5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Hit Rock Bottom

O Life! thou art a galling load,

Along a rough, a weary road,

To wretches such as I

~ Robert Burns

So, I’ve hit rock bottom. I don’t have a job, I owe my university a few G’s, and recently I became homeless. Rock bottom.

Just when I thought shit couldn’t get any worse, life turns its ugly head around, points at me, and let’s out a big “PAHAHAHA!!” Yes, life isn’t quite done with me yet. What makes everything worse is the stuff people tell me. For the most part, they have good intentions. But clearly they don’t see things from my point of view.

1- You’ve hit rock bottom. The only way is up. Well, thanks. You honestly thought nobody had said this to me before? Seriously, thank you for trying to keep my hopes up. But come on, you can do better than this. This phrase has become a cliche; the lazy person’s way of making themselves feel better by thinking they’ve just revolutionized your entire world.

2- You should’ve done …… I.Hate.This.One. D’ya know what? Next time you manage to undo the past, send me a fucking email. I don’t need to be told what I should’ve done differently. You seem to be an expert, give me advice on how to deal with this shitstorm.

3- Are you OK? I’m a jobless 22-year-old with no roof over my head, in a country where its people deny me the chance to rent a flat because of my nationality. No, I most certainly am not OK.

4- I know how you feel. You go clubbing every weekend, bought a car straight from the showroom, live with your parents, and have high-tech gadgets. No, you most certainly don’t know how I feel.

5- God works in mysterious ways. This might be a blessing in disguise. Get.The fuck.Out.

Follow this guideline if, by some freak accident, one of your friends goes through something similar. Peace out.

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Lo and Behold! He’s At It Again.

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We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Fischer. He’s doing it again. You remember Bryan Fischer, right? The HIV Denier?

This time is about the Aurora shooting. Fischer claims the shooting happened because “we’ve forgotten God“.

Are you serious? People have died. Young and old have perished, and you have the audacity to exploit this to your benefit? Take a bloody moment and reflect. The bodies haven’t even gone cold, yet.

For your information, James Holmes is a good little Christian Boy, but no atheist in their right mind blamed the shooting on his religious affiliation. Even the few that attributed the shooting to his religious belief were criticized by other atheists, such as PZ Myers. What happened was a tragedy of epic proportions, and all you can do is blame the nation’s non-believers? Your God is so insecure that a minor population of atheists makes him allow such atrocities to take place? A gay man kissing his partner goodnight somehow caused Holmes to pick up an Assault Rifle and open fire on innocent kids?

Folks, it gets better…

Instead of promoting gun-control laws, you’re promoting more gun sales. Do you understand what happened? Holmes went into a gun store, showed his ID, and got an Assault Rifle. A military grade weapon. All they checked was his criminal record. No psych evaluation, no nothing. They just checked whether he had a clean criminal record or not, as if that matters. Guess what, 100% of criminals had no criminal record when they started.

Bryan Fischer, you’re an idiot.

What Grinds My Gears: Teenagers Who Think They Know it All

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Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

~ Anonymous

It’s one of those days. Buckle up.

I’ve got little teenagers on my Facebook profile posting this quote:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Marshall Mathers a.k.a Eminem

A couple of things with that;

a) Contrary to what you think you know, Eminem did not say that. It’s a quote by Winston Churchill. You know, the British Prime Minister?

b) With all due to respect to Churchill, this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Having enemies means you stood up for something; why do people always assume that’s a good thing? Hitler had enemies, so did the Ku Klux Klan, and they seriously stood up for what they believed in.

What Grinds My Gears: The Zombie Obsession

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You become what you think about all day long.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve been seeing so many ‘zombie apocalypse’ posts lately that I’m starting to think people actually want a zombie takeover. What the fuck is so appealing about a world where there is neither food nor shelter and you have to spend every minute of every day running from flesh-eating monsters?

A long time ago, when someone talked about the “future”, you’d think of flying cars, teleportation and space exploration. Now? You think of a world where cereal and canned beans are luxury foods. That’s immensely fucked up.

 

Then and Now

What Grinds My Gears: Human Logic, or Lack Thereof

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There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

~ Frank Zappa

When we pick up a scorching hot piece of food, our initial reaction isn’t to put the damn thing down, but to shove it in our mouths. Because that’s not gonna hurt!

And you know what? Back when we were annoying little kids and we could count to potato, if a food was too hot to hold we’d drop the fucking thing and moan about it – maybe even cry a little – but we knew better than to put it in our mouths. It’s like we unlearned that as we grew up. Now, in our brains we’re all like “OH! this thing is burning a hole through my fingers. Maybe if I put it on my ultra sensitive tongue it won’t hurt anymore”.

Conclusion: We got dumber as we got older. How we haven’t gone extinct yet is a fucking mystery.

No-sex day, because you might turn gay.

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It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it

~ George Washington

This… This is just wrong. On so many levels.

“I know she’s cuddly. Look at me, I’m cuddly.” -Purity Bear

Purity Bear is the Liberty Counsel’s (aka the Patriarchy Counsel as PZ calls it) Day of Purity mascot. What is Day of Purity? It’s a no-sex day, basically. Amongst the ridiculous reasons given by the LC about why virginity is good, this catches the eye: “Today’s culture encourages youth to become sexually active at a young age and to experiment with sexual preferences”. In other words, don’t experiment. You might find out you’re gay. It could end the world.

They also provide flyers on their website, like this one. Check out the stats they provide:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) reported 19 million new cases of sexually  transmitted diseases in the United States, and that the treatment for STD’s costs over $16.5 billion annually. These figures do not include the mental or emotional trauma caused by STDs.”

Here’s an idea:

Another insane stat:

“A teenage girl has nearly a 50/50 risk of getting HPV in her first sexual relationship, (46 percent) according to BJOG : An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

Ironic. Guess who’s promoting anti-HPV vaccine nonsense?

But…

All this aside…

Of all the cuddly animals they could choose, why did they have to go with the bear? Seriously, this is NOT the animal to take sex advice from.

Time lapse: Earth, view from space

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National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space.

~ Carl Sagan

The video was created by Michael König from the photographs taken by the crew of expeditions 28 and 29 on-board the International Space Station (ISS) from August to October 2011. The photographs were shot at an altitude of 350 km.

Shooting locations in order of appearance:

1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

How bees fly: scientific vs religious answer

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The day you stop looking because you’re content God did it, I don’t need you in the lab. You’re useless on the frontier of understanding the nature of the world

~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson

One of the most famous urban myths of science (and a popular one among Intelligent Design proponents) is the myth concerning bees and flight. The myth that bees theoretically should not be able to fly has been around since the 1930s, and most engineering students have probably heard all the reasons why bees shouldn’t be able to fly. Well, they are able to fly, and they do it without defying the laws of physics.

According to a source, the myth originated in Germany in the 1930s. Apparently, during a dinner event a biologist and an aerodynamics engineer were having a chat and the biologist asked the engineer about the flight of the bees. The engineer (who I’m assuming was half-drunk by that point) did a quick calculation and applied the formula for fixed-wing aircraft. Naturally, the engineer concluded that bumblebees didn’t generate enough lift to fly. The biologist must’ve been all excited and started going around telling people that “bees defy physics!”

How do bees fly? (Actual reason)

One can only hope that the engineer realised his mistake when he sobered up and corrected himself. The problem lied with the formula used. The formula assumed rigid, smooth wings (like an airplane), when in reality the wings of the bumblebee function like reverse-pitch semirotary helicopter blades.

Bees basically twist their wings, so they are vertical when they move up, but horizontal when they move down. By doing that they also create vortices below them to push them up.

Bees flap their wings around 230 times per second. When carrying a heavy load, instead of increasing their wing beat, they stretch out their wing stroke amplitude. (Altshuler et al. 2005)

This short video explains bee flight beautifully (and it has slow motion footage!)

Cool fact: Buzzzzzzzzing!

The buzzing sound you hear when bees fly is not due to wing-flapping. It’s their flight muscles vibrating. In low temperatures, the buzzing sound is more pronounced since bumblebees need to warm up considerably in order to be able to fly (Heinrich 1981).

How do bees fly? (Religious answer)

(Courtesy of Yahoo! Answers)

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Further Reading

Altshuler, D L; Dickson, W B; Vance, J T; Roberts, S P; Dickinson, M H. (2005) Short-amplitude high-frequency wing strokes determine the aerodynamics of honeybee flightProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102(50)

Heinrich, B. (1981). Insect Thermoregulation. Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN: 0471051446.

Srour M. (2010) Insect Flight: Origins and Aerodynamics. Teaching Biology (Weblog)

How humans out-sheep the sheep: five monkeys and a ladder thought experiment.

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The most damaging phrase in the language is: “It’s always been done that way.”

~ Grace Hopper

Ever come across the five monkeys and a ladder thought experiment? If not, stick around. This is going to be an interesting post. If nothing else, it’s a modern-day parable.

People usually fail to mention this is actually a thought experiment and pass it off as a real experiment. It’s not. It’s a thought experiment based on an actual experiment published in a 1967 paper by a researcher called G.R. Stephenson (cited below), and it goes like this:

Five monkeys were placed in a cage. In the middle of the cage there was a ladder with a banana on top. As one might expect one of the monkeys raced toward the ladder and as he started to climb, the researchers sprayed the monkey with cold water. In addition to the monkey climbing the ladder, however, the four monkeys at the bottom of the ladder were also sprayed with ice cold water.

A second monkey attempted to climb the ladder and the same thing happened: the researchers sprayed all 5 monkeys with cold water. After a while none of the monkeys dared to climb the ladder to get their hands on the delicious banana, regardless of the temptation.

Once the researchers made sure none of the monkeys was going to climb the ladder, they replaced one of them with another monkey. The newcomer, unaware of the situation, ran toward the ladder to get the banana. But once he started to climb the ladder he was brought down and beaten up by the other four monkeys. After several beatings, the inexperienced new guy learned his lesson: Climbing = Getting beat up. Although he had absolutely no idea why.

The researchers then replaced another one of the original monkeys with an inexperienced one. The same thing happened again: newcomer climbs -> the other four beat him up -> he learns his lesson. The interesting observation here was that the first substituted monkey also joined in to beat up the the new guy, even though he had no idea why he was beaten up for doing the same thing.

The same process was repeated and the 3rd and 4th monkeys were substituted, only for the newcomers to get beaten up every time they attempted to climb the ladder until they stopped trying. Finally, the 5th monkey – the last of the original monkeys and the only monkey present in the cage who actually received the cold showers – was replaced. The new monkey, naturally, attempted to climb the ladder for the banana, but the other 4 monkeys – who had never received cold showers and were instead beaten up every time they tried to climb the ladder themselves – attacked the newcomer and beat him up.

If monkeys could speak English, the new guy would probably ask “Why do you guys keep hitting me every time I try to get the banana?“, and the other four monkeys, after giving each other puzzled looks, would reply “It’s always been done like this“.

Does it ring a bell?

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Sources

Stephenson, G. R. (1967). Cultural acquisition of a specific learned response among rhesus monkeys. In: Starek, D., Schneider, R., and Kuhn, H. J. (eds.), Progress in Primatology, Stuttgart: Fischer, pp. 279-288. (Can’t find this one online. Of all the socially important research papers, this is the one not on the web.)

Mentioned in: Galef, B. G., Jr. (1976). Social Transmission of Acquired Behavior: A Discussion of Tradition and Social Learning in Vertebrates. In: Rosenblatt, J.S., Hinde, R.A., Shaw, E. and Beer, C. (eds.), Advances in the study of behavior, Vol. 6, New York: Academic Press, pp. 87-88

HIV was invented to get research money, according to fundie idiot.

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The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

~Bertrand Russell

Fundamentalist Christian and radio show host Bryan Fischer, who has a Masters degree in Theology and a PhD in Stupidity, has made yet another bold (and utterly senseless) claim: HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and it’s just an excuse for scientists to get research money.

His “evidence”? Magic Johnson being alive for 20 years after his HIV diagnosis. Sample size = 1. Hell of an evidence, professor. His guest, AIDS-denialist Peter Duesberg is no better either. At the end of the interview, he asserts that half of all AIDS patients are promiscuous gay men who have “hundreds, often thousands” of sexual experiences in a short time and “they can accomplish that, like our Olympians break records now in the Olympics, by taking tons of drugs”.

If only people took the time to read a couple of books to learn a thing or two about HIV. Hell, you don’t even need to buy an HIV-specific book; any microbiology book would do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a section dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness with all the basic information necessary to learn about the disease. But of course Fischer knows everything, right?

If you didn’t already know, Fischer has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons: Jesus would whip Occupy Wall Street protesters; the Medal of Honor has become feminized because they are awarded for “preventing casualties, not inflicting them”; Christopher Hitchens is burning in Hell because sky-daddy loves him; and the government should regulate homosexuality like they regulate cigarettes. How’s that for Christian love?

I’d wonder why he even gets air time, but that’s obvious: because people tune in to listen to him. That frightens me.