The Dishonesty of TodayChristian.net

So, after my last post I eventually went back to read what PZ Myers had to say about those ten questions. Then I looked over his comment section a bit, as I sometimes do. (Pharyngula’s comments are not for the faint of heart) And somebody mentioned something that really caught my attention, if you go to the link Today Christian provides as the source of their allegedly unanswerable questions, you’ll find that this particular list was compiled by one Robert Nielsen, an atheist who answered them.

Nielsen compiled the list as his personal choice of some of the better questions, whether they were intended as honest inquiries or sneaky gotchas. He made good use of them, exploring them thoughtfully and sparking discussion in his comments. Then Today Christian stripped out his answers, added a snide preface that they could not be answered, and posted them. Without allowing comments. It’s breathtaking, really.

I’m a little surprised they still linked to the source. I guess they were worried they might be sued for plagiarism.

I feel like I should say more about it, but really, what else is there to say?

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!

As promised, here are “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!” along with my answers. Here is the source link, which I’ll be reading from instead of the Pharyngula post so that I won’t have to wonder if I would have said that before I read PZ’s answer. Hopefully writing the last post will have moved my mind in different directions enough to help with that for the questions I already read. Since the list is hosted on Today Christian, I will assume the context that the questions are being asked by some variety of Christian.

Read the rest of this entry

Thinking Influences Thinking

Looking over Pharyngula this morning I found that Professor Myers was answering another list of proclaimed questions atheists cannot answer. I was halfway thru when I decided that I wanted to blog my own answers, since I haven’t been writing much lately and apparently miss it. I decided this gradually as I read the list, there was no clear instant where I made up my mind, but I found myself comparing the first answer to pop into my head with the good professor’s, and finding substantial overlap. Enough that I started thinking I would have trouble keeping them from mixing in my head before I got them written down.

I stopped reading around question #4 and starting writing this instead. As so often happens, my mind wandered someplace interesting that I didn’t expect while considering the fairly mundane problem of eliminating bias from my writing.

My opinions may well have been colored by reading some of PZ’s responses before I wrote my own out, but while I was thinking about that it occurred to me that my responses have definitely been colored by his influence over the last five years or so, since I’ve started reading his blog.

PZ has been accused by several people of having a cult-like control over his regular readers, which may make him an unfortunate impetus for this line of thought. On the other hand, clearly his alleged mind-control isn’t too binding, since this is exactly the kind of thinking a proper cult leader would want to discourage! Read the rest of this entry

Legitimate Asshole Todd Akin reminds me how we are legitimately fucked.

I apologize for the scarcity of links and references in this post. Perhaps I’ll go back and add them sometime, but it seems unlikely.

Todd Akin is sorry that he said he was sorry about that “legitimate rape” bullshit he spouted off a while back. This spiraled off in my head to a conclusion about just how fucked up America is now.

First: Akin. In his apology for his apology the shithead has the utter lack of humanity to write this,

“Is it a legitimate claim of rape or an excuse to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?”

Which pretty much sums up why I’ve decided that abortion should be absolutely legal without restrictions or inconvenience or excess questions right up until fucking labor starts; because assholes like him will do everything in their power to make women suffer.

Look, we live in a society where the idea of making a false rape accusation that lasts long enough for paperwork to happen is pretty damn stupid right off the bat, because we live in a society that treats rape victims worse that it treats rapists. I stand by that statement as long as we have situations where, for example, high school football stars sexually assault a teenage girl on fucking video that gets publicly posted to the fucking internet and not only does their whole community rally around them and against their victim, but it takes a massive online shitstorm to even bring them to trial. And then people cry about these poor “ruined lives”, and they’re talking about the fucking criminals having their lives ruined by being held accountable for their crimes! Meanwhile, the victim is ostracized and driven out for demanding justice. That’s American society today. Read the rest of this entry

Moving on up

Um, hi.
So, I honestly meant to start posting again once or twice a week, but, well, I suddenly got a wonderful new apartment. So I’ve been very, very busy with moving and decorating and working as much as I can to pay for everything.
It’s been a busy month for me, and not likely to let up just yet.
I will try to post more now that I’m somewhat settled in, but since I don’t have internet right now I have to either post from my phone or set my phone up as a Wi-Fi hotspot and post through it. Neither is very conductive to my usual method of writing. So posts will probably be few & far between for a while yet.
There are still book reviews I want to write, and many things in the news and life in general that I feel like discussing, so there will be more eventually.
In the meantime, I love my new home!

Book Review: The Martian, by Andy Weir

Once upon a time, there was a webcomic called Casey and Andy. Mad science, zany characters and lots of geekery, it was one of my favorites. I was sad, but satisfied, when it ended.

Then about a month ago Howard Taylor mentioned a hard sci-fi novel called The Martian, and that it was written by the same Andy Weir who once gave us Casey and Andy. I bought the book before I finished reading Howard’s post about it.

And it’s good.

Read the rest of this entry

Pain, anger, and cats.

This has had me in a funk since I learned about it this morning. Three of a friend’s cats have been attacked by someone with a pellet gun. Two of those cats used to hang out with me.

Veterinarians are expensive and time-consuming, so here’s a link to a page raising money to help.

I don’t have anything more to say, except to wish my love to the family.

Book Review! Hull Damage by Timothy J. Meyer

I picked up Hull Damage for Kindle free on Amazon. The current rating there is 3 & a half stars, and that feels about right to me. It has a lot going on, both for and against it.

The setting is sci-fi, it feels like a cross between Heavy Metal’s dystopian space settings and Firefly’s wild lawlessness, with a healthy dose of Star Wars. The book follows the career of a space pirate and his crew, an episodic story of the ups and downs they face trying to make a name for themselves. Read the rest of this entry

Writing exercises

So yesterday I picked up an app called “iDeas for writing”, (that’s how they capitalize it) and I’ve been playing with it from time to time all weekend. The concept is simple, it has several random generators for characters and story prompts, and then some exercises to stretch yourself with these tools.

I spent some time with it and a tablet of paper, and wrote a page inspired by a “first sentence” the app provided. Because I’m me, this short bit of creative writing required a nap to recover from.

So, here’s what I wrote.

The pirate thought about her again. She had been on his mind more than usual lately, singing in his dreams the way she used to sing in the kitchen.

He couldn’t really remember any of the songs she used to sing, but he could still hear her voice as clearly as his own.

He knew she would not be proud of the decisions he had made. But neither would she condemn him for them. He was sure about that.

The pirate shivered and tried to clear his head. She always came to mind right before a raid, since the very first one, but her memory haunted him more lately. He thought he knew why, too.

In the beginning there was little choice for him, trapped as he was between crime and starvation. He had done what was needed to survive. But things had changed since then.

His ill-gotten gains had built up to a tidy sum. It wasn’t the vast fortunes hoarded by pirates of legend, but it was enough. It was time.

Time for one last heist.

Time to retire.

That’s it. More a teaser than a story, but it was fun to make. I like the ambiguity of it, we know so little yet it still tells a story.

So there’s my ultra-short fiction for today. Maybe I’ll have more next weekend, who knows.
Next up, book reviews!

Hello blog, I’ve missed you.

Let me just blow the dust off, here.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past three months, I’ve been working 55 to 60 hour weeks. When you have as much trouble writing as I do, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. But things have calmed down a bit now, so I should hopefully be able to post again from time to time.

If nothing else, there’s a lot of books I want to write about.

Speaking of books, here’s a cool thing! StoryBundle offers collections of books in epub format that you pay what you like for. The current offering is the “Epic Fantasy Bundle”, and it lasts for another ten days.

It really is epic, too! If you pay over $12 you get three bonus books. I paid $20, because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my hard-earned overtime pay and frankly I often undertip.

The one I’m reading now is The Camelot Papers, which should win a prize for misleading cover art. I thought I’d be reading a farcical comedy, and while there are moments of dark humor, this really isn’t one. It is compelling, though, and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I’ll try to write up a proper review once I’m done with it.

Speaking of cool things, Evolution Expo is happening in Oakland this summer! It’s billed as “putting the science back into science fiction”, which is something I can get behind! I fully intend to attend, and you should too!

So, I’m back to writing again. No where near as often as 2012, but hopefully more than 2013. Coming soon, book reports and ultra-short fiction!

Doctor Who, 50 years later.

This should be subtitled, “In which I dump a stream of consciousness about my favorite TV show.”

I first discovered Doctor Who in the mid-1980′s. It aired on PBS Thursday nights, and we were about ten years behind so my first Doctor was a goofy bohemian with a bag of jelly babies and a ridiculously long scarf.

To this day, scarves feel uncomfortably short to me right up until they become awkwardly long.

So last Saturday, the 23rd, was the 50th anniversary of the show. It originally aired on that one day during which John F. Kennedy was dead and Lee Harvey Oswald still lived. The show’s been a major part of geek culture worldwide and British culture in general. The spaceship disguised as a police box is especially fun to me, because while police boxes would have been a fairly common sight in Britain in 1963, they’re now almost forgotten except for this show.

The fandom is one of my favorite parts of this show. Here is a comic-form story called The Ten Doctors (also available for download here), which is overflowing with little nods and continuity gags for long-time fans of the show. The author clearly knows the old show better than I do, he’s done several more Dr. Who fanfics, and just started his own 50th anniversary special titled The 23 Doctors!

There will be spoilers for the Day of the Doctor after the jump, but first a short film all Doctor Who fans should see, whether or not they’ve seen the 50th anniversary special yet. Androids and gentlebeings, I present to you Night of the Doctor.

I wish we’d had more of Paul McGann playing the Doctor on-screen, but if you like his portrayal of the Eighth Doctor you can hear him in many excellent audioplays by Big Finish Audio.

Read the rest of this entry

Transgender Day of Remembrance

tdor

And of course, many trans people are murdered.

Take care of each other, everyone. And remember.

 

We Are Here

Because yesterday was Carl Sagan’s birthday.

A weaker target

Got an email this morning from Courage Campaign, informing me that the people behind prop 8 are now attacking a law that attempts to protect trans kids from discrimination and bullying. My immediate reaction is that being no longer able to beat up gay adults with prop 8, they looked for a more vulnerable target and chose trans children.

The rationale given for opposing this anti-bullying measure is the old narrative that a trans woman is just a man in drag, so they’re trying to keep boys out of the girl’s locker rooms. Look, the social fallout for being a teenage boy who sneaks into the girl’s locker room is very slight, often effectively non-existent, while the consequences of being perceived as trans, or just not hetero-normative, start with bullying and go all the way to murder. You’re bravely defending the strong from the weak, here.

Anyway, mobile posts encourage me to be brief so I’ll sign off here. Take care!

insomnia

Can’t sleep. Guess spending most of the last month in a mild doze has taken up all the sleep for a while. I’ll have to get at least a little though, stuff to do tomorrow and I need to get something vaguely resembling a stable sleep cycle by next week. I know how to fix this, wine & philosophy. I even have some chocolate if things get desperate.

Here’s a thought that blows my mind. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and 48 billion light years in diameter. This means that, averaging since the beginning of time, the distance between the far edges of the universe grows at nearly twice the speed of light. Yet no object can move faster than light relative to any other object.

What’s happening is that spacetime itself is expanding. This is a difficult concept to wrap my head around, and I’m still not sure I get it, so bear with me. The usual simile I’ve read is a balloon with dots on it. As the balloon inflates and expands, the dots spread farther apart. In the same way, galaxies spread farther apart as spacetime expands. In every direction at once. I’m starting to get a headache again.  Read the rest of this entry

Book Review! The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The title alone made me want to read this book. It also made me a little nervous, since a movie called The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies has demonstrated conclusively that a title can be more fun than the work itself, but never fear! This one happily lives up to its name.

The title also saves me the trouble of providing a plot summary. By and large you already have a pretty good idea what sorts of things happen in this story, a girl is taken to Fairyland and has adventures there. She meets strange people, encounters odd magic and weird rules. It has that surprising depth that you’ll find in all my favorite children’s books. The titular voyage itself takes up less of the story than I expected, happening near the end after most of the characters are well-established.  Read the rest of this entry

This morning I am awake.

After nearly a month sick, spending all my time coughing and catching sleep whenever I could, I finally feel like myself again this morning. Not like I should, not back to normal or anything, but at least like a person instead of a half-conscious mucus machine.

In a little while I’m going to take a long hot shower and then try to scrape off the beard that’s accumulated. Then I’ll do laundry, some housecleaning, more laundry, and a little banking. Just generally catching up on the things I’ve let slide while I didn’t feel up to doing anything more vigorous than napping, playing video games, and if I really felt like stretching myself, reading. Interestingly, I learned that reading takes more energy than playing Final Fantasy. Probably has to do with focus.

While I sipped coffee and read blogs in the predawn light I was struck by how much I missed writing. That I could miss writing at all amuses me, not too many years ago the idea would be almost unthinkable, but the depth of longing is astounding. Especially given how rare it is for me to feel that I’ve written something worth reading. I suppose there are times when the act of creation is more important that the result.

I have not fully recovered. I will still be taking antibiotics for several days yet. However I know that I’m over my illness because this morning I want to work.

Which is good, because cleaning up the mess my illness has left will be a hell of a job. The beard alone is going to be a serious undertaking! So one more cup of coffee, a little catching up on the news, and then the shower. And when I’m finished with the base chores, I am going to write something. I don’t know what, yet. Maybe I still won’t know when I sit down to begin. But something. Perhaps I’ll post it here.

In the meantime, have a good day everyone. With luck I’ll post here again before too long.

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