Archive | June, 2009

Republican hypocrisy on sex

29 Jun

Remember kids, it’s only a crime if a democrat does it. Has anyone noticed that the republicans are not having a feeding frenzy over governor Stanford’s infidelity? Senator Graham recently came out on Meet the Press and said that Stanford’s personal life should not affect his political career. It’s “dependent on if he and his wife gets back together.”

The man was having an affair with a woman who was not his wife, just like President Clinton. Why are there not similar reactions? Hell, at least Clinton didn’t walk off the job for several days without telling his chain of command! Worse, this is a man that is extremely religious. He wares his faith on his sleeve and has rebuked other congressmen for their transgressions. Oh! And don’t forget about Senator Ensign, another conservative moralizer that recently was discovered as having extramarital affairs. Sanctity of marriage? Please….

Now I’m not saying that democrats don’t have extramarital affairs, they do and are just as guilty. The problem is that republicans, unlike democrats parade around claiming to be the party of “god” the party with a monopoly on morality. That’s the very definition of hypocrisy.

Ghosts and spiritual warfare

29 Jun

When I was a kid, I believed in ghosts. I also believed that I had a soul that needed protecting from the forces of darkness that wanted to hurt me. I felt that by arming myself with certain objects (like garlic and crosses) I could protect myself. I believed that by invoking magical phrases from the bible I could form a force field around myself, protecting me from evil.

force field

One Halloween I even stole all my mom’s garlic and sprinkeled it around every door and window of the house. I thought this would keep out the ghosts and evil spirits.

Admittedly, the idea of being a soldier in a spiritual war is exciting. The supernatural is the basis for the majority of horror movies. When I was a kid I was vaguely aware of the existence of skeptics, of people who didn’t believe in ghosts. Yet at that age I thought the bible was all the proof I needed for god’s existence and as for ghosts, “there are so many reports of ghosts! all those people couldn’t be wrong!” The last statement was further cemented in my mind by the existence of volumes of ghost stories and TV shows dealing with the paranormal.

At that age I had no concept of the “ad populum” fallacy. You see, if there is no god, then there are no souls, no souls = no ghosts. Do I deny the experiences of thousands of people claiming to have seen ghosts? No. Yet I deny that what they experienced was in fact a ghost. There are plenty of things out there that science has yet to explain. Given science’s exemplary track record however, there is no reason to believe that the unexplained will forever be unexplained.

It’s actually quite liberating. Horror movies are no longer as scary as they were when I believed supernatural entities existed. Walking around at night I no longer fear some demon or werewolf is going to get me. I once took a friend to an old cemetery at midnight. She was getting nervous but I wasn’t affected at all. I knew that if we ran into anything that it would be human, and if it was human it was just as vulnerable as me.

Why do you hate America?

28 Jun

First off, I don’t hate America, but I hate what conservatives think it is, or what it should be. This country was founded by liberal deists, not conservative christians. At the time of its founding, the United States was one of the most liberal countries on the planet. A bill of rights? Freedom of religion? Of press? Of speech? No way! Wow. They were rebelling against a conservative state. A state with a monarchy, an established church, a state where the basic human right of freedom of expression was not guaranteed. No, there was a reason why the conservatives in the revolution were loyalists to the crown. After the revolution they sought to make the country more like Great Britain. Luckily after the war of 1812 they became politically irrelevant….for a time.

The conservatives really think they own this country. That god gave it to them and that these liberal scumbags are trying to usurp it out from under them. They’d love an America where gun owning was mandatory, along with membership to a protestant church. An America where anybody who was not white or male could not vote. Hell, what they really want America to resemble is the South during the Civil War. It’s not surprising since the biggest base of the conservative party is poorly educated, angry white southern men. (The modern republican party that is, not Lincoln’s republicans. The modern GOP was formed when LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, all the southern democrats, appalled that everyone should be allowed to vote, left to form a new republican base in the south)

I hate this image of America. Presently the republicans don’t give a shit about the environment, or the fact that we’re rapidly killing the planet, and ourselves. Their knee jerk reaction to any foreign problem is to bomb the hell out of it. Republicans are great for fighting wars. It’s a useful way to channel all that rage they have, but they absolutely suck when it comes to making peace.

For example, Obama’s policy on the Middle East. Obama wants to try engaging leaders there by talking, and admitting that America has made mistakes. He’s showing humility. The conservatives are furious over this. They are so prideful they can’t stand the idea that they’re great America, the greatest nation on earth, could make a mistake. The people in the Middle East however are stunned that for the first time in a long long time, the US is showing them respect instead of arrogance. What happens a few weeks later? A pro-American party wins election in Lebanon. The conservatives don’t know how to live with people, only how to kill them.

My image of the modern day conservative is of some white cowbow in a hummer, tearing up a wildlife refuge, shooting birds from his truck, while downing a beer that sits under a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror. If this is America then I hate it.

The America I love is humble, respects human rights and human dignity. In my ideal America looks more like a cross between modern day France and Sweden. Secular with a government that takes care of those less fortunate. A place where corrupt politicians are not tolerated. Where the environment is respected and ignorance discouraged. I love how the French government is scared of its people. If the French people don’t like something, they riot till it’s fixed. I wished the American people scared the US government like that, not the other way around.

American Anti-intellectualism

28 Jun

Anti-intellectualism is a big movement among conservatives in the United States. This is movement that completely baffles me. Apparently they disagree that being smart and informed is good. Whaaa? Why would you think that being knowledgeable and informed is a bad thing?

People seek to be smart and informed because doing so improves their ability to make good decisions. The more you know about reality, the better you can plan to make thinks happen the way you want them to. Knowledge improves your quality of life! Knowledge is power!

The sick thing is that the people who started this movement are extremely smart and intellectual. They knew that by convincing the less intelligent people in America that being smart was a bad thing, they could better control and manipulate them. All they had to do was play on the idea of “smart people think they’re better than you”. Angry insecure idiots would keep the ball moving after the initial push.

This whole anti-intellecualism stems from an anti-elitism movement. Sam Harris wrote a wonderful article defending elitism here.

“Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities [government], we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.”

I hate 3.5 combat

27 Jun

Last night I joined my girlfriend and her friends in playing as a guest star in their Arcana Evolved campaign. (Ok, so not star, but guest player) Anyways, the game lasted from 3pm to 10pm, with about an hour dinner break. For the most part it was fun, except the last 2-3 hours.

The last 2-3 hours was nothing but combat. There were 6 players versus 12 evil skeleton monsters with 40HP and AC’s of 25. Now, one of the biggest things I like about Swords and Wizardry, or Labyrinth Lord (both retro clones) is how everything is very simple. You just play.

With this Arcana Evolved game there are just so many rules and numbers. It took us 3 hours to fight 12 skeletons. I sat and watched the clock, it took 45 minutes for me to get my turn to go again, and only 30 seconds to find out that I missed every attack because I rolled too low. I then had to wait another half an hour till it got back around to being my turn.

I’m sorry but no. Fuck no. When you have time to get up and watch a TV show or take the dog for a walk without missing your turn in a game, something is wrong. When you are bored to tears watching the other players for 45 minutes, something is wrong. All my character could do was swing at things with his sword, so it took me 2 seconds to say what I was going to do, then roll. Everybody else took forever casting spells, looking at the map, calculating damage, and so on.

Now I know for some people they love the strategy involved with combat. How do I position my character, what attacks am I going to use, etc… But I think it is absurd that in a fantasy game, that by definition asks you to suspend your disbelief, so much emphasis is put on trying to make combat realistic. The player must know every little detail, they must ask a million little questions. No! That is not realistic combat! You know what it realistic combat?!?! “Oh shit! He’s got an axe! What do you do? 1…2…BAM! You hesitated! You’re Dead!” End of story.

Gay exorcism?

25 Jun

That’s right, a church in Bridgeport Conn., Manifested Glory Ministries, has preformed a 20 minute long “gay exorcism” on a 16 year old boy. I could tell you about it, but I think the video of the exorcism speaks for it’self.

“Rip it from his throat!” a woman yells. “Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!”

This is not only disgusting, but child abuse. Being gay is not the cause of a demon. It is perfectly normal and a cause of genetics, not choice. You can’t “choose” not to be gay just as much as you can’t “choose” to be straight. For people who might not understand how this could be taken as offensive, watch this: Gay Scientists isolate the christian gene.

Seeing the world through the lens of reality

23 Jun

I think there is a very different way religious and secular people see the world. Do you remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry?

elementsHow often do you ever think of these elements? I’m not a scientist, but I think about them a lot. If you remember, everything in on this planet is made up of these elements. Everything. The screen you are reading this on, the chair you’re sitting in, the tires on your car, the food you had for lunch, the pillow on your bed, all are made up of some combination of these elements.

I look at a tree and don’t just see a tree, I see Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium, Silicon, Iron, Boron, Strontium, and Aluminum. These are the elements that make up wood. (May vary slightly depending on the tree)

redwood-trunk

Basically, when I see something, I don’t just see the object, but I am consciously aware of the fact that that object is composed of various different elements. There is nothing magical, nothing supernatural about anything.

When you pray to a wooden cross, you are praying to a group of the above mentioned elements that merely have their atoms arranged in the shape of a cross. It has no special power. The same is true for every “holy object” in the word. They are simply objects with elements and atoms. Nothing special.

The wafer you eat at communion is just a wafer, the wine is just wine, with all the elements and atoms that make up the two. There is no special magical power.

Steampunk fail dice

23 Jun

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to work with my hands and build things. I spend a good amount of my free time crafting various….things. More often than not the things I make are of a decorative nature. They also tend to be geeky in their origin.

For example, the latest things I’ve made have been a small companion cube, aperture science baking apron, glowing water tube lights, 2 dice trays, secret anniversary present for the lady, and now my steam punk failure dice.

You see, I had a lot of left over materials from the aforementioned anniversary present. Having finished that project, I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I picked up a new project.

I originally planned on making her a d20 die. After spending two hours relearning geometry I hadn’t used in years,  finally correctly scaling an equilateral triangle, and cutting out 5 pieces, I started to regret my choice of the d20.

Luckily she told me that a d8 was her favorite die so that saved me some work. After cutting all the pieces, I carefully glued them together to *try* and get the shape. I stained all the wood a cherry red, then lined the edges with brass. (This time I managed not to slit my finger open like I did last time working with brass). To top it all off, I found some aluminium in the recycling bin and cut out little Roman numerals for the numbers. I considered putting aluminium tips on all 6 corners, but that would require about another hour of figuring out a pattern, then cutting the metal, then trying to bend it into a 4 sided pyramid shape, and it’s already 4:30am…..

So without further ado, here is my d8 failure steam punk die.

fail 1

fail 2

The cement glue makes it look kinda crappy, but it’s better in real life. I also copied my actual d8 and put all the evens on the top row and all the odds on the bottom. The die itself is extremely light, since it is hollow. I’ve rolled it around a bit and I can’t tell if it’s bias to any particular numbers. I bet you could use i it in game if you wanted, but it’s mainly just for fun.

In the future I’d like to make light up dice lanterns….

Does it not tell you something?

19 Jun

Anyone who knows me knows I love putting up political/Atheist messages up on my car. I usually just print something out in large text and tape it inside my window. It’s free speech and I get a thrill out of doing it.

Currently I have two pro-choice messages up in the back of my window. I really like putting those things up since I live in two areas of the country where I am in the extreme minority. (Politically and religiously) I have to sit and look at all these conservative christian bumper stickers all day, so why not put my counter-views up? A little something to shake people from comfortably thinking that everyone thinks like they do.

But here is the kicker. Part of the thrill I get from putting up my signs comes from fear. Fear that I’m going to be attacked or harassed in some way. Fear that I’m going to come back to my car in a parking lot to find it keyed.

Now this is not just some baseless paranoia. I have been harassed in the past. The first time was when I was 16 and was driven off the road by an angry conservative because I had a sign for the Democratic candidate for governor on my car. That scared the shit out of me. I’ve had “Liberty” “University” students honk angrily and give me the middle finger because of my signs. (How very christian). I’ve come back to my car on several occasions to find little pamphlets trying to save me under my windshield wipers. I’ve even sometimes found angry notes. I remember driving past a church when it was letting out, getting stuck in traffic. Everyone was glaring at me, giving me dirty looks.

That time I sank low into my seat, expecting to be shot at or have a brick thrown through my window at any moment.

Does the fact that I have to fear for my safety by speaking out not tell you something? How many conservatives drive around afraid angry liberals might attack them or shoot them for what is on their car? How many christians are afraid they will get attacked for a plastic magnetic fish?

I see signs that anger me every day, but I don’t honk or flick them off, and I sure as hell wouldn’t attack them. I respect their right to their opinions. I think the fact that I have to fear for my safety tells you something about the people I disagree with. They are willing to harass and sometimes use violence when they are confronted with someone with whom they disagree. It just screams “my position is undefensible, so I’m going to resort to violence and terror….”

Baby’s first game

18 Jun

So last night was my first game with Trollsmyth. As mentioned earlier I was pretty excited to the run up.

The game starts out with our characters fleeing from Pitsh after a ghoul attack. The whole time I’m thinking “Oh god, oh god, my buffalo, what about my water buffalo?” (My char started out with a water buffalo btw) My fear and dread left my sinister girlfriend much amused. ~_^

Luckily the DM was merciful and the water buffalo *miraculously* made it through the night with us. (In fact, he took over the water buffalo as an NPC, wonder if he’s ever been able to play as a water buffalo before?)

Well we find this dark scary hole in the floor of a building we took refuge in and naturally decided to go exploring in it. Unfortunately, the water buffalo couldn’t come with us. I told Hercula to hide up top and I can only hope that she’s there when we get up there.

(Oh yeah, I changed my water buffalo’s sex to female because I figured if it was a male, the DM was going to find a way to mess with it. Most likely having it go crazy if another female water buffalo came along. He might be aware of the rumor that Saladin had is warriors ride mares to drive the crusader’s male horses crazy. I didn’t want something like this to happen to me, so I made her a cow. Plus, the milk might be useful)

Anyways, we go down into the dungeon and start exploring the rooms. It’s at this point that I want to hit myself. I never really gave my character any good dungeoning equipment. She doesn’t have a lantern or a torch, and she doesn’t have a 10 foot pole. *facepalm* I end up huddling around the other 2 players.

Luckily for me, my girlfriend, one of the other players, was visiting last night. I was able to watch her map the place, which came in handy a lot. There were several points where I got mixed up and didn’t know where I was.  At one point I was fruitlessly trying to pick the lock on an extremely large door with a sewing needle, thinking there was no other ways forward except one. (There happened to be other doors a few rooms back that I had missed)

We found a room full of fire beetle things, a room full of jars, and a room full of bats. But scariest of all was the room with a 16ft snake in it. Luckily one of the chars was a gnome, and was able to charm the snake into not eating us. Unfortunately we had to stop shortly after that. It was midnight and the girl and I were tired.

As we fell asleep, all I could think of was that snake…..and how I hope there isn’t a snake with a water buffalo sized bump in it’s side when we return up top…..

I would cry...

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