Monday, 16 September 2013


Sometimes, when you do something awesome like writing informative and entertaining rageblogs, someone offers you giant piles of money to keep doing the same thing somewhere else, such as their site. This didn't happen to me, but sometimes someone from a group of bloggers your read and for the most part agree with, respect and find entertaining, offers you the opportunity to write for them, and this did happen.

Therefore Shadow of a doubt will now be hosted on the Skepti-schism network at .

See you there.

Stand up and fight!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Atheist Jihad

Well ladies and gentlemen, PZ Myers has gone and done it again, and at  it looks like this time first glance this time he's gone straight off the deep end. First he straight up accuses Michael Shermer of rape, and not only does through hearsay, but it turns out as according to the cease and desist letter sent by Shermer's lawyers, hes been caught doing it through double hearsay. (He heard it from someone, who heard it from someone else.). Now this seems utterly ridiculous and only an entirely stupid person could possibly do something do dumb, and then try to cover it up on the internet, where if nothing else, the Google cache catches almost everything.

Now don't get me wrong, I think PZ Myers is in asshole, a liar, a bully and a whole lot of other things, but I don't think he's stupid. Because he's not stupid, he's a jihadi.

Let's take a look at the evidence; I know PZ has officially stated that he is not a skeptic, but no sane person begins with "I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described" and then proceeds to toss out a rape accusation, though hearsay, against someone who he is known to have a public beef with. I'd like to think that a tenured professor isn't that stupid."

PZ is trying to go out with a bang. Plain and simple, he begins his own comment threat by saying that this will finish his career in the community, be the fact is, he did that himself, more slowly, over the past year and a half or so. Videos by Justicar and, Richard Carrier's A+ video, and online polls show that the man who could once "Pharyngulate" any poll into submission or removal for the internet can barely muster up a few hundred clicks for the direction. I guess when your primary audience is the skeptic community, "divorcing" skepticism, declaring an entire field of science to be nonsense and then speaking as an expert in a panel on that same subject, and tossing out junk or made up data in the name of your ideology can damage your popularity, whoudathunkit?

But PZ is a white knight, crusading for a cause, he's hitched his wagon to whatever sort of outrage feminism happens to be popular in any given week, and when he's lost the battle, and no one is willing to fight for him anymore, what is there to do but try and take as many of his "foes" down with him as he can. PZ doesn't want to win this case, he wants to lose, and he did from the start. He wants to go down in flames so that Benson, Watson, Svan and their like can claim for years to come; "Look, the patriarchy is so evil, not only do men get away with rape, but the evil mens sue the defenders of the women off the internet." PZ will be the noble feminist martyr as long as they can put up with the fact that he's a white cisgendered neurotypical able bodied man, which in truth, probably won't be very long. The damage to Michael Shermer is probably only collateral in the grand scheme of things, I'm sure it could have been anyone. I do feel sorry for Shermer though, I don't always agree with him, but no one deserves this level of bullshit.

I would like to point out for the record, that, should evidence present itself that Shermer is in fact a marauding serial rapist, or even a one-time rapist in the case, I will gladly retract any support for him, though I will certainly never support Myers' methodology of shouting this from a blog. I will note however that it is obvious that PZ has presented in such a way that any evidence has long since been lost to time, and no doubt he and the redfem squad will say we should all just shut up and "listen to the women", especially when they speak through their prophet, PZ.

PZ didn't have a metaphorical grenade, he had an explosive vest which he strapped on, and charged straight at his nearest target, Michael Shermer. Too bad for PZ that Shermer was waiting with a low orbit ion cannon.

"BOOM!" Indeed, Mr. Myers.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mutually Assured Dumbness

So, since the majority of my atheism blogs seem to be dedicated to drama in the atheist community let's have another look at the latest twitstorm, which revolves around the harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez and the call for a report abuse button. For the record, the abuse being thrown her way is reprehensible, however the proposed solution will cause more problems than it solves. I'm going to leave the block bot drama and the list alone for the time being and instead focus on the "report abuse" button.

I don't know if anyone has been around since the cold war days, but I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with the doctrine known as "mutually assured destruction" often shorted to MAD. For those not in the know, this refers to fact that while the US or Russia could launch a nuclear strike to cripple the other, the resulting nuclear counterstrike would destroy their own nation, and possibly cause the end of human life on earth as a result of the fallout. Thus neither side was willing to use nuclear weapons in any situation unless the possible extinction of the human race (or at least the homeland) was an acceptable consequence thereof. Luckily we had mostly rational people sitting behind the proverbial big red buttons, so we are all here today to have this conversation. If you can't yet see how this relates to the proposed button, then please red on.

So you want a way to report abuse that doesn't involve filling out a form? Fair enough, the world is getting lazier and lazier, why not have it quick and simple so your lazy ass can get on with it's day? Well, as there are a couple ways twitter can implement this feature, I'll comment on the reasonable ones. If you've seen Subman's video on the topic (which is excellent apart from a mis-edit in the middle), and @Beagrie 's also excellent vid then same of this will be re-hash, but here I go.

The first is just an extension of the block button, whereas you block the user and a flag goes into the computer system for the twitter administrators to check at some point, which is essentially the lazy (wo)man's version of the existing system, if this is all anyone wants, fair enough, I'm a supporter of any sort of laziness except the kind that generates obesity, and keystokes don't burn many calories so fuck'em and make it a one click process (preferably two, so we don't click it by mistake).

However, That's not what most of them are calling for, they want something to be DONE IMMEDIATELY! They want a way to either suspend or ban accounts in real time, because the best way to get your views across is to censor all dissent, or so I'm told, so lets look at a few options for that.

The first  of these is that twitter will hire a herd of people to check all these things in real time as they come in. This is completely unfeasible, as twitter will not go to the expense of hiring thousands of employees to review flagged tweets. This I wouldn't object to either if it were in any way possible to implement.

Secondly we could get a system similar to youtube, where a complaint or certain number of complaints results in a temporary suspension and possible a permanent one pending a review by a human being, a process known to take weeks, sometimes over a month. No one has ever abused this system to have people they disagree with temporarily banned. If you believe the previous sentence I have a bridge to sell you.

Thirdly we have a system where a complaint immediately disables an account pending a human review. Much like the above option on steroids, basically we have a standoff, no one would abuse this against you for fear you would abuse it against them right?

I won't even consider such stupidity as a button that connects directly to the police.

Now I want you to think about the last two options, carefully for a moment, then please watch this video.

My favorite movie supervillian, and an apt description of an internet troll, wouldn't you say?

So, back to the mutually assured dumbness, by adding this button you don't disarm the trolls, you give the little kids who want to watch the world burn a nuclear armament and set them in front of the big red candy colored button that says "launch". Not only that, but they know they can launch without any sort of consequence, the troll doesn't care if his account gets banned in response. In fact he probably created a dozen sock accounts just to keep yours down even longer as his accounts die a glorious death in the name of the lulz.

Congratulations! You are attempting to use the MAD doctrine against a Jihadi, not too fucking bright now, is it?

Stand up and fight!

Monday, 8 July 2013

(Not) In the name of atheism...

So, time to break out the jumper cable and shock the shit out of this dead horse, it seems that no one can let it lie, so let's charge the beast up and get a few things sorted out. Prompting this post is a recent post by John Loftus at Skeptic Ink, however there has been a whole lot about it over the past year and so I'll voice my objections to several elements.

In regard to Loftus's claim that atheism entails anti-discrimination, I will start with this: No. The only thing atheism entails is the lack of belief in a god or gods (or the belief that there are no gods). Period. When you ascribe other things to Atheism you not only run into a huge problem, but you give fuel to every idiot theist out there who argues that because there were evil atheists, atheism itself is the cause of evil.

See when Loftus says that the removal of religion removes the cause for discrimination, I believe that were Josef Stalin and the NKVD/KGB still around, they might disagree with him on that point, not to mention all the other evil atheist leaders the fundies love to rant about. See what you in your grand ignorant buffoonery fail to realize, is that when you ascribe these other positive things to atheism, you also tack onto them all the negative things, especially the ones which directly contradict you. There are atheist bigots, there are atheist homophobes, there are atheist misogynists, and there are atheists who partake in every other form of discrimination. You can be an atheist and anti-discriminationist (It's a word now, fuckers), but the two are not related. I think this is a case of yet another former fundie failing to understand that there are people out there who never believed in religion, some of whom are just as discriminatory as their religious counterparts.

Atheism may remove one of the reason for discrimination, that being religious based hatred and separatism, but it doesn't remove the discrimination itself, and pretty much anyone who's either read a history book ought to know this, it's not rocket science.

Now moving on to what seems to be a more weaselly approach. A while ago there was a discussion between Dan Finke of Camels with Hammers and Justin Vacula about feminism in the secularist movement, specifically in regards to atheism, and Justin, who is normally a decent public speaker, made a little bit of an idiot of himself, however part of it was because a weaselly choice of words.

A big part of the discussion surrounds Finke grilling Vacula on whether or not atheism is "consistent" with feminism, and Vacula honestly makes himself look like an asshole here with his disagreements, because Finke is using the term "consistent" in the logical and academic sense (which makes sense, given his background), which means to say that the two are not mutually exclusive. This is actually 100% correct and Vacula, being a philosophy major, should have clarified this instead of simply disagreeing. The problem here is that consistent to most people, generally means more towards "X entails Y"  or even "X matches Y" as opposed to "X and Y are not mutually exclusive." I'm pretty sure Justin was arguing against the latter case and not the former.

A manager will often tell an employee that a good sales record, punctuality and the like are consistent with a promotion or a pay raise. This is a weaselly way of saying you should do these things without promising anything, and I don't know if he's doing it intentionally here, but Finke is implying that atheism leads to or entails feminism (of which kind? There seem to be several brands). He's wrong about this, as Atheism as a label entails nothing of the sort.

If feminism is consistent with atheism, then wife-beating is consistent with atheism. Mass deportation and slaughter are consistent with atheism, execution of all dissenters is consistent with atheism, UFOs and alien abduction are consistent with atheism, bigfoot is consistent with atheism. Do you get the point? You may think you've weaseled in a definition that isn't there, but you've actually said nothing at all, and anyone with half a brain will notice what a vapid argument that is. The only things inconsistent with Atheism are things which involve a belief in a god or gods, and once again, when you peddle this sort of bullshit, you simply open the door for all the theists to (correctly, by your logic) ascribe all sorts of negative shit to atheism.

As for Atheists as a movement, if you want to crusade for whatever, go for it. If I agree with you I'll join in as best I can, if not, I'll disagree vehemently and bitch about it on the internet. But don't claim to do what you do in the name of atheism, not only do you imply that the goals of atheism are X when they are not, but a single dissenter proves you wrong.

*Raises his hand* Right here, you dumb shits, I'm that one dissenter!

I don't care what you're doing, unless it's not believing in god. If it's not that, it's not atheism, and even if I agree with your cause, I will lend my support to a similar one which does not imply that atheism is the cause. Yes, by all means, be an atheist and a humanist, be an atheist and feed the hungry, be an atheist and campaign to end slavery. Just don't suggest that these are done in the name of atheism, it's no better or worse than the fundie who says Mao starved millions in the name of Atheism.

Stand up and Fight!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

On ....random things

So I don't blog often, usually because I need something to rant about, but I figure I can knock a few topics into one post and rant a little on each we should be good to go, so here goes;

On Justin Vacula and Skeptic Ink. - I started reading SIN for Vacula, although I don't always agree with him, especially when he gets a little MRAish, I find his reporting to be well done, and by all accounts he was both polite and professional at WiS and EWTS, the only offence being that people chose to take at their being a man of dissenting viewpoint present. Although I've found some excellent other blogs such as Notung, Background Probability and The Hellfire Club (which I also read pre-SIN), and others I never gave two shits and a shake about John Loftus before. Now, as far as I can tell, he is nothing but another cowardly internet dipshit, who may have lost the christianity, but retained a whole lot else he learned from William Lane Craig. It may not be the same as another infamous internet echo chamber, but I still have no use for those who promote groupthink. I'll quote my comment on the site as that sums it up:

"Justin Vacula is no longer a part of Skeptic Ink because his communication style and areas of focus are not compatible with the mission and values of the network."
The Skeptic Ink Network's mission and values are not in line with the values and mission of this skeptic then. Which are actual activism an critical thought, not a massive circle jerk and back patting over making fun of yet another stupid preacher. - Shadow of a Doubt

I'll still follow the others though, since I'm one of those assholes who uses AB+ and no one is making ad revenue from me anyhow.

On going for the high hanging fruit - some people may have noticed I occasionally throw barbs and get into little twitter spats, especially with smart folks like Matt Dillahunty and occasionally Richard Dawkins among others when I take to disagreement with them, and I sometimes get asked why I do so when I usually come out looking worse.

Two reasons; Firstly; there is no point going after the low hanging fruit, if I wanted to start a youtube career I would make videos going after VenomfangX, Rebecca Watson, Paul Elam etc. there is no point in going after the extremists to prove that they're wrong. Extremists usually are, instead I go after people with more reasoned positions, who in turn are open to being reasoned with.

Secondly, I apply my own skepticism to myself and my own views. By challenging ideas from people I know and respect as skeptics and sound logicians, I can put the validity of my own views to the test, you should try it sometime. Dillahunty is usually pretty accessible and Dawkins will often respond if you catch his tweets shortly after he posts them. You'll find most "celebrities", major or minor, will often provide some insight, or at least a good short convo on twitter if you remain polite.

On fitness - As always I am trying new things and have recently been using the bulgarian bag. Probably only good for another week or so as there isn't a whole lot to do with it but swinging it around is a great ab, shoulder and core workout, and probably good for the rotator-cuff area as well. BJJ has been slow, with the new business venture I've recently started I haven't been training as much as I should, but I get in a few times in a week. Still hate the "De La Riva" position due to my general lack of flexibility, but I'll get it in time.

On books - Currently reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series and very much enjoying it, good solid fantasy, interesting characters, sarcastic as hell main character and overall very cool. Highly recommended for fantasy fans, in the words of the author:

"The Cool Stuff Theory of Literature is as follows: All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ‘em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ‘em, ’cause that’s cool. Guys who like military hardware, who think advanced military hardware is cool, are not gonna jump all over my books, because they have other ideas about what’s cool.
"The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff." -Steven Brust.

On Vidya games - Playing through all the games I got on steam sales and humble bundles without putting much time in, currently Serious Sam HD, which is an awesome throwback to classic shooters, Saint's Row the 3rd, which is an over the top version of GTA, and as always, planetside 2 and Minecraft. Looking forward to trying The last of us within the next week or two.

That's all for now.


Stand up and Fight!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

On crying coyote, and the annoyances of twitter, and why we don't use Piltdown man to prove evolution.

So I will begin with by saying that I hate twitter, fucking hate it. It seems impossible to make a coherent point while at the same time not coming across as overly aggressive and entrenched in one's stance. One often has to use strong wording, without sufficient space to explain one's points and the reasoning thereto. Also though occasionally something interesting is posted there, I often find upon rereading my tweets I come across as even more of an asshole then I actually am. That being said it is a useful medium for contacting people otherwise out of reach, and despite that we obviously don't agree on things, I've had (brief) conversations on there with Matt Dillahunty, Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins etc. whom I otherwise would never have had the chance to do so, so it's useful for connection and a couple quips, as well as the promotion of blogs etc.

Speaking of which, Matt on the off chance you visit my blog again, I'd love to have an email or skype exchange with you sometime. I know we haven't always agreed, and you've had to correct me on a couple occasions, but I do thank you for taking the time to have the conversation, as I know your day is a lot busier than mine, and I agree with you on most things.

So that being off my chest, I'd like to discuss "crying wolf", or in my case, crying coyote. I grew up on a farm, and just about anyone who has in north america has had to deal with some sort of predator, coyote, wolf, jaguar, mountain lion, etc. the fuckers dwell on forested or unfarmed lands and sneak in at night to kill livestock, the bane of any livestock farmer.

Now as we like to eat or sell our meat ourselves, most farmers keep some sort of firearm, whether it be a rifle or shotgun, to deal with these. I've never shot one myself, though I've killed quite a few groundhogs in my day, but generally its legal to shoot them on your farmland, and if a large pack is spotted, usually the township arranges some hunters or game wardens to do a culling (controlled killing off of a significant portion of their population.). Sometimes though, you get a bunch of them (or just one, in the case of the large cats) on your lawn and you don't want to or can't deal with them yourself, so you call Jim, Bob and Bubba to get over with their guns so you and your flock don't get eaten by whatever.

Now we all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, falsely claiming wolves until it was to late and no one came to his aid, and he was devoured. So what does this have to do with coyotes or anything else you ask? Well, this morning I was checking my twitter feed and this came up from the aforementioned Mr. Dillahunty.

"For the 999th time, it doesn't matter if specific case X is true if it is representative of actual problem Y."

(For some reason I cant get tweets to embed on here, but I will link to it)

Here is where the problem is, Matt, If we are talking about the real world, not a thought experiment, then the truth of a claim is what matters, regardless if it represents another problem or not.

Consider when the boy was killed by wolves, it did in fact proves wolves exist, but it was too late for him wasn't it? By misrepresenting someone else's problem as your own, you cause all sorts of other problems, I'm going to list a few here.

1) The honesty of the "crier" is an important thing to consider when evaluating future statements from them which cannot be proven by means other than their word. If you want people to take your word at face value, without presenting backing evidence (or in the face of other evidence), it's generally best to tell the truth. If you want people to take action when the coyotes arrive, don't lie about it when it does not happen.

2) Although it does not disprove a claim, a claimants benefits from things such as speaking engagements, t-shirt sales, ad revenue and the like might warrant one to take a closer look at a particular claim.

3) Myself and most atheists I know are atheists because so because of our desire for the truth. Evaluating a perceived problem based on a false or dubious claim should not sit well for anyone on the side of reason, especially if better evidence is available. If problem X is really such a problem, it shouldn't be hard to find an actual case of it occurring to use as our example. Evolution occurs, no one uses Piltdown man to prove it, because even though we know evolution occurs, using a hoax to prove it does not inspire confidence in our evidence. As with the boy, if he had shown wolf tracks, wolf poop, missing livestock, a picture of a wolf, video of a wolf and a half dozen there people who had seen wolves in the area, people would have been a lot more likely to believe him, and keep coming to his aid.

4) Even if every other case is in fact true, a single false claim will cast doubt on the problem in it's entirety, and it may in fact cause there to be a lack of response, as is the classic example in the story.

5) The opposite occurs, and there is an overreaction instead of an under-reaction, a good local example is the Ontario pit bull ban, even though more than 99.9% of all pit bulls never had any problems, the government banned them instead of placing the onus on their owners, where it belongs.

6) Worse off we get a huge overreaction, and we get a witch hunt (coyote hunt?) for non-existent coyotes, or people go around condemning every dog that looks like a coyote. This will probably turn around and lead a great deal of people whose expertise might be useful in dealing with the coyote problem to number 4.

7) A great deal of people who are otherwise worthless will make money from ad-revenue related to coyote related incidents, even though they live in a city on an island 1000 miles from the nearest coyote.

8) Asshole humans who support coyotes will use it as a rallying cry to band together against "oppression" against them.

9) For some of us, like me, we do not believe that Y is not a problem, we simply find it odious that Subject Z is lying about Y. I had thought you one of those people.

I hope by now you're getting the point. In a thought experiment, in a construct which is not the real world, then it doesn't matter, but we don't live in a thought experiment, and real people suffer real damage when subject Z lies. And yes, just because X claim is false does not mean Y is not a problem. For the record, Y is a problem, it is not nearly as bad as subject Z claims, and that subject Z would fabricate (whether in whole or in part) such a claim is repugnant. Just because there are wolves out there, doesn't mean you get to go shouting about them in the town square without consequence.

Stand up and Fight!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shut up about shutting up.

Alright, well as always I seem to be a little late to the party with my blog topics, but since Mr. Lindsay (who I might add, sold a membership to CFI with his speech in regards to the "shut up and listen" meme) kindly opened the doors of battle on this one, I figured I'd wade on in.

The thrust of this post will be in regards to why having experienced something does not make you an expert in it, but I'd like to address a certain bit of hypocrisy first.

Anyone who has A) Complained that Richard Dawkins marginalizes sexual abuse because he is a man and B) Has not themself been physically sexually abused and C) Has ever uttered "shut up and listen". Get the fuck out of here now, you're a useless hypocrite and cannot be made to understand anything.

For the rest of you with half a brain, listen in and your might learn something, shutting up is optional, though shouting at the text might ruin your concentration.

There are two main problems with the typical boisterous idiot who shouts "shut up and listen" at people, wielding it as if it were some sort of club to smite one's foes with. I'll address each in turn, but they are firstly: The assumption that one's own experience allows one to speak for a group, and secondly; The fact that experiencing something does not magically grant any sort of insight on how to solve the cause of the problem.

So here is the big problem people don't seem to understand, when you speak about your experience about being underprivileged, regardless of how you come by that, you speak for no one but yourself. Let me drill that on into you, since so many people don't seem to understand this, you speak only for yourself. You don't speak for all women, or gays, or blacks or Latinos or poor people or the mentally disabled or amputees or any other group, underprivileged or otherwise, you speak for yourself.

Now if you mean to say "Shut up and listen to ME!" that's fine, but unless I consider you some sort of expert my response is going to involve me telling you to go fuck yourself. I guarentee I am better at shouting than you, and if you want to talk, you don't start by shouting at me to shut up. If something is new to me, I'll say so, and odds are at this stage in the game I've already talked to a dozen or more people on the subject before you. When you tell me to "shut up and listen" to the women about conference harassment policies, I already have. The fact that the other women say something that doesn't agree with your philosophy is tough nuts for you. The same goes for gays, minorities and so on.

Understand that when I disagree, or criticize, I am not criticizing your people, your race, your gender or anything else, it is your ideas and your presentation of them which I am criticizing. The fact that your people are oppressed, regardless of  whom they are, does not in any way make -YOU- automatically correct or above reproach. You can be gay/woman/man/white/black/purple and still be completely, fucking, wrong. Get it?

"You can't possibly understand Islamophobia (sexism/racism/homophobia etc.) since you aren't a muslim. (female/black/gay)"

Sound familiar? Enough said.

Onto the problem of expertise and experience. So, you've been in a position where you're underprivileged, you're discriminated against for no reason other then a factor your can't control. This sucks, I feel for you bro/sis. But does this grant you some magical power to understand how to fix the problem? It does not.

I'll give you an example I know how to work with. I've never disarmed someone with a knife in real life. Whether through coincidence or the fact that I avoid situations like that, I've managed to avoid ever facing a knife wielding opponent, maybe I need to get out more, I don't know. Regardless of this fact I've practiced many of these scenarios with rubber knives, and I teach some basic knife defenses (run if you can, and how to not get stabbed if running is not an option), when I run a self defense seminar (we practice with washable markers and white t-shirts to see how well we did, its actually fun as well as informative and potentially life saving.)  If someone came in, and showed me a knife scar, then told me that I shouldn't teach this because I have "never been knife attacked privilege" and that the best way to avoid knife attacks is to leap at your attacker, I would laugh him out of the room.

This is a bit unwieldy of a metaphor, but I think I've made the point, one can talk on a subject without having experienced it, and the fact that one has experienced something does not necessarily confer the knowledge of how to fix the cause. Lastly, be aware that me "shutting up and listening" to you, does not in any way make you except from critical thought or peer review afterwards. If your ideas can't stand up to criticism then you're just wasting everyone's time, whether we shut up or not, you wouldn't accept such nonsense from a christian, I won't accept it from you.

In dealing with the issue of talking about privileged persons, it's important to keep in mind a very important point, that issues of class/race/gender/creed etc. are extremely complex, so it is possible to disagree in good faith, and come to different conclusions as to what needs to be done. If there is a problem with a reasonable solution, we can address it, but on the other hand, if enough people from the group you claim to be speaking for don't agree with you on the nature of the problem, you might want to consider the fact that you're acting like a whiny entitled snowflake.  Bear in mind the solution might not be what you want, and there is an old saying that goes sort of like this "A good compromise leaves both sides pissed off and whining about privilege."

Stand up and Fight!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Welfare Copypasta

Ok so this was a copypasta email I was sent the other day by my GF, it's in relation to welfare in texas, but I think there is some interesting stuff in there, and it's worth discussing. I'll post the content here verbatim and go over it, original email in black, my commentary in red.

Let's look at this motherfucker:

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX


Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job. 

Ok So the Lone star card is specific to Texas, but I would echo the sentiment. The specific choices of food are not particularly good. Change the selection of food. Canned tuna or cheap parts of chicken or ground beef or some other relatively cheap but real meat is required for proper protein intake, and there ought to be some canned vegetables in there too, cheese is pointless and expensive, cut it out. Make the rice brown, its healthier, and no one wants to eat it, thus it will encourage people to get a job to buy other food. There is no point in putting someone on foodstamps/cards etc. if its going to ruin them or cause medical issues through malnutrition, but steak and frozen junkfood shit aren't doing anyone any good, and that should be done on one's own dime.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

100% agree with the drug testing, I understand this is an "invasion of privacy", however, there would be an expectation that one waives that right in exchange for money. The tubal ligation is ridiculous, as that is an outdated and dangerous operation, but mandatory birth control seems quite reasonable. This would save both the state the money of paying for a child that the parents cannot afford, and the parents from dumping the welfare cycles onto another generation.
Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

This part is probably my favorite part of the copypasta and the part I agree with most. when one is on government housing, one should understand that it is not a permanent home for anyone, it is a place for you to stay until you can afford one of your own, and it should be kept in proper condition for the next occupant. The military barracks might be a little over the top but not by much, part of the point is that it should be more comfortable to go out and find a job then it should be to stay on government assistance, otherwise why should anyone find a job?

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good..

Although I'm sure the highway cleaners union would complain, fuck them. If you're taking a government cheque, you do the work expected of you to earn that money. I would prefer to substitute this for some form of job that would give the applicant a marketable skill (IE, if you can't get a job today, then you are working towards being able to get one tomorrow), as I'm a firm believer in the "teach a man to fish" principle. If you have an objection to working, then you don't need to be taking everyone's money. The taking of pre-existing property is untenable though, and I do not agree with that part at all.

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self-esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self-esteem. 

I agree about the whole self-esteem thing, your self esteem is irrelevent, the country isn't heping you because your feelings are important, it's helping you so you can get back on your feet and get back to contributing to the society that has been taking care of you. It's meant be give and take, not take and take.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices. 

Agreed, the system should be designed to make sure no one starves or freezes and prepares them to re-enter the working world. LArgely now all it does is prepare them to game the system.

AND While you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

This part is ridiculous for two reasons, the first being that the right to vote, in America, Canada and many other places throughout the world, supersedes all others, without it one cannot have a representative government and this whole discussion is pointless, and secondly, everyone always votes in their own self interest, if this created a conflict of interest, no one could ever vote at any time.

All in all, I'm in support of a system that keeps people fed, clothed and with a roof over their heads. It shouldn't be comfortable, it should be uncomfortable but liveable, it should encourage people to get off it as soon as possible and prepare them to do so. We live in a world where we should have the empathy to say "I understand you're having a rough time, let's keep you and yours safe and fed until you can get back on your feet." We'll give you a ride, not a free ride, not an easy ride, but a ride none the less.

I might make a post later dealing with what my own recommendations for a welfare system would be, (not that anyone cares), but we'll see.

Stand up and fight!  

Saturday, 13 April 2013

You got your atheism in my skepticism

So ladies and gents, there has been a lot of talk online lately in the skeptic and atheist "communities" about the overlap between atheism and skepticism, especially where it relates to conferences, gatherings, pow-wows, group huddles and the like. So here is my 5 cents on the issues. (We retired the penny in Canada, so you get the whole 5 cents, suck it down.)

Atheism, in and of itself, is either a belief (there is no god(s)), or the denial of a proposition (I do not believe in your god(s), there is not sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that a god(s) exists). In and of itself, this is no kind of reason to hold a conference, unless your goal is to hold a big ole mixer for non-believers, and although I'm as big a fan of blasphemous keg-stands as the next guy, this is about as useful as a tit on a bull in the grand scheme of things.

Although one could hold an atheist church meet, where everyone gets up and testifies about when and how they discovered there was no god, and we all read pages from the god delusion and god is not great, insult and talk bad about the believers, most of us want to leave the cult like aspects of religion behind, and so this doesn't happen either, ridiculous attempts at "Atheist congregations" non withstanding.

Therefore atheism conferences tend to focus on one of two things, firstly secularism, and how Atheists of various types can make their way in society, especially in societies which are largely religious. This is a noble goal in and of itself, but not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand.

The second focus is skepticism and critical thinking, and this is what I'd like to bitch about today. Skepticism in the end, is a methodology and a way of thinking, the attitude that all things need to be questioned, to get at the proverbial why and how. It's close friend, critical thinking, specifically the examination of why we think and believe the way we do, teams up with the former to become the gateway most of us take on our journey to atheism or at the very least agnosticism. The reason being, that if you didn't come to atheism by way of skepticism, then you are really just a believer, or the kind of person who makes atheism into it's own "religion". One can become an atheist simply because one's parents are, but this type of atheist is not necessarily skeptical.

When applied to religious beliefs the only end of the road for skeptics and critical thinkers is either weak or strong atheism, yes this is an assertion, others have proved it better then I, but suffice it to say, if you are still a believer in the bible, or the koran, or the baghavad gita etc. Then you either have not applied your skepticism to your beliefs or you have admitted to yourself that this is just a bunch of stuff someone wrote down and you're going to believe it despite the parts that don't jive with reality.

Skepticism is the opposite of faith, and this is where the overlap of atheism and skepticism comes into play. Atheists by and large reject the notion of believing in something without cause to do so, and with the exception of the "true believer" atheists, we came to this result through a skeptical approach. So that all being said, the reason why the atheists seem to want to take over skeptic conferences is simple, they already have. Skepticism applied to religious belief results in atheism, either the weak or the strong kind, so when believers come up on stage to proclaim that bigfoot, or UFOs, or the lizard people don't exist, it looks to everyone in the audience to be the pot calling the kettle black. I'm all for people believing in whatever they want, but you can't be a skeptic, a critical thinker and one of the faithful at the same time, some things are mutually exclusive. A psychic with a the tarot deck disproving bigfoot is not any more ridiculous than a bible thumping christian disproving el chupacabra.

This is why there is an overlap, and why so many atheism conferences deal with skepticism, because the spreading of skepticism means the spreading of atheism, that's not going to change. If you want to have a bunch of believers come to your conference, have at it, as far as I'm aware all atheist conferences welcome the faithful as long as they are well behaved, I see no reason why this shouldn't be true of skeptic conferences regardless of how many atheists show up. But don't throw someone who believes in an invisible sky wizard up in front of a bunch of skeptics and expect us to take him at face value, that wouldn't be very skeptical would it?

Stand up and fight!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Pledge of Allegiance


 I hereby pledge to listen to and believe anything any woman says. Unless they disagree with the feminist du jour, in which case I pledge to claim they are a gender traitor and sister punisher or chill girl. I pledge to protect the special snowflakes at all costs, and let none of them melt, nor be melted upon upon my watch. I pledge to fight in the Social Justice Wars(TM) and to lay down my life, and my privilege for all the white middle class women with college degrees and internet access. I pledge to never ask a woman for coffee on an elevator, or off an elevator, or even at all, lest I potentially rape her, like Schrodinger did. I pledge to show that "morals and values" are a part of atheism, and not simply an individual trait, because this is not something atheists have argued with Christians about for decades, no sir it's not. I pledge to denounce the evils of gnu-atheism, and the evil rich white old men who dare to write books about it. I pledge to never stalk, nor harass any woman online, by such means as reading their blog or twitter, or politely disagreeing with their opinion. I pledge to agree and unquestioningly accept the tenets of feminism, of all varieties , because just like Christianity, all the different denominations agree on all the same central tenets and all of these are true. I pledge to knell before P-zod, for he gave up his credibility to redeem us of our sins. And also I think there is something about not believing in a god.


I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support the premise that a god or gods exist. Also why do I need a pledge?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

H+S Stuff

So after a break from blogging for a while, I've decided to weigh in on some general shit you all ought to know about the gym and health+fitness in general. This is not going to be a typical "wipe down your machine after use" type blog (though seriously, wipe down your shit.) I'm going to avoid the type of thing that will be posted on the gym wall and focus on some unwritten rules and miscellaneous information that you should be aware of. Without further ado, here we go.

Working in  
Everyone ought to know that you should let people work in between your sets, however when approaching a machine or piece of equipment, consider the following before asking to work in.
  • Are there already 3 or more people on the equipment, if so, do not ask to work in, even if they let you, it means you are slowing everyone elses workout down at this point
  • Do you need to remove more then one set of plates from each side of the bar? If so do not ask to work in, not only will you embarrass yourself, but you are needlessly slowing down everyone else's workout
  • Are you going to add more then a set of plates to each side? If so do not work in, not only will you embarrass whomever is already lifting, but you're slowing down their workout, and nobody is impressed.
  • If you are working in, work in as soon as the previous person is finished, having a long conversation while holding up everyone else makes you an asshole, no matter how well little Jimmy did on his math test. (Not even the guy you're talking to cares)
Time and place 
Some things are appropriate in a gym, and some are not, some of these I really shouldn't have to post here, but here we go anyhow.
  • Staring at the hot trainers and gym rats is not nice, even the ones who look like they're dressed to be stared at probably just do it to stay cool.
  • That being said, gym rats, don't encourage this, if it's not that type of gym (and you'll know the moment you step in), then do not wear nothing but hotpants and a sportsbra (ladies) or the least possible amount of thread which counts as a shirt (gentlemen). This only encourages the gawkers, and none of the ones gawking are the ones you want to gawk at you, trust me on this.
  • Fucking in the hot tub, not sanitary or appropriate, same goes for fapping. Doing either in the sauna is both unsanitary and life threatening. Either will get you barred from the gym.
  • Crossfitters, unless you are in a crossfit gym, keep your douchebaggery to yourselves. Dropping weights is something you do to save your life, not to show off, if you can safely set it down, set it down. Unnecessary grunting, screaming and shirt removal doesn't impress anyone in a real gym, though it gives most of us a good laugh.
  • The above mentioned line applies to all douchebags, not just those who wear it like a brand.
  • Do not mock your fellow members technique, unless they're obviously a crossfitter, even then it's fair more productive to offer a helping hand or tip, you might even make a difference for someone.
  • The gym is not a singles bar. In the words of the most interesting man in the world; "There is a time and place for pickup lines, the time is never, I'll let you figure out the place on your own."

Personal Training
Some helpful tips about trainers and how we work from a longtime member of the profession.

  • Most trainers will be happy to assist you with technique or a spot, provided we are not currently with a client. Our clients pay between $50 and $100 (sometimes more) per hour to train with us, and any trainer worth their salt gives the client their undivided attention for that hour.
  • Yes, I will gladly offer you a free hour to do an assessment. Yes, this means you get to sit through a 5 minute sales pitch at the end. I bill myself out at $75 per hour, and I guarantee I'm worth every penny. If you don't think $68 dollars of free training and education is worth 5 minutes of your time, then don't sign up for it, and don't complain.
  • Yes I will try and sell you a long term training plan after the assessment, yes it's the best way to reach your goals, no I'm not just selling it to you to drum up business (Some trainers do this, I'm not one of them). Bad clients are bad for business, and I won't take you on if you're not going to benefit.
  • No I won't take you on as a client if you won't get results or I think you're a bad fit. I have integrity that way (some trainers don't). If I cant help you or don't think we'll work, I'll happily refer you to someone who can.
  • Yes I understand the only time you can train is 530 PM, no, the 5 person waiting list for that spot is not going away.
  • I understand $75 per hour is expensive, that's the rate I have to bill at to cover expenses, gym fees, insurance, equipment and have enough left over to feed and clothe myself without taking on 15 clients a day. The internet is free, and fitness magazines are cheap, just remember you get what you pay for.
  • Yes It's important, Yes I can help you with it, Yes most of what you read in newspapers is wrong.
  • Protein is indeed important , however odds are that the MEGASUPERWHEYMUSCLEDRINK V3.45 you bought from GNC is only going to make you fatter.
  • Unless you are a pro (meaning someone is paying you, and this person is not your mom) bodybuilder, model, athlete or similar, odds are you do not need any supplements other then basic vitamins, yes there are a ton of great things that come in bottles out there, but for most, it's about cutting thins out of your diet, not adding them in.
  • Unless of course it's green vegetables, just about everyone needs more of those.
  • Second most unhealthy thing you can do in terms of diet? Vegetarianism. Least Healthy? Veganism. Do your research people, neither of these ideologies is either moral or healthy.
  • Cutting out the following: breads, rice and pasta, is a good dietary choice for almost everyone.
  • The food pyramid is full of shit, it was made by the food industry lobbyists, not health or medical professionals.

That's about it for now, There's lots more, perhaps I'll do another of these posts in the future. Anyone interested in more health and fitness info or has any comments, shoot me a message or comment.

Have a nice day'

Stand up and Fight!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Freedom of Speech vs The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

So, there has been a whole lot of talk on the twitterotubesphere lately regarding the freedom of speech and what constitutes a breach of it, and a big part of the problem seem to be that one side (I won't say which) seems to be mixing up the 1st amendment of the united states constitution and the concept of "free speech".

Now I'll get this out of the bag, this post is directed towards Matt Dillahunty, a man whom I have had great respect for, and continue to have a lot of respect for, and his recent exchanges with Thunderf00t, a man who I don't always agree with (seems like I do less and less these days), but tend to agree very vehemently with when I do. I know Matt (or anyone else), won't likely read this, but if you do, please have a listen, as this is a point I think he's got right and you have wrong.

The 1st Amendment is as follows (from Wikipedia).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This fantastic bit of text is possibly the greatest part of any document in the world, and one of the prime principles of one of the greatest nations in history, the lack of similar in many countries being the cause of tremendous strife and pain. And no one, not one single person I have seen is accusing anyone of violating this, if it were true, you would be in front of the supreme court for judgement, and not the judgement of your internet fans and peers. But why then, do people complain?

The answer is thus; there is an idea, a concept, a thought, called "free speech",  and the first amendment was designed to protect that concept. Without this, skepticism cannot truly exist, because without the ability to speak and discuss ideas freely and openly, without the ability to question without fear of suppression, bullying and censorship, ideas cannot be truly debated on their merits.

So how does this relate to you, well in two videos of yours, you have come out with shameless support of censorship, on two separate levels, not censorship in violation of the 2nd amendment, but censorship of ideas, I will link both videos below for context, and go over each point individually.

For the record, I am not arguing with the points on feminism in the first video, those points can be discussed in other blog posts, I am merely addressing the free speech issues, anyone reading this who has not seen both videos should watch both now.

So lets start out on the bit about PZ blocking comments on youtube videos, (and really, this applies to the whole FTB crew, the twitterati, the youtubers and paranoid pre-emptive blockers like Melody Hensley and Greg Laden.) But you specifically mentioned PZ, so we'll stick with that.

When you post a public video on youtube, you are stepping into the public square and shouting out your ideas for the world to hear. Or possibly making a hand puppet remix of Gangnam Style. But we'll stick to cases of the former. In the very spirit of free thought, once an idea is out there, the people will discuss it, debate it's merits and flaws, and decide whether to adopt it for themselves and propagate it, or reject it and move on to other ideas. Youtube may infuse this process with an unhealthy dash of trolling and foul language, but in the end, people who agree will like the video and share with friend, or debate it in the comments, but the idea will receive discussion and debate and hopefully both the viewers and video maker learn something.

When PZ Myers disabled comments on his youtube videos, he was well within his rights to do so, he did not violate the constitution in any way, but what he did was turn himself into one of those street preachers who bellows into a megaphone from the corner, hands out pamphlets and ignores anything anyone has to say to them. He's said to the masses "THESE ARE MY IDEAS, THEY ARE FACT AND YOU MAY NOT DEBATE OR DISCUSS THEM!". "But wait!" You say, "PZ allows commenting on his site.". Indeed this is true, so now, you get to go to the street preacher's house to discuss his ideas, where he has in fact outright stated that he will ban anyone who has ever posted in a site he doesn't approve of.

I hope you've had conversations with him about this Matt, and not pleasant ones, ones that involve the words "IT'S FUCKING CENSORSHIP!", in that order. The fact is, these are creationist tactics, you may not have hung around youtube long enough to be familiar with VFX, Yokeup and their ilk, but this is what people who are too scared to face criticism do. If your ideas are sound, then they will stand up to both the opposition and the mightiest of trolls, only those who fear the fallibility of their ideas (or in cases o the world where free speech is not permitted, the reprisal of the government and law) will not subject them to public scrutiny.

He may have the right to block these comments on youtube, and the internet, and anyone not on it, has the right to call him a censorious coward for doing so, because that's exactly what he is.

If I am to receive a medication, I prefer it to be one that was tested in clinical trails and peer reviewed before being used on me, and not something that the chemist only tested within his own basement, because he was afraid of opposing ideas or trolls. The process f discussion and debate, much like peer review, is far from perfect, but is a far cry better then "I said it, take my word for it, no discussion allowed."

Now onto your suggestion that conferences are private events and are not subject to free speech laws. Firstly, see above, and secondly, since when does "it doesn't violate the letter of the law" have anything to do with "is it true" or even "is it right." If you want to suppress clothing you find offensive, for -ANY- reason, then you are violating free expression, and when you ban speech that creates a "sexualized environment" you are suppressing free speech, and doing it while at the same time allowing presenters to make sexualized jokes on stage, is suppressing free speech in a hypocritical manor. (It's OK when "the Party" does it, right?).

All you are doing with these videos Matt, is proudly proclaiming to the world; "I've destroyed the concept that the first amendment protects, and there is nothing you can do to stop me! BWAHAHAHA!".

Its not illegal, but I don't agree with it, lots of people don't agree with it, and even if you don't do it yourself as much as Thunderf00t suggests, you are outspoken in the support of suppression of free speech. The fact that you didn't violate the constitution while doing do doesn't put you in the right, it only makes you the asshole who got away with murdering free speech.

Have a nice day.

Stand up and fight!