Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meat

Everything you eat is, was, or is derived from living organisms.

Everything.

Yes, even tofu.

I love my vegan friends, but I can do without the preaching. Humans are animals, and we've evolved to the point where we can utilize other animals to sustain ourselves. We're Apex predators.

Sharks don't leave a fish alone because he might have a family, or feelings (though, if you're a Nirvana fan, you know they don't).

An owl doesn't stop eating mice because they're cute.

An Eagle doesn't turn back mid-swoop because the bunny he's after gave him a sad, wobbly-eyed look.

These creatures are all arguably far more majestic than humans.

I can already feel my vegan and vegetarian friends (yes, they are two completely different species) seething.

So, here's the thing:

Give me your gotchas, questions, and rebuttals, and I'll answer them. For one week only, I'm opening the door and letting you guys pelt me with all the foot-stamping outcries of injustice.

So go ahead.

I will answer them.

In my own special way.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Creationist Silliness: Salvation

Oh, dear...

Today's question  brings us to one of those typical Christian ripostes that just pisses me off.

"What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?"
My dear butt-chinned, empty-eyed lady:

 Do you truly think that the only reason for your existence is to be saved? To grovel for mercy from some ethereal deity who created you for the sole purpose of worshiping him?

Isn't that dangerously close to idolatry?

If the aforementioned sky wizard is truly all-powerful, why does he need your approval?

Make no mistake about it; worship is indeed approval. it's approval on the grandest of scales. It's tantamount to saying, "Not only are you great, you're so great that I am beneath you."

Some would argue that that's humility. They are what I like to call "wrong."

That's not humility. That's being a sycophant. You're singular purpose for prostrating yourself is to gain an advantage. To get something. You're belittling and denigrating yourself exclusively for divine reward.

To be "saved."

Saved from what? Whom?

You don't need to be saved. Your "mortal soul" (don't even fucking get me started on that phrase) is not in danger. You are not broken. You are not unworthy of  the love of a magical being.

And if such a being were to deem you so (or even exist, for that matter), it would be he that was unworthy of your love. I've seen this kind of devotion before. Only in human-to-human terms, it's more commonly known as the cycle of abuse.

"He punishes me because he loves me. He just wants what's best for me. It's my fault, I shouldn't upset him like that. If I were better, he'd love me more."

These things sound ridiculous to some of us, no? Especially strong, independent women who have been encouraged to break free of the chains of antiquity and convention.

Why would you clap those chains back on?

Why would you, who would not say these things about a man who's physically present in your life, accept them as normal for one who's presence is debatable at best?

If you would not accept that someone who loves you might punch you in the face for displeasing them, why would you accept that someone who loves you might cast you into an eternal pit of damnation and fire for displeasing them?

Wake up.

You don't need salvation. You don't need divine forgiveness. You don't need to grovel and beg for the love of an imaginary being.

Save yourself. Forgive yourself. Love yourself.

You'll find you have a much greater purpose. I can't tell you what that is, though.

You have to find that for yourself.

And you can only do that if you look.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Creationist Silliness: Part Whatever - I've Lost Count

Today's question comes from a lady who (I'm nearly certain) is Gary Busey in drag.

"What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?"
 To be perfectly honest, it's not her appearance that puts me off. It's her use of the word "evidence" as a verb. I understand that it's not technically incorrect, but it's still icky. It's the linguistic equivalent of an adult chewing with his mouth open. It gets the job done, but that doesn't make it less disgusting.

I'm trying to approach this question with some semblance of logic and kind rationale, but I just can't. Every stage of human evolution from the moment our common ancestors stepped out of the sea until now has demonstrated an increase of genetic information. Every adaptation to every environment is an increase of information.

Every. Fucking. Mutation...

Every. Fucking. Evolutionary process...

Is an increase of genetic information.

I know this because I have a rudimentary grasp of biology.


Every mutation; every evolutionary process, is an increase of information. It's either a new piece of information modifying the biology of the organism, or a new piece of information telling the genetic code to skip one or several parts,

Genes don't disappear over time, they're switched off. In order for them to be switched off, more information has to be written into the genetic code. Think of your genetic code as a series of roads or paths. New roads may be built for easier access to more necessary areas (mutation and adaptation). If a road is closed, it doesn't simply disappear; typically, a sign is put up (new piece of information) telling passersby to go around (skip) the road. Sure, there's always the occasional asshole that has to go down that road anyway, but generally, the road is passed by. Over time, perhaps it even becomes overgrown with vegetation. That doesn't mean it's disappeared. It's still there. It's just buried under a whole lot of other shit. You know... an increase of stuff.

I guess the simplest way to answer this question is: "Evolution."

Evolution is the mechanism science has discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information in every mutation or evolutionary process (let's just pretend for a moment that all the florid verbiage is necessary).

You answered your own question by asking it, Mrs. Busey.

You had the answer all along.

You're dismissed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Are The Borg

I took a Buzzfeed quiz today to determine what TNG sidekick I was. I'll let you chuckle at my nerdiness a moment...

I got Lt. Barclay, and I wasn't too keen on that, so I elected not to post it on my Facebook, but it did get me thinking.

For a moment, I considered retaking the quiz and seeing if I could get a different result. Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm actually a fan of "Broccoli," as I'm sure several other TNG trekkies are (though I prefer him as howling mad Murdock), but I don't see myself as the eccentric introverted lieutenant.

That's not what it got me thinking about.

No, in much my modus operandi, it got me thinking about the state of our educational system.

How many of you out there have retaken a Buzzfeed or Zimbio quiz to get a different outcome? I'm certainly guilty of it. After all, who really wants to be matched with Justin Timberlake for a night out on the town?

Isn't this what our current "teach to the test" approach is cultivating? No Child Left Behind has done one thing amazingly well: it's taught our youth to manipulate, rather than think; to deceive (if only themselves), rather than be honest. It's taught them to provide whatever answer is likely to produce the desired result, regardless of its veracity. When schoolchildren these days take test upon test upon test, they are no longer concerning themselves with expanding their knowledge base. What's at the forefront of their minds, is getting a good mark. Acing the test, regardless of whether or not that information is outdated, or in some cases, just plain wrong.

And our teachers pressure them to do so.

They have no choice anymore.

Those kids better pass the exam. The subject. The grade...

Or the school won't get the funding it needs to educate our young people.

Some of you out there are saying "so what?"

Here's what:

It forces the people charged with arming our kids with sound knowledge, and equipping them with critical thinking skills to instead arm them with arbitrary and often unexplained facts (I.E. our teachers don't get any time to teach why something is the way it is, just that it is). They're pressured by deadlines, quotas, and minimally acceptable requirements to avoid questions, and prod kids through the system.

We're sending them to war with Nerf guns, and telling them, 

"Don't question.

Don't think."

Here's this fact, repeat it back to me. Never mind that it might not be true. Never mind how it can be proven. Never mind how we know. We know. You don't. Repeat this fact. Write it down. Repeat it again. Now write it down here, in this blank space. Fill in this bubble next to the fact completely with a N°2 pencil. Good boy. Repeat the fact again. Remember it. It's true. It's a fact, because I say so. Remember it. Write it down. Don't question. Don't think. We don't have time for that. Here's the fact. This is the only correct answer. Repeat the fact. Remember it. Write it down. Good boy. You passed the test.

Don't you see?

We're paying teachers less than we're paying garbage collectors, and we're not even letting them do their job.

You will be assimilated.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creationist Silliness: Part Fourteen (Don't Worry, It's Almost Over)

Today's question comes from a lady who either has one hell of a worried smirk, or doesn't actually believe the nonsense she's scrawled out. I'm hoping for the latter, in which case, well played, troll... well played. I'm going to feed it anyway. It's kind of what I do.

"Because science by definition is a "theory" - not testable, obsevvable [sic], nor repeatable" why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?"

Fuck me gently with a thirty year old textbook!

Science, by definition, is not a theory. It's the process by which we test hypotheses that will either be proven, and subsequently become theories (evolution, the big bang, et al), or fail and be shit-canned as bad fucking ideas with no merit (creationism, intelligent design, etc).

I'm not even certain from where you get the "-not testable, obse[r]vable, nor repeatable" bit. As a matter of fact, by definition, a scientific theory IS testable, observable, and repeatable.

It's exactly the fucking opposite of what you think it is.

And this is why we can't teach our kids properly. They go home, and parents like you tell them exactly the opposite of everything you've sent them to school to fucking learn! YOU'RE SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE GOD DAMNED FOOT! Those kids are going to choose your nursing home. You'd do well to remember that.

That being said, I personally do not object to teaching about (there is a difference) Creationism and / or intelligent design in school. Just not in science class. It doesn't belong there. Teach about (again, emphasis on "about") these things in psychology and sociology, even philosophy classes. That's absolutely legitimate. After all, those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, no?

This is why it's perfectly acceptable to teach about bloodletting, home remedies, and divining rods in school, BUT NOT IN MEDICAL SCHOOL.

It's the very same reason we teach about geocentrism, but we don't teach geocentrism. We now know that heliocentrism is the truth. We give pupils the information that the common knowledge used to be that the sun revolves around the Earth, but now we know better.

You know why?

Way back when they were figuring out how best to prepare our kids to take over the reigns as they become adults (believe it or not, this was before the whole No Child Left Behind debacle, which I like to think of much the same way Germans think of the 1930's and 40's - they don't exist), someone came up with the spec-fucking-tacular notion that it might be a great idea to give them comparative examples for growth. I.E. "Everyone makes mistakes, and look at how we learn from them."

You want to teach kids about creationism and intelligent design? Fine. I think that's a swell idea. Just don't teach them that things we can prove to be true are wrong because some bronze-age tribal elder knew better than the scientists who can take him or her by the hand, lead them to a telescope, and pop them up on a stool so they can look directly at the evidence themselves.

Do you realize that you're essentially teaching them not to believe their own eyes?

Teach kids to question, yes. Teach them to think critically, and not accept that what they are being told is true because someone larger with more body hair says so, absolutely. Do not teach them to dismiss scientific facts because the fairytale is easier to grasp. That's wrong, and you're doing them and everyone that will eventually be around them a great disservice.

This is why teachers ought to be paid more. Part of their job is unraveling the clusterfuck of nonsensical shit being crammed into our children's skulls like a sad, aging ex-homecoming queen's cottage cheese ass being shoved into her old cheerleading outfit before they can give them the actual, real information.

It's a messy fucking job.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Creationist Silliness: Part Triskadecasomethingorother.

I don't even know where to start with this fuckwit.

"If Evolution is a theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact." [sic for all of that].

Seriously...

Do I start with the grotesqueness of your lack of (and / or improper) punctuation?

Do I start with the provable assertion that evolution is, in fact, a motherfucking fact?

How about I go for the obvious...

Neither creationism, nor the Bible, are theories.

There, I said it.

Creationism is a hypothesis, and at that, one that's been all but soundly disproved (it's generally accepted that you can't prove a negative. It's as difficult for me to prove there's no god as it is for you to prove I'm not him; but I digress). Sorry, kids, (actually, I'm not. Not even remotely) but the big bang has been proven. That's right, it's an actual thing. Your move, cultists.

The Bible, by stark comparison, isn't even that. It's not a theory. It's not a hypothesis. It's not even an idea. It's a fucking book, and it's not even a good one. It's been edited, translated, rewritten, condensed, abridged, and so drastically mutilated from its original form that I'm reasonably sure none of the original authors (all humans who lived a century or more after the protagonist's death, by the way) would recognize it in its current form. 

That's why neither creationism, nor the Bible are taught as fact.

They aren't factual.

Next fucking question.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Creationist Silliness: The Dirty Dozen

In a wild deviation from the norm, I'm not going to attack today's question with hyperbolic snark an ad hominems.

Yes, you read that right.

The more I stare at this question, the less I feel the need to seethe and be flamboyantly acerbic. I think it's because the young lady pictured doesn't have a vapid, "ignorance is bliss" look in her eye, or a smug "go ahead and answer that one" smirk. She looks like a thirteen year old on a class trip who genuinely wants to know, "does metamorphosis help support evolution?"

As inclined as I am to simply say "Yes. NEXT!" I feel compelled to provide an actual answer. It's as if this child is actually, legitimately seeking information, and it would be calloused and irresponsible not to provide it. After all, isn't that what science is about?

Yes. Metamorphosis does, in fact, help support evolution.

Part of the basis for biological evolution is the ability for a species to adapt and survive. If, for instance, you take butterflies as a crude example; they start out as caterpillars, or larvae (yes, I know they start out as eggs, but that has naught to do with the point of metamorphosis that I'm trying to make here, thank you very much, Bib), before pupating and metamorphosing into butterflies. This increases the likelihood of survival of the species as a whole, because (to put it very simply) an increase in the environments in which an animal can survive exponentially increases that animal's chances of survival. monarch caterpillars (to use a specific example) have a much more limited range than their adult butterfly counterparts. While the larvae are typically limited to the area of a few plants in a field, after metamorphosing into the fully grown monarch butterfly, they migrate...

...Up to six thousand miles...

How's that for broadening your horizons?

Where I feel you may be hung up here, is in assuming that evolution can be studied on what amounts to a microscopic scale, and while the mechanisms are similar, that isn't the case. Evolution isn't changing and adaptation over the course of an animal's lifetime, or even the course of a generation or two. It's a fundamental, biological adaptation of a species over a much more grandiose timescale. Think millennial. It's a very, very, VERY slow process, and while the same mechanisms can be observed on a psychological level (think in terms of seagulls transition from primarily oceanic scavengers to primarily aggressive, boardwalk-dwelling vermin that hunt funnel cake in just the past few decades), actual biological evolution is a process that takes place over several hundred, (or even thousand) generations. It's a macroscopic phenomenon, not a microscopic one (generally).

Metamorphosis can be thought of simply as a much more dramatic form of puberty. All it is is the transition from juvenile of a species to adult of the same species. Girls become women (sometimes), boys become men (on occasion), tadpoles become frogs, and caterpillars become butterflies. And it's all for the same primal purpose:

Sex.

But that's a discussion I'll let your parents handle.