IMPORTANT INFO FOR ALL MISSOURI VOTERS

•August 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

If anyone reading this is a resident of Missouri and over the age of 18 then take a few minutes to read this before you head to the polls tomorrow, August 9th.

Tomorrow, on the ballot you’ll be asked to vote for or against Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2. It’s being billboarded as the “right to pray” amendment and being hidden behind deliberately loaded questions like this opinion poll:

Do you think the federal courts are correct in ruling that the Constitution allows government to stop prayer in schools and on public property, or do you think when the Constitution says no branch of the government shall interfere with the free exercise of religion that it gives Americans the right to pray anywhere they want?

Saaaayyy whaaa? When have Americans been prohibited from praying wherever they want? Unlike religions, our secular government doesn’t persecute thought crimes, so if a person was to have a private conversation with their imaginary friend then more power to them.

What proponents of this amendment say it will do and what this amendment says it will do are vastly different. As you can guess from the name the religious right are shouting that this will (finally) allow students to pray in schools… Which they can already do… So what’s the point of this legislature then?

As someone who’s read the proposed amendment I had three points of contention.

1. While saying it will give students the right to pray, in reality it will give teachers the ability to lead prayer in classrooms of public schools. This is as disturbing as it is unconstitutional. The first amendment surely has something to say about this. Something about establishment of religion?

2. Members of the clergy will have the right to hold invocations at events like school board meetings, graduation ceremonies and town hall meetings. This is not only unconstitutional, but there is a mountain of court precedence in the recent past that will have this dismissed in a heartbeat if it shows up in federal court.

Am I worried about the effects of these first two? In short , no, because I have no doubt they will be taken to court and repealed, but this will cost taxpayers like myself millions of dollars to cover the state’s court bills.

And finally 3. This amendment will allow students to opt out of course material in schools if it goes against their sincerely-held religious beliefs. Seriously guys, how much further can we deteriorate our education system. Fundamentalists don’t have to participate in any science or history lesson that takes place more than 6000 years ago?

I have more I’d like to say on this, but I’m literally hooked up to an IV and about to go under for surgery, so I want to rush this out there today to give people a chance to read it before they head to the polls tomorrow.

Now go out and vote!

The Dark Knight Falls (flat on its face)

•August 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

SPOILER ALERT!!!This post will contain spoilers for the major motion picture “The Dark Knight Rises” If you have not yet seen the film (and I suggest you don’t) then you have been warned.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way lets talk about the movie. Right off the bat I’ll have to confess: I have not seen the first two movies of the trilogy, so one could claim I didn’t get the full batman experience and that is why I didn’t care for it. Personally, I am of the opinion that, if a director can’t make me fall in love with a host of characters in 2 hours and 44 minutes, then the rest of the trilogy probably wouldn’t have done it for me either.

Speaking of characters, lets take a look at them. From poorly-cast roles to poorly-developed characters this movie has it all! In the first five minutes of the movie I already had a red flag waving in my head. Gary Oldman was not the right choice for Commissioner Gordon. In fact he was a very poor choice. He was not the hardened police chief of the comic books or the television show, he gave an impression of a weak nerd that you just wanted to tell to scamper on home while the police took care of things.

Now our sacred hero Christian Bale. I felt Bale did an exceptionally poor job representing the orphaned vigilante Bruce Wayne that we’ve come to know and love. Where was the hatred? The inner turmoil? The emotions? Why did I feel like I needed to giggle like a little girl every time he talked while wearing his batman garb? This may be me giving a cheep shot because I haven’t seen the first two movies, but Wayne felt like the most static character I’ve seen in a long time.
Alright now for some compliments about characterization. Catwoman was beautifully cast in this movie (and I’m not just saying that because of the way Anne Hathaway looked in leather).

20120727-133908.jpgHoly Catchphrase, Batman!

Hathaway did a wonderful job in all of her acting scenes, as well as portraying her character (possibly the only character to undergo a major change during the course of the movie). The only person to show her up in the film was Michael Caine as Alfred. This was a character who pulled at your heart strings every time he appeared on screen. Well cast and he did a phenomenal job of acting in this movie.

Now how about the plot? Oh what a terrible plot it was. Now as a general rule I don’t mind bullshit science on one condition. You’ve got to billboard it as bullshit. If you try to pretend it could be a real technology then we’re going to have a problem. Tony Stark’s ark reactor was a great example. You never once were led to believe that the technology to power his suit would fit in his chest like that or work that way. It was made obvious as a plot device and soon forgotten about as the actual story went on. The same cannot be said for the fusion reactor/atom bomb in the Dark Knight. It was the central premise for the plot. The impossible feat of science allows the villains to take an entire city hostage from its country which nagged at the back of my head for the entire movie.

Besides the gaping plot holes they patched with pseudoscience nonsense we are never really brought to realize that the bad guys won. Today we have been conditioned by warm, fuzzy, feel-good superhero movies to expect the good guys to win. We are then forced to ignore the victories won by the baddies. In this particular movie Bane all but leveled the city of Gotham, gave its citizens and other citizens of its country a very healthy distrust of their government since it couldn’t do anything after a small group of insurgents took the entire city hostage from the military. Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were killed. More were probably robbed and raped, though it wasn’t shown on screen. Hundreds of violent criminals were unleashed upon a city and given automatic weapons. Gotham was, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. And what did the side of good do? They captured two bad guys and prevented the further destruction of Gotham (assuming that, when Wayne flew the bomb over the bay he didn’t cause a tidal wave that leveled the city, like the science says it should have).

Also, my final complaint, while we’re on the subject of the bomb. Our last vision on the timer shows that, before Batman takes off in the Bat, there is about a minute left before annihilation. We are told earlier in the movie that the bomb would have a six mile blast radius. This being the case, he would have flew the bomb out over the bay at a rate of THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY MILES AN HOUR. And that is just to get the city out of the direct blast radius, not taking into account the nuclear fallout, and/or the tidal waves that would have been a result of the explosion.

 

One thing redeemed this movie for me, and I was heartbroken when it wasn’t explored further, was the timid peek into the realm of Grotian Philosophy (read your classics! The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau). My favourite scene in the entire movie was the dialogue between Daggett and Bane when Daggett insisted that his assistant stay, and Bane commanded the opposite. Daggett insisted that he was in charge, and Bane responded with a hand on his shoulder asking “Do you feel in charge?” Intimidated, Daggett mumbles about giving Bane fortunes, and Bane questions “And this gives you power over me?”

That last line gave me shivers, because it sent my mind racing on a philosophical journey exploring the question of what gives one man power over another. It made me think, and I love that in a movie. Ideas in The Social Contract were further explored when Bane talked about liberating the people of Gotham, and giving them back their city, effectively freeing them from their Social Contracts. The philosophy stopped there though, as it becomes apparent that all Bane really wishes to acheive is chaos, which, coincidentally, is all Mr. Nolan achieves as well.

 

Overall I give this movie a 2 out of 5 stars.

Tragedy in Aurora

•July 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Last week during a midnight premier of batman twelve people were shot and killed when a man opened fire with an automatic rifle. I’ll refrain from adding further summary of the shooting itself because I’m sure everyone has watched the news enough to get an idea of what happened.

I’m going to make this very clear to you. It makes me sick when people use events like this to forward their political ideas. People like Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel saying things like

Let me be clear: Am I comparing this incredibly wicked, illegal mass murder at Aurora’s Century Theatre to the incredibly wicked, legal mass murder committed at Planned Parenthoods across the country each day? Absolutely — and you can quote me on it.

But that’s just a crazy Christian fringe group right? Maybe that would be a way out, but you would have to do a lot of fancy wordsmithing to explain away people like well respected (although I can’t figure out why) Pastor Rick Warren who blames the teaching of evolution in schools. I’ll say that again. Rick Warren is pinning the death of these twelve individuals on the teaching of a well known scientific fact in our classrooms. The day of the shooting Warren tweeted this:

When students are taught they are no different than animals they act like it.

How fucking sick do you have to be to hijack a tragedy like this to suit your own agenda??

And who do you think is the worst offender in politicizing this event? A Jewish Rabbi? A Catholic Priest? Worse. An elected official. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) appeared on a radio show the morning of the shooting, not 12 hours after and made claims that the shooting could have been avoided if the country placed a higher value in god.

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Fuck you, congressman. Fuck you.

And where are the atheist groups politicizing this event? Where are the people saying that this happened because we don’t have enough church-state separation, or because we have to say “under god” in our pledge? They’re silent. They’re showing respect. They’re keeping the victims’ families in their thoughts and they’re not shitting on the memories of their loved ones by trying to make these deaths serve their purpose. They’re showing basic human decency.

What happened in Aurora was truly terrible and my heart goes out to the families of the victims.

The Great Revival!

•July 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve done anything here. I started up the blog still riding the activist high from the American Atheist’s conference and Reason rally, then it abruptly died with the release of Diablo 3. Now that I’ve logged 300+ hours on the game I can take a few steps back and resume a normal life (which will include a semi-regular post for whoever reads this).

That is… until I get my next fix… Which will be on August 28th, 2012. Guild Wars 2. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I hear it is supposed to be what every MMO ever tries to be. If you’re looking for an in depth review from someone who’s actually played and done his research I can recommend JT Eberhard’s post here.He is also doing a post about the game every day until launch, and he has a phenomenal blog, so go check it out!

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And on that note an atheist guild is being formed for those who are interested in the game. You can find the facebook page for the guild, Godless, here. 

Following the precedent set by this post I’m going to expand my blog to cover more topics than just atheism. With the upcoming election politics will be unavoidable of course, and I also intend to post more about gaming because, well, I like it. Are there any other topics you, as a reader, would like to hear about? I’ll be billboarding this post to a much wider group of people this time so I expect some damn feedback!

Comment below!

Obama Announces His Support for Same Sex Marriage

•May 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Gasps and hushed murmurs could be heard all across the country yesterday when president Barack Obama announced his support for marriage equality for homosexual couples in an interview with ABC news. Immediately cheers arose from around the LGBT community. I’m going to take a few minutes and climb on my soapbox so that I can tell you just what I think.

My gut reaction is “Great, about fucking time.” It’s been long coming that we get a president behind gay rights, kudos to Obama for being that president. As a political move I love it. Maybe now republicans and democrats alike can take a step back from shouting about healthcare and national debt to look at some other issues that have been swept under the rug for far too long.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way I’d just like to say that I still think this whole issue is a non sequitur. I don’t think the institution of marriage should have any legal bearings whatsoever. The government has no place in the bedroom whatsoever. I don’t care if you’re heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, polysexual, or metrosexual, you should have full rights to call yourself married or whatever you want to call yourself. If you want to declare yourself in a monogamous relationship, do it, but that doesn’t mean the government should be incentivising it with tax breaks and other long term benefits. Long past is the notion that every adult should find a mate and form themselves a nuclear family to further the development of the species. Human life is already threatening to overpopulate the world we live on, we shouldn’t have our government incentivisng pairings that further that issue.

 

“It just seems a little creepy to tell the government who you’re having sex with.”

-Penn Jillette

Kuwait Passes Law- Blasphemy Punishible by Death

•May 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Long story short, don’t travel to Kuwait. I stumbled across this article recently by Bloomberg Press that details a new law just passed last week by the parliament in Kuwait. The law, which passed with a 40-6 majority, says that any Muslim who insults his god, the prophet Mohammad, any of the prophet Mohammad’s wives, or the Koran in any way can be put to death if he or she does not repent. Under the law a judge must present the defendant with the option of repenting which will reduce the sentence to a minimum of 5 years in prison and a fine equivalent to 36,000 USD.

I don’t think it needs to be said how gigantic this step backwards this is, not only for Kuwait governance, but for the entirety of Islam. For a religion that claims to be based upon peace and tolerance the enforcement of Sharia Law sheds an incredibly negative light on their entire religion (of course the sheer existence of Sharia Law makes that negative shadow inevitable).

Update 5-7-12

•May 7, 2012 • 68 Comments

Just came across a very informative new link (which I have included in the links page and can also be found here). Atheism resource supplies the reader with information on current news involving atheists, as well as a plethora of articles about social issues (separation of church & state) and scientific issues (evolution, etc). I particularly liked the handbook for debating Christians though I didn’t care for the infographic they included (see below). I’m an atheist activist living in a christian nation and I fully support proselytizing atheism. That being said if we only debate reasonable Christians who’ll concede to reasonable arguments we cut off our legs at the knees before the race even starts. Yes, if you only debate someone who’ll listen to reason you will win every time, but that’s not why we talk to Christians (or at least not why I do). When you have an argument with someone religious they’ll defend their point to the death. Even if they come to realize at some point in the discussion they’re wrong pride won’t allow them to back down, but later when they’re alone they’ll think about it to themselves and may come to realize they’re wrong. That might even plant a seed in their mind that will lead them to atheism later in life, but it won’t happen in the duration of a single conversation.

I also took issue from the site’s slogan “Your source for everything atheism… from people just like you” because that presupposes that atheists are all the same, just like you. I know that’s probably what the site’s authors intended but it still didn’t sit quite right with me. The only thing that universally unites all atheists is the fact that we’re not all united under a single doctrine or dogma. That and we don’t believe in any god. Other than that I really enjoyed the content of the site and I hope you’ll find it useful.

 

 

Yes, I know they misspelled “obeyed”.

 
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