The Invisible Library: so cool July 8, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit.
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Such a library already existed, of course, but only in dreams. Having it exist online and (briefly) in the physical world is cool beyond belief. Perhaps the Tenderpixel Library is one of the remaining soft places?
…such is the question posed by this totally awesome and not at all insane website.
According to Wikipedia.org, the New International Bible (NIV) is the most popular Bible version today. What Zondervan Publishers won’t DARE tell you is that they are OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes The Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex. Doesn’t it seem odd to anyone with a brain and a love for Christ that the world’s largest Bible publisher (Zondervan) is owned by the same company, HarperCollins, that publishes The Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.” Every pastor and Christian using the NIV are supporting these demonic publications. Furthermore, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation comes from same Greek manuscripts as does the NIV! The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Interlinear Greek New Testament is based upon the corrupt Greek of Westcott and Hort, openly admitted in front of the publication. This is unbelievable folks! Destroy your NIV.
Sweet Zombie Jesus, the only thing more hilarious than a white-text-on-black-background, Catholic church is Satan, crazy-ass Christianist website is a white-text-on-black-background, Catholic church is Satan, crazy-ass Christianist website that’s part of the King James Version or Death movement.
I think the level of stupidity required to believe that the KJV is the “right” translation of the Bible is probably even more overwhelming than YEC beliefs require. After all, one doesn’t need to know any science to know that a politically driven, woefully out-of-date translation of poor manuscripts is ridiculous beyond belief.
I can’t wait to dig through the rest of this site’s heaping bowl of crazy.
[h/t Debunking Christianity]
[UPDATE: So awesome: "If the Bible that we hold in our hands is not inspired, then let's just throw it into the garbage and go buy the latest New York Times Bestseller to read instead." Preach it!]
Death from the Skies (Short) Review March 27, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, Science.
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Unfortunately, I don’t have the time at the moment to write a full review of Philip Plait‘s excellent Death From the Skies!, but if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know about Dr Plait’s excellent work, and I can say with confidence that people who enjoy this blog will enjoy DFTS. If you’re new to all things astronomical, you’ll learn a lot about the amazing wonders of our universe–and how many of them could kill us. If such things are old hat to you, you’ll still learn a lot about how to communicate science to non-scientists, and even most of us who keep abreast of science will learn a lot.
I particularly appreciated Dr Plait’s look into the long-term future of the universe, which stands as easily the most accessible general-audience description of our universe’s fate that I have ever encountered.
If you have science fans in your life, or if you want to learn more about how to communicate science to a wide audience, you need to read Death from the Skies! It’s well worth the effort.
(P.S. you can still get a copy from JREF, and support a good cause while you’re at it!)
Shorter James Pethokoukis November 24, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, News and politics, wingnuts.
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Just in time for the War on Xmas holidays:
- We need to keep people from having access to health care because those that get it will vote for Obama. Better they should die and “decrease the surplus population.”
Verbatim James Pethokoukis:
Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of “Marxist thought,” puts it: “After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.”
Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: “Blocking Obama’s health plan is key to the GOP’s survival.”
And why worry if poor and middle class people survive, when you can instead worry about the Grand Old Party?
But while it might be tempting to say that the GOP has become the party of Scrooge, Scrooge at least would have been far more fiscally responsible in government than the Republicans have been.
Via PZ, I learn about the blog “Homeschool Hints,” writen by Janine, a fundamentalist homeschooling mom whose bigotry is outlandish even by fundamentalist standards (usually even fundamentalists don’t display their homophobia quite so openly). She’s already taken down the post PZ linked to, and put up and even more hilarious one.
Her blog really is a heaping helping of crazy. But my very “favorite” thing about it (so far; it really is a gift that keeps on giving) is that she is also, predictably, one of those particularly crazy people who need to protect her children from great literature:
Why Free Speech is important, Or nominating Family Friendly Libraries for Odious Organization of the Week October 3, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in banned books week, censorship, constiutional issues, language and lit, wingnuts.
Happy (nearly concluded) Banned Books Week, everyone!
Listening to Radio Times today, I nearly drove off the road while shouting at Denise Varenhorst, President of the thoroughly odious Family Friendly Libraries, an organization which exists to help parents get books they don’t like removed from their local libraries. And they do this in the name of free speech and democracy. Look at their horribly dishonest FAQ, for example:
Q. I found the most disgusting, offensive book on the shelf at my library. When I told the librarian I thought it should be removed, she told me the library does not “censor.” Does that mean that it’s illegal for the library to remove a book based on my objection?
A. No. Your library board members have the power, with a simple majority vote, to remove any material they believe the community, as a whole, does not want in the collection.
They’re absolutely right it isn’t “illegal” to do this, which is why the American Library Association fight so hard against using personal offense as a reason to remove a book from a library’s shelves. FFL dishonestly conflates “legal” with “acceptable.” Because, of course, what they really want is to be able to enforce their ideas on others. The FAQ goes on:
It should be noted that it is perfectly legal and legitimate for books to be relocated within or removed from any library based on the wishes of that community.
Really? What makes it “legitimate,” exactly? During her interview with Radio Times, Varenhorst (who was unwilling to be on in a segment featuring someone who disagreed with her) repeatedly claimed that she just wanted democracy: for people to be able remove books their community does not approve of from the library. She argued that since libraries can’t carry everything, a library not having a particular book never amounts to censorship.
This too is incredibly dishonest, of course: that a library can’t own every book in existence does not mean that removing a book from the shelves because it offended someone is acceptable behavior. No one has a right not to be offended by a book in a public library, but a library that upholds challenges against books is implicitly accepting the premise that my access to books should be limited to only books others find acceptable.
If every book that was controversial or offensive to someone was banned from libaries, how many books would be left?
But the FFL doesn’t want us to think about that; they want us to think that “protecting children” means “removing others’ access to books because we don’t like them.” They couch it in language suggesting that it is all fair if they someone can get a library board to agree with them. But don’t let their Orwellian tactics (falsely conflating the library’s choices in purchasing with outright attempts to remove materials some people don’t like; suggesting that removing access to ideas is somehow “democratic,” as Varenhorst repeatedly did in her interview) fool you: they’re advocates of censorship, in that they want public libraries to be arbiters of what we can and cannot read.
And the worst part is that they do it under the guise of protecting “the classics,” which is, as always, code for “why aren’t people reading what we tell them, like that great book Moby Dick by Will Shakespeare?” Check out their flimsy excuse for censorship:
Q. Where has all the classic literature gone? I don’t see much at my public library anymore.
A. The quiet disappearance of classic literature from public libraries has been noted for several decades and was documented in a 1995 study titled Discarded Images. The escalation of this trend was reported in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in early 2007. Today, many public library collections consist predominantly of “popular materials” despite taxpayer objections to this focus.
Let’s remember that many of the books we now consider classics were challenged as offensive in their time, and that many of them still are. “Classic” banned and challenged books during the last decade, as listed by the ALA, (pdf) by way of example, include Of Mice And Men, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Slaughterhouse Five (to stick with books by white men, since generally defenders of the “classics” don’t much care for women or people of color*).
Remember, folks, never trust someone who wants to protect you from the “wrong sort” of ideas. And definitely don’t trust those who seek to ban books “for your protection.”
The lesson here is clear. Defend free speech: it’s attackers have not let up.
*FFL doesn’t define a classic, naturally, so we don’t know which books they think are missing from libraries that should be there. It’s almost like they’re hiding an agenda of removing access to books behind a facade of claiming people just aren’t reading the “good” books. Hmm.
Malkin’s free market principles shoved under a bus because she doesn’t know what “censorship” means September 17, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in constiutional issues, language and lit, wingnuts.
Michelle Malkin is in yet another embarrassingly poorly argued tizzy about concerns over Palin’s alleged propensity to consider some ideas too dangerous for public libraries. Her argument basically boils down to “some liberals tried to keep bookstores from selling conservative books full of lies, so libraries banning books is completely okay.”
That’s right, folks. Malkin thinks that using economic pressures to influence retailers is EXACTLY THE SAME as banning books from a public library. There’s absolutely no difference in her mind between asking retailers not to carry a book and censorship in a publicly funded library.
Interesting how quickly free-market principles go out the window when they’re inconvenient, huh?
Because Malkin’s obviously too stupid to figure this out, let me spell it out for her: censorship is when the government restricts access to material. Free Enterprise is when a company decides not to carry a product. The former is bad because we don’t want the government deciding which ideas are acceptable for our consumption; the latter is okay because companies have a right to decide what products to carry.
But of course we knew Malkin didn’t understand this. Anyone who would write “anti-censorship crusaders are the unthinking ones who can’t tolerate independence, ambiguity, and difference,” anyone ridiculous enough to suggest that being opposed to censorship makes one any-diversity, is clearly too idiotic for words.
Mel Gibson: scientific mastermind, naturally! June 13, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, Origins, Science, wingnuts.
In between his repeated misrepresentations of my points and his busy regimen of consulting forth graders to come up with nicknames for his opponents,* SalCordova takes a moment to approving cite this interview with Mel “It’s the Jew’s Fault” Gibson:
It is worth noting that Mel Gibson has discussed his views of evolution publicly.
>From a July 1995 interview:
Q: Do you believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution or that God created man in his image?
GIBSON: The latter.
Q: So you can’t accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?
GIBSON: No, I think it’s bull—-. If it isn’t, why are they still around? How come apes aren’t people yet? It’s a nice theory, but I can’t swallow it. There’s a big credibility gap. The carbon dating thing that tells you how long something’s been around, how accurate is that, really? I’ve got one of Darwin’s books at home and some of that stuff is pretty d— funny. Some of his stuff is true, like that the giraffe has a long neck so it can reach the leaves. But I just don’t think you can swallow the whole piece.
In bold is the stuff Sal decided to leave out of the quote, without indicating anything had been truncated. Maybe he was actually smart enough to recognize that “how come apes aren’t people yet?” isn’t a great way to accuse science of a credibility gap.
I would have thought even Sal might have been embarrassed by statements as stupid as Mel Gibson’s, but he’s too busy fantasizing about how a Great Flood movie will make everyone believe in Creationism. But he’s not too busy to edit out the most embarrassing parts, obviously.
*He’s apparently settled on “EvilBoneHead” for me. I figure it’s only a matter of time before he makes fun of my glasses and kicks sand in my face.
Book burning in Louisiana June 10, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, Morality, Religion, wingnuts.
It seems religious nuts are at it again, this time in Louisiana, burning books which make them uncomfortable:
About 30 people gathered for a regional revival Friday night that included a book burning as a statement to reach out to local residents.
“It is allowed for Harry Potter to be taught in our schools, but not the Bible,” International House of Prayer pastor James Crawford said during the Shreveport Regional Unity of Faith Revival.
That is one reason pastors from several denominations and races ripped pages from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Those and pages from a pornographic magazine were put into a burn pit and set afire as praises bellowed from the congregation.
Congrats, Pastor Crawford! You just won the Dumbest Statement of the Day award. Come on down to claim your prize!*
No word yet on if Crawford has actually bothered to read Harry Potter, or if he just checked out a selected lists of passages he knew would offend him, though if history is any indication, the former is unlikely.
To borrow a phrase from Dr Henry Jones Sr, Bible thumping morons such as Pastor Crawford should read books instead of burning them. Though, to be fair, if I were these idiots I’d be afraid of ideas, too:
“As I tore the pages, I felt a generational curse of immorality and perversion breaking off my family,” Adriane Banks said. “I felt it.”
[...] Crawford said recent natural disasters are a wake-up call.
The source of the impulse to burn books is clear enough: it stems from the deep, abiding dread that you’re wrong. One who suspects they’re wrong but isn’t willing to admit it has very little choice but to silence opposing viewpoints. Fortunately for us, these Book Burnings only bring attention to the literature they attempt to destroy.
*A year on a desert Island with nothing to do but read books you disapprove of. Hooray!
[edit: h/t to Ed Brayton. Forgot to mention that in my original post!]
“Cult” not an acceptable word in the UK? May 20, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, News and politics, Religion.
A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word “cult” to describe the Church of Scientology.
The unnamed 15-year-old was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.
Officers confiscated a placard with the word “cult” on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Clearly, free speech was seen by the officers as a problem. What was so offensive?
Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous, who were outside the church’s £23m headquarters near St Paul’s cathedral, were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was “abusive and insulting”.
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: “I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: ‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’
“Abusive and insulting” apparently has a very specific meaning in British law.
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and “strongly advised” him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.
You can read the relevant sections of the Public Order Act here.
I have no expertise on British Law, but the Public Order Act seems subject to abuse, and certainly was abused here, if this report was accurate. A sign condemning Scientology is certainly no threat to the public order. Let’s hope these charges are quickly dropped.