Archive | January, 2013

Requiem for a dream and Matrix theme songs are overused garbage.

30 Jan

You know what I can’t stand? Whenever somebody uses the song from “Requiem for a dream” or the matrix theme song. You know the ones I’m talking about:

These songs have been over played to death. People use them all the time in shitty youtube videos, usually about some wack job conspiracy. For the love of all that is good, stop using this crap. It doesn’t make your video any better, it just identifies you as someone with no substance who’s trying to add a sense of mystery or suspense in attempt to give your video some credibility. In truth, using these tracks does just the opposite.

UK justice system terrified of Muslim minority.

30 Jan

Here we go again. A man, Adil Rashid, from an insulated Muslim community in England raped a 13-year old girl and was exonerated by a UK judge for “not knowing it was wrong to rape.” Judge Michael Stokes set Rashid free saying “you are very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters.”

Rashid’s defense was that he was from an insulated community and “educated” in a madrassa where he was taught that “women are no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground.”

Assuming this guy honestly didn’t know it was wrong to rape a child (and let’s not bullshit ourselves, he knew), since when has ignorance of the law been a valid excuse? Oh I’m sorry officer, I’m from an insulated community and didn’t know it was wrong to speed. Yeah, that should get me out of a ticket. But this isn’t something minor like a speeding ticket. This man raped a child.

The UK justice system, just like so many other politicians, media outlets, and universities are terrified of enraging the Muslim communities that refuse to integrate into society at large. They are afraid that if they piss them off they will become violent and begin rioting and killing like they’ve done in the past over cartoons and low budget bullshit films on youtube.

Fear and cowardice disguised as a misguided sense of cultural relativism is at the heart of this matter. It’s not about race or immigration, as some might claim. No, immigrants and race have nothing to do with this. That’s a smoke screen put up by people who are terrified at the notion of calling someone else’s culture wrong.

Well guess what. Their culture is wrong. It’s fucked up. It’s backwards. Ours is fucked up too, but it’s a whole hell of a lot less fucked up than theirs. We don’t hold that half the population is worth the same as a “lollipop that has fallen on the ground.”

Happy MLK day

21 Jan

What makes someone an extremist or a radical? Simple: holding views that are far outside the perceived center of a society. Both “extremist” and “radical” are used almost exclusively as pejoratives. Labeling someone an extremist or a radical is a way of dismissing their argument on the basis of it’s unpopularity. This, of course, is an ad populum fallacy of reasoning; but everyday people take great comfort and security in knowing that a large group of their peers agree with them.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a day to celebrate the life and achievements of a great civil rights activist. Everywhere I look people praise MLK jr. like he was a saint. I hear things like: “A true patriot!”, a “real American!”, a “crusader for justice.” He’s put up there on a shelf with the founding fathers and Gandhi.

I find it really interesting that he’s universally lauded as such when, in the past, things were just the opposite. In MLK’s day he was not viewed as a true patriot, a real American, or a crusader for justice. No, he was an extremist, a radical, a trouble-maker. He was harassed and spied upon endlessly by the very government that now has an official holiday in his name. The FBI even went so far as to try and threaten him into committing suicide. There is even evidence to suggest the government had a hand in his death. He was among the ranks of those some called domestic terrorists.

Despite all this you’d be hard pressed nowadays to find anyone who would disagree that he was on the right side of justice. This is because the political center of the country has shifted since that time. The point I’m trying to make is that I feel we, as a society, often dismiss ideas simply based on the fact that they’re held by a minority of people, and not out of a serious consideration of those ideas. What is radical today might not be radical in the future. There are times I feel my views are excluded from society’s conversation for being too “extreme” or “radical.” I’m referring, of course, to either anarchist or atheist sentiments, neither of which are overly popular but which nonetheless I passionately feel are correct. I would like very much to see society’s center move closer to those ends of the spectrum. That may very well be happening in the realm of religious sentiments, however, I feel the opposite is happening with regards to anarchism as I perceive a shift to more oppressive, authoritarian governments.

In regards to the efforts of any group of people on the fringes of society’s center: I believe there is a group of people in society that I would call the strident moderates. These people irk me to the core. How would I describe them? They are the people to which everything must be done in moderation. Every issue is 50/50 with both sides of a conflict having equally valid points and goals. The one thing they cannot abide is declaring one point of view more correct than another. The world is perpetually gray to them.

Slavery vs abolition? 50/50. Women’s suffrage? 50/50 Equal rights for blacks? 50/50. Equal rights for LGBTs? 50/50. It doesn’t matter the issue. It doesn’t matter what either side does, it’s always even. A prime example of this is CNN. CNN desperately wants to be the “neutral” news station. They’re so desperate to be seen as neutral that they ignore excesses on both sides of the political spectrum and end up becoming strident moderates. It doesn’t matter if republicans started punching babies, they’d find some reason why democrats would be at fault, and vice versa.

When it comes to “radicals” and “extremists” that do not see everything in the world as gray the strident moderate’s favorite word is “wait.” MLK addressed this very subject in his letter from a Birmingham jail.

“For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

The point of “wait” for the stringent moderates is to make the issue go away. They hope if the extremists wait long enough, they’ll just disappear and society’s center will remain at the status quo. This is not to say that everything in the world is black and white. There are plenty of things in life where there is a ton of gray. The issue I have is with people who refuse to acknowledge that there is anything but gray.  Thankfully MLK saw a black and white (pun not intended) issue for what it was: the inhumane treatment of an entire subsection of the population based solely on their skin color. So how do we know which “extremists” and “radicals” are the “good” ones? Well that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I’m not really sure there is an easy way to divine the answer. Most of society will disagree with the fringe groups, that’s what it is to be a fringe group. Ultimately time is the final adjudicator on what ideologies are correct and which ones aren’t.

Getting rid of the sidebar polls

11 Jan

The polls in the side of my blog have been there since I started this blog years ago. They’re pretty dated and I think I’m going to get rid of some and redo others. I just figured I’d post the results here first as a record before doing so.

How optimistic do you feel about the future? 817 votes

Optimistic 224 27%
Totally fucked 191 23%
Meh 186 23%
Pessimistic 141 17%
Very optimistic 75 9%

Political leanings? 1,009 votes

Liberal 310 31%
Very Liberal 266 26%
Moderate 192 19%
Conservative 101 10%
Other 87 9%
Very Conservative 53 5%

Have you actually read the bible cover to cover? 1,061

I’ve only read parts of it 582 55%
Yes, I’ve read the entire bible 311 29%
No, I’ve never read the bible 168 16%

Do you believe in god(s)? 1,103

No, I do not believe in god(s) 702 64%
Yes, I believe in god(s) 300 27%
Not sure 101 9%


So it looks like the majority of visitors that bothered to fill out the poll are liberal atheists who have read parts of the bible, but are split on how optimistic they are about the future. No big surprise there.

It’s all a conspiracy!

7 Jan

One of my coworkers is really big into conspiracy theories and recently shared a video with another coworker who was much taken with it, and in turn shared it with me. The video “Our history is not what we think!” is packed so densely full of bullshit, pseudo-science, and woo that it instantly gave me a migraine. The entire thing is a long crazy conspiracy theory about how the “official” story of human history is a lie and that the “truth” lies in ancient mystical tablets, 6th dimensional beings, vortexes of energy, and aliens.

The creators of the video use the machine-gun technique of spraying out so many bullshit claims so quickly that it is impossible to adequately address each individual claim.

In another time I would have written down a list of each individual claim made over the course of the hour long video and addressed each one. This process would take days and is ultimately pointless. You see, when it comes to people who believe this kind of stuff and make these elaborate conspiracy videos, it’s not about the facts. They might claim that that is all they care about, but really there are strong emotional and mental factors at work.

People who often feel out of control in their own lives develop grandiose explanations as a way of coping with this lack of control. Making connections, even though those connections might never really be there, and drawing conclusions allows some measure of control that they desperately crave. Arguing over what the “facts” are and what evidence exists in an attempt to change the believer’s mind is a colossal waste of time. It’s never been about the truth, as much as it seems, it’s about the conspiracy theorist’s lack of self control. Michael Shermer grave a great TED Talk here titled “The pattern behind self-deception.” In the talk he discusses our pattern seeking nature as human beings and how we’re prone to conspiracy theories.

That’s not to say that all conspiracy theories are false. Sometimes conspiracies do exist. Example: The plot to assassinate president Lincoln was a conspiracy. The trick is discerning the real conspiracies from the false ones. To that end, Shermer has a great “bullshit conspiracy theory detection list” here.

As much of a pointless time suck as debunking each individual claim in that video might be, I can see how such a long rebuttal  might be useful for showing those on the fence how much bullshit is in that video. Since I don’t have the time/energy/ or care to spend that much time creating  such a rebuttal, I just decided to show my coworker two videos.

Both of the videos were by the youtube user Qualia Soup. He makes excellent, well thought out videos on a range of topics, but the two I gave my coworker were on open-mindedness and critical thinking. I figured this was the best possible response because, armed with these tools, they could then easily see the video for the mountain of bullshit it was. Furthermore, they would be able to see the red flags the next time someone starts talking about “spiritual energy”, secret undiscovered knowledge, mystical tablets, spiritual pureness, and all other manner of woo.