Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is Facebook A Cult?

Is Facebook a cult?

Just this week, I've had four people ask me why I wasn't on Facebook.

"You didn't know about the party? If you'd been on Facebook you would have known about it."


"You're not on Facebook? Huh? How will I be able to communicate with you?"


"Get on Facebook! I'll be your first friend!"


"Don't you have a Facebook? What's wrong with you?"


"You should get on Facebook! Everyone's doing it!"


Holy crap everyone just shut the hell up please. Y'all are starting to sound like a bunch of moonies recruiting for some online doomsday cult. It's like a mental zombie virus that incubates inside the brain and then seeks by all means to propagate by infecting others. I want none of that, no thank you. It's nothing but a fad, and like near-defunct myspace and friendster that preceded it, it's going to fall into oblivion.

I can't go to a website nowadays without being asked to use my 'facebook id' to log in. It's like a worm spreading from computer to computer and infecting websites all around the world. There is no reason why people should look at me as if I had two heads just because I don't have a membership at some BS website that I have no use for.

Fun With TSA

Image credit: Unknown

The Oatmeal: Were Hitler and Stalin Atheists?

The old debate of whether or not Hitler was an atheist rears its ugly head in a new Oatmeal comic... The punchline was quite unexpected.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/atheism

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rankings Of Most And Least Religious States, And Reflections On Other Stuff

A recent Gallup poll determined Mississippi (really, 4 s's, 4 i's and 2 p's? - very original) to be the most religious State with 59% of respondents claiming to be 'very religious, and the least religious state being Vermont, with only 23%.

Interestingly, Vermont is also probably the state with the fewest gun laws on the books. No permit is required for concealed carry, and the only gun laws the State has are pretty hilarious:

"Section 4011. Aiming gun at another Any person who shall intentionally point or aim any gun, pistol or other firearm at or towards another, except in self-defense or in the lawful discharge of official duty, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $50.00. Any person who shall discharge any such firearm so intentionally aimed or pointed shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or fined not more than $100.00, or both."

Seriously, a 50 bucks fine - chump change, by any standards - for what would probably be a hangable offense in neighboring New York, is hilarious. And if you accidentally shoot someone after having intentionally pointed the firearm in their direction, you could get away with a 100 dollar fine, if the judge is having a good day. (However, I guess you could still get your ass sued for being such a careless idiot.)

So how do you reconcile the fact that a State filled with heathens is so lacking in the sector of gun laws? Well, for one thing, Vermont has a very low crime rate. The most recent murder there was by strangulation, and no firearm was involved. So the general lack of armed crime is probably why Vermont politicians are not trying to shove new gun laws down the throats of their constituents. Also, as I've mentioned before, gun ownership has nothing to do with religiosity or conservativism, because guns are nothing more than tools, and even non-religious people need to use tools from time to time.

An interesting observation is that neighboring New Hampshire, which scored almost as low as Vermont on the religious scale, is leaning more towards the Republican Party, whereas Vermont is leaning more towards the Democratic Party. This could very well have historical roots as well, as Vermont was not one of the original thirteen colonies, but instead, was born out of a land dispute between New York and New Hampshire, and the people who lived in between the two basically got pissed off of being asked to pay taxes to two different colonies who couldn't agree on who had jurisdiction over them,  and in 1777 formed their own free republic, which remained independent until 1791 when it finally decided to join the United States, perhaps feeling a little too small next to British-occupied Quebec. This could be the source of the rivalry between Vermont and its neighbors, and the inspiration for  John Greenlfeaf Whittier's poem "The Song of the Vermonters" which reads:

Ho–all to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deerskin and jackets of brown;
With your red woollen caps and your moccasins come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.


Come down with your rifles!
Let gray wolf and fox
Howl on in the shade of their primitive rocks;
Let the bear feed securely from pig-pen and stall;
Here's two-legged game for your powder and ball.


On our south came the Dutchmen, enveloped in grease;
And arming for battle while canting of peace;
On our east crafty Meshech has gathered his band
To hang up our leaders and eat up our land.


Ho–all to the rescue! For Satan shall work
No gain for his legions of Hampshire and York!
They claim our possessions–the pitiful knaves–
The tribute we pay shall be prisons and graves!


Let Clinton and Ten Broek with bribes in their hands,
Still seek to divide and parcel our lands;
We've coats for our traitors, whoever they are;
The warp is of feathers–the filling of tar:


Does the 'old Bay State' threaten?
Does Congress complain?
Swarms Hampshire in arms on our borders again?
Bark the war dogs of Britain aloud on the lake–
Let 'em come; what they can they are welcome to take.


What seek they among us?
The pride of our wealth
Is comfort, contentment, and labor, and health,
And lands which, as Freemen we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.


Yet we owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.


Our wives are all true, and our daughters are fair,
With their blue eyes of smiles and their light flowing hair,
All brisk at their wheels till the dark even-fall,
Then blithe at the sleigh-ride the husking and ball!


We've sheep on the hillsides, we've cows on the plain,
And gay-tasselled corn-fields and rank-growing grain;
There are deer on the mountains, and wood-pigeons fly
From the crack of our muskets, like clouds on the sky.


And there's fish in our streamlets and rivers which take
Their course from the hills to our broad bosomed lake;
Through rock-arched Winooski the salmon leaps free,
And the portly shad follows all fresh from the sea.


Like a sunbeam the pickerel glides through the pool,
And the spotted trout sleeps where the water is cool,
Or darts from his shelter of rock and of root,
At the beaver's quick plunge, or the angler's pursuit.


And ours are the mountains, which awfully rise,
Till they rest their green heads on the blue of the skies;
And ours are the forests unwasted, unshorn,
Save where the wild path of the tempest is torn.


And though savage and wild be this climate of ours,
And brief be our season of fruits and of flowers,
Far dearer the blast round our mountains which raves,
Than the sweet summer zephyr which breathes over slaves!


Hurrah for Vermont! For the land which we till
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill;
Leave the harvest to rot on the fields where it grows,
And the reaping of wheat for the reaping of foes


From far Michiscom's wild valley, to where
Poosoonsuck steals down from his wood-circled lair,
From Shocticook River to Lutterlock town
Ho–all to the rescue! Vermonters come down!


Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves,
If ye rule o'er our land ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recorded–our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!

While that may explain the origins of Vermont's strong desire for freedom and disdain for gun laws, I suppose the broader question to ask here is why are New England States the least religious of all? And that is a strange question indeed, perhaps it is that cold climates have a culling effect on people unable to adapt to new ideas - such as central heating and secularism - for instance. Or perhaps it is that northern states have historically and economically relied more on industrialization (and by extension, science education), and the southern states have historically relied more on cheap labor (and by extension, brainwashing), but I welcome any hypothesis better researched and articulated than this one, if you would be so kind as to provide it.


http://www.gallup.com/poll/153479/Mississippi-Religious-State.aspx

Friday, March 23, 2012

Atheists and Baptists All Lovey-Dovey Due To Eyesight Problems

This is sort of a heartwarming story that reminds me that in spite of our theological/ideological differences, we can all come together as human beings and be friends at the end of the day.

http://www.newser.com/story/142451/christians-raise-money-for-ailing-atheist-critic.html

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alcohol Prohibition Alive And Well In Some US Counties

Leave it to the BBC to bring us interesting information about our own country.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17291978

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Big Brother Will Soon Be Reading Your Emails

The National Snooping Agency is building a massive data center to intercept every single phone call and email in the country, just because they can. An unnamed official, reports Wired, said:  “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

If this does not scare the bejeezus out of you, do me a favor and go play with a chainsaw next time you are feeling depressed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lyrics Of The Week

Avast ye landlubbers! While listening to Pandora Radio, I discovered something completely new to me: the Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm. It is a heavy metal band that produces exclusively pirate-themed songs, a seldom explored musical market segment. Granted, this will not be everyone's cup of tea, but the lyrics of the song Back Through Time caught my attention. The song tells the ridiculously improbable story of pirates that traveled back through time to fight against vikings.  Here's just a snippet:


You put your faith in Odin and Thor
We put ours in cannons and whores
Your viking gods won't save you now
When pirates strike from the starboard bow


(lyrics and music by Christopher Bowes)

Why did I find these words so fascinating? Well, for one it's basically saying that it is better to put one's faith in guns than in gods. Who would have known that pirates were basically gun-toting atheists?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wine Induced Musings

Now that I know that cheap wine tastes just as good as expensive wine, cheap wine tastes even better.

How is it that an atheist blogger such as myself consistently ends up dating women who all went to the same Catholic university? How is it that one of the aforementioned women is a current student at said university and studying - of all things - religion? For all my rants against religion, I don't seem to mind spending intimate time with religious women, so long as they are physically attractive and morally loose. Would I attract even more catholic women if I tried the Pope's new cologne?

Is it funny to anyone else that the current crop of GOP clowns take themselves so seriously?

Should I feel sad that the world's ugliest dog died?

Should I be surprised that humans are not meant to eat cadmium?

WTF is this, really?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012

Joseph Kony is a criminal who has, for 26 years, killed and tortured thousands of people in Africa. Currently, there is a huge campaign to raise awareness of the issue, with the goal of finally putting this mass murderer behind bars. A movie has been made (see below), and donations are being gathered to fund this awareness campaign.

However, if I may suggest one thing to the leaders of this campaign... why not just place a bounty on Kony's head, and therefore invite mercenary groups of all sorts to go looking for him in the jungle? Wouldn't that be the most cost-effective way to capture him?


What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Them

Under scientific scrutiny, a lot of the conservative ideas championed by the GOP fall apart completely. Whether it's climatology, economy, sociology, history or evolutionary biology, Republicans have a lot to gain by having uneducated voters, therefore by discouraging higher education by refusing to fund it.

Knowledge is power. Ignorance is weakness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/opinion/krugman-ignorance-is-strength.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Are Laws Against Polygamy Needed?

Some poor dude didn't get his divorce officially finalized before he remarried and got in big criminal trouble for it. Not only did he make the mistake of getting married, he made that mistake twice! I will not go into evolutionary biology theory about why I believe that monogamy is overrated, but I will say this: who cares if a dude is married to two chicks? What is criminal about that? Being married to one should be punishment enough already, and being married to two should be unbearable. He is already submitting himself to a very harsh punishment for simply being married in the first place.

Doesn't the U.S. Constitution prohibit double jeopardy?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But seriously, if I bring a woman home one night, and a different woman the other night, and I am not married to either one of them, and that none of this constitutes a crime... why is this man considered a criminal, especially that he has left the first woman 3 years earlier? What is the difference here, other than some silly paperwork?

As far as I know, he has not committed insurance fraud or tax fraud in relation to this matter... so who cares, really?

Bottom line of the story: don't get married, because the government will interfere with your private business; when you get that marriage license, you are really giving the government (and your wife) the license to really screw you over, and not in the literal, biological sense.

Morality is an abstract construct and there is nothing morally wrong with doing something that would not be morally wrong in the absence of some dusty paperwork filed away in some clerk's file cabinet.

Read the story here:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/03/08/2058938/bigamy-charges-filed-against-pierce.html

Monday, March 5, 2012

Attorney General Eric Holder Defends the Right to Kill Americans

Apparently, some bureaucrats believe it's OKAY to go kill American citizens if they pose 'an imminent threat'.

But wait! Before you lock and load that shotgun and go looking for scumbag hackers who pose an 'imminent threat' to your paypal account, know that it only applies to the government. That's right, the US government is allowed to KILL YOU without having to consult with a court, if they can simply claim that you pose an 'imminent threat'. If that doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy from the inside out, I don't know what will, but you should try swallowing some boiling hot cyanide-laced tea.

Sure, they can do whatever the hell they want, after all, they have the guns, so they make the rules. Regardless of this executive power-grab, it's still illegal and unconstitutional. In case you have been living under a rock and do not know the text of the fifth amendment to the US Constitution, here it is:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sounds prettty clear to me. The government cannot kill you without due process of law, and a decision by the executive branch does not  qualify as due process. No ifs, no buts, no way.

Of course I am putting my life on the line by exercising my first amendment right to free speech by publicly taking this stance. Now, I might as well be targeted for assassination by my own government for saying sh*t like that.

This is the same reason why I oppose the death penalty on principle. I simply do not trust the government with preserving life and limb. The USA has a really, really, really bad track record on this. This country might as well change its name to North Korea of America.

The golden rule should be:

The government should not be in the business of killing citizens. PERIOD.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Was Hitler a Christian?

Next time a faithful person accuses you of being a "communist" because Stalin allegedly was also an atheist, show him or her this website: http://www.evilbible.com/hitler_was_christian.htm

Adolph Hitler was a devout Catholic who blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. Does that mean all Christians are nazis?

Of course they will say "No! Hitler was crazy! That doesn't count!".

Well, Stalin was also crazy, wasn't he? I am told Stalin also had a mustache. Does that make every mustached man a communist? These false correlations are meaningless.

Atheism has nothing to do with communism.

Jesus Jokes

Little Anthony, 7 years old, goes to see his uncle, the local Mafia Don.

"Uncle!" says little Tony, "I want the new toy advertised on the television for Christmas!"

"Well, Anthony, you'll have to ask Santa Claus" says the uncle.

Anthony goes to his room, and writes a letter to Santa. "Dear Santa Claus. I have been very very good this year. Please bring me the new toy that I want so dearly, signed Anthony"

Christmas comes, and Anthony doesn't get his toy.

All sad he goes back to see his uncle.

"Uncle, I didn't get my toy. Santa didn't bring it. What should I do?"
"Well Anthony, sometimes when you don't get what you want from a wiseguy, you have to go straight to the big boss. Go ask baby Jesus."

Anthony goes to his room, gets down on his knees and starts to pray.

"Dear baby Jesus. I have been very very good this year... I mean, I promise to be very very good next year..."

Distracted, he glances at the small statue of the Virgin Mary on the desk. He stares at it in silence for a minute. Then, grinning, he picks the statue up, puts it in the desk drawer and slams it shut.

"Dear baby Jesus, it's time you and I have a talk. If you want to see your mother again..."

*****

Mr Thompson owns a hardware store specializing in iron nails. He decides that for Easter, he's going to promote a big sale on television.

After a few weeks, a few days before Easter, the ad finally airs on the television.

In it, we can see Jesus on the cross, behind laughed at by roman soldiers. Jesus turns his head toward the camera and says "They made the right choice, for a secure fastening, they are using Mr. Thompson's Nails!"

Offended Catholic protesters send hate mail to the tv station and to Mr. Thompson's store, arguing that the ad is disrespectful of Christianity.

Mr. Thompson therefore has the tv station air a different ad a few days later.

In the new ad, we can see Jesus running in a flowery field with rainbows and butterflies, with dozens of roman soldiers chasing him. A voice-over narrator says "Now they know. They should have used Mr. Thompson's Nails!"


The Jesus Myth

Here's a good Wikipedia article about the Jesus myth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_hypothesis

The idea is that not only wasn't Jesus a divine being; he never even existed as a historical figure and that the whole story is a fantasy fabrication pulled from different mythological and philosophical sources, amalgamated together by monks working at the tip of the sword. Emperor Constantine needed a state religion to unify the Roman Empire, so he invented Christianity by merging a bunch of cults in vogue at the time, creating a bogus religion from spare parts.

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Photo Credit: TBD

Newsflash! Voters are stupid.

A recent Cornell University study suggests what I have known all along: voters are not intelligent enough to pick good leaders.

The gist of it can be summed up in a few words: "incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people".

What this means is that the stupidity of a country's democratically-elected leaders can be directly correlated to the stupidity of the voters themselves.

http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/2191-people-smart-democracy.html