the people most likely to NOT believe in evolution are the ones that are acting the closest to our animal ancestors, without a single cognitive realization of that and why.

Anyway, a fellow by the name of Russell King, who also goes by the name American Dad, wrote an excellent letter that you need to read. Not only read, but understand, even if he uses big words, citations, and references.

An open letter to conservatives


Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party -- the GOP -- and the conservative end of the American political spectrum have become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it's tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples -- by no means an exhaustive list -- of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.

If you're going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you'll have to start by draining this swamp:

Hypocrisy

You can't flip out -- and threaten impeachment - when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that's centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.

You can't vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it's done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) -- 114 of you (at last count) did just that -- and it's even worse when you secretly beg for more.

You can't fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.

You can't call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.

Are they "unlawful enemy combatants" or are they "prisoners of war" at Gitmo? You can't have it both ways.

You can't carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.

You can't refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn't meet with you.

You can't rail against using teleprompters while using teleprompters. Repeatedly.

You can't rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.

You can't be for immigration reform, then against it .

You can't enjoy socialized medicine while condemning it.

You can't flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same. Bush. Ford.

You can't complain that the president hasn't closed Gitmo yet when you've campaigned to keep Gitmo open.

You can't flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush. Nixon. Ike. You didn't even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed leaders of countries that are not on "kissing terms" with the US.

You can't complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent. (And, no, Newt -- the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)

You can't attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hours when you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn't issue any condemnation). *Obama administration did the day of the event.

You can't throw a hissy fit, sound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when -- in fact -- only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.

You can't condemn blaming the Republican president for an attempted terror attack on his watch, then blame the Dem president for an attempted terror attack on his.

You can't mount a boycott against singers who say they're ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he's ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Maoist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.

You can't cry that the health care bill is too long, then cry that it's too short.

You can't support the individual mandate for health insurance, then call it unconstitutional when Dems propose it and campaign against your own ideas.

You can't demand television coverage, then whine about it when you get it. Repeatedly.

You can't praise criminal trials in US courts for terror suspects under a Rep president, then call it "treasonous" under a Dem president.

You can't propose ideas to create jobs, and then work against them when the Dems put your ideas in a bill.

You can't be both pro-choice and anti-choice.

You can't damn someone for failing to pay $900 in taxes when you've paid nearly $20,000 in IRS fines.

You can't condemn criticizing the president when US troops are in harms way, then attack the president when US troops are in harms way , the only difference being the president's party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).

You can't be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.

You can't vote to block debate on a bill, then bemoan the lack of 'open debate'.

If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it's 2004 or 2010. This is true, too, if you're taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN. Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution. This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God's stand, too.

When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you can't send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).

You can't criticize Dems for not doing something you didn't do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.

You can't decry "name calling" when you've been the most consistent and outrageous at it. And the most vile.

You can't spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare

You can't praise the Congressional Budget Office when it's analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it's unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don't.

You can't vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president. Either you support X or you don't. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.

You can't call a reconciliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.

You can't spend taxpayer money on ads against spending taxpayer money.

You can't condemn individual health insurance mandates in a Dem bill, when the mandates were your idea.

You can't demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don't.

You can't whine that it's unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party's former leader admits you've been doing it for decades.

You can't portray yourself as fighting terrorists when you openly and passionately support terrorists.

You can't complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you've routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain -- threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented -- and admitted it. Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.

You can't question the loyalty of Department of Justice lawyers when you didn't object when your own Republican president appointed them.

You can't preach and try to legislate "Family Values" when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer's wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheating on your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a public toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coerce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife's mother;

Hyperbole

You really need to disassociate with those among you who:

History

If you're going to use words like socialism, communism and fascism, you must have at least a basic understanding of what those words mean (hint: they're NOT synonymous!)

You can't cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you've decided you don't like his ideas.

You cant repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word "terrorism" or say we're at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.

If you're going to invoke the names of historical figures, it does not serve you well to whitewash them. Especially this one.

You can't just pretend historical events didn't happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn't make it better.)

You can't say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas and very few from the Left) is a long way from "socialist utopia"; health care reform is not "reparations"; nor does health care reform create "death panels".

Hatred

You have to condemn those among you who:

Oh, and I'm not alone: One of your most respected and decorated leaders agrees with me.

So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bald-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we'll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.

Written by Russell King

21 March 2010

WTF is wrong with Texas?

I saw this the other day and it just pissed me off. Can these people not at all see that they are acting exactly like the taliban? The only difference is the level of violence, but I don't think that will take long for them to get to if they keep at it. Their thought process is totally indistinguishable! ANYONE who is an American, no matter if theist or atheist should be ashamed of those people and should call them out for their actions.

Many have noted the existence of parallels between America's Christian Right and historical fascist movements around the world. One thing missing from the Christian Right today are organized bands of thugs willing to use violence, fear, and intimidation to advance the movement's agenda. If that were to happen, it could be argued that the USA would have its own genuine fascist movement.

Although this hasn't happened yet, there are some groups that have tried to fill that role. The latest is "Repent Amarillo" in Amarillo, Texas. They haven't turned to actual violence so far, but their rhetoric is very violent and they have used a lot of intimidation to get their way against other local residents.

19 March 2010

Jon Stewart is CRAZY!

That's right. Full out batshit crazy. You should have seen him. Gesticulating wildly, jumping up and down, drawing on chalkboards like some crazed abstract artist. Oh wait, he was doing a parody of slipery slope, strawman idiot. It was FRIKKING HILLARIOUS! My wife, daughter, and I were laughing our asses off this morning as we were all getting ready for our day. It's always good to start off the day with a laugh.

Although, I wonder... Have you ever noticed how the fundies and super right wign nut jobs have absolutely no sense of hmour. At all! Even the Three Stooges is to complex and neuanced for them to get! All too often I have seen them reply to jokes as if it was an actual statement of what someone believed. Or they just don't "get" that Colbert is a parody. And they really seem to be the unfunniest lot out there. How many great "conservative comedians" can you name? And woe unto any of the conservative comedians that try to get the audience to laugh at themselves.

Now don't get me wrong, there ARE conservative funny people. Even ones who are comedians that intend to be funny as opposed to blowhards that are just funny becuase they are so fucking insane. But the tea party nutters and the fundamentalist right in the general public? Wow, what a dour lot. I have had a steady philisophical shift that has me leaning further and further left on many issues that I was quite hardcore right on. In those intervening years, i have found that I am much happier as a result of just being around happier people. And this despite my annual income soaring up there over the years as well.

Just a braindropping for today.

17 March 2010

Did you hear about the Gay Pedophile Priest? Of Course you did!

As I said in a previous post, it comes in threes (this time it's the old pedophelia story). I couldn't be happier to see it happening to a prominent symbol of the waste and excess (not to mention abuse and hypocricy) of the roman catholic church. While I have nothing but sympathy for all the victims involved in both the sex abuse scandal as well as the male prostitutes (who are probably not all willing participants in the work), I can't help but to feel glee at the misfortune of the church. As far as I am concerned, it is nothing but an agent of ignorance and evil. All the good that the church has done in its lifetime is IN SPITE of being part of the church, NOT because it was part of the church.

I mean seriously, just because a guy is the supposed conduit for magical skyfairy makes him infallible? And the policies the church condones? Did you know that they didn't stop killing witches oficially until well into the 19th century in Italy (not to mention it still goes on in the name of the church in Africa). And their policies toward responsible reprodctive rights and women's rights are still medieval. Even taking 500 years to apologize for the persection of Galileio shows their reluctance to really embrace reality.

And the OBSENE amount of wealth they have... That right there just pisses me off to no end. So jewish sky zombie is omnipotent, but can't balance his fucking checkbook? Yeah right!

If you saw an organization like this centered around anything else aside from religion, it would be so blatantly obvious that it's a scam that you'd of course have nothing to do with it. But as soon as it centers around the delusion of imaginary friends, it has worldwide support... And the way this organization works is really no different than protestants, baptists, or what have you. They are all fucking batshit crazy. And they all have ludicrious wealth that serves very little purpose.

Anyway, I just hope this is the start of a general downfall and disilliosnionment with religion. Of course, anyone who isn't catholic will gloat saying that of course the catholics are wrong, and their version of batshit crazy is The One True Truth... Sound familiar?

14 March 2010

An Open Letter to the Texas "Bored" of Education

Okay, the fundamentalist fucktards in Texas have managed to totally screw up text books... While people on twitter have been (rightly) mocking these slackjawed mental reprobates with the #tesastextbookfacts hash tag, something needs to be done. The national supplier of textbooks is based in Texas, and in general, what they do there affects the rest of the nation. I cannot express my outrage and utter disappointment in how these cretins are behaving. These people need to be fired, and locked up in a mental institution!

If you want to write to these mental midgets, of of the morons has even put up his name and address for further ridicule:
David Bradley
2165 North Street
Beaumont, TX 77701
(409) 835-3808
sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
It is worth to note that he will also donate $1000 to a charity of your choice if you can show that there is something called a separation of church and state in the US Constitution (I think the anti establishment clause of the the First Amendment does that quite well, although a slimy weasel like this idiot will of course say it doesn't apply).

Here is a nice letter that I found that we should send him (And there isn't even a mention of Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli):
The state of Texas is one of our Nation's largest -- and thus, is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. Therefore, the standards set by the Texas board of education may very well dictate the content of all textbooks available for the entire US market. This year, that very board held their once-a-decade revision of standards for their textbooks -- and we have many reasons to be worried.

James McKinley Jr. at the NYT has done an excellent job of covering the facts of the proposed changes to the Texas standards, and I invite you to read his piece. However, the facts do not appropriately outline the danger presented by the board's decisions.

The danger is beyond left or right political leaning -- it lies between fact and fiction. As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that biased interpretation masquerading as fact is the most detrimental to a young child's education. While teachers frequently use interpretive analysis as secondary source material, it is to their textbooks that students retreat for their analytical 'north' when beginning their analysis of those more biased essays. Perhaps, after the Texas' board decision, they will not have that opportunity.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
Mr. McLeroy's solution? Swing the pendulum back -- past the center -- to the right. The Texas board has decided that the past needs a reinterpretation in its textbooks -- a bit of conservative revisionist history...


The outcome?

1. A questioning of whether the founding fathers sought a separation of Church and State in the US Constitution.

From the NYT:
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
Mr. Bradley, with all due respect, the separation of church and state can be found in Article 6, and the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

From Article Six:
"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States"
From the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
Sure Mr. Bradley -- the words "separation of church and state" aren't there -- but lets think, just for a second, about this. If religion cannot be a precursor to public office, or to citizenship -- and Congress cannot pass laws on the establishment of a state religion, or stop people from worshiping freely -- where can religion and state not be separated?

Maybe we should let Mr. Madison -- the original author of the document -- say his piece.
Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself (Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811).
Not enough for you sir? Perhaps here:
Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).
You see, Mr. Bradley, I got out of school before you textbooks could hit my desk. You can contact me at demagoguesanddictators@gmail.com, and we can hash out what charity you can make the check out to. Simply title your email "eating crow".

2. The teaching of sexual identity, eating disorders, and rape as a result "choice".
“The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill [a conservative board member] said.
Dear Ms. Cargill -- I, and I think all of my readers, are very happy that you never made the decision to be raped. We are glad that you never made the choice to be afflicted with mental illness (as far as we can tell). We feel sorry if one of your family or friends lost connection after they "chose" to become homosexual. But mostly, we are sorry that somehow you got to decide what can be defined as "choice". I can say that I will happily contribute to anyone willing to challenge you in your next election.

3. The rejuvination of McCarthyism.
Texas standards now require that Sen. McCarthy's story must now include
“how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.”
Don McLeroy, a school board member, recently sent a memo to curriculum writers with the following:
“Read the latest on McCarthy — He was basically vindicated.”
Ah, the Venona Papers are back! The papers detail the findings of the covert operation (code named Venona) to uncover Soviet spies in the United States. While they detail the (gasp) Soviet attempts to penetrate the US government, they fall far short of any McCarthy vindication. I'll let Prof. Harvey Klehr, the author of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America cover this one for me:
Virtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona. Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendos disguised as evidence. He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies — distinctions that were important to make. The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but na├»ve people that the who led anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.

Have you no decency, Mr. McLeroy?

4. The emphasis of how Conservatives were responsible for Civil Rights legislation.
Again, from the NYT:
Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”

Shockingly, I actually agree with Dr. McLeroy here -- but only to a point. History should be studied in its exactness. Those Republicans who stood for de-segregation deserve our praise, and those few in the Black Panther movement who undertook violent actions deserve our criticism. But, it is important to point out that the Republican party of Ida Wells is no more. Will the history books also mention that in the 109th Congress has 43 black Democrats — and not a single black Republican? To make civil rights a partisan fight between democrat and republican is to do history a dishonor -- it was a fight between north and south, and any history book that ignores this does so at its own peril.

I could continue here, speaking about the board's vote against including more Latino figures in its historical texts, or its declaration that curriculum must subvert the Enlightenment as the motivator for the Atlantic Revolutions. I could talk about the dilemma of voting down a plank that would have students study the reasons that
“the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

but requiring the study of the unintended consequences of Title IX legislation.

The fact is, this is a troubling series of changes to the Texas Curriculum. I say that not as an offended liberal -- but as someone who values learning. Textbooks in this nation must be based on fact -- not opinion. If people feel that textbooks are too "liberal", then let us revise those sections to bring them closer to fact, not include more "conservative" talking points in an attempt to balance one type of falsehood with another. This kind of revisionism is merely slapping red BS onto blue. It serves no purpose other than the confusion or mis-education of our youth. As students seek to master the basic facts of history and sociology, they will now be forced into the very grown up world of propagandistic partisanship, without the information to analyse these opinions for themselves.

I fear when bias gives way to propaganda -- and when that propaganda is taught as fact. In my textbooks I learned that
"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round"
That is from Mein Kampf -- p. 376

12 March 2010

Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments: Barnum Effect & Gullibility

Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination.

—Edward Abbey (1927-1989), as quoted in The Quotable Atheist, p. 3.

I have often wondered what it is about people who believe in some of the most nonsensical things. What failing of their brain allows them to delude themselves into abandoning logic and rational thought? Not only theism, but some of the patently absurd bullshit that people buy into. I guess it comes down to mental masturbation and ego stroking:

A common reference point as to why people believe the advice of psychics and astrologers - not to mention many other nice things said about them - is the "Barnum Effect." Named after P.T. Barnum, the Barnum Effect is based upon his famous saying "There's a sucker born every minute."

The Barnum Effect is not just a reference to people's gullibility, however, but specifically to people's predilection to believe positive statements about themselves, even when there is no particular reason to do so. It is an issue of selectively noticing the things which are preferable while ignoring those things which are not. Studies of how people receive astrological predictions have revealed the influence of the Barnum Effect.

For example, C.R. Snyder and R.J. Shenkel published an article in the March, 1975, issue of Psychology Today about a study of astrology which they performed on college students. Every member in the group of students received the exact same, vaguely worded horoscope about their characters and all the students were very impressed with how accurate it sounded. A few were asked to explain in more detail just why they thought it was accurate - as a result, these students thought it was even more accurate.

At Lawrence University, psychologist Peter Glick along with some of his colleagues performed another study on students there, first dividing them into skeptics and believers. Both groups thought that their horoscopes were very accurate when the information was positive, but only the believers were inclined to accept the validity of the horoscopes when the information was negatively worded. Of course, the horoscopes were not individually prepared as they were told - all of the positive horoscopes were the same and all of the negative ones were the same.

Finally, an interesting study was performed in 1955 by N.D. Sunberg when he had 44 students take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a standardized test used by psychologists to evaluate a person's personality. Two experienced psychologists interpreted the results and wrote personality sketches - what the students received, however, was the real sketch and a fake one. When asked to pick the more accurate and more correct sketch, 26 of the 44 students picked the fake one.

Thus, more than half (59%) actually found a fake sketch more accurate than a real one, showing that even when people are convinced that a "reading" of them is accurate, this is absolutely no indication that it is, indeed, an accurate evaluation of them. This is commonly known as the fallacy of "personal validation" - an individual cannot be relied upon to personally validate such estimations of their fortune or character.

The truth seems clear: whatever our backgrounds and however rationally we may tend to act in the normal course of our lives, we like to hear nice things said about us. We like to feel connected to people around us and to the universe at large. Astrology offers us just such feelings, and the experience of getting a personal astrological reading can, for many people, impact how they feel.

This is not a sign of stupidity. Quite the contrary, the ability of a person to find coherency and meaning in a variety of disparate and often contradictory statements can be seen as a sign of real creativity and a very active mind. It requires good pattern-matching and problem-solving skills to develop a reasonable reading from what they are normally given, so long as the initial assumption is granted that the reading should be expected to provide valid information in the first place.

These are the same skills we use in order to derive meaning and understanding in our daily lives. Our methods work in our daily lives because we assume, correctly, that there is something meaningful and coherent out there to understand. It is when we make the same assumption incorrectly and in the wrong context that our skills and methods lead us astray.

It is not really surprising, then, that so many continue to believe in astrology, psychics and mediums, year after year, despite the ample scientific evidence against them and general lack of scientific evidence to support them. Perhaps a more interesting question might be: why don't some people believe such things? What causes some people to be skeptical more consistently than others, even when being credulous feels good?

06 March 2010

This blog has moved

Yeah, Google decided that since I like to embed my blog, they had to fuck with me. I guess the only good that came out of this is that now I can make the blog wider so it can handle pictures and all that stuff much better.

This blog is now located at http://larianlequella.blogspot.com/.
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05 March 2010

It comes in threes

Well, we had delicious irony yesterday. Now we have a bunch of men wearing dresses involved in a gay prostitution scandal (No, not queens, but the Vatican!). For comedy's sake, I wish to invoke the silly rule of threes, so I wonder what the next outrageously hypocritical thing will happen next?

Vatican chorister and usher in gay prostitution scandal

One of Pope Benedict's ceremonial ushers and a member of an elite choir in St Peter's Basilica have been implicated in a gay prostitution ring, in the latest sexual scandal to taint the Vatican.


Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian, was dismissed by the Vatican from a prestigious choir after his name appeared in transcripts of police wiretaps.

In the wiretaps, Mr Eheim is allegedly heard negotiating over the procurement of male prostitutes.

The wiretaps were carried out in connection with a probe into corruption in contracts to build public works, including the planned venue in Sardinia of last year's G8 summit.

Among four people arrested last month in the corruption probe was Angelo Balducci, an engineer who is a board member of Italy's public works department and a construction consultant to the Vatican.

Balducci is also a member of an elite group called "Gentlemen of His Holiness" – ushers who are called to serve in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on major occasions such as when the pope receives heads of state or presides at big events.

Balducci was arrested on corruption charges and the allegations of prostitution emerged only later.

Excerpts of the wiretaps and police documents published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica showed that Ehiem, 40, had been in regular contact with Balducci before Balducci's arrest last month and the subject of their conversation was gay sex.

A police document prepared for magistrates and published in part by La Repubblica said Balducci was in contact with Ehiem and an Italian who were part of what the police called "an organised network ... to abet male prostitution".

It was not immediately possible to contact Ehiem's lawyer.

A Vatican source said Balducci, who is still in jail, has been dismissed from the elite group of ushers and that his name would not appear in the next edition of the Vatican's directory.

"He obviously can't come back here after being accused of these things," the source told Reuters.

The latest black eye for the Vatican comes on the heels of major paedophilia scandals involving the abuse of children by priests in Ireland, Germany and the United States.

Balducci's lawyer, Franco Coppi, one of Italy's highest profile lawyers, said he had no comment on the newest accusations against his client, saying: "We have much more serious things to be concerned with right now," referring to the corruption charges.

04 March 2010

Delicious Irony Department

So Dan Florien found another case of a religiously motivated bigot have a rather unfortunate turn of events (as seems to be exceedingly common):

From the mmmm-delicious-irony dept:

Early Wednesday morning, State Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Calif.) was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Sources report that Ashburn — a fierce opponent of gay rights — was driving drunk after leaving a gay nightclub; when the officer stopped the state-issued vehicle, there was an unidentified man in the passenger seat of the car.

Ashburn has issued an apology for the incident:

“I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me – my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate.”

Well isn’t that nice that he accepts the responsibility and is prepared to accept the consequences? I’m sure he’s not hiring lawyers and trying to weasel his way out of anything!

Ashburn’s voting record shows that he’s voted against “every gay rights measure in the State Senate since taking office including Recognizing Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages, Harvey Milk Day and Expanding Anti-Discrimination Laws.”

Sometimes, when I get cynical, I think there’s a private gay club where all the anti-gay Republican representatives are members…


The thing that makes this even more of a gem are the comments:

"The arresting officer said that Ashburn’s breath smelled like cocktail sauce . . ."

"I’m sure it’s simply an unfortunate misunderstanding. He was probably just taking the gay guy somewhere to kill him by stoning."

"Senator Ashburn was in the gay club rescuing a wayward family friend who has been “turned” by the militant gays. Senator Ashburn went to the lions’ den under the pleading of the confused young man’s family – life long friends of the Ashburns. On his way escorting the young man out of the gay club, Senator accidentally swallowed a glass of milk that was spiked with shots of Yager and was subsequently pulled over and cited for DUI. See, the Senator didn’t have a gay problem, he merely had a drinking problem.

We should all applaud the Senator’s courage in the face of certain danger."

Yes, I am laughing at these pathetic excuse for human beings. I'd feel pity for them and all the self hate they must endure if it wasn't for the way they were fucking up other people's lives as well with their institutionalized bigotry made into law...