Lesser Evil?

14 06 2008

The death of Tim Russert has had one good effect on the nation: we’re spared the endless spewing of partisan douchebaggery for a few days while the media indulges in the Life and Miracles of Saint Russert retrospective. As annoying as this will be, it will still be a welcome break from the political burlesque that is the US General Election pre-game show.

I generally try to ignore the political campaign season, because I value my freedom. If I were forced to endure the shameless pandering and barely-veiled slander of the various campaigns for long, I’d go berserk and end up in a mental institution or prison- maybe both.

This particular campaign season has been particularly difficult to ignore. It apparently started back when the Earth’s crust started to cool, and won’t end until the Supreme Court rules on the inevitable challenge to the November election results in mid-December (of this year, I hope). The hysteria surrounding this election has not flagged one iota. If anything, the followers of the respective candidates have grown ever more rabid with each passing day. McCainiacs shriek endlessly about the death of American civilization as we know it should the Antichrist get elected, while the disciples of the Obamessiah literally flagellate themselves into bloody lather about the many miracles He will perform if we only pray into a voting booth to Him.

A pox on both their houses.

I will not try to tell anyone which candidate is best. Every election is a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche, so the word best doesn’t really apply. I’ve looked at both candidates, and neither one of them strikes me as being good for this country. Furthermore, the most vocal followers of both candidates are generally certifiable whackjobs. This does not inspire confidence. Since neither candidate seems to be a good choice, I refuse to vote for either one.

This is becoming a pattern with me. I wrote in Jon Stewart for the last presidential election. In 2000, I voted for Xenu. Some time back, I mentioned that I would be voting for Ralph Wiggum and Lisa Simpson, but I’ve changed my mind, having found a candidate who fits my requirements far better.

Why Vote for a Lesser Evil?

Yes, that’s right. I will be writing in Great Cthulhu for President of the United States in November. What’s not to like? Unlike either of the current candidates, Cthulhu is straightforward and open about his intentions. He will not discriminate against any race, religion, or gender. Cthulhu will reward his followers with cosmic powers, so the Earth will be engulfed in cataclysm from the resulting bacchanal of riotous freedom.

The Servants of Cthulhu are notorious for their selfless diligence in working toward the resurrection of their dread Master- destroying those who discover their secrets, conversing with creatures from beyond the sky, and holding eldritch, clandestine meetings to pass on the knowledge of the Great Old Ones. When you think about it, they’re enormously preferable to the followers of McCain or Obama.

Why choose the lesser Evil?

Here’s a little filksong on the subject:

(to the tune of Wichita Lineman, by Glenn Campbell)

I am a follower of Cthulhu, and I lead a mad horde

Searching everywhere for our vanished Overlord.

And though we need him more than want him

Still we’ll have him for all time

When his city of R’lyeh

Ascends from the sli-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-me!


You see, I met this mad Arab, and he showed me his book.

I thought it couldn’t hurt just to have one little look.

And though I couldn’t read the language,

it did something to my mind.

Now I’m searching for something

I’d rather not fi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-nd!

Current status: Nauseous

Current music: The Future Soon by Jonathan Coulton





Let There Be Light …

31 05 2008

As you know (“you” indicating the four or five people who regularly read this tripe), I find a great deal of mirth in shooting at sacred cows. One of my favorite things in life is to heap scorn upon the inexcusably stupid and to mock and belittle those with closed minds and a smug sense of superiority. I am especially fond of demolishing the sense of superiority among those who are profoundly undeserving of that attitude- most of them, in other words.

In general, I find that people who believe themselves to be superior are trying desperately to convince themselves. These are the folks who insist that black is white, up is down, and that the Emperor is fully clothed in the face of all evidence to the contrary because believing otherwise would somehow destroy the cozy little fictional universe they have created for themselves.

Pointing out that the Emperor is not, in fact, wearing any clothes is the duty of everyone whose brain cells are not obliged to make long-distance calls to communicate. Inexcusably stupid statements demand to be called out for what they are, and those making such statements should be verbally destroyed in public to (hopefully) teach them to engage their brains before removing the brakes on their mouths in the future.

Unfortunately, this only works with actual facts. As an engineer, I like facts. Facts are backed up by actual evidence and reproducible results. In other words, empirical data and objective evidence. These are the tools of rational thinking and the scientific method.

These are not the tools of faith and religion. There are a great many people on this planet who profess a belief in one deity or another who are fine people- good to their families, generous to the poor, and generally good citizens in every sense of the word. In spite of their mania, these people are generally not bad sorts to have around, invite over for a barbecue, lift a few glasses with, or date.

Sadly, a small but vocal minority of these people are wingnuts and whackjobs of the first water. When it comes to closed minds and undeserved senses of superiority, these people have it in spades. Since actual evidence for the existence of their Angry Invisible Skyman is not available, they refuse to believe that evidence to the contrary has any meaning. The scientific method demands proof and reproducible results before stating facts. These people of faith cannot produce proof, evidence, or reproducible results for any of their beliefs, so the scientific method must go. This sort of blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance leads to atrocities in the name of Angry Invisible Skyman.

Whenever possible, religious zealots try to enact their stupidities into law. This often leads to serious problems (pogroms, Inquisitions, Crusades, rebellions, massacres, etc), and always leads to manifold stupidities.

In a great many television shows, for example, the word god is bleeped out. Even when combined into goddamn, god gets deleted while damn is left alone. It is censored on almost every network. WTF? The god fetishists claim that it is wrong to take god’s name in vain. Last time I looked, the name of the deity christians, jews, and muslims worship is not god. It’s either Jehovah, Yahweh, El, or Allah (depending on which flavor of Angry Invisible Skyman you’re into). God is simply a title. Why not censor president, chairman, officer, or mayor, if you’re going to censor titles? Quite aside from the stupidity of forcing everyone within range of the television broadcasts to comply with one religion’s beliefs, this is just wrong on its face- even going by the god fetishists’ own rules.

A similar bit of stupidity has cropped up regarding images of the muslim prophet, Mohammed. Even according to the muslim sacred texts, Mohammed is not to be worshipped. But the fact that a couple of Danish cartoonists drew pictures of this historical figure sparked riots, death threats, and a great deal of general unpleasantness. Again, aside from the asinine attempt to make everyone comply with one religion’s beliefs, this isn’t even one of those beliefs. Ditto for a Wikipedia entry showing contemporary drawings- by muslim artists, no less- of Mohammed.

This sort of thing is stupid. I have a low tolerance for stupidity, but when someone wants to force me to practice their stupidity, I start looking around for a weapon. When someone screams that I must say, “Peace be upon him” after naming Mohammed, I promptly invite them to eat a bowl of dicks. If they persist, I like to throw pork at them and show them the bottoms of my shoes. When people shriek that I cannot speak the name of a certain zombie jew, I take a great deal of pleasure informing them that the man’s name was not Jesus, it was most likely Yehoshua or Joshua ben Yosef. I also enjoy reminding them that christ is another title- in this case Greek. This sort of thing gets the religious dumb-asses all spun up- every time.

Another persistently annoying batch of idiots are those who insist that the bible is the literal word of their god. Really? I’m pretty sure that English didn’t evolve as a language until the Middle Ages, and I’m absolutely certain that the authors of the original documents did not write in English. The original semitic languages did not have written characters for vowel sounds. The vowel sounds were inferred from context- thus YEHOSHUA would actually have been written as YHSH (actually HSHY, since the semitic languages are and were written from right to left). So if a Greek translator (for example) were trying to transcribe the original documents (more likely copies of copies of the originals), he would have to guess at the meaning unless he had the assistance of a native speaker who could also read. Since those people were generally the religious classes, this sort of help was unlikely to be forthcoming. Even assuming that the translator could speak as well as the natives and had no personal agenda to follow, the mere act of translation involves a great deal of approximation. I use this argument whenever some god-fetishist refuses to go away and insists on trying to “convert” me. It happens more often than you’d think.

Mind you, I don’t go out of my way (most of the time), to say and do these things. I rarely have to seek out the religiously stupid- they take the time and trouble to find me. If they continue to pester me after I’ve told them to go away, then I have no problem with abusing them to the greatest extent possible. Pointing out the ignorance and stupidity of the willfully ignorant and stupid is not impolite or cruel, it is a necessity. It is also a survival mechanism for our civilization. Allowing outspoken stupidity to go unchallenged is to be complicit in its ascendancy. I, for one, will not be a party to the destruction of our civilization and society at the hands of the religious barbarians in our midst.

Current status: Disgruntled

Current music: Pachelbel’s Canon in D





Common Sense Generic Nondenominational Religious Text

27 05 2008

A long time ago … OK, it was this past November … my wife and I were having one of those terminally silly conversations that makes life with her so great. After we stopped laughing (BTW, laughing to the point of tears is not a wise move while driving), I suggested that we take the bits and pieces of nonsense we’d been giggling about and turn it into something useful. Lo and behold, the Common Sense Generic Nondenominational Religious Text was born.

Here are the Chapter headings:

Mutagenesis

Exit Us

The Ten Amendments

The King of Books

The Judge of Kings

The Plague of Smug

Semi-Proverbs

Amateurverbs

P.S. Alms?

The Gospel of Ludicrous

The Gospel of Hilarious

Epistles from the Nigerians

An Open Letter to Pretentious Pilate

The Book of Cacophony

Saint Birkenstock and the Algorians

I’ve already written Mutagenesis and part of Saint Birkenstock and the Algorians. The titles should give the educated reader a clue as to the content. From time to time, I will post excerpts from the CSGNRT.

The purpose of the CSGNRT is to entertain and offend as many people as possible. I believe that a significant majority of Americans will enjoy this book, while most of the rest will hate it (you know who you are). Those who hate it are probably going to be people with no discernible sense of humor to begin with, so I’m not particularly concerned.

If you hate this concept, too damned bad. You’re obviously not my target demographic. If you are in search of more concepts to stoke your ire, I suggest perusing the internet for sites dealing with “rational thought” or perhaps read anything in Reason magazine. A casual visit to Barefoot Bum will really get your vascular fluids in a boil, so avoid it at all costs.

For those who may cry “heresy”, I say “Lighten up, Francis. If your beliefs aren’t strong enough to stand a little sarcasm, that’s not my problem.” For those who might claim I speak blasphemy, I can only quote Robert of Locksly and reply, “Fluently“.

An Excerpt from Mutagenesis, being the First Book of the CSGNRT:

In the beginning was the void. Fortunately for us, it quickly got filled up by all sorts of neat stuff. And it was good. Some of that neat stuff got together and formed conglomerations of neat stuff- which made it better. Eventually, some of the conglomerations of stuff managed to start spamming the void with rough duplicates of itself. And it was really cool. Differences in location forced some of the self-duplicating stuff to develop minor variations of itself, and things got totally weird.

Current status: Amused

Current music: In a Lifetime by Clannad





Gender Issues

3 02 2008

Whenever I receive some hoary old joke by email, I usually consign it immediately to the rubbish bin. In fact, anything with “FW:FW:” in the subject line is automatically dumped without reading. Some time back, however, I received an email from a female acquaintance that I actually read and gave some of my attention.

The joke she emailed me was one of those ubiquitous Men/Women/whatever are better than their presumed opposites because… internet memes entitled, “Men have it easy”. I spent some time considering this nonsense and wondered why this sort of thing is so popular.

Human males and females are different. Accept it. Physiologically, both genders have been designed by evolution to accomplish the same task (spamming the environment with rough duplicates of themselves) in slightly different ways. Neither gender is superior to the other, they’re just different. Cope.

One of the biggest offenders in creating and maintaining the artificial “gender wars” is the person who wrote, “Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus“. Instead of accepting the biological fact that males and females are designed differently, this person (and the scads of others trying to sell books) focused entirely on social differences- even going so far as to dredge up some very tired astrological metaphors to sell the ideas.

Here’s an astronomical fact to counter the metaphor: Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it.

I’m not going to dwell on the evolutionary pressures that created the physiological and behavioral differences between males and females. I will state that those evolutionary pressures have largely vanished- rendered mostly obsolete by the social, technological, and economic changes to our environment we have created over the past ten thousand years or so.

The fact remains that males and females are different, and there’s damn-all we can do about it. In my opinion, it’s a Good Thing that those differences exist. My wife and I are both very intelligent- just about different things. We complement each other. The two of us are more than the sum of our individualities. That synthesis of personalities is a valuable social and economic survival tool for us. Instead of getting wrapped around the axle about the existence of those differences, people should be celebrating them. Make use of the strengths from this individual diversity.

And now, having run that into the ground and begun barking at the hole, I present the “Men Have It Easy” joke that started this train of thought. The original points are followed by my responses (in italics).

Men have it easy.

1. Your last name stays put.
This is largely a matter of choice these days.
2. The garage is all yours.
Ditto.
3. Wedding plans take care of themselves.
YOU want the fancy trimmings, you do the work. We’d be satisfied with a Justice of the Peace and NO ceremony.
4. Chocolate is just another snack.
To most rational creatures.
5. You can be President.
Nothing says you can’t.
6. You can never be pregnant.
Of course not! If men got pregnant, the species would have gone extinct millennia ago!
7. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
Speaking for ALL men, we would appreciate it if you wore a white t-shirt to the water park. Seriously.
8. You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Ditto
9. Car mechanics tell you the truth.
It’s called, “the value of abstract knowledge”. Learn about cars so you can catch the bastards when they lie to you .
10. The world is your urinal.
Unless someone is watching. Then it becomes a misdemeanor and a lifetime on the Sex Offender’s Registry.
11. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Piss Performance
12. You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
See #9. Women can learn this if they want to .
13. Same work, more pay.
You don’t have to accept lower pay. We don’t.
14. Wrinkles add character.
Character adds character. Wrinkles are simply proof that we have poor skin-care habits.
15. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100.
See #3.
16. People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them.
Please tell your boobs to quit staring at my eyes.
17. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
This is another one of those not-difficult-to-master skills. Practice.
18. New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
We manage this trick by insisting that our shoes not cut, blister, or mangle our feet. Try it sometime.
19. One mood all the time.
You’re just jealous because we can successfully control our emotions.
20. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
It’s called, “efficiency”. Cope.
21. You know stuff about tanks.
And dumptrucks and back-hoes and front-loaders and road graders. Try watching the Discovery Channel sometime so you can keep up.
22. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
A five-day vacation SHOULD only require one suitcase. What the Hell are you packing?
23. You can open all your own jars.
A complaint which has been rendered largely invalid by technology .
24. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
Really? From whom?
25. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Unlike some genders, men are quite capable of such traits as forgiveness, understanding, and logic.
26. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
If YOU are dumb enough to pay tons of money for clothing no one is going to see, that is hardly OUR fault.
27. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
Precisely. Cope.
28. You almost never have strap problems in public.
Some women need to wear bras. Why is this fact embarrassing?
29. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Not exactly. We are unable to see a reason why this is a national emergency.
30. Everything on your face stays its original color.
What do you have on your face that changes color and why?
31. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
See #20.
32. You only have to shave your face and neck.
We don’t have to shave anything, and neither do you.
33. You can play with toys all your life.
So can you.
34. Your belly usually hides your big hips
This is true of some women, as well.
35. One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons.
What does the season have to do with a wallet or shoes? Seriously.
36. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
Why can’t you?
37. You can “do” your nails with a pocket knife.
So can you.
38. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
So do you.
39. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
See #20.

Current status: Bemused

Current music: Electric Requiem by QueensRyche