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Big Game Leftovers February 7, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor.
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Continuing the quest to cheer myself up, I continue my tribute that that most wonderful of websites: CakeWrecks.

Today I walked to the local grocery to pick up a salad for lunch, and as usual I checked the marked down bakery shelf to see if there was anything not too stale for a reasonable price.  I’m so glad I did.  It was full of sad, lonely Superbowl Big Game cakes, that had not sold for what will be obvious reasons. I didn’t have my phone with me to snap photos, so I had to bring the two worst offenders home with me.  Not that they cost much, they were 75% off.

pair-of-cakes

These deserve their own closeups:

go-folcons

Sad color, a mysterious yellow icing blob on one side, and “Go Folcons”?  Or is that “Go Folcone”?

And then:

super-something

Well alrighty then.  This is a bit brighter, and might be spelled correctly.  Once again, there’s a mysterious yellow icing blob on one side.   At first I thought that rectangle might have been meant to be a sportsball field, but then I realized that it says “LI” on a white background smudged in red, with red, white and blue sprinkles, leaving it barely legible.  And the rest of the cake has star shaped sprinkles.  Because everything is better with sprinkles!

They may be sad, but we’re still going to eat them!

Dog ate his homework February 2, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants, Responses.
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At a speech about Black History Month, Hair Twitler said this:

“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”

So Frederick Douglass is still alive?  Wut?

And then I realized what this reminds me of.  This is the book report from the kid who goofed off and didn’t bother to read the book.  You know, this:

calvin-book-report

I’m not the first to have noticed this, though.  Back during the campaign there was a marvellous Twitter stream of Drumpf’s “hasn’t read the book book reports”:  https://twitter.com/antoniofrench/status/788928579086217216?lang=en

Of course, we already know that Il Douche can’t actually read.  So no surprise there.

Weather Report January 20, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants.
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Today’s weather headline:

Weather for Trump’s Inauguration Day will be damp, dreary

grumpy-cat

Inner Demons January 19, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Brain Glitches, Responses.
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Still reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature.  I’ve just finished the chapter on what it is about human brains that leads us into violence that ought to be avoidable.  Again, this chapter really could be a whole book on its own.

He sums up at the end of this chapter by re-listing five “inner demons” and I think his list is a good summary.  He didn’t number the list, but I’m going to here:

  1. People, especially men, are overconfident in their prospects for success; when they fight each other, the outcome is likely to be bloodier than any of them thought.
  2. People, especially men, strive for dominance for themselves and their groups; when contests of dominance are joined, they are unlikely to sort the parties by merit and are likely to be a net loss for everyone.
  3. People seek revenge by an accounting that exaggerates their innocence and their adversaries’ malice; when two sides seek perfect justice, they condemn themselves and their heirs to strife.
  4. People can not only overcome their revulsion to hands-on violence but acquire a taste for it; if they indulge it in private, or in cahoots with their peers, they can become sadists.
  5. And people can avow a belief they don’t hold because they think everyone else avows it; such beliefs can sweep through a closed society and bring it under the spell of a collective delusion. (pg 570)

The chapter has a really detailed examination of each of these points.  This is a really interesting book, and I wish it was required reading for every politician before they were allowed to take office.

Self-delusion January 14, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Brain Glitches, Questions, Responses.
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I’m reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.  It’s an enormous and thorough work on the decline of violence.  Each chapter could really be a book on it’s own, and it’s taking me a really long time to work through it.

A day or so ago, though, this sentence jumped out at me.  It’s in a section where he’s discussing why humans tend to think they are more competent, smarter, and luckier than they actually are:

“… Positive illusions are a bargaining tactic, a credible bluff.  In recruiting an ally to support you in a risky venture, in bargaining for the best deal, or in intimidating an adversary into backing down, you stand to gain if you credibly exaggerate your strengths.  Believing your own exaggerations is better than cynically lying about it, because the arms race between lying and lie detection has equipped your audience with the means of seeing through barefaced lies.” (pg 512)

Hmm.  I’ve been looking for reasons why humans tend to be so good at self-delusion, and this idea could factor into the explanation.  But its validity would hinge on humans being reasonably good at detecting lies.  I’m not convinced that they are, especially given recent politics.

What do you think?

Friday the 13th drug overdose January 13, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Humor.
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We had a perfect confluence of luck happen today, appropriate for Friday the 13th.  Not for us, though.  For our black cat.

My spouse called me at work: “The catnip wasn’t sealed!  I just knocked it over!”  About 1/4 cup had spilled onto the floor.  He got most of it up, but not before our Regulus had discovered that a massive overdose of his favorite drug was right in a perfect spot to roll in it.

regulus-and-the-catnip-spill

See how his eyes look like they are vibrating?  He’s stoned out of his mind here.  Some cats don’t care for nip, but our kitty is a nip fiend.

When he gets a noseful of the stuff, he forgets how gravity works.  He’s fine now, as far as we can tell.

Thanksgiving…urm…tradition November 24, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor.
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I’m going to try to lighten up, and at least act like I’m feeling better.  (Even if I’m not.)

So I’m going to give my personal hat tip to one of my favorite websites, that always makes Thanksgiving more memorable.  That website, of course, is Cake Wrecks.  Because somehow, one of the things that can lift my spirits is a really ineptly decorated cake.

And every year at this time, Cake Wrecks posts bakeries’ attempts to create turkey cakes.  But, since they always use brown icing, the head and neck of the turkey usually come out looking like poo.  But sometimes they make it extra special, and they give us –

The traditional thanksgiving poo-wang.  Please visit Cake Wrecks today for a splendid selection of these.

Well, a couple of days ago, I was at a Giant Food supermarket near my office, and I decided to check out the bakery, and was not disappointed.

While not as spectacular as the ones on Cake Wrecks, I certainly got a smile out of what I found, so I snapped a couple of photos of the good ones.

turkey-poo-wang-2

Like winky here.

 

turkey-poo-wang-1

Or this.  I’m not sure what is happening here.  I like the Cookie Monster eyes, but I’m having trouble figuring out what is going on with the beak.  It seems to be dribbling down his chin.

Hope everybody ate pie today!

What she said November 21, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants, Responses.
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I haven’t really been able to post what I think about the election, because I’m still too full of rage and despair to put it together coherently.  But I just found this video on Friendly Atheist, and I think Tess Rafferty puts it very well:

So for my own mental health at the moment, I’m going to keep avoiding newspapers, and newscasts, and pretty much anything political, because I need to cope with the rest of my life at the moment, and if I think about what happened I just shut down and can’t do anything.    Eventually I may be able to dig in and fight.  But, as Tess said “… I may scream when I do and if I start I may not stop.”

 

I can’t even November 9, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events.
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hopedemotivator

I just don’t have anything else right now.

The Supernatural and “Supernatural” November 7, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants, Responses.
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Oftentimes, during a conversation between a theist making a conversion attempt and an atheist, the topic of lack of evidence for the supernatural comes up.  And sometimes the atheist demands, not only evidence that the supernatural exists, but some kind of an explanation for the mechanism by how it operates.  But I don’t need that second part, and don’t think we need to demand it.  If I had strong enough evidence that the supernatural existed, I’d accept that it did.

The theist will then usually protest about how there’s tons of evidence.  Faith healing that’s not statistically better than placebos!  A plane crashed and somebody survived!  Just look at the trees! And other such stuff that isn’t good evidence for the supernatural.

What would a world look like where there was good evidence for the existence of the supernatural?  I’ve found a really good example.  I’ve just finished a binge watch on Netflix of the first eleven seasons of the series Supernatural (go figure).  The basic setup, for those of you unfamiliar with the show, is a pair of brothers who travel the country saving people from various supernatural bad guys and monsters.  In their world, this stuff really exists, and behaves in predictable ways.  The brothers are often testing solutions to see what works, and researching into records to see what has been successful for other monster hunters in the past. For example, what works on a werewolf always works on a werewolf, but is not necessarily effective on a skinwalker or a vampire.  The trunk of their car is filled with dozens of different weapons, to be prepared for anything they run into.

I’d like to look at the show’s treatment of demons in particular, since often theists claim that demons are real.

In this show, if someone is possessed by a demon, there’s no vague “I think they’re possessed because they said crazy things” or “I have a bad feeling”.  Nope, in the Supernatural world, if you think someone is demon possessed, throw holy water on them.  If it burns them, and they smoke and scream, there’s a demon.  If they say “what did you do that for?” then it’s not a demon.  (Could be something else, though.  Best to run a few other tests.)

Demons can possess people without their permission, but can be evicted by someone else performing the exorcism incantation, upon which they exit from the possessed person visibly.  No uncertain “I feel better now, so it must be gone” stuff. You can see it leave.

demon-leaving

But if you want to kill it, you need a special demon knife.  And there are specific rules and constraints on their behavior.   They are unable to possess someone who has a warding tattoo:

anti-demon-tattoo

If you trick one of them into standing on a devil’s trap, even if it’s under a carpet, they can’t leave until the trap outline is broken.

devils-trap

If you put specific items in a box, bury it at a crossroads, and say the right incantation, a crossroads demon will appear, ready to make a deal with you.

crossroads-demonAnd if you make a deal with a demon, they will abide by it, no cheating.  But you had better read the fine print first, because they will abide by the letter of the agreement, not the intent.

And there’s a lot more specifics on demons, that I won’t go into here.  Each different sort of baddie in the series also has specific characteristics and weaknesses.  Not some vague woo-woo “I feel a spirit in the room whose name starts with either a C or a J”.  Nope, if there’s a ghost around, the temperature drops, the EM meter goes whoop, the ghost is usually visible and often solid, and they are repelled by cold iron or salt.  You want to be rid of them?  Find out what is tethering them to earth (usually remains of some kind) salt and burn that, and the ghost disappears in a burst of flame.  Usually just in the nick of time, of course.

burn-the-bones

Sam and Dean don’t need to know the actual mechanism that makes all this possible.  They just see it in action, every day.  If theists could pull out examples of stuff like this, that’s predictable and testable and doesn’t line up with the laws of our physical universe, and our most thorough testing was unable to reveal any use of trickery or special effects, then I’d be willing to consider that the supernatural exists.  I wouldn’t need to know how it works, I’d be fine with seeing that it does work.

But Sam and Dean’s world isn’t our world.  The show even made this point by having the characters break through into our world at one point, where they found themselves on a TV set in Vancouver, and to their dismay found out that magic doesn’t work here!

Of course, I would not need a theist to show me exactly this evidence to establish that the supernatural is something more than their imagination.   But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  Claiming the existence of an invisible realm full of invisible super-beings that interact with us?  That’s really, really extraordinary.  Show me evidence as strong as the characters are provided with on this show, or don’t bother.