Single Cell

"things someone giving out clues for a game of pyramid would say"

(no subject)
facebook now has an option where you can tell their database you’re trans, and i am just so positive that information will never ever be used for nefarious purposes, just like all the other data they collect on you is never ever sold to marketing companies

No, actually, you can't make a joke about anything.
There are certain patterns I've seen while arguing people over the Daniel Tosh thing, and I'd like to make one last note before the whole thing completely fades from people's memories. Mainly, all of the people defending Tosh have arguments that essentially boil down to "You can make a joke about anything." This premise is given as if it were an empirical, divine, infallible, god-given and scientifically-proven fact. This is ridiculous of course, since no statement meets that criteria, and certainly not that specific sentiment, for which the opposite has been more readily proven. That is, "It's just a joke" has been given as a backpedaling excuse for some truly horrible shit.

But suppose one were to take it as true--after all it, by itself, is mechanically true. You can in fact put together a string of words and ideas that form together into a sentiment which you do not sincerely espouse for purposes of nonsense, irony, and/or satire, about any subject. Or maybe you do truly espouse those words and ideas, and mean to express this comedically. Either way, it's something that can be done. The problem develops in the fact that invariably, when someone says "You can make a joke about anything", they are trying to excuse a certain joke, which adds the implication that they are saying "You can make a joke about anything, absent of cleverness or tact, without consequence." The multiple problems with that statement have been addressed in my previous post. The further one treads from cleverness and tact, the closer one encroaches to having to face the consequence of one's words.

As such, there's a necessary contradiction involved in defending a joke by saying "You can joke about anything". And this is no surprise; as the people claiming that Tosh should not be called out for his statements, simultaneously defend those statements by claiming that the woman should be called out for hers. Well, more than called out, really, which is the other problem: equating a few seconds of unwanted commentary, with rape threats.

To close, I'll give a bit of further insight as to my own ideals of off-color humor. My main source for an inappropriate laugh is The Nerdfit Network, who have a website I once regularly wrote articles for, and still occasionally do so. They also run a podcast and go around to comic/anime/gaming conventions around the US doing panels, which are essentially stand-up bits(One among them recently suggested going into stand-up, to which I and several others mentioned that is basically what he already does). The difference being, people are encouraged to chime in when relevant. This doesn't diminish some sort of sanctity or pristine holiness of the performance, as some Tosh defenders would suggest. Far to the contrary, the feedback often leads to a better time had for all.

It's kind of like a article I read about why celebrities are so insane--nobody dares tell them what they're doing wrong. So why feed into a system that makes the people we love to watch, terrible?

Tosh, Rape, and Why A Shitload of People Are Missing the Point Entirely
Okay, so there's been some controversy going around on the blogosphere lately about whether or not rape jokes can be/are funny, and this is in response to an incident where Daniel Tosh was making some rape jokes at a comedy club. I want to start right out by addressing the most important issue, which most people tend to skip in favor of jumping right to the discussion of whether rape jokes are OK. The problem is not merely one of Daniel Tosh using rape jokes or "shock humor" as some may minimalize it as. No, the problem is that when someone in the audience was shocked by the shock humor, Tosh's reaction was to say "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF YOU AUDIENCE FOLKS STARTED GANG-RAPING THIS WOMAN RIGHT NOW?"

That's not a joke, that's not anything permissible by societal standards. That is a direct endorsement of an immediate situation where a woman could be raped. Daniel Tosh supports rape. Daniel Tosh supports rape. This is what is important in this discussion. Daniel Tosh supports rape. This is what most people are glossing over. Daniel Tosh supports rape. Daniel Tosh supports rape. Regardless of any standpoint one might take on dark humor, shock humor, even specifically rape humor, this is what must not be forgotten: DANIEL TOSH SUPPORTS RAPE.

Now then. Since it's a hot topic right now, let's talk about rape jokes. This is a touchy subject and I am willing to be argued against here, because there are very real possibilities for endorsing harm either advertently or inadvertently. That's my point number one: If you absolutely must make a joke that in any way involves rape, be prepared to include a number of statements enforcing the fact that rape is a terrible crime, and it should never be done by anyone. Also, be prepared to apologize for offending people.

Second, rape should never be a punchline. This is for two reasons, one is because it cheapens the crime of rape and makes it seem more acceptable to an audience that may well include rapists, and it's also just bad comedy. It's lazy and it's been done to death.

However, in my opinion there may be situations wherein a setup involving rape may be permissible; particularly if the punchline furthers the statement that rape is a terrible crime. I have two examples of such jokes. The first is one that was a source of great controversy, the infamous Penny Arcade dickwolves comic. The SETUP involved slaves who were being exploited for labor, and further tortured through beatings and rape. The PUNCHLINE, however, is that the so-called "hero" sent to save them is only obligated to rescue a limited number of these slaves, and decides to stop as soon as he is not being further rewarded. It's actually less of a joke and more of a commentary on a flaw in MMO gaming design, but it's constructed in the same way as a joke.

The second example is George Carlin's less-famous joke involving rape. Every time the subject of rape jokes is broached, people come out of the woodwork to mention the stupid, lazy joke with Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig. That's not even a joke, it's just a reference to Rule 34. There's no set-up OR punchline. I never found that joke funny, and it's a crying shame that a joke he made that uses rape as a set-up and self-deprecatory humor as a punchline is virtually unknown. So, along with correcting people on what the point of this Tosh thing is, and about how rape can be used in jokes if ever, I will now also right a much-lesser-but-still-notable wrong by introducing people to this joke.

"There's a rape every six minutes in this country. And boy is my dick sore! I'm tellin' ya, every day, house to house. There's no let-up. It's a fuckin' hassle."

This also references his other bit where he mentions that every joke needs an exaggeration, and this is true, because that's what keeps it from being real. Along with the disclaimers that rape is a terrible crime and should never be committed by anyone in any situation, Carlin includes in his joke (and actually weaves the joke out of) the idea that it's just this one guy committing all the rapes. And I can tell you that's an acceptable punchline, because people made the same joke about Avatar: The Legend of Korra in that maybe it was just one firebender running around killing everybody's loved ones, and nobody batted an eye at it then.

But in that, we also see the problem with Tosh's actions. Whereas the closest a rape joke can get to being acceptable involves distancing it as far as possible from reality, Tosh made it as real as it gets. He suggested that an actual, real-live and in-person woman in the audience, should be gang-raped by other actual, real-live members right there in the audience. And knowing the fanaticism of the cult-like fanbases that even marginally popular celebrities such as Tosh accumulate, I'm surprised that the woman wasn't raped right then and there. The fact that she left right then is likely what saved her, because all the rapists waiting to jump her outside the venue stayed until the end of the show.


I wrote a letter to my father.

Traditionally, we've always gone to church as a family when able, though it may or may not come as a surprise to you that recently, my willingness to acquiesce to this tradition has become more and more tenuous. The scales, however, have finally tipped, and I will no longer be able to continue this tradition, at least not at any Catholic church.

You no doubt are seeking a further explanation of this decision—I recall you earlier scolding me for “throwing a grenade into a room and then leaving”. The final straw came when we went to mass when I was home for Thanksgiving. As I entered the church, I immediately saw a banner hung on the podium: “Pray to end abortion”. Over the next few minutes, I came to several realizations, culminating in the decision to no longer show tacit support of the Catholic Church by showing up for mass.

My initial outrage was at the bald proclamation of misogynistic intent—that any woman who becomes pregnant for any reason and with any complications should still be forced to carry a fetus to term—but upon further consideration, I realized the problem was much deeper than that. It wasn't just that the banner read “Pray to end abortion”. The problem was that the banner could have had anything else written on it, and yet it was decided that the best option was to put misogyny as the Church's first and foremost priority.

And I feel that's wrong. I feel the Church has much bigger issues it needs to deal with. I feel the Church should be asking people to “Pray to end child rape”, to “Pray to end sex trafficking”, to “Pray to end corrupt leaders”, and to “Pray to end undeserved authority”. We ought to “Pray to end the justice system's decision to turn a blind eye to crimes committed by religious institutions”. Actually, if you could get the entirety of the Catholic laypeople on board with that campaign, it wouldn't even require divine intervention; they could quite easily just round up all the corrupt priests, throw them in burlap sacks, and drop them off at the police station. Or maybe with the knowledge that the entirety of the Catholic Church was up against them, they'd turn themselves in. Either way, it'd be a very positive force in the world, and isn't that what the Catholic Church always claims to be trying to be?

But maybe that'd be hitting too close to home. Maybe the Church isn't willing to hang its head in shame of the atrocities it has allowed to happen, and has even facilitated. Actually, that sounds more like a “definitely”, since that would require the Church to accept that it has done wrong—clearly not the case, since they're not stopping.

Even so, there are other things that could be on that sign. “Pray to end natural disasters”, for one. Though maybe that's too much to ask of any deity—after all, I've been told that suffering exists because free will exists, though the connection between the actions of free will and the consequences of natural disasters is a mystery to me.

Of course, the original sign was directed more to everyday social problems, wasn't it? Let's take religious hierarchies and natural disasters out of it for a moment, then, and just focus on that. Perhaps “Pray to end the persecution of homosexuals”? I've heard a lot about this happening in schools recently; some victims were even driven to suicide. That'd be another good candidate, “Pray to end teen suicide”. That would save lives that aren't even under any controversy as to whether or not they're really lives!

That last thought brings me close to the end of this train of thought. I'm really puzzled as to how people put so much value on a bundle of cells incapable of thought AND relying on another human being's body to live. See, you managed to throw me off before with the case of the mental patient, but there is a very critical difference, and that is the fact that the mental patient's continued life has no toll on the body of a person he or she is living in, because he or she is not living inside somebody else's body.

So I came to the conclusion that the only motivation for anti-choice sentiments is misogyny, be it conscious or subconscious. It seems far-fetched, sure, but to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through his most famous character, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” I can see no possible way for a person to seek the preservation of an undeveloped bundle of cells at even the smallest cost—unless the pregnant woman in question genuinely wanted to have a child.

Which brings me to my final suggestion for a better sign: “Pray to end to unwanted pregnancy”. Wouldn't that just solve everybody's problems? Any pregnancy from teen sex, any pregnancy from rape or incest, any pregnancy with complications—done away with by the hand of a benevolent deity. Because that's what's really going on here, people are asking for an all-powerful being to solve problems. So why not solve everybody's problems?

The answer is one of two possibilities. One, the Church isn't saying “Pray to end abortion”. They are saying “Vote to end abortion”, without using vocabulary that would jeopardize its tax-free status. You can't vote away unwanted pregnancy, so they can't ask that. This option implies that religious leaders are lying to us and don't actually believe in any deity they claim to speak for, and are only using the idea of an all-powerful authority to control people to make certain choices—in this case, misogynistic choices. In this scenario, the Church cares more about pushing misogyny than stopping the child rape it has perpetuated, in which case I can no longer tacitly support the Church by attending mass.

In the second scenario, the Catholic hierarchy genuinely believes what it is telling us, but it doesn't occur to them to ask for a solution to everybody's problems; they're okay with leaving the women high and dry. In this scenario, the Church cares more about pushing misogyny than stopping the child rape it has perpetuated, in which case I can no longer tacitly support the Church by attending mass.

Because of the Morton's Fork* presented above, the only choice is for me to stop attending Catholic services. Out of respect for tradition, however, I will happily go along with you to attend religious services of any sect that is not so deeply mired in scandal and bigotry.



*A Morton's Fork is a scenario in which two (or more) choices are presented, though they both result in the same outcome, just for different reasons.

Communication requires effective listeners
A lot of the time, people hear me mention one thing, and then I'll mention another thing, and they'll think that I'm saying those two things are the same. For example, I might say "I think the weather will be good today, so I'm going to go hiking. Or maybe I'll go fishing." And someone will hear this, and respond, "Are you trying to tell me that hiking is the same as fishing? You must be out of your mind!" But anyone with half a brain *should* be able to see that the only thing I said was that both are things to do in good weather.

Most recently, someone responded to a letter to the editor of mine that made it into The Daily Campus, and in doing so made this same mistake. I had said that the ethics of natural law were heavily flawed, and fell into the fallacy known as Natural Fallacy, named so for the fact that it deals primarily with the ethics of natural law. See, what happened is that the most common source of my ire, Nicolas Tomboulides, tried to back up Christian morals with the ethics of natural law. In turn, I pointed out that natural law doesn't work, cited Natural Fallacy, and mentioned that it's the same thing that backed up Hitler's idea of greater and lesser races.

What then happened is that some other fellow named Brandon Devine criticized my comments, stating that I had said that Christian morals support the Holocaust. Now, it's true that I could argue that the anti-semitism stemming from the whole "Jews killed Jesus" battle-cry could easily be something that was supporting the Holocaust(Note that the population of Germany at the time was all Catholics and Lutherans). But that wasn't even what I was arguing! I was only arguing that you can't back something up with natural law, because it is plainly evident how things that have been backed up with natural law in the past have been abominable.

It should also be clear how I was not stating that ethics (such as natural law) and morals (such as Christian morals) are the same. In the lead-in post to this, I discussed the differences between ethics and morals. You can back up a moral with ethics, assuming the ethics are sound, but they aren't the same thing. In fact, the system would be stronger if it were just the ethics, without the morals muddling up the process of deciding what is right and what is wrong.

I'll close with another story of people confusing two different things for one same thing. When I was applying to college, there was a registration fee that could be paid by check. At the same time, I wanted to re-up my WoW subscription, which requires a debit or credit card. Now, I had no money to speak of, so I asked my mom to help out with these. First she wrote out a check for the registration fee, and I mailed it out, no problems. Then she told me her credit card was a sort of no-name bank card that wouldn't be accepted for online transactions, so my WoW account wouldn't get renewed. Oh well, at least I got the important one done.

Shortly thereafter, my father was going ballistic. He was pounding on my door and screaming as loud as he could about how I couldn't go to college because the registration fee hadn't been paid. That's right: My mom had told him that she wasn't able to pay for something with her credit card, and somehow completely forget that she had already paid the registration fee with a check. It took a full fifteen minutes to explain that the registration fee had in fact been paid. All because people can't seem to understand that two different things are not the same just because they get mentioned within a few minutes of the other.

Pre-Rant Primer: Morals vs Ethics
Earlier today I was thinking about how people often have a great deal of trouble, be it honestly or dishonestly, interpreting some of the things that I say. A part of this involved issues of morality and issues of ethics, and the two being interpreted as the same. Rather than having this inserted into that post, I decided to have it out here and just reference it in the next post, since otherwise it would be quite a distracting tangent.

So, morality and ethics. A lot of people seem to think that these are the same thing, but there are some key differences. True, both have to do with deciding acceptable ways of behaving, but that's where the similarities stop. Within the differences, however, is where some particularly sneaky people like to imply that, through the similarities, morality is the same as ethics, but at the same time, through the differences, purport that the dictionary definition of "morality" supports their own arguments.

That's the hypothetical of it. It'll probably make a lot more sense in context, however. See, morals are laws given down from authority that demand people act in certain ways. These are not necessarily ethical, nor are they necessary for people to do good, nor are they necessary for people to decide what "good" is. In fact, the presence of morals can often confuse people as to what is good, and prevent them from deciding what is good, and in turn perform harmful acts, thinking them to be good.

Ethics, on the other hand, are a system of determining whether an action is good or evil, for instance, utilitarianism demands that people consider the net result of their actions and act in the interest of the greater good, whereas Kantian ethics demand that people consider whether a world could exist wherein everyone chooses to act in the same manner as the person considering action, then considering whether that world would be a desirable place to live in. In both cases, a person must take the specific situation into consideration and think critically about the consequences of an action, rather than just automatically following the rules as in morality.

A society can survive and thrive without morals; these are just rules--perhaps completely arbitrary rules--handed down from positions of authority--perhaps false or corrupt authority. However, codes of ethics are important for people to decide how to act appropriately.

See in this example: The Bible contains a great many moral rules in them. For example, a disobedient child must be stoned to death, and there are rules that assume that some people will own other people as property. But there are no ethics behind these rules. When ethics were applied, society considered the impact of a disobedient child versus the death of a child. We considered what it meant to own a human as property, and what it would be like to be found in that situation ourselves. And we decided that these moral rules were abominable. We discarded them.

K sends letters to the editor
In his 10-26-11 article, “Religion helped jumpstart science as we know it today”, John Nitowski does a laudable job of dispelling some of the myths surrounding religious oppression in the dark ages. While it is true that the “People who ask questions go to Hell” mentality of fundamentalist Christianity left no room for scientific inquiry, the infrastructure that was laid down did indeed pave the way for later advancements.

Unfortunately, that is where John's perspective begins to get hazy. Reading the article, I get the feeling that John doesn't have a good grasp of what makes atheism what it is. For the sake of perspective, I will do my best here to dispel any misinformation. “Atheistic ethics” are not, as John would assume, a reflection of natural law. The abominable practices listed such as eugenics and Social Darwinism do not have a history of being accepted as ethical by atheists as a whole. As we value reason, we atheists see that practices such as the above fall under the category of Natural Fallacy, that is, that which happens in nature is not necessarily appropriate for society. So, whereas Darwinian evolution is something that demonstrably occurs in nature, Social Darwinism involves applying a cold and unfeeling perspective to matters involving thinking, feeling humans. This is not something that atheists view as acceptable.

In fact, atheists tend to be far more progressive when it comes to social matters. The best way to come to know this is to see for yourself. I recommend looking up Greta Christina or PZ Myers and seeing what they have to say about ethics. They frequently publish articles on the web, and a quick run through either of their blogs should be enough to see a number of atheist viewpoints.

Back to John's article though, the other bit which bugged me was comparing religious atrocities with atheist atrocities. I think this is a false road to go down. A lot of the time, people can see both sides trying to highlight the atrocities of the other, while diminishing their own side's atrocities. But this is pointless. It is not atheism or Christianity that drives certain leaders to commit atrocities. Rather, it is the will of extremists to control populaces that encourages this abominable behavior. Would Stalin have stepped down had he found Jesus? Doubtful. Likewise, would a Pope Urban II lacking in faith have not ordered the Crusades? Just as doubtful. The cause of these atrocities are corrupt leaders, plain and simple. It's why religion is often the subject of such scrutiny today; while it may indeed have set the groundwork for today's scientific developments, the hierarchy of religion is something many people believe puts corrupt figures in positions of too much power.

K Hates The Daily Campus, part 10

I'm really mad. Nicolas Tomboulides has been at it again, being always wrong. It really brings me to tears just how enragingly stupid someone can be.

So to start it off, this fuckwit doesn't understand why contraceptives and sterilization count as preventative health care. "Why is newly created life being considered a health problem requiring prevention?" he asks. Way to miss the point entirely. Let me explain it to your tiny, indoctrinated mind. Maybe there's a little room left that hasn't been filled with the hateful dogma of your fucked-up religion, but that may be hoping for too much. Between conception and birth, there's a long, drawn-out process called "pregnancy". Yes, that's right; life doesn't begin at conception, there's a nine-month wait in-between--well, actually it's more like ten months. During that time, the woman carrying the child is subject to a litany of pains and dire health risks, up to and including the risk of death. These are all severe health problems requiring prevention. Of course, I'm sure someone who has shown such amazing bigotry as Nic has doesn't really care about these risks--after all, they only apply to women.

He also thinks Plan B induces abortion, which is simply not true. Plan B prevents ovulation, which stops pregnancy from happening in the first place. Why is The Daily Campus allowing such heinously dishonest misinformation to continue being perpetuated?

He refers to the objections of the Roman Catholic Church as "real and principled". Well the objections are there, sure, but since when is "hatred of women" a principle? He backs it up with "natural law"--sorry Nic, but the so-called 'ethics' of natural law are better known as the Natural Fallacy, and it's the same logic Hitler used to justify the extermination of "lesser races". He goes on to say that "the Obama regime is disrespecting the fundamental right of religious liberty" by "imposing on the church a forced purchase of services it deems incompatible with God's wishes". But the Catholic Church has no way of knowing for certain what "God's wishes" are, or if a god even exists in the first place. All of Church doctrine is not a matter of taking orders given by a celestial being; rather it is merely a tradition passed down since long before people had the knowledge and technology to truly understand the world around them. When doctrines originating from sexist tribes demand that women be forced to go through with pregnancy, we should find it suspicious and doubt it, rather than accept it unquestioningly and subjugate women.

Nicolas supports his argument with the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law..prohibiting the free exercise of religion." But there already are laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. There are passages from the Bible that say "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" but killing a practitioner of Wicca is illegal. So obviously it's okay to prohibit the free exercise of religion when it would impede on another's rights, and that is exactly what is being done here.

The above is in response to:

K Hates The Daily Campus, part 9
Does anyone remember learning about how Pharaoh unionized all the slaves of Egypt? I sure don't, but I guess Nicolas Tomboulides is more privy to these things than I. In his commentary on 10-10-11, "Malloy's executive order is evidence of abuse of power", Nic compares Connecticut governor Dan Malloy to the infamous "Egyptian tyrant". It's vaguely racist in that regard, as if an Egyptian tyrant is the worst sort. Surely, the leader of a fascist regime in, say, Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia could never commit atrocities worse than anyone from Egypt.

But admittedly, that's just nitpicking. Nicolas' flagrant disregard for historical accuracy or a good analogy does not by itself falsify his argument. He states that these executive orders should only be enforced in an emergency, and he doesn't think that the need to unionize workers in home health care and daycare fits the bill. This is in stark contrast to statements from one of his earlier articles; for someone who thinks it is of the utmost importance to ensure that producers reap the full and unabridged yield of their product, lest they decide it's not worth it to continue producing, Nic sure doesn't seem to care about guaranteeing the financial welfare of workers, lest they decide it's not worth it to continue working.

And I can testify that the home health care and daycare workers do not have the proper incentives. I once worked as a home health care provider. Through a government project, I was employed to help families look after their elderly relatives who were suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The pay was terrible and there were no benefits to speak of, so even without other forms of income to rely on, I quit within a few months. Where does that leave those families? Where does it leave those patients? Are we to let our elderly, who have spent their whole lives feeding into society, simply rot to death? Do they not deserve comfort in their final years?

Given that, I would certainly say that the lack of a union for these workers constitutes an emergency. Daycare and home health care: These are the services that provide for our most vulnerable members of society. Our past, who have already worked so hard for our benefit, and our future, who we rely on to ensure that we indeed have a future. Are we to let these people go without the care they need? Once again, Nicolas Tomboulides ignores the plight of any group he is not a part of.

(The link is unavailable as The Daily Campus' site is down at time of writing, but as I've noted the date and article name, as well as the author, it should be no problem to find it once the site goes back up.)

K Hates The Daily Campus, part 8
At this point I am 90% certain that Nicolas Tomboulides reads this blog.

I am also 100% certain that if you do a Google search for "The Daily Campus", I COME UP, WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

The post to which I am referring to is this one:

And you know, for a while I was amused to rail against Nic's know-nothing grumblings about the his delusional view of the world. But I think he's just gone too far this time. I'm going to see what I can to to put a leash on him, because his anti-woman rantings should not be the sort of trash UConn is proud to display in its paper.

I've talked about this subject before, but it bears repeating. So let's take a look at the misogynistic cesspool that is Nic's latest abomination.

It's pretty ugly. Are you sitting down? Nic makes a direct comparison between abortion and slavery as it existed in pre-abolition America. Yeah, that just happened. Somehow, in Nic's twisted, woman-hating mind, there is some sort of parallel between a slave owner keeping a slave for labor, and a woman being victim to a parasite. Though, it actually does kind of work if you switch it around and compare the woman to the slave and the master to the fetus: The master/fetus unjustly takes from the slave/woman, while the slave/woman can do little to nothing to escape this arrangement. So assume it's Opposite Day, Nic is actually exactly correct for once. Though come to think of it, the same could be said for everything Nic writes.

Most of the article rests on his original premise being correct, which I've already debunked. He also goes on to call some of the more prominent figures in Planned Parenthood racist, which is an ad hominem attack that has nothing to do with the life-saving services they provide to women. But then, it's no surprise to me that Nic is quick to attack Planned Parenthood so viciously.



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