Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mike Vick "should be executed" according to Fox News' Tucker Carlson

Yes, really, he said that.

"I'm a Christian, I've made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances," Carlson said on the show. "But Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did [it] in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should've been executed for that. He wasn't, but the idea that the President of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs?"
I will never condone what Vick did, but he served his time, and by all appearances, he seems to have himself on a pretty good path in his life right now.  This is not to say he couldn't screw up again, but his comeback has been remarkable so far.

This was all said in response to a story that President Obama spoke with the Eagles' owner and praised him and his organization for giving a convicted felon who has rehabilitated himself a second chance to be a productive member of society.

So, a couple of points here.  First Carlson is way out of line for that comment.  By that definition, the line to the gas chambers would be a very long one indeed.  I've often said that Vick would have gotten a fairer shake by society if he had killed a person instead of a dog.  This would be a prime example of that.  But then, he is on Fox News, so fair and balanced is only a slogan.

Second, there is a lot of talk of why Obama would make that call.  Well, he didn't call to talk about Vick, he called to talk about the Eagles' plans to make Lincoln Financial Field self sustainable energy-wise with their new 'green' initiatives.  The conversation turned to Vick after that, so the assumption that this was a call to solely praise Vick is wrong.  But, so what?  Vick is being made an example of in so many ways, why not make him a good example of someone who has committed a despicable crime and has rehabilitated himself.  Let's not use the reverse-celebrity bias here to belittle his rehab just because he plays football.  Shouldn't anyone who has excellent skills at a particular profession get a second chance?  Assuming of course that profession is not directly linked to the crime.  Having a convicted child molester going back to work for a daycare is not appropriate.  I would not expect Vick to open a kennel or animal hospital anytime soon either.

Let's not forget that Vick also owes creditors millions of dollars.  Those creditors would not have had a chance of getting any of that money back if Vick was not allowed to play football but instead had to bag groceries.

If we, as a society, are going to send people to prison for all sorts of crimes in the name of rehabilitating some of those people for when they are released, then why is Vick not getting credit for demonstrating that, in his case, the system worked?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Oy vey!  Here comes the civility issue again. 

Over on ScienceBlogs, a new blog has started recently called Dean's Corner.  Written by a Jeff Toney, a Dean of a college at Kean University.  His most recent blog post was questioning the civility (and tone) of some of the ScienceBlogs bloggers and asking them to consider other words to use instead of "stupid" or "dumbass" when referring to someone who may not agree with their opinion.  Yes, yes, calling people names is an ad hominem argument.  There is a whole slew of atheist/agnostic religious apologists who implore the "Gnu Atheists" to be more civil so we can all just get along.  The commenters kindly warned him to put on his asbestos underwear for the inevitable response.

Another recent addition to ScienceBlogs (I think he's been around for a year or so, but not very active) is Evolution for Everyone.  His recent blog post is entitled, "What's Fair in Games, Sports, and Science" talks about how in Chess, once the king is taken, the game is over.  In sports, once the final buzzer has sounded, the game is over.  There is a clear winner and a clear loser.  In Science, the king has fallen on Creationists many times over.  The final buzzer has sounded on all their tired old arguments again and again.  Game over.  Yet, the keep coming back for more, such as Josh Brecheen of the Oklahoma legislature that makes no bones about wanting to bring Creationism into the science classroom as an equal to the teaching of evolution.  Sorry.  Game over.  Take your ball and go home.

It is increasingly difficult to remain civil when your opposition are zombies.  Dead arguments raised again and again to waste more and more taxpayer dollars in lawsuits that have already been tried.  Game over.  Dover vs. Kitzmiller took care of that for us 5 years ago with several others before that.  The Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank, has been promoting the idea of Intelligent Design for many years.   Intelligent Design theory is nothing more than Creationism with the word "God" removed from the argument so it doesn't sound so religious.  They argue, and will continue to argue, that Intelligent Design is a sound scientific theory to challenge evolution.   In order to be considered a valid scientific theory, once must put forth some hypotheses that are testable.  They must test them, and report on them through the process known as peer reviewed research.  There is not one single testable hypothesis that has yet emerged from Intelligent Design.  Their only method of attacking evolution is to attack science itself.  Again, with zombie like arguments that have been dismissed through scientific rigor again and again.  Take your ball and go home.

But they don't.  I'm relegated to using a quote from Road House
"If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. It's nothing personal...I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."~ Dalton
We are way past the time to be nice.

Now, you would think that all the Jesus loving Christians out there would be nice.  Not so much.

Dawkins, you and your atheist friends cannot win. America WILL become a Christian Republic even if we have to write a whole new constitution. Millions of us are dedicated to this righteous cause. We will suceed. And then we will invade godless countries like "Great" Britain and kill all of your heathens. First we need to take care of things at home and in the Middle East but we will get around to Europe. You Godless freaks will die but then you will roast in hell for infinite time. Goodbye you loser.
I hope you die slowly and you fucking burn in hell! You dammed
blasfemy!!! Right now you are rotting on the inside... But you must
now (sic) that there is indeed a God! A great god! And he will forgive you if you regret from your fucking behavior. And you should realise thatyour entire life has been a delusion...and that right now your destiny is all fucked up! Fucking atheist!!!!!!!!!!!
haha, you fucking dumbass, I hope you get hit by a Church van tonight and you die slowly
Those are real letters sent to Richard Dawkins.  Christians are so nice and civil aren't they?

PZ Myers will often post emails on his blog with a thoughtful running commentary on them such as this one.

So tone and civility is an issue on both sides.  Human nature will dictate that we will get upset if continuously pushed.  At what point are we allowed to push back?  I can assure you that every single one of the tired creationist arguments has been and will continue to be shot down time and time again with lucid, reasoned, and civil responses.  They just aren't listening anymore.  So some will continue down the civil path and other will advocate a more in your face approach.  Which one ultimately prevails?  I don't think we will know in my lifetime, but the civil method has been tried with little success since the publishing of Darwin's Origin of the Species.  Maybe a change in tactic is needed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

St. Joseph's Stripped of their Catholic Affiliation

This is good news.

I think PZ Myers sums it up pretty well also.

So, the hospital can do Mass.  Big Deal.  Is that ALL they hospital was getting out of the deal?  Good for them for standing up for basic human decency and sticking a middle finger up at he Diocese.

Let's hope they don't cave in to the murderous principles of the Diocese in the future.

The hospital's statement is here.
“Consistent with our values of dignity and justice, if we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” said Hunt. “We continue to stand by the decision, which was made in collaboration with the patient, her family, her caregivers, and our Ethics Committee. Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

Here is the written statement from the Diocese.

Here is a list of some of the dispicable things the statement says the hospital has done.

  • Contraceptive counseling, medications, supplies and associated medical and laboratory examinations, including, but not limited to, oral and injectable contraceptives, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, condoms, foams and suppositories;
  • Voluntary sterilization (male and female); and
  • Abortions due to the mental or physical health of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Creationist Interpretation: Catholic Priests are not Human

A crazy Young Earth Creationist by the name of Brock Lee has an interesting interpretation of the definition of species.

By biology's own definition of the word species, according to Mr. Lee, a species is an interbreeding population.  He expands on this point by saying that if you are a virgin, or a child, then you are not human because you are not yet breeding.  He states that, according to evolutionary thinking about species, it is OK to sacrifice a child or a virgin because they aren't really human and killing a non-human wouldn't be illegal.  Such is the warped mental gymnastics of a YEC.

He uses this as an excuse as to why kids are wanting to have sex at a young age, because us evilutionists have convinced them that they are not human until they start breeding.  So, does there have to be spawn, or just an attempt at breeding?  This warped theory would also apply to homosexuals as well, or so I would assume.

So, by expanding on Mr. Lee's own (ahem) logic, every Catholic priest should also be non-human.  Maybe that is why they are molesting all those children.  It is their own perverse way of thinking they will become human themselves.

Oh, the stupid is strong with this one.

Of Equinoxes, Solstices, and Seasons

My none to pleasurable journey through Utah in snow storms over the weekends that book end Thanksgiving got me thinking about the seasons.  That, and a few random Facebook comments from friends about my mis-adventures.

There are four dates on our calendar that represent the change in seasons.  These days have names.  For the first day of spring, it is called the Vernal Equinox and is supposed to represent the day when there is an equal amount of daylight and night, at least at the equator.  For those of us with a Northern Hemisphere bias, this day is March 21st.  For fall, it is called the Autumnal Equinox, and occurs on September 21st.  The other two days are solstices, which represent the minimum (winter) and maximum (summer) day of sunlight.  For summer, this is June 21st, and for Winter, this is December 21st.

So, my question to myself was, why are these days the actual start of the season?  Wouldn't it make sense if these days were the midpoint of the season?  Wouldn't it make more sense for the Summer Solstice, being the longest day of the year, be the midpoint of summer?  It does to me.  This seems to make a lot of sense in winter as well.  The weather conditions in Utah can only be described as wintery.  In fact, they had Winter Storm Warnings!  Wouldn't it make more sense for winter to begin 1 1/2 months before December 21st?

Just think, we'd be halfway through winter right now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bishop Thomas Olmstead is a Douche

Just when you think Catholic leadership couldn't be more disgusting...

St. Joseph's Hospital here in Phoenix, may lose its Catholic status.  This all stems from an incident that occurred last year when surgeons, with the permission of Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital VP, approved a procedure that effectively aborted an 11-week old fetus so that the women, a mother of four, could survive a rare condition of pulmonary hypertension.  The physicians determined that the placenta had to be removed to keep the woman from dying.

The Asshole Bishop was none to happy about this and within days of the procedure, excommunicated Sister McBride.  That is not the end of the story, the Bishop is now threatening the hospital and its parent company, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), of losing their Catholic status if they don't meet his demands.  What are his demands?
  1. Submit to a review by the Diocese and certification "to ensure full compliance" with the Catholic Church's moral teachings.
  2. CHW also must agree to provide its medical staff with ongoing training on the church's ethical and religious directives regarding indirect abortions.
  3. CHW must acknowledge that Olmsted correctly described the 2009 procedure as an abortion and St. Joseph's hospital misinterpreted the church's directive on indirect abortion.
To reinforce Olmstead's arrogance on the matter, he also says, CHW's "actions communicate to me that [the hospital does] not respect my authority to authentically teach and interpret moral law in this diocese." He added, "Because of this, I must act now" to ensure that "no further such violations" take place at the hospital and to "repair the grave scandal to the Christian faithful that has resulted from the procedure."

Set aside the arrogance for a second and let's examine the central claim here which is what is basically a "pro-life" position.  First, I think "Pro-life" is a terrible name for their position, because it is not.  It is simply "anti-abortion."  Where is the distinction?  Well, this case is a prime example.  The "Pro-life" position in this case is basically saying that the mother and fetus MUST both die!  How is that "Pro-life?"  It was a clear diagnosis by the doctors that his woman would surely die if they did not remove her placenta, which results in an indirect abortion of the fetus.  Sister McBride made the wise decision that if neither will live without the procedure, then at least one will live with it.  Isn't that the real "pro-life" position here?  I don't even know if it was known to the doctors or to Sister McBride that the woman was already a mother of four, but the Church's ethical and moral position is that both should die and leave four children without a mother.

I can't even begin to fathom how a loving, caring, rational human being in the position of Sister McBride would not have made the same decision.  Good thing Olmstead wasn't making them.  As a result of her decision to save a life and allow four children to have a mother, she was excommunicated.  But the Church won't bother to excommunicate a priest who molests children.  The Church is on the wrong side of so many ethical and moral decisions that you'd think the Devil himself was running the place.

Back to the arrogance of Asshole Bishop Olmstead.  The hospital must acknowledge that he and he alone has correctly described the removal of the placenta as an abortion.  It's not enough to prescribe to the hospital that they must be certified on the unethical and immoral teachings of the Catholic Church, but they must acknowledge him personally that the procedure they used is an abortion.

Bishop Olmstead, you are a sick fucker.  I really can't fathom how anyone can remain a Catholic when their leadership are as ass backwards as this yahoo is.  Retaining your belief in Christianity is one thing, but calling yourself a member of this Catholic Church with decisions such as this and the molestation/abuse scandals, is beyond me.

Friendly Holiday Advice

Just received this via email.
Please, take care of yourself this Christmas. A recent joint study conducted by the Department of Health and the Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related.   
This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes that just drink coffee, carbonated drinks, juices, milk, water, and crap like that.   
Therefore, beware of those who do not drink alcohol. They cause three times as many accidents.  
This message is sent by someone who cares about your well being.
 Let's be careful out there!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kentucky is the Smartest State According to Ken Ham

This is just classic!

Ken Ham runs a creationist museum in Kentucky and he has managed to secure government support for tax incentives to build an Ark Encounter where they can mis-teach the masses on the authenticity of Noah's Flood, etc.  Needless to say, he had been taking a lot of flack for this, so Ken decides to respond with a blog.  The blog is "How Does Kentucky Line Up with the Rest of the States?

At one point in the bullet list of things about Kentucky, none of which are relevant to the argument, is the following gem:
  • And . . . in regard to education? Someone better tell Jay Leno and Hollywood in California that according to statistics on education (i.e., which is the smartest state?), Kentucky ranked higher than these following states (and significantly higher than California where Jay Leno lives) based on 21 factors (see
  1. Kentucky
  2. Arkansas
  3. Washington
  4. Ohio
  5. Illinois
  6. Oklahoma
  7. West Virginia
  8. Utah
  9. Michigan
  10. Oregon
  11. Georgia
  12. Hawaii
  13. New Mexico
  14. Louisiana
  15. Alabama
  16. Alaska
  17. California
  18. Mississippi
  19. Nevada
  20. Arizona
Wow!  Kentucky is the smartest state!  Well, not really, but there is a certain level of dishonesty here.  His claim is that Kentucky is ranked higher than states such as California (as a dig to Leno who joked about his Ark Encounter), which is correct, but he numbered his list with Kentucky starting as number 1.  Well, if you follow the link above, you will see that Kentucky is actually ranked 31st, although his numbering is implying that Kentucky is ranked first.  Such is the subtle dishonesty of Ken Ham, who no doubts suffers from severe headaches from all the mental gymnastics his brain must go through to justify his belief.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cold Remedies: Zicam

I have heard these cold "remedies" mentioned quite often on Facebook.  As soon as someone posts they've got a sniffle, Bam!  "Take Zicam."  "Take Airborne."  "Take Vitamin C."

Let's start with Zicam.  Zicam, first and foremost, claims to be a homeopathic remedy.  Immediately, red flags should be going in the air on that one claim alone.  Homeopathy is bullshit.  It's basic premise is bullshit.  It is in direct violation of the laws of chemistry.  The concepts of concussing water and water memory just make it plain absurd.  But, let's set those aside for a moment.  Zicam has the following FAQ on their website.
Haven't there been studies indicating that zinc is ineffective?
And, their answer is,
Clinical studies of zinc based cold relief products that use different active zinc formulations (for example, zinc sulfate), different delivery systems and lower doses of zinc have had differing results. Zicam Cold Remedy’s combination of Zincum Gluconicum and Zincum Aceticum reduce the duration and the severity of the cold.
Um, OK.  Yes, clinical studies have shown that various zinc formulations and delivery systems have had differing results.  The jury was still out on some possible formulations when Zicam was first introduced to the public.  But the thing to note here is the argument of authority, The above paragraph basically dismisses the clinical studies and simply states that Zicam's formulation will reduce the duration and severity of the cold.  Based on what?  There was a 2003 study done by the parent company of Zicam that did find that Zinc Gluconicum was effective in reducing the duration of a cold.  Any study sponsored by and conducted by the same company that produces and markets the product should be viewed with great skepticism.

Let's look at the active ingredients.  Zincum Gluconicum has been studied as a potential for reducing the duration of a cold, but studies have either been inconclusive or deemed as flawed.  The FDA has issued the following warning for Zicam nasal sprays:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified health care professionals about long-lasting or permanent loss of the sense of smell associated with use of the OTC cold remedies Zicam Nasal Gel and Zicam Nasal Swab. The FDA has received more than 130 reports of sense of smell loss associated with these products. Many people lost their sense of smell with the first dose; others reported a loss after multiple uses. Individuals should stop using these Zicam products and notify their health care provider if they experience a loss of the sense of smell.

As for the other ingredient, Zincum Aceticum?  The only place I can find any real mention of it is in a homeopathic dictionary that states that this is prescribed for the following indications as it related to the back:
back; skin; out-breaks on skin; pus-filled pimples; neck;
There is a second list of indications as it related to the genitals:
genitals; urethra (urinary part of genitals); pain; gnawing, biting;
Huh?  What does any of that have to do with a cold?  Or even cold symptoms?  Now, here is the gross part.  Homeopathy uses the principle of "like cures like."  What this means is that if you DON'T have any of those indications (avoidance of saying symptom), then ingesting zincum aceticum will CAUSE those indications.  That is why, if you HAVE one of those indications, ingesting zincum aceticum WILL alleviate that indication.  Got it?  Does that make any sense to you?  Let me use a different example.  If you have a rash, the homeopathic theory would suggest that a chemical that would normally cause a rash will cure a rash.  In theory, you could rub (or ingest) poison ivy to cure a skin rash.  I don't think so.

Homeopathy likes to add 'um' to its ingredients, so zincum aceticum, is basically a compound of zinc and acetic acid.  Concentrated acetic acid is corrosive and can cause skin burns and irritation to the mucous membranes.  Acetic Acid is used in small concentrations in vinegar.

It should also be noted that Zicam is sold with a formulation for Vitamin C.  Ironically, ascorbic acid, is listed as an inactive ingredient in the Vitamin C formulation.  A common form of ascorbic acid IS Vitamin C.  So, I don't think that is really helping you much.  Also, if you go to their "Ask an expert" section, it states, "And there is no evidence that vitamin C will help you get over your cold faster."  WTF?  Then why have a formulation for it?  And, to top it all off, they also state not to eat or drink citrus fruits or juices for 30 minutes after taking Zicam because, "The acids found in citrus fruits and juices can reduce the efficacy of zinc." 

Nice stuff.  I think I'll pass.

Fantasy Football Update - Playoff Week 1


That is the sound of the gunshot that has mercifully ended my season.  I have Tim Hightower of the Arizona Cardinals and their fearsome rushing attack to thank for it.  With the Cardinals Jay Feely having single footedly crushed the spirit of the Denver Broncos, Hightower decides that meaningless garbage time is when he should channel Barry Sanders and go off for something like 80 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter (that is 20 fantasy points).

That's not to say that I have not benefited from garbage time points.  Carson Palmer has been the poster child for garbage time passing yardage this year.  In fact, fantasy owners are doing themselves a disservice by not accounting for potential garbage time scenarios when setting their lineups.  It's just that Tim Hightower has averaged 4 fantasy points per week over the last 10 weeks. 

I pretty much have no chance of defending either of my pick'em league titles either.

Oh, well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fox News is Dishonest Once Again

Fox News posted this little piece on its website at the end of November.

School Bans Christmas Colors

A school in Florida has not only banned Christmas - but everything associated with the Christian holiday.
Teachers at Heathrow Elementary School have been ordered to banish images of Santa Claus from classrooms - along with traditional Christmas colors like red and green.

"You can't use red and green," one outraged parent told WESH. "It's ridiculous."

The parent, who serves as a volunteer room mother, said she was recently given a list of guidelines that listed the holiday restrictions.

She said the basic theme of the letter was, "We don't want to offend anyone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus or the Christian beliefs."
Apparently, Fox News never bothered to confirm the story.  Never bothered to communicate the school in question to clarify.  Didn't do anything.  Period.

When the school found out about the article, it sent the following letter to Fox.
November 29, 2010

The school district of Seminole County would like to correct the recent news stories regarding the "ban of red and green" at Heathrow Elementary School in Lake Mary, Florida. The banning of red and green is simply not true
Out of respect for their diverse community, the common practice for December classroom activities has been a winter theme which can include red, green, or any color.
Unfortunately the principal of the school was not contacted by any parent prior to the news stories. Parents are encouraged to contact the principal with any questions relating to school policies and practices.
Regina Murray Klaers
Public Information Officer
Seminole County Public Schools
[Florida has a very broad Public Records Law. Virtually all written communications to or from School District Personnel are public records available to the public and media upon request. E-mail sent or received on the School District system will be considered public and will only be withheld from disclosure if deemed confidential pursuant to State Law.]
How did Fox respond?  To their credit, the posted the contents of the letter beneath the original story, but instead of editing or correcting the original story, the simply placed a question mark behind the headline.

School Bans Christmas Colors?

As if that makes up for their dishonest and incompetent reporting on the matter.

You can see the page for yourself here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Remembering Lennon

I admit it.  Growing up in a cave, I have little recollection of John Lennon.  I may have vaguely known of the Beatles and I bet the first time I heard John Lennon's name was the day he was killed.  I have some vague recollections of news images, but I can't be sure if it was Lennon or Reagan.

Now that I am older, wiser, and moved out of the cave, I can only remember Lennon based on what has been said of him in death.

Perhaps his most popular and important song is Imagine.  It is a beautiful song to listen to even if you don't try and comprehend the words, which, I suspect, a lot of people don't.  It strikes me as humorous how many people mention this song and its message and love and peace and then in some way reference his soul or spirit.  Why does this strike me as humorous?  Because, if any song could be considered an Atheist Christmas Carol, Imagine would be it.  Here are the first two verses.
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
He clearly speaks of living life in peace if we can imagine no religion, no heaven, and no hell.  A beautiful sentiment in a beautiful song.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Being God is a good gig if you can get it

More of the Reasons I Am an Atheist.

Example 1.  Recent story out of Mississippi.
Police say the father of two missing Alabama children will be charged with murder.
Mobile Police spokesman Chris Levy said Wednesday that the discovery of remains believed to be the man's 3-year-old son gives authorities enough evidence to file two murder charges against John DeBlase, 27.

A boy's bones were found in rural Mississippi earlier in the day after DeBlase told police where to look.

Levy said witnesses told authorities both suspects beat the kids on numerous occasions.

"We have some incidents where people observed them striking the children with objects," Levy said. "The children had some injuries that warranted medical attention which they never properly received."
 I don't see any precious sky fairy doing anything to protect innocent children from these monsters.

Example 2.  A story on the complete and utter failure of prayer.
When Kent got sick in January 2009, his parents, Herbert, 42, and Catherine, 41, followed the teachings of their fundamentalist church and prayed fervently.
For 10 days the couple remained in their Northeast Philadelphia home praying over their 2-year-old son's 32-pound body, believing his symptoms, including a sore throat, chest congestion, diarrhea, and trouble swallowing and sleeping were signs of a bad cold or flu.
When the boy died of bacterial pneumonia on Jan. 24, 2009, Philadelphia Assistant Medical Examiner Edwin Lieberman ruled the death a homicide, noting that it could have been prevented with basic medical care.
I can't even begin to speak to how utterly disgusting and vile this is.  An innocent child is dead because their parents believed in something that isn't.  They are criminals and child abusers for letting this child suffer.  They should also throw the head of their church in prison.  Here is his response.
Of Kent's death after his parents' prayers, Clark said: "The result was not what they wanted because our faith is imperfect at times. But God is perfect."
Let me translate that for you.  Your child died because you didn't pray enough.  Disgusting.

Being a fictional deity is a good gig.  All of the credit and none of the blame.

Fantasy Football Update - Week 13

I managed to pull out a comfortable win to finish the regular season on an up note.  I manged to qualify for the fourth seen in the playoffs (out of six).  We shall see if my luck holds.  I held a solid lead going into the epic Patriots-Jets Monday night game.  I had two players going, Edwards for the Jets, and the NE tight end.  My opponent had Sanchez, someone who I can't recall, and the Patriots D.  There is something comforting about playing an opponent that has the QB going against the Defense.  It is really not a recipe for success.  In this case, the Patriots D did well allowing on 3 points and handful of sacks and turnovers to get 14 points, but it cost Sanchez big time as he only ended up with 4 fantasy points.

My opponent in Round 1 of the playoffs is the same one that started my 5-game losing skid in the regular season.  Time to exact a little revenge.  Yes, you Princess/Cheesehead!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Arizona State Defeats Arizona for Territorial Cup

It's funny, when I went to ASU, I don't remember anything about the Territorial Cup.  The point was to beat UofA's ass in football.  We could have cared less about the Cup.  Anyway, I digress.

Last night's ASU victory was sweet.  This was the year that Arizona was going to be dominant and had a chance at the Rose Bowl.  As for ASU, this was a rebuilding year.  We weren't going to be very good.  In fact, we only had 13 seniors on the team.  The fewest in the PAC-10 and the fewest since 1985, the year before ASU went to the Rose Bowl.

ASU finished with a 6-6 record, but since two of those wins were against lesser football conference opponents, the Devils are not bowl eligible.  However, not all hope is lost.  Of ASU's six losses this year, only one was not a contest, a 50-17 blowout at the hands of Cal.  As for the five losses? Well, it started in Wisconsin who was ranked #11 nationally at the time.  A one point loss in a game that many thought ASU got robbed on a bad call.  Also, there was a kickoff return that ended at the 1-yard line at the end of the first half that would have given ASU another 7 points.  Wisconsin was a team that would eventually go on to post 3 consecutive 70+ point games later in the year and the Devils only lost by 1 point.

Next came Oregon, ranked #5 at the time.  The Devils were never really given a chance, but they played Oregon tough for 3 quarters before finally losing ground in the 4th and lost 42-31.  Not an embarrassment by any stretch.

Loss #3 was to Oregon State by 3 points.  A good effort and a close loss.

Loss #4 was the beat down by Cal.

Loss #5 was a one point disappointment @ USC.  The irony?  They lost on a blocked PAT, 34-33.

Loss #6 was a 17-13 loss to 6th ranked Stanford.  Another close loss to nationally ranked top 10 team.

So, not a bad year effort wise.  A more mature team might have pulled out the Wisconsin and USC games.  One break or two versus Stanford and Oregon State and the Devils could have been a 10-2 team this year without a big stretch of the imagination.  Oh, the what ifs!

As for last night's sweetness, ASU salvaged a tie in regulation with a blocked PAT (karma from USC) and then won the game in overtime on a second blocked PAT.  Absolutely amazing.  You rarely see a blocked PAT affect a final score, let alone be the play to end a game.  The game was marred by some atrocious punting.  At one point, the ASU punter had an 8-yard punt after his foot kicked his own calf and almost missed the ball.  However, he was quickly forgotten when the U of A punter managed the rare 0-yard punt.  A very strange game indeed.

Congratulations to ASU for closing out their season with a win over the Mildcats.  As for U of A, they finish on a 4-game losing streak and will be relegated to a minor bowl.  A far cry from the dreams of roses they entered the season with. 

Fork'em Devils!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie Review - Tangled

I had my kids for Thanksgiving, so we went to see Tangled on Wednesday.  I don't think my son was all that excited for it since he is 12 now and those are girly movies.  My daughter was more than happy to see it.  I think my son warmed up to it thought.

Disney has certainly done better in the past with Beauty and the Beast and a few others, but I thought this movie was entertaining.  What makes a good Disney cartoon is the villain, and Tangled had a doozie.  She was sweetly vile and wicked.  Also, there needs to be a good pet sidekick and the chameleon certainly had his moments as well.

Overall, not a bad effort from Disney.  One thing I was surprised about was in the opening studio sequence it was revealed that this was the 50th Disney animated movie.  I'm kind of surprised I had not seen that marketed more than it was.

Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Princess and I went to see on opening Friday night.  The dark theme continues from the get go and doesn't let up except for a couple of brief moments.  It's been a few years since I read Deathly Hallows so I'm not sure what details were left out, which means I think they did a good job of hitting the critical parts of the book.  Overall, I think the movie was excellent knowing full well that they had to find a dramatic ending and leaving pretty much everything unanswered.  There is no way they could have done this book in one movie, so I think the decision to split it up was the right one.

Also, the kids, who are now all young adults, are pretty darn good actors now.  Watching some of the earlier movies, the acting was jarring in places, but that was to be expected.  I don't recall any "bad" acting moments in this movie.

I am looking forward to the finale.

Fantasy Football Update - Week 12

This is a season of streaks.  Started 0-1, then went 7-0, now I'm on an 0-4 slump.  I lost Frank Gore and Vince Young for the season so I'm stuck starting Palmer or McNabb.  Not sure if I need a win this week or not to even make the playoffs.  Strangely, I'm not sure I even care at this point.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We've Got a Billboard!

American Atheists, Inc., has put a billboard up near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City.

Naturally, it has generated a lot of press.

Here is an email sent to the American Atheists:

"Why don't you discredit the Muslim faith on billboards during ramadan? You bunch of pussies. You target the most loving group of people on earth. Go after the ones who keep plotting to harm and kill America and the world everyday. The reason why your stupid ass organization won't do that because they would find you all and you would find your fate with them. You pussy!!!" -- Del Araya
Yes, us atheists have so much to learn from those loving Christian folk about love and tolerance. 

Then there was this comment from another blogger, Jezebel:
is it necessary to attack people’s beliefs in the process? Why not just focus on celebrating your own beliefs rather than pissing people off by putting theirs down? Ridiculing a belief system that, for many people, is the basis for their entire life philosophy is not a way to win friends or influence people; it’s a way to act like a stereotype.
I'm not sure how telling the truth is considered attacking.  If  you wish to spend your entire life truly believing in this myth, then I don't think a single billboard is going to stop you from doing that.  If it makes you question your faith, then I would argue that your faith was far to fragile to begin with.

Here is a response from PZ Myers:
I agree that letting people go about their lives in peace is the decent thing to do. So, tell me, what about that sign interferes with common decency?

Are people who see that sign subsequently unable to go to church? Does it silence preachers all across the land?


Does that sign incite hatred, does it deprive people of their civil rights, does it oppress a minority?


Does it misrepresent atheism, does it unjustly criticize religious people for ideas they do not hold (which, by the way, would be wrong, but doesn't interfere with people's lives)?


Might it stir a little resentment, maybe even sting Christians a little bit because it reminds them that atheists exist and freakin' disagree with them?

YES! And that is a good thing that does them no harm, and even does them considerable good. We're here, we're just as much a part of this society as they are, and we're not going to sit silently any more.
Here is another email to American Atheists:

Why don't you all move to another country and stop trying to detroy the US. Read your history this country was founded on Christian principals. Atheists are like homosexuals ~You chose an uceceptable lifestyle and choose to follow a lost path expecting normal citizens to make special rules for y...ou. HOW VERY SAD YOU ALL ARE!" - charm neumann

Rants like this would be so much more effective if you could actually use the English language, or even a spellchecker.  It's also nice that they throw in homosexuals as well.

I think most Christians understand that Jesus (if he really existed) was not born on December 25th.  I think most Christians understand that much of this holiday is begged, borrowed, and stolen from other lesser faiths, paganism, and even the celebration of the winter solstice.

Merry Mythmas!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fantasy Football Update - Week 11

The slide continues, as does my own curse.  Last week I mentioned how bad Carson Palmer was, so I benched him for Vince Young.  Oops.  Vince gets himself hurt, benched, and thrown out of the Titans practice facility all within 24 hours.  In the mean time, Carson goes for 14 fantasy points to Young's 6.  Minus 8 for those counting at home.  Then I decided to bench Fitzgerald because the Cardinals don't have a QB can throw the ball to him.  Instead I started Boldin.  Boldin puts up a big fat goose egg (29 yds, 1 fumble) while Fitzgerald goes for 15.  Granted the TD was garbage time, but this is fantasy, so who cares.  Minus 15 on that transaction for a net loss of 23 points.  I lost by 6.

Utah Drivers are Crazy!

I had the distinct displeasure of having to drive to Ogden from Phoenix this last Saturday.  I ran into a few nasty conditions that I don't wish on anybody.  At one point I was stopped on I-15 at the summit near exit 120 for over an hour.  I saw more than a half dozen tractor trailers with the trailers askew as the rear of the trailer slid to one side when they stopped.  I saw one veteran driver give tire chain pointers to an obviously very young truck driver pulling a flatbed.  Good to spread the knowledge.

After crawling down the hill from the submit, I saw what appeared to be a Chevy Tahoe on its roof in the median and a quarter mile past that, a Jeep Wrangler on its side. The emergency vehicles were gone and the overturned cars left as reminders until they could be retrieved in better weather.

At one point between Nephi and Spanish Fork, some driver decided to stop halfway in the right lane and shoulder.  I was getting passed on the left and ending up sliding quite some distance only to stop 10 yards from the "pulled over" vehicle.  I was able to straighten myself out and keep moving.

So, given their familiarity with winter driving conditions I was amazed at the number of vehicles that did not bother to turn on their headlights.  Is there some rule about driving in snow during the day that you don't want to be seen?  I know in Arizona, during the dust storm season, it is recommended that when you pull off the road (as far off as you can), you turn off your lights so that people don't follow you.

As a side note, the Rain-X Spray on glass cleaner works really well.  Especially with the new windshield wipers I put on before the trip.  I never had visibility problems out the windshield.  Oh, and non-freezing windshield washer fluid.  All three are a necessity before a trip with possible snow and rain.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

Or, do you even care?  Personally, I don't.  It is a greeting, nothing more, nothing less.  It's like saying "How are you?" passing in the hallway.  You don't expect the person to answer with anything worse than a "fine."  You are definitely not looking for the person's life history.  It can't really be that hard to recognize situations where "Merry Christmas" is totally appropriate.  A few visual clues might be the bright red and green clothing, the cross necklace, the sweatshirt with Santa on it, or a nativity, etc.  Obviously Christian, or at least someone who enjoys and celebrates Christmas for its many secular reasons.  On the flip side, there are some obvious non-Christians where a "Happy Holidays" or a simple "Hello" would suffice.

If you truly are offended about "Happy Holidays," then do the rest of us a favor and wear a button that says "I say Merry Christmas!" so the rest of us know.  Otherwise, you get what you get.  Although I'll be more likely to wish you a Merry Winter Solstice instead.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Know the Terrorists Won, Right?

America, meet the TSA.  Americans should be getting a lesson in Constitutional law right about now.  Especially with respect to the Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The current practices being employed by TSA are a violation of our Constitutional Rights, specifically, the Fourth Amendment.  I hope the current hearings in Congress will force the TSA to change this policy.

Ever since we, as a society, were willing to sign away a good number of our civil rights in that poorly named law called The Patriot Act, we have stood by and allowed the government to commit all sorts of unconstitutional violations.  Illegal wire taps (4th Amendment), incarceration of "enemy combatants" without due process (5th Amendment), and the allowing of torture to be committed by agents of the U.S. Government to name a just a few.  We are slowly giving up our freedoms, and the anti-Islamic attitudes is allowing our own Christian Taliban to make inroads in driving the US toward its own theocracy.  The exact thing that we rail against so many of these Islamic countries for.

America had better wake up.  The Bush Administration has taken us down a slippery slope where questioning the objectives of our government in the name of protecting us has given rise to being labeled unpatriotic.  Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has continued many of these same Bush era policies.  Oh, and those "activist" judges?  They are agreeing with our Executive branch on just about every case concerning state secrets.  We could use some judicial activism right about now.  Except that it wouldn't be activist, it would be doing the job the Constitution gave them.

I can't think of anything more patriotic then to use our freedom of speech and speak up against our government and tell them that we want our liberties and rights back.  The terrorists have won.  It is time to move on and once again become the country they hated to begin with, if only because we were free.  Are you listening Tea Party?

Fantasy Football Update - Week 10

I played a co-division leader this last week.  Going into the Monday night game I was down by a few points.  I wasn't all that confident I would win even though I had LeSean McCoy left because my opponent had Vick.  I certainly didn't expect Vick to go off for a near record 49 fantasy points.  Made McCoy's 20 look paltry by comparison.  It also saved me from kicking myself for no starting the NE TE Gronkowski.  Brady threw 3 TD passes to him against Pittsburgh.  Even if I had started him, I still would have lost due to Vick's career night.  I am no 7-3 having lost my last two games.  We shall see if I can rebound this week.

P.S. Carson Palmer is no where, I mean not even in the same state, with respect to discussion of elite quarterbacks anymore.  I watched him throw rookie interceptions last week.  I'm going to start Vince Young for now on.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One More Reason to Thank Our Veterans


From Pharyngula... What's wrong with a little blasphemy every now and then?  Well, it will get you killed if it's about Islam.  Take note of this story about a women in Pakistan who has been sentenced to death.  Oh, and fined $1100 as well.  And this story about a Palestinian running an atheist blog.  He was caught and even is family is saying that a life sentence is appropriate while others are calling for him to be burned to death in public. 

I especially like PZ's comment along with a few of the commenters.
"You know, the gods are only harmless phantasms. It's their believers who are parasites and killers and dangerous lunatics."
A friend of mine once said "If God has a problem with what I say, he can come down here and tell me it himself."
 I like that last one.  Show me what you got you all powerful god!
If the gods want these people dead, surely they can get off their asses and do it themselves.
So, thank you to all the veterans out there on the Veteran's Day that protect my freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good Riddance Wade Philips - Not!

I was sorry to see that the Dallas Cowboy's fired Wade Philips on Monday.  It was a real pleasure watching a rudderless, inept, and poorly coached Cowboys team struggle over the last couple of years.  Gone are the Philips faces of incredulity as one short bus player after another did something moronic and stupid.

Good Riddance Joe Morgan

I was so happy to see this article from ESPN today.  Joe Morgan's contract is not being renewed.  Neither is Jon Miller's.  Sunday Night Baseball has been pretty much unwatchable for me.  I just can't stand listening to a seemingly illiterate Joe Morgan droll on and on.  I don't know how he survived 21 years as an announcer.  I grew tired of Jon Miller as well, but maybe that was because of Morgan.  Either way, I'm looking forward to some fresh voices next year on Sunday Night Baseball.  Now, if only I could care about baseball again.

The Epidemic of Concussions

I watched in disgust from a bar in Key West, Florida, as Austin Collie was being carted off the field.  Another vicious hit that left him lying motionless on the turf for about 10 minutes.  Fortunately, he was only diagnosed with a concussion.  Then, this story from ESPN, where three Pittsburgh Steelers were diagnosed with concussions from last nights game.  What is going on here? 

There could be several things at work here.  First, the incidence of concussions is about the same as it has been in years past.  I haven't seen or looked for data on this, but I'm sure it exists.  It's only the media attention that makes it seem more prevalent.  Second, there really are more concussions.  Third, the helmets are inadequate.

The helmets look different to me this year and I could swear I read somewhere where these are improved helmets to better prevent concussions.  I can't find the article.  If this is true, then I think the NFL need to reevaluate the new helmet because I don't think it is working better.  Or, it could be that players feel more protected and are more willing to take a shot with their helmet more often causing more concussions.

I'm sure there are folks at the NFL offices and the NFLPA looking at this type of thing.  The one constant that I continue to see from all of these hard hits and bodies laying motionless on the turf is that they are not tackles.  They are hits by human missiles.  I see heads lowered, arms at their sides, launching themselves into opposing players.  Sometimes, they hit their own player.  I've seen a few of those already this year as well.  I've said it a couple of times in previous posts.  Any attempt to "hit" an opposing player without any effort to put your arms forward and trying to wrap the opposing player up should be a penalty.  There should be an attempt to "tackle" the player, not turn him into a vegetable.

Fantasy Football Update - Week 9

Damn.  I lost.  I am now 7-2.

Fantasy Football Update - Week 8

I won.  I was 7-1.

Vacation is Over

I've sort of been on hiatus for a few weeks.  It all started with weekend trip to Vegas, followed by a week of frantic preparations to get ready for a 10-day trip to Key West, FL.  Now that I am back, and the Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives and I am now at the mercy of a Republican Congressman in my district, its time to dish out some smack.  Oh, and its time celebrate the Myth of Christmas.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fantasy Football Update - Week 7

This week was an unexpected laugher.  I defeated the Phupped Ducks by a score of 110-64.  It is my 6th win in a row and I remain in a 2-way tie for first place in my division.  My division is very tough.  The other division is led by a 4-3 team.  I could have posted a much larger score had I stared Darren McFadden of Oakland.  He went off for 196 yard rushing/receiving and 4 touchdowns.  Had I started him in my flex spot instead of Ricky Williams, I would have posted a 149!  Fortunately, I did not need him this week, although it looks like his groin is fine and he had definitely established himself as the featured back in Oakland.  Carson Palmer finally had a big fantasy week for me as well.  400+ yards and 3 TDs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eight Christian Suicides

Normally, I refrain from posting too much from the ultra right wing websites that I see a lot of crazy shit material from.  They are so far out of touch with reality that I can't often read the crap to post about it.  Well, this one I've seen on several of the other blogs I follow and I have to blog about it because it is so incredibly stupid and hateful that it can not go unseen.  The post is called Eight Straight Suicides and is in reference to the recent string of suicides by homosexual who have been bullied, abused, outed, or otherwise had their lives made miserable enough to kill themselves.  The author is Mike Adams.  I don't know anything about him, but a little research shows that the site he has posted this on is a conservative opinion and analysis e-zine.  You must read it to believe it.  He starts out with the following (emphasis mine),
Officials on college campuses across the nation are alarmed at a wave of recent suicides involving Christians who have been harassed by homosexual activists. The main stream media isn’t covering the story so, as usual, I have taken it upon myself to do their jobs for them. None of the following eight cases have been covered by any of the three major news networks.
Wow, this is a very serious problem.  Anytime any sort of harassment takes place that leads to a suicide is very serious and needs to be taken seriously regardless of who the victims are or who the harassers are.  He then follows with little stories of the eight people.  Here is one of them,
Crystal was an administrator at a university in Ohio. She wrote an article for the local paper, which let homosexuals know that there are ways to escape the lifestyle that ends their lives prematurely. She told them they could find hope in God. But they were enraged. They demanded that she be fired from her job – even though her opinions were written and disseminated on her own time. They managed to get her fired. Later, she took her own life.
Certainly, losing your job over something is very devastating.  From the way it is written, you can assume that Crystal believes that homosexuality is a choice and may have been advocating things like reparative therapy.  Certainly, she was advocating turning toward God for answers.

Here is where it becomes vile and disgusting,
These eight cases are all true except for one thing: The Christians who were bullied by gays and gay activists are all still alive. Not a single one has committed suicide. That is because they have centered their lives around Jesus Christ, rather than their sexual identity. And no amount of bullying can change my mind about that. 
You have got to be fucking kidding me!  I can't think of a sweeter, kinder, gentler way to be as repulsive, hateful, hurtful, and ignorant as Mike Adams was with that closing paragraph.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sorry, But You're Not Christian Enough

Christians, especially the intolerant hateful kind, have taken up a new strategy in their quest to establish the American Taliban and American Theocracy.  You know, the concept that the Constitution of the United States is a Christian document and the Bill of Rights is inspired by the Ten Commandments.  Hmmm, ten amendments in the Bill of Rights and something approximating ten commandments (depending on which version you read).   I see the argument.

Well, the latest argument is best exemplified by the moronic citizens of Murfreesboro, TN.  Despite a long established and peaceful Muslim community, the citizens of the town are all up in arms about their desire to build a new mosque and community center.  Earlier this year, construction equipment being used to build the new mosque was set on fire.  Now the citizens of the community are claiming the whole building permit was done without public hearings and have rejected any freedom of religion claims because they say Islam is not a religion.  In other words, Muslims are not Christians and so, not in my backyard.  Christianity is the only true religion and that is what the Constitution protects, and only protects. 

In a similar vein, in a recent story out of North Carolina, a couple put their two sons into a cub scout troop sponsored by a local Presbyterian church.  After sometime, they volunteered to be leaders.  However, they were asked to step down as leaders when it was identified that they were members of the LDS Church.  The claim?  Mormons are not true Christians.

The hateful Christian-only rhetoric from the likes of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.  The complete and utter stupidity of Christine O'Donnell, Sharon Angle, and Michelle Bachmann is nothing short of guanophrenic.  They have inspired a whole new class of angry, hateful voters, and for all the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

News Flash: The French are Crazy

I've been following this story for a few months, but it has just now gotten more attention in the news.  You see, when you are facing difficult economic times, the best possible thing you can do as a constructive member of society is to torch capital goods.  Whenever a foreign power would enter France, the first thing they would do is surrender first, then resist second.  It is the nature of being French I guess.  Anyway, what is it that has gotten the French all up in arms and angry to don masks?  Well, the French government has decided that in order to keep their national pension plan solvent, they must raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.  Yes, that's right, they are raising the retirement age to 62!  Man, that is one way to piss off a Frenchman.  Even the students are getting involved and they don't have to worry about this for 40 more years.  I think they need to teach more economics to these students for them to realize that if they don't raise the retirement age by a paltry two years, then they won't see any of it anyway.

I think my retirement age is 67 (maybe 68).  I have been in the workforce for 24 years (including high school jobs) and am fully vested in Social Security.  I still have another 27 to go.  Maybe, just maybe, with a little luck and planning, I can retire earlier.

The French are crazy.  Let them eat cake!

The Story of Grady and Dixie

Grady Gammage was the long time President of NAU prior to becoming the President of Arizona State College up until 1958 when he led a campaign to change the name to Arizona State University.  His wife, Dixie, was a former pupil of Grady's (the old dog) and very active in the development of Arizona State College prior to her death in 1948.

Dixie Gammage Hall on the campus of ASU was named in her honor.

Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium was named his honor for his work in getting ASU to full University status.  Gammage Auditorium is famous for being the last public commission of Frank Lloyd Wright.  It had a reputation of having some of the best acoustics of any performance hall of its time.

Back in April of 1994, my wife and I were at her parents house, for what reason, I don't recall.  Our friends, Caryn and Joel, stopped by after work and brought with them two kittens.  They worked for ASU Parking and were handing an event at Gammage Auditorium when the kittens wandered out into traffic.  Caryn picked them up and held them draped over her arm while she continued to direct traffic.

I had never had cats and really wasn't that interested, but my wife had cats and she wanted to keep them.  I said that maybe we will keep one of them.  Yeah, right.  Anyway, they were obviously inseparable and so we named them Grady and Dixie.  Grady was all black with three white socks and Dixie was patterned like a Holstein cow.

Grady and Dixie were our first children.  Then came Sparky, a Cairn Terrier/Pug mix, followed by a third cat, Hazel (who is now 14).  We then had real kids, Isaak and Emma, followed by another dog, Gaby.  Gaby was an adopted 10-year old Chocolate Lab.  Sparky and Gaby have since passed on.

Grady passed on about 5 years ago, and Dixie passed on last Friday.  She was 16 1/2 years sold.  This time, Dixie outlived Grady.  I can't find any e-pictures of Grady, but here are Hazel and Dixie.

Tom Petty Concert Review

I can't believe I didn't post this sooner.  Princess managed to beat me to it.  So, read her post first for all the details that I will omit...

Now that you're back...

I have to admit not having a lot of enthusiasm for seeing Chuck Berry.  He has never been on my bucket list of aging rock stars to go see.  In fact, prior to him being announced as the opener, I thought he was dead.  He was entertaining.  I knew very few of the songs but have heard a lyric or two here and there in years past.  He moved pretty good for being nearly 84.  There were a few mis-hits on the guitar, but nothing too major.  All in all, a good show.  At least I can say that I have seen Chuck Berry perform Johnny B. Goode live.

As for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the show itself was very good.  The sound was really good.  Not so loud as to distort, but loud enough to be crisp and clear.  Having a less than full house probably helped because they didn't have to plan on drowning out a bunch of crowd noise.  My only real disappointment was the length of the show.  It came in just under 90 minutes.  That is not a lot of songs for someone with his catalog.  I'm sure quite a few people went home disappointed at not having heard their favorite.  Maybe I'm a bit spoiled by Rush, who usually puts on a 90-minute show prior to taking their first break!

I'm glad to have seen him live, but I will probably save my concert dollars for some other acts should he come around again.

As for the new album, Mojo, it is kick ass.  I really like it.  Plus, you got the album download free with the concert ticket purchase, which was nice and added to the overall value of the ticket price.

Fantasy Football Update - Week 6

I won my fifth straight game and I am now 5-1 on the season.  I thought I was doomed last night when Vince Young went down early in the first quarter.  He is my backup QB and my regular starter was on a bye week.  I thought for sure I was done.  Fortunately, the Titans D came up big and ended up being my high scorer for the week.

One comment on this week's games.  The helmet-to-helmet collisions.  There were quite a few scary ones this week.  I was glad to see Rodney Harrison on the NBC telecast say the only way to stop this is to eject and suspend players.  I was disappointed to hear them, and the announcers for the Falcons/Eagles game to say that they weren't sure how a player was supposed to hold up.  I have one simple rule to determine if a hit is legal or not. 

Here is an image just after the impact.  This alone is not sufficient to determine if this was a helmet to helmet hit or not.  It also doesn't show if Robinson was leading with his shoulder.  What it does show you is the position of Robinson's arms.  They were at his side when he hit Jackson.  Now, I have not played football at any level, but I do know that if your intent is to actually tackle someone, you usually have your arms in a position to wrap them around the player to bring them down.  In this case, regardless of whether the hit was legal by NFL rules, the point is that it was still a hit and not a tackle.  I think any attempt to take down a ball carrier without any attempt to wrap your arms around them should be flagged as a penalty.  When you have your arms extended with the intent of tackling a player, even in mid-air, then your head is up and you are more likely to lead with your shoulder and not helmet.  Otherwise, the sole intent is to inflict pain and injury, and that should be illegal.

I Double Dog Dare You!

I was dared to write a blog post about this.  Dared I tell you.  I have a friend trying to sell their house.  They have not had much luck and through the miracle of Facebook, I get a blow by blow account of their escapes from the house for the last second showings.  Not much luck.

So, she broke down and bought a St. Joseph Home Selling Kit.

I facepalmed (poor grammar not my doing).

In this case, Joseph is the father of Jesus.  I guess he would be the stepfather since he didn't really get any enjoyment out of the whole deal.  Joseph was a carpenter, so what better occupation than that to be the patron saint of home selling.  The idea is to bury the statue in the yard and then offer prayers (prayer card, instructions, and protective burial bag included).  This will presumably sell your home quicker.

One has to wonder why a protective burial bag is included.  You would think through divine intervention that the statue itself would be immune to the effects of its burial.  However, since the intent is to resurrect the statue after the house sells, they figure you want to keep it in pristine condition so it can sit in your garage at the next house until you are ready to sell it.

I wish you the best of luck and I think your house will probably sell.  Not because of the statue, but just because.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arizona Governor Race Turns Nasty

The race for Arizona Governor turned a bit nasty over the last couple of days.  Yesterday, while attending the SCAz kick-off event, Kyrsten Sinema told us that current governor Jan Brewer's campaign manager, a fellow by the name of Chuck Coughlin, put out a memo suggesting the Democratic candidate Terry Goddard was gay and that he should take a lie detector test.  This seemingly coincided with a recent tightening of the race between the two candidates.  I can't seem it find a news story that cites the lie detector test.  As it turns out, rumors had been floated the day before via the internet that Jan Brewer's health was in serious decline, which certainly raises questions of her ability to complete a full term as governor.

I don't know who you believe.  To Brewer's credit, she fired Coughlin.  In such a tight race, as this has become, it certainly shows the Brewer thought it was a classless accusation.  Coughlin has since apologized, sort of.  In a statement released by Coughlins's firm, he said that the accusation was only meant to prove a point.  That it was ridiculous that Brewer's health was even in question on internet blogs.

OK.  Lots of points to be made here. 

I think the health of an official running for office is important.  However, to post only anonymous rumors with no supporting evidence is uncalled for.  I don't question that. 

The counter-accusation by Coughlin was just plain stupid.  It utterly failed to make the point he says it was trying to make.  The health posts were anonymous.  Was Goddard, or his campaign behind them?  Maybe.  But at least they were smart enough to put some anonymity between them.  Coughlin just stepped right in it without even looking.  Stupid.

As for the accusation itself, the Goddard camp could have handled that better.  They called the accusation "abhorrent."  Not sure how to take that.  I would hope that in this day and age, being "accused" of being gay would not be "abhorrent."  It is sort of like me being accused of being black.  I'm not, but is that abohorrent?  It is uninformed.  A simple picture of me would settle the matter once and for all.  It doesn't take much to look at Goddard's wife and family to strongly believe that he is heterosexual.  I think for gay rights to be mainstream, even gay rights supporters should not be flinching at being "accused" of being gay.

Goddard's camp should have answered the question quite simply.  So what if he is.  It should not make one bit of difference to anyone whether a candidate for public office is gay, or black, or a woman, or an atheist, or a jew, etc.  What should matter is whether or not the candidate supports your position on the issues.  If you have issues with a candidate solely on whether he is gay or not, then you suck.

Secular Coalition for Arizona Kick-off Event

On Tuesday night I attended the kick-off meeting of the first state chapter of the Secular Coalition for America.  This was a first for me as I generally shy away from political events and crowds for that matter.  There were probably 100 people in attendance and we did a good job filling up the auditorium at the Scottsdale Library.  The guest speakers were Kyrsten Sinema, a State Representative for District 15 in Central Phoenix and currently running for State Senator of that district, and Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of SCAmerica.  I was actually quite surprised by the age differences in the crowd.  Honestly, I did not expect to see as many older people.  Talking to one older gentleman, he seemed quite happy to see so many young people.  I learned a lot from the two speakers and I will have some follow posts on a few of the things I heard once I can find some sources to link to. 

As for the Secular Coalition for America, their Advisory Board has a few names you may have heard of.  Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, and Julia Sweeney to name a few.

Check them out a  And, check out the Arizona Chapter online as well.

The Chiliean Mine Rescue

It has been quite a day.  Seeing each miner coming up through the shaft to daylight and freedom has been awe inspiring.  A great deal of praise is warranted for all of those who helped in the effort.

First, the miners themselves for finding a safe haven and staying calm while rescuers sought to determine their location.

To the first response rescuers who help drill the first bore hole to not only find the miners alive, but to provide a lifeline of much needed air, food, water, and communications.

To the mining company for bringing in experts from around the world to assist in the rescue, such as the NASA psychologists and doctors that helped rescuers interact with the miners.

To the Pennsylvania drill firm that heard the news about the rescue shaft not being done until December and saying we can do better and volunteered their services.

To the builders of the rescue capsule.

To the rescuers that went down first to help the miners for their trip up.

To the all the family, friends, and co-workers who assisted in the rescue.

But please, please don't praise God.  This is not a miracle.   This was a well organized, well coordinated effort by mere mortals.  There was nothing supernatural about what they did.  Nothing outside the realm of the laws of nature that would indicate any sort of divine intervention.  There just wasn't.

If you do want to praise God for the rescue, then do you also blame God for trapping them in the first place?  If not, why not?

Maybe, just maybe, there will be one honest miner in the bunch.  (As a side note, I think the depiction of the miners is uncalled for, they were obviously healthy looking and well groomed, but the message itself is good.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fantasy Football Update - Week 5

That was pathetic.  I had the third lowest score of all the teams that played this week.  Fortunately for me, I played the team with the lowest score for the week.  I beat the AZ Garanimals 59-32.  My week did not start out well.  Two of my three starting running backs were injured.  Run-DMC (Darren McFadden) was definitely out, but LeSean McCoy was questionable, but his team played Sunday night, so I had to make a choice.  I benched him.  Bad move.  I mean the guy had a cracked rib.  How was he going to be effective?  Effective for 19 fantasy points wallowing on my bench.  But, a win is a win.  I am now 4-1 and tied for second in my division.

I am an Angry Atheist and Happy About it.

When I first started the blog, the first two posts were asking whether I was an angry atheist.  The answer was yes.  I still am angry.  This expressed anger by many atheists, especially the "Gnu Atheists" as they are called, is not changing.  It is being asked if it should.  Should atheists be less angry?

Greta Christina has a fantastic blog post on the subject.  It is quite long, but well worth the read.  It is filled with all sorts of examples as to why atheists are angry.  She sets out to answer the three questions she outlines below.
I want to talk about atheists and anger.
This has been a hard piece to write, and it may be a hard one to read. I'm not going to be as polite and good-tempered as I usually am in this blog; this piece is about anger, and for once I'm going to fucking well let myself be angry.
But I think it's important. One of the most common criticisms lobbed at the newly-vocal atheist community is, "Why do you have to be so angry?" So I want to talk about:
1. Why atheists are angry;
2. Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary;
And 3. Why it's completely fucked-up to try to take our anger away from us.
So let's start with why we're angry. Or rather -- because this is my blog and I don't presume to speak for all atheists -- why I'm angry.
I mentioned a blog post from PZ Myers yesterday that talks about why accommodating religion is a bad idea.
I've been told to hush, there are good Christians who support science, and a vocal atheism will scare them away...and I have to ask, you question my support for science education, when you pander to people who you admit will put their superstitions above science if someone says a harsh word about Jesus? 

Yesterday, Jerry Coyne had an op-ed piece in USAToday about how science and religion cannot be friends.
The religious approach to understanding inevitably results in different faiths holding incompatible "truths" about the world. Many Christians believe that if you don't accept Jesus as savior, you'll burn in hell for eternity. Muslims hold the exact opposite: Those who see Jesus as God's son are the ones who will roast. Jews see Jesus as a prophet, but not the messiah. Which belief, if any, is right? Because there's no way to decide, religions have duked it out for centuries, spawning humanity's miserable history of religious warfare and persecution.
Why are atheists angry?  Because we know the truth and not because we were told the "truth," but because we learned it.  We worked at it.  We acknowledged when we were wrong and we learned from it.  When has religion ever learned anything?  It can't, by definition, ever learn, because learning would put you in conflict with belief.  Even by the most basic applications of logic, religion fails in every conceivable way, yet, we continue to battle its ignorance.  That is why I'm angry.

Why is our anger valid, valuable, and necessary?  I'm not sure I can do this answer any better than Cristina does,
Because anger has driven every major movement for social change in this country, and probably in the world. The labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, the modern feminist movement, the gay rights movement, the anti-war movement in the Sixties, the anti-war movement today, you name it... all of them have had, as a major driving force, a tremendous amount of anger. Anger over injustice, anger over mistreatment and brutality, anger over helplessness.
You know what other movement has been driven by anger?  The Tea Party movement with a massive push from the dregs of the Moral Majority.  They are every bit as angry at the collapsing walls of their faith as they see their God pushed into smaller and smaller gaps of scientific knowledge.  Everyone has a right to be angry.  How you use it.  How you project it.  How you harness it, can make all the difference in the world.

Christians are angry as the Manhattan Islamic Cultural Center.  They are using that anger as political motivation without regard to the unconstitutionality of their cries.  They project it using fear, hatred, and demagogy.  They are trying to harness it with votes come election day.

So, don't sit there and tell us atheists that we are not allowed to be angry.  We will use it.  We will project it with laser precision, and we will harness it.  Perhaps that is why they don't want to see us angry anymore.

It's not necessarily about being angry either, but being told you shouldn't be angry, especially when you look at all the good things that have come from people becoming angry enough to take action. Then it becomes an issue of how you channel that for good rather than for harmful purposes. 9/11 was the result of Muslim anger. This has hurt their cause. As a result, Christians are angry and seemingly willing to throw away their own religious rights (if they actually understood the issue). This results in more recruitment material for the angry Muslims. This is definitely anger projected in the wrong way. Right now, atheists are just angry, but we take up those battles in school board meetings and courts of law. This is not to say that there aren't a few bad atheist apples out there (such as the guy that took hostages at the Discover Channel building several weeks ago) who project their anger the wrong way. It is a movement that needs to build momentum, how it gets harnessed will be the ultimate test. if you haven't done so, I would encourage you to fully read the linked blogs. They are far better writers than I am.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hundreds of New Species Discovered

There seems to be a story such as this every few months.  Biodiversity surveys of remote areas of our planet reveal thousands of new species every year.  In this case, 200 new species were identified in research trips to Papua New Guinea.  I can't help but think how these tiny frogs, rodents, and insects all managed to find their way to find refuge in Noah's Ark when they lived on an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 6000 miles from the ancient holy lands.  Surely they would have all drowned in the flood. 

A Sunday Sermon on Confrontation vs. Accommodation

This past week, PZ Myers attended the Secular Humanism conference.  He was on a panel discussing confrontation vs. accommodation.  He posted his statement to the crowd in that forum.  There is a lot of powerful and thought provoking thoughts in this statement.

I'm going to begin with where I entered this conflict — and make no mistake, it's a real battle — with my experience in science education, and specifically with the teaching of evolution. Biology has been a lifelong passion for me, and when I first began teaching way back in the 1980s, it was a shock to discover students who had nothing but contempt for the great unifying principle of my discipline, who were happily wallowing in self-inflicted ignorance and who outright denied plain and simple facts about science. And when I discovered that there were ministers who came onto our campus and lied to our students, presented half-truths and weird fantasies to substitute for evidence, I was outraged. We Gnu Atheists have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake: we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame, put it on the backs of religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the young for a long, long time.
This is another theme in this conflict: Gnu Atheists are so dang angry. Damned right we are. The real question is why everyone else isn't. If you aren't angry about what's being done to undermine education in this country, you haven't been following along.
But we also respond rationally. My early incredulity about the nonsense being promoted by creationists was followed by a lot of fact-finding. You can do it too -- look up the history of creationism, and you find that we've been fighting this same battle for at least half a century, and dealing with the same inane arguments over and over again. Where once Duane Gish was the creationist dinosaur roaming the earth, he was replaced by Kent Hovind, and he is now superseded by Ken Ham and Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind. Nothing has changed but the names. We have had a succession of court cases: Epperson v Arkansas in 68, McLean v Arkansas in 82, Edwards v. Aguillard in 87, Kitzmiller v Dover in 2005 -- are they coming to an end? Did any of these trials diminish the influence of creationists? One flareup will be squelched, and next year there will be another. Similarly, we see a succession of politicians come and go, and nothing changes. Ronald Reagan becomes Santorum becomes Bush becomes another dreary chain of Republican know-nothings at every election cycle. It's 2010, and guess what: Christine O'Donnell is running for the senate, and I've still got a local fundamentalist pastor coming on to my campus every week to instruct my students in the video fables of Brother Kent Hovind.
We have been treading water for 50 years. In one sense, that's a very good thing: better to stay afloat in one place than to sink, and I am deeply appreciative of organizations like the NCSE that have kept us bobbing at the surface all this time, and please don't ever stop. But isn't it also about time we learned a new stroke and actually made some progress towards the shore? Shouldn't we move beyond just reacting to every assault by Idiot America on science education, and honestly look at the root causes of this chronic malignancy and do something about it?
The sea our country is drowning in is a raging religiosity, wave after wave of ignorant arguments and ideological absurdities pushed by tired dogma and fervent and frustrated fanatics. We keep hearing that the answer is to find the still waters of a more moderate faith, but I'm sorry, I don't feel like drowning there either.
There is an answer, and it's on display right here in this room. The solution, the only longterm solution, is the sanity of secularism. The lesser struggles to keep silly stickers off our textbooks or to keep pseudoscientific BS like intelligent design out of our classrooms are important, but they are endless chores -- at some point we just have to stop pandering to the ideological noise that spawns these unending tasks and cut right to the source: religion.
That's where the Gnu Atheists get their confrontational reputation. We're fed up with fighting off the symptoms. We need to address the disease. And if you're one of those people trying to defend superstition and quivering in fear at the idea of taking on a majority that believes in foolishness, urging us to continue slapping bandages on the blight of faith, well then, you're part of the problem and we'll probably do something utterly dreadful, like be rude to you or write some cutting sarcastic essay to mock your position. That is our m├ętier, after all.
There is another motive for our confrontational ways, and it has to do with values. We talk a lot about values in this country, so I kind of hate to use the word -- it's been tainted by the religious right, which howls about "Christian values" every time the subject of civil rights for gays or equal rights for women or universal health care or improving the plight of the poor come up -- True Christian values are agin' those things, after all. But the Gnu Atheists have values, too, and premiere among them is truth. And that makes us uncivil and rude, because we challenge the truth of religion.
Religion provides solace to millions, we are told, it makes them happy, and it's mostly harmless.
"But is it true?", we ask, as if it matters.
The religious are the majority, we hear over and over again, and we need to be pragmatic and diplomatic in dealing with them.
"But is what they believe true?", we ask, and "What do we gain by compromising on reality?"
Religion isn't the problem, they claim, it's only the extremists and zealots and weirdos. The majority of believers are moderates and even share some values with us.
"But is a moderate superstition true?", we repeat, and "How can a myth be made more true if its proponents are simply calmer in stating it?"
I mean, it's nice and all that most Christians aren't out chanting "God Hates Fags" and are a little embarrassed when some yokel whines that he didn't come from no monkey, but they still go out and quietly vote against gay and lesbian rights, and they still sit at home while their school boards set fire to good science.
It's all about the truth, people. And all the evidence is crystal clear right now: the earth is far older than 6,000 years. Evolution is a real, and it is a process built on raw chance driven by the brutal engines of selection, and there is no sign of a loving, personal god, but only billions of years of pitiless winnowing without any direction other than short-term survival and reproduction. It's not pretty, it's not consoling, it doesn't sanctify virginity, or tell you that god really loves your foreskin, but it's got one soaring virtue that trumps all the others: it's true.
You won't understand what the Gnu Atheists are up to until you understand that core value. I have been told that my position won't win the creationist court cases; do you think I care? I did not become a scientist because I want to impress lawyers. I have been told that I must think promoting atheism is more important than promoting good science education; tell me how closing my eyes to claims of an imaginary deity using quantum indeterminacy to shape human evolution helps students better understand reality. I've been told to hush, there are good Christians who support science, and a vocal atheism will scare them away...and I have to ask, you question my support for science education, when you pander to people who you admit will put their superstitions above science if someone says a harsh word about Jesus?
I have to follow the advice of Tom Paine:
A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
And I will insist that a principle worth holding is worth fighting for. We must confront untruths; letting them lie unquestioned is simply a way to allow them to fester and grow.
I have to quote something I recently read by Ed Yong, the science journalist who blogs at Not Exactly Rocket Science. He has an excellent post up asking, "Should Science Journalists Take Sides?", and while it's specifically addressed to journalists, it applies equally well to scientists, or humanists, or just plain citizens. To summarize it all, the answer is yes: journalists should take sides, and I'm going to generalize it and suggest that we should all take sides. Here's what Ed wrote:
A veteran science journalist recently wrote: "Reporters are messengers - their job is to tell, as accurately as they can, what has been said, with the benefit of such insight as their experience allows them to bring, not to second guess whether what is said is right". That's rubbish. If you are not actually providing any analysis, if you're not effectively "taking a side", then you are just a messenger, a middleman, a megaphone with ears. If that's your idea of journalism, then my RSS reader is a journalist.
Too many of the godless believe in something even more: to avoid rocking the boat, to refrain from challenging dogma, to deftly avoid the issue when someone raises some religious folly. If you think you're helping the cause with your cautious silence, then a brick wall is a public intellectual. Then Ed has this bit, which could have been written by a Gnu Atheist:
As I said earlier, this is about taking sides with truth. It's about being knowledgeable enough to make a decent stab at uncovering the truth and presenting the outcomes of that quest to one's readers, even if that outcome lies firmly on one side of a "debate".
It's about doing the actual job of a journalist, by analysing, critiquing, placing into context and so on, as opposed to merely reporting. It's about acknowledging one's own biases and making them plain to see for a reader.
In the end, this is about transparency and truth, concepts that are far more important than neutrality or objectivity. After all, the word for people who are neutral about truth is 'liars'. It shouldn't be 'journalists'.
I have to repeat that. The word for people who are neutral about truth is "liars". It shouldn't be "scientists". It shouldn't be "humanists".
Earlier today we heard Paul Kurtz speak, and while I have great respect for his contributions to this secular movement, he did mischaracterize atheists, and I have to call him on it. One of the most common canards applied to us, and especially to the Gnu Atheists, is that we're negative, that we lack a positive center that we stand for. This is completely false. When you look at the body of work that the prominent leaders of this movement have put together, when you look at the books of people like Dawkins and Harris and Dennett and Coyne and Stenger, you do not find them nattering on for hundreds of pages about how much they hate religion. Quite the contrary. What you find are authors who write about reason and evidence and science, where front and center you find an appreciation for a universe rich with natural phenomena that, with a little honest effort, we can reach out and comprehend. We atheists live a purpose-driven life, to steal a phrase, and that life is dedicated to deepening our understanding and learning about this world. Call us merely negative, or merely angry, or merely anti-religious, and you haven't been paying attention. You haven't been reading our books or articles for comprehension.
What may have confused some people, though, is that we also believe you can't love the truth without detesting lies. That an honest way of dealing with those lies is to confront them openly, head on, and unapologetically, and while some might rationalize accommodating unjustifiable distortions of the truth as a strategic option, there are a number of us who consider that principle to be one on which we will not compromise.