From The Richard Dawkins Foundation

Got this in my e-mail today:

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

Hi ,

The beginning of a year is a good time to look at the challenges ahead. And there will be plenty in 2015. This week we have three reports examining different lines of attack by the Religious Right in the United States and globally.

We offer a chilling examination of how the new GOP majority in Congress may try to punch holes in the wall between church and state. Also, read a short but thoughtful legal analysis of how last year’s disastrous Hobby Lobby decision may be followed by other efforts to expand religious exemptions in law, such as public officials trying to opt out of conducting gay marriages.

Internationally, conservative and religious groups are building cross-border alliances to counter gains made by the gay community. Just one chilling example: Russia’s Putin and the Orthodox church are funnelling money to sympathetic right-wing groups in Europe.

It is becoming more commonplace for non-believers to open meetings of city councils and other local government meetings with a nonreligious invocations. That doesn’t mean they are welcomed. Don’t miss the video of what happened in Lake Worth, Fla.

In news, the head of a public university in Alabama managed to turn a routine New Year’s video greeting to students into an insulting slam against atheists for somehow eroding democracy.

In science, we’ve marveled at the remarkable journey of the monarch butterflies during their annual migration. But if you’ve seen fewer of them in recent years, there’s a reason. The government may list them as officially endangered.

Robyn Blumner
Executive Director
Richard Dawkins Foundation

Support the fight of reason and rationality against ignorance, bigotry and stupidity.

 

I Think I’m Going Bald (The Ballad Of Lars Dahl’s Bald Spot)

I’m developing a distinct, but not severe (yet), bald spot aka alopecia areata (AA). I never knew since I’ve shaved my head regularly (2-3 times/week) for the past 10 years or so. While performing that task today I checked the stubble on my noggin closely in the mirror and the truth is in the picture. Undeniable. Truth.

Lars Dahl's Bald Spot

The proof is in the pudding. A picture speaks more than a thousand words. Lars Dahl is going bald.

What hurts most is that my wife kept it a secret for all these years. I was thinking of letting it grow out again some day, but clearly that’s not gonna happen. Better bald than a combover. Oh well. If you have the opportunity please link to this post using the search term “Lars Dahl’s Bald Spot“. Being #1 on Google would be a consolation for me in my hour of distress. Go Rush, they know what I’m talking about!

Bald Man’s Creed (An Homage to the Bald Spot)

This is my bald spot. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My bald spot is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My bald spot without me, is useless. Without my bald spot, I am useless. I must polish my bald spot true. I must polish shinier than my fellow baldie who is trying to out-bald me. I must lose more hair than him. I will…

My bald spot and I know that what counts in life is not the follicles we lose, the futile scratch of our combs, nor the clogged bathtub drains. We know that it is the flakiness of the scalp that counts. Scalps will flake…

My bald spot is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its gloss, its softness, its smoothness, like a baby’s butt. I will keep my bald spot clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before The Celestial Tea Pot, I swear this creed. My bald spot and I are the defenders of my dignity. We are the masters of our domain. We are the defenders of my noggin.

So be it, until the science of medicine discovers an actual cure for male pattern baldness, there is no ally but Rogain!

Fucking Photoshop

I had no idea. I haven’t upgraded since CS2. This is bullshit of the utmost degree. Shame on Adobe. GIMP here I come! Corporations suck. The bigger they get, the worse they suck. It’s a fact of life. They may start out with good intentions and a good product (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Adobe, vBulletin and a slew more), but greed eventually takes over, they all want to be Master of the fucking Universe, sink their venomous teeth into you and suck every last dollar out of you. If you must you can still buy the last few remaining copies of PS CS6 on eBay for a small fortune, but hurry; once they’re gone, they’re gone. Or you can give them a gigantic middle finger and a big “FUCK YOU!”. I know, it’s hard because it’s a good product and you’re hooked. And now they have to go and ruin a good thing for everybody, loyal customers who have been with them for 10-15 years+. Fucking fuckers.

Hi-Res YouTube Video Blues

Watching YouTube videos in the new, higher resolutions (>1080, all the way up to 4K) crashes my computer. That’s right; bona fide, old school blue screen of death. Which means I’ll have to disable my browser plugin that automatically plays all videos at their highest available resolution. Sucks to be me, I know, with all the extra clicks I’ll have to go through.

Here’s the video that alerted me to the problem. See if it happens to you, too.

Old Mothers

They don’t die, they just wither away. Time waits for no man (or woman). Happy birthday, you are now an octogenarian.

A little tribute. Bet nobody ever honored your day with this one. Enjoy. Looking forward to the next -genarian shift in a decade’s time.

Your loving son,
Lars G.

Enjoy Your Christmas/Holiday Turkey

I’m not advocating going complete vegan (although I tried it for roughly 6 months once, and I’ve never felt better), but there has to be a better way than this. Turkeys (and all sorts of animals and critters we raise, keep and slaughter for our own consumption) are God’s creation too. God gave us dominion over all creatures, in the air, on land, and in the sea (not really, but I’m using religious references for effect), and as such they deserve ethical treatment. There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle this responsibility. Whenever possible I urge you to avoid giving your money to the industrial food complex. If you require the flesh of dead animals for nutrition and sustenance and/or celebratory purposes, the least you can do is purchase your dead animals from someone who let them have a good life (for as long as it lasted) and then killed them in a humane way.

A Manual for Creating Atheists By Peter Boghossian: A Book Review By A Member Of The Choir

I haven’t read the book and probably won’t (mainly because whenever I read something in this genre it mostly just rehashes and affirms my own feelings and arguments on the subject that I’ve intuitively held from early childhood), but from watching  the video posted below and chatter that has reached my ears (eyes), I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s about (as if the title of the book wasn’t enough of a clue). Maybe I should read it, in the hopes of gaining some new perspectives and convincing arguments I haven’t thought of myself.

The Manual for Creating Atheists is available in both paperback and for Kindle and I take the unusual step of recommending it unread to anyone who, like me, believes the world would be a better place if most, if not all, human decisions were based on reason, logic and evidence rather than superstition and divine edict from your deity of choice, but might not have an arsenal of good arguments to present in a discussion.

DISCLAIMER: In endorsing this book and posting the video discussion between Peter Boghossian and Stefan Molyneux I do not necessarily agree with every view these fellas hold on other topics, moral values, political philosophies, economic models etc. I specifically disagree strongly with many of Mr Molyneux’s beliefs and views, but every now and then it’s a good idea to sit down and listen to those with whom you disagree.

Happy Columbus Day – 521 Years Of Manifest Destiny And Counting!

Happy Columbus Day everybody. We’re celebrating a brutal, violent tyrant that opened up the Americas for colonization by European imperialists. I wonder how many American Indians (I’m not sure if that is the PC term) celebrate the man who initiated the near extermination of the new land’s indigenous population over the course of five centuries? Right here where I’m sitting writing this. My house is located in an area were Pootatuck Indians of the Paugusset Nation (generally friendly to the newcomers according to my source) roamed the land and made a living 500 years ago.

The Indians saved the early colonists from starvation and exposure, or at least so the fable goes. We thanked them with smallpox infected blankets, stealing their land, the trail of tears, fire water and forced relocation to reservations. We even created a Bureau of Indian Affairs to manage them and see to it that their every need was met. So I guess it all worked out well in the end, sort of like a win-win. Now the few remaining are enacting revenge on the White Man by taking his money with their casinos. Good for them!

But don’t get me wrong here. I love America. I’m not being un-American or unpatriotic. I’m not even sure what it means to be a patriot; it certainly is a word with many connotations. Let’s not forget that in 1776 the loyalists were patriots and the signatories of the Declaration of Independence along with George W. and his merry band of rebels where traitors against their lawful ruler, the king of England. But I digress.

I’m not proposing that all non-Native-Americans (there we go with the PC terms again) should self-deport and the land be restored to its rightful owners and proper restitution made for pain and suffering over half-a-millennium. That would be silly (not to mention a practical and logistical nightmare!), but I am suggesting we take a minute out of our navel-gazing celebration of American exceptionalism, self-glorification and righteous pride to consider, in all humility, the price that was paid and the injustices inflicted to achieve status as The Greatest Nation On The Face Of The Earth. Ever. Keep that in mind as we move on. What might the world look like today if, in an alternate universe, Mr Columbus had chickened out half-way across the Atlantic, turned around and The New World remained undiscovered?

Added as an afterthought: Shouldn’t it really be Leif Eiriksson Day? As an American with lots of Norse blood flowing through my veins I find it insulting that a lowly Genoese gets all the glory when he got beat by a good 500 years by my Viking ancestors. And they also had the common decency (decency not that common among marauding Vikings) to leave when they understood that they had overstayed their welcome.