Thursday, April 30, 2015

An atheist reads The Magic Man in the Sky

This is Steve Shives reading, and commenting on, Carl Gallups' The Magic Man in the Sky. Lots of fun, isn't it? Better him than me! I certainly wouldn't want to wade through this garbage.

This isn't the first in his playlist - he's already at chapters 15-17 here - so I'm just posting this as a sample. Give it a try.

Note that this isn't the first work of Christian apologetics he's critiqued, either. In fact, I think this is the eleventh, so he's really a glutton for punishment. (You can find all of them here.) But he does a superb job with all of them.

They're not dry, either. He's quite humorous and very entertaining.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner

Baltimore may be burning, but this is funny! Barack Obama knocks it out of the park every year at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I always sympathize with the comedian who follows him.

This year, it was Cecily Strong:

She's good, but she didn't hit with every joke, like the president did. As I say, he's a hard act to follow.

Then again, that might be my fault. I pay attention to politics, but not to television, so I know I missed some of her jokes.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Football Town Nights

Don't like rape jokes? Me, neither. But as TPM points out, this is the right way to joke about rape.

Of course, the joke isn't about rape, but about attitudes towards rape, about the lame excuses for rape, and about the football culture in small towns.

It's from Inside Amy Schumer, which I haven't seen, and it parodies a movie I haven't seen. So some of the humor went right past me, I'm sure.

Here's what Amanda Marcotte, one of my favorite columnists at TPM, says:
The sketch, “Football Town Nights,” is a loving parody of Friday Night Lights that also works as a pitch-perfect satire of the various ways rape culture perpetuates itself.

Josh Charles plays “Coach Thompson,” a direct homage to Kyle Chandler’s Coach Eric Taylor on the beloved football drama. (Amy Schumer plays his wife, gently sending up Connie Britton’s wine-loving, free spirited performance on the show.) Coach Thompson wants his team to be inspired, to work hard, to win games and oh yeah, to not rape.

The team’s locker room reaction to his instructions not to rape is immediately familiar to anyone who has dared to peek at the comments under any article denouncing rape: a bunch of dudes making increasingly convoluted arguments about why there should be exceptions or caveats to this broad no-raping philosophy. “What if it’s Halloween and she’s dressed as a sexy cat?” “What if she thinks it’s rape but I don’t?” “What if she’s drunk and has a slight reputation….” It’s only a mild exaggeration of the kinds of arguments feminists get with this relentless prodding strategy.

Or in some cases, not exaggerated at all. “What if the girl said yes but then she changes her mind out of nowhere, like a crazy person?” adds one, which is one we’ve heard a lot.

But while the persistent whining of trolls is the funniest part of this sketch, the satire of rape culture goes much deeper. The community frames Coach Thompson as an unreasonable fun-killer, and his wife even tries to argue that maybe he should let this one go—all reactions that feminists are intimately familiar with when they speak out against rape. Tellingly, the sketch doesn’t include any girls at all, making it clear that rape is a product of male entitlement and isn’t about the girls or what they do and wear.

The best part may be the end, when Coach Thompson, frustrated that his players are losing focus because they’re so obsessively angry about this extremely reasonable “no raping” rule, screams at them in a classic rallying-the-team locker room scene. “How do I get through to you boys that football isn’t about rape?” he yells. “It’s about violently dominating anyone that stands between you and what you want!”

Rape isn't funny. I understand that. But humor can work wonders. Racism isn't funny, either, but All in the Family made racists laugh at themselves - and, perhaps, think.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Barack Obama and Bill Nye talk science

Of course, if Barack Obama supports science, Republicans will oppose it.

But Republicans started opposing science before they ever knew Obama existed - it's why so very few scientists identify as Republican these days - and it's good to have a president who, while not a scientist himself, is smart enough to accept scientific research when there's a worldwide consensus.

Better yet, it's good to have a president who's willing to spend political capital in the support of science. After all, everything he does comes in the face of intense opposition. So it all has a price.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bill Maher: zombie lies - environmental edition

Bill Maher is not a very good spokesperson for science. He needs to listen to himself when it comes to vaccines, for example.

But on something like this, he does a very, very good job. So I'm going to post it. Maher is flawed - like all of us, I suppose - but when he's good, he's superb.

Friday, April 17, 2015

How crazy can the right-wing get?

Right Wing Watch, a project of the People for the American Way, monitors right-wing figures and groups, but their YouTube channel simply lets right-wing folk speak for themselves.

It's not just fringe lunatics, either. No, they're often mainstream Republican lunatics. This is Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, but they highlight crazy clips from Glenn Beck, Rafael Cruz (father of presidential hopeful Ted Cruz), fake-historian David Barton, Wayne LaPierre from the NRA, and politicians like Mike Huckabee, Louie Gohmert, Donald Trump, and Bobby Jindal, to name just a few.

Bryan Fischer is a favorite, admittedly. In this clip, he explains how Noah's Flood was the result of not having a death penalty in ancient times. Thus, when opponents argue against capital punishment today, "well, we tried that." And look what happened: God had to kill off nearly everyone on Earth and start over.

Fischer, of course, assumes that Noah's Flood really happened. After all, it's in the Bible, isn't it? Must be true, then. He thinks that all of the stories in the Bible are true, literally true, but he doesn't even stop there. He elaborates on them.

Thus, when God commanded that Cain not be killed for murdering his brother, clearly that meant there was no death penalty for anyone, for any crime, anywhere on Earth. Wow, God really screwed up with that one, didn't he? What a mistake! So he had to drown nearly everyone on Earth - men, women, children, babies,... even the animals - and start over.

After that, killing was encouraged. Disobedient children? Stone them to death. Someone picking up sticks on the Sabbath? Kill them! Heretics? Witches? Party girls? Kill, kill, and burn them alive. (Really, if you haven't read the Bible, it's almost certainly crazier than you think.)

Of course, this means that God made a huge mistake - his mistake, for which he murdered nearly everyone on Earth. Hmm,... was that just to start over? Or did God simply not want to leave any witnesses to his own ineptitude? After all, he's supposed to be omniscient - not to mention eternal and unchanging. Must be hard to admit screwing up so badly, then, huh?

Here's something a little different - also crazy, but... well, see for yourself:

Kent Hovind is a Christian apologist, Young Earth creationist, conspiracy theorist, and convicted felon. He's currently in prison, having been convicted on 58 counts - primarily to do with tax evasion and other financial crimes.

Of course, the faithful sheep in his flock - currently tended by his son, Eric Hovind - are convinced it's all a conspiracy. And apparently, the Hovinds haven't taken all of their money, because they're working on a documentary about how "a Christian Pastor was imprisoned 8-years ago for speaking the truth and leading souls back to Jesus Christ."

This is supposed to be the trailer for that, titled "Kent Hovind: An Atheist's Worst Nightmare." Heh, heh. The title isn't the only funny thing about it, either. This 'official trailer' is so over-the-top it could easily be a parody of itself.

Who do they have producing this stuff, anyway? "He obeyed all laws and they still through [sic] him in prison." Heh, heh. It's not an atheist's worst nightmare, but more like an atheist's comic relief.

And don't ask me what George W. Bush and Barack Obama are doing in this, either. (Hitler seems rather self-explanatory, since apologists love to claim that Hitler wasn't really a Christian.) Bush was president when Kent Hovind was convicted, so maybe he's supposed to be part of the conspiracy? It's really hard to tell, since Hovind's conspiracy theories are so varied and so bizarre.

In fact, he's so crazy it's hard to tell if I can even classify Hovind as a right-winger. He's not a progressive, but I'm not sure he's sane enough to even categorize. But this next guy is definitely right-wing crazy:

Jon Stewart is being pretty silly here, but does Dick Cheney deserve anything else? Cheney doesn't even deserve to be taken seriously. Heck, he deserves to be on trial for war crimes. The least we can do is make fun of him.

What he's saying is at least as crazy as in the other video clips I've posted here. No one has done more to strengthen the ayatollahs of Iran than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. If they'd been working for Iran's mullahs, rather than for America, their actions would have made a lot more sense.

After all, the result of those actions was to weaken America and strengthen Iran. But the real crazy is the attempt to blame Barack Obama for what he, himself, has done. Dick Cheney, you take the cake!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Future Christ?

I wasn't sure where they were going with this - I certainly didn't expect the direction they took! - but it's pretty funny. Don't expect any deep philosophy, though. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easter surprise (hardly) - Obama upsets Fox News

Cenk Uygur is right. None of these Christians actually believe in their religion. No Muslims do, either. That's obvious.

According to both mythologies, your life on Earth is just a brief prelude to eternity in paradise. So you get killed here? Big deal. You're not losing anything at all. You still have forever.

You've lost nothing.

You're going to get depressed because the President of the United States doesn't act like the Pope? For one thing, he's not the President of Christianity, he's the President of America. He's the president of a diverse country where religion is none of the government's business.

Of course, the specific things they get upset about are just insane. Just listen to what they're mad about now. But they don't actually hate Barack Obama for what he says or doesn't say. They don't actually hate Barack Obama for what he does or doesn't do. They just hate Barack Obama. And they're always looking for an excuse to justify that hatred and to push their right-wing political ideology.

But imagine for an instant that they were exactly right. Imagine that everything they said was true. So what? As a Christian, you've got an omniscient, omnipotent god on your side, and you've got eternity - literally, an infinity of time - no matter what happens here on Earth. ISIS could chop off your head tomorrow and you'd lose nothing.

At least, according to your own mythology. Now, we atheists do have something to lose. This is the only life we've got, and if these right-wing Christians screw it up for us, that does matter. But for Christians and Muslims alike, how could anything upset you?

But the thing is, you don't actually believe what you claim to believe, do you? No one sells all of his property and gives everything he owns to the poor. Just the reverse, in fact. The 'prosperity gospel' is growing rapidly in America. Of course, Jesus said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven. But what does he know, huh? LOL

The fight over abortion? Why do Christians care about that? All of those fetuses go to Heaven, don't they? And given eternal life, they've lost nothing. NOTHING. A year, a hundred years, a million years - none of it makes the slightest bit of difference alongside eternity.

Obviously, an all-powerful god could stop abortions and ISIS any time he wanted. An all-powerful god could easily stop people from making cartoons about Mohammed, too. So, either he doesn't exist or he doesn't want to. Well, maybe it's too much effort for nothing. After all, according to Christian and Muslim mythology alike, this life is nothing. At most, it's just a test, and getting killed for your faith means that you pass the test with flying colors.

But it's all a lie. Neither Christians nor Muslims actually believe what they claim to believe. And no one at Fox 'News' is actually upset about Obama's Easter speech, either. It's all just an act. Whether it's just designed to fool the gullible or it's also an attempt to fool themselves, I don't know. But it's a foolish lie either way.

American Apartheid

In the wake of the Walter Scott murder, Lawrence Brown notes an interesting fact at TPM:
As statistician Nate Silver has noted, most police don’t live in the cities they serve and patrol. This is especially true for white police officers. Out of the 75 largest cities in the U.S., only 35 percent of white police officers live in the cities they serve; rather, a large majority of white police officers live in suburbs surrounding the city.

In cities such as Baltimore, Houston, Detroit, Denver, Newark, Los Angeles, Birmingham, Tampa, Orlando, Minneapolis, Oakland and Miami, fewer than 25 percent of white officers live in the cities they patrol. This might not seem to be a big deal—until one considers that most suburbs were extremely segregated until the 1980s due to the critical role of the Federal Housing Administration in subsidizing the construction of suburbs. Therefore, white police officers live in and/or grew up in disproportionately white suburbs.

Federal, state and local policies also explain the conditions of urban black neighborhoods that white police officers will patrol after commuting from their suburban home. America’s residential segregation is a result of over 100 years’ worth of race- and eugenics-based policies, including... [the article lists five of them] ...

Due to these devastating government policies that sanctioned racial segregation, the areas where more than 60 percent of white police officers live are jurisdictions where black people have been intentionally excluded. This creates a dynamic where most white police officers who live in suburbs and patrol in black neighborhoods are commuting to work with ingrained, longstanding racial biases and stereotypes intact. As James Loewen argues in Sundown Towns: “Segregated neighborhoods make it easier to discriminate against African Americans in schooling, housing, and city services.”

Shocking, isn't it? I certainly didn't realize that.

The effects of racism linger on for generations. Indeed, despite changed policies, younger people are still raised racist - less so than previously, true, but we're definitely not 'over' racism.

And let's not forget the politics of it. After the Democrats took a stand for equal rights and against racial segregation, Republican Party leaders began their 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing racists. They were probably no more racist than most Americans, but they really wanted to use those people for their own political advantage. (It worked, but that flood of racists into the party has had a huge long-term effect on the GOP.)

And the South did not integrate. If state-sponsored racial segregation was illegal, there were still plenty of other ways to stay segregated. White southerners took their kids from public schools,... and stopped supporting the public school system. Meanwhile, they still wanted government support for their schools (the initial impetus behind vouchers and the 'Moral Majority,' among other right-wing policies).

As this article points out, racial zoning was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1917. And restrictive covenants, which also kept blacks, Jews, and other minorities out of neighborhoods, was found unconstitutional in 1948. Those rulings didn't stop the problem. They helped, but... it's just not that easy.

Note that politicians from both parties betrayed the 1968 Fair Housing Act, either through politically motivated racism or cowardice. And LBJ's war on poverty is, to date, the only war right-wingers haven't loved, the only war in which they were willing - even eager - to surrender and accept defeat.

Even today, de facto racial segregation is a reality. Even today, the Republican Party uses racism for political purposes. Today, white Americans are actually raising money to support Michael Slager, the white cop who murdered Walter Scott (while another white cop did nothing and went along with the coverup).

The effects of generations of slavery, followed by generations of segregation and blatant racism, aren't so easily fixed. We've definitely made progress - we should never forget that - but we still have a long way to go.

GOP wisdom: another day, the same message

That does save wear and tear on the brain cells, I suppose.

Parenting with your rapist

OK, right-wingers think that aborting your rapist's baby should be illegal, then they saddle you with custody battles? How disgusting is that?

I understand Samantha Bee's problem here. Of course, I feel that way about most of the stuff they report.

Incidentally, to our shame, Nebraska is one of the states on that list. Hey, Unicameral, can you leave off the crazy stuff for awhile and fix this?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tehran, if Republicans had their way

This is hilarious, isn't it? Also, depressingly true.

OK, here's the first part of the show - good, but I really wanted to post this bit with Hasan Minhaj. He's got the Republicans down pat.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Five stupid things for April 6, 2015

What a country, huh? What a country!

This is part of a series, too, of course. Unfortunately, the stupid things just get stupider all the time.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Things Jesus never said

Funny, isn't it? I couldn't post things that Jesus did say, since we have no idea about that. We don't even know if a historical, rather than fictional, Jesus actually existed.

But you have to wonder if right-wing Christians believe in their Jesus either, don't you? I mean, the prosperity gospel? Jesus as a gun nut? Jesus as a war-monger?

And then there's this: "If I had a book written by the supreme creator of the universe, I'd at least skim it." Heh, heh. Yeah, but doesn't that also make you wonder? Do Christians actually believe what they claim they believe? They certainly don't act like it.

Of course, that's faith-based thinking. What's the point of believing by faith if you can't just believe whatever the hell you want to believe? Heck, if you cared about the truth of your beliefs, you might as well be evidence-based.

Here's another video which demonstrates that:

All of you liberal believers, this is why faith-based thinking is wrong, even if you happen to get the right answer. That's because your method is wrong, so your right answer was purely coincidental, and you can have no expectation that you'll get the right answer on the next question.

Anyone can be wrong, but there are ways we can be more confident of getting the right answer, and faith certainly isn't one of them.

Celebrate the true meaning of Easter

Give me that old-time religion!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Warren Buffett: Citizens United pushing us towards a plutocracy

Warren Buffett and I think alike - in this particular instance, at least.

Fox News lies about Iran nuclear deal

You knew this was going to happen, though, didn't you? There's absolutely no way that Fox 'News' would support anything from the Obama Administration. It makes absolutely no difference what it was, they'd still oppose it.

And note that 47 Republican senators committed treason by trying to sabotage America's side in these negotiations before they even knew what kind of settlement we'd get. They opposed it before they even knew what it was.

So of course they're going to oppose it now. Undoubtedly, they've been working on their opposition for weeks. The reality of the deal makes absolutely no difference to them, since they would oppose it no matter what it was.

And what do they propose in return? If this agreement fails, then what? The only alternative is war. Now, Republicans love war, because defense industry lobbyists love war. But you can bet that they won't be fighting in it, and you can bet that they won't want to pay for it (except maybe with cuts to Social Security).

But they live in their own little fantasy realm, where war is good. Republican neo-cons have been pushing for war with Iran for years, just as they pushed for war with Iraq for years. Just look at the mess that left us.

They were wrong about everything when it came to Iraq, but being wrong isn't a downside for Republicans. Being wrong is never going to dent their faith, no matter how many times it happens.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Five stupid things about white genocide

Sadly, this video is getting some down-votes - not anywhere near a majority, but still a significant number. And there are angry racists commenting (anonymously, of course). It's a bit depressing.

On the other hand, they're greatly outnumbered by rational people, so it's not all that depressing.

Steve Shives produces a lot of these "Five Stupid Things" videos. They're entertaining, they're perceptive, and they're short.

Atheist fundamentalist

Is he wrong about any part of this?