Oct 302015

It’s a sad story, but it has a happy ending:

German rapper who joined ISIS killed in U.S. strike, official says

Originally named Denis Cuspert before he went derpish and and referred to himself as “Deso Dogg,” and then went full-derp and changed his name to “Abu Talha Al-Almani” and started recruiting for Islamic State. But eventually this tale of increasing depravity turned around… he was in a truck that was hit by two missiles fired by a coalition aircraft.


There is of course a downside to the happy ending… those missiles were probably expensive.

 Posted by at 6:19 pm
Oct 292015

Sometimes a story will hit the news and cause untold levels or Internet Outrage… and be based not on proper journalism, but pretty much outright lies. This seems to be especially common when it comes to “I’m being religiously oppressed” tales. These yarns gin up the outrage among the Fellow Believers, but are very often found to be fraudulent stories. One such story that has popped up in the last day or so:

7th-grader says Texas teacher FORCED students to deny God is real or get a FAILING GRADE

A very brave 7th-grade student decided to fight for her religious freedom last night as she stood before her Texas school board in Katy, Texas and explained to them how her teacher gave them an assignment to answer whether God is a fact, opinion or a myth. This 7th-grader, Jordan Wooley, said the teacher told them that any answer other than ‘God is a myth’ was wrong and they would get a failing grade if they answered otherwise.

Now, that’s certainly a Not At All Good story. A teacher threatening to flunk students for not proclaiming some particular belief system? Why, that’s shocking! That’s unConstitutional! That’s crazy! That’s illegal!

That’s also not what happened.

For starters, the other students in the class are saying that the claimed nastiness didn’t happen:

Students don’t back claim that teacher asked them to deny God exists, Katy ISD says

Secondly, it’s not what the lesson was about:


Note that the word “myth” doesn’t appear here, but instead “commonplace assertion.” A commonplace assertion may be factually accurate or it can be dead wrong or it can be unknown. For something to be a “fact,” it must be demonstratable. Thus “there is a God” is, from the position of “fact, opinion or commonplace assertion” would seem to be  an assertion, since it cannot – so far – be factually verified, and since the existence of something is not a matter of opinion. “Chocolate tastes better than liver” is a matter of opinion; “chocolate exists” is a fact.

But by twisting the story into something it very clearly isn’t, a whole lot of people are able to generate a lot of misplaced outrage. Some of this is probably just the desire for clickbait… a lot of websites get ad revenue from visitors (sadly, I do not… say, why don;t you buy my stuff?). But a lot of it – in particular the majority of the people who read this stuff, don’t think too deeply about it (or do not make any effort to research it) – is a sort of catharsis. Their is a mode of thought that seems to be particularly common today that holds that victimhood impart moral superiority… if you suffer, that means you are right. Ideologies that hold that there is something good about martyrdom seem especially likely to trot out inflated tales of oppression. Of course, there are often direct benefits from making stuff up in school…


So, here’s my nugget of wisdom. If you read a news story that seems to put forward a suggestion that *your* cherished beliefs are being trampled by officialdom… do a little research before hulking out in the comments section. The more the story backs up your own biases, the more important it is for you to view the story with skepticism.

 Posted by at 7:32 pm
Oct 272015

Walmart is selling a children’s ‘Israeli soldier costume’ for Halloween (toy gun included)

Walmart have sparked outrage by selling an children’s Halloween costume of an Israeli soldier.

And this is a problem… why? I’ve seen kids dress up as astronauts, cops, firefighters, US soldiers. So why would Israeli soldiers be a problem? If they were dressing up as Hamas or Hizbollah or the Waffen SS, sure, I can see how that might offend.

But then, the article was written in the nanny state of Britain; perhaps the writers thinking was that the UK will soon fall to the Caliphate and he’d better get in on some early boot-licking.

 Posted by at 10:53 pm
Oct 272015

As religion declines, Norway turns to ghosts to fill the void

In Norway, the native population is quickly losing its religion, turning to agnosticism and atheism. While this would seem a triumph for rationalism, at the same time the Norwegians are losing their faith in the Christian God, they’re glomming onto a belief in ghosts. Anecdotes include the popularity of the Norwegian TV show “The Power of Spirits,” now in its tenth season and watched by approximately ten percent of the country.

It seems  that humans may well just be built to assume the supernatural. If not a god of some kind, then some other spooooky critter. My guess is that this is an evolutionary holdover. The *vast* majority of humanity’s time on Earth was spent in pre-history, living in “stone age” conditions. During that time, life was a constant struggle for survival, where ever rustle in a bush was potentially a predator going to jump out and eat you. So mankind must have evolved certain responses such as a mix of curiosity and fear. These would, it seems to me, potentially lead to the development of the belief in the supernatural as a way to explain an incredibly complex world in a way a smart-yet-primitive human could accept. Some Weird Event occurs; blaming it on the spirit of an ancestor really doesn’t explain it, just pushes the explanation one step down. But that one step is something that people can accept as a sufficient explanation: “Dead uncle Ogg did it.”

Make that way of thinking sufficiently useful as a way of letting people accept the world… it won’t take too many thousand generations before it’s ingrained into the gene code. And so you can take a modern enlightened and educated westerner and show him that his religion is bunk, he might accept that… and simply transfer his religious feelings to something equally scientifically invalid.

Interestingly (to me) a lot of the religion-replacing spiritualism being discussed sounds a *lot* like the sort of spiritualism that arose in the Victorian era and reached its peak in the years just after WWI. Not really sure what to make of that.

 Posted by at 9:12 am
Oct 242015

Día de los Muertos Is Not Halloween 

Where the author bemoans American’s ignorance of the south-of-the-border holiday “Dia de los Muertos,” and how in our ignorance we’re changing the meaning of it into somethign cheap and commercial.

Hey, buddy: it’s what we do.

If you import your alien holidays into the US, we will change them to suit *our* interests. Don’t like it? Stay the hell out. It’s not “cultural appropriation” for Americans to take Dia de los Muertos and turn it into an extension of Halloween; it’s a simple reaction to something funny and furrin being foisted upon us. If you don’t like it, get in line behind St. Patricks Day. Or Cinco de Mayo. Or Halloween itself. It is standard American practice to take someone else’s “sacred day” and turn it into a reason to party. But we don’t reach across the ocean to rifle through other cultures holidays for things to mock; we only do so with holidays that are brought here.

So, yeah… the Day of the Dead *is* Halloween, because we said so. It’s a day to get trashed on tequila, dress up like a blinged-out skeleton, act like a moron, tell Rebo and Zooty jokes, hang up candy skulls and comets and hope for visits from not-unattractive redheads. Don’t like it? Tough. You brought it here and dumped it in our laps… now it’s *ours.*

 Posted by at 10:05 am
Oct 202015

A month or so ago there was a stampede at the “Stoning of the Devil” event at the Hajj-land theme park in Mecca. At the time the death toll was reported in the hundreds. Seems like it might’ve been under reported.

Stampede At Hajj In Saudi Arabia Reportedly Killed At Least 2,177

This is approximately 2/3 the death toll of 9/11 (or about 1.5 Titanics). All because some people wanted to chuck some rocks at some posts.

The article suggests that the Iranian government claims the death toll is over 4,700.

The Saudi government seems pretty blase about a death toll that would be considered horrific had it occurred in the civilized world. This therefore reminds me of a thought I expressed some time back… if someone wanted to create the greatest carnage possible via biological warfare (spreading plague or smallpox or ebola or some such), Mecca during the hajj would seem to be the prime target. *Vast* numbers of people from all over the third world, packed in tightly for a short period and then re-distributed back out into the world. Given how little the local government cares about the health and wellbeing of the visitors, it seems that spreading a horrifying disease should be relatively straightforward and easy. It seems like even if the Saudis found out about an ongoing plot to spread ebola (say by way of handheld “misters” with tainted water), they’d probably not do much of anything terribly effective to deal with it. Probably get the moneybags hajjis out of harms way and leave the peons to their fate, hoping they all get home before they get sick and keel over.

With that, it might be time for modern nations to consider an automatic quarantine period for anyone returning from Mecca.

 Posted by at 8:50 am
Oct 182015

We’ve all heard the Cinderella stories… someone with stars in their eyes goes to Hollywood and makes it big. Someone in Hollywood has a kid who makes it big. Someone in Hollywood uses their vast knowledge of make believe to try to influence politics.

Well, here ya go:

British son of Hollywood movie director, 26, is revealed as bloodthirsty star of al-Qaeda propaganda videos after converting from Catholicism and smuggling himself to Syria

Way to go, Hollywood dad! Your kid may soon be the star of a new “Look at the birdy” drone video.

He’s starred in several Al Qaeda propaganda videos exhorting other Brits to go to Syria and join up. This is illegal for Brits, but I would suggest that Britain would be better off to decriminalize leaving the UK to go join al Qaeda. This would help get the scumbags out of the country and into position to get bombed into oblivion by any of a number of forces.

 Posted by at 10:02 pm
Oct 082015

Daily Fail, so usual caveats.

The DNA test ‘that reveals if you’re gay’: Genetic code clue is 70% accurate, claim scientists

Neat. Now… prove it, refine it, modify it to work for in-utero tests, preferably as a simple blood or urine test for the mother. Include directions to the nearest abortion clinic (or a dose of Month After pills, or a Baby-B-Gone attachment for a shopvac, whatever) and watch the pro abortion crowd suddenly implode. And simultaneously watch the religious anti-abortion crowd explode.


 Posted by at 7:37 pm