How not to win an argument.

I know that dealing with ignorant people who cling to long disproven ideas can be frustrating — this blog is full of examples of such tribulations — but this is not the proper way to win an argument over whether or not the Earth is flat:

Police, firefighters called in after flat Earth debate turns heated – Ottawa – CBC News.

Police said a 56-year-old Brockville man was at a campsite with his son and his son’s girlfriend when the woman began insisting that the Earth is flat.

The older man insisted the Earth is round.

It’s not clear if anyone at the campfire put forth the argument that the Earth’s equatorial bulge makes it not perfectly round, but instead a shape known as an oblate spheroid.

Nevertheless, police said the man became so enraged he began throwing objects into the campfire, including a propane cylinder.
flat-earth-sign

While I can appreciate how an exploding propane filter could act as an exclamation point to your well-reasoned debate, it’s still a stupidly dangerous thing to do and calls into question your own intelligence in spite of the fact that you’re technically correct about the generally spheroid shape of the planet. In short, don’t do that.

Also, I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite to a fault? Talk about shattering a stereotype in the worst possible way.

Feel the Christian Love: Ye shall know them by their fruits edition.

Jesus is love, right? That’s what they keep telling us. God is love. Jesus is love. So on and so forth. Love thy neighbor as thyself. We hear it all the time from folks trying to sell us on Christianity. Sounds good, except that it seems there are a lot of Christians who either don’t understand the message or don’t actually believe it.

Events like the mass murder of 49 people at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse often bring out the true nature of some self-professed Christians. One only has to turn to Twitter to see it first hand:

The parade of tweets like these just goes on and on and on, but it’s not just individual Christians showing their true colors. Whole churches are getting in on the act. It goes without saying that the asshats at Westboro Baptist Church have been celebrating the Orlando massacre, but they’re not alone. There’s people like Pastor Steven Anderson in Arizona who has been putting out hateful videos on YouTube for awhile now. He wasted no time responding to the Orlando shooting:

Anderson is really just one step removed from the shooter. He isn’t upset that a bunch of gays were killed so much as how it was done. He doesn’t condone vigilantism. He thinks killing homosexuals is a job the U.S. Government should be doing itself. Because Jesus is love or something. Oh, and you shouldn’t sympathize with the victims either:

He’s right about at least one thing. There’s plenty of passages in the Bible to justify what he’s saying. You don’t have to look hard to find them and he even provides a couple in his videos.

Then there’s Pastor Roger Jimenez of the Verity Baptist Church in California. He had this to say:

Again, he has plenty of material in the Bible to back his views up. This is the “good” book so many Christians claim to follow. This is the “loving God” they claim to believe in. For all the shit that the Quran commands of its Muslim followers that so many like to point to as proof of it being a wicked religion, there’s just as much in the Bible that you could make the very same argument about.

These people acknowledge that and celebrate it. They take glee in the idea that the victims are burning in Hell. It justifies their hate. It grants them permission to treat anyone they don’t like as less than human. As unworthy of life. Be they gay, atheist, a different race, a different religion, or what have you. They will insist that Jesus still loves you as they call for your death over your perceived sins and while they themselves may not kill you, you can be damned sure they won’t be upset should someone else do it for them. In their perfect world, the government would be taking care of you for them.

This is that famous Christian love they want to sell you.

Links and YouTube mirrors via Hemet Mehta.

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t understand how evolution works.

If you’ve been reading SEB for any amount of time then it probably doesn’t need to be said that my politics don’t line up with Rush Limbaugh’s politics. It’s also probably obvious that I think that Rush has said some amazingly stupid things over the years, but I’ve never thought the man was particularly uneducated. That’s probably as much due to the fact that I try to limit my exposure to his rantings as much as possible than it is him actually being educated.

On Tuesday during a segment about the kid falling into the gorilla enclosure in Cincinnati, Rush demonstrated his scientific ignorance of the Theory of Evolution. The folks at Media Matters captured his idiocy in all its glory:

“A lot of people think that all of us used to be apes. Don’t doubt me on this. A lot of people think that all of us used to be gorillas.”

headdeskOK, let’s stop right here. There’s more, but this is all you really need to realize that Rush has no clue what he’s talking about. Humans did not evolve from apes, or chimps, or gorillas. We are a kind of ape ourselves. We share a common primate ancestor (Homo-Pan) and have travelled different evolutionary paths starting around 6 to 7 million years ago. Either Rush is ignorant of what the theory of evolution says or he’s intentionally setting up a strawman. Based on what he says next I’d wager it’s the former.

“And they’re looking for the missing link out there. The evolution crowd. They think we were originally apes.”

The problem with the “missing link” is that there is no missing link. Evolution isn’t a matter of sharp delineations. It’s a matter of gradual differences. There is not, nor will there ever be, a fossil find that we can point to and definitely say that is the exact moment we stopped being Homo heidelbergensis and started being Homo sapiens. Reality is messy and doesn’t give a shit about fitting things into obvious categories. People like Rush don’t like that fact so they try to ignore it.

Here is his pièce de résistance. The statement that clearly shows his complete lack of understanding of evolutionary theory:

“I’ve always — if we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn’t become one of us?”

First, we’re not the “original apes.” As I said before, we share a common ancestor. Secondly, had Harambe spontaneously evolved into a human it would invalidate evolutionary theory as well as a number of laws of physics.

To be fair, it’s not clear if Rush is suggesting that if evolution was real that Harambe would’ve evolved into a human in the time he was in the zoo or if he’s using the old argument of “If we evolved from apes why are there still apes?” Not that it matters, both would reveal his ignorance of what the theory of evolution actually says.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s really not that hard to understand the theory of evolution if you take the time to actually read up on it. There are a number of books that lay it out in layman’s terms and provide quite a bit of the evidence that back the theory up. A good one is The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins. It’s one I think Rush Limbaugh should probably read. He won’t, but he should.

You can hear Limbaugh’s words for yourself below:

Too Much Faith Will Make You Crazy: BBQ Pet edition.

christianassholesThere’s a lot of fucked up shit in the Bible. Things like incest, murder, rape, and animal sacrifice to name just a few. In fact, that last one shows up quite a lot in the Old Testament. There was a time when God really loved the smell of a freshly slaughtered animal on a pyre, but for the most part Christians stopped sacrificing animals after Jesus came along.

Apparently 42-year-old Patrick Zane Thompson in Arizona didn’t get that memo:

Investigators spoke with Thompson’s family, including his daughter and wife. When Thompson went back into the house, they say he got more erratic and told his family, in front of his four minor children, that he needed to make a sacrifice of a male.

According to the victims, Thompson stated it had to be either himself, his firstborn 6-year-old son or the family dog — a small, white poodle weighing about 15 pounds. That’s when the family tried to escape the home but Thompson was able to grab hold of the dog. Investigators say the family pleaded with Thompson not to hurt the dog.

But the situation got more gruesome. Goodyear police say Thompson admitted to then breaking the dog’s neck and strangling it until it “could not breathe.” He allegedly told officers the sacrifice was not done and that he had to put the dog in a “lake of fire.” Court documents say he then told them that he put the dog in the heating element of the smoker, which was turned on.

Oh yeah, I’m sure God’s loving the smell of smoked poodle. That’s gotta be a refreshing change from all those lambs and cows and shit he got in the past. Plus it’s been so long.

So what was the sin that prompted Mr. Thompson to offer up his only poodle to his Lord and Saviour? Why, only one of the most horrific things you’ve ever heard of:

Detectives investigated further and learned that shortly after returning home, Thompson became upset with a shirt that his 17-year-old daughter had. Investigators said he believed the shirt had to do with the devil. That paperwork says Thompson made his daughter take the shirt and go with him to a large BBQ traveler that’s parked in a side yard. The smoker was lit and police report that Thompson put the shirt in the trailer, burning it.

The article doesn’t say what the T-shirt had on it that was so terrible, but I’m sure it was something like “I’m with stupid.” or “I love One Direction.” You know, really evil stuff.

But hey, you can’t judge this guy! He was only doing what he truly believed his God wanted him to do. He was sure calamity was about to befall his family unless he took immediate action. Of course, he was also high as a kite at the time, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t save his family with his quick thinking. God can be pretty fucking demanding! Just read the Bible and you’ll see that for yourself. At least he didn’t opt to use his 6-year-old son instead, right? Can’t say that about Abraham and his kid. I bet if Abraham had had a poodle God wouldn’t have stopped him just before he completed the act. Smoked poodle is delicacy in some places.

Yet another reason why Christians are seen as the bad guys.

andthentheresthisassholeBack in 2009, Decrepit Old Fool wrote an entry for SEB about his discussion with a Christian minister who asked why Christians are seen as the bad guys. It’s a topic I’ve used several times since then, but I’ve not hit upon it in awhile. There’s enough Christians out there giving themselves a bad name that I could almost make it the sole topic of every entry and never run out of material and that gets old fast. Yet every now and then I run across an example that is so egregious that I just can’t help but put it on display.

Meet “God Warrior” Marguerite Perrin who has taken it upon herself to warn the blissfully ignorant shoppers at her local Target of the dangers dwelling in the store’s bathrooms:

It’s bad enough she decided to make an ass out of herself in public, but did she really have to drag her poor kids along with her? I love how the teen on her left spends most of the video looking down at his phone so as to avoid making eye contact with anyone. She didn’t accomplish anything with this nonsense other than perhaps alarming a few folks that a crazy lady was loose in the store.

You wanna know why Christians are often seen as the bad guys? This woman right here is a good example.

Good news Christians! Photographic proof that Heaven is real is here!

Mboro-1

How could you not trust a face like that? I’m sure his story is 100% legit!

Self-proclaimed South African Prophet and founder of the Incredible Happenings church, Pastor Mboro (real name: Paseka Motsoeneng), claims that on Easter Sunday he ascended physically to Heaven for a guided tour from Jesus and his (Jesus’ not Pastor Mboro’s) “hot, young wife”. Best of all, he had his Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone on hand to document it all with pictures! Which he is TOTALLY going to share with anyone and everyone… who makes a small donation of 5,000 South African Rand (about $351.43 USD) to his church.

Needless to say, some folks have a problem with these claims. Especially the whole making-money-off-pics-of-Heaven thing. This has left Pastor Mboro both confused and sad. He’s especially unhappy with the folks who took to social media to mock him with a number of memes like the ones below:

 

So, being the amazingly Godly man that he is, he announced that he would release the pictures for FREE on his Facebook page on Sunday! At last we’ll have real, photographic proof of the existence of Heaven along with Jesus and his hot, young wife!

Or at least he had TOTALLY planned to do that if not for the fact that his smartphone full of pictures was JUST STOLEN AT A CAR WASH!!

He was facing extortion charges for offering the photos for a price, before he claims his Galaxy S5 was stolen.

“The pictures were really there, I saw them. We suspect one of the boys washing the Prophet’s car took the phone. But they all denied taking it, even after we threatened them,” one of Mboro’s bodyguards told reporters. “All those who have deposited money will be refunded.”

Oh, that’s a tough break! Apparently he wasn’t aware that he could set up his phone, which runs on the Android platform, to automatically back up any pictures he took to his Google account which would’ve mitigated the tragedy of having his phone stolen. You’d think he would’ve put that phone in a safety deposit box or a safe or something.

Surely getting a selfie with Jesus and his hot, young wife is a once-in-a-lifetime experience he is unlikely to see again. Not to mention all those amazing vistas obscured by countless numbers of souls milling about praising God 24/7. This could’ve been something to finally shut all us dumb atheists up with all our dumb requests for stupid “evidence.”

Oh well, I suppose it’s a lesson learned for next time. Turn on that automatic backup feature, folks! You’ll never know when Jesus might invite you up for a tour of his crib!

Alberta couple who let son die of meningitis found guilty.

David and Collet Stephans

David and Collet Stephans

Back in 2012 an Alberta, Canada couple were brought up on charges of “failing to provide the necessaries of life” after their 19-month old son died of meningitis. It seems David Stephan and his wife Collet don’t believe in traditional medicine and instead insisted on using home remedies to cure what they thought was a case of the flu or croup even though a family friend who is a nurse said it was likely meningitis.

Their case finally went to trial in March of this year:

In a bid to boost his immune system, the couple gave the boy — who was lethargic and becoming stiff — various home remedies, such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root as his condition deteriorated.

Court heard the couple on tape explaining to the police officer that they prefer naturopathic remedies because of their family’s negative experiences with the medical system.

It took having their son stop breathing to get them to call for an ambulance. He was airlifted to a local hospital and put on life support for 5 days until it was clear he wasn’t going to recover. He suffered for two and a half weeks before he stopped breathing. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that David works for a  nutritional supplements company.

Yesterday the jury came back with a guilty verdict:

The four-man, eight-woman jury had been deliberating since Monday afternoon. There was a gasp in the courtroom as the decision from the jurors came down. Observers in the courtroom’s gallery started to cry.

The defence argued the couple were loving, responsible parents who simply didn’t realize how sick the little boy was.

The Crown said the Stephans didn’t do enough to ensure Ezekiel received the medical help he needed. The prosecution noted that the Stephans had been warned by a friend who was a registered nurse that the boy probably had meningitis.

The maximum penalty for failing to provide the necessaries of life is five years in prison.

Normally in cases of parents letting their sick kids die rather than getting them medical attention it’s due to religious reasons and often the parents get off because of that. I’m not sure if it’s because this is Canada or the fact that the reasoning these folks used was not religious in nature that they ended up being convicted, but it makes for a refreshing change of pace. Sentencing hasn’t been announced yet, but with any luck they’ll get the maximum to give them time to reconsider some of their deeply held beliefs.

I’m often asked what’s the harm in letting people hold onto their ignorance. This is a prime example of said harm. Alas it’s often their kids who end up suffering the consequences of that ignorance.

I miss drinking cola.

I gave up drinking regular sodas in my early thirties and diet colas in 2011 which means it’s been 5 years since I’ve last tasted a cola of any kind.

I really miss it.

Most days I’m fine and it doesn’t cross my mind, but then something happens and I’m reminded how much I loved Coca Cola in particular and colas in general. Today it’s my cubemate sitting across from me with a Diet Coke. He’s not flaunting it or anything, it’s just sitting there on his desk and he’s taking occasional sips from it.

And it looks so good.

These days 98% of what I drink in a day is plain old tap water. I start the day with a cup or two of coffee and then it’s my 32 ounce water bottle for the rest of the day. Anne’s been including small cans of tomato juice in my lunch the last week or so and that’s made for a nice change. Occasionally I’ll have some milk with dinner. Otherwise it’s lots and lots of water.

I hate water. It’s so fucking boring. Putting lemon in it or one of the various flavoring mixes doesn’t help so I just drink it plain, but I hates it. I know I’m better off having given up sodas and drinking more water, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

I don’t really have a point with all of this, I’m just feeling a bit whiney so I thought I’d get it out of my system.

cocacola

An explanation on why setting your iPhone to 1/1/1970 will brick it.

There’s been a rather nasty meme going around on Facebook recently that suggests there’s an easter egg in iOS that will give your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch a retro looking original Macintosh theme if you set it’s clock back to January 1st, 1970:

NOTE: DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THIS!

NOTE: DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THIS!

What really happens if you do the above is you’ll end up with an essentially bricked iPhone that isn’t able to get past the boot screen. The reason why has to do with how dates and times are stored in most operating systems these days and a bug someplace in iOS. YouTuber Tom Scott has put together a handy little explanation on what is probably happening and why:

So, as a PSA to those folks out there who have one of these devices, don’t try to set the clock back to January 1st, 1970 unless you want a very expensive paperweight. Presumably Apple will get around to patching this bug at some point, but even when they do there’s not a good reason to do it anyway as there is no easter egg associated with that date.

A lesson in avoiding the question by Rakuten.com.

Twitter can be a great method for contacting a company for help with a problem. Often when I have a problem with some business that has a presence on Twitter I’ll take the time to compose a small rant in 140 characters or less and send it off into the Interwebs where I know someone associated with said company will see it. There’s a good chance I’ll get the help I’m looking for pretty quickly.

Twitter is also great for tweaking companies doing stupid things even when you don’t expect them to actually do anything to fix the problem. I did this recently with Rakuten.com. I bought something from them way back when they were still Buy.com and I’ve been getting daily emails about stuff they have on sale ever since. That purchase was easily 5 years or more ago and I’ve not been compelled to purchase anything from them in that time so I figured I may as well unsubscribe from the emails.

When I did I was notified that it would take 5 to 7 business days before the change would take effect. I blinked at the note and tried to figure out why the fuck it should take that long to unsubscribe me when signing me up was near instantaneous. Almost all the other online stores whose email ads I’ve unsubscribed from managed to do it within moments with maybe a couple saying a day or so. What the fuck was Rakuten doing that it takes 5 to 7 business days? This prompted me to send out this tweet:

It took them a couple of hours to notice the tweet at which point they replied with this:

I was amused by the fact that rather than answer the question they simply assumed I was an idiot who didn’t know how to unsubscribe from their email advertisements. So I sent the next two tweets in reply:

It took them a few hours, but they came back with this reply:

Well that’s reassuring I suppose, but it still doesn’t answer the question so I tried again:

I figured at this point they’d give up and it looked like they had, until about 26 minutes ago:

I’ve not bothered to reply again as it’s clear that they’re not going to answer the question. Probably because the person running their Twitter account doesn’t know what the answer is. I thought that maybe I could prompt them into saying that they were working to improve their system for a speedier result in the future, but no such luck.

Like I said, I didn’t really expect them to do much about the situation, but I thought they’d at least offer some sort of explanation for the lengthy delay. Maybe some poor sap has to look at each request and approve it? Maybe they have so many people trying to opt out of their emails and they have a shitty server that’s overwhelmed by the load? Maybe they’re hoping I’ll change my mind before it actually stops sending me emails?

Nope. It’s going to take 5 to 7 business days and fuck you for asking why.