Friday, October 30, 2009

Bob Burns' Halloween Special

I just finished watching the entire documentary on Bob Burns' history of making sets for Halloween. It is absolutely fascinating and truly fucking awesome. Just click here now and hit the video section. It is in 5 parts, but I believe will be the full documentary tomorrow. It is actually over 2 hours long, but I wish it were longer. I hope it comes out on DVD, this is something I will definitely watch again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fucking With Porn Telemarketers

This is fucking funny! This guy claims to have a call him daily. I suspect for a reason, but regardless, watch this, very funny.

BluRay on the new Wii???

IGN reports the rumor (video below) of the Wii2 possibly coming out next year with BluRay capability. My first thought was, "Awesome!" but that was sort of downplayed by, "What's the fucking point?" I do have a Wii and I also have a PS3 (which has BluRay). If it were XBox and Microsoft were to admit defeat from siding with HD-DVD (which I did in the beginning as well) and made their next model BluRay ready, that would be news. The problem with this is that the Wii just is not that powerful and the games do not require the storage of a BluRay. I've played Twilight Princess and it is plenty long a game. I really do not see any game developers utilizing the BluRay for Wii2 because it is just not necessary. The only benefit will be the ability to play movies, which is about fucking time, Nintendo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

About the US Blasphemy Laws

PZ has already expressed his concern and I just watched Pat Condell's video on this:

The Obama administration has endorsed blasphemy laws. Yeah, this sucks, but I am not worried. This really cannot happen here due to our Constitution as Pat Condell says. But some still have fears that a blasphemy law may be put in place.

My question, if by some odd circumstance it does happen is: Will fundies quit calling atheism a religion so they can still continue to attempt to bash atheism legally?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Funniest Thing On The Internet Today

PZ has made me laugh so hard I choked on my beer again.

A month or so back he linked to a fascinating blog of a woman who posted daily pictures monitoring her cervix (sorry, don't feel like looking for it now). PZ stated that he wanted a speculum. Well... he got it. And the picture... Wow! I still cannot have any beer in my mouth, or especially going down while looking at it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zelda Funny

I love me some Zelda and this is the funniest video I've seen regarding the series.

Sorry for shitty formatting, just go to the original here to see it full size.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Queen Of The Orcs Free eBook/Review

I've wanted to talk about this book series for a while. Before I do I want to point out that the first book in the series, Queen of the Orcs: King's Property, is legitimately free on Barnes & Noble's eReader, which can be read on many devices including your computer, and on Amazon's Kindle. I did see it was available for Sony's reader and for viewing on your computer, but didn't feel like looking it up.

For a long time Dune was my favorite book of fiction. When I got Kindle on my iPod Touch I went apeshit downloading practically every modern freebie I came across. A few months ago I grabbed the first in the Queen of the Orcs trilogy. My Kindle library is almost entirely freebies, but I loved Queen of the Orcs so much I immediately bought the rest of the trilogy before I finished the first book and hope I can urge all three readers to do the same and see why Dune is no longer my favorite work of fiction.

Now, finally, the review

King's Property by Morgan Howell (real name Will Hubbell) begins with a girl, Dar, being taken from her family (donated by her family, if I recall correctly) to be a slave for the king's army. She is branded on her forehead so that if she escapes villagers will immediately kill her for a reward. The king's army utilizes regiments of orcs to take care of the human's dirty work, but the orcs have a strict set of customs. The custom that required Dar's enslavement is that the orcs only eat when a female serves their food.

At first Dar is terrified of the orcs. She then has to serve them and say a phrase to each orc as she serves them in their own language. The other female slaves have no interest in learning what they are saying to the orcs or reasons for their customs, but Dar does. Eventually she becomes comfortable enough to start to learn their language.

The men soldiers all want to fuck Dar (as they do all new slaves), but she is under the "protection" of Murdant Kol. Murdant Kol likes the chase of difficult women, which Dar is, and he makes her "his" woman for her "protection." His plans for her do not go very well and she is ostracized by both the female slaves she works with and the soldiers and she then lives under the protection of an orc, Kovok-Mah.

Kovok-Mah, who is the leader of this orc regiment and is also fairly fluent in English, has Dar sleep in his tent and the other orcs, especially his cousin, Zna-Yat, start questioning his sanity and ability to further lead the orc regiment. The orcs do not particularly like humans, but they endure battle for the humans only because their queen demands it. They feel that humans are smelly (they have a keen sense of smell) and are cruel for they enjoy senseless war a bit too much.

Dar begins to have visions of the future that she cannot make sense of, but they eventually happen and this is very important to the rest of the series.

I have probably said too much, but there is so much more to the story so I don't feel awful for a few spoilers. And I must admit, I had a hard time getting into the book at first. I was certainly interested, but I had another book I was more anxious to get into that I actually paid for three or four chapters in. Even one other reviewer on Amazon said they had a difficult time getting into it. However, I do guarantee that once you get past the first few chapters, it will be very difficult to forget and set aside.

This is now my favorite series in fiction. Being obsessed as I am about this I looked for more by Morgan Howell and found A Woman Worth Ten Copper and it is equally as good and I await the second book coming October 27th. After finishing that book I quit reading. His books are very emotionally draining, but in a good way, and I still do not feel like reading anything else until the next book comes out. After that, I may actually go and re-read the Queen of the Orcs trilogy. If Queen of the Orcs actually was made as a movie series and done as competently as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars would probably be dethroned as my favorite piece of fiction media.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dolphins Fucking With Jellyfish

Matthew Cobb posted on WEIT this video which he is going to use at a lecture tomorrow. The two animals I enjoy most are cats and dolphins. It probably has something to do with the fact that they are intelligent enough to the point that they enjoy fucking with other animals and this is no exception.

When I was a child and a teen I enjoyed watching my cats catching another animal and intentionally keeping it alive, be it a mouse, rabbit, or bird (yes, my cats would catch them right out of the sky), and from that moment until its eventual death it was my cats' play toy. I no longer have cats for I have no idea how to take care of a cat in a city environment. So now I just hit the Minnesota Zoo and watch the dolphins and they are a lot of fun. The last time I went one of the dolphins was playing with a trainer and whipped a ball at her fucking head! It was awesome.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Goddamn You, Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne is at the Atheist Alliance International meeting and has his report here. It sounds interesting. I have the AAI 2007 DVDs, which are quite good, but I have a feeling this year will be even better.

So why am I cursing a man who wrote one of the best popular science books on evolution (I'm only about halfway through Dawkins' TGSOE, but I still like Coyne's better)? Because of this part:

I attended a talk (and had breakfast with) William Dav is, better known as “The Cigarette Smoking Man” of X-Files fame. Davis’s nominal topic was a response to Dawkins, who has criticized The X-Files for being inimical to reason (the supernatural explanation always won). Davis’s response basically boiled down to “Well, we all knew it was fiction,” which I think is inadequate. Davis also gave a bit of biography (I learned this morning that his X-Files cigarettes were herbal, and he had somebody else light them), and threw out a few bizarre statements, to wit: it might have been better not to fight against Hitler in WWII, and that perhaps democracy isn’t the best political system for the US (he feels that it’s inefficient at confronting our enormous global challenges).

I was delighted to find out William B. Davis is an atheist and skeptic (as is David Duchovny, well, maybe not atheist, but I suspect so). However, Coyne says in response to Davis defending The X-Files that "the supernatural explanation always won." No. It. Fucking. Didn't. Jerry, if by some odd circumstance you read this, you're a fucking stud, but this remark is horseshit. It is apparent you have not watched much of The X-Files. In the majority of the "creature of the week" episodes (the non-plot related, alien conspiracy episodes, which were about a quarter or less of the seasons' episodes) there was some purely natural explanation for the seemingly supernatural event. In Unweaving The Rainbow, Richard Dawkins says:

The cult of The X-Files has been defended as harmless because it is, after all, only fiction. On the face of it, that is a fair defence. But regularly recurring fiction -- soap operas, cop series and the like -- are legitimately criticized if, week after week, they systematically present a one-sided view of the world. The X-Files is a television series in which, every week, two FBI agents face a mystery. One of the two, Scully, favours a rational, scientific explanation; the other agent, Mulder, goes for an explanation which either is supernatural or, at very least, glorifies the inexplicable. The problem with The X-Files is that routinely, relentlessly, the supernatural explanation, or at least the Mulder end of the spectrum, usually turns out to be the answer. I'm told that, in recent episodes, even the sceptical agent Scully is starting to have her confidence shaken, and no wonder.

But isn't it just harmless fiction, then? No, I think the defence rings hollow. Imagine a television series in which two police officers solve a crime each week. Every week there is one black suspect and one white suspect. One of the two detectives is always biased towards the black suspect, the other biased towards the whit. And week after week, the black suspect turns out to have done it. So, what's wrong with that? After all, it's only fiction! Shocking as it is, I believe the analogy to be completely fair one. I am not saying that the supernaturalist propaganda is as dangerous or unpleasant as racist propaganda. But The X-Files systematically purveys an anti-rational view of the world which, by virtue of its recurrent persistence, is insidious.

I can only think of one "creature of the week" episode off the top of my head that is supernatural in nature, and that was the Bruce Campbell episode (s06e07, Terms Of Endearment) where The Chin plays a demon knocking up human chicks. There is a boy that has a psychic connection with the aliens, but I'm not going to quite call this supernatural because the aliens communicate telepathically, as do some ants on Earth, and this boy does have a connection with aliens.

Coyne also does not believe that the show being a work of fiction is adequate. I think this is a valid concern, but superficially, I think it is an adequate explanation. All viewers should know that it is fiction, but that probably is not the case all the time. So I do understand the concern over the "message." I have no doubt that the show fueled conspiracy theories. I know Alex Jones (famous conspiracy theorist) interviewed Dean Haglund (Langly from The Lone Gunman) about the Lone Gunman (X-Files spinoff) episode where the World Trade Center was about to be hit by a passenger plane aired months before 9/11. I also talked to Jordan Maxwell (another conspiracy theorist) about that episode a few years back. So there are valid concerns about The X-Files within the skeptical community, but the supernatural aspects need to stop.

As for the talk, which I have not seen yet and Coyne only talked of a couple points, William B. Davis was generally only in the alien conspiracy plot episodes. I don't know if he's seen the "creature of the week" episodes where he was not involved, but if he had, he would have had a better case to defend the show.

I am really sick of skeptics shitting on The X-Files. Not all skeptics do, in fact a few skeptics actually have no problem with the show or even promote it. Those are the skeptics that have actually watched the show, for example, this article on Skeptic Tank. Why not piss on shows such as Supernatural? I actually quite like Supernatural because it does what The X-Files did not. That's right, the mysterious entities are actually supernatural. There is even a great episode making fun of Ghost Hunters. Speaking of which, why aren't skeptics going after Ghostbusters? It has been out 25 years.

I woke up this morning and turned on UFO Hunters (I love me some kooks) on The History channel to have on in the background as I did some way fucking overdue homework. I think it would be more prudent for skeptics to go after these type of shows (and many do) on channels that purport to be of some credibility than to dwell on a long dead fiction show. Most importantly, if you are going to be a skeptic, examine what you are criticizing before you shit on it. I have plenty of kneejerk reactions, myself, that make me a lesser skeptic than I could be, and the wonder of the internet is that someone out there with more knowledge than you on the topic will point that out. That is exactly what I am doing and I am confident I know plenty more about The X-Files than Jerry Coyne and I am calling him out for being too ill-informed about the show to make the statements he did.