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Oct. 16th, 2013

Grinch Watch 2013: Equal Opportunity Grinchiness

Yesterday was the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. I hope all of my Muslim readers had a great holiday and spent time with their family and friends.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Grinch Brigade is no longer happy with throwing fits about how secular Christmas has become, it seems that now they're targeting other holidays, including Eid. In Montgomery County, in Maryland, about forty-five minutes outside of Washington DC, Muslims in the area have been trying for about a decade now to have the schools closed on Eid so that their kids don't end up missing class for their holiday. Their arguments are sound- Montgomery County school district closes down for Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. All three of those are Christian holidays. They also close down for the Jewish High Holidays. But they don't close down for Eid.

Personally? As a former student? I would say HELL YEAH to getting the schools closed for Eid. I love holidays! If I could get away with it, I would celebrate ALL THE HOLIDAYS. And seriously, Eid isn't like some random, teeny little cult's holiday. There's about a billion Muslims in the world, and according to the news article, several million Muslims in Montgomery County alone. That's a significant number of kids and teachers who are going to be out of school/work on that day. So shut the school district down. Muslim students and teachers get to have their holiday, and everyone else gets the day off from school. I don't see a reason to argue with that!

However, some people do not see it that way. I hesitate to offer links, because some of the rhetoric is mind-bogglingly offensive. However, you can get sample of it in the comments to the USA Today news article. But you would not believe the vitriol this has inspired in certain parts of the Internet. While I was Googling for the article (that wasn't behind the paywall I read it in first), I accidentally clicked on the Free Republic link. I do not want to give them page hits, so I won't link to it, but I'll give you a few samples of the comments from the site here, underneath the cut. Please do not click on the “read more” if you do not want to see this. I tried to pick some of the less obnoxiously racist ones, but... less obnoxiously racist than the rest of that website doesn't mean much. Please realize that these are in no way my opinion whatsoever and are 100% the words of their writers only.

Aug. 2nd, 2013

Religion and Aliens: A Perspective

Most of you who read this blog know that despite the fact that I am an atheistic agnostic, I'm very interested in religion. Specifically, I'm interested in crazy religion- the kind of stuff that leads to extremism, because that's one of the things that I fear the most. I've always figured that the more I know about it, the better I will be able to protect me and mine if it comes down to it, which it hopefully never will. In my travels around the Internet, I have found some horrific things based in religious worldviews- Michael and Debi Pearl, Dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism (essentially the Taliban, but American and not Muslim)- and that's just scratching the surface. But in my research, I've also come across incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful religious people, the kind of people I'd like to invite to have dinner with me.

The Wartburg Watch is one of these sites. Actually, my father was the one who found it, while he was looking up something my mom had been talking about, and he sent me the link to it. Since then, I've found the discussions that take place there incredibly illuminating, and sometimes very disturbing. I have learned from this website that corrupted versions of religion have spread further than I had previously thought, and it's infecting all kinds of things, from politics to the workplace, and it's starting to prey on society's most vulnerable. It's quite hard to read sometimes, as it can get extremely graphic. Part of the reason I have such difficulty doing the Parenting for Sadists series is because Michael and Debi Pearl make me feel physically ill. Some of the things that this website has reported on take that up to eleven. If you decide to check out the rest of the website, I would strongly advise readers not eat before looking at any of the Sovereign Grace Ministries articles- they deal with some absolutely horrific allegations of child sexual abuse. I actually did throw up after reading the lawsuit briefs- some people deserve to be drawn and quartered, and that's all I'm going to say on the matter.

But that's not the only thing this website discusses. The owners are Christian, and they often discuss things from a moderate religious perspective, which is very interesting to me. The article I'm linking to today talks about aliens, life on other planets, and what it would mean for their faith. As far as the blog's authors are concerned, it has no effect on their beliefs, and would actually be really cool. Some of the commentors, however... well, they're not as thoughtful and like to rant about demons. But it really is a very interesting look at the hypotheticals of alien life from a perspective that you wouldn't think would be obvious. In my experience, many religious people don't believe in aliens, or if they do they think they're demons, but this is a very thougthtful perspective. If you are interested in religion, or exobiology/xenobiology, or even if you just like Star Trek, this is definitely worth a read. While you might expect an article like this to be all "ALIENS! ZOMFG! DEMOOOONNNZZZZ!" it's not like that at all. I am trying to think of a way to phrase this that won't come across as offensive, but it's fairly rare that I read something from the religious corner of the Internet that doesn't leave me wondering exactly what kind of crack the writer was smoking when they typed it up. And there's no Scientology-like discussions of Xenu or whatever he's called here, either- it's just good old-fashioned thoughtful prose.

Apr. 16th, 2013

Fuck the Westboro Baptist Church

I don't think I can get any more blunt than that. To call them scum is an insult to scum everywhere, and I completely, totally, 100% support Anonymous' warning to them.

It has barely even been 24 hours and these subhuman filth-lickers are already planning on how they can disrespect the dead even more than they already have. Between this and their attempt to picket the funerals of the kids who died at Sandy Hook, there is no possible way that my hate for them can grow any more.

I know it makes me a terrible person, but one of these days these people are going to cross the wrong group of people or end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's also telling that they never go anywhere where they might be in any danger- they don't go to DC, they don't go to Chicago, they don't go to Detroit. Why? Because they're fucking cowards. One of these days they're going to piss off someone who you really don't want to piss off, and when that happens I won't be surprised if they end up on the business end of a different IED.

Apr. 5th, 2013

More Donglegate: Wait, where did the atheists come from?

Not too long ago I discussed the recent blow-up over at the Python programming language conference, where a woman named Adria Richards set off a shitstorm that dragged a whole lot of ugly- on both sides of the debate- to the forefront. At the time that I wrote that article, I hadn't entirely made up my mind on the controversy. Since then, I've read a lot of coverage of the incident and I think I've finally come to a position I can support. Adria Richards did not deserve the threats she received after the incident gained attention. That much is, I hope, obvious. However, the fact that she received threats and attacks on her personal character do not retroactively erase that she sort of did ignite the explosives, so to speak. I think it can be argued that her intentions were not entirely pure when she sent that tweet in an attempt to publicly shame the jokers. If she was truly upset by the joke, she could have done a number of things, including turning around and actually engaging the guys like an adult (you know, “using your words,” that thing you learned in kindergarten). If she truly felt that there was a threat to her well-being in a conference hall with 500 people around, she could have privately contacted the organizers of the convention and had them deal with it. There was no need to incite the mob with torches and pitchforks. That doesn't mean that she deserved what followed, but I also do not believe that she was entirely blameless in the whole debacle. Her share of the blame was miniscule compared to the trolls- I want to stress that, because some of the commentary on this will say that if you think she wasn't an entirely blameless, spotless little angel you are excusing the backlash. I am not excusing the backlash. She should not have gotten the backlash. But she was still wrong. Less wrong, quite a bit less wrong, than the trolls. But still not "right," if you will.

Anyway, this article today isn't really about my own personal thoughts. It's more about the fact that now the atheist blogosphere is getting involved in the controversy. Despite the fact that there was absolutely nothing in this incident that could be in any way connected to religion/lack of religion.

Wait, what?

Why are atheists getting involved in a tech sector controversy? How does this have anything to do with atheism as a movement?

But that's exactly what I've discovered has happened.

I first discovered this last night when I was actually searching for something entirely different. I was looking for information on yet another potential Grinch Watch post (seriously, people, it is not even summer yet! Calm down!), when I stumbled across this article, on an atheist blogging website. At first, I was extremely confused, but not too terribly concerned. Of course there's no law saying that if you're an atheist you can only ever blog about atheism. But in the content of that article, as well as within the comments, I realized something- there are certain factions of the atheist movement that... really don't have a whole hell of a lot to do with atheism anymore. I discussed it earlier this year when I stumbled across a not-so-atheist atheist forum called Atheism+.

My question is: why? I'm a secular person myself. Why does the atheist/skeptic/secular community, that ostensibly has no ties to the tech sector, need to get involved with these internal issues? I mean, I understand why- it's interesting and can lead to discussions. But why are people who are supposedly rational suddenly drawing lines in the sand over these sorts of things? I can understand the interest, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why it suddenly is a matter of life and death for the atheist community to take sides in this controversy. I was especially disheartened to read the commentary at Pharyngula, a blog I used to read, if you'll pardon the pun, religiously back during my angry questioning skeptic high school days. By the way, due to the fact that my nemesis lurks around there, I will not be linking to the Pharyngula post. It is, however, linked to from the SkepticInk post if you are curious. PZ Myers gets one thing right- there was no cause for the threats, racist attacks, DDoS-ing... but how in Longcat's glorious name does this have anything to do with atheism, and why is a prominent atheist blogger getting involved anyway?

Overall, the whole situation has left me extremely angry as a woman in the technology industry, in several ways, and utterly baffled by the peanut gallery of commentary this topic has brought out.

Oh, by the way, comments are disabled here again. I still don't want to host any more sub-fights of this particular battle. Nothing personal, just a plea for my own sanity. It's gotten to the point where the word "dongle" no longer has any meaning for me. It's like when you say the word "word" over and over again. Word word word word word word word wur-duh werd... it doesn't look like anything anymore and it no longer has any meaning.

This is all I'm going to write on the topic, as well. The whole thing depresses me.

Mar. 19th, 2013

On Objectivity

This particular topic has been on my mind a lot recently, but I wasn't sure how to explain it. After letting this roll around in my head for a while, I think I've finally figured out a way to phrase my point logically and coherently without being any more offensive than normal.

Being able to look at a topic objectively is extremely important when you're trying to discuss it.

I think this is a huge, huge issue with our political system today. When an issue has become so polarized that it's almost impossible to look at it from a distance, or without immediately going into a frothing rage, trying to actually figure out a solution to the problem becomes impossible. Take, for example, the issue of abortion. Now, please bear in mind that these are not necessarily my views on the subject. I'm going to plead the Fifth in that case, because I don't need rabid pro-choicers or angry pro-lifers camping out on my Lawn. Take this as it is supposed to be- a thought exercise.

In the issue of abortion, the two opposing sides are at a complete impasse. On one side, you have the pro-lifers viewing the pro-choicers as murderers. In their minds, you cannot possibly make an argument for abortion that will change their minds, because to them, the procedure equals murder of a baby. There's no way around that fact- abortion doctors, women who get abortions, people who support abortion- they're all murderers or murderer apologists. That is what the man who assassinated the Kansas abortion doctor thought- his defense was even something along the lines of “well, wouldn't YOU shoot Hitler?”

On the other hand, you have the pro-choicers who view the pro-lifers as being virulent misogynists. According to them, the pro-lifers don't actually care about the babies, they just want to torture women and punish them for having sex. In their eyes, it's not possible that the pro-lifers might have reasons beyond “FUCK I HATE WOMEN!” for their beliefs. They will even go so far at times as to deny the potential risks that the abortion procedure carries, even flat-out denying that there is any potential for it to go wrong. All surgery carries inherent risk- even getting a damn tooth pulled out can have detrimental effects on the person whose tooth is being pulled out.

If we were to actually look at this issue logically- the abortion debate- the country would view the evidence with an objective eye. Don't be stupid- abortion is a medical procedure. All medical procedures carry inherent risk. But pregnancy has an inherent risk as well. Now, as to which is inherently more risky, I have no idea, but I do know that certain types of the procedure, and the time-frame in which it is done, can be more problematic. Clearly, a procedure that removes a zygote is going to have a different risk factor than a procedure that removes a third-trimester fetus. That much is just common sense, but because the issue has become so polarized you can't even say that without being accused of... something... by either one of the warring factions here. You'd think something as basic as “different procedures will have different risks” wouldn't be in question, but apparently people, in their desire to cling to ideology like it's a pool noodle, will ignore basic common sense.

Let's use a different analogy. Getting your appendix removed and getting a brain tumor removed are both surgeries. However, the brain tumor removal is inherently more risky because they're operating on the brain. One wrong move and the brain is damaged, which will likely kill the patient. Getting the appendix removed can be dangerous as well, but the margin for error is more forgiving. An abdominal injury, while serious, is less life-threatening than a brain injury, within reason. Again, there's all sorts of different factors that add into this, but looking at it objectively, the brain surgery is more dangerous than the appendix surgery.

Adding complexity to the abortion debate, however, is the strongly-held belief of many people that the fetus is a human being. Some people cannot get past that mental block- by removing the fetus they are killing a human being. For these people there is simply no arguing with the murderers who would do such a thing. And said murderers view the people who hold the opposite view are only in it to torture women as punishment for having sexual intercourse.

But if we step back, it's obvious that the issue isn't so black-and-white. Like everything else in life, there are varying shades of gray. And it's not always as simple as “ZOMFG you have abortion because you don't want to be pregnant anymore!” There are situations where, unfortunately, something goes seriously wrong with the pregnancy. Anencephaly is a situation where the fetus does not properly develop a brain, and assuming it survives to term, it is very unlikely it will live much past birth, and during that time it will probably be in serious pain. In that case, it probably more humane to have abortion. In the case of fetal death, the mother needs to have an abortion if she does not go into miscarriage, because if she does not, she could be subject to tissue necrosis or sepsis, both of which can be life-threatening. There can also be cases where the baby will be fine, but the mother's life is in danger.

On the other hand, there are cases where the baby survives a late-term abortion. Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion attempt, which left her permanently disabled. There is also the case of the Oldenburg Baby, who also survived a late-term abortion. Unlike Jessen, however, he had been diagnosed with Down syndrome- which was what caused his parents to seek the abortion. However, it is believed that the abortion attempt left him more disabled.

I do not write this article in order to argue for or against abortion, or for anything else. In fact, I could have written it about any number of things, the topic of abortion simply happened to be on my mind recently, as I (unfortunately) was required to participate in a class discussion for one of my courses, and spent about an hour and a half listening the president of the university’s Feminist Student Union having it out with one of my classmates, who is part of the Campus Catholic League. I simply want to impress upon my readers the need for everyone to take a deep breath, take a step back, and think logically. Obviously no one is going to change their minds on any issue based on my stupid-ass rants, but you also shouldn't be making your decisions on the issues based on whoever yells the loudest.

And that's all I'm going to say on the matter for now.

Feb. 16th, 2013

Parenting for Sadists: Too Old For Me To Open A Can of Whoop-Ass?

Part Eleven of a series. Because this series has gotten so long, I am no longer including links to the other posts at the top of these articles. Instead, please scroll down and select the “Parenting for Sadists” tag for the rest of the articles.

As usual, the article contained below contains graphic descriptions of child abuse, so please read at your own discretion.

T

Feb. 11th, 2013

But where's the atheism?

You might not know this, but I sometimes lurk about a bit on Reddit. Not too much, mind you- staying on there too long will cause your faith in humanity to decline extremely rapidly, but today someone linked to this thread on what is allegedly an atheist forum. But when I think “atheist forum” I think Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Not... whatever this mashup of Tumblr-style activism and pseudo-intellectualism that this thing is.

After going through several different topics, I could not find a single one that had anything that was more than tangentially related to atheism. For a website that is called ATHEISM plus, it is woefully short on the atheism.

Now, I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic, but even as an agnostic, I can tell you with certainty that atheism/agnosticism isn't about who can yell about being offended the loudest. In the thread I linked up above, the original poster of the thread goes on about if someone starts yelling at you for doing something offensive, you're not allowed to ask why what you said/did was offensive, because it puts the onus on the offended person to explain why they are upset.

Which is how logical, rational people engaged in conversation, or at least that's what I thought.

Look, I'm a pretty nice person and I don't usually purposely go out of my way to offend people. I've got better things to do with my time and I generally have enough respect for my argument partner to not immediately fly off the handle and start cursing people out and shrieking .If I say something that is legitimately offensive (which I have done in the past) and you haven't done anything to provoke me to that point (ie- you haven't been the one who ratcheted up the invective in the first place), let me know and I'll apologize and offer a retraction. I've done it in the past. You can even do it somewhat impolitely. But if you come in here with guns blazing, shrieking about what a horrible offensive person I am, and then you'll refuse to explain what I did or said that was so goddamn bad, then odds are I'm going to laugh at you. But I'm not a mind-reader, and my diction tends to be a bit on the prickly side, especially on certain issues. If, for example, you were reading an article in the Parenting for Sadists series and took offense at my language, I'd need you to clarify. The Pearls really do incite the invective from me- do you object to me calling Michael Pearl a “cactus-fucking dumbfuck” or is it the fact that I called Debi a “child abuse-supporting twat of the highest order?” You'd have to explain. And I'd disagree.

But even if I disagree that what I did was so bad, I'm not going to go out of my way to be a bitch to you- provided that you don't go out of your way to be a bitch to me first. I am willing to have an open dialog. But, as I have mentioned multiple, multiple times here on the Lawn, I don't like extremists. I don't care what sort of extremist- I don't like them, period. Extremism breeds hatred and intolerance, and hatred and intolerance breeds the things that we should be working to stamp out from our world.

There's nothing wrong with mixing your personal ideology with your religious beliefs. Catholic Charities, as you can probably tell, combines their Catholicism with their desire to help the poor. And that's just the one that I can think of off the top of my head. The Humanist movement combines atheism with the desire to help people.

But what I see at Atheism Plus is probably closer to what I've heard sarcastically referred to as the “Chairforce,” a bunch of people who bang on keyboards to rant about the injustice of it all, all day, every day, but ultimately do nothing, except suck up bandwidth and piss off everyone they come into contact with, through their over-zealous preaching. Not too different from the fundamentalists they claim to hate, really.

Feb. 1st, 2013

Real classy, Ms. Pastor

Real classy.

Some pastor refused to tip her Applebees waitress, left a nasty note, and the waitress put it on Reddit. She was then fired.

Apparently, to complicate things even more, this pastor was the one who revealed her identity and complained about it- the waitress never put any identifying information in her post. It was along the lines of “hey look at this bitch who won't even pay the mandatory gratuity for her bill of nine people.” But it was the pastor who revealed herself.

Thankfully, most people are going “WTF” at the pastor's actions, as well as that of Applebees, but in the comments there are always the few fundie Christians who are complaining about anti-Christian bias. Personally? I don't care if you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, or if you worship the flying monkeys in your head, if you stiff your server you're a twat. Hiding behind your tithe to your church is no excuse whatsoever, you're just a cheap-ass bitch. The pastor is now complaining that the incident has brought dishonor and embarassment to herself and her ministry. To that, I say: GOOD. She deserves it, and she was the one who humiliated the server in the first place. I don't really care if her ministry has been discredited. She did it to herself.

As one commentor on the article says, It's really simple. If you don't want to ruin your reputation, DON'T ACT LIKE A MONUMENTAL #$%$. That includes adding injury to insult like you've just done. The waitress didn't ruin your reputation. YOU DID.

As someone else on the article said, Seeing that photo shows that Mrs Bell had only one goal by writing that.... insulting the waitress. She could have just as easily not tipped without the scribbling. Karma is a b tch. Now she is upset because she was exposed. Hilarious.

As it stands I will not be giving Applebees any more of my business since they sided with this customer.

Dec. 11th, 2012

Grinch Watch 2012: Let Loose the Dogs of... Christmas?!

What's this? Two back-to-back Grinch Watch posts? In the same day? Holy shit! Unfortunately, yes. Dammit people, stop it! You don't own Christmas!

Once again, this manufactured outrage comes from a Fox News source. However, unlike yesterday's example, all they've managed to do is make themselves look like fun-hating asshats.

So, the Obama family has sent out their Christmas cards. If the West Wing is to be believed, anyone who's written to the White House in the past year, as well as friends of the family, other people in the government, and visiting dignitaries, receive Christmas cards from the President. Sending greetings around the holidays isn't a purely Christian thing, either. My Buddhist Japanese professor sent us all new year's cards last year. I have acquaintances of various religions who send greetings around this time of year. It's considered a culturally polite thing to do here in the United States. Anyway, back to the Obama's Christmas card. This year, it features a photograph of Bo, their dog, frolicking in the snow outside of the White House (although I'm not sure where they got the photo, considering it's been fairly warm in Washington DC this year). It's a cute picture, and holiday-appropriate.

Apparently people are upset about it, because it doesn't actually mention Christmas.

WHY? I just don't get it. Lots of people send out Christmas cards that are not overtly religious. Last year, even my religious mother sent out Christmas cards that had pictures of cute snowmen on them. They weren't specifically Christian. She just thought they were cute. This year, her cards actually are specifically religious, as they depict the archangel appearing to the shepherds, and that's fine too. In the past, her cards have been pictures of my brother and me, or pictures of the whole family.

The article ends with a snarky comment along the lines of “Jesus, not a Portuguese Water Dog, is the reason for the season.”

Yes, that might be true in the most technical sense. But who died and made you the King of Christmas? You don't get to determine how someone celebrates the holiday, or how they choose to decorate. I like owls, so I have several Christmas owl-themed decorations. The Obamas choose to decorate with motifs of their pet dog. You are free to decorate with religious imagery if you wish. No one is saying that you can't. It's a free country, you can do what you want for your holiday celebration.

Just stop trying to tell other people how they can and cannot wish their friends season's greetings. It's not an attack on your religion, it's not an attack on you personally. Grow up and let everyone enjoy the season without you scolding them like a Sunday School teacher. It's nobody's business how the Obamas want to celebrate the holiday, and it's certainly not your problem if they want to send out cards with a photo of their pet.

Grinch Watch 2012: Oh FFS, Stop Giving Them Ammo!

So, today's Grinch story comes from Fox News. For my non-American readers, Fox News is a notoriously right-leaning news channel that tends to cater to fundamentalist Christians. Since most people, even other conservatives, tend to consider anything from Fox News a bit suspect I normally wouldn't include sources from them, especially for a more serious post like this one.

So why am I including it in the Grinch Watch? The Grinch Watch has, in various forms, been going on here on this blog since 2010, although this is the first year I've actually given a name to it. I've spent a lot of time debunking the alleged “war on Christmas” that evangelicals think non-Christians are waging. But I'm including it because if this is true, then I have to say that they might- just might- have a fraction of a bit of a point, because if this is true, this secular person thinks the secular person in this story has gone completely overboard.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of those television shows that everyone in the English-speaking world has probably seen at least once. It's a story of the Peanuts cast putting on Christmas pageant and getting a scraggly looking little Christmas tree, while Charlie Brown talks about how commercialized the season has gotten. It's one of those things that is so ingrained in our holiday culture, it's like the Coca-Cola ads with Santa Claus and polar bears. Everyone goes “WTF!?” if it's taken out of the holiday season.

I'd also like to add that there is literally nothing offensive about that cartoon.

Yes, Linus does recite the story of the Nativity, from the book of Luke in the Bible.

But honestly, if you don't believe in it, then why get so butthurt when it's literally a three-minute segment in a television program about the holidays? Do you get upset when you hear someone telling stories from the Greek myths? What about the tales of the Norse gods? Or even the fairy tales most people grew up with? Are you enraged by Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast? What about Egla the Serpent Queen? How in the world did you get through World History in school? When I took it, we learned about Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yes, even Christianity. How did you manage to graduate if you shit a brick at the merest mention of religion?

This atheistic-leaning agnostic wants to tell you to chill the fuck out and take a few deep breaths. The world is not going to end if schoolchildren see the Charlie Brown Christmas television special.

I'd also like to bring to attention the fact that this article states that attendance was not mandatory- it was a field trip. There were field trips I wasn't allowed to go on growing up- my eighth-grade class trip to New York City? My mother didn't let me go, saying that she was afraid I wouldn't take my medication if I went. There is no law saying that your child has to attend every field trip that the school proposes. Yes, your child might be pretty damn angry with you if you don't let them go on the trip, but if you are that strongly opposed to Christmas specials, then just don't sign the damn form!

I am kind of loath to say this, because I don't like agreeing with the religious lunatics on anything, but damn dude, you're giving the rest of us secularists a bad name. Yes, I am aware that the event was held at a church. So what. Like I said, if you are that opposed to it, just don't sign off on the form and let the other kids go watch their television program in peace. All this guy has managed to do with this is alienate a large number of people and make himself look like the second coming of Ebenezer Scrooge.

EDIT: Several hours after I wrote the draft of this post, I was able to find another source- this time from the local NBC of the area. Here is the secondary source- I couldn't find a way to insert it into the main body of the text without having to rewrite the whole thing, and well, I'm lazy. Sorry about that.

Nov. 16th, 2012

Grinch Watch 2012: Let Loose The Elves of War!

how the “Evil Non-Christians” are out to ruin the holiday season, or to complain about how Christmas sucks and forces everyone into holiday cheer whether they like it or not. So this year, I've decided to make it an official thing- welcome to Grinch Watch 2012!

This year, the Grinches have come out ridiculously early. People, it's not even Thanksgiving yet! What the fuck. Seriously! At least wait until it's, you know, ACTUALLY THE CHRISTMAS SEASON before you start acting like a bunch of assholes! Sheesh.

Anyway, this year's first Grinch attack comes from Santa Monica, California, and for once, BOTH the Christians and the atheists are to blame for it. This atheistic agnostic wants to tell the both of them to sit down, shut the fuck up, and eat some Christmas cookies, goddammit! Or, since, like I said, it's not even Thanksgiving yet, eat some pumpkin pie or something. This article even came from October 11th of this year. Seriously.

Apparently, in Santa Monica, some Christians and some atheists are engaged in a fight about whether or not they can put their displays up on the public property. As I have said multiple times over the years, you can put whatever the hell you want up on your own property. If I want to put a nativity scene on my actual lawn, I can do that. If Eat at Joe's wants to wish their customers Eid Mubarak, they can do that. If the mall wants to tell everyone to have a happy Hanukkah, they can do that. Nobody cares what you do on your own property. What you can't do is put sectarian crap on the public property, because that's a violation of the separation of church and state.

Now, I can already hear the arguments. “But Kaboom! How come the White House has a Christmas tree! Isn't that promoting one religion over another?” To that, I say: “only if you're a complete dumbass.” A Christmas tree, in and of itself, isn't a particularly religious symbol. A lot of people have Christmas trees. I know a lot of people, and I grew up in a very diverse area. I know Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, and even pagan individuals who put up a Christmas tree around this time of year because they like the pretty decorations, and they like to give presents. If you don't like the pretty Christmas lights, I honestly don't know what to tell your crazy ass.

But to be honest, the atheists here aren't really much better. You're going to throw a fit about the damn nativity scene but still fight to put up your “solstice greetings?” Why can't you put those greetings on your own property? Why do they have to be on city-owned property? You lot are a disappointment to secular people everywhere, and you all need to grow up.

The city council in this situation did the right thing by voting to ban ALL displays on the public property. You can put your decorations up on property you own. Congrats, both sides of the debate, you ruined it for everyone with your idiotic infighting. Now the city can't even put up pretty lights and whatnot, thanks to you failing to one, follow the Constitution, and two, behave like the grown-ass adults you're all supposed to be. I am disappoint, and I hope you all get coal in your stockings for fucking up the holidays for everyone else in the town.

Sep. 30th, 2012

Chik-Fil-Update

Surprisingly, it seems that Dan Cathy has listened to the complaints of people outside of his particular faction of Christianity and has agreed to stop funding hate groups with money he makes from his business.

Forgive me if I'm not all that convinced.

The only reason he's actually agreed to do this is because, after the Chik-Fil-A appreciation days run by certain fundamentalist Christian organizations, sales dropped off dramatically. It's kind of telling that it took a potential financial cataclysm for this guy to agree to stop funding potential domestic terrorist organizations. Now, don't get me wrong- money is probably the single most compelling force to get people to do things, possibly only eclipsed by sex. It's been that way since “thing you exchange to get other things” has been a concept that humans can parse. Money is a wonderful motivating factor. However, someone who has repeatedly and stridently announced their support of groups that have been marked by independent think-tanks as well as the freakin' FBI as being potential terrorist organizations is not just going to suddenly change their mind. “Oops, I guess I was wrong.” Yeah, no. Generally it doesn't happen.

If I was the media or a watchdog group, I would start carefully scrutinizing Cathy. Do any non-descript corporations pop up that start donating money to these groups? If so, then start looking into who's in charge of these companies. Front companies are often used for this sort of thing- don't want the media to track the money you're donating from your Fortune 500 company to a certain political candidate? Then set up a fake company to do the donating for you! If you bury your identification information well enough, then there's no problem at all! Barring something really major happening in the political sphere, most people can't be assed to look into that sort of thing. The mafia uses this sort of technique as well- that shop (which usually isn't all that sketchy, since a sketchy shop might cause people ask questions) might only appear to be a shop on the surface and is actually the headquarters of a smuggling ring/drug cartel/money laundering operation/counterfeiter/whatever. And most of the time it's never found out, unless, again, something happens.

I know it makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist or that I've been watching too many action movies. I freely admit that I can be prone to conspiracy theories. But I don't think I'm too far off in thinking that maybe, just maybe, Dan Cathy agreed to stop funding these groups to save his business, and that he actually has no intention of actually going through with it.

Aug. 21st, 2012

CapAlert Alert #2: The Avengers

It's been over a year since I did one of these, mostly because there weren't any movies that came out that had funny CAPReports. But on a whim, I decided to check out their review of The Avengers. I'm glad I did, the result is comedy gold. Now, I can't quote the whole article like I do for the Parenting for Sadists series, so I strongly suggest you visit the link and read it for yourself, since I've only taken a small percentage of the article here for quoting. As usual, colored text is quotes directly from the site.

The article starts out with the writer going on about how surprised he was that the movie actually did score a PG-13 rating on the CAPAlert model, because of how violent the movie was. There's some talk about how the scoring system is unbiased, and some more confusion as to who actually was in the Avengers (Hawkeye and Black Widow apparently weren't Avengers in the comic books. I can't answer that to whether or not that's true, since I've not read the comic books, but that's beside the point anyway).

There's some plot summary, and warnings for spoilers, and then we get into the real “meat” of this review. The following paragraph is the second paragraph in their “wanton violence/crime” section.

The violence content of The Avengers is clearly more than enough to warrant reminding mom/dad about God's Word regarding the influence of violence. God warns us of the influence of violence dozens of times from the Old Testament to the New Testament but Proverb 16:29 puts the issue rather succinct. In Proverb 16:29 God warns that violence is "catching": that it can lead one into the way that is not good. In addition to God "publishing His findings" about the influence of violence, four professional public health agencies has published findings which warn that viewing violence in and as entertainment can, among other things, lead the viewer, especially the young, into real life violence and can lead the viewer to believe violence is an effective means of settling conflict. Whom else needs to warn us about the influence of violence in and as entertainment before we start to believe it?


Um... the Chitauri were aliens that were trying to take over the world. OF COURSE they're going to be firing at the humans. And I've said it before, I'll say it again: watching The Avengers or another movie no more makes you into a violent person than standing in your garage makes you a car. It is an Action movie, after all.

From the “impudence/hate” section:

Thirteen times someone spews one or more of the three/four letter word vocabulary. One time what is claimed to be a British slang term of vulgarity which I will not explain was used. [Col. 3:8, Eph. 5:4] While none of them were the most foul of the foul words, 13 uses of profanity says more through an attitude of impunity, self-appointed absolution from accountability, than the words themselves. Additional matters of impudence and/or hatred include planning the extinction of the human race, forcing it into submission, lies and a brother stabbing his brother.


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm assuming the “British slang term of vulgarity” was the “mewling quim” line. Honestly, though, the vast majority of people weren't aware of that word until the movie came out. I had to Google it, even though I had an idea, and I had to explain it to my brother. Also, again with the aliens. They're trying to take over the world. OF COURSE they're going to talk about how to subjugate the human race/cause the extinction of the humans. But I'm also pretty sure the Chitauri don't actually exist, and are not actually planning to take over the world and destroy all humans. IT'S AN ACTION MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY. If it was, we'd be in trouble. But it's not.

Moving on to the sexual immorality section of the review, there's some complaints about the Black Widow's costume, and the scene in the beginning where Captain America is in the gym, hitting a punching bag and the camera focuses on his ass. That scene has been made into gifs and have been posted all over the Internet. And hey, I can't really blame them. Chris Evans has a very nice physique, is it a sin to appreciate the assets God gave him, if you believe that? *snerk*

Then, they get to the Hulk's scenes, where he changes back into Bruce Banner:

Note that the following discussion is rather graphic but if your kids watch the film they will see it. Ruffalo, who played The Hulk is seen completely nude in two scenes. His genitals are conveniently hidden by his legs but he is nude and a crotch view is displayed. The "excuse" of the filmmakers to display such vulgarity in and as entertainment is likely that the Hulk, when he shrinks back to normal, would not have clothing that fit. Well, if such is "excusable" how and why did the Hulk find clothing large enough to fit his enlarged form that was previously covered by smaller clothing? It is adamantly obvious the filmmakers used this configuration of "excuses" to show nudity in a PG-13.

So what makes the display of nudity a sin? One might try to excuse nudity in and as entertainment with the argument that there is nudity portrayed in many Bibles and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Let me remind those who would try such an argument that God did not put the nudity in the Bible nor on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Man did. God speaks darkly of "nakedness" 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. He even warned the priests to not climb the steps to an alter lest the wind expose their nakedness to the people below


WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can't even form a coherent response to that. Just... just... I hope this guy never has to take an art history class. Lots of nekkid ladies in high art. In fact, most of the art you study in an art history class is either religious, or naked women. Lots and lots of naked women. And everyone knows the Hulk's pants are very stretchy, so they can enlarge with him. But if you stretch something out, it doesn't always go back to its original size. That's why Bruce Banner always had problems after transforming. The Hulk's pants were way too big for him! Duh! And if nudity is such a sin, then why didn't God give Adam and Eve little leafy pants to wear when they were in the Garden of Eden? Why aren't babies born in little suits? Please excuse me for being crude, but you don't come out of your momma dressed.

The Drugs and Violence category and the Murder/Suicide categories don't really have anything that wasn't covered in earlier sections or that I haven't already dissected, but the “Offense to God” category is where the real fun is.

While there is sci-fi action that would mimic levitation and creation of energy, there is no presence of Satanism, occultism, witchcraft or the like in this film. But God's name is abused once. And once is once too many. [Deut. 5:11]. The film (and the comic) depends heavily on polytheism through embracing Norse gods.


Um... yeah? Loki and Thor are Norse gods. There is historical basis for them being deities, since they were deities in the Viking religion. But, if you look at the Avengers universe, Loki and Thor aren't exactly gods at all, they're technically aliens. Aliens with god-like powers, sure. But they're aliens all the same. There's not really any mention of religion at all, except for the scene where Captain America intends to confront Loki and Thor, and the Black Widow warns him that he should probably sit this one out, since they're basically gods. Captain America replies, “Ma'am, there's only one god, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that.” You'd think the CAPAlert people would love this movie, since Captain America basically gives lip service to their religion. But I guess not.

All in all, the CAPAlert managed to pull out another hilarious gem of a review for a great movie. Cheers, CAPAlert!

Aug. 18th, 2012

Regarding Chik-Fil-A

Someone I know IRL asked me about my thoughts on the whole Chik-Fil-A debacle. Big mistake. I have a lot of thoughts on that incident, and none of them are all that coherent. Some of them are contradictory, and some of them just plain don't make any sense. But since that person planted the idea in my head, you're gonna get treated to them. Buckle up, go get some snacks, and settle in for the long haul because this is going to be a LONG post.

In America, we have freedom of speech. I don't agree with what Dan Cathy said. In fact, I find it pretty much reprehensible. But he also does have the right to say it, and I would be a hypocrite of the highest order if I said he shouldn't be able to speak his opinions. Free speech is what allows the Internet, and by extension, blogs like the Lawn, to survive and thrive. Nothing Cathy said could really be construed as slander or an incitement to violence, so his speech is protected under the Constitution. That said, however, the rest of the population also has the right to free speech, and under our free-market economic system, has the right to choose whether or not to give their money to a company whose values they disagree with. I've heard it phrased as “voting with your wallet” or “the free market in action,” but it really just boils down to- if you don't like something, don't buy it. If you don't want to get your chicken from Chik-Fil-A, then you go to Popeye's instead. That way, Chik-Fil-A doesn't get any of your money, but you still get your chicken. People also can say that they disagree with Cathy's remarks, exercising their own freedom of speech (like I'm doing right now). If that was all there was to this story, I'd simply leave the post off here. Regular readers know about my political views, we don't have to rehash them every time something political comes up. But, unfortunately, nothing in life is ever that simple, is it?

The problem with the above paragraph is that it does not take into account the various other factors involved here. Dan Cathy “supports tradition marriage.” OK, fine, whatever. He's an idiot, but no more so than hundreds of other politicians that get on the news to rant every single day. But unlike most politicians, he also runs a business. Speaking as someone who works in a private-sector business in the service industry, Cathy's remarks are financial idiocy. You do not want to alienate potential customers. That's basic business sense! A politician just has to keep enough voters happy to vote them back into office, but a business generally has more things to worry about than a politician. Chik-Fil-A has to compete with a glut of other fast-food business. If they annoy enough of their customers, then those customers will just start going to McDonald's, Burger King, Panda Express, Popeye's, Long John Silver's, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Bojangles, KFC, Arby's, Subway, Pollo Loco (I don't know if this is a national chain or one limited to my area, but whatever), and any number of other inexpensive, fast restaurants. Piss off enough of your customers and pretty soon you'll find yourself without a business. If the customers don't want to give you their money, they'll spend it elsewhere. That money that Customer A spent at McDonald's is money they didn't spend at Chik-Fil-A. As a business, Chik-Fil-A should want to bring in the most money possible. And to do that, they need to not alienate their customers.

On the subject of bringing in money, Dan Cathy also donates money to the Family Research Council. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks domestic terrorist and extremist groups (like the Ku Klux Klan), the Family Research Council is a hate group. I don't want to give money to a company that donates to the KKK or Al-Qaida. Why would I want to give money to a company that donates to an organization that is classified as a potential hate group/domestic terrorist organization? I hate the idea of money I earned going to a group like that, even if it is indirectly.

But, like I said before, nothing is clear-cut. The money people spend at Chik-Fil-A is also extremely likely to go to the salaries of the people who work there. There's a Chik-Fil-A on my university's campus, and there's been a petition going around the email accounts to get them kicked off of campus.

I have not signed it.

While I am disgusted by Cathy's actions and funding of hate groups, Chik-Fil-A also employs a lot of people, including on my university's campus. If the Chik-Fil-A on campus closes down, that's almost 50 people who are now unemployed. The average person who works at Chik-Fil-A no more represents the company's values than I represent my boss's personal beliefs. To most of them, it's probably just a job, one they can't really afford to lose. I am utterly disgusted by the way that Dan Cathy has behaved and will never give him any of my money willingly again, I do not wish ill upon the employees of Chik-Fil-A. Most of them are just trying to make a living, just like everyone else. They happened to get a job with this company, and if it's helping keep them afloat, they probably don't care too much about the CEO's personal beliefs. I know that if I was having to choose between being able to feed my hypothetical kids and having to agree with everything my employer said, I'd probably choose to feed my kids.

Also, Chik-Fil-A is one of the cheapest, fastest dining options on the university campus. However, even I'm not cheap/lazy enough to indirectly fund a hate group. I will not buy anything from them again, but I will also not campaign to get them shut down. That might seem like it's contradictory, but I see it this way: Dan Cathy is one person. Chik-Fil-A as a whole employs many people, some of whom probably need the job to pay their rent, feed their kids, buy their medications, etc- and it's also extremely likely that those people don't know about their employer's beliefs or do not agree with them, but still work there anyway because the job market right now is so iffy. I do not think that people who haven't done anything wrong ought to lose their jobs because their boss isn't exactly a good person.

I noticed something similar happening in 2010, when the BP oil spill happened. A friend of my father's worked at a BP office as an accountant, and people who knew where he worked started sending him and his family death threats. This guy had absolutely nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon. He had never been anywhere near an oil rig. He was a goddamn accountant. Yet people were blaming him, just a cog in the corporate machine, for what his employer had done. That is what I fear might happen with this whole chicken sandwich mess. And I'm going to say one more thing: if you harass or threaten employees of a company because of what the management of that company has done, you automatically lose any moral high ground you might have ever had at one point. Let the Chik-Fil-A clerk do his job. He has no control over what the management does and he's just trying to get his (probably minimum-wage) paycheck. Be the bigger person. Don't go to Chik-Fil-A if you can't reconcile your thoughts with their policies, but leave the employees alone.

Aug. 12th, 2012

Parenting for Sadists: Not-So-Grand Grandparents

Part Ten of a series. Since it's gotten so long I am no longer putting links to the other articles at the top of these, so if you want to find them click the Parenting for Sadists tag, they're all there. As usual for the series here, most of the post goes under the cut to protect readers who aren't willing to read discussion of child abuse. Although I will say that this particular article is a lot less... horrible than some of the others. I wouldn't say it's NSFW, but I would caution against reading it in a place of business.

Mar. 25th, 2012

Parenting for Sadists: Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Since this series is getting so long, just click the “parenting for sadists” tag in the sidebar now- it will make things a lot easier. Articles are sorted with the most recent first.

As per usual, most of this post goes behind the cut, to avoid exposing anyone to anything they're not in a place to deal with right now. NSFW, warning for child abuse. This is part 8, I think everyone knows how this goes by now...

Feb. 2nd, 2012

Once Again, There Is No War On Religion

So apparently President Obama made a decision that says Catholic organizations/universities/hospitals/etc have to provide services for contraception and abortion. And, of course, people are already howling about how Obama is an evil secularist out to destroy freedom of religion and make everybody atheist or Muslim or whatever. And while I don't agree with Obama's decision (I don't believe the government has the right to tell people what they have to or cannot do with regards to their health), it's also not a sign of a coming war on Catholicism or religion in general.

I find myself in the very odd position of agreeing and disagreeing at the same time, on different things. Yes, I believe the government overstepped its boundaries in forcing organizations to provide services contrary to their beliefs and dogmas- this is antithetical to everything I believe about the role of government and the right of individuals to live out their lives as they see fit. Although I'm not too sure the Catholics would be too happy about me sorta-agreeing with them, considering I'm agnostic, but oh well. It's not part of some sinister war on religion- no, the reality is a lot more mundane than that. Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that we're in an election year. You know, every time you turn on the television or open a newspaper there's always people going on about Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul? Yeah, that's because they're all trying to run for president on the Republican ticket. But because Obama has only been president for one term, he's running again as the incumbent. This might seem random in the context of this post, but trust me, it's actually very relevant.

Obama is the incumbent, meaning that he's the president right now, and is trying to get re-elected. He already got elected once, he hopes he can do it again. And because he was already elected once, he doesn't feel like he has to worry about appealing to the right, like he did when he was running for the first time. And the truth is, the right-wing would probably vote for Godzilla over him. I'll bet dollars to donuts that because Obama already knows that the pro-life, religious voters won't vote for him, he's trying to appeal to the Democratic base- pro-choice, feminists, Democratic partisans, and the less religious. You know, the people who would be more likely to vote for him than Newt or Mitt anyway.

However, unlike the Republican base, some of the Democratic base are not going to vote for someone just because they have a “D” next to their name. If I may generalize for a moment, quite a few die-hard Republicans would vote for a duck, as long as it wasn't Obama. Some of the vital Democratic base, however? They believe that Obama has let them down tremendously, and if he doesn't start working on their pet issues, well, they'd vote for that same duck in protest.

That's all it is. It's President Obama pandering to the base. No anti-religious crusade involved.

Dec. 25th, 2011

The Four Types of People At Church on Christmas Eve

(Alternatively titled Kaboom Is Scrooge)

Yesterday, I went to my mother's church to celebrate Christmas Eve. I really, really dislike attending her church, for a myriad of reasons, but thankfully the things that make her church extremely unpleasent to attend were absent yesterday, probably because it was a holiday and no one really wants to get into that sort of unpleaantness on Christmas. One thing that did stick out to me, though, was the fact that there still was some obnoxiousness, although it seemed to be coming from small pockets of individuals rather than the congregation as a whole. However, it still annoyed me enough that I decided to blog about it. I don't know if that's a good way of dealing with it, or a bad way, considering it's the holidays and I've been actually trying to be less of an asshole lately. But whatever, let's do a rundown.

1. Perfume Miasma Lady: if you've ever been anywhere that large numbers of people gather in a relatively small space, you've probably run into a Perfume Miasma Lady, or her male counterpart, Dude That Takes A Bath In Axe. Both use industrial sized amounts of their fragrance of choice, effectively rendering the immediate area around them extremely difficult to deal with unless you have a gas mask. Now, don't get me wrong, I like to wear perfume. My personal favorites are Hanae Mori Butterfly, Philosophy Amazing Grace, and my personal favorite, which is unfortunately extremely difficult to find now, the Fresh Memoirs of a Geisha perfume, which I received as a gift my final year of middle school. But the difference between me, when I wear perfume, and the Perfume Miasma Lady, is that I don't dump so much on myself that I make life miserable for everyone else around me. A little goes a long way when it comes to perfume, but the Perfume Miasma lady doesn't understand that. There's a Dilbert cartoon that pretty much sums up this kind of person.

Anyway, last night I had the misfortune to end up sitting directly behind a Perfume Miasma Lady. My brother and I could tell immediately. My brother started sneezing like someone had put pepper up his nose, and my eyes started watering. Of course my mother saw this and assumed we were being obnoxious, but really, she was just lucky to be directly under the vent so she got fresh air, while we were stuck with the contaminated air. I thought for sure I was going to have an epic sneeze right in the middle of some important part of the service, but luckily that didn't happen.

2. The Spirit Hss Moved Me! Worshipper: This individual really, really likes church. They think church is totally awesome, and you know what's even more awesome than church? Why, God of course! While TSHMM!W is not as detrimental to physical comfort as the Perfume Miasma Lady, they are irritating in their own way. Mainly because you have to duck to avoid getting whacked upside the head when they feel so enraptured by the music, or the sermon, or whatnot that they have to throw their hands up in the air and wave them like they just don't care. While this did not happen to me, an older man who was sitting two pews in front of us had his glasses knocked off when one of these kinds of people got a little toooo overenthusiastic about the church's rendition of Go Tell It On The Mountain. I really couldn't help it, I started laughing. It made me feel horrible, but it was just so ridiculous I couldn't help it. And now I'm officially a horrible person.

3. Hyperactive Kids: It really wasn't all that long ago that I was a wee little Kaboomlet. I remember the day before Christmas- the anticipation about what you're going to get, wondering if Santa is really going to come, wanting to open the presents right this very minute, and being hopped up on Christmas snacks. I get it, I really do, and normally I actually like kids. But one thing I do not particularly like is three-year-old girls running amok and stomping all over my handbag, which contains my cell phone, my iPod, and several other delicate electronic devices, as well as my money and my portable notebook. Now, I can understand if the kid in question did this by accident- after all, I barely had enough space to put myself down, much less my bag and my coat as well. But this little girl in question just stuck her tongue out at me and kept stomping about like she was Godzilla or something. At least I was able to get my bag out of the way. But still, it made me wonder- if I had done that as a child I would have gotten in trouble- where was this kid's parents?

4. Baby Haters: You know what's even worse than a hyperactive kid? An adult that hates on the hyperactive kids when they're actually not being all that hyperactive. There was one particularly wiggly baby a little ways down from where I was sitting, and he kept grabbing at things and making funny sounds- he was freaking adorable. One woman kept shushing him though, throughout the service and sending death glares at his mother. Lady, the kid isn't crying, he's just goofing around with the velvet bows and talking to himself. Yeah, it's a bit distracting, but seriously? He's not screaming his head off and he's not wreaking havoc. All he's doing is learning and entertaining himself (and me!). Grow up and realize that you're at a damn church. There tends to be babies at church.

Ah well. Merry Christmas, anyway.

Dec. 18th, 2011

Parenting for Sadists: Apparently I'm A Socialist Now

Since this is the seventh part of this series, I think everyone knows the drill by now- most of the content goes under the cut, warnings are in place for child abuse and emotional manipulation, and Michael Pearl is a douchecanoe. There, did I cover all my bases? Good.

Nov. 11th, 2011

Parenting for Sadists: I Think You Will Find It Is YOU Who Is Emotional Manipulation!

As per usual for this series, NSFW, warning for child abuse, most of the post is behind the cut.

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