Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dear Stupid People,

I know I shouldn't let other people's idiocy bother me so much, but there comes a point where I can no longer just watch another human being say really, really, really, REALLY moronic things without keeping my mouth shut and saying something about it.

This thing about people making up brand new “gender identities” that are unconnected to anything in reality has reached epic proportions of dumb.


Have you heard about this shit?

From what I can tell, it all started with people who were honestly suffering trying to get together to help each other get through things, and to help those of us lucky to not have their problems understand what they were going through. Unfortunately, what it has evolved into is a clown-show. Its now a complete joke. Its an echo-chamber where people whose only real shared problem could be charitably described – and recognized as such by anyone with a working brain – as “social ineptitude.”

These sad people sit in on discussions of equal rights for homosexuals and transgendered people, learning the lingo and the common arguments and that that carefully garnered intel and turn it to their own purposes. They quote famous human rights activists way, way out of context to add that elusive whiff of legitimacy to a situation that couldn't be less legitimate if its parents hadn't been married when it was born. They act as if their “fight for equality” was morally and factually equal to the fight to end racism, transphobia, homophobia, class discrimination, or sexism. They worm their way into discussions of actual, real issues and then cleverly turn statements that were originally designed to protect true victims who are at risk of losing their jobs and lives to their own benefit.

I'm talking about the so-called “otherkin” and “otakukin.”

In case you're unaware, otherkin and otakukin are people who “identify” as animals or anime characters, respectively.

No, really. They do that.

No, I'm not joking. I promise, I'm not joking. This is actually a thing.

They really do “identify” as animals and anime characters.

Now, I'm a pretty open-minded guy. My basic philosophy is that you can do, say, or believe what you want as long as what you are doing, saying, and believing doesn't hurt anyone else and as long as you aren't shoving your actions, statements, and beliefs in other people's faces when they don't want you to do so. But this shit is just too stupid for me to let go.

According to these people, the lack of widespread acceptance of “otherkin” and “otakukin” is contributing to an environment of mass oppression. Mass oppression? Really? So these people are losing their jobs and being beaten up and murdered and raped because they think they're a chinchilla trapped in a human body? Because they think they are actually the human incarnation of Shinji Ikari? No? None of that is actually happening? No one's actually being killed or beaten or forced out of their jobs? Then what, I ask, is actually going on that could possibly qualify as “mass oppression?”

What's that you say? People are listening to these people say that they are actually animals or anime characters and are laughing at them instead of just accepting it? People are being mean on the internet and not just believing these people out of hand? That's your so-called “mass oppression?”

Are you kidding me, here?

In addition to these weirdos, a new form of personal delusion has popped up onto the landscape. You've all no doubt heard of transgender, but have you heard of transabled? How about transethnic?


Well, if you've got a few hours free and a lot of booze handy, try googling the term “transabled oppression” or “transethnic oppression” and then sit back and prepare to be entertained.

Transabled people are – apparently – disabled people who were unfortunate enough to be born in perfectly functional bodies. They “identity” as being blind, deaf, paraplegic, quadriplegic, and so on despite not having been any of those things a day in their lives. They talk a lot about how hard it is to go through life in a perfectly healthy body.

Transethnic people, on the other hand, are basically people who “identify” as being part of a different ethnicity. In the 90s we called people like that “weeaboos,” except these jokers take it up to 11. The weeaboos just acted like they weren't white or Asian or whatever. These people really do believe they are truly of another ethnicity.

Quick digression: I thought that “transethnicity” was a sick joke until a friend sent me a link to a blog by a white man who “identifies” as a black woman. He apparently claims that he is “oppressed” by other black women who have the gall to actually question his self-proclaimed “identity”.

And then there's the “demi-sexuals.” Apparently, these are people who are sexually attracted to people they are in love with. Yeah, really. They claim that this is a real sexual orientation and that they are being oppressed. How are they being oppressed? I have no idea.

I find the very idea of these people offensive. I feel that they are mocking the very real pain and the very real struggle of disabled people and ethnic minorities to find an equal place in our society. And the greedy appropriation of the “trans experience” just so they can claim to be marginalized is disgusting to me. What these people claim to “suffer” is nothing compared to what actual trans people go through on a daily basis. They are not going to be denied a job, they are not going to be denied housing, they are not going to be forced to be who they aren't, they are not going to be subject to violence because they are “transfat” or “transblind” or “transasian” of whatever.

Trans” is short for “transitioning.” These people aren't transitioning. They're appropriating.

These yahoos have even come up with a special term for those of us who have too much common sense and too much compassion for the struggle of real transgender people to buy into their nonsense. They call us “singlets.” Apparently, all of us who walk around refusing to buy into their nonsense enjoy “cisprivilege.” People who are actually disabled apparently enjoy “cisability privilege”, while actually people of color enjoy “cisethnic privilege.”

Well isn't that special.

This might be the height of arrogant bullshit. These people just need to stop. Right now. Just stop. If they had any real idea how hard it was to live with a disability, to be denied employment or housing because of their gender identity, to be treated as less than human because of their skin color, would they really be clamoring to be a part of it?

As a straight white man who “identifies” as the gender he was born into I can't speak for those groups, but I can tell you that living with a disability is hard! I'm in pain pretty much 24-7-365. I have vertigo spells of various intensity every ten or twelve minutes, some of which last just moments, while others last minutes. I have trouble walking, tire easily, and sometimes can't remember what I want to remember. And I got off lucky! This is not something that should be reduced to a punchline so that someone can pretend that they are oppressed.

As for the so-called “demi-sexuals”, you assholes need to stop blogging about coming out as demi-sexual to your parents as if it was such a fucking hardship. Do you really believe that, in a heteronormative world, that your mom and dad are going to have a hissy fit because you enjoy the most normal, vanilla form of sexual attraction on the planet? Really? You're not oppressed, you're vanilla. I don't remember ever seeing a news article about a “demi-sexual” who was murdered for being “demi,” or thrown out of their apartment, or fired from their job.

And finally, let me direct my eye to you people who claim to be “transfat”. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. I don't care if you weigh a thousand tons on the inside, on the outside you're still just a skinny asshole. You still get to walk into any clothing store you want and buy your clothes with ease. You can go into a restaurant to eat without having people snicker over your size and how much you're eating. You can go to a grocery store without people staring at what's in your cart and making jokes. When you go to a doctor, you don't have him constantly warning you of the heart attack you're going to have at any moment even if everything else about you is healthy and normal.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I wish these people were a put on. I really do. But the more I read about these idiots, the more I realize that they are deadly serious. It disgusts me to a point that its impossible for me to actually describe. Being marginalized because of a disability or your sexuality or your ethnicity is horrible and affects your life in real and painful ways.

Again, I can't speak for people of color or the transgedered, but I can tell you that “disabled” is not just a label you wear for shits and giggles. Its something you struggle with from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until the moment you fall asleep at night. It means that you often die earlier from the stress of just living than you might if you were healthy. This isn't some cutesy game where you pretend to be suffering, claiming to be oppressed and engaging in fake outrage over how the rest of the world refuses to accept you.

Stop. Just stop.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Please Stop the Gender-Baiting

Has anyone else noticed that whenever certain people – and by “certain people” I mean certain feminist internet “journalists”, bloggers, and YouTube celebrities – speak, they speak as if every single issue contains a component of male vs. female and then proceed to tell you how its all part of the “war on women?”

Am I the only person who has noticed this?

Its almost as if they are in a contest with each other to see who can generate the most inter-gender division. The goal seems to find the most outrageous way you can frame a narrative in order to make it absolutely about how the world is out to get women always, every time, regardless of what the specific issue actually happens to be. This seems to be a very popular method of talking to people, and I am constantly seeing more and more supposedly “mainstream” journalists, commenters, and talking heads beginning to follow this same route. Up to – and including – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton engaging in this same tactic at one point.

Honestly, what does it take to honestly see every single issue, every single event, every single thing in the world as being a part of the so-called “war on women?” What kind of special type of stupid does it take to hold this attitude? But the attitude is held nevertheless. I've actually had one of these people tell me, with a straight face, that “everything is misogyny.”

In a world where – supposedly – everything is misogyny, is anything really misogyny? Do they really believe this horse shit? Even more important, are the various non-involved masses who hear them talking buying into it?

If a man disagrees with this sort of absolute stance on misogyny – if he believes that catcalling, just to pick one issue out of the air, is subjective and that what one person might consider offensive and/or threatening might not be seen as offensive or threatening to another person, for example – he will inevitably be met with comments like, “You're such a misogynyst! You're talking about something you know nothing about! How dare you think you should have an opinion! Stop mansplaining!” Even if he has real world examples with which to support and validate his perspective, the people pushing the “everything is misogyny” party line will paint the man's viewpoint and statements as just another part of the “war on women”. No matter how right he is, he is wrong because he's male. And how dare he disagree in the first place, because only misogynists would dare disagree.

I am proud to say that I have female friends who think objectively as opposed to blindly falling in line with “the Sisterhood” that demands all women adhere to the “everything is misogyny” party line just because they are female. They are willing to logically analyze the arguments as presented and quite honestly have often disagreed with this attitude on the basis of fact rather than adherence to dogma.

The fact that not all people – men or women – use this same logical, reasonable process in thinking when it comes to gender issues is a damned crying shame. Instead, every single day there seems to be a widening division occurring between men and women, as if we were each other's enemies.

Women are not the enemy of men. The very idea is stupid.

So why do we allow these people to continue perpetuating the constant division between the genders?


By allowing these people to get away with perpetuating such a lie, their message spreads. It begins to seep into the consciousness of our children, which is why you have so many young girls today believing that rape is an act that all men everywhere are rapists just waiting for the chance to attack and violate a woman. That women must be on guard against men 24 hours a day, seven days a week lest they become victims of violence.

There is an interesting fact that these gender-baiters fail to mention, because they know this will undermine the paranoid bullshit they are promoting, and ought to nullify their agenda of dividing men and women into armed camps opposed to one another.

Simply put, men are four to five times as likely to be victims of violence than women are.

This nonsense has to stop. It has to stop. We as a society cannot afford to allow it to continue. I genuinely believe this this sort of thing is a form of brainwashing. It does nothing to help when it comes to solving the honest problems facing men and women. All it does is get us at each other's throats, and that helps no one.

If you want to have a conversation about gender and gender-based discrimination – whether the victim of the discrimination is male or female – then by all means go for it. Such conversations need to happen. But gender-baiting puts a stop to the discussion before it begins, and does more harm than good.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Don't Fool Yourself. Anyone Can Be a Racist.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to other races."  Seems pretty clear and easy to understand.  And using this definition, everyone and anyone can be a racist.  People with light-skin, people with dark skin, people in between.  Everyone and anyone.

This has been the definition of racism for centuries.

As time has gone on, however, people active in the Social Justice communities began to reject this definition.  Instead, they have put forth a new definition.  The traditional, long-held definition of racism was relabeled "prejudice", and racism was redefined as "prejudice + power."  Now, on the surface this new definition does make sense, as it does explain broader societal examples of racism.  But problems arise from the fact that most people who began with the idea that "racism = prejudice + power" have come to conclude that this ultimately means "only white people can be racist."  And some of the people who came to this conclusion were scholars who supposedly know better than that.

Over the last several years, I've read a lot of so-called "scholarly works" that are based on this assumption, and they all suffer the same problem:  circular reasoning.  They begin with the assumption they seek to prove -- only white people can be racist because only white people have power -- and then go on to manipulate the definition of "power" so that people who aren't white cannot ever be considered to have any.

Power, that is.

I'll give you a for instance.

In order to deny that even the most wealthy and politically connected black people in the US have any power, and thus could, conceivably, fall under the "racism = prejudice + power" definition, the people manipulating the definitions argue that, since white people established the system within which the wealthy, connected black people operate, its actually the white people and not the wealthy, connected black people who really have the power.  Thus, white people can be racist, but no black person can.

Not only is this completely contrary to common sense, but this automatic linking of "power" to "white people" is a flawed idea almost by definition.  Sure, admittedly the history and current state of white supremacy and white privilege should not be ignored, but we simply cannot and must not ignore inter-minority relations as either being powerless or as originating from the white power structure.  This is especially true when we talk about foreign countries.  Although it is true that the world is now linked in a complex web of influence and power, there was in fact a time not too long ago when there were entire continents of people who were not influenced by white society.  Non-white people were -- and still are -- at the helm of power in such countries.

Furthermore, while white people might have more power than minorities in the United States, its not like there aren't any non-white people in positions of power.  If I might point out the obvious, but as I write this, there is a black man in the Oval Office.  There are three members of the US Supreme Court (one third their total number) who are ethnic minorities.  Twenty percent of the US House of Representatives are minorities, while eighteen percent of the US Senate are minorities.  Roughly one fifth of all Fortune 500 CEOs are minorities.

So the idea that only white people can have power, and thus only white people can be racist, is simply false.

Let's look at it intelligently, shall we?  If we rightfully assume that racism is a bad thing, then we should ask ourselves this basic question:  which is worse.  a poor white homeless man living in a cardboard box and eating out of dumpsters, who hates non-whites, or the multi-millionaire black chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security with connections to big business, the press, and other politicians, who hates non-blacks?

If we accept "racism = prejudice + power" as true, then naturally will have to say that the white farmer has less power than the black congressman.  Except that's bullshit according to the SJWs.

By arguing that minorities have no power with which to be racist, we forget instances in which minorities clearly do have power.  I am called to mind an article I recently read about the Roe v. Wade decision which began with the line "So these nine white men walk into a courtroom."  The nine white men in question being the nine justices of the US Supreme Court who made the Roe v. Wade decision.  Except -- and this is important, I think -- wasn't one of the "nine white guys" who made that decision Thurgood Marshall?  And wasn't Thurgood Marshall a black man?

Clearly, the writer of the article has bought into the idea that only white people have ever been in positions of power to the point that the real and important achievements of non-white people are being lost in the political rhetoric.  We shouldn't ever forget the struggles that minorities have gone through to achieve equality in this country, but at the same time, we shouldn't be overlooking their important contributions, either, especially if we forget in the name of maintaining the propaganda narrative.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Is Evolution Satanic?

One of the basic arguments made by creationists is that evolution is a Satanic viewpoint, created by the Devil to deceive people into abandoning Jesus. Organized science, therefore, is nothing more than an atheistic, anti-Christian cult who -- through evil intent or naïve ignorance -- are dedicated to doing the work of Satan by spreading “evolutionism” and destroying decent Christian values.

The creationists are actually quite open about this belief, and will freely assert that evolutionary theory -- even so-called “theistic evolution” in which God is the planner and driving force behind the evolution of the various species -- is the work of Satan.

To quote the Reverend Doctor Henry Morris, “Behind both groups of evolutionists one can discern the malignant influence of ‘that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world’.”

These same people assert that the reason why the modern scientific community spreads the teaching of evolution is not because it has literal mountains of evidence behind it, or because its the best explanation of how species arrive, but rather because they -- the scientists that is -- are atheistic agents of Satan. John Morris, a “creation scientist” at the Institute for Creation Research -- a religious organization that doesn’t actually do much research to be honest -- flatly states that “most scientists reject God.” Creationist Jerry Bergman writes that, “The atheist belief structure is the norm for science. The fact is that the majority of leading evolutionists are atheists, or at best non-theists for whom God is irrelevant.” Henry Morris asserts, “Modern evolutionary astronomers and cosmologists have ruled out the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient God as creator of the universe” and concludes that evolutionary theory can only be accepted “if one categorically dismisses the existence of an eternal God.” Creationists have referred to science fiction giant -- and great scientific mind -- Isaac Asimov as “the atheist Asimov”, and repeatedly assert that astronomer Carl Sagan was “blind to the abundant evidence of God.”

In the mind of a creationist, every area of modern society is permeated with this Satanic conspiracy. Every area. Take, for example, Henry Morris’s opinion regarding Hollywood:

“That old Dragon called Satan had invaded Paradise and God had cast him out into the earth, where he continues to this day leading men and women to rebel against God and His word. ‘Paradise’ is translated directly from the Greek, which in turn was taken from the Hebrew word ‘pardec’, meaning park. Thus, it is no coincidence that Hollywood’s leading atheist producer, Steven Spielberg, chose to fill his “Jurassic Park” with a bestiary of revived dinosaurs. Once again, the serpent is loose in Paradise.”

Apparently, the existence and success of “Jurassic Park” is proof positive that Steven Spielberg is just another part of the International Satanic Evolutionary Conspiracy. Last I heard, Steven Spielberg is a practicing Jew who actually believed in God in addition to believing in evolution. Funny how that works.

The creationist notion that they are the victims of some vast Satanic conspiracy simply cannot be taken seriously. These people attempt to paint their viewpoint as the only Christian viewpoint, implying both that their theological interpretations are representative of Christianity as a whole, and that their interpretations are the only rational view on the subject, while all other viewpoints are the work of Satan.

Neither of these assertions are true.

The fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis followed by the majority of creationists are, in fact, a tiny minority within Christianity as a whole. Every mainstream Christian denomination flatly dismiss the idea that evolution is the work of the Devil. This was amply demonstrated during the Arkansas “Balanced Treatment” trial. All but two of the plaintiffs were representatives of mainstream religious organizations and churches, including the American Jewish Congress, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Bishops of the Unite Methodist, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, and African Methodist Episcopal churches, the head of the Arkansas Prebyterian Church, and individual clergy from the Southern Baptist church. One of the witnesses who testified against “creation science” was a Catholic priest who held a PhD in genetics as well as theology.

How do creationsts respond to the fact that nearly every mainstream religious organization in the United States rejects their theological viewpoint concerning evolution? By claiming that these religious organizations are themselves just another part of the Satanic conspiracy.

Can you think of anything more ridiculous than the idea that the various scientists -- in league with non-fundamentalist religious denominations and film director Steven Spielberg -- are engaged in a vast conspiracy to silence “the truth” that the Devil is actually behind evolution?

The very idea is the product of paranoid insanity. I’m serious. If this is what you really think, you are utterly insane.

Let's Take a Look at Noah's Flood

According to the Book of Genesis, the global flood took place when Noah was 600 years old. Now, if you assume, as the Christians do, that the world was created in 4004 BCE, this would place the flood at about 2400 BCE, give or take a decade or two. In other words, right about the same time that the pyramids were being constructed on the plains of Giza. In other places around the world, the dynastic civil war was settling just which one of four brothers would be king of the Akkadians in Mesopotamia, the first Great Kingdom was forming up to rule what would later be known as Korea, and the city of Lothal was being founded in India.

Lots of things happening, in other words. And in -- well, in wherever the Noah story was supposed to be taking place, the entire world got covered with water as it rained for forty days and forty nights.

I’ve always found it hilarious that the Christians claim the entire world was drowned under water, but the Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Koreans, Olmecs, Celts and so on were all going about their business without noticing that they were supposed to be drowning under mountains and mountains of rainwater. You’d think they could hardly have missed such a thing, but apparently, they did.

Historical records from all those other civilizations show that at no time were their civilizations suddenly wiped off the face of the map by a global flood, or a slow repopulation afterward. Nowhere in the world is there any evidence of such an event. Not archeological evidence, not geological evidence, not historical evidence. Nothing indicates that a flood wiped out the world and drowned all the people on it except one eight-person family.

But “no evidence it ever happened” is only one of the multitudinous reasons to not think the flood of Noah, as described in the Book of Genesis, is actually true. Take, for instance, the problem of the boat itself. The Bible describes Noah’s Ark as being “300 cubits by 50 cubits by 40 cubits,” which translates to approximately 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet tall. Were this for real, the ark was four times as large as the largest wooden ship built by any civilization in the history of the world, and certainly out-sizes any other ship built by any other ancient civilization that existed during the second millennium BCE.

The stresses navigating the open ocean place on large wooden ships were severe, and the larger the ship, the greater the stresses. There is a reason why the ships built by Bronze Age civilizations were much smaller than those built by post-Dark Age civilizations. To be blunt, the technical advances later civilizations developed to enable a large wooden ship to survive ocean travel just did not exist in the Bronze Age.

In point of fact, no ship the size and weight that we are discussing was known to have been built and successfully sailed until the year 1900 CE. These ships, built as I note in 1900, were nine-masted schooners some 300-feet long (150 feet shorter than the ark). They were so long they visibly undulated with waves and required large diagonal braces made of steel -- a substance unheard of in 2400 BCE, a time when bronze was the new big thing when it came to metal -- to keep it from breaking in half. And even with these reinforcements, the stress regularly caused gaps in the ship’s hull; these schooners would leak like sieves and required constant bailing with automated pumps that ran -- quite literally -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And even with all this, these overs-sized schooners were never taken out of sight of land, because if taken out onto the open sea they’d be battered to pieces by oceanic waves. They were used for coastal traffic only.

The fact that these large transport ships had so many problems was one reason why the world’s navies turned to steel ships during the last years of the 19th Century and the years prior to World War I. And this was only 116 years ago, as I write this on January 17, 2016, folks.

Think about it. We’re supposed to believe that a ship 4000 years ahead of its time was built by Noah -- a man who was not a nautical engineer but a shepherd and farmer -- and survived the open seas during a catastrophic, raging flood. We’re supposed to believe that this 600-year old farmer solved engineering problems, all by himself and without the use of modern metallurgy, construction techniques, or physics knowledge, that every navy in the world could not manage to beat 4000 years later. And then, after the flood, the knowledge of how to build these super-ships was apparently forgotten because no other ship of this type would be built, ever.

So that’s the lack of evidence and the implausibility of the ship itself. Let’s consider the live cargo of the ark for just a moment. If we accept the most generous version of the Noah story, Noah was commanded by God to carry seven of every “clean” animal and two of every “unclean” animal on the ark along with himself and his family. But there was only so much space within the hull of the boat, and if you look at the list of known animal species, even restricting it to just two -- much less seven -- means that the boat would be carrying an awful lot of animals. (And it just gets worse if -- as logic dictates we do -- we include not just the animals that exist today but every species of animal known to have gone extinct between 2400 BCE and present day.) Its obvious that even in a boat with some 1,518,750 cubic feet of space (450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet tall, remember) the ark would simply not have enough space for all the animals.

Some creationists have gotten around this by arguing that Noah didn’t take two (or seven) of every species, but rather seven (or two) of every “kind.” And, they argue, after the flood the “kinds” would then vary and produce all the new species we see today.

I’m not kidding. That’s what they say. Let me quote from The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb: “For all practical purposes, one could say that, at the outside, there was need for no more than 35,000 individual vertebrate animals on the ark. The total number of so-called species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians listed in Mayr is 17,600, but undoubtably the number of original kinds was less than this.” (The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications, Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, p.69)

Thus, according to creationists, Noah didn’t have to make room for a pair of lions, a pair of tigers, a pair of leopards -- and so on -- on his boat. All he needed was one pair of a “cat kind” and things would be fine. (For now, we’ll ignore all the problems regarding the subject of “kinds.” I’ve got an entire other essay in the works on that subject.)

There are multiple problems with the creationist view. For example, its often assumed that aquatic animals like otters and seals and dolphins -- being aquatic -- wouldn’t be endangered by the flood since, you know, aquatic! Thus, they wouldn't need space on the ark. Unfortunately, if enough fresh water were to fall on the earth to cover it past the top of the tallest mountains, the salt-content of the oceans would be so diluted that no marine organism, be it fish, plant, mammal, or bird, would be able to live in it. Very few salt water animals can survive fresh water. Such creatures swell up, suffer tissue damage, and die when forced to abide in fresh water for two long.

“No problem,” say creationists. “The fountains of the deep must have sprewed sufficient salt to keep the salinity high enough for marine animals to survive.”

That just reverses the problem, though. Fresh water animals that have to abide in salt water dehydrate and die as the fresh water is leeched from their tissues by the salinity differential. Some creationists have tried to have it both ways by arguing that there were pockets of fresh water and pockets of salt water that were somehow kept from intermixing. How this took place while the churning flood waters were utterly destroying the surface of the earth is something creationists never explain. Whitcomb and Morris speculated that, “All fish must be adaptable to at least a certain range of salinities”, but don’t actually provide any evidence that this is so, or even give examples of what sort of fish qualify.

In any case, anyone with a home aquarium and no qualms about slaughtering your fish can disprove this nonsense. Just add a cupful of salt to your freshwater tank -- or a cupful of fresh water to your saltwater tank, whichever you have -- every morning in order to raise and lower the salinity. Then see what this does to your fish.

Anyway, back to the problem of space on the ark. Not only isn’t there enough room for the animals, there’s also the problem of food for each of these beasts and for Noah’s family. Large herbivores -- elephants, for example -- eat about 350 pounds of vegetable matter a day. Large carnivores -- tigers, for example -- eat about 75 pounds of meat per day. In addition to storage space, the food has to be kept fresh and edible for over a year -- and remember, modern refrigeration technology is the product of the late 19th Century. Naturally creationists have no explanation for these problems.

They also can’t explain what the animals ate after the flood. According to the creationists, there were two “cat kind” animals, two “antelope kinds”, and so on. Presumably, the cats got really, really hungry while on the boat, to the point that its entirely conceivable that the first thing they did when they got off the damned thing was immediately pounce on the antelopes and chow down. Thus, antelope kind would have ended in 2400 BCE, and we wouldn’t have gazelles, sprinkboks, oryxes, and so on today.

Now, its possible that the cats didn’t eat the antelopes, but rather ate the antelopes offspring. Okay, that’s a good thought. That would have taken care of the cats for about a week. Then what? Unless we were to assume that antelopes had a baby a week for a year, we have to assume that the cats -- and for the purposes of this argument, we’ll ignore the wolves, the wolverines, and the other predators -- either ate all the antelopes within the first day or else starved to death. And the same goes for the snake kind, the frog kind, the anteater kind, the owl kind, and so on. Obviously, creationists know little to nothing about the relationship between predators and prey.

Since they cannot admit the entire story of the flood is implausible, they have to try and present some explanation. And they do. They present the same old explanation they use for everything.

“God did it.”

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Problem With Hermione Granger and Her Fans

Better settle in, folks, this one is going to be a long one.

On the other hand, its not going to be about politics.  Nope, this one is sort of silly.  My thoughts and ideas regarding one of the best-regarded characters in children's literature:  Hermione Granger from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels.

I talk to a lot of the fans of the series online.  I occasionally even geek out and write my own stories (yes, I admit it, I am a fanfiction writer).  But talking to some of these people, I begin to wonder whether we're all reading the same books, or if I'm just seeing something that no one else is noticing.

Specifically, I'm talking about Hermione Granger and her rabid, amazingly defensive fans.  When I talk to them, its almost like I'm talking to cult members about their Glorious Leader.  Seriously, the character was pretty well-written, though she's a bit static.  Hermione Granger, as a character, was immensely loyal to her friends, was a selfless champion of the underdog, and was one of the best examples of "book smart" that I can point to in literature.  Note:  book smart.  When it came to real world experience and how to apply what she learned in books to reality, she actually came off as pretty naïve and sometimes downright stupid.

In addition, she was surprisingly closed-minded, arrogant, shrewish, dismissive, superior, condescending, and unduly controlling toward her friends.  I believe "bossy" would be the right term, except for that's now politically incorrect and anyone who applies it to a woman, regardless of how bossy the woman in question happens to be, is in danger of being accused of misogyny.

The fans of the series have distorted her character.  I, on the other hand, remember how she was portrayed in the books, and I know precisely what she was.  All of you fans who cry foul about Hermione's portrayal in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, who complain about the negative aspects of her personality that "suddenly appeared out of nowhere," need to stop fooling yourselves.  Hermione didn't change in those books.  The same characteristics she displayed in those two novels were always there.  Always.  You fans just convinced yourself to ignore them when they showed up in the earlier books.

In point of fact, the very first time Hermione Granger appears in the series, Harry Potter comes away from their meeting thinking that she's bossy and annoying.  Those two words -- "bossy" and "annoying" -- are taken directly from the text of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  Do you really think that those personality traits just suddenly went away when she became Harry's friend?  Hardly!  Remember that bit in Philosopher's Stone where Hermione tried to force her own personal study habits onto Ron and Harry by nagging them?  I sure do.  As a father who has had to raise his children by himself, let me tell you what you get when you nag an eleven year old:  you get nowhere, that's what you get.

Its not like I don't get it.  Rowling let us know quite clearly that Hermione had no friends before coming to Hogwarts.  The only thing she could do to get personal attention from others was win approval from adults (her own parents and her teachers), and the route she chose to get that approval was to be a suck up and an intellectual snobbish over-achiever.  She definitely displayed no social skills whatsoever.  And given all these character traits, could someone please tell me why the fans of the series insist that Hermione Granger is a kind, helpful, social person at age eleven while simultaneously considering the eleven year old Harry to be a few inches away from "basket case" status, and Ron Weasley a feckless thug?

Ron and Hermione both hit Hogwarts with a burning need to impress others.  Ron because he was living in the shadow of his siblings, and Hermione because it was the only form of affection she'd only known.  The difference was, Hermione Granger had already found a way to impress other people:  knowledge and academic achievement.  Thus, when she met Harry Potter -- who, remember, was a celebrity so well known that a muggleborn new to the Wizarding World had heard about him -- she immediately tried to impress him by talking about things she knew about him.  She failed, of course, because first most of what she knew was bullshit, but also because she came off (as I have already noted) as "bossy" and "annoying."

A short digression:  when Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape call Hermione a know-it-all, she barely reacts.  When Ron does it, she goes into hysterics.  Does this seem to indicate that her interest in Ron had already started all the way back in Philosopher's Stone?

Where was I...

Oh yes....

The fans of the series like to bash on Ron Weasley for his character flaws, and this always strikes me as amazingly hypocritical.  Hermione Granger was easily just as bad.  She was incredibly insensitive and jealous of Harry and Ron, mostly because Ron had done what Hermione didn't:  connect to Harry Potter on a personal level.

Let's talk for a moment about the incident with the troll.  Fans of Hermione Granger love to point out that Ron was being a complete and total piece of shit with his horrible rudeness to that poor dear, Hermione, what with his refusal to accept that she was just trying to help.  Sorry, but I call bullshit.  When Ron called Hermione a "nightmare," he was venting to one of his friends.  Are we no longer allowed to vent to our friends?  And did you notice that Harry didn't disagree with Ron at all?  The truth is the truth, even if it makes a little girl cry.  Should Ron have vented to Harry in private?  Probably.  Does that make Ron a horrible bully?  No.  It makes him an eleven year old boy, and historically those are known for their insensitivity and crudeness.

Anyway, let's set aside Ron Weasley's insensitivity for a moment and talk about Hermione's insensitivity.  What drove Ron to say that "It's no wonder she hasn't got any friends"?  Because she was so busy showing up everyone else with her perfect use of the Wingardium Leviosa charm that she missed the part where she was being a condescending bitch who had already alienated all of her peers.  And its not just in this book, either.  Its pretty clear later on that she just doesn't have many friends.  Friendly acquaintances, sure.  Admirers of her intellect also, but friends?  No.  And why?  Because she's a know-it-all who lords her superior intellect over others.

Again a digression:  throughout the seven books, we see Hermione insult Ron constantly.  She talks down to him because of something he said, or some piece of knowledge he didn't already have, or something he did.  She goes out of her way to put him down every chance she gets.  Is this her demented form of flirting, you wonder?  Or does she simply think she's the reincarnation of Elizabeth Bennet?

We move ahead to third year, and again Hermione gets to show off just how insensitive and condescending she is.  Let's start with Crookshanks.  The fact that Ron's pet rat was a shape-shifted death eater is irrelevant; Hermione should never have purchased that damned cat.  She had no idea the rat was a hidden villain, after all, and she certainly knew that cats hunted, killed, and ate rats.  So exactly what point was she trying to make with Ron when she not only bought a pet that could (and did) stalk Ron's pet, but got huffy when Ron complained about the lethal predator stalking his own pet?  I wonder how she would have felt if Hedwig had decided, as wild owls have been known to do in the real world, to end the existence of a rival predator by stooping on Crookshanks and killing the cat.  She was also less than sensitive about the death of poor Lavender Brown's pet rabbit.

Harry Potter has often been labeled as whiney for his attitude in Order of the Phoenix.  Hermione whined at least as much in Prisoner of Azkaban, but funny how no one ever calls her a whiner.

In fifth year, she was just horrible.  Hermione was literally snapping at everyone around her.  When Harry called her and Ron out for their arguing, she actually got angry at him for daring to call her out for it.  And what did she do next?  She nagged Harry some more, this time about the occlumency lessons.  Wonder how well Hermione would have done if Snape had spent the lesson calling her a bossy know-it-all while simultaneously taking a sledge hammer to her skull.

But Hermione's tipping point was Half-Blood Prince.  Harry was finally outshining her academically, Ron had found himself a girlfriend, neither boy was paying her any attention at all, and what happens?  She turns into a jealousy-driven harridan.  The potion book is a perfect example.  It was just a freaking textbook, with superior notes written in it.  That's all.  Any college student who has ever purchased a used text book can tell stories about occasionally getting lucky and finding a book that had once been owned by someone who not only understood the subject a lot better than they did, but who took phenomenal notes and wrote them in the book.  That's not cheating, that's just being lucky.  But nevertheless, Hermione Granger was jealous because Harry was performing better than she was.

It was okay for her to use the time turner, because it let her get around the restriction on elective classes.  And it was okay for Harry to do better than her in Defense Against the Dark Arts because it wasn't a subject she naturally excelled at.  But potions?  A subject in which she was used to outperforming Harry Potter?  Oh fuck no!  There's no way she could accept that!  So she returned to form and started nagging at everyone around her.  And heaven forbid Harry and Ron have a problem with her doing so!

As for her abominable abuse of Ron Weasley, he had a girlfriend, remember?  Lavender Brown, rather than bitch and nag and insult him, was actively flirting with Ron and showing an interest in him based on nothing more than she found him attractive and interesting.  For once in his life, he didn't have to do anything to get someone to notice him.  And again, Hermione wasn't having it.  She continued to insult and belittle him, all the while complaining about his suddenly getting along with Lavender Brown.

Ron made no promises to Hermione Granger.  He was under no obligation to her.  Sure, she invited him to the Slug Club party, but she made it clear they were going "just as friends."  Seriously, did she expect a teenage boy she described as having "the emotional range of a teaspoon" to be discerning enough to pick up the clues, especially since the clues were crouched in insults?  If she was interested in him (and it does look like she'd been interested for a long time) then she should have just said something instead of beaten around the bush.  According to her fans, she's an independent, mature, strong young woman, but rather than act like it, she becomes sulky, weepy, and ultimately angry and physically abusive.

Another digression:  the ugly truth is this:  when it comes to physical abuse among the three heroes of the story, its pretty much always Hermione Granger dishing it out.  And as with real life cases where a domestic abuser is female and her victim male, when Hermione Granger gets violent with Ron or Harry, she gets away with it and the violent behavior is laughed off.  This certainly puts all those fans of Hermione Granger who insist that Ron Weasley would turn into a wife-beater in a very interesting light, doesn't it?  After all, Hermione had already shown herself to have a temper that led to physical abuse of her spouse.

Let's talk a bit about Hermione Granger's constant need to always be the smartest person in the room.  Throughout the series, she openly displays a need to be right, with absolutely no exceptions.  When Harry found out his new firebolt was from Sirius Black, she just could not hold in that "I told you so."  Given that they still thought Black was a bad guy at the time, it seems a bit warranted right?  Well, no.  Not when Harry was refraining from pointing out how stupid Hermione was being about the house elves.  She also couldn't resist using the "I told you so" line on Harry when he cursed Draco Malfoy.  But hey, Harry deserved it, right?  I mean, he cheated by using one of the Half-Blood Prince's spells!  And do you remember when Harry found out the truth about Draco Malfoy and his status as a Death Eater?  Do you remember how Harry refused to look Hermione in the eye when he was telling her about it?  Do you remember why he wouldn't look her in the eye?

It was because he specifically didn't want to say "I told you so."

And on the subject of house elves, the narrative purpose of the house elves was to show us just how far kindness could go.  Some fans have said the elves were conditioned to accept their servile position.  Other fans have said they were slaves.  All very possible.  Hermione's attitude toward the elves certain reflect these opinions.  But if you read Goblet of Fire, you find Dobby saying he'd gone out and searched for a new job.  When was the last time you heard a slave say, "I need to find a new master, because I really, really like working the cotton fields?"

Hermione did not take the feelings and opinions of the elves into consideration when she was pontificating on the "evils" of their servitude.  She came to a conclusion, and acted on that conclusion, and if the elves didn't agree, well, fuck them.  She knew better than they, because she was a witch and they were merely elves.  Lesser beings.  They were slaves, so what did they know, right?  She was being kind, after all.

But as C. S. Lewis put it, "this very kindness stings with intolerable insult."  The worst sort of evils have always been committed by people who think that what they are doing is for the betterment of someone else.  Even better, a lot of the fans who excuse this behavior in Hermione then turn around and imply that Professor Dumbledore was some sort of manipulative tyrant because of his "greater good" ideals.

Any of this sinking in, yet?

I noted earlier that outside of Ron and Harry, Hermione Granger had no friends (except for Ginny Weasley, and they only became friends towards the end of the series).  Why do you think that was?  In the early books, Neville Longbottom was an extremely lonely boy who would have loved to become friends with her if only to have someone with which to occasionally hang out.  So why didn't Hermione become friends with poor Neville?

And she shared her living space with four other girls (Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, Fay Dunbar, and an unnamed fifth Gryffindor girl).  Back when I was in Army basic training, I shared a room with eleven other guys.  I wasn't friends with all of them, but I did manage to become friends with about half of them.  How the hell did Hermione go through six years in the same room with these girls and not be friends with any of them?

As I said before:  no social skills.

You know, something I find endlessly entertaining is the hypocrisy shown by some fans of Hermione Granger.  Especially by the fans of "Harmony Shipping" (as the potential relationship between Harry and Hermione is called).  Ginny Weasley (who ended up with Harry, remember) is often called out by Harmony fans for doing things that these same fans turn a blind eye to when Hermione does it.  For example, Harmony fans often come down on Ginny for supposedly using Dean Thomas to make Harry jealous.  First, at no time in Order of the Phoenix is Ginny's relationship with Dean ever treated as anything but genuine.  Second, didn't Hermione attempt to do the very same thing to Ron by going out with Cormac McLaggen?


Harmony fans also call Ginny out for calling Fleur Delacouer "Phlegm".  But do you guys remember the reason Ginny gives for doing so?  I didn't think so.  It was because Fleur talked to Ginny like she (Ginny, that is) was a baby.  You do remember back in Goblet of Fire how Fleur dismissed Harry as just "a leetle boy", right?  Do you remember how Harry reacted to being talked to like that?  He didn't like it very much, and there's no reason to think Ginny enjoyed it either.

Hermione, by the way, complains of Fleur too.  And not only because Fleur condescended to Hermione, but also because she was jealous.  Ron, after all, couldn't stop drooling over Fleur.

Not only that, but Fleur was everything Hermione wasn't:  graceful, attractive, and imminently feminine.  I'm not saying that Hermione was tomboyish or unfeminine, but the truth is, Hermione always disdained "girlishness" and equated it with a lack of intelligence.  Take her attitude toward Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil.  They were two typical teenage girls:  they think and talk about makeup, boys, and clothes.  Education is not their main priority.  Did that make them stupid?  Did Lavender flirting with Ron turn her into a cow, as Hermione labeled her?  Of course not.  Let's consider Luna, who while described as slightly unusual looking was also described (by Harry no less) as nevertheless being pretty.  She's easily Hermione's intellectual equal, but Hermione barely tolerates her existence.  Funny how her fans fail to mention that when they're bitching about Ginny.

The only pretty girl Hermione ever gets along with is Nymphadora Tonks, and personally I think its because by the time Hermione encounters her, Tonks is an adult and a fully trained Auror.  Had they met at Hogwarts as students, Hermione likely wouldn't have given Tonks the time of day.

Now, in defense of the fans, I think part of the problem is that they are incorporating their love of the films with their love of the books.  Let's be honest now.  Emma Watson looks nothing like how Hermione Granger is described in the books, and she never behaved like Hermione behaved, either.  Snape was too nice in the movies (and let's face it, Alan Rickman is far too charismatic).  Ginny Weasley had just a handful of lines, and Daniel Radcliffe was too short.  To make things worse, Steve Kloves, the main scriptwriter for the films, kept stealing lines from Ron and Harry and gave them to his admitted favorite character:  Hermione Granger.  He's also admitted that he became convinced Harry and Hermione would end up together early, so wrote the scripts from that assumption -- which is why Ginny and Harry's romance in the films seems to come out of fucking nowhere.

Speaking of Ginny and Harry's romance, despite the fact that Hermione fans say otherwise, its entirely possible that Harry actually loved Ginny, and got to the point that he did love her without any coercion, tricks, or love potions involved.  Ginny was, after all, the only one who stood up to Harry's notorious temper and gave back as good as she got (and earned Harry's respect in doing so).  They shared interests, respected each other, and would be quite equal in a relationship.  If nothing else, Harry would yell and scream and Ginny would yell and scream right back.  Compare that to Harry's relationship with Hermione, in which not only would Hermione browbeat Harry constantly, but she'd be terrified of his temper.  And the idea that somehow Ginny resembled Harry's mother simply because they were both redheads is absurd.  Its like saying actresses Frances Fisher and Allyson Hannigan look alive because they're both redheads (do a Google Image search for those two names and see what I mean).

Harmony fans, if you have to make Ginny Weasley into a one-dimensional character in order to make Hermione Granger look good in comparison, what does that say about Hermione Granger?  I get that this is a fictional character I've been rambling  about for a while, but seriously, you're beginning to come off as honestly delusional to me.

Rowling was amazingly obvious in which romantic pairings she was building up to.  Ginny Weasley was a tomboy, a tough Action Girl.  She had no time for bullshit.  She wasn't a crier, a trait that Harry admired and a trait not possessed by Hermione Granger.  Ginny would and could argue with Harry without belittling him, something Hermione Granger could not do.  Whenever Harry was angry, remember, Hermione would step back in fear.  There is a point in each of the books in which Harry specifically takes note of Ginny's presence.  And in Half-Blood Prince the two of them spent so much time together that he actually forgot she had other friends outside of his circle.

All of this should tell you something about the "Harmony" ship.