Friday, August 22, 2008

"Old Time Religion" Challenge!!!

Greta Christina is offering fun and prizes to whomever can come up with the best verse to "That Old Time Religion"'s evil pagan cousin, the "pagany folk nerd" parody. Check out the link for some good ones.

Because I'm such a self-aggrandizing boor, I felt compelled to post my own verse here, as well as at her blog:
We give thanks to mighty Ceres,
with her shredded wheat and Cheeri-
o's that make our bowels so clear. You
know that's good enough for me.
This won't win me any points with the choir marm, but she's not really my target audience.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mmmmm, that's good Jeebus

I was raised Episcopalian (Catholic Lite--all the salvation with half the guilt! (h/t Robin Williams)), so I have some experience with seemingly loony communion traditions, but this is just...remarkable (h/t BronzeDog and Pharyngula):
Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn't eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.


Catholics worldwide became furious.
And wouldn't you know it, Bill Donohue got in on the act (it's been a while since Bill was last outraged, so it's good to have him back!)

My first thought on reading the article was to picture mortal sinner "walking with, talking with" the wafer, but I'm just being silly.

Walk With Me Talk With Me _Tamla Motown 1972 - Four Tops

Seriously, though, the Consecrated Host is a big deal. It must not be desecrated or sold on eBay because it literally is the body of Christ. It was recently explained to me by a devout Catholic friend that one of the reasons non-Catholics should not take Catholic communion is because of concern that Consecrated Hosts might be stolen for use in Satanic rituals. I did my best to be polite, but I find the idea kind of nutty.

I heard a similar story regarding the theft of some silver bowls and pitchers used in the Eucharist from the church I attended in my youth. There was apparently some speculation within the church that these items had been stolen for use in a Black Mass. This might overlook the more obvious explanation: that they were stolen because they are made out of silver.

Since I cannot speculate on the motivations of the host-walker (although he did return the Host), I'll limit myself to saying this: this whole thing is silly. A cracker is a cracker.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A belated George Carlin tribute

1937-2008. Perhaps you're in a better place, perhaps not. Or perhaps you are at total peace, living on in our memories and YouTube videos.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Earning our nobility

Quote of the century from PZ Myers:
Look at the bible as a pastiche, a collection of mutually and often internally inconsistent fragments slapped together for crude reasons of politics and art and priestly self-promotion and sometimes beauty and a lot of chest-thumping tribalism, and through that lens, it makes a lot of sense. It does tell us something important…about us, not some fantastic mythological being. It tells us that we are fractious, arrogant, scrappy people who sometimes accomplish great things and more often cause grief and pain to one another. We want to be special in a universe that is uncaring and cold, and in which the nature of our existence is a transient flicker, so we invent these strange stories of grand beginnings, like every orphan dreaming that they are the children of kings who will one day ride up on a white horse and take them away to a beautiful palace and a rich and healthy family that will love them forever. We are not princes of the earth, we are the descendants of worms, and any nobility must be earned.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008



No matter how many times I blink, rub my eyes, or try to wash them out with Visine, it's not going away.
[A]nother Pasco County substitute teacher's job is on the line, but this time it's because of a magic trick.

The charge from the school district — Wizardry!

Substitute teacher Jim Piculas does a 30-second magic trick where a toothpick disappears then reappears.

But after performing it in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes, Piculas said his job did a disappearing act of its own.

"I get a call the middle of the day from the supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away,'" he said.

When Piculas went in, he learned his little magic trick cast a spell that went much farther than he'd hoped.

"I said, 'Well Pat, can you explain this to me?' 'You've been accused of wizardry,' [he said]. Wizardry?" he asked.
I guess I'll have to stop removing my thumb to entertain kids, lest I be branded a minion of the Dark One or something.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

That didn't take long

I think the whole kerfuffle over Expelled is pretty well-known by now, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel there (vague pun intended). The latest observation from Bad Astronomy bears mentioning, though. It seems that an Expelled supporter has already invoked Godwin's Law. It's sad, really. I want the implosion of the ID movement to continue at its present rate of gemoetric growth, but I almost feel bad for the people who have permanently hitched their wagon to the movement. Almost.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I do believe

Excellent post at Skepchick about what a particular atheist does believe in. Assuming I have time, I want to add my own positive beliefs, but for now I'm going to carry one commenter's belief around with me for a little while:
I believe that we were put on this earth to take care of dogs. I believe our reward for that is that we get to take care of dogs.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The real problem with ID

I have been following the renewed ID/creationism/evolution "debate" with much interest, mostly so I can further educate myself about science and the fascinating array of knowledge and experience to be found in the natural world, but also to marvel at the colossal waste of time and energy expended in an ever-increasingly-desperate effort to keep evolution out of children's minds. The particulars of the "debate" have been discussed ad nauseam, but for me it really comes down to one, simple, painful conclusion.

Intelligent design is supremely, fantastically boring.

The basic premise seems to be this: This biological mechanism is so apparently complex that I cannot conceive of a natural means by which it may have evolved; therefore, an Intelligent Designer must have created it.

That's it. Whatever science has not yet been able to explain (and in most cases of supposed "irreducible complexity," already has explained) must be the work of some supernatural desginer. End of story. Go grab some chips & queso and see what's on TV.

Seriously, what's the point? How does this help anything?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How would Jesus curse?

Skepchick has a funny piece on whether non-theists should invoke the name of God or his ilk when cursing:
My hubby was on a message board the other day where someone was telling him that when an atheist says “Goddammit,” it implies at least some vague belief in God.
I find that notion somewhat nutty, and perhaps a bit self-contradictory. Truth is, though, that a good hearty G/D is sometimes the most effective way, on the spur of the moment, to express one's true feelings. She offers some alternatives to the old standards, of which the following are my favorites:
“Holy Curie’s Isotopes!”

“Mother of Galileo!”

“Great Merciful Hawking!”
One commenter recommends dropping into another language (vaffanculo!), which can be both effective and amusingly confusing to your listener. I will admit to dropping some ordinary German and Russian exclamations (Scheisse! Жаль.), but my favorite came from a Spanish-speaking friend back in college. Just try saying it:
¡Hijo de la fregada!
Babelfish translates it as "Son of the mopped one," but I've also been told it means "Son of that which bothers me." What it shows, though, is that in this crazy, technological, postmodern world, there are more than enough cursewords to go around, in just about any language. Try using a completely innocuous, yet reasonably uncommon, foreign word as a swear, and see how soon it starts to sound a little inappropriate in polite company. Imagine you just swung a hammer straight into your thumb, and then recite the following words:





See what I mean?

In closing, I have to note that the Wikipedia entry on the cumbersomely-named Hawaiian fish above states that its name is one of the longest words in the English language. Do I really need to point out that it's not in the English language?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

cdesign proponentsists

Perhaps the most astute, and tragic, observation I've seen out of this whole ID/creationism kerfuffle:
ID is "creation science" is "creationism" is "God dun it." Teaching that as something provable beyond faith in a science curriculum is a big reason future Nobel winners will pour out of China and India, and not Kansas.
I have many, many thoughts on this whole matter, but it really boils down to a single question, which is this: What will be the state of science, medicine, technology, and our whole freakin' infrastructure in America in a generation if the ID crowd has their way?

By the way, if you're wondering about the title of this post, it refers to an intriguing intermediate form between creationism and intelligent design.

Monday, January 21, 2008

God meets calculus

Reprinted from a comment thread without the permission of the author, because it made me chuckle:
[T]his reminds me of the day I disproved God with calculus, in calculus class, at a Catholic high school. Let me see if I remember it...

Let {C} be the set of all possible truth claims that might fill a particular gap in our knowledge. If we have no reason whatsoever to choose one possible claim over another, the probability of each claim being true is 1/n (where n is the number of truth claims).

The believer makes the mistake of assuming that n = 2 (i.e. "Jesus" and "Something Else"). But the elements of a set must be discrete: "Something Else," unlike "Jesus," is not a discrete claim. "Something Else" is itself a set of discrete possibilities, all of which must be counted individually among the truth claims of {C}.

If the believer cannot introduce any reasons (i.e. arguments) to narrow the set of possible claims, then the membership of {C} is limited only by our imagination. As Vishnu piles upon Odin, as telepathic koalas who control the weather bump into the invisible leprechauns who tuned the Universal constants, n quickly approaches infinity — and the limit of 1/n, the probability of any one claim being true, falls to zero.

Q.E.D. ......?
I really don't remember my high school calculus class too well--I'm one of those people who can honestly say I won't ever need calculus for my job. I get about as far as n = , so 1/n becomes infinitely small, and then I get lost.