Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, Americans and resident aliens! Happy Sunday, everyone else!

When you give out candy today, don't forget the Dad Candy!

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Covers that you might not have known are covers: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

Just as a change of pace, this is more of a "cover that you may wish did not exist."

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
Familiar version: The Rolling Stones (1965)
(Mercifully) unfamiliar cover: Britney Spears (2000)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/28/2010)

Roger Ebert's defense of Hugh Hefner. I'm not sure I'm ready to say that Hefner isn't kind of a scumbag, but Ebert managed to convince me that the man isn't an unmitigated scumbag. (Includes a tiny NSFW/C/P photo.)

Republican victory, conservative loss.

How to destroy a bank (it's on playboy.com so possibly NSFW/C/P even though it's about finance, not sex; h/t: naked capitalism)

I entered Ron Artest's Win My Bling Raffle. Srsly. I bought five tickets.

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Musical interlude: Gary Jules, "Mad World"

Tears for Fears cover used in Donnie Darko.



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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor (#39)

"It appears that some sort of bubble has burst, Captain."

Follow the adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor, as he explores the far reaches of space (and my house... and my backyard... and my kids' toy boxes) with his friends Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Only at ToTryANewSword.com.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Glenn Beck fans and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Glenn Beck fans have been brought up in a couple of places in Outer Blogness today, and that got me thinking.

Beck's big shtick is the mongering of conspiracies. Basically what he does is say something like, "Some aspect of Idea A vaguely resembles some aspect of Idea B, which vaguely resembles some aspect of Idea C. Therefore, A, B, and C are all the same thing! Danger, America, danger!" Then he adds, "Person or Group D is vaguely acquainted in some way with Person or Group E, who/which is vaguely acquainted in some way with Person or Group F. Therefore D, E, and F are conspiring together! Danger, America, danger!" Then he links them all together: "Some member of Group or Person D, E, or F once said something that vaguely resembles some aspect of A, B, or C. Therefore D, E, and F are all adherents of A, B, and C! (Which are all the same thing!) And they are conspiring together! Superduper danger, America, superduper danger!"

Of course, normal people find Beck's conspiracy mongering ridiculous. Obviously, a series of vague similarities over time does not equal an ongoing chain of conspiracy. Rudimentary critical thinking, a basic grasp of relatively simple concepts like logic, context, correlation versus causation, and so on, are sufficient to prevent anyone who possesses them from swallowing Beck's nonsense. The normal mind boggles at the idea that people can take any of it seriously.

Musical interlude: Santigold, "L.E.S. Artistes"



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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/20/2010)

Rinderpest is the second disease in history to be eradicated.

Lt. Dan Choi rejoins the US Army.

Working moms' kids turn out fine.

Egg-eating snakes. Pretty cool.

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Musical interlude: Iggy Pop, "The Passenger"



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Well, that's embarrassing: man killed by mountain goat

Last Saturday, a man was killed by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park. Of course, that's a terrible tragedy, and I feel sorry for the man and his family and friends.

But it's also kind of embarrassing. Killed by a mountain goat? I mean seriously, that's a pretty lame way to die.

I don't actually believe in Heaven, but if there is one, I think they would have meetups. And if they had meetups in Heaven, they'd probably have one for people who were killed by animals. And it would probably go something like this:

The Adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor (#38)

"Spock... what's a lantern?"

Follow the adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor, as he explores the far reaches of space (and my house... and my backyard... and my kids' toy boxes) with his friends Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Only at ToTryANewSword.com.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Understanding biblical parables: The Ten Virgins

Biblical parables are a rich source of religious and ethical wisdom. Unfortunately, however, they take place in a cultural and historical context that can make them difficult for people in modern societies to understand. I have therefore decided to give you, my readers, the benefit of my extensive biblical knowledge (even vast knowledge, some might say, though others have suggested half-vast knowledge is a better description) and explain one of these parables every week.*

Jesus
Jesus, of course, was the master parable teller, so this week we'll begin with one of the parables of Jesus, the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Sexy virgins -- yes, this caption is link bait
The parable

Jesus sez:
"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.** The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

"'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came.

"'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." Matthew 25:1-13 NIV
The cultural context

This parable is difficult for the modern reader to understand, especially since nowadays foolish virgins are generally considered the best kind. However, placing it in the proper cultural context makes it easier.

In ancient times, bridegrooms were often late to their own weddings. When they were, they would blame everyone else. Typically, they would say things like, "It's my wedding. It's my day. It's supposed to be all about me." In fact, they even had television shows back then about the amusing bad behavior of bridegrooms. Or they would have if TV had been invented. So they just had guys sitting around living rooms telling stories. Although they didn't actually have living rooms either.

Anyway, bridegrooms in ancient times didn't care if they were late, even if it meant that virgins fell asleep and ran out of oil. But if you were late, they'd pretend they didn't even know you and lock you out and just generally be total dicks about it. "Oh my God," they'd say, "these people are ruining my wedding! Someone just tell them to go away before I faint!"

The Meaning of the parable

The wedding is Heaven and Jesus is the bridegroom. So the meaning of the parable is that if you're five minutes late to Heaven, Jesus is going to be a total dick about it and lock you out. Also, virgins should always carry plenty of lube just in case. Oil! I mean oil! For their lamps. Which is not in any way a euphemism.

---------------
*Until I get tired of doing it.
**This is not a euphemism.

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Musical interlude: Imperial Teen, "Yoo-Hoo"



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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Covers that you might not have known are covers: "Love Rollercoaster"

Lots of times, the most familiar version of a song isn't the original version. I'll be posting some of these "covers that you might not have known are covers" on Saturdays.

"Love Rollercoaster"

Familiar version: The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1996)
Original version: The Ohio Players (1975)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the Department of Creepy Toys...

This was my actual reaction...

Oh look, it's a cute Beanie Babies kangaroo! And she's got a baby in her pouch! Daawwww!


Let's take out her baby and see what it looks like!


Oh my god! It's not her baby! IT'S HER BABY'S SEVERED HEAD! SHE'S BEEN CARRYING AROUND HER BABY'S SEVERED HEAD IN HER POUCH! AAAAAAUGH!

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Musical interlude: Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Put a Lid on It"



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The Adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor (#37)

"It's as if life is nothing but a game on this planet!"

Follow the adventures of Leonard McCoy, Space Doctor, as he explores the far reaches of space (and my house... and my backyard... and my kids' toy boxes) with his friends Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Only at ToTryANewSword.com.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/10/2010)

Interesting discussion of Prohibition, with some great photos (h/t: Sociological Images).

An extensive roundup of reactions to Boyd K. Packer's General Conference remarks.

A roundup of right-blogger reactions to the fire department that stood around and watched a guy's house burn down because he hadn't paid his fee.

How to mom wrong.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reconciling Mormon theology with gay marriage: if gay people can have babies, why can't gay gods have spirit babies?

My sense is that many people with knowledge of Mormon theology believe that there is no way to reconcile it with gay marriage; that there is no way the LDS church could ever accept gay marriage. I disagree. I think it can be reconciled, and I don't think the church has to give up anything essential to do so.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/9/2010)

Oliver Sacks on Vision, His Next Book, and Surviving Cancer. Really interesting. I'm looking forward to his new book.

Steve Nash takes a stand on bullying and teen suicide. Good to see some athletes starting to step up.

Aggressively stupid, misogynistic, and violent rap-rockers Insane Clown Posse are Evangelical Christians. And sad. Yes, they're sad clowns (h/t: @dorkmanscott).

The Japan hierarchy. It left out freelance translators, though.

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Covers that you might not have known are covers: "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)"

Lots of times, the most familiar version of a song isn't the original version. I'll be posting some of these "covers that you might not have known are covers" on Saturdays.

"Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)"

One of the goofier songs the Doors performed, it was written by the brilliant German songwriting duo Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (of "Mack the Knife" fame) in 1927.

Familiar version: The Doors (1967)
Original versionVersion in the style of the original: Lotte Lenya (1958)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/8/2010)

Nine-year-old girl writes to Johnny Depp, and Depp shows up at her school -- in character, as Jack Sparrow. (h/t: @OakMonster)

A really frank discussion of what it means to be called a racist. (Read the comments.)

The prison-to-poverty cycle.

"The problem of evil" solved.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What it means to "resist being gay"

I came across something while I was working on a longer post, and I think it's important enough to deserve its own post.

John Shore writes about the common conservative religious trope that says:
A homosexual struggling against the temptation to act homosexual is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a sinful temptation. ..."Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist."
Except here's the problem:
No one tells the chronic drinker, or glutton, or adulterer, or any other kind of sinner, to stop experiencing love. Yet that’s exactly what so many Christians are insisting gay people do.

When you tell a gay person to "resist" being gay, what you are really telling them—what you really mean—is for them to be celibate.

What you are truly and actually saying is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life devoid of love.

Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone to chat with over coffee in the morning.

Do not bind your life to that of another. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that peace.

Just say "no" to love.

Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.

The "sinful temptation" that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/5/2010)

Life in a libertarian utopia: firefighters stand around and watch a man's house burn down because he hadn't paid the $75 fee.

Mmmm, chicken nuggets.

Social Security is a well-run, fiscally responsible program. (h/t: Digby).

I guess teachers used to have to know a lot of things that they don't anymore. (Like how to spell "lost." Sorry -- inside joke.)

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (10/3/2010)

Atlas Shrugged: "Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs."

Dim-witted preacher tries to denigrate evolution, gets ripped to shreds in the comments.

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The Dietary Requirements of a Medieval Peasant. Huh.

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