Monday, January 11, 2016

How to be A True Atheist (not funny!)

JP Sears posted a video entitled "How to be an Atheist (funny)" - see below.

Personally, I appreciate a lot, though not all, of his "funny" videos. This one is in-between. Not that it "hurt me as an atheist", or anything like that -- I just thought that his commandments for atheists didn't really hit home. It's certainly not easy to make fun of such a diverse group, though.

So, without further ado, here are about 10 or so commandments that I personally find funny:

  1. Do not be an agnostic. Agnostics are cowardly, wimpy crybabies. More importantly, they are not True Atheists, and we obviously cannot have that.
  2. Speaking of which, a True Atheist is a feminist or an antifeminist, (both for purely rational reasons, of course), but never both at the same time, and never none of the two, since that would constitute a form of agnosticism, and (see above).
  3. Speaking of which, once you have decided whether you are a feminist or an antifeminist, members of the other group shall instantly become lesser atheists to thee, since they do not adhere to the One True Atheism.
  4. Speaking of which, thou shalt have a True Atheist stance on everything. Remember: your Atheism is not just atheism, but Atheism. Capital A. See?
  5. Speaking of which, a True Atheist is always skeptical of about 84% of all things.
  6. Among the 18.3% of things a True Atheist cannot be skeptical of are to be found, in order: God's nonexistence (duh), the superior priority of rationalism above everything else, strictest lipservice to the scientific method, and the fact that Richard Dawkins said it all.
  7. A True Atheist never attacks the person, but only their moronic ideas. Of course, believing in those implies complete stupidity and a lack of morality on part of the believer, and you can easily let it show by being snide and displaying an unholier-than-though attitude. When questioned, you then revert to being butthurt, all the while repeating your old ideas-not-people sthick, thereby saving your True Atheist Ass.
  8. When someone talks to god, it's called prayer. When god talks back, it's called psychosis. What is it called when multiple gods talk back to you?
  9. The sky is empty. Been there, done that, got the vertigo.
  10. Attendance at SkeptiCon is not optional.
  11. Screaming discussions on youtube channels with lots of CAPITALS and exclamation MARKS are NOT OPTIONAL!!!!!!!!1111!
  12. Meditation, however, IS optional.
  13. Don't get caught.


P.S.: I think the problem of JP's video boils down to Poe's Law. Satirical humor doesn't work when the satirized content might just as well comprise everything in the satire. Or in other words, if your target is indistinguishable from its own parody, then satire makes no sense.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Questions we had after watching "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"



SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ BELOW THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE YET!





























These are some questions and remarks that came up when I discussed The Force Awakens with my girlfriend, straight after we watched it. We were really saddened by the fact that so much was left unexplained, and that the movie seemed to have no regard whatsoever for its protagonists, and was more concerned with imitating episode 4 (plus bigger bangs and booms) than with creating a good story and memorable characters. It's way ahead of the abominable prequel trilogy, and it has a fair bit of humor, which is nice - but it still has miles to go towards anything resembling a good movie.

  • How can two people fit into that teeny tiny TIE fighter?
  • Why would a scavenger sell spare parts to a local dealer for meagre food rations? In an economy that spans a whole galaxy, there should be something like competition, and money. At the very least, there should be some explanation why that local dealer has so much power.
    • Why was a traitor needed in the fortress, after Han Solo had declared that he had somehow found the Millennium Falcon, and that the First Order can do the same thing at any time?
    • How did that finding the MF thing work, anyway?
    • Why was the fortress' owner (weird eye lady) pictured as completely trustworthy? A shady but somewhat likable character would have made for much more drama.
    • That whole lightsaber scene, where Rey hears a baby cry, touches the lightsaber and has some visions felt like it had potential, but that potential was never explored. She's in an area she has no business being, gets trapped in a room, the house owner follows her... only to then have said proprietor preach a bit and hand her the lightsaber. What??

    • How did Leia Organa shed maybe 3 tiny tears after the death of her (I suppose) long time partner, the father of her son, and a life long friend?
    • What really happened between Han Solo and Leia Organa?
    • Why was there basically no interaction between the two, apart from some dramatic staring into each other's eyes?
    • How much money did Mark Hamill make just by staring intently at the camera for 30 seconds?

    • Who came up with that terrible name "Snoke" for the Supreme Leader?
    • Is Gollum the Supreme Leader?
    • Why did me and my girlfriend both struggle to remember the names of the protagonists?

    • If weird-eye-lady has held her fortress literally for millennia, as Han seemed to suggest, then how does she not have the connections to avoid its destruction at the hands of the *cough*Empire*cough*FO in just one instance, because of one shady spaceship?
    • Why does the *cough*Empire*cough*FO put so much emphasis on one lonely remaining Jedi, who has essentially exiled himself from the galaxy?
    • How did weird-eye-lady simply accept the fact that her whole shiny fortress was destroyed within seconds?
    • How did the *cough*Empire*cough*FO come to be?
    • The location of a person is basically a coordinate tuple with 3 numbers. How does one need a two-part map, with one part cut out from the rest in a weird shape, in order to find Luke?

    • Why did Ren (or was it Ben? or Ken?) kill Han Solo within a minute or so? Wouldn't it have made for much better storytelling to have him succumb to his father's strength, try to redeem himself, but ultimately fail?
    • RenBenKen thinks his father is weak? Seriously?? You do know who you're talking about, right?
    • Apropos: I do not believe for a second that RenBenKen boy is able to face up to his father in that way. The guy is essentially a coward hiding behind a stupid mask. His father is the Badass Who Shot First. Sorry, I'm not buying it. It's not possible.
    • Just how did this RenKenBen guy end up where he now is, anyway? Did he ramble the galaxy with his father, but then somehow decide it's time for some dark-sidey business?
    • Why does BenRenKen boy wear a stupid mask, anyway?
    • How did Han Solo end up with his new spaceship?
    • Yes, we know that Renkenbenny will show up in the next movie. But it would have been nice to get at least some evidence of his escape to make it at least a little bit believable.
    • How does a sanitary man take part in an offensive with blaster guns and all?

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Don't be fooled by da vegan scammerz!

    Every so often, I happen upon videos of vegan recipes, where it is claimed that the thing in question "tastes just like the real thing".

    Examples are down below.

    As an omnivore with some recurring vegan leanings -- an on-and-off vegan, so to speak --, I can tell you one thing with almost 100% certainty: While those foods often do taste real great, they usually taste nothing at all "like the real thing".

    The worst offender in this category was a "mousse au chocolat" that we did on a vegan cooking course. It was made with avocados and dates (and chocolate of course). Yeah it was sweet and chocolatey, but it completely missed the mark with regard to consistence and overall fluffiness (and alcohol, which was sorely missing, because, duh, vegans apparently can't drink a little of the goodey stuff, either).

    While I realize and -- to a degree -- respect what those people are trying to achieve, I believe they're doing their own cause a disservice.

    Look, I had a wonderful, wonderful "egg salad" with toast last night, based on tofu and lima beans. It tasted excellent. But calling that thing "egg salad", and expecting anything like real eggs, was just setting myself up for disappointment. Things don't work that way. Tofu does not an egg replace, pretty much regardless of what means of torture you apply.

    Why can't it simply be "delicious creamy tofu salad"? I believe that vegan recipes deserve their own identity, and have a right to their very own, very unique taste.

    Examples of "meat-alike" vegan recipes:



    Sunday, September 6, 2015

    Narrative Cop-Outs: All Just a Dream

    All Just A Dream is a perfectly valid plot point, but the moment you use it as the ultimate plot point, you have rendered your narrative completely irredeemable, and will be subject to righteous ridicule.

    Monday, August 31, 2015

    A motivational self-help hack that actually seems to work

    I have stumbled upon a motivational hack that, as it seems, actually does the trick.

    I encountered it on one of those (usually dreadful, I'm sad to say) TEDx talks. I don't find it in my history, so I can't share the link, but it's not so far out there.

    I've only been practicing it for a few days now, so I'm not quite so sure yet, but anyway here it is.

    It's the simple sentence "I have decided to do that."

    I try to tell this myself every time when I realize I'm putting off some chore, or I'm afraid of some task. I tell this myself as if it was a legitimate reason for starting the chore. And of course, ultimately, it is... one could also say it's the ONLY legitimate reason for doing anything.

    The fantastic thing about it, though, is that it is, of course, utterly true.

    I mean, let's face it, all that positive thinking rubbish and NLP nonsense leads nowhere. Why? I've alsways felt that it is because you're trying to manipulate yourself, and your brain will instantly look through that and reject it. "Doing the dishes smells like the color of my shoes in my favourite dream." Sure dude. "After my inbox is sorted, I will be free to do what I want, which feels like the sound of the wings of the eagle." Yeah, dream on darling, I still don't want to do the dishes.

    "I. Have. Decided. To. Sort. That. Frakkin. Inbox. Now." Yep. Totally logical!

    It actually gets me off the couch and makes it easier to just start doing things. Funny how those things seem to work.

    Again, it's only been a few days so far, so I might still be in for a surprise.

    Addendum #1 Nitpicking Star Trek

    Yet another conan-drum:

    Whenever someone downloads data, it is inevitably erased from the source device. In short, they treat data as if it was a material thing that can only exist in one place at a time. Of course, everyone knows that this is utter nonsense, but it arguably makes for better drama, and when the series ran, it probably hadn't entered common knowledge yet.

    Nitpicking Star Trek

    For some reason, nitpicking is way more fun when it comes to Star Trek, compared to any other franchise. Just to clarify, I love most of Star Trek *), and none of the following will be breaking news to the involved trekkist, but I just have to get the following few picks off my chest:

    1.) The holodeck


    Not mentioning all the questionable physics of the thing - why was the holodeck not banned after the first few thousand fatal malfunctions? I mean, obviously they resolved the dilemma of the week in each episode, but Picard and Janeway were the top of the crop, the best of the best, so it is safe to assume that most of starfleet must have been wiped out by some variation on Prof. Moriarty or 11001001, not to mention all the safety-off and alien-intruder-caused malfunctions. There must also be an extremely addictive quality to the thing, as well as all kinds of exploits for ill-meaning humans. I mean, if they have those things on their starships, I'm sure they have them in malls and even their homes. Imagine a few thousands Xenomorphs from a casual Ridley Scott simulation program escaping into downtown L.A., or just a few thousand people ending up in a simulation that makes them think this happened, and then beams them back into real life, phasers akimbo.

    It would be interesting, by the way, to explore the legal and ethical limits of the holodeck. Would otherwise illegal sex be allowed - e.g., interspecies sex, or sex with a simulation of a grown-up body, but the A.I.-simulated mind of a human minor, or the other way around? What about racially motivated genocide? How about abusing a holodeck character à la the Doctor to drive someone insane? I'm sure some of this has been done in some fanfic, but finding it might prove tedious, and in general, the aseptic tone of the franchise sadly prohibits trodding down those muddy paths.

    2.) What's with the hairdo?


    It seems to me that many female protagonists on Star Trek have quite elaborate hairdo. Basically, the rule seems to be: If they are female, and they have long hair, then it's always wrapped around their head like something created by a Sikh hairdresser with artistic ambitions. It must be woefully impractical in a job that frequently involves battle, operating heavy machinery, and other physically challenging tasks. I don't remember ever having seen a male protagonist with long hair - probably justified, in-universe, by Star Fleet Regulations... okay, okay, Worf does have them. Well, maybe there's an exception for Klingons - after all, they were allowed to evolve their foreheads in rather interesting ways in just a century. By the way, one interesting exception would be B'Elana Torres, who has short hair and still manages to look weird due to her Rubber Alien Forehead. Maybe all this is just born of some secret fetish of Gene Roddenberry?

    3.) The measure of a life form


    This is holodeck-related, too, but it's another perspective on the same issue.

    There is an episode in which they debate whether Mr Data is a Thing or a Being, and another one in which we discover that the holodeck can produce a personality that arguably must be more intelligent than Mr Data. Now, the holodeck is part of the ship's computer. But nobody in the whole gorram series ever has any qualms about shutting down a starship, or initiating the self-destruct series because of it. If they worry about it, it's only because they're losing a precious asset or because of their sentimental clinging to some "captain's responsibility". In short, Star Trek's definition of "intelligent life-form" simply translates to being able to walk on two legs. So long, transhumanism, and thanks for all the Bald Going. I wonder if Romero zombies would count as an intelligent species, by the way.

    On a slightly more serious note, I think the holodeck was one of those flashes of genius that gave the writers seemingly endless possibilities, so this is exactly where we get to witness the limitations of genre, format, and TV economics at play. Some things just don't fit in with the light-hearted entertainment format that is Star Trek, and some things would need way more space than a 45 minute episode.



    Of course, the list of possible nitpicks is long and endless (aliens don't have last names, technobabble, time paradoxes, etc. etc.), but this here is just for our amusement, and 3 is always a good number, so this is where it ends.





    *) To the exception of Deep Space Nine, which never appealed to me, some of the movies. Well, and the Abrams movies are forbidden by global consent of all intelligent species, so they don't count.