Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Being Suspected of Breaking and Entering can be Surprisingly Entertaining

In the middle of the night, a friend of mine and I were walking through a somewhat bad area of town carrying a computer. One might wonder why we were doing that. So did the police.

One of my only potentially serious run-ins with the police is something I consider a rather funny story about really improbable coincidences.

It was a few years back and at the end of a period of hard exams at the university. As usual after exams we wanted a way to relax, and this time we opted for nostalgia and nerdiness. We decided to have an old fashioned LAN-party at my friends place; gathering up some people and their computers to play games together. I know; we’re just the epitome of cool.

As is common for such events we totally messed up our sleep patterns, and when we decided to stop playing it just happened to be very early morning.

A friend was going to drive me home, so he and I were walking to his car, carrying my computer. We didn’t have to walk more than a few hundred meters to his car, so we didn’t really foresee any problems. Not that I’ve ever foreseen any real problems in any simple walk to a car, and I’m usually right about it.

This time I wasn’t right. As we were about to cross a street to the parking lot, two police cars came driving up along it. We looked at each other and laughed, commenting on how it must look mighty suspicious that we’re carrying a computer in the middle of the night. And it felt like such an improbable coincidence that the police would show up just then, because we rarely ever see any police cars out and about like that around here.

But even though we knew we looked suspicious we didn’t expect them to actually stop us. But they did. And they did it in an amusingly stereotypical manner, as if it was a TV show. Both cars pulled to an abrupt stop in front of us and police officers welled out of the cars, with their hands threateningly at their gun belts, eyeing us carefully and telling us to put the computer down.

The situation felt absurd, but still highly amusing, and of course we did as they said. One of the officers started questioning us about where we came from, and we told them the address of the apartment building we had just left, and pointed behind us.

She told us that they were out on a call about a break-in in the building behind the one we came from, and said that to them it looked mighty suspicious that we were walking with some valuable electronics from the direction of said break-in. We said that we could understand how they might think so, but assured her that we had nothing to do with it. She looked thoroughly unconvinced.

She stayed with us while the others went on ahead to examine the scene of the crime. She continued to question us and we found out just how damned difficult it can be to explain the concept of a computer LAN-party to a police officer in her fifties. After several attempts to explain what we had been doing, she still didn’t seem to understand how what we were saying could be a good explanation for how we could possibly have any legal reason to wander around with a computer in the middle of a freezing cold night.

It still seemed like we were easing some of her suspicions though, even if our explanations made no sense to someone of her generation. Maybe we just didn’t act like any typical hardened criminals. But her suspicions seemed to be renewed when she got a call on the radio. It was one of the other officers, confirming that a computer had been stolen at the burglary.

We started realizing exactly how suspicious we looked, and how amazingly improbable it all was.

It was the first time in years that I was at a LAN-party. It was the first time ever that I was walking through that neighborhood (which I didn’t live in) in the middle of the night. It was the first time I walked around carrying a computer in the middle of the night. And this just happened to coincide with one of the only times I’ve seen a police car there.

And the police was there because someone had called them to report a crime at precisely the right moment; if it would have been half a minute earlier the police would have passed by before we left the apartment, half a minute later and we would have gotten to the car before they got to the area.

And burglaries aren’t all that common around here; the crime rate of this city is rather low. Sure, that area is a bit worse than most of the rest of the city, but it was still a bit of a coincidence that there was a burglary right then. And to top it off, the only thing stolen in the apartment was a computer, and that’s what we were carrying.

Of course there wasn’t any real risk for us. A quick check would have revealed that we weren’t carrying the correct computer. But we did look pretty suspicious. But then the next coincidence kicked in – the first one to our advantage.

While they were checking the underside of our shoes to match with footprints under the window of the apartment in question, another call came in on the radio, and they promptly let us go. It turns out that the police had actually caught the real burglar, less than half an hour after the crime took place.

I mean, come on, how often does something like that happen?

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Does the F-Word have Magical Properties?

Warning: that certain, special little word occurs several times in this text, for obvious reasons.

Normally, people can judge from the context if a word is appropriate or not. At even the finest of dinners I could be discussing Dick Clark or Dick Cheney, and no one would mind me saying Dick several times during the conversation. But if I would proclaim “You should all suck my dick!” that would rarely be seen as quite as acceptable.

Saying “Dick Cheney is a great man” may be offensive to your sensibilities, but the word “Dick” in that sentence is not deemed a dirty word, even though “dick” can be dirty in many, many other sentences.

So obviously the formation of sounds that form the word “dick” can be acceptable or not, depending on the meaning we give them. That particular arrangement of sounds doesn’t have any special, magical properties; it isn’t the sounds themselves that are dirty. But what about the collection of sounds that make up the word “fuck”? In that case, many seem to do believe that it has some very special properties.

Take for example the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, a somewhat popular science fiction TV-show. A very common expletive used by the characters in that show is the word “frak”. This is presented as just some alien swear word, and therefore entirely acceptable for use on TV. But curiously it has many, many similarities to the earth word “fuck” – besides being homologically similar.

The two words seem, by amazing coincidence no doubt, to have the exact same (and wide) range of use.

When curious about the details regarding the nature of someone’s relationship with someone else you can ask “Are you frakking her?”

When you want to use a strong pejorative to express your dismay with someone you can say “Frak you!”

When you feel that all is lost and want to articulate this feeling you can say “We’re well and truly frakked.”

You can call someone of limited mental abilities a “frakwit” and when you are in strong disagreement with someone you might be tempted to call this person a “motherfrakker”.

If you’re really surprised you might shout out “Frak me!” and if you want to give extra strength to a statement about your feelings of dislike for the thing that startled you, you can of course use an adjectival form of the word, like for instance in the phrase “Frakkin’ rats!”

In short I’ve seen the word “frak” used in almost all the ways that I could imagine using the word “fuck” here on earth. For all intents and purposes it is exactly the same word and of course anyone who sees the show knows this. But they still see it as necessary to keep up the blatantly obvious charade.

To them it seems like it is much more acceptable to say “frak you” instead of “fuck you” but I really don’t see the difference. Unless you ascribe some mystical power to the word “fuck” there is no difference. And obviously no one in the target audience seems to be harmed by the numerous instances of the word “frak”, so maybe the word “fuck” isn’t all that horrible either?

While I do understand that swearing might be frowned upon under many circumstances, I don't understand what is so utterly special about “fuck”. But it seems like many, many really do think that it matters; thinking that you can’t say “fuck” but you can say something that everyone knows is just a thinly disguised replacement for the word.

I see this a lot in internet comments, regardless if the comment thread is moderated and censored or not. I look at many more or less humorous pictures commonly classified as “Engrish” and or “fail” in Internet humor terminology. These pictures very frequently contain the word “fuck” in very larger letters on the picture (in, for instance, mistranslated restaurant menus and foreign street signs) so anyone viewing the pictures have already been subjected to the word and they know that the word is part of the humor of the situation.

But, for some reason, people making comments often inexplicably choose to censor themselves when discussing it, writing things like “f*ck” or “f-word” in their comments when discussing what can be read in the picture. Even though every single person discussing the picture knows that the word is “fuck”, they still think that it is wrong to write it out, for some reason.

Once I understand why this is, I will be another step closer to understanding some of the many oddities of the human mind, so it’s something I think about at times.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Musings on Ray Comfort’s “Banana Argument” (the Atheist’s Nightmare)

Ray Comfort is a strange, strange man. And if you’ve never heard of him before, I assure you that he is someone who can bring you plenty of amusement.

He is an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian preacher, and he has a ministry called “The Way of the Master” which has a hilarious TV-show under the same name. The most famous clip to ever come out of that TV-show is his “banana argument” against the validity of an atheistic world view.

The clip can be seen here, and I suggest that you watch it, if you by some chance haven’t seen it yet and want to be amused. The argument put forth is silly beyond words and, to someone dirty-minded like me, the video is filled with so much unintentional(?) sexual innuendo that I can’t help but laugh.

Many people have very, very well debunked his statements about the banana as a perfect proof of God’s existence, but I will make a short note on that before moving on to my main point.

Comfort argues that certain characteristics of the banana are proof positive that God designed it and that evolution is bunk. He claims that this is obvious, since bananas are good for people to eat, they fit perfectly in the human hand, they are easy to open, easy to eat, easy to digest and you can see on the outside if they are ready to eat or not. He calls them the “atheist nightmare” because this is truly a testament to a perfect and benevolent God, designing wonderful yellow treats for us.

Of course that argument is stupid, mainly because of one, very important thing: bananas didn’t look anything like that when humans first found them.

The “original” banana was short and stubby and filled with large, hard seeds. It didn’t “fit perfectly in the human hand” and it wasn’t easy to eat. The reason we have the much friendlier bananas of today is that humans cultivated bananas and selectively bred them to the now so familiar form.

This was done through a process of “artificial selection”, which is something that is very closely related to natural selection, that integral part of evolution. So Comfort really, really shoots himself in the foot by trying to use bananas to disprove evolution.

But let’s not dwell on the fact that it’s a stupid argument. Let’s instead ask ourselves “What if he was right? What if I get convinced that the banana requires a deity capable of creating and designing life; what would that tell me?”

To someone like Comfort the answer seems obvious. He spends his time trying to convince people that his particular brand of fundamentalist Christianity is the Truth, and arguments like the banana argument is how he does it.

So, to Comfort the sentence “There appears to be a god of some kind, capable of designing a banana” automatically equates to “The designer is the God of Judeo-Christian tradition, Jesus of Nazareth is the son of this almighty God, he was born of a Holy Virgin, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and the only way to a decent afterlife is to accept him as your personal Lord and Savior”.

To me, this is something of a large leap. A huge leap, one might say. “Holy logical leaps, Batman!” one might even say, if one has a tendency to reiterate old jokes.

Normally people are very good at spotting leaps like that. But some people seem to shut of that part of their logic when it comes to the particular religion that they favor.

If I said “When I was walking through the forest yesterday I heard rustling sounds that I couldn’t identify. Clearly this was the sound made by tiny, tiny unicorns grazing in the underbrush!” most of you would think I was kidding, crazy or both (and of course I am both). My conclusion of unicorn-caused ruckus would be seen as a huge leap without any logic behind it by almost anyone.

Of course it is possible, albeit incredibly unlikely, that the sounds really are caused by miniscule, horned equines, but it would be unbelievably strange of me to assume that this is the case, without any further evidence for it. It might as well be tiny, tiny elephants! Or something mundane like the wind or a rodent…

The statement “there was a sound I couldn’t identify” says nothing about the existence of undersized animals of any kind, and people generally understand this perfectly well.

But somehow it is seen as more logically sound to assume the divinity of Jesus based on nothing but a “proof” of a designer, even though the statement “there is a designer” says nothing about who or what this designer is and nothing at all about this Jesus character. But people like Comfort still act as though they have proved their particular version of their particular religion just by some inane statement about how good bananas are to hold and eat… I find this terribly amusing.

Of course, Ray Comfort also shoots himself in the foot a second time at the end of the famous clip, when he says “Seriously Kirk, the whole of creation testifies to the genius of God’s creative talent” (or something very close to it, the last word is kind of garbled in the clip I saw).

What Comfort implies is that fruit designed to be easily eaten by humans is proof of God and he says that we see this in “the whole of creation”, but if that is so he really fails to explain things like coconuts and pineapples. I would assume that they are also part of the whole of creation, they are also very good for (most) humans to eat, they are tasty to most humans and they are freaking difficult to eat, especially if you have no tools.

If we had a perfect, benevolent and loving God who created everything, as the one that Ray wants us to believe in, I would expect everything that is good for humans to be equally easily eaten. As it is, with coconuts and all, even if Ray’s argument did hold any weight, it wouldn’t seem to favor a single, all-powerful God. It would instead seem to favor a specialized banana-making god, and I am certain that he doesn’t believe in any of those.

And of course this is the problem with many similar arguments that people use when they try to convert people to their religion. Even if their arguments are sound, they generally point towards nothing other than some, unknown deity or something else unknown. The arguments never explain how they would “prove” the existence of some particular deity.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Working at the Morgue Seems Pretty Good

I think it’s a job that offers some unique perks

I think that complaining a little bit can be a positive thing. I don’t think it’s good or healthy to be a whiny ass, but a little bit of complaining can help you vent your frustrations, put things into perspective and so on. And I also think that enjoying a little down-time in your life, just relaxing once in a while, can be good too.

But if you’re talking about your job, you can often catch some crap by complaining or gloating about such things.

For instance, if you complain about how you have too much work to do, people tend to tell you that you shouldn’t complain about that; it just means that business is good. You should be happy about that! It’s good for job security, likelihood of pay raises and so on, so don’t complain! Such responses really take the fun and pleasure out of complaining.

Likewise if you gloat a tiny bit and tell someone that you’ve had a really relaxing time at the office, with very little work to do. Then they tend to say that you shouldn’t be happy about that, telling you that you’re just being lazy and that you should look for some career advancement if your current job is too easy. Again very irritating responses, taking all the fun out of being lazy.

But imagine if you work at a morgue. If you complain to your friends about how busy you’ve been, they can’t turn it around on you and say it’s good to be busy. Because if you are busy it means that there were a lot of bodies coming in, and that’s a tragedy. Very hard to put a positive spin on it.

And if you seem very happy about having nothing to do, people can’t say that you shouldn’t be happy about that. It doesn’t mean that you are lazy or un-ambitious, just that you’re glad that there aren’t a lot of people dying.

Of course, these perks apply to work in hospitals and clinics too, especially emergency rooms. It’s always good when there’s less to do there. But the morgue does offer an additional thing beyond that:

Regardless if things have been slow or not, when you end your shift and your friends ask how your day was, you can always make them really uncomfortable by replying with the joke “It was really dead.”

Of course you also have to get used to the fact that you have to deal with death every day, but every sweet deal has its downsides.

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Regarding the Ten Commandments, American Laws and Evil Atheists

Since I’m a bit of a science nerd I frequent a lot of science websites, discussion forums and blogs. In the comment sections of such websites there is often a bit of antagonism from a certain type of religious people.

I have no problem with religious people in general, but there is a group of religious people that seems to think that science is an enemy of religion and that all scientists are atheists (which is very far from the truth) that I do have a problem with. They come to those scientific sites for nothing but to spew hate. They usually just tell us that atheists are all evil.

When they occasionally opt to explain why they think atheists are evil, they often claim that atheists persecute Christians, especially in the United States. As an example of this supposed persecution they often mention the matter of the Ten Commandments in court houses.

They say that Christians are being persecuted in this matter. Because, according to them, US laws in general, and the Constitution in particular, are all based on the Ten Commandments and this should be reflected by placing them there. Apparently those stupid atheists don’t agree.

I honestly don’t know all that much about the reality about the controversy regarding the placing of the Ten Commandments in court houses. I strongly suspect that most of the people involved, on both sides, were being nothing but silly. But whatever the real issue was isn’t the point. The point is their argument that they are being persecuted.

You can probably guess what my standing on that issue is, since I am an evil, godless atheist. I am also a fan of the US Constitution, since I think that it is a beautiful, great document (even though I do not exactly agree with everything in it) and I think that it is being attacked and belittled by these people.

Let’s look at a common list of Commandments that people want in court houses because “US laws are based on them.”

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Not only is this one not in any way a basis for any US law that I know of, such a law would in fact be in direct conflict with the first amendment of the constitution.

The first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Saying that people are only allowed to have one particular God really seems to limit the free exercise of religion. At least to me, but perhaps I’m being picky there…

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

No matter how you interpret this commandment it is in conflict with US laws. It is not illegal to make “likenesses” such as paintings or sculptures, even if they depict supernatural entities. This is generally considered a part of freedom of expression, which is a right in the United States. A law based on the second commandment would be in conflict with that.

Some people have told me that the second commandment is really about forbidding the worship of those graven images, more than the making of them. But we’ve been over that point already. Saying that you’re not allowed to worship whatever you want would interfere with the free exercise of religion.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain

Strike three. Again in direct conflict with the first amendment. American censorship laws might regulate what you can say on broadcast TV, but in general freedom of speech is liberally protected in the United States. And I don’t think that blasphemy is banned even on TV.

And no, as far as I know, this commandment hasn’t inspired a nationwide crackdown on people who shout “Oh God” in the heat of sex.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

What, can’t we get past the first amendment? Still not one commandment that isn’t in violation with it.

There is to be no laws respecting an establishment of religion, so there should never be any law that requires people to keep a sacred day of some particular religion holy.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother

Finally. This one isn’t in direct violation with the constitution, as far as I know. It’s however not in there either. As far as I know this isn’t really in any American law, and I think that’s good. A law that orders people to honor their father and mother would be a rather stupid law.

I for one honor my father and mother. I honor the hell out of them, because they deserve it. They are great parents and great people.

But we all know that not all parents are great. Many hurt their children, physically and mentally. I think that a law requiring all children to honor their parents, regardless of what their parents do to them, would be rather barbaric.

6. Thou shalt not kill

Getting better! This one is actually sensible and more or less in accordance with US laws.

Of course that is a matter of interpretation of the word “kill” though, since US laws aren’t as simplistic as the Ten Commandments. In the United States killing people is sometimes legal; in justified self defense and executions for instance.

And even if we do interpret “kill” in a way that makes the commandment in accordance with US laws, then so what? If there are laws against killing people, and there is a commandment about killing people, should we then assume that the laws are built upon that commandment? I don’t think so.

Seriously, do these people believe that before the business at Mount Sinai, people didn’t understand that it is a bad idea to kill each other? Do they think that before the age of those fragile stone tablets, people were total morons?

Of course it’s stupid to go around haphazardly killing each other. You can’t build a stable society without realizing that. All through the ages, societies of every religion have understood that. Laws against murder do not need divine inspiration; it’s pretty obvious that murder is a bad idea.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery

This is a pretty good commandment too. Adultery isn’t good.

And there actually are some US laws prohibiting adultery, at least in some states. And I can see those laws having a religious background. So I’ll actually give you this one, this commandment might actually be the basis of some US laws.

Not that any remaining adultery laws are actually seen as important today, but it’s still at least a partial win for the proponents. Six commandments too late, but still.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Again, this is a rather good idea, but that’s not proof that the Constitution or any other document was inspired by it. If you try to build a society it is easy to understand that stealing isn’t something that contributes to peace and stability, no matter what holy book you believe or don’t believe in.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Like most of the bible, this one is very open to interpretation. Some say that it about lying while testifying and some say that it is just about lying in court.

Of course, perjury is a crime, so if you interpret the commandment that way it is in accordance with the law. And, again, this isn’t something you can figure out on your own… Of course people who have never heard of the Ten Commandment think that courts work well if people lie while testifying…

No, wait, maybe not.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Now, there is an obvious joke about sodomy laws here, but we all know that “ass” here refers to donkeys and nothing else. And I really don’t think that there are any laws against coveting at all, no matter if it is donkeys or asses.

In fact, I would like to say that the entire concept of a capitalist society is built on the concept of coveting. If you want a donkey (or a car, as a modern equivalent) that is as good as your neighbor’s, then you go out and work to get it.

And more importantly, trying to restrict what people covet is a serious breach of human rights. No government should tell you what to think and feel.


So, out of ten commandments, at least five are in violation with the American constitution and/or basic human rights. Only a few have any clear equivalent in US laws, and only one of those feels like it would need religious inspiration to make it into a law.

Some commandments are border-cases, but all in all it looks pretty clear that in general the laws of the United States are not based on the Ten Commandments.

Not that saying this keeps that particular group of people from crying “Persecution!” at the drop of a hat though. But I still feel the urge to write stuff like this every once in a while, when I have heard some particular untruth once too many. At least it helps me vent.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gay Sex is Just Like Christmas

When I was in Junior High, I had a fairly religious teacher. That’s not very common around here, so he kind of stood out, but none of us minded. At least not until he started talking about Christmas…

I can’t remember how the discussion got started, but for some reason the class got to talking about Christmas and he expressed his very strong opinion that people who aren’t religious shouldn’t celebrate it. He was very adamant on this point, giving his view that it is rather vile of us atheists to enjoy a Christian holiday.

Well, I’ve always been open to a debate, and I couldn’t let it slide that a teacher would have the audacity to tell his students what and how to celebrate. So I, and a girl from my class, challenged his opinion and started discussing the matter with him.

First I told him that I do celebrate a holiday at the time of Christmas, but I don’t do it in a religious way. I don’t have any stars, angels or baby Jesuses among my decorations. I just see it as a nice holiday to spend some quality time with the family (and a holiday to get some quality time with some good food).

Then we reminded him that a winter solstice festival has been celebrated here around the time of Christmas since long before our country became Christian. Just like in the rest of the world; winter festivals are very common, Christmas has just become the most popular of them.

We tried our best to convince him that we had every right to celebrate as we do. But he still clung to his opinion that we somehow hurt Christmas by celebrating at the same as his favorite holiday. Despite the fact that we told him that we celebrate an entirely secular holiday that has nothing to do with him, he thought that he had the right to tell us how and when to do that.

That is so infuriatingly typical of a certain kind of Christian (I am very well aware that it is not how all Christians act though). They think that just because their religion has come in and replaced our old winter festival with theirs, they have the right to control how everyone celebrates at that time of year. Apparently we are “cheapening their holiday” if we don’t conform to their wishes.

Note that we didn’t say a word on how we thought he should celebrate his holiday. We didn’t invite him into our homes to see our pagan disrespect of his sacred beliefs. We didn’t disrupt his class with a “traditional winter solstice celebration only” campaign. Yet he felt that he had the right and, apparently, the need to tell us how we are ruining Christmas by having a good time with our families in our own homes.

But Christmas isn’t an important issue to me whatsoever, so I let it drop. But it does serve as an illustrative example of a kind of thinking that I see in many other discussions, especially in discussions about homosexual rights.

As many of you know, I’ve written a fair bit about gay marriage. I cross-posted some of the posts on other writing sites, and I got some interesting comments. Here is a part of one of those comments: “The gay community and their supporters present the greatest example of hypocrisy imaginable. By making a choice to adopt said lifestyle they effectively deny God and the truth of His word. Then they have the gall to demand the right to ‘marry’, and do it in Gods' house! Marriage is Gods' sacred institution, not mans.

Well, first of all, I’ve never met anyone of the opinion that we should force churches to marry gay couples. Almost everyone who promotes gay marriage just says that the government shouldn’t forbid two consenting adults from marrying; they don’t say that churches that are against it must marry them. I know that if I ever marry I wouldn’t want to be wed by someone who hates me.

And just like winter celebrations, marriage isn’t a uniquely Christian thing. People of most religions and cultures have had celebrations where they join people together like that. But still, he thinks that gay couples who want to marry are out of line. Because it’s not in line with “God’s word”.

It doesn’t matter to him that they might not even be Christian or that if they are, they will in all probability don’t want to marry in the kind of church he prefers.

It doesn’t matter to him that marriage exists outside of Christianity or that the gay couple’s celebration of love is entirely private to them and doesn’t affect him in any way whatsoever.

It doesn’t even matter to him that many Christians, and Christian priests to boot, defend gay marriage and wants gay to have the right to marry in their church.

He still thinks that he has the right to decide how they should act. Not because it affects him in any way, not because it’s bad for society or anything, but simply because it doesn’t agree with his interpretation of his religion. Because he thinks his religion says that homosexuals can’t marry, he thinks that homosexuals shouldn’t be able to marry anywhere.

And he has the gall to be offended by people being homosexual, because it’s not in line with his beliefs.

But he doesn’t hate them. Oh no, of course not. Later on in the comment he also uses the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin” which is a very popular thing to say when you defend your own bigotry. Things don’t really work like that though, which brings me to the point about gay sex that I so shamelessly advertised in the post title.

Where gay marriage and celebrations of Christmas can be at least somewhat in the public eyes, even though they are private affairs, sex isn’t. I could never understand how anyone can care what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom, but the kind of people I talk about in this post obviously do care. They often want anti-sodomy laws because they “hate the sin”.

But really, how can you, when it comes to sexuality, hate the “sin” but love the sinner? How does that work?

If you tell people that their inner feelings are a sin and that you hate what they feel and think, people are going to feel hated, even if you add afterwards “Oh, but I love you. It’s just your sins I hate.” That’s just a useless bit of rhetoric, just saying that isn’t going to make people feel loved. It isn’t rocket surgery people; it’s not that hard to understand.

Your sexuality isn’t a choice, and many of those people understand that. That’s why they are things like Truth Ministry, which promises to teach you how to “leave the homosexual lifestyle.” They know that they can’t make a gay person straight, but they want them not to act on their sexuality. They teach people to suppress and hate their natural urges, teaching them that what they feel is a sin and that they need to resist it.

Basically they teach people to spend every day hating a big part of themselves and suppressing all their sexuality. A real act of love, that one. But at least that only works on people who are already deeply religious; usually people are at least a bit harder to convince to hate themselves.

But back to my main point about how these things are similar: Winter celebrations, marriages and sex are not invented by the Christian church. They are all private things that don’t affect other people, they all existed before Christians came around, and they still exist outside of the bounds of fundamental Christianity. But somehow some Christians still really feel that they have the right to control how other people do these things, for some reason. And I really wish that would stop.

I have no problem with people believing whatever they want, just as long as they don’t see the need to control other people because of it. And again; I do know that most religious people aren’t like that, most are content with keeping their beliefs to themselves and letting other people act in accordance to their own beliefs. I am only complaining about the ones who aren’t that tolerant.

Click here to read the rest of "Gay Sex is Just Like Christmas"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Girls with Big Books

Unfortunately, I haven’t been writing much lately. But I have just written something for another blog that I want to link to.

Girls with Big Books

I have written the first real post for a blog called “Girls with Big Books” which is a site in tribute to intelligent, nerdy, geeky and artistic women. It’s about all those women who are not traditionally seen as “hot” but are much more interesting than most stereotypically attractive people.

The site was started as kind of a balance to all the places that seem to be more about girls with big boobs than about girls who enjoy a big book. The first post is the first in a series of posts with some examples of girls who are hot because they are nerdy in one way or another, and it is about Kaylee Frye from Firefly/Serenity and Kari Byron from Mythbusters. You can find it here.

Click here to read the rest of "Girls with Big Books"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Working at the Morgue Seems Pretty Good

I think the morgue offers jobs with some unique perks

I think that complaining a little bit can be a positive thing. I don’t think it’s good or healthy to be a whiny ass, but a little bit of complaining can help you vent your frustrations, put things into perspective and so on. And I also think that enjoying a little down-time in your life, just relaxing once in a while, can be good too.

But if you’re talking about your job, you can often catch some crap by complaining or gloating about such things.

For instance, if you complain about how you have too much work to do, people tend to tell you that you shouldn’t complain about that; it just means that business is good. You should be happy about that! It’s good for job security, likelihood of pay raises and so on, so don’t complain! Such responses really take the fun and pleasure out of complaining.

Likewise if you gloat a tiny bit and tell someone that you’ve had a really relaxing time at the office, with very little work to do. Then they tend to say that you shouldn’t be happy about that, telling you that you’re just being lazy and that you should look for some career advancement if your current job is too easy. Again very irritating responses, taking all the fun out of being lazy.

But imagine if you work at a morgue. If you complain to your friends about how busy you’ve been, they can’t turn it around on you and say it’s good to be busy. Because if you are busy it means that there were a lot of bodies coming in, and that’s a tragedy. Very hard to put a positive spin on it.

And if you seem very happy about having nothing to do, people can’t say that you shouldn’t be happy about that. It doesn’t mean that you are lazy or un-ambitious, just that you’re glad that there aren’t a lot of people dying.

Of course, these perks apply to work in hospitals and clinics too, especially emergency rooms. It’s always good when there’s less to do there. But the morgue does offer an additional thing beyond that:

Regardless if things have been slow or not, when you end your shift and your friends ask how your day was, you can always make them really uncomfortable by replying with the joke “It was really dead.”

Of course you also have to get used to the fact that you have to deal with death every day, but every sweet deal has its downsides.
Click here to read the rest of "Working at the Morgue Seems Pretty Good"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sex, Violence and Censorship

Some comments on an article about a man who really sets himself up to be made fun of.

I recently found a news story titled “Dad Wants $20K, Says Lesbian Book Disturbed Teens” here. I have a strong suspicion that the man in question is really just after some quick cash, but even so the news story serves as a perfect example of the strange views on sex and violence in society.

I have personally never understood why sex is supposed to be worse for the children than violence. But it seems like many think that’s the case. Parent groups and crusaders for morality complain whenever a “bad” word is uttered or an uncovered inch of skin is shown. Sure, they complain about violence too, but not at all to the same degree. Sex is always the real danger, according to people like that.

Either way, we all know that it is common for people to overreact at the very mention of sex, for whatever reason. But few are as funny to mock as the gentleman in the news article.

According to the article Earl Adams in Bentonville, Ark. has two sons, aged 14 and 16 who were at the public library “browsing for material on military academies.” During this they apparently found a book titled “The Whole Lesbian Sex Book” instead, and were according to Adams “greatly disturbed.”

Because of this, Adams wants the library director fired and tried to sue the city for $10,000 for each of his sons; the maximum allowed under the Arkansas obscenity law. Why does Adams think that they need such large amounts? What damage could the book have caused? Well, according to Adams, the book caused “many sleepless nights in our house.”

Well, I bet it did! Books of that nature often tend to cause “sleepless nights” for healthy young men, but they usually don’t complain about it.

Honestly, it seems very hard to find a book like that by accident while browsing information about the military. And even if the book had been misplaced there they could have just ignored it after reading the title, if they didn’t want to read it. I’m worried for them if they didn’t read it and were that “greatly disturbed” just by being reminded that lesbians exist. If so they seem to be so sexually repressed that they should get a psychologist. They should possibly get a better home too.

I’m just speculating here, but it seems more likely that they did read the book. And in that case they did so of their own free will. And it also seems likely that their tremendously strict father caught them reading the book and that’s the only reason they told him that they were greatly disturbed by it. They couldn’t very well tell such a man that they liked it.

Whatever the boys did, and whatever their real intentions were, the father overreacted extremely though. He is totally ok with his young sons reading about military academies, after all, that’s good and healthy, right? Joining the military has never held any danger, none at all. A book on lesbian sex, though, that is very dangerous. I’m not sure exactly how, but obviously it is. It’s $10,000 dollars worth of dangerous just seeing such a book. Obviously.

Well, thankfully “the city’s attorney dismissed Adam’s claim as baseless” and he didn’t get his $20,000, so there seems to be some sanity left in the world. He did manage to get the book off the shelves of the library though.

According to the article, Adams said in an e-mail that “God was speaking to my heart that day and helped me find the words that proved successful in removing this book from the shelf.” And “Any effort to reinstate the book will be met with legal action and protests from the Christian community.”

Don’t you just love these people who think that they know exactly what God wants? And these guys who think that they can claim to speak for the entire Christian community… It’s just such wonderful humility and modesty!

Sometimes when I write it can seem like I have a problem with religious people in general. I really, really don’t. It’s just people like this guy, who feels that he alone has the right to dictate what is going to be on the shelves of a public library and decide what other people are allowed to read.

Click here to read the rest of "Sex, Violence and Censorship"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are our Kids Learning Anything Worthwhile in School?

Is “never” the best answer to “When will it ever be useful to know this?”

recently heard it said, in a very negative tone, that “In school, kids learn things just to be able to spout them out for tests and essays. The school system is more of a test of being able to acquire knowledge than preparation for anything worthwhile.”

I think that this is pretty much true. For instance, if you would ask me about slavery in ancient Rome I could tell you a lot of details about that. I could for instance tell you a lot about how many slaves there were, what kinds of jobs they did, how they could gain freedom and how the chance of freedom likely affected their outlook on their standing in society, and how this in turn affected the Roman society as a whole. These are all things I learned many years ago back in grade school, and can still remember today.

Now, to paraphrase Fight Club: “Why do I know things like that? Is that information essential to my survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word?”

Of course the answer is no. If you look at things that way, my knowledge about slavery in ancient Rome is, along with many other things, not worthwhile. That information is not something I have ever had any use for outside of a classroom environment. I only learned things like that to get a good grade on a report I was doing on the subject, nothing else. So yes, it does seem like school was more about “being able to acquire knowledge” than about learning anything useful or worthwhile.

I do not agree that this is a bad thing though. I think that school is supposed to teach you how to acquire knowledge; anything “worthwhile” you learn in the process is just a bonus. Because, in this modern ever-changing world, I don’t think that there really is much worthwhile or useful that can easily be taught, beyond very basic things.

Before modern civilization, the value of intelligence, knowledge and ability was an absolute. If you could figure out how to find or make shelter against the cold, to make tools for hunting, to find food when foraging, to make fire and so on, then those things were always useful and would always help you survive, no matter who you were.

Up until a couple of generations ago almost everyone were either farmers or industrial workers. In such times it was always good to know the basics of farming, or construction, or how to work with common industrial machines. That knowledge was always useful and could give you means to survive.

Today however, the value of our particular intelligence, knowledge and abilities is more a function of the present day and what particular part of society we are in.

If you sit me down in front of a computer and tell me, for instance, to make you a website, construct a database application, or write a program that can help you calculate your taxes, I would seem like an intelligent and knowledgeable person, because I would be able to do that.

But, if you sit me down in front of a table with some needles, thread, scissors and fabric and tell me to sew you a pair of pants, I would not seem intelligent or knowledgeable at all. I probably couldn’t sew a decent pair of pants if my life depended on it.

My skills in computer programming are much more likely to make me a living in this day, in this society, then an ability to sew. Most sewing nowadays is made by automatic machines, since it’s so much cheaper, and only the best tailors can still have a job sewing by hand. On the other hand, just thirty years ago, more sewing was made by hand and there were almost no jobs for someone who can write computer programs.

A couple of generations ago anyone could learn skills when they are young that would last them a lifetime, but today we can be happy if the value of a certain skill lasts a couple of decades.

So, since the value of what we know is a product of the society we live in, and society is quickly changing, it is hard for schools to give us knowledge that is always going to be “worthwhile”. But how does this connect back to my example about my knowledge of slavery in ancient Rome?

Well, what the facts I learned back in those days where highly useless ones about a culture long gone. But the methods of learning facts like that are the same methods I use today when learning about computer programming, when learning facts much more useful for me, today.

How to learn things was what I primarily learned in the early stages of school, and I feel that there is nothing better to learn. That is the one thing of an absolute value we have left in a changing world; the ability to absorb new information, to learn new things and change with the world.

I think about this when I remember how often the less motivated students would ask “What is the use of this information? Why should go around looking up this stuff, learning about something like this? When will it ever be useful to me?”

The teacher always tried to come up with some explanation, but it usually sounded lame. How do you explain the worth of some little bit of information about history or chemistry, or some little used mathematical axiom, to a kid? They tried though, telling us that there will surely be times when we have some use for that information, however unlikely it may seem.

I think we all felt that they were lying, and it didn’t serve to motivate us. I think it would have made a much greater impact if they would have said “Never. You will probably never have any use of this at all. But you will need to be able to look stuff up, to understand how to use science books, encyclopedias and so on, and know how to organize this information, select from it and write it down in an orderly manner. And you need practice in how to memorize important things so the knowledge you need is readily available. Whatever you learn now is just to practice skills like that.”

But of course they didn’t say that. I’m not saying that for instance knowing that the battle of Hastings was in 1066 is worthless information, not at all, but they talked like it was useful, which I can imagine very few circumstances when it would be. That only made us feel like they were playing us for chumps, teaching us useless things and lying about it.

I think it would serve educators well not to forget to point out that the means can be an end in themselves. Tell kids that we don’t always have to learn something that is obviously useful, that we just have to learn how to learn. That learning something just for a test isn’t necessarily bad.

Of course, there are instances when we learn things that will be useful. For instance basic mathematics and languages; those are things that are useful to anyone. I still think learning how to learn is the most important part though. I’ve learned more languages outside of school than in it, but I wouldn’t have been so easily able to if I didn’t learn the basics of it there.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Seriously, what is up with People Using Quotation Marks for Emphasis?

I have to travel a lot by bus, and as most people know that is a pretty lousy way to travel. I have a pretty good back on me, but even my back starts to ache after a few hours in a bus seat. So I was pretty happy when I found that a local bus company offering long distance trips has a sign up that (translated) says:

Travel “comfortably” - travel by bus!

Those quotation marks around “comfortably” were just so right. It felt so nice and entertaining that a bus company would actually acknowledge what an uncomfortable way it is to travel, even if it’s a bad way to advertise your business.

But no, things aren’t that good. A friend of mine pointed out that they probably think that quotation marks can be used to put emphasis on something. I had a hard time believing him, since it seems so unreasonable.

We have very good ways of putting emphasis on things. Setting something in bold, italics or underlining it are all very common, easy and good things to do. Quotation marks are decidedly not a good thing. Quotation marks usually give the exact opposite effect, like in the example with “comfortably” above. So I just can’t figure out why anyone would ever think to use it that way.

Well, turns out people do it anyway.

Here is one example that I stumbled upon. Someone has put up a note on a bulletin board saying:

Please “do not” use staples for posting

And someone has responded with:

Please do not use quotation marks for emphasis.

Then there is this one, with some “threatening” writing on a wall. It says:

I’m gonna “kill you”
Watch your back
Crack Whore

A terribly confusing piece of writing, if you ask me. I can’t figure out what he is going to do, but it doesn’t seem to be any real killing involved at least.

Then of course there’s also an entire blog dedicated to the phenomenon. The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks can be found here.

So, obviously it is very common. Distressingly common even. But even though it can be terribly amusing, or at least terrible and amusing, I fail to see the reason why it happens.

Do any of you readers have any idea why anyone of sane mind would assume that quotation marks can be used in such a way? I can’t figure it out and I’m genuinely curious.

Click here to read the rest of "Seriously, what is up with People Using Quotation Marks for Emphasis?"

Friday, July 25, 2008

”Why the …”-Update, about the silencing of dissenting views

Just a quick update on last night’s post about gays and McDonald’s

I have had very little time to write all summer, so when I wrote this post it took me a few days of little moments here and there. So it was several days ago that I first started looking into the matter. At that time I read some of the vile, hateful comments at and decided to leave my own comment there.

My comment was pretty carefully worded; I tried not to be offensive in any way, even though their website really made me want to be offensive. The most hurtful thing that I wrote was some small comment about how their comments prove that a gay rights moment is needed, but that’s as bad as I got. Other than that I just wrote a short little piece about my views that homosexuality will never affect their families, and asked a rhetorical question about why they even care.

Well, my comment didn’t appear at once, so I figured that they moderate the comments, and that it would appear after being approved. Well, I was wrong. Now, several days later, many, many comments from others have been approved and put up, while mine is still missing. My comment, just a small little thing to give them my perspective on the matter, was apparently not allowed on that site, while every gay-bashing word about “disgusting abominations” is allowed.

The American Family Association seems to imply that this is a struggle in the name of liberty and democracy. But somehow they seem to think that it is suitable to censor comments that do not agree with their views.

And it is not just that. You have to agree with their views in the right way too. When I realized that my comment wouldn’t be published I tried, just for fun, to leave another comment. It was a positive comment about the boycott, but since so many of the published comments were talking about God and Jesus, I said that I was supporting it “because homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of Allah”. That one didn’t get published either. Go figure.

Talking about the comments… There are many comments, and texts by the AFA, that claim that it is not at all about hatred against homosexuals. They claim that all they are doing is protesting against the fact that McDonald’s are “taking sides” in such an issue; that they are just expressing the opinion that big corporations should “remain neutral”.

Well, with comments like “Stop supporting a vile and disgraceful lifestyle.” I have a hard time believing that. It really seems like it does have everything to do with hatred of gays. Especially since I am utterly, utterly convinced that these groups would not care one tiny bit if McDonald’s gave such a relatively small amount of money ($20 000, a tiny amount for such a big corporation) to any other organization. I am certain that McDonald’s make donations like that fairly frequently, but only when it is in support of a “disgusting and sinful lifestyle” is it even mentioned.

Do not even try to claim that it is not about homophobia.

Also, I have gotten an e-mail asking me why I care. Why I can’t “respect” the opinion of these people. Well, I don’t know if I should have more respect. You can think what you like, and you can call me vile and evil for speaking out about these issues if you’d like. I’m very much a “sticks and stones…”-kind of guy; it doesn’t really matter to me if a few people think that way about me.

However, I have long had friends that are more easily affected, and who are not straight. Some of these friends have been so hurt by people calling them things like “disgusting” and “sinful”, that they have hurt themselves physically over it. And you can mess with me, but no one messes with my friends. As long as the people I love, and other innocent people, are being harassed and hurt like this, I will continue being a pain about it. No matter who thinks I’m evil or stupid because of it.

Sadly, this is how some people act, especially some “Christians”. I’ve seen several times how they break homosexuals down by berating them with hateful comments about their “sinful lifestyle”. And then, when the homosexual in question seems depressed or angry by the situation they say “See! I’m right; homosexuality is wrong! It makes people depressed and angry!”… Without any regards for the fact that they wouldn’t have any need to be angry, and no reason to be depressed, if they wouldn’t have been harassed in the first place.

Click here to read the rest of "”Why the …”-Update, about the silencing of dissenting views"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why the [expletive deleted] does McDonald's Stance on Homosexuality Matter to You?

Another post about treating homosexuals as actual human beings.

Apparently, McDonald’s have made some sort of modest monetary contribution to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Ellis, vice president of communications of McDonald's USA, now holds some sort of seat on the chamber board. They have also made a couple of statements speaking for gay rights.

So, it seems like McDonald’s wants to support LBGT business ventures, and in extension recognize non-heterosexuals as being people too. As you can probably guess, this is something I wholeheartedly approve of.

I have never really liked McDonald’s in general though, and I don’t really care about their food, so this little thing isn’t something that will make me start eating there. And I didn’t expect that it would affect anyone else very much either. I mean, it’s just a tiny little support of basic decency, I never thought it would get anyone’s knickers in a twist. Boy, was I wrong…

When the news got out, the American Family Association, AFA, promptly started up the website, where they urge people to sign a petition and call their local McDonald’s and tell the manager that they are boycotting McDonald’s “until they stop promoting the pro-homosexual agenda.”

AFA are far from alone in writing things like that. As an example to pick apart I’ve chosen a piece written by a Ricky Pearcey, just because it lends itself to so much ridicule… (found on the blog “Pro-Existence”, here)

Mr. Pearcey writes:

My son and I often stop by McDonald's for a bite to eat after homeschool bowling on Fridays.

But not today.


Not today, in light of reports that McDonald's has decided, apparently, to declare war on my family. And to declare war on the civilization of liberty, independence, creativity, and humanity under God that my Dad fought for in World War II.”

This first section of his text gives rise to many questions.

The first question, the most urgent, burning question that I have is of course: “What, exactly, is homeschool bowling?” Seriously, I have no idea. This question eats me up.

But, anyway, I guess that a more important question is: “How the hell does support for homosexuals equate to declaring war on your family!?”

How in the world would it even affect his family at all? McDonald’s are not going to “turn anyone gay”. They are not going to tell your family to sod off because they support “the gays” instead now. They are not going to do anything to your family, nothing at all. They are just saying that homosexuals should be able to live their lives too.

And, wait a minute… He did not just claim that his father fought against the gay agenda in WWII did he? Well, maybe if he was on the Nazi side…

Nazi soldiers famously wore belt buckles with the words “Gott Mit Uns” (God With Us) on them, since Hitler believed that they were doing the work of God, and they imprisoned and killed homosexuals. So I would say that they where the ones who fought against the gay agenda “under God”. The Allies, fighting to stop things like the concentration camps, were effectively fighting for gay rights.

Mr. Pearcey doesn’t dwell on that though, but goes on:

“Reports such as this -- "Pink Arches? McDonald's Buys Into Homosexual Agenda."

And reports such as this: "McDonald's Gives Support to Homosexual Agenda."

And this: "McDonald's Signs Onto 'Gay' Agenda."

For Christians, this is a matter of stewardship and "loving thy neighbor" -- Why spend good money on a morally and socially corruptive business?”

One might wonder what part of “love thy neighbor” that he has such a hard time understanding. I would say that is exactly what McDonald’s are doing, and what he is resisting.

”For families, this is a matter of child protection -- Why support a business that helps fund organizations that disrespect the heart of family life?”

Again he claims that McDonald’s attack families. I still don’t understand how the hell they are doing that. I guess that if I say “I think that chocolate is an acceptable flavor of ice-cream”, he’ll claim that I am disrespecting and attacking vanilla, and that I will lead to vanilla’s demise… Even though I like vanilla too, and even though me liking chocolate doesn’t stop others from liking vanilla. And just like respecting people who like someone of the same sex doesn’t stop others from liking someone of the opposite sex.

”For human beings, this is a matter of liberty under God -- Why help finance groups that turn their backs on the Declaration of Independence, the Founding vision, and the living Creator who holds it all together?”

The American Declaration of Independence is a lovely document. And it does mention a Creator, in this section:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A lovely piece of writing, a lovely sentiment, and in no way whatsoever does it contain the phrase “except for the gays”. It is about the rights of everyone, so I would say that it is McDonald’s that defend the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, while Mr. Pearcey is ignoring it.

“The fries are good. Even great. But the worldview they support isn't fit for human consumption.

Maybe we'll stop by Chick-Fil-A instead. It's a little out of the way, but I hear they like families.

Real families -- not ones made up by the ACLU last Tuesday.”

Of course, all gay people are a part of some family; everyone has parents. But I guess that in the eyes of Mr. Pearcey, those families aren’t “real”.

I must say however that I still don’t see what the damn problem is. Even if McDonald’s are actually supporting the families that according to him did not even exist before last Tuesday, that does not in any way mean that they can’t support “real” families too.

Mr. Pearcey is by no means alone in his opinions. Several sites offer comment sections filled with vile comments about the evil of McDonald’s decisions. Just so you can see that Mr. Pearcey is not an isolated exception, I offer you a taste of some of the comments found here, here and here. These are just a very small part of them, there is plenty more where it came from. Many of them offer kind little words like “evil”, “sick”, “disgusting”, “abomination”, “sinful” and so on, and many talk about homosexuals are “destroying families”, even though no one explains exactly how that happens…

First, an update:

This post has a continuation here, if you want to read more. Now on to the comments:

“MacDonald's is No longer Family Friendly and Is Not Safe For our Children and Grand children!”

“Promoting destructive behavior is a horrible thing to do, whether it is homosexuality, self-mutilation, or drug abuse! McDonald's will not be seeing my family any time soon.”

“It is sick, disgusting and deplorable to weasle money from good families and spend it on the homosexual "Agenda". It is a crime to portray mcdonalds as a "Family" restuarant all the while seeking to destroy the very same "Families". Gay and Families will never be synonomus. I will not buy anything from mcdonalds, but I will do everything possible to discourage others from supporting your disgusting business.”

“I am really upset that a business that tries to attract children would also agree tosupport such a wrong lifestyle. My children love McDonalds but we as parents have explained to them we cannot and will not supoort such disgusting behavior. We will all we called to acocunt for our actions and all that we lead astray. I hope you change direction before it is too late. As for our family we will be eating at Chik Filet. I will not spend my money with groups that blatently tear down my faith and the values I teach my children.”

“I am highly disappointed and disgusted that McDonalds has chosen to abandon family values and support what will be the demise of our country. With so many charities that could benefit from support from McDonalds, it is literaly disgusting that they have chosen to support a cause that so morally wrong. I have already abandoned purchasing anything from those businesses that openly support the gay/lesbian revolution- McDonalds is just the next one that will never get one red cent from me again!”

“unless and until McDonalds announces a neutral stance on this abominable position of supporting the gay agenda, me and my family will boycott that eating establishment.”

“I won't even pick a crumb from the ground if I know is coming from MC Donals, Much least my five kids that love ketchup on the fries”

“How's come all these big companies are contributing to the homosexual community? Are they being threatened and/or co-ersed? I'm sick of the whole mess.”

“To the person who suggested we have homophobia, I disagree. My reaction to their lifestyle is abhorrence, loathing, repugnance and disgust. They are not born to this lifestyle; THEY CHOOSE IT!”

“I'm not a hateful Christian who wishes any harm to gays , I'm just not going to promote their lifestyle.”

“So McDonalds decided to turn against what made them - FAMILIES with CHILDREN. Now they choose to support those we refuse to allow around our children so I say shut them down with no business. Let the homos take their children there, oh wait they cannot do that as they CANNOT have children so they try to steal and brainwash ours.”

“I for one KNOW that I will not eat any food that comes from that wretched restaurant until they change who they support. It's a scary thought... thinking of gays taking over our country! God help us.”

“It really made me sick to hear such stupidity by McDonald's.No more McDonald's for me and my grandchildren....Soooo Sick!!!!!May God Have Mercy on them.”

“How could you take something that was intended to be good for kids and make something so evil out of it. I am another that will not dart your doors or my kids or grandkids. God must be very disappointed when He looks down from Heaven and see what you have done to his children. Instead of standing for moral values you stand for evil and corruption. Whether you realize it or not God Is In Control and He will bring you down!!”

“I'm appalled that a restaurant which has always been pro-family has taken this turn toward Godlessness and evil. Nobody in my household will dine there until this abomination is corrected.”

“It is reprehensible that McDonald's, a traditional American family-friendly establishment has chosen to take the course of action it has with regard to its promotion of the homosexual agenda. My money will not be used as a platform to advance this wicked lifestyle, so I guess that means no more Quarter Pounders with cheese for me or my family. I pray the Lord moves on your heart that homosexuality is evil. Likewise, I pray that you come to understand that your willingness to advance the cause this vile behavior is equally wicked and objectionable.”

“No more McDonald's for me and my family!!!! Homosexuality is an abomination to God, damnation of civilized society, the ruin of great countries (if you disagree you do not know the Bible or history very well). NO MORE McDONALD'S for us..if we want fast food there are too many other places to go eat that offers good food and does NOT advertise, support or be part of such perverted evil.”

“Diversity is a lame term for the disgusting agenda you attempt to promote. If you want to support that agenda, do it privately, not corporately. You have most certainly damaged your reputation as a family restaurant, for some it is irreparable. You have nothing to be proud of by making a decision like this. Soon you will be standing before God trying to explain your bonehead actions!”

“Disgusted and disappointed to say the least. I will use all my influence to persuade my congregation to not patronize McDonald's until you drop your homosexual agenda.”

“Large corporations (yours in particular) have a strong hold over most young people in this country and I am disgusted that you would choose to use that sway in such a deplorable way. Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

“From the time that I first learned of McDonald's support of this disgusting lifestyle, Burger King and Hardees have been getting all of our fast food business that used to go to McDonalds. Consider this my strongest protest against your using, against my will, my money to support a cause that I would never support if I were given the choice. Shame on you, McDonalds!”

“This is disgusting! NO MORE MCDONALDS!!”

“I am so sorry I cannot in good conscience bring my grandchilden ans great grandchildren to McDonalds anymore-there's 80 of them. Why are you supporting such an organization that just brings tragedy to our people and society?”

“I am the Matriarch of a HUGE family,due to this disgusting position McDonald's taking I have put out the "WORD" for everyone to STOP going to McDonald's IMMEDIATELY. God WILL bless this family for taking this stand!”

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Addendum to ”Totally Innocent Toys?”

A while back I did a post called Totally Innocent Toys?, where I posted some pictures of some really creepy, badly designed toys. Since then, people have sent me some more, that they think I should post in addition to the ones I had. So, here I go.

This one is in exactly the same genre as the Pikachu-vagina in the last post. It’s damned creepy and I can’t imagine why anyone would design something quite in that fashion. Unfortunately I don’t know any source for this one, since it came to me as an e-mail attachment, so tell me if you know who deserves credit for this nasty looking picture. I only know that it makes me exclaim the well-known adage “What the hell ass balls?!”

Then there are... these... They claim that they are lighthouses. I’m not so sure, but if they say so I guess I'll have to accept it. Found here.

Speaking of male reproductive organs though; here are some more cocky pictures. They aren’t toys, but they are clearly aimed at the little children. And they are also very, very wrong.

Here we have Jesus showing his manliness to devout little children. Found on Flickr.

And here is some sort of hanger, in the form of a bear showing his even greater manliness. Found on the excellent FAIL Blog.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Troops: Star Wars/Cops parody

I feel the need to educate some of you people. Several years ago I saw the most amazing parody of both the TV-show Cops and Star Wars. Recently I’ve tried discussing this masterpiece with my fellow nerds and I have found that many haven’t even seen it! Therefore I feel the need to help spread the message of this brilliant work. It's apparently created by a Kevin Rubio in 1997, and I find it utterly hilarious.

So, if you’ve already seen it, see it again. If you haven’t, shame on you! And in either case, here’s the YouTube-version of the video, for your viewing pleasure:

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Monday, June 16, 2008

My Nomination for the Scariest Video Game Character Ever

There are many scary videogames. There are many scary characters. Some would argue that the zombie dogs, as well as various other creatures and characters, from the Resident Evil games are very scary. Some can’t sleep while thinking of that little girl in F.E.A.R., and some people similarly think that the “Little Sister” character from BioShock is someone to fear (while the heavily armored “Big Daddy” from the same game is mostly laughable). Some people fear anything in the Silent Hill games, and a dear friend of mine thinks that Mario is damn right creepy. But I think that another character from various games in the Mario franchise have them all beat.

Freaking Yoshi. That stupid little dinosaur-thing is one of the creepiest things in the world of videogames. Not because of the stupid voice or silly appearance, but simply because of its outlandish biology.

This thing can eat almost anything, and mostly eats fruits and enemies almost half the size of the whole dinosaur. And it can eat lots and lots of them, without gaining in size at all. Now, that isn’t all that strange in the world of videogames. A lot of video game characters can eat many times their weight with no apparent effects. No, what scares me is what happens to the enemies that it swallows.

In some games you can use Yoshi’s freaky tongue to pull an enemy into your mouth, and then squat down to pop out a damn egg. Somehow it seems like Yoshi’s reproductive system (Yoshi is usually said to be male; did I mention that?) is directly linked to the digestive tract, so that food can be made into eggs. And not just egg shells over the corpses of your newly digested enemies; no, as far as I understand they are actual, functional eggs. At least one game I’ve heard of (though haven’t played) lets you put the eggs in nests to make Yoshi-young from the corpses of the beasts you eat.

That is freaky, and it all goes with an amazing speed too. But Yoshi doesn’t really seem to care much about the eggs though, even though there could be its precious sons and daughters in there. No, Yoshi uses its own eggs as a freaking weapon and throws them at enemies, switches, and whatever else needs to be reached or killed.

I’ve got to go back to killing some zombies or something, in some other game. Games with Yoshi in them scare the crap out of me. That is one freaky dinosaur.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Father has Delightful Quirks

Also; I love it when science beats common sense over the head.

At the moment I’m spending some time with my parents, visiting them over much of the summer. Spending time with my father reminds me of one of his most endearing characteristics; he has this charming way of flat out denying that he ever makes any mistakes. It’s always so sweet to see him with the unexpected outcome of something, acting like he knew all along what would happen. One of my favorite examples of this is from when I was in high school.

My father had an old pickup truck that he needed to do some work on, and wanted a convenient way to lift it with his forklift truck. He came to me one day and showed me some sketches he had made for a simple solution.

He had a couple of steel I-beams that he was going to weld together at the right distance from each other, so that he could drive the truck up on them, and lift the whole thing. He wanted me to calculate if the rig would hold the weight of the truck.

Of course, my dad is a classically schooled engineer; he could do that himself. But the task involved a lot of boring fact-finding; things like the distance between the forks of the forklift, the distance between the wheels of the truck, weights of different components, and so on, so I guess that he was just a bit too lazy to do it himself.

Either way, it was no big problem. I had learned how to calculate things like that in school, and it seemed like a simple enough problem. I got the necessary data; I sat down and did the math, and found the answer confusing. I went to my dad and said “Well, according to my calculations it isn’t going to hold.”

He looked at me with surprise. “Of course it is!” he said. “Look at these girders; they’re really thick and sturdy. The truck isn’t that heavy; of course they’ll hold.”

I showed him my notebook and showed how my calculations said that the girders will bend significantly, giving a 20 cm deflection at the ends. He briefly looked over my calculations, couldn’t find any fault in them, but concluded that I must be wrong anyway. After all, the girders looked so sturdy; of course they would hold the weight! He had a great air of “I don’t care what the math says; common sense tells me that this is going to work.”

So, the next day when I was coming home from school, I noticed a couple of bent steel girders sticking out of his scrap metal dumpster at the back of his workshop. I saw a golden opportunity to gloat a bit. I went in to him and was about to innocently ask him about his truck lifting-experiments, when he beat me to it.

He looked up at me from his desk and said, with a totally straight face, “Oh, I tried making that lift. The girders bent to hell, just like we said they would. But you know, I thought, what the hell, might as well try, right? It could have worked anyway, but they bent so much that the truck rolled off.”

So, he managed to make it sound like he was never of a different opinion. It’s really quite sweet; he is so good at not acknowledging at all that he made a mistake, even when it was just the day before.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Poem - Her Tears

Disclaimer, of sorts.
It might be wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that this poem had some actual structure once. But the thing is that I wrote it several years ago, when I could still write poetry, and now I’ve translated it from Swedish to English from memory.
It came out better the first time, but I felt like making an attempt at it, since some recent events with a couple of close friends reminded me of it. It's just very suitable right now, despite lack of flow.

Her tears are my tears
Her tears bring mine

My tears are her tears
They bring more of hers

My tears make her cry
Even more than before
Because she’s so sorry
For making me worry

But I am thankful to her
For being who she is
For making me care
Care enough to cry

But she cries
And I tell her that I want

She cries more because I want
Her to change

But she has misunderstood
I don’t want to change her
I think that she is perfect
Just the way she is

No, her tears make me want to change
The world
So that it will not hurt her

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Friday, June 13, 2008

I Finally Understand Why Homosexuals Shouldn’t be Allowed to Marry

A rough sketch of our impending doom

I’m from Sweden. I have been told that many of us Swedes have a tendency to toot our own horns. I think that sounds like a euphemism for something thoroughly enjoyable, but they mostly mean that we tend to point out the good points of our country every chance we get.

This might be true. I also think that it’s true that Sweden is a pretty decent place. It might even be great, in some respects. It is however not perfect. For instance, we don’t have gender-neutral marriage laws; that is, gay marriages aren’t allowed.

Even if Sweden generally is a comparatively good country for LGBT-persons, I still think the legal rights and general climate for these groups should be improved. I have always believed that allowing gay marriages would be one of many positive steps that should be taken.

There are however tons of websites out there that go on and on about how gay marriages are wrong, how homosexuals getting married to each other will destroy the very foundation of society and how it’s not really an expression of homophobia to not want gay couples have the same rights as straight couples.

Now I’m here to tell you that I have finally seen the light. I have finally seen the danger of men marrying men and women marrying women. Above is a picture where I try to capture this evil. It’s just a rough, quickly drawn sketch because that’s all I had time for, but I think that it still captures the feeling of dread that we all should feel about such acts. Clearly the two women joining together in love are a vile, society-wrecking menace.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note I just want to tell you that I love both sarcasm and satire.

The reason for my sudden insight is a Swedish organization that is “trying to preserve marriage as a union between a man and a woman” and their website to further this goal. This website is brilliant. I mean, they mostly re-iterate the very same arguments I have seen many times before, but still, they have me convinced.

Some of you might be tired of the entire debate, but I think that it’s still very important (for several reasons that will be presented later on) and therefore I will present the information on that website for those of you who are not Swedish-speaking.

They have a number of arguments, all brilliant, that are repeated again and again, and again, throughout the site. I will try to collect these arguments here and give my own comments on them.

1. Marriage is an ancient tradition and has always been a union between a man and a woman. The life giving union of a man and a woman has been the very foundation of society and that it has been in existence since before the formation of nation-states.

They start out strong, bringing out this “this is the way it’s always been”-argument in the beginning of a petition they have written, protesting gay marriage.

Of course, there are some tiny objections against the claim that marriage as it exists today is the way it’s always been. There have been some changes. For instance, wives are no longer considered the property of their husbands, it isn’t standard practice to arrange marriages for your children and people are allowed to marry people of a different social standing, skin color or religious denomination.

But despite those minor changes throughout history, it is true that marriage is an ancient tradition and as such it should naturally be preserved. All ancient traditions that helped shape our societies should be preserved. Like for instance the abundant slavery that was a cornerstone in the formation of almost all of our civilizations.

OK, so that was a bad example. But still. I’m sure change is still always bad; no one wants a change in the basic structure of our society right?

2. If we loosen up the concept of marriage to include people of the same sex, that will open up for further changes. People will want to marry members of the immediate family, animals and minors.

Yes, of course, this issue can not be treated separately. This is a slippery slope where one thing will obviously lead to another. If we allow consenting adults to marry each other because they love each other and want to spend their lives together, that is obviously going to lead to people marrying their dogs. Provided that the consenting adults are of the same sex, of course.

And it is perfectly reasonable to equate same sex marriage with incest and bestiality. Those things are obviously related and I can’t see how anyone could think that such a comparison is in some way offensive.

3. Heterosexual and homosexual relations are fundamentally different. The union between a man and a woman is a fertile one, while homosexual relationships can’t without help lead to children. This is no small difference; the future of the entire human race depends on it.

This is a great argument. It’s so hard for anyone to refute that two men or two women can’t have children, so obviously we can’t allow them to marry. If we allow that, we will endanger the entire human race.

For instance, imagine that there are two young guys living next door to me. They have fallen in love, moved in together and lived in a blissful relationship for several years and they want to spend the rest of their lives together and because of that they have joined together in a civil union.

Now imagine that gay marriage is suddenly allowed in my country. The lovely young men next door are ecstatic and immediately go and get married to each other.

Naturally that would stop me from ever finding a woman to spend my life with. I will never get children, because there are some gay couples who are married instead of just living together. The connection is so obvious and irrefutable that I won’t even bother explaining it, just like these web pages never seem to explain it.

And besides, it’s obvious that gay marriages are wrong since they can’t produce children. That’s why infertile people, like those who have undergone a vasectomy or women past menopause, aren’t allowed to marry.

Wait, what, they are? Oh, well, anyway… I’m sure the point is still valid; homosexuals can’t marry because that would be an infertile relation, and heterosexuals can marry no matter if their relation can result in children or not. There, that’s clear as day.

4. Marriage is the best thing for the children. Children need parents who have a long term commitment to caring for them. It is the parents who have given the child life and the institution of marriage is designed to strengthen the long term relationship between the man and the woman in favor of their children.

Heterosexual couples are obviously always more likely to have a long term commitment to their children, and more likely to make well informed, planned decisions to have children.

When a man and a woman get children together it is always the product of a long and arduous process of adoption or artificial insemination, which forces them to really think things through and discuss it with several other people.

Homosexual couples however can have children by complete accident or on a whim, without any thoughts or plans for the future.

No, wait, that’s the other way around. Oh well, anyway, even if it sounds likely that homosexuals would have that long term commitment to their children, there are other arguments.

Imagine again that there is a married gay couple living next door to me. Now also imagine that I have gotten married to a woman and have children. The fact that there are homosexual people married to each other out there will naturally change the way I raise my children. If there are homosexual married couples out there I won’t be able to provide a long term commitment to my children.

And besides, if there are homosexuals married to each other just like the children’s parents are married to each other, the children might grow up to believe that homosexuals are just like everyone else. That would probably be bad, for some reason.

5. The institution of marriage protects fidelity. Traditionally marriage is heterosexual and monogamous but according to Andrew Sullivan another view on relationships is common within the gay community. According to him, homosexual men “have a need for additional sexual contacts in a relationship between two men.” This would by extension weaken the longevity of marriage, leading to more divorces.

Andrew Sullivan is an author and political commentator. Also he’s gay. Consequently he knows what he’s talking about. I mean, he’s gay so of course he can speak for every other homosexual man.

If he says that homosexual men are less likely to be faithful and commit to long term relationships we can be certain that he knows what he’s talking about. Just like when Ann Coulter says that women can’t handle money, shouldn’t be allowed to vote and shouldn’t be in the military.

Ann Coulter’s views are of course the view of every heterosexual woman, since she is one herself. And the views expressed by Andrew Sullivan are shared by all homosexual men, since he is a gay man.

And of course there is never any infidelity in heterosexual relationships. Who has ever heard of a man cheating on his wife or a woman cheating on her husband? There is no such thing as heterosexual infidelity, so even if only a small fraction of the homosexual men adhere to Mr. Sullivan’s image of them, they would still present an unprecedented behavior into the world of marriages and destroy the entire institution.

So, obviously marriages, old and new, gay and straight, would all somehow be affected if we introduced gender-neutral marriage laws. There would be a lot more divorces, anyone can understand that.

Never mind that statistics show that during the 15 years homosexual marriage has been legal in Denmark, divorce rates among heterosexual couples have gone down and the rate of new marriages has gone up. Or that Massachusetts, a US state currently offering same-sex marriages, has some of the lowest divorce rates in the country; almost half that of the national average.

Statistics always lie, so such nonsense presentations of facts should be taken in stride. Just because gay marriages don’t have any proven ill effects anywhere is no reason not to believe that it will cause an irreparable breakdown of society if we allow it here.

6. Marriage is between a man and a woman and that is an expression of the fact that men and women need each other. Separately they are incomplete but when a man and a woman marry they form a complete unit.

Yes, that’s why we don’t consider singles functioning members of society. Children, widows and widowers, bachelors and spinsters, celibates, nuns and monks, catholic priests and others who for some reason aren’t married are clearly incomplete persons.

If we allow gay people to marry each other they will be incomplete. If we continue to disallow it however, they will probably find a suitable partner of the opposite gender instead and then they will be complete. It’s all so simple.

7. The institute of marriage is important to society and changing it to let men marry men and women marry women will lessen its importance, which would prove harmful to society.

Of course, the importance of marriage is seen much more clearly if a lot of people live together with the person they love without even being allowed to marry.

8. It is not homophobic to be against gender-neutral marriage laws. In Sweden we already have a form of civil union into which homosexuals can enter and get basically the same legal rights as you would get in a marriage.

This is true. In Sweden civil unions, or registered partnerships as we call them, are of pretty much the same legal standing as a marriage. The only real differences are the name and that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman, while these unions can be between two men or two women.

It is basically a “separate but equal”-approach, of the same kind as during the days of government regulated segregation in the United States. And we all know that segregation is a great idea, because…

No, wait. I can’t really go on anymore. I can’t even pretend to find an argument to why segregation is good. I notice that I couldn’t really pretend to have any good support for the other arguments presented either. I tried to sound positive and have just a bit of a sarcastic tone to everything, but I found that my pro-gay marriage subtext was rapidly becoming actual text.

If I still somehow haven’t been able to express my utter contempt for these arguments against gender-neutral marriage throughout the text, I will tell you now: I’ve really been lying this whole time. I think that all of the arguments I have presented are utter bullshit.

I have never been presented with a single good argument against gay marriages. All the arguments I’ve ever seen has been firmly grounded in emotion. They say the ubiquitous “Oh won’t someone please think of the children!”-line, they warn us that the very structure of society will crumble under the pressure from gay marriages and that the human race will actually die out if we allow “them” to marry.

People who are against gay marriages make it sound like if gays can marry this will affect every single heterosexual marriage as well. It seems that in their reasoning people will stop marrying people of the opposite sex and stop having babies and being productive members of society, if we allow this to pass.

In the real world, where we have rational arguments and can look objectively on facts, we can see that isn’t really the case. In fact, we could argue that one relationship rarely affects another and people will continue being with the one they love, regardless of what the marriage laws say.

So, why is this important to me? I have tried to argue that marriage laws don’t really affect who people will fall in love with and spend their lives with. I have stated that at least in my country civil unions give gay couples the same rights as straight couples. So, aren’t there more important questions to focus on?

Well, this is important for several reasons. First of all I think that it’s important to expose this sort of shoddy argumentation for what it really is, in all areas. People are often coerced into thinking things that aren’t true through statements like those, which look like sound arguments.

In cases like this that is dangerous. Here large groups can promote things like discrimination, segregation and homophobia under the disguise of caring for children and the society. People trust them because people aren’t critical enough sometimes and can’t expose such bad arguments.

This issue is also very important in itself. I really do believe that it is important to allow gay marriages. I will now give you a quick list of reasons for that, which you can critically examine and pick apart at your leisure.

1. Segregation is bad.

This one is obvious to me. In racial segregation it was said that blacks and whites should have the same facilities, at different places. This only served to further the idea that blacks and whites are fundamentally different, which leads to racism.

When we today say that homosexual and heterosexual unions should be separate things with separate names, we are really saying that homosexuals and heterosexuals are different and should be treated differently. That way lies homophobia and bigotry and I frankly feel that the world has had enough of that.

2. …

Wait, I don’t really feel that I need more arguments. Homophobia is bad. Every step on the way towards treating homosexuals and heterosexuals the same helps eliminate homophobia and anti-gay bigotry and that is good for society.

Now, I’m not gay myself. I’m not exactly straight either though. A comprehensive study into my own sexual orientation could actually be interesting, but I’ll save that for a possible future post. Regardless of my orientation though, I can see the ill effects of homophobia everywhere.

One of the worst effects of this is that one of the leading causes of death among young homosexuals is suicide. It is easy to see why, when everywhere in society there is a constant berating of homosexuals.

It must be especially tough when you’re growing up. When you are just discovering your sexuality and find out that you aren’t like everyone else around you, you would need to know that it’s ok.

We don’t need groups who claim that homosexual relationships are kind of like incest and bestiality, that gays are prone to infidelity and that they can’t care for children. We don’t need religious groups who say that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin. And we don’t need laws that state that homosexual relationships are fundamentally different from heterosexual ones.

I think that we should do whatever we can to further understanding and fight bigotry. There are a lot of young homosexuals who think that suicide is the only way out from the mental and physical torture of homophobes. If we can change the climate in society at enough to spare at least one of them from that feeling, I think that is worth a tremendous amount of effort.

Allowing gay marriage is a good step on the way towards convincing people that there aren’t any important differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and it requires very little effort.

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