Tuesday, January 31, 2006

terrifying space monkeys

... so the venerable Don Brash is supposed to be talking about immigration at Orewa tonight. According to the equally venerable New Zealand Herald, Brash is
likely tonight to note that immigration can be beneficial to New Zealand and to avoid making any definitive statements that clearly commit National to a change in position.
But his suggestion that Western ideals such as personal liberty and New Zealand's belief in the importance of a secular society could be compromised by immigration reveals the party is at least contemplating taking a tougher line.
Actually, I support Don on this one. Of course, to be consistant, the first thing he'll have to do is deport Brian Tamaki, anyone who supports Destiny Church, and oooh, the entirety of the Exclusive Brethren. And ban Christian groups from using schools to
proselytize with a sem-official stamp, and censor our students' access to the web. Heck, maybe you could repeal the law on blasphemous libel (section 123 of the Crimes Act). And remove the prayer from opening of Parliament; and from Council meetings.

Because, you know, if he doesn't support all those things, then one might just have to conclude that what he didn't like was people who weren't Christian.

And surely that wouldn't be right, would it?

What Wikipedia says about Secularism:
As secularism is often used in different contexts, its precise definition can vary from place to place. In philosophy, secularism is the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts. Secularism in this sense was coined by George Jacob Holyoake and is one of the precursors of modern secular humanism ... In government, secularism means a policy of avoiding entanglement between government and religion (ranging from reducing ties to a state religion to promoting secularism in society), of non-discrimination among religions (providing they don't deny primacy of civil laws), and of guaranteeing human rights of all citizens, regardless of the creed (and, if conflicting with certain religious rules, by imposing priority of the universal human rights).
Expand and Discuss. (25 points)

achieving serenity

It was a good long weekend, not least because at the beginning of it I got packages containing Sin City: Recut, Extended, Unrated, a near mint 1985 Ferret, 3 Shock Vipers, 3 Crimson Shadow Guards, and 2 Cobra Troopers.

And Serenity.

I came late to the Firefly party. I'm not much of a Joss Whedon fan, and by that I mean I haven't seen much of his work, but more through laziness than malice; and what I did see was motivated more by having the hots for Sarah Michelle Geller than genuine critical interest (I'm over that now, whenever I have impure thoughts about SMG I turn my mind to God: oh yeah God, take it all off; yeah, yeah, shake it God, ooh you're making me burn up; ooooooh Gooooood ...)


Firefly is the best damn dramatic TV series I have seen for goddamn ever; well, X-Files at least. And Fox, official representatives of Iblis on earth, cancelled it before the end of the first season. If I were to be charitable I might say that they cancelled it so it could never go bad; but fuck charity, we all know that Rupert Murdoch will soon be in hell spit-roasted on Satan's slowly rotating ... ah hell, you've all been here long enough to fill in the rest. You can read a synopsis of the malarky on one of the many fan sites, like Can't take the sky.

Like X-Files, I think the key to Firefly is the humour. But it is a substantially different humour. In The X-Files humour served to puncture the opressive paranoia and paralysing seriousness of the main characters that threatened to weigh the whole project down; not for nothing are the best episodes complete pisstakes of the whole enterprise - like Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space', Chinga and War of the Coprophages.

But in Firefly the humour is largely character-based. The characters are funny people. Not clown funny, or sitcom funny, but funny, you know, like those people you know who can give you coughing fits so bad you have to suck on your asthma inhaler and your head hurts like you just missed an anurysm by a hair: that kind of funny. Now combine that with it being an Action Drama Sci-Fi Western, with a shake of Blake's 7, but without so much of the facism. That's Firefly. And at it's core is a concept that you don't here much about these days in our pursuit of realpolitik: Honour.

Serenity is a coda to Firefly, and a damn fine example of how one should make a film out of a TV series. It effectively stands on it's own two feet, without dumbing down the plot or wading through exposition for the newbies. The action is great without overshadowing the story. The space battle is a miracle of decent CGI and great pseudo-amcam camera-work (Battlestar Galactica has a similar feel to it's dogfights). The villan is a metaphor for America (if you don't believe me, listen to the DVD commentary and FF to Joss Whedon's description of The Operative; he doesn't say it but he doesn't need to say it). We get to see Jewel Staite again, who, I may have mentioned before, is a Stone-Cold Fox.

So. Go out and buy Firefly and Serenity. Set aside a long weekend. Snuggle up to your sweetheart on the couch. Maybe fry up some of Ma Stupid's vittles. Surely you won't regret.

... well, maybe the vittles. But I told you not to use so much garlic.

Stuff I'm surfing:
The Top Ten Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed, by David Wong. Even though I really hate his frigging pop-ups, and I kind of like the Star Wars prequels (I liked the politics, dammit!!) ... still very, very true.

Suburban myths - From the Skeptic's Dictionary. Bugger me, there's 74 of them, from Most medical treatments have never been clinically tested, to Vaccination of children with the (MMR) vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella causes autism.

the strangest thing

normally when you are too lazy to clean out the frypan from cooking pork chops, and then use it the next night to cook a different meat dish, the results can be ... unpredictable. Last night however, the ubiquitous chicken thighs were a treat. True, I did douse them in sweet chilli sauce and garlic, and then fry it all up with thick potato slices, but really it all turned out a million times better than could be reasonably be expected.

A word of warning though - go sparingly on the garlic. It's a killer.

But you can use as much sauce as you like.

Monday, January 23, 2006

كلّك قاعدة ينتسب إلى نا

Right, prediction time for all you amateur foreign affairs wonks (if you are actually a foreign affairs expert - push off. we don't want yer kind here with yer fancy-speak tryin' to steal our womenfolk).

What's going to happen in the Middle East in the short to medium (say 5-10 years)?

The reason I ask is the two people getting the most screen-time figuratively both seemed to have failed at their stated aims.
  • George W Bush - Democracy isn't flowering - and if it did the DEA would probably confiscate it.
  • Osma Bin Laden - The invasion and subsequent insurgency in Iraq have not lit the touch-paper of Arab muslim rebellion, overturning all those corrupt running dogs of the decadent Western Imperialists and driving the Israelis into the sea (we in New Zealand prefer to drive Israelis to the sea, you know, have a gawk at the view, light up a bbq and maybe have a swim).
I mean, if those two can't ignite region-wide change, who or what can?

I guess the most fertile areas for change are (in no particular order) Iraq, Iran, and Palestine. My feelings on each:
  • Iraq: I can see it going two ways. Option 1 is a fractious nation that ends up splitting within 5 years into 3 seperate entities in a bloody civil war. Worst case scenario is a full-on proxy war influenced by Saudi Arabia (for the Sunni), Iran (for the Shia) and Turkey (against the Kurds); which way the Americans go is anyone's guess. Option 2 is a fractitious democracy that is overthrown by a military coup - Baathism by any other name, and possibly supporting overtly one or other religious group (it is hard to see a secular group taking power at this stage in the game, which is a shame). Worst case scenario is another Algeria ... or maybe we could have option 3, which is a happy and peaceful federation with occasional Quebec tendencies.
  • Iran: Latest intelligence reports say that Iran could have delieverable nuclear weapons within 3 years, which means either a.) they already have the bomb, and have used it in various small wars already; or b.) Iran doesn't actually exist at all, and the CIA has been mistakenly been using the Star Wars edition Risk board all the time. Actually, up until a short time ago Iran had been quietly tip-toeing towards being a progressive democratic state ... but shit happens and the local equivalent of pCms are back in charge. Anyway, I think the nuclear question will keep dragging on for a long time. The US domestically has no stomach for further action in the area in the short-term, and realistically the window for military action is only open as long as the Iranians don't have Teh Bomb. The Israelis on the other hand ... they're a mad bunch of crackers at the best of time; they're also a smart bunch of mad crackers, so anything is possible - except another airstrike. Too far, too many targets, too much hostile airspace ... unless they stock up on Predator drones and launch covertly from one of Iran's Northern neighbours. No, if the Israelis are involved you can be sure the plan will be so clever you could pin a tail on it and call it a persian squirrel.
  • Palestine: More of the same. Sharon was no Nixon, and he didn't quite make it to China. The Israeli/Palestinian issue has been going on for so long you could turn it into a theme-park and charge admission. I'm beginning to think they deserve each other ...
On to less serious questions ... take a look at this blog, Radio Free Taikonaut. Scope out the picture of the author and tell me this:

Isn't that James K. Baxter, back from the dead and prepared to punish us for our sins?

You bet your ass it is.

Unfortunately, if you inquire about him sending you a free taikonaut he tends to get a bit shirty.

ps 25 points if you can translate the title of this post. Another 10 points if know what it is a reference to, 30 points if you can explain the hidden double meaning, and 75 points if you refrain from calling me something we'll both regret for being such a nerd.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

the electric frypan of love, Part II

  • crack an egg into a medium sized bowl.
  • add a splash of soy sauce, a few shakes of garlic salt, ditto lemon pepper, and a few strinkles of cajun spices if you're feeling lucky.
  • add two splashes of sweet chilli sauce.
  • Grate half a large carrot and dump that in too.
  • Finally add half a large onion, finely chopped.
  • Mix.
  • Throw in 500g of prime beef mince. The egg mixture acts a binder as well as a flavouring, so make sure to mix thoroughly.
  • Roll balls of mince and coat with bread-crumbs.
  • Put your electric frypan on about 6 or 7, add a little bit of oil and cook the rissoles until crispy-brown. Turn often, and don't forget to brown the sides!
  • Eat with vegetables to your own taste. Instead of tomato sauce I recommend making an half 'n half concoction of bbq sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

If you were paying attention to my first electric frypan of love, you will begin to see why I'm not a terribly good cook. Yup, half the ingredients are exactly the same. In fact, except for unadorned meat dishes (you know, chuck the lamb chop/steak/pork slices in and cook the hell out of), I can't think of any complex dish I make without sweet chilli sauce. Christ, even my macaroni cheese uses a mixture of lemon and sweet chilli tunas.

What would Freud say?

ps while checking out the spelling of macaroni I found out that the word also refers to:
1. A well-traveled young Englishman of the 18th and 19th centuries who affected foreign customs and manners.
2. A fop.
Who would have thunk it?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

give me a minute; i just need to irony my shirts

As I discussed in Loot, I picked up Collapse by Jared Diamond for Christmas. I finished reading it a while back, but one thing or another stopped me from posting about it (the one thing was laziness; the another is a propensity for being proud of talking totally bollocks). After reading Collapse I am convinced of several things:
  1. We're fucked. The world is going to slowly decline into subsistence living or medievalism; in all likelihood it will start happening within our own lifetime (if we're very lucky we might die before it gets too bad).
  2. We might have the slight satisfaction of watching Australia slide into anarchy first.
Three words people: Australian. Boat. People. If the sea voyage doesn't kill them, the irony certainly will.

Here's what Diamond has to say about Australia:
Ecologically, the Australian environment is exceptionally fragile, the most fragile of any First World country except perhaps Iceland. As a consequence, many problems that could eventually become crippling in other First World countries ... such as overgrazing, salinization, soil erosion, introduced species, water shortages, and man-made droughts ... have already become severe in Australia.
He goes on to say:
Australia is the most unproductive continent; the one whose soils have on average the lowest nutrient levels, the lowest plant growth rates and the lowest productivity. That's because Australian soils are mostly so old that they have become leached of their nutrients by rain over the course of billions of years.
And further:
Australia's first farmers were inadvertently mining their soils for nutrients. Thereafter, nutrients have had to be supplied artificially in the form of fertilizer, thus increasing agricultural production costs compared to those in more fertile soils overseas.
What does it all mean? As the global system degrades all those agricultural inputs that Australia needs to sustain crop production will become harder to source and more expensive. The same system degradation will affect the importation of food. And eventually those frequent droughts will equate not to loss of export income but loss of life. Presto! Instant Mad Max-land.

Before we get too comfortable at the thought of our cousins being repelled by the Indonesian navy, we should remember that a smaller world will cause problems for us as well - for starters, when most people's attention is focused on where the next meal is coming from, the labour value of bureaucrats like me will fade to nought; hell, they'll probably burn us at the stake as witches. New Zealand does has an advantage in the agriculture stakes over Australia because our happy slice of volcano alley gets refertilized on a regular basis (on a global timescale anyway); but I'm not sure the land will support all of us for long without inputs like fertilizers (weed killers are not so much of a problem; with the death of bureaucracy there will be a glut in the labour market of people willing to spend their days scrabbling around on their knees in the dirt).

Survivalists should probably start considering buying some land (preferably near a river or a stream) and learning how to
grow crops without inputs (or at least inputs you can't improvise from the land around you). If you can site yourself close to coal country all the better - trees are too valuable as a nutrient source for the land to be used for firewood. And as pointed out by Bruce Simpson on Aarvark, your local landfill could be a goldmine for metals and other useful stuff that will be scarce after the long slow apocalypse.

Of course, it may never happen - in which case you've got a nice place in the country to retire to.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

speaking of sexual perversions ...

... The Whig is extraordinarily fascinating, like watching a car crash in slow motion, albeit where where one of cars is filled with crazed naked felching-fetishists, and the other car is piloted by a lone frottagist with a death wish.

If you don't know what felching is ... you should really go ask your parents; if they don't know, well maybe you could all look it up on the internet together?

But this post isn't about any of that, I just put that title up so I could steal Brain Stab's audience of perverts and reprobates (by the way, that's a link to the dictionary definition, not a link to actual pictures of reprobates, more's the pity. I'd link to The Whig again but I'm already over quota in my persecution). No, actually I was interested in the decision by the census people to add in a new category of ethnic identity - New Zealander/Kiwi.

I'm going to be frank (yes, that's Mr Frank Stupid!), disagree with some of my friends, and say that this is a stupid idea. It's stupid for two reasons; firstly, New Zealander is a primary group, of which ethnic identity is a subset - so when you state that your ethnic identity is New Zealander you are actually suggesting that anyone with a different ethnic identity isn't a New Zealander. Which is, you know, bollocks.

Personally, I'm happy to have appropriated the word Pakeha. I've never got to the bottom of whether it was originally an offensive term (did someone translate it for me as "long pig"? actually I kind of like that one too, it's got a certain charm). At a pinch if you want to go with a physical description then you can call me white; it's not an accurate description anymore than calling someone black is, but it's perfectly fine from the point of view that people immediately understand what it means. European as an ethnic identity, on the other hand, is as silly as New Zealander is - New Zealand has come a ways as a nation, but at root our over-arching culture is Western European - ultimately British - and that culture informs the discourse of anyone who is indigenous (i.e. born here) or has been here for more than a few years. You might primarily self-identify as Maori, or Chinese, or Dutch - but you also part European for reasons that have nothing to do with your parents and your genetic heritage.

Which brings me to the other reason I think the census-takers are barking up the wrong tree. The whole question is stupid. Really, at the end of the day who cares what the ethnic make-up of the nation is? Does it, or more pertinently, should it, really affect our day to day lives? If the country is 64% pakeha, 15% maori, 12% chinese, 9% other ... is it anything other than a curiousity? Do you read the figures, leap out your chair and shout "Mein Gott! 12% of the country is chinese! To the Holden V6 Batmobile, we must ..." what? What should we be doing? I really get the feeling we are counting because once upon a time we thought the issue was important, and to be frank, it isn't at the macro level (on micro level, on the other hand, I agree it can be very important).

Hell, why don't we get the census-takers to be honest: we just want you to tell us what colour you are. Go on, which of following describes you:
  • blanched almond
  • burlywood
  • bisque
  • firebrick
  • tomato
  • indian red
  • coral
  • antique white
  • sienna
  • chocolate
  • dark goldenrod
  • salmon
  • chartreuse
... or my favorite, navajo white. Which, if I didn't know better, I would have thought was a particularly good grade of New Mexican cocaine, but no, it's a colour.

Finally, because we're discussing the misuse of ethnicity, take a read of this discussion on Aarvaark. It's all about the light sentence given to Richard Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai, who headbutted a Dutch tourist because of a perceived disrespect towards the traditional welcome being performed. The contention being expressed is that Mr Mitai-Ngatai got off easy either because it he was maori and/or because it was a maori cultural ceremony, so, you know, part of the PC-do-gooder-liberal-feminazis secret agenda/conspiracy. To which I say this: when I read the Herald article I can pluck out several reasons why Mr Mitai-Ngatai got a light sentence of 150 hours of community service:
Judge Chris McGuire said while he was swayed by the "glowing references" for Mitai-Ngatai ... The case was a tragedy for Mitai-Ngatai, who had no previous convictions ... Judge McGuire said the sentence was mitigated by by Mitai-Ngatai's remorse, his early guilty plea, and his almost immediate attempts to apologise.
In other words, it is a gross mistake to think the sentence had anything to do with the ethnic identity of the offender, and my money is on a similar sentence being given out for the same circumstances. Or, to put it another way, if I ran into my local church during mass and started a humourous monologue about how Christ was a homosexual whilst pissing on the altar - I wouldn't be surprised if someone punched me in the face. But I would press charges, because in a civilised society you don't punch people in the face because you think they an an arsehole, or even if they are demonstrably an arsehole. There are better ways.

That being said, the fact that Mr Mitai-Ngatai is, quote, "unapologetic" about leaving the Dutch tourist with a broken nose and two black eyes is a clear sign that he is a grade-A, prime cut of an arsehole, and really needs to learn how to chill out and take a joke. Or get some counselling for that humourless muthafucker.

... trying to define racism is like trying to execute the Schlieffen Plan without Dorothée: because 99% of the time you end up looking foolish, no one really enjoys themselves, and you just can't shake the feeling that something important is missing. But I'll take a stab at a basic definition: Racism is where you interpret someone's actions based their colour or ethnic identity, and discount that the person is an individual in their own right, and their actions can better be ascribed to their individual character and circumstances.

Expand and Discuss. (25 points)

it's all a lie

Recently, that shameless hussy Apathy Jack over at Brain Stab made the following, shattering accusation: That I, Mister Stupid, was either gay or a eunuch; to which I can only state, quite categorically - I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party.

Although, to be fair, I have been known to dress up as one while engaged in a little slap 'n tickle.

That is all.

Friday, January 13, 2006

remembrance of things past

It's hard to lock down the source of this memory, but I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that it comes from the many trips our family took in the early eighties to places like Taupo and Stratford. As you might expect, a trip to a fish 'n chip shop was mandatory along the way, and I distinctly remember that you could buy chocolate donuts. Now, of course, you can still buy chocolate donuts, but nothing like these. These were put into the deep fryer right in front of you, cooked until golden brown, and then dipped into a large vat of chocolate sauce until coated to a glorious and obscene thickness.

It's a reflection of my advancing decreptitude that whilst I would like to say "I could kill for one of those right now", I am instead reduced to "I could die from one of those right now".

Monday, January 09, 2006

yet another hilarious title for a post

I've got two ideas for improving the world in small, but significant ways:
  1. Completely stolen from Michael Moore (praise his name!!), but it's a good one so it's worth repeating. Whenever a country decides to go to war, any children of nationally elected politicians over the age of 16 (and military high command while we're at it) are immediately drafted into front-line infantry divisions. Because, if it's important enough to go to war over, it's important enough for your children to die first. In fact, we could cut out the middleman, set up an altar on parliament steps, chuck all the kids on, cut out their hearts and burn them on braziers (the hearts, not the children. Although ...). You know, just like we did in the good out days before those PC-do-gooder-liberal-feminazis took over the country and started outlawing tradition and fun.
  2. I've always been fascinated by the idea of a corporation having the status of a person in our legal system. They are just like a person ... except you can't put them in jail when they do bad shit, like, ooh, kill people, or steal or blow up chemical plants in the middle of India. You can jail the executives of course, and levy fines, but it just not the same. So I propose that we institute jail terms for corporations. And by jail terms, I mean temporary nationalisation. US Robots allows toxic chemicals to spill into a local river, killing all the local wildlife? 5 year jail term. Stocks are frozen, a specially created Govt department moves in and takes over. The department "owns" the corporation for the 5 year term, and has the benefits of that ownership - hiring, firing, taking profits, etc. The focus of the jail term is rehabilitation, and of course making money for the Govt. If the corporation comes out completely fucked up and unemployable afterwards ... well, that's how an awful lot of real prisoners end up now, and no one seems to care enough to do anything about it, except to suggest bringing back the lash ...
Both ideas have holes large enough to fit Jonathan Hunt's wine collection through, but I can dream, can't I?

Speaking of Jonathan Hunt's booze bill (as NZ Herald puts it), can you tell that it's slow news season? Good grief, you can tell the junior morons are in charge when such a ridiculously unbalanced piece gets through the editing process. For christ's sake, why don't you just call the story "Jonathan Hunt is a drunken fat man: Official" and get it off your chest? The Sunday Star Times had a similarly biased headline but made up for it (only just) by making it clear that the wine was for the High Commission, was separate from Hunt's private collection, and most importantly, he hadn't fucking drunk the whole lot in 9 months, which is what you would believe if you read the headline and first sentence of the Herald article.

DPF has a good bunch of commentary of the subject. Unfortunately, Owen McShane, Russell Brown and Aaron Bhatnager all managed to agree with each other, so if the sun turns black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turns blood red, and the stars in the sky fall to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind, and furthermore the sky recedes like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island is removed from its place ... well, don't say I didn't warn you. At least they had the decency to sound apologetic about it.

On other matters, Apathy Jack treats us all like a bunch of children (which, given the quality of our collected bloggage, probably isn't all that unreasonable) and explains the mysteries of NCEA. All I can say is - this is your punishment for having children. All of you.

Returning to that wonderful subject that seems to have taken over my blog recently, someone called elle_kabong has written their own take on the recent furore and has earned my eternal admiration by managing to unite the term "flaccid penises" with the word "snork". Jolly good show.

In other news ...

I've changed my mind, there is a God:
Scientists moot gravity-busting hyperdrive

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Did a mob of angry Dutch kill and eat their prime minister?

Friday, January 06, 2006


I have an uncomfortable feeling that I'm unconsciously copying someone else's writing style, but I'll be buggered if I can figure out who. It's a weird feeling.

Anyway, my blogger bile has subsided somewhat, so today no rants, just links:

Firstly, Brain Stab pointed me all the way to David Wong's Pointless Waste of Time. All I can say is: why didn't find this link when I was at work this morning?I'm so inspired by this site I'm going to give you links to 4 articles, and extracts.

First up, Five Reasons Why Jack Thompson is Right. You don't know who Jack Thompson is? Shame on you. Wikipedia says "John Bruce 'Jack' Thompson (born July 23, 1950) is a Miami, Florida-based attorney at law often cited in the media for his conservative views on the effects of obscenity and violence in popular media.". Yup, he's the kind of guy that 25 years ago would have been claiming that backward messages on songs played forwards make otherwise normally suicidally depressed teenagers blow their brains out. In other words, he's a great hairy steaming mound of cock. But PWoT gives him a good hearing. And provides a graph showing that violent crime has dropped since the advent of the First Person Shooter game. Extract:
If you can successfully hold Rock Star Games responsible when some kid shoots a policeman, then you've got to hold a thousand hack authors responsible when a serial killer turns up. Jack likes to say the games are "training" the kids to kill, but no video game gets as instructive and detailed about how to commit the crime as the paperbacks at your local Wal-Mart.
Next up, The Great Internet Porn-Off: How long can you porn-surfers go without your cyber-booty fix? 100 of them decided to find out. Well, the title says it all, really, and helpfully he tells you which links not to click, which I think is some kind of evil psychological test. Extract:
The Ten Steps to Porn Addiction: Where are you?
  1. You find yourself using a great deal of porn;
  2. You often look at porn rather than other things that are not porn;
  3. You call in sick to work so you can look at porn;
  4. You look at porn while at work;
  5. You apply for and take a job where looking at porn is a requirement;
  6. You hide your porn habit from your friends and family;
  7. You no longer feel the need to hide your porn habit from friends and family;
  8. You find yourself reading porn at a funeral;
  9. You read porn at the funeral of a man whom you killed for his porn;
  10. You have paid for internet porn.

C'mon, how many of us haven't done number 9?

Penultimately, A World of Warcraft World. Or why virtual worlds will take over and why it's a good thing (and after finishing Collapse I'm inclined to agree). Extract:

The people are ripe for it. You've heard stories about how ticket sales are plummeting at movie theaters, in favor of home DVD viewing. Why? Why do so many people want to work from home now? Because we're sick of having to sit with other people. We want that extra layer of control that meat interaction will never give us. We want a world without the unpredictability of real, unrestrained humanity ...Humans got fed up with this world, and so we invented a new one. I suspect some theologian will come forward in the future to suggest that, in fact, our world was created in the same way. The gods got sick of their boring spiritual realm and made a more exciting, physical one to replace it.
Lastly, The Ultimate War Sim. If you're an RTS veteran you'll love it. If you don't know what RTS stands for, you probably shouldn't be on the internet, let alone breeding. Extract:

I want a super-cool custom weapons lab where I can design mech armor for my infantry with wicked acid-tipped missiles and guns that shoot spiders. Then I want to watch as a hundred men are cooked alive in the desert because of a defect in the internal air conditioning units that shorted due to condensation in the fusion coils and insufficient insulation in the wiring units bypassing the laser reactor core, due to the contractor's decision to use over-the-counter components instead of the military-grade ones mandated in Subsection 12:94A, Paragraph B of the Military Weapons Platform Procurement Act of 3013, a document that is 14,724 pages long and contains some 81,301 loopholes that allow congressmen to bypass component testing and funnel lucrative military contracts to cut-rate suppliers from their home districts at the peak of every election cycle ... beating the game will depend on how I play to Ivy League politicians who think a gun is something you hang over your mantlepiece to be occasionally dusted by the maid in your Connecticut Summer home.
On with the show ... stolen from The Giraffe Watches You, is a link to this - Top Thirty Facts about Chuck Norris. Oh yeah. Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in. You should probably look at it after reading some Ruthless Reviews reviews.

Right, so that's the funny stuff. But it's not all gas and giggles folks. And since my blog stats tell me you guys prefer rants about abortion to rants about religion by 2:1, then you should really go and read Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty's Nothing better for your mental health than a forced pregnancy and tigtogblog's We knew it was bad for you, see!?!.

Both make some pretty damn cogent arguments, and, unlike me, manage not ruin it by saying gratuitiously saying "fuck" repeatly, although CBTP slips a little by saying "fuckers". Never mind, we forgive you. Extract from tigtogblog:
The causative link explaining the trend found by Fergusson et al may well be more to do with the not unreasonable supposition that women prone to varying degrees of mental instability are more likely to have an unplanned pregancy, and therefore are more likely to have an abortion than their more neurotypical peers. This is however merely an hypothesis to be tested: the answer could be something else entirely. We simply don't have enough data examined thoroughly enough yet to know.
Oh course, the mean and petty little pCms have started popping out of their fetid rabbit holes all caked in decaying SPUC and claimed that this is, and I quote, "clear evidence" that abortion is Satan's Sockpuppet (or something, I must admit I kinda tuned out). Which just goes to show that the 'm' in pseudo-Christian moron isn't there for pretty christmas-tree decoration.

I'd say that they were being deliberately dishonest, but honestly, I just don't think that they are that smart.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Prove Christ exists, judge orders priest

You might think that's a snappy name for a post, but the story is here. If you're too lazy to read it then here's the best bits:
legal proceedings [began] against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ’s historical existence ... The judge had earlier refused to take up the case, but was overruled last month by the Court of Appeal, which agreed that Signor Cascioli had a reasonable case for his accusation that Father Righi was “abusing popular credulity”.
Man, we damn freaking well need a law against abusing popular credulity here. The article goes on to say that Signor Cascioli
argued that all claims for the existence of Jesus from sources other than the Bible stem from authors who lived “after the time of the hypothetical Jesus” and were therefore not reliable witnesses ... The Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius mention a “Christus” or “Chrestus”, but were writing “well after the life of the purported Jesus” and were relying on hearsay.
Signor Cascioli said that the Gospels themselves were full of inconsistencies and did not agree on the names of the 12 apostles. He said that he would withdraw his legal action if Father Righi came up with irrefutable proof of Christ’s existence by the end of the month.
... but I love the end the best:
The Vatican has so far declined to comment.
I don't know why, but that phrase puts a warm glow in the cockles of my heart.

I am not a christian, though I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic schools for all pre-University education. I was actually an avowed athiest from age 8, but I was never one to rock the boat so I kept going to church and didn't switch schools. I can't complain about the teaching, in either quality or content, and the Brothers who taught at my high school were fantastic (I could be wrong, but I suspect most were quite a bit more liberal in their beliefs than doctrine would suggest). Nuns, however, still give me the willies. And I'm continually guilty about damn near everything I do, although to be fair that may be an indication that I'm a bad, bad man.

While my original reason for turning athiest wasn't terribly well thought out (church cut unacceptably into my playtime during the summer months), I worked out better reasons as I've gone along. Basically, religions need to give me a reason. I want to know that there is a God, like I know that I'm typing on this keyboard while listening to Moving in Stereo by The Cars. God as a palpable fact like the sun in the sky. I'll be fucked if I'll believe in God. Right now there is a pantheon of competing Gods and I know not of any good intellectually honest reason to select the God of Christians over the God of the Muslims over Zeus and his wonderful golden shower. I

Why we're at it, I'll be double fucked if I'll worship God. Human beings who are conceited enough to demand worship are complete cocks; Gods should bloody well know better. I can worship Gillian Anderson 'cause those eyes can crack stone, but I'm sure she'd be suitably embarrassed at the attention, or have the good grace to take out a restraining order.

I'm no biblical scholar, but the God of the Bible just seems a little too ... human, ya know? And an awful lot of the beginning seems to be justifying why the Jews got to steal land from the original inhabitants; funny, we seem to be getting a lot of that lately. And, well, maybe we shouldn't go into the divinely mandated raping, pilaging and slave-taking. But fuck it, let's talk some Leviticus:
"Say to Aaron, None of your descendants throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.
18: For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long,
19: or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand,
20: or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles;
21: no man of the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD's offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
22: He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things,
23: but he shall not come near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries; for I am the LORD who sanctify them."
You know, I don't care if in the beginning you did create the heavens and the earth, and your spirit did move across the face of the waters: if you told Leviticus to write that shit, you are a big steaming heap of hairy cock.

As I've gotten older I've changed from Atheism to Agnosticism (although, reading the definition a bit more closely perhaps I'm more of an agnostic atheist). That's partly just I see no reason to think there is no possibility of God(s), and partly because a lot of the Atheists I met were so bitter and twisted they seemed to actively hate God (anti-theism?), and seemed to mirror the worse aspects of fundamentalist christians, which made me a mite uncomfortable, especially when some of the nicest people I know are committed christians.

In fact, I'd like to think that the world would be a better place if more christians were more christian. There was a hymn we used to sing at church whose refrain was simply "And they will know we are christian by our love". A few more people living with that in mind wouldn't go amiss.

Hmm. Can I change the name of this post to "I'm not racist - some of my best friends are Christians"?

Places you should go, even though you risk catching teh gay:
THE RUTHLESS GUIDE TO 80s ACTION (link stolen from Brain Stab)

The good oil from No Right Turn:
Lipstadt on Irving - which, quite frankly sounds like a movie they'd be plugging on the aforementioned Ruthless Reviews site, but is actually about free speech.

Satan sucks Music Industry cock:
US DoJ offers to jail copyright infringers

Are you really surprised?:
Cheerleading can kill: official - in the most convincing proof that God exists, that story provides a link to this story. Sweet zombie jesus, yes.

And finally, from the NZ Herald:
More abortion studies needed, says foundation

Ms Clements said the Canterbury research contrasted with a US study released in October which found no credible evidence that women who terminated a first pregnancy were at a higher risk of depression.

"The [US] study's authors found pre-existing mental health to be a better predictor of depression risk than abortion."
Family Planning national medical adviser Dr Christine Roke also cautioned against concluding abortions "caused" mental health problems.

"One of the difficulties with these findings is, we can't tell if it is because they have mental health problems or a tendency to mental health problems that they have chosen termination, rather than the termination causing the mental health problem," she said.

"While researchers made some effort to check out whether women had mental health problems at [the] time they were considering termination, it has been very difficult to allow for."

An apology

From the Editor:

Due to overwhelming complaint, the following phrases will no longer used by Mr Stupid in blog rants:-

  • "Norturnal emissions"
  • "Wet dreams"
  • "Dick, I'll expect my cheque in the mail"
  • any sentence containing the words "Apathy Jack" and "nipples" and especially "cayenne pepper" and "smear liberally, whilst singing 'Let's get it on' by Marvin Gaye"
  • "Schlieffen Plan" due to concern that this is in fact slang for a sexual position involving 3 rubberclad germans all named Hans, a handcuffed Frenchman affectionately referred to as Dorothée, a Belgium transsexual too traumatised to give his name, and a Candian lumberjack (whose name, strangely, is Sven) - who wandered in accidentally, thought there had been a horrible accident and has called an ambulance.
That is all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Watch out for Charlie, in the trees.

Debate of the moment (yep, it's the summer season of slow news): chop down the trees along Queen street and replace them with natives; or don't chop them down because of it's PC madness gone ... um, madder.

Good posts from Tim Selwyn of Tumeke and Russell Brown on Public Address - parts 1 & 2.

In the spirit of can't we all just get along, here's my solution: double the amount of green space on Queen St. Don't chop down the existing trees. Put up a bunch of natives as well. Call it a homage to the multicultural mural of Auckland. Put up a plaque. And a blessing. Hell, have a parade and some fireworks while we're at it, god knows the place could do with some cheering up. Fuck it, get rid of a lane or two and make little grassy islands, with trees and picnic tables and babbling fountains. Who could complain about that? (well, the guys commenting on DPF could, but that's what they're paid to do for our amusement)

Dick, I'll expect my cheque in the mail.

Nice company you keep, terrorist; or, I'm just like the fetuses, Chuck, I wasn't born yesterday

(the first half of the title is stolen from Span, who stole it off some bloke called Zedley who got it from Daily Kos. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual post. Btw, who got the "George Bush calls them his Base" joke? Second half of the title - well, points for reference, folks).

Originally I was going to call this post foetal position, which was the best I could come up with at short notice (i.e., since this morning). Obviously the topic at hand is the recent NZ study that concluded that abortion raises the risk of depression. Extract from the NZ Herald:

researchers had followed the progress of 1265 children born in Christchurch in mid-1977 from infancy to adulthood. Its latest research found 41 per cent of the women studied had become pregnant by age 25, and 14.6 per cent of the women studied had had an abortion. By the age of 25, the study found, 42 per cent of those who had had an abortion had also experienced major depression during the previous four years.
This was nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant and 35 per cent higher than those who had chosen to continue a pregnancy.

"Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders," said the researchers, whose study has been published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.
Pretty stunning stuff. But it potentially suffers from the same error that research concluding that marijuana increases the risk of mental illness
does (at first glance - if someone can find me a link to the published David Fergusson study please chuck it in the comments). And that error is that you may be reversing cause and effect. That is, it is equally possible to conclude, from the data so far available, that women who are suffering from (latent) depression are more likely conclude that abortion is the best option (how long typically does it take for people to be suffering the effects of mental health problems before they are diagnosed as such). We could stretch things even further and ask whether the social conditions that lead to unplanned/unwanted pregnancies also lead to mental illness ... or if you were really mean you could speculate that guilt-laden propaganda espoused by anti-abortion pCms leads to depression (it sure depresses the hell out of me).

Equally, with Marijuana one could conclude from the current correlation-based studies that people with latent mental illness attempt to self-medicate with recreational drugs - I just wonder if they ran the same studies but replaced "marijuana" with "heavy alcohol consumption" they might find the same correlation ...

If I am going off half-cocked (oh, I am, I am) it's not because of the study or it's conclusion - it's the way it's portrayed in the media - i.e., uncritically. Morning Report (sorry, Summer Report - may you burn in your bland hell) was basically "so your report says X? Really? Golly, that's interesting!"


Anyway, none of this should be taken as signalling that I am rabidly pro-abortion. I am rabidly on the fence. That is to say, abortion isn't a good thing, but on balance I suspect banning it leads to a worse situation. I think it is silly to equate a foetus with a self-conscious human being (cf Peter Singer); but it is wrong to dismiss the importance of a foetus on that basis; rather it is important to focus on the foetus as having sentience and an ability to feel pain (after a certain point in gestation).

Also on the silly tree is the idea that it's is wrong to abort because a foetus is a potential human being. Bugger me. So's every period. So's every nocturnal emission. Hell, so's every time I think about sex but don't actually have sex (which, by God, is a lot of potential children right there). Next time you want to picket my bed to stop me having wet dreams just give me a call. You bring the cold shower and a bible, I'll put on my gimp suit and get Apathy Jack to wear his "I am Satan's crack whore" t-shirt. You know, the one that shows his nipples.

In other words, it's complicated. And people who try to simplify it and see it relentlessly as black or white get on my wick. Really, stop beating the baby-murderer drum and work on something positive - you know, sex education, or a campaign against equating "sex" with "dirty", or doing something about our fucked up drinking culture, or improving adoption services, or ... fuck, start seeing abortion as a symptom not a disease in itself. There's things wrong with our society and it's not all the fault of the SLC.

More Peter Singer
South Park Quotes

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Does PCP turn people into cannibals?

Newsy stuff on the theme of "The RIAA is Satan's sockpuppet":
Music sales slide despite RIAA's crushing blows against piracy

... and another South Park quote to go out on, even though it has nothing to do with the topic at hand:
Benjamin Franklin: I believe that if we are to form a new country, we cannot be a country that appears war-hungry and violent to the rest of the world. However, we also cannot be a country that appears weak and unwilling to fight, to the rest of the world. So, what if we form a country that appears to want both.

Thomas Jefferson: Yes, yes of course, we go to war and protest going to war at the same time....

Benjamin Franklin: And that means that as a nation, we could go to war with whomever we wished, but at the same time act like we didn't want to. If we allow the people to protest what the government does, then the country will be forever blameless.

John Adams: It's like having your cake and eating it too.

Redneck Founding Father: Think of it, an entire nation founded on saying one thing and doing another.

John Hancock: And we will call that country the United States of America.

Post written to the themes of:
Big City Life - Mattafix
Drugs have done good things - Bill Hicks
Night Shift- The Commodores