Archive for December, 2009

28
Dec
09

Thoughts on Posthistory

"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

I have this morbid fascination with the extinction of the human race, and I’m actually kind of looking forward to it. I know it doesn’t make sense, but I still find myself entranced in apocalyptic thought experiments. Today I’m thinking about posthistory.

Prehistory is defined as any time before humans started keeping records. Therefore, posthistory would be anytime after we stop recording our history. Now, barring a Fahrenheit 451 situation, humanity probably isn’t going to experience a Dark Ages so severe that we keep no records of any kind. We’ll probably keep writing certificates of sale and love letters until we all die of Airborne Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

However, consider the records we keep at this point in time. Right now we’re converting our music, movies and even our books to delicate, electronically powered gadgets that become obsolete 6 months after they hit the market. When our power goes out and our technology becomes obsolete, what do we leave future archaeologists to uncover? Picture future cockroach-derived creatures on the cusp of sentience, reenacting the opening of 2001: A Space Odyessy with a Zune poking out of the sand, its contents and purpose lost to the sands of time.

(Oh man, I guess we’ve already condemned future Cockroach Paleontologists to clean up and decipher one hell of a mess. How can they piece together the history of the earth when we went ahead, dug everything up, and scattered them in museums that expose them to the elements and will eventually crumble with us? You think creationism is bad in 21st Century America; imagine a future where all the evidence has been tampered with by unknown agents. Pat yourself on the back– you are the Intelligent Designer!)

So, in between the time of the Good Ol’ Days when you had physical books and music records, and the time when we hit Peak Everything and start retreating into the woods to live a feral life, there may be a huge gap of knowledge that is simply lost.

Actually, now that I think about it, paper books are just as useless as a laptop, since paper books simply can’t last a million years. Ditto our Jimi Hendrix vinyls, our huge skyscrapers, and our Whacky Waving Inflatable Arm Tube Men. Maybe our grand experiment of a species, aside from some scant pristine fossils, will leave little decipherable record of our lives and times.

Anyway, I hope you have a nice day!

27
Dec
09

I Can Do Irrelevant Anecdotal Evidence, Too!

When it comes to global warming denialists, probably the most common and aggravatingly stupid argument goes like this: “Global warming is false because it’s currently cold outside, somewhere. Hyuck Hyuck.” The argument is similar to the creationist’s “if we evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys” question in its ability to mark its originator as someone who doesn’t know anything about anything relating to the topic at hand. Someone whipped this out at our Christmas Eve party, as we watched news coverage on the blizzard (still love you, man, but that’s no excuse!).

Now, any halfway literate goofball can fire up Google and instantly see how utterly irrelevant this argument is; however, I prefer to beat the layman at his own game. I can whip out observations about local weather to fit my worldview, too! You know what the weather was like the day before Christmas Eve?

It was warm enough to bring the snakes out.

black snake in December

It's Snakey, the Christmas Snake!

I found this big fella poking out of some abandoned farm equipment when I was out walking my dog. It’s December the freakin’ 23 and there’s black snakes mucking about thinking it’s spring because the poor dopes detected temperatures above 60 degrees. Global warming denialism is false because it’s currently warm outside, somewhere. Hyuck Hyuck.

I guess at this point, me and the layman climate change denialist are at a draw. Well, except that I have actual, relevant evidence to fall back on when I’m done playing Real American Everyman That Trumps Snooty Book Learning with Homespun Common Sense.™

23
Dec
09

Roeder: Pro-Life or Anti-Choice?

It’s a well-known fact that the “pro-life” aren’t, and that the entire platform is actually a blatant cover to put women in their place and enforce their own sexual status quo. Duane Graham’s recent post about Dr. Tiller’s murderer pointed out that most of the anti-choice don’t really take their own position seriously. Stopping a child murderer by any means necessary is the instinctual and logical choice for most folk, and if the slim minority of pro-life Americans really believed that abortion was equivalent to child murder, Dr. Tiller incidents would probably happen more often, if not daily. There’d probably be bloody vigilante lynch mobs sacking entire cities, submitting women, doctors and their accomplices to makeshift execution devices.

Duane offers that Scott Roeder is one of the rare anti-choicers that actually believe their own lies. He perceived that Dr. Tiller was murdering children and wasn’t being stopped, and he took the logical recourse.

This may be true. On the other hand, maybe not. Perhaps Scott Roeder isn’t more pro-life than his compatriots. Maybe he’s just more anti-choice. What’s the distinction?

When I read Duane’s conclusion regarding Scott Roeder’s murder, my mind flashed to the École Polytechnique shooting. Then it jumped to the guy that shot up a women’s fitness center because he couldn’t get a date. From there it lemur-hopped to the daily lashing out of the anxiously masculine, from domestic violence to rape.  What these guys have in common is that they all felt their fragile masculinity threatened. That’s all the excuse they needed.

I’m not disagreeing with Duane, I’m just offering another possibility: Roeder, due to his own personal psychological quirks and life experiences, turns out to be a misogynist. He is thus attracted to the pro-life movement, which is one of the most misogynistic political forces (if not the most) in America. For unknown reasons, Roeder’s psychological make-up sinks to a George Sodini level of insecurity. He’s desperate to lash out against agents of the unmasculine. His pro-life involvement leads him to focus on one of their most hated targets, Dr. Tiller. The rest is history.

When asked why he did it, he does what pro-lifers have been trained to do- disguise their true motives with their “I believe abortion is murder” lie.

Both possibilities are likely, and I wouldn’t be surprised by either one.

18
Dec
09

Forward This Post to All Your Friends If You Love Christmas Shoes

In Jeremiah Tucker’s latest column, he takes down “Christmas Shoes” as the worst Christmas song of all time. Now, I’ve never heard this song, but the details provided chill me to the core.

A song based on an e-mail forward? Is that even legal?

I’m a fan of e-mail forwards. They’re like a peephole into the superficial morality and oblivious self-centeredness of vast swaths of the public. Years ago I would tear through the Glurge Gallery (“glurge” is a specific kind of e-mail forward crafted to be a tearjerker but only achieves annoyance, like Christmas Shoes)  on Snopes.com, relishing them all like Santana DVX (every sip hits my lips like a landmine!).

I also loved other e-mail forwards, such as right-wing screeds against pretty much everything and everyone. I currently have more than five variations of “Atheist Professor Gets Owned by Faithful Student” rotting in my inbox as we speak. It’s highly recommended, if you start to entertain the notion that Republicans don’t hate you, to revisit Snopes’  Inboxer Rebellion or My Right-Wing Dad and get a refresher course in the psyche of teabaggers.

That being said, e-mail forwards are only to be enjoyed ironically. Genuine appreciation is a warning sign of a serious flaw as a person. But producing and marketing e-mail forward songs? It is too incredible, too monstrous; such things can never be in this quiet world.

I thought the world learned this lesson when John Michael Montgomery released “The Little Girl.” Apparently not.

I think now is the time to lay down the law: if you draw inspiration from a glurge e-mail forward, you are hereby banned from the artistic community. You are a persona non grata, an untouchable. You should be forced to walk around with some sort of heavy and brightly-colored visual marker so others know not to associate with you. I’m thinking something like a copper birdcage encasing your head, with a flag coming out the top. After a period of time, you will be shot into the sun.

It’s a fitting punishment, don’t you think?

17
Dec
09

Sympathy for the Devil

"Fine then! I'll go to hell!"

A long time ago I read a story by Harlan Ellison which retold the Garden of Eden story from the serpent’s point of view. The serpent was presented not as an evil tempter, but as a Prometheus figure- one who shares wisdom reserved for the gods with humanity, and incurs the wrath from said god. Prometheus the Greek has his liver eaten by a vulture for all eternity, Prometheus the Serpent gets tarred as the All-Purpose Boogeyman for the whole family. It’s a rattling concept for anyone who was indoctrinated in the Christian mythos.

I was reminded of this story when I read about the financial woes of megachurch evangelist  Rev. Rod Parsley, courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch.

The Rev. Rod Parsley has issued a desperate plea for money, telling his flock that he is facing a “demonically inspired financial attack” that is threatening his ministry.

Parsley is asking for donations by Dec. 31, calling that date an “unavoidable deadline” during an episode of Breakthrough posted yesterday on www.rodparsley.com. Breakthrough is Parsley’s television show.

A message titled “Crisis — Urgent” on the Web site says ministries such as Breakthrough and World Harvest Bible College need help.

The headline of the appeal for donations reads: “Will you help me take back what the devil stole?”

When asked to comment yesterday, Parsley’s World Harvest Church issued a statement saying the recession caused a decline in member giving in 2009, which has led to a fourth-quarter deficit of $3 million despite a 30 percent reduction in the budget.

Who is this vile Prince of Lies that stole $3 million from this man of the Lord? A 2-year-old kid that was abused by Parsley’s church.

This year, the church settled for $3.1 million with a family whose son was spanked at its day-care center in 2006, to the point his buttocks and legs were covered with welts and abrasions.

The boy, then 2, said he was spanked with a “knife” by a substitute teacher. His parents, Michael and Lacey Faieta, believe it was a ruler.

Let’s review: sticking up for an abused child is “demonic,” while a super rich dude who condones child abuse is not. It seems topsy-turvy, but if you read your Bible you probably won’t be as surprised. In the Bible, Satan* doesn’t really do all that much. He’s not responsible for wars, genocide, rapes, theft, or anything most people consider evil. The one evil thing he did, murdering Job’s children, was explicitly allowed by God.  His only other crimes are giving humanity wisdom, disobeying God, and leading people away from this god.

What about this God? The absolute worst thing you can do is not obey him. To get this obedience, instead of earning it, he guilt-trips, lies, lays down arbitrary rules, threatens, and smites. Don’t be alarmed though- he loves you! He’ll never hit you again if you just watch yourself! Personality wise, he’s essentially the World’s Biggest Abusive Husband/Father.

How does it feel to find out that you’re worshiping the bad guy in your own mythology?

*I’m using the conventional belief that the Serpent/Lucifer/Satan/ are all one character, which is probably not mythologically correct. If they’re used interchangeably by the vast majority of American Christians, I will do so too.

10
Dec
09

The Theory of Rita-tivity

(Today’s post is a Director’s Cut rerun from my old blog, because I’m lazy)

Over the years I have read many of Rita Crowell’s letters to the editor, like the one printed today. I think now is the perfect time to unveil one of my pet theories of the universe, which I call the Theory of Rita-tivity.

This theoretical model hypothesizes that Rita Crowell’s statements have the ability to alter reality itself, for it’s the law of nature for her to be always wrong.

If she says that grass is green, it will sprout purple. If she refers to you as a “she”, check your pants – you probably have male genitalia now, even if you didn’t have any before. If she calls a cow a cow, it will magically transform into a vacuum cleaner. If she ever said “I am always wrong”, the fabric of reality would totally unravel.

If she were smart, she’d say “The phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ is explicitly not an attack on Christians, and was in use for decades before Bill O’Reilly suddenly decided it was offensive. Besides, Christians have overwhelming privileges in this country and it won’t kill them to say a phrase which implicitly includes Christmas as a holiday”, for it would immediately become untrue. Unless she’s actually a vigilant humanist, keeping reality in check with her actions. Maybe there’s a whole network of people with these powers, unceasingly proclaiming the opposite of things! Maybe they’re called “Oppositeers” and they all have wrist communicators and uniforms and laser guns and a secret satellite HQ high above the earth! And they greet each other by saying “Goodbye, hated enemy!”, because they do everything the opposite way. And they eat with their butts.

08
Dec
09

A New Trend in Advertising: Alienating Half of Your Potential Market

Apparently Docker’s doesn’t want my money.

The bottom right corner is the best part. "Women suck! (Please buy our clothes)"

The bottom right corner is the best part. "You women ruin society what with your equal rights and crap...won't you buy our pants?"

Nor does Discovery Channel.

Nor does the Droid.

Nor does…whatever the name of this streaming video device is.

Huh! Christmas shopping just got a whole lot easier! Thanks guys!




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