Horrible Punishment in the Maldives

March 22, 2013

So, a girl gets raped by her stepfather and you know what happens? She gets a 100 lash punishment. Yes, you got that right, she is going to get punished for having had no choice in getting raped. So sign the petition, and let the Maldive’s government know what you think of this crap.

By the way, don’t think this victim blaming stuff that only happens in other countries. Look at what happened recently in the US’s Stuebenville rape case. The victim got threats as the disgraceful US media continuously went on and on about how sorry we are supposed to feel for the boys who permanently damaged their lives. Yeah, CNN, they permanently damaged their lives. It is called consequences. It is something that happens when a person destroys another person’s life.

Seriously, fuck you all who feel sorry for rapists, you are terrible human beings.

Hosni Mubarak Goes Down!

February 11, 2011

It looks like Egypt’s revolution, fueled by gatherings through the internet and Tunisia’s success, succeeded. It ended in the removal of Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt for around 30 years. I give congratulations for Egyptians, for they have taken their first step towards democracy, and the lives of 300 people were not wasted in vain.  Now, things aren’t 100% safe because what matters the most is that Mubarak is not replaced by another egomaniacal dictator during the transition, which has happened to so many other revolutions. The eighteen straight days of mass protests were one of the bravest things I have seen people do in my life. I hope that when it comes to it, I hope the rest of us can be that brave.

In a way, this kind of reminds of Europe’s revolution of 1848. Many protests, inspired by the French February revolution, spread throughout Europe. Unlike the European revolutions that happened back then, though, the Arab revolution is actually pretty successful, and people had modern telecommunication technology on their side.

Bernie Sander’s Filibuster

December 11, 2010

It is gloriously amazing. He literally spoke for over eight hours straight. Here is a portion below:

Also, I want to recommend another of his speech:

The Hypocrisy of the Skeptical Movement

July 28, 2010

A few days ago, I had a conversation in skepchick comments about atheism. I tried to ignore it, but it has been bothering me.  Note, the post from skepchick in general doesn’t have to do with atheism, it has more to do with skeptics who exclude people. But still, I can’t help but think some of the commenters argued against atheist strawman. Honestly, coming from such an intelligent group of people, it amazes me how dissonant their ideas of skepticism can be when atheism come into play. Not that they aren’t a bunch of wonderful people, because they are wonderful, and I do not wish to drive you away from them, since everyone there have intelligent discussions, and not so serious really funny ones. Sure, sometimes we have conflicts, but overall, we are all friendly towards each other. But there are also weaknesses which I want to expose, and I hope that by doing so, I can strengthen the movement.

The weakness has to do with some people in the group who criticize atheists and the sheer hypocrisy of some of their criticism. For those of you who don’t know, skeptics hope to educate people about the nature of this world and the weakness of our mind which perceives it, and at the same time, fighting falsehoods which may or may not threaten people’s life. Basically, skeptics search to nail down the truth, even though the truth is not absolute or transparent, but approximate. But at least we try. And oh boy, when a skeptic fight against a brand of magical woo woo, you better watch out, because they are going to kick your ass. And that is what they do to EVERY SINGLE BRAND OF WOO… except for some people, religion. And when religious skeptic people become cognitively dissonant, or when some atheist skeptic becomes uncomfortable because they are afraid of… something, they shove us the strawman atheists that supposedly hate theists and are trying to expel them from the group. If you ask me, that is the same type of persecution mentality that fundamentalists exhibit, except scaled down x1000 (nothing can be greater than the persecution complex of a religious fundy 🙂 ).

Now, let me tell you something about atheists. Atheists may be loud, they may be overly critical, but as far as I can tell, that is nothing the skeptic movement haven’t done against woo woo. Look at these example from Phil Plait or the sheer amount of ass kicking James Randi has done or the logorrheic insolence from Orac. Which is why, again,  it amazes me that seemingly intelligent people accuse the atheists for being too aggressive and hostile. Are you kidding me? I bet you that every single  one of those criticisms coming from the people linked above sound exactly like hostility to those who are at the receiving end of it, calling them “suppression” and “censorship.” But you know deep down, or above up (I don’t know how else to say the opposite of deep down 🙂 ), that their complaints are a bunch of crap, stupid and cowardly in design. Criticism is not censorship, nor does it mean that you are excluding a group of people. It means that certain arguments have flaws, and those flaws shouldn’t be ignored. What do atheists do? They do exactly the same thing, criticize religion for what it is. What most atheists don’t do is exclusion, because we all understand that we are not perfect. Nor do atheists expect everyone to fight against religion or every single brand of woo. Everyone has their blind spots and specialties, and that the human mind is inflexible in many cases. In a recent comment from PZ in his own post, he explains it the best:

Yes, we all have our blind spots and special cases…which is why it is important for the skeptical community to be consistent and not grant special exemptions for certain weird beliefs, and it’s also why skeptics can’t exclude individuals from that community for weird beliefs. If we did, there would be no skeptics!

In that case, it is important that we invite people, even if they have certain irrationalities like believing in psychics, because our purpose is to not only fight, but educate while doing so. And if the psychic person wants to fight certain woo woo, that is fine, but when the conversation ever gets to things about his beliefs, he shouldn’t expect us to make special exceptions to his beliefs. While I believe politeness is important, the right application of criticism is also important. That way, we all educate each other, and cover for each others’ blindness.

If you became a skeptic to seek comfort, I am sorry, but if so, you are in the wrong place. Often times, hearing criticism of your own beliefs can be mentally painful, especially if you grew up with it. Especially if it is religion, because religion tend to be more ingrained in one’s identity. If so, the mere existence of atheists, especially atheists with voices, are offensive and threatening to one’s identity. But if the only things you look for as a skeptic are ideas which conform or help other people to conform to your own ideas of how the world is supposed to work, then what is the point? A skeptic is supposed to challenge world views, change one’s own or other people’s minds , go against unreasonable and inhuman cultural norms (criticizing religion is a mores in many parts of America, which is in part why some atheists fight religion), or fight against the creeping  advance of pseudoscience which could cost others their money, happiness, and lives. I am not suggesting that skeptics should be unhappy. After all, skepticism is a tool, and whether you become happy by it (I am) or lose faith in humanity and become grumpy (me too, somewhat) depends on each individual. Rather, I am suggesting that you should apply consistency to your skepticism, or rather, allow others to apply consistency to their skepticism and let them criticize you when the conversation comes up. Even if that very idea is your religious belief.  Let criticism fly!

For another take, read from Shaun Philly, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Arrest the Pope? Hell Yeah!

April 13, 2010

Recently, there has been a tremor (from Skepchick) in the internet among skeptics and whoever might have heard of the sensationalistic headline that Richard Dawkins was going to arrest the pope, who is visiting to England. Well, it’s not like he is going to go and arrest the pope personally, but he and Christopher Hitchens support the idea that the pope should not be above the law, and that he indeed should face justice.

Honestly, I don’t know what the big fuzz is. I am totally for that idea. Not even a religious person with a conscience could reject this one. The pope has been personally responsible for aiding and abetting child molesters and obstructing justice. If a priest was found to have molested children, basically that person would be moved around to other areas and make sure to hush up everyone involved. Not only does that sound like something a criminal organization would do (which by the way, I believe the Catholic Church to be one), if a person doing this was not part of a religious organization, that person would have probably been brought to court and jailed. I don’t see how anyone could disagree with this.

I have heard of stupid excuses like, “they are too powerful, bwaaa!” Yes they are, which is why we have to try harder. Not to mention that there has been previous instances of leaders being arrested, like Pinochet. If people are vocal enough, at least the British people won’t have to pay the extravagant cost for the pope’s visit to England. Yeah, you heard that right. The Vatican is not paying any of it even though they probably have enough money to feed the world or something. And really, the whole child molestation thing is not even the pope’s biggest crime. In my opinion, the pope’s worst crime against humanity is his contribution to the AIDS epidemic in Subsaharan Africa, which kills millions. Basically, he is actively working against the use of condoms for sexuality, and why is that? Apparently, every sexual act has to be done in order to birth a child, and condoms prevent that. And I used think Christianity was above such petty mideaval reasoning (well, at least most religious people are above it… hopefully). After all, I have heard Christians say that certain moralities are appropriate for certain times in order to justify the horror of the Old Testament. Apparently, that is not true, since to them, morality is something you have to follow as written or commanded. For them, it is not something you do for human decency. And that is the ultimate irony, since according to them, without God there is no morality, but it turns out that those who are moral don’t need God as an excuse. They do it because they feel like it.

In the end, think of it this way. By arresting the pope, justice would be served, and it would be the beginning of a major restructuring of the church. You think we don’t have hope? That is the exact same attitudes that have prevented justice or reforms prevailing in the past. While I think the chances aren’t too good either, fighting can create change, even if slooowwwly. At the very least more people will hear about the depravities of the organization. Pfftt… “Sensationalistic.” Rubbish. People are always offended with something.

Sorry for the rant, folks, but this issue has been making me mad to no end. That is why I hate the news, even though I sadistically torture myself with them everyday. They always manage to give me high blood pressure in one way or another (I am going to die young, I swear) either because they are full of propaganda and news acting, or because so many stories are chock full of morons who make the wrong choice (like a  certain pope whose hat complements his clownishness).

So, random deviation aside, who is with me?!

Astronomy and Culture Trivia: Did You Know…?

February 4, 2010

Astronomy club meeting was two weeks ago, but I got to lazy to write about it. Last meeting had probably one of the most interesting talks. It relates to how much of our culture is borrowed from ancient civilizations, which in turn, were very closely related to astronomy:

(above: making fun of tourism)

You see, back in the reaaalllyy old days, there were no such thing as clocks, no way to precisely measure time. But time was important for these civilizations. Their entire lives depended on it, most importantly knowing when to plant and harvest crops. One thing did remain constant throught their lives, though: the heaven. Stars always remained in their respective places. Not only that, they would appear and disappear in a regular fashion depending on the seasons (For example, Orion appears early night in winter). So they thought, “Hey! Why not use the stars to keep track of time?” These people came to notice that at certain alignments, the day and night were equal in hour (equinoxes). At other alignments, the sun rose the highest, or the lowest (the solstices). Finally, they also noticed that the moon had a regular pattern of position in the sky (plus, there are the phases) and that the stars returned to the same place every 12 months or so.

What came out of that? You may wonder. Well, our months came from the number of days it took for the moon to go around the sun (not 30 days mind you, although it was more preferable). The year came from the Babylonian numerical system of base 60 (same reason an hour is 60 minutes, which is 60 seconds), and a circle is 360 degrees, so the year was divided into 360 days. This was not perfect either, so 5 days extras were added for festivities. Of course, because the system was not as exact as modern day dating stuffs, guess what? Sometimes, they had 13 months in a year! They considered number 12 a great number. You know how certain numbers are special. God created the world in 7 days, or 12 something or the other (yeah, I don’t know). So, having 13 months was not something they liked. Today’s society morphed it so that 13 is unlucky, removing the 13th floor on elevators and stuff (not that that is going to change the fact that 14 is the 13th floor).

There were also holidays for all the solstices, equinoxes and halfway in between them. Christmas used to be the Roman Saturnalia. It is winter solstice celebration, which means the day after, the sun will start going higher. Hooray! And Easter from old anglo saxon is when life starts to appear, so of course the symbols should be eggs and rabbits, known for their proliferation of course. Other derived holidays include groundhog’s day, may day, halloween, etc etc etc. And the Christmas tree, all evergreen, undying, the perfect tree for the end of the great dying at the end of winter solstice.

Fascinating, ain’t it? The meeting’s speaker said that the fact that people don’t know our cultural origins which has been derived from astronomical events is criminal. Is it? I don’t know, but the knowledge might give you a bit more perspective of our culture, and next time someone claims Christmas is a Christian holiday, you can point and laugh at them (although I seriously don’t recommend doing that). There were more stuffs from the presentation, but he covered lots of things and my memory is not perfect.

Oh, and as a bonus for being a member, I could borrow this beautifully illustrated astronomy book:

Anyways, great stuff. It has maps for all sorts of planets and moons, showing the most noticeable landscapes. Heck, it even has a map for an asteroid! It pretty much shows everything about astronomy.

Penn Jillette on Videogaming

November 24, 2009

I am a fan of Penn and Teller. They do amazing magic trick shows to educate others on our mind and perception, and they generally encourage critical thinking and skepticism. Recently, Penn got in an interview about the episode of Bullshit on videogames. Wow, finally, someone who defends videogame as a legitimate form of entertainment and art! Not that there has never been a defense on electronic gaming and all, but it is usually from the gamers who defend it themselves. Sometimes, I wonder if those people decrying videogames as harmful to society might have some truth to it. Maybe they do, but then, I remind myself that movies have far more violent content, but it has never brought about the downfall of our civilization. Although just like videogames, movies did have its stages in which it was trying to vie for public acceptance, especially those with violent and sexual contents. So did rock and roll, many books, and whatever form of entertainment you can think of. Eventually, movies did become considered legitimate forms of arts. I wonder whether videogames will reach the same status.

Oh yeah, and it is true, Jack Thompson is, I am quoting here, an “a**hole”. Although that particular legal bit of videogaming history is over, as the media is being accepted, and the guy has been disbarred. Of course, you have to be careful of the games you hand out to children, but I tell you, this Jack Thompson guy was going to extremes.