Photo break

July 4, 2016

I still have interest in adding stuff to this blog, no worries if I have any regular readers, but I’ve given up on having a specific theme to every post, which has no doubt been noticed.

Saskia - Serpent of the South Sask

Kidding, of course. I just happened to catch sight of a log or something tangled up by the weir in Saskatoon and thought it resembled a sea serpent.

And, via the Daily Mail, reports of a Nessie skeleton.. or is it?

Nessie hunters have been left scratching their heads after a dog walker found what appears to be the remains of the legendary ‘monster’ washed up on a beach.

These grizzly remains were found on the shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, blocked off by police tape.

The scene appears to be a highly elaborate prank by someone who has managed to create a lifelike skeleton frame and organs of the legendary beast, complete with sharp-toothed skull.

Click the link to read more.


Today’s Found of Facebook – God can’t co-pilot Ark; hits Coast Guard vessel

June 11, 2016

Via gCaptain:

A 230-foot long replica of Noah’s Ark collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel as it arrived in Oslo, Norway on Friday, causing damage to both ships.

Media says the wooden replica, built by a Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers after he dreamed of a flood in his home town, was being towed into Oslo harbor when it somehow lost control and crashed into the moored patrol vessel Nornen.

Watching the video its hard to tell exactly what happened, but photos posted by Norwegian media show a big hole in the side of the Ark’s wooden hull.

The Ark is now owned by the Ark of Noah Foundation, which was planning on bringing the educational vessel across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games this summer.

Media reports said there were no animals on board when the collision occurred.

The Ark just sort of lists to the side and taps into the Nornen. As far as the locals walking/running by, they don’t seem interested in watching the collision. I know nothing about boats but maybe rudder failure? Someone at the wheel who’s never actually tried driving a boat before, or has but nothing so wide and bulky?

The Smithsonian reported on some Ark science a few years back. Students out of the University of Leicester crunched the numbers for their study and theorized it was “possible” after deciding on the average length of a cubit (the measurement varies in the Bible), picking which density of wood to work with, and doing the math on buoyancy and water displacement.

Using the density of cypress, they calculated the weight of this hypothetical ark: 1,200,000 kilograms (by comparison the Titanic weighed about 53,000,000 kilograms). Based on the density of sea water, they figured out that an empty box-shaped ark would float with it’s hull only dipping 0.34 meters into the water.

But what about an ark filled with human and animal cargo? Working backwards they assumed that the maximum weight would put the waterline right just below the top of the ark—if the ark is immersed beyond it’s full height, water would spill into the vessel and the ark would capsize.

(snip)

A boat sunk to its max in the water while still staying afloat could easily take on water from any breaching waves. And according to Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, the strength of a wooden beam decreases with its size, so because when things get bigger they break more easily, the beams that held this huge ark together might have been extremely fragile. Else the beams were short, which would also introduce structural weaknesses due to the higher number of seams between wood planks.

And so on. Doable, but not bloody likely, in my opinion, given the era it supposedly was built and what people had for tools at the time. But people still love to love the Ark and all its insanity…


Today’s Facebook Find – putting the hex on Brock Allen Turner

June 10, 2016

Via Papermag:

An estimated 600 witches around the world gathered on Tuesday night, at 10 PM (Central Time), to place hexes on Stanford University rapist Brock Allen Turner, his scumbag father, Dan A. Turner, and Aaron Persky, the judge who presided over his unbelievably unjust trial.

Organized in a shadowy Facebook group, aptly named “The Hexing of Brock Turner,” the witches–predominately female with a few men sprinkled in–conducted various Pagan-related rituals to promote karmic retribution on the goblin sex felon.

While some merely lit candles and prayed to the Goddess, others went dark, using dog and cat shit, as well as placing a photo of him in “nasty ointment, urine, spit and hex words.”

He was cursed with a variety of things like impotency, nightmares, the gypsy curse from Thinner, and “the constant pain of pine needles in your gut” which I guess would be prickly.

I don’t know how we’re supposed to know if this works, though.


Watched Expelled today

June 5, 2016

Saskatoon’s CFI affiliate watched the film Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed this afternoon. The whole film is available on Youtube if you want to put yourself through it.

It’s a “documentary” that plays fast and loose with the notion of facts and tries to claim that Intelligence Design is not only a valid theory better than evolution, but that educators and scientists who support it are run out of town, discredited and essentially thrown in ideological gulags for the rest of eternity for daring to suggest it. He does liken their treatment to gulags in the film and includes stock footage of guillotines and concentration camps and the Berlin Wall because “Darwinists” are close-cousins to Nazis, apparently.

Ben Stein and his team were unscrupulous in twisting everything to fit their agenda. A Scientific American article lists six of the most egregious ways the show manipulated its audience. I’ll include their list, but read the article for full details. (This opinion piece from NBC goes into some of this, too.)

1) Expelled quotes Charles Darwin selectively to connect his ideas to eugenics and the Holocaust.
2) Ben Stein’s speech to a crowded auditorium in the film was a setup.
3) Scientists in the film thought they were being interviewed for a different movie.
4) The ID-sympathetic researcher whom the film paints as having lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution was never an employee there.
5) Science does not reject religious or “design-based” explanations because of dogmatic atheism.
6) Many evolutionary biologists are religious and many religious people accept evolution.

Like Eugenie Scott, who was one of the unfortunates targeted for interviews for this film. She’s Catholic.

I also recall P.Z. Myers writing about his experience with it. I was a fan of his blog at the time and remember this being a topic. He wrote an amusing post about trying to go watch the film he was interviewed for. He was booted from line but his guest, Richard Dawkins (also interviewed), got in without difficulty.

We were trying to remember if this film came before or after the Intelligent Design trial. Kitzmiller v. Dover was 2005 and this film was release in 2008.

In the legal case Kitzmiller v. Dover, tried in 2005 in a Harrisburg, PA, Federal District Court, “intelligent design” was found to be a form of creationism, and therefore, unconstitutional to teach in American public schools.

As the first case to test a school district policy requiring the teaching of “intelligent design,” the trial attracted national and international attention. Both plaintiffs and defendants in the case presented expert testimony over six weeks from September 26 through November 4, 2005). On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones issued a sharply-worded ruling in which he held that “intelligent design” was, as the plaintiffs argued, a form of creationism.

Ball State University in Indiana hired Guillermo Gonzalez to be an assistant professor of astronomy in 2013. He was one of the educators Stein interviewed.

In 2008 Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, essentially a form of termination, after which he taught at Grove City College, a Christian liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, before landing at Ball State.

As of May 10th this year, they gave tenure to a guy named Eric Hedin, also for the astronomy department.

A “Boundaries of Science” class taught by Hedin reportedly promoted the idea that nature displays evidence of intelligent design, in contrast to an undirected process like evolution.

In 2013, Ball State President Jo Ann Gora decided ID was not an appropriate subject for a science class after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation about Hedin’s course. After an investigation by a panel of academic experts, Gora said ID, which some call pseudoscience, was overwhelmingly regarded by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory.

But they gave him tenure and Gonzalez is on a tenure track. Added to that, he’s a fellow for the Discovery Institute, the biggest group pushing for ID inclusion.

Michael J.I. Brown, an observational astronomer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, told The Star Press in 2014 it was a “remarkable coincidence” that two astronomers who believe in ID ended up at Ball State. Two ID-believing astronomers winding up in the same modestly sized astrophysics department by random chance are as unlikely as two astronomers who own chimpanzees ending up in the same department, Brown said.

Ars Technica reported in April 2016 about an Ohio school district pushing the “teach the controversy” angle.

Zack Kopplin, an activist who has tracked attempts to sneak religious teachings into science classrooms, found a bit of sneaking going on in Youngstown, Ohio. There, a document hosted by the city schools includes a lesson plan that openly endorses intelligent design and suggests the students should be taught that there’s a scientific controversy between it and evolution.

The document focuses on the “Diversity of Life” and is a bizarre mix of normal science and promotion of intelligent design. Most of the first page, for example, is taken up by evolution standards that have language that echoes that of the Next Generation Science Standards. But the discussion is preceded by a statement that’s straight out of the “teach the controversy” approach: “The students examine the content of evolution and intelligent design and consider the merits and flaws of both sides of the argument.” In fact, elsewhere in the document, teachers are told to host a debate where students take turns arguing for evolution and intelligent design.

For a science class I think that’s a colossal waste of class time. Setting up both sides as if they’re in any way on equal footing does a great disservice to actual scientific advancement and understanding. Sure, there are gaps in the knowledge. It’s to be expected. Every year we know more but we’ll never know everything and while the ID side may think it’s somehow egotistical for scientists to claim their theories for origins are valid ideas (from mineral starts to panspermia), it doesn’t make any logical sense to slap a creator into the gap instead and consider the whole thing solved that way.

Thoughts?


Thanksgiving Satan Weekend part 4

October 13, 2014

I’m Canadian and for Thanksgiving weekend I decided to give thanks to the fact that I live in a country where I can do this and have a bit of fun. Also, we’re approaching Halloween and dark, sinister stories are more likely to be in the news right now, just like “We really found Christ’s tomb this time!” articles pop up at Easter.

Not that dead animals are fun. I don’t wish to make light of any crimes perpetrated by whichever individuals would have been involved.

Fourth and second last piece, satanism accused of being behind recent animal beheadings in Colorado.

one person posting on the Wheat Ridge Police Department Facebook page claims to have knowledge of the perpetrators.

“It’s the Satan worshippers that always have rituals back in there, along with Prospect Park,” he writes. “I know where they tend to have them and always find evidence to prove they have been there…. Most times it’s Thursdays and Saturday nights about 2 a.m. I saw them sacrifice a chicken once. That was three years or so ago.”

Maybe next time you think you see something like this going down, instead of playing Rogue Detective all on your own, call 911 and report the behaviour and the location. Satanists or no, it’d definitely fit in some category of criminal activity and the police can look into it for you. You’re probably not on Kolchak’s level and you’re definitely not Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Back to serious. I found another article about animal deaths, this time being linked to black magic and Santaria in New York. (Yes, I know Santaria is not satanism.)

Detective Marcos Quinones runs seminars on Occult Recognition Training and was quoted in the piece, offering suggestions about what religious/occult motivations may have been in play there.

Another local animal death case, the mass killing of cats decapitated, bludgeoned andhung from trees in Yonkers is less easy to pin down. Quionones said hanging the bags of cats was ritualistic in itself. “It could be anything from Satanism to Santeria to Palo Mayombe,” he said. Or, it could just be “someone who wanted to [get] rid of cats.”

I’d make a joke about the need to spay and neuter both pets and any sacrificial animals you have, but that seems a bit tactless.

Hopefully they’ll find out who was responsible.


God-fearing: how is this a good thing?

October 8, 2014

I wound up at gotquestions.org when looking up the notion of god-fearing. As an unbeliever it sounds ludicrious to want to be afraid of your own god, unless the whole point of promoting fear is to promote unwavering loyalty and obedience under threat of suffering and damnation. Seems like a strange thing to be proud of. More often than not, believers seem to justify this fear by retconning it into something positive and rewarding. It’s not fear. It’s the beginning of wisdom. It’s not fear, it’s really respect.

While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing.

This kind of rationalizing is why atheists have been known to think of God in terms of an abusive parent or partner. The constant judgement and constant fear of reprisals should a “sin” occur (however it’s being defined at the moment; maybe changing by the moment) does not really sound like healthy love or respect or wisdom.

I’ve never heard of Elizabeth Esther but she wrote an interesting piece about leaving her fundamentalist faith. She’d been abused and her family – at least her father, it seems, – easily convinced her that it was what God wanted for her.

As a female being raised in a highly-patriarchal culture, I never developed my own understanding of God because God’s will would be made known to me through my father and husband. My father was God for me and later, my husband was God for me.

This is probably one of the most dangerous lies of patriarchy: a human being (aka, father, husband, pastor) is God for you. It is the most dangerous lie because if someone controls your concept of God, they control everything.

She didn’t turn into an atheist, however; she just figured out a way to redefine her sense of god in a way that would make her feelings acceptable and improve her sense of self-worth.

I don’t have to use all the same words as everyone else in order to still have a relationship with God. I can use words that are helpful and put aside the ones that are triggering.

Whenever I feel a tightening sensation in my chest or stomach, I know I’m reverting back to old, abusive concepts of God. But whenever I feel a warmth, looseness and easiness in my chest and stomach, I feel myself relaxing into God as I understand God.

Good for her, I guess, if it helps. Better to think of him in terms of being a loving and compassionate god – even if it means having to ignore all the biblical evidence to the contrary. Atheists don’t ignore that aspect of the religious history, though.

Gotquestions tackles the jealous god aspect and I don’t agree with their rationale here either.

Perhaps a practical example will help us understand the difference. If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he is right to be jealous, for only he has the right to flirt with his wife. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate.

Holy crap. What an alarming idea. All jealousy is unhealthy and evidence that you don’t trust your partner to be faithful to you. You can argue that jealousy is “natural” because it is, but so’s arsenic. Not everything natural is good for you.

Jealousy lies somewhere in the gray area between sanity and madness. Some jealous reactions are so natural that a person who doesn’t show them seems in some way “not normal.” Others seem so excessive that one doesn’t need to be an expert to know that they are pathological. A classic example is the man who is suspicious of his loving and faithful wife that he constantly spies on her, listens in on her phone conversations, records the mileage in her car for unexplained trips–and despite her repeatedly proven fidelity continues to suspect her and suffer from tremendous jealousy.

1 yr anniversary

I can’t imagine having that kind of relationship. No, not true; I can imagine it and I’m very grateful that the Man and I aren’t faced with this scenario. We just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on Sunday. Here we are looking sweet together on the sofa:

I’d say that our trust in each other is absolute. We shared our relationship histories ages ago and we always talk things through when things are bothering us. I wouldn’t want to live in fear of losing him to someone else and be at risk of taking my defensiveness to extremes.

And I know he knows he doesn’t have to worry on this end. I was into him when he was barely 19 and he’s a couple weeks away from being 30 now. He’s still adorable and means the world to me.

We don’t need to create an atmosphere of fear bolstered with threats of penalties. I fail to see how either method could lead to real loyalty and devotion in a marriage or any other kind of relationship.


Psychic “predicted” Robin Williams’ death

August 13, 2014

In other words, woman claiming to be “psychic” rattled off a long list of prominent celebrities on a death list and got one lucky hit. Here’s Psychic Nikki’s list in its entirety.

First, there are a bunch of very old people, including, but not limited to:

Kreskin: born 1935

Loretta Lynn: 1932

Tippi Hedren: 1930

Clint Eastwood: 1930

Shirley Temple: 1928 – Feb 2014: a “hit” not mentioned in the article. Maybe they didn’t know.

Hugh Hefner: 1926

Cloris Leachman: 1926

Lauren Bacall: 1924 – Aug 12, 2014 (died at home, suspected stroke.)

Betty White: 1922

Nancy Reagan: 1921

Mickey Rooney: 1920

Zsa Zsa Gabor: 1917

Arlene Martel (1936) also died on the 12th. She wasn’t on the list.

Second, there are a bunch of people listed who are already known for their risky behaviour and history similar to Robin Williams with his addictions and depression. And some of them probably already have chronic/acute diseases that they won’t recover from. Something she could have easily looked up before compiling her list.

(EDIT TO ADD Aug 14/14: Williams’ wife admits to press he had Parkinson’s)

Nik Wallenda (1979) who is a high wire act kind of guy so any sort of risk the man takes could be his last.

Kim Jong-un (1983) — how stable is North Korea?

Lindsay Lohan (1986) — how stable is she these days? I’ve blogged about the train wreck that’s been her career, although not lately. Search my posts if you’re curious.

Melanie Griffith (1957) — rehab in 2000 and 2009 for painkiller addiction.

“Leaders in Syria and Iran” — she doesn’t even bother to name any of them but it’s a war zone. What are the chances people will die in those countries? Leaders might blow up or get shot. It’s pretty likely and shouldn’t count as psychic prediction given all the history we have on this planet with war and deaths resulting from them. May as well predict rain will fall down the next time it pours.

Justin Bieber (1994) who’s one punch in the head away from a coma, probably, but it’s not nice to speak ill of the living, even if he seems to be a tool of astronomical proportions. How come she didn’t predict that his godawful music might deter bears? Now that would have been proof she’s psychic. Who’d make that up? (Edit Aug 18/14: Alas, Cracked reports the Bieber/Bear story is false, so evidently somebody did. My bad…)

Fidel Castro is listed. He has a history of being unkillable, a man with extraordinary good luck in avoiding assassinations. Did the US government quit trying?

The list is only names, no details of what fate would befall each of these people or the date on which it would happen. I could just as easily tear a page out of the phone book, claim they’re all going to die and then look for their obituaries. I suspect the law of large numbers would guarantee a hit or two. Would I consider that a win? No. I’d know it was all coincidental and ultimately worthless as proof that I’m a psychic.

I don’t know about you, but I call fraud.