While I think the JREF has done some really great work for the scientific community in the past, I've been growing increasingly tired of Randi's antagonistic attitude, and feel that he may actually be hurting the "skeptic community" as well the public's opinion of science in general. I'd really like to get him to tone his act down a little, maybe stop trying to make people seem foolish in addition to pointing out where they're wrong. Unfortunately, though, he's loved (almost worshiped) by the majority of skeptics out there, so I can't see that happening on its own any time soon. Anytime someone makes a negative claim about Randi, no matter how valid it is, Skeptics just shout them down.
When I saw these Randi Voodoo Dolls, they seemed like just the thing!
I've been stabbing that thing with the included pins at regular intervals, hoping and believing -- 'cause that's the trick with Voodoo... you apparently have to believe in order for it to work -- but Randi keeps going strong, ranting about evil works of fiction and television programs (all the while decrying those that rant about how evil the types of television programs he would like to see are), seemingly unaffected by the magic I've been trying to work.
Strangely though, I've been noticing a correlation between my stabbing and the rise in popularity/credibility of anti-Darwinian proponents. Creationists and other Intelligent Design proponents attempt to cast the theories of Darwin in doubt, claiming "scientific" evidence, when really all they have to support their claims is religious Mumbo Jumbo1. It seems like more and more of the uninformed public are getting behind these people, thinking that what they're promoting is science despite the fact that their claims are downright loony. As a skeptic, I know that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but as a Voodoo practitioner I suspect that this is causatory. My stabbing is having an unforeseen side-effect, and I don't know why.
I did a little investigating and uncovered something completely shocking! Take a look here at the tag affixed to mini-Randi's bottom:
What is the JREF trying to pull here? This is clearly a Charles Darwin Voodoo Doll, and they're trying to pass if off as a James Randi Voodoo Doll. Not only is this fund raising attempt dishonest, it's downright malicious! I mean, it's fine and dandy to sell a Voodoo doll of yourself, but selling one of someone else is terrible.
I did a little checking, and guess what I found out? Charles Darwin is dead.
Coincidence? I think not. Shame on you JREF.
1: I use the term "Mumbo Jumbo" because it seems to fit well with my little Voodoo motif, not because I want to be disrespectful. I have my own crazy religious beliefs, and I deeply respect yours. They just aren't scientific in nature, so please stop trying to convince people they are. "Because it says so in the Bible" has been good enough for 2,000 years, there's no reason you need to go trying to have science back you up now as well. In the words of famed theologian George Michael, "You gotta have faith. Faith-fa-faith!"
I decided that I simply couldn't live without my DS Lite, so I decided to trade up the old-school non-Lite DS at Game Crazy for a shiny new Black DS Lite (they didn't have pink.) So I got all my loot totaled up ($90.52 in hardware and games), and said "I'd like that DS Lite," pointing at the one on the counter.
"Oh, that's our last one."
"Yes. I'd like it please."
"Well, we can only sell that as a "bundle" with that $55 pile of 3rd-party crap accessories you'll never ever ever want to use."
"I don't want any of that crap, can't you just sell me the DS?"
"Well, if we did that, what would we do with all that crap? Anyway, it makes the DS $5 cheaper."
I'm betting you can guess that I didn't play that game. Crap like that just makes me want to burn places down. They know darn well that these things are scarce, so they're willing to play on people's frustration, knowing that many of them will just give in and buy overpriced crap they're never going to use just so they can have the pleasure of buying what they do want to use. Geez.
So on went the quest for a pink DS Lite.
Here's a way-zoomed-out map of our travels yesterday trying to find one:
Each one of those legs had a handful of stores clustered relatively close together.
In case you're not familiar with the Portland Metro area, that's a lot of driving around. We hit at least 10 places, each one referring us to yet another leg on our wild DS chase. After hours and hours of driving around fruitlessly, we went to the one place that I knew would have black ones in stock and bought one there. The day before they had like 20, yesterday they had 3. No other stores we went to yesterday had any except that one lone Target. So now I'll have a black DS, and D will get the hand-me-down white one when Nintendo gets it back to me.
I kind of wanted to avoid the black one because it's got that same obnoxious glossy finish that Sony put on the PSP, ensuring that your toy will be in a constant state of overgunkfification. Unlike Sony, Nintendo thought of this and made the inside of the DS -- where all the buttons and screens are -- a matte finish, ensuring that they stay gunk-free. Yay for Nintendo.
I've been using my Nintendo DS Lite quite a bit recently, as evidenced by the fact that my right shoulder button completely wore out.
That button is used primarily as Tetris's "save/use piece" function -- which, incidently, I've been using with much more frequency and much less "Tetris Purist" guilt -- to power slide in Mario Kart DS, and to aim your gun in Resident Evil DS. (Incidentally, the Resident Evil folk get mad props for naming this port/remake "Deadly Silence," thus making the requisite "DS" Nintendo puts at the end of every game title actually useful.)
In any case, I use my right shoulder button an awful lot, so I've just taken advantage of Nintendo's warranty feature to get it repaired. In the meantime, I've been playing a little with the non-Lite "Phat" DS that's still laying around, and it has really thrown me off my game.
We spent a couple hours yesterday driving around trying to find a pink DS Lite for me to play with until mine gets back from Nintendo D to have, since she's not terribly thrilled with the Phat either. No such luck though :(
There've been lots of black ones, a few white ones and no pink ones. If I was a betting man, I'd have wagered that the black would be the most popular. I guess I would have lost.
UPDATE: 4-10 days for return shipping info to arrive, 3 days to repair, then 4-10 days to ship it back to me? I'm not sure I can make it...
It's that time of year again, when young men's fancies turn towards the gifts that the fairer sex hopefully have bought for them.
Older men -- such as conservative/liberal talkshow hosts -- have their thoughts turned toward the Sissyfistian task1 of preventing the further secularization/desecularization of this, the last vestiges of the oppressive, religiously-ruled/secular-based land our four fathers2 so obviously intended. Every year they make a big stink about it as if it were a new phenomenon -- one which is more important than it was the year before.
This man contends that this is the way it has always been and the way it will always stay, regardless of the efforts of those to undermine/uphold the values we've lived under for so long. Why, the very word "Christmas" itself is indicative of this long-running polarization; as any first-year Spanish student can tell you, "Christ mas" quite literally means "more Christ," showing that at the very beginning of Christmas, efforts were already underway to desecularize/secularize it3.
I'd just like to just request that everyone take a step back, revel in the secularization/desecularization they so enjoy, and stop whining that the other side is trying to ruin it for you. They're not4.
Oh, also: Try a Chicken Enchilada Grilled Stuft Burrito, available now at Taco Bell.
1: Sissyfist was that old greek dude who is constantly trying to push that big round rock up that hill. If I had to guess, I'd say that he got the name because his hands were pretty much useless due to that constant crushing weight. He'd try to hit anyone who made fun of him -- which was pretty much everyone -- but his hands hurt so much he could never commit to the punch, instead saying "owie," jumping up and down, then chasing the big rock down the hill.
2: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Abe Vigoda.
3: Those on the pro-secularization side used it, but punctuated it as: "More?! Christ."
I've had a few people recently point out that I've neglected to post about what the deal is with physical therapy. I keep mentioning it, but never with any kind of explanation.
Well, long story short: I've had troubles with my neck for years, with no easily identifiable reason. It has recently been a lot worse, so I decided it was finally worth trying to do something about it and made a doctors appointment.
My doctor took some x-rays to confirm his "loss of lordosis" theory, then sent me on my way to physical therapy. It seems that my neck doesn't do what a "normal" neck is supposed to; some muscles are too strong, others have atrophied.
They wouldn't let me borrow my xrays to show you, so I made a couple "artist renderings" to approximate what they'd look like if they had given them to me:
See how there's a nice upwards curvature on the neck in this one? That gentle curve allegedly helps act as a shock absorber for your head. Neat, huh?
As you can see, I don't have that curve. This means that the muscles where my neck attaches to my skull are working a lot harder than they need to, causing discomfort, headache and rectal bleeding. Or at least I hope it causes rectal bleeding...
Anyway, I've been going a couple hours, twice a week. While I'm there, I do some stupid neck stretches (that I've dubbed "necksercises") and then get a massage, followed by ultrasonic stimulation, electrical stimulation, heat/cold stimulation, and -- inexplicably -- rectal stimulation. I'm not sure the last bit has really helped anything, but these people are medical professionals, so who am I to argue?
I just took a peek at my web stats, looking specifically at the search terms that led people to my neck of the blogosphere. I'm quite excited to report that lots of people have been searching for variants of the string "chicken enchilada grilled stuft burrito."
During my time spent at physical therapy, I've been seeing that Taco Bell is advertising the heck out of them, so I have some mild hope that they'll keep it around for good.
If anyone finds this post by searching for information about it, please rest assured that this is the greatest Taco Bell menu item ever, and that you should definitely eat one instead of researching them.
UPDATE: Upon doing a little searching (I am #1 google result for "chicken enchilada grilled stuft burrito", woo!), I came across this petition, which is filled with lots of other folk like me. Petitions are stupid, but I enjoy seeing just how worked up people can get when Taco Bell does something stupid.
UPDATE AGAIN: I've now moved down to #3 :(. Also, it occurred to me that the reason so many of the search queries included the word 'ingredients' is that people are responding to the ads, but are afeared to eat one lest they get e-coli. So, I present you now with the ingredients:
Chicken, rice, blend of 3 cheeses, enchilada sauce, sour cream, tortilla, charred little bits of tortilla on the outside of the tortilla.
Don't fear getting sick, those ingredients are safe. For now...
If you're a fan of Battlestar Galactica, but don't listen to Ron Moore's excellent episode commentary podcast, chances are you missed out on the amazing 3-hour "roundtable" discussion about the show.
I present for you now several excerpts that I found amusing, and a promise that you'll find the whole thing really interesting if you've ever had a conversation with another human being about Battlestar Galactica.
If'n you want to hear the whole 3 hours, which I highly recommend, you can download it here or via the podcast's rss feed (where you'll find really insightful insight into many of the episodes you know and love. For instance, did you know that Dirk Benedict was originally going to be cast as "God" in the Season 1 finale?)
Shawn P. from Ohio dropped me a line yesterday, letting me know that some "wacky radio deejays (boing!)" in Columbus are implementing my Toys for Tatas idea:
It's put on by a local radio station, and from my understanding you drive into this heated tent and give the girls a gift (for needy families) and then they all show you their - ahem - "tatas", because you can say that on the air.
Apparently this chain of strip clubs called Rick's Cabaret does something by the same name.
It is unclear at this time whether they came about this idea legitimately, or blatantly stole it from me. I don't think I need to tell you which I think it is.
Hopefully next year I'll remember the idea so I can get a jump on trying to set something up before the hustle and bustle of crazy peoplereally crazy people completely saps my desire to expend any kind of effort.
Have you ever encountered a stranger who is unable to stop talking for more than a few seconds, even in a situation where it is inappropriate to do so? I suspect that they do this because their heads will blow off from all the pressure of not talking.
Me? I'm a "keep to myself" type who only really talks to people if:
A) I know them well
B) there are common-interest items that I have to talk about.
People who I don't know that repeatedly try to talk to me because I'm the only one there -- even when I go out of my way to look otherwise engaged -- make me want to blow their heads off.
This means you, Lady At Physical Therapy Who Bugs Everyone To Death.
Remember in the Bible when Abraham, Noah, and Job rounded up two of every Philistine family and led them into the desert to starve to death, only to have been thwarted by "Mana" literally falling out of the sky to keep them alive? Historians and theologians alike have long speculated as to just what that Mana might have been, and whether there's a natural explanation as well as a supernatural one.
I do believe I have that answer: Mana is Fiddle Faddle™, and it is most certainly supernatural in origin.
Something this freakin' good can only have come from Heaven. And the fact that it's currently "buy one, get one free" at the local grocery is todays equivalent of it dropping out of the sky.
Since I need to get new plates anyway, I'm contemplating getting them personalized. After lots of searching to see what's available, what's not available, and what's not allowed, I've narrowed down my options to the following 2 choices:
I'm leaning towards the first one since I think it's "me," but the idea of getting the second one cracks me up considerably. I mean, how could I possibly get any nerdier than that? Plus, not being a fan of people determining what's decent and what's not decent, I like the idea of the latter; the only people who would see it as indecent are obviously as nerdy (and probably cooler than me) and would therefore not find it indecent at all.