To the Class of 2010…

Robert Frost, bitches!

May 31, 2010

To the graduating class of 2010…

I’m sure you’ve already heard from your valedictorian, salutatorian, and your special guests. I’m sure you’re just as anxious as me to get out and party it up, but I have a few things I need to share with you.

First of all, I’d like to confirm a sneaking suspicion most of you have had. Yes, teachers talk about you. We joke about you. But we also brag about you. We talk about those “Aha!” moments and how good it feels to know you’re going out knowing more than when you came in.

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And since we’re being so honest with each other, I feel I have to tell you this.

The world sucks. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s not that vinyl sounds better. There used to be better music. You’re inheriting a country that is fighting a war on two fronts, has slipping educational standards, and in the past ten years has lost one major American city, the World Trade Center towers, and is now in the middle of an economic recession that could last for a while. To top it off, you got to spend the last few weeks of your senior year watching news of the biggest ecological disaster in American history.

I’ll be honest with you. We didn’t do so well. Nine years ago, I was right there cheering for Bush when we went into Afghanistan. It didn’t take long for me to change my mind. The world that we’re going to entrust to you is broken. Maybe you’ll fix it. Maybe you’ll make new mistakes to pass on to your children.

But you’d be a fool to think you can’t change things.


Change The World by ~Schwester-von-2 on deviantART

If you don’t make your choices, others will make them for you. Reject the idea of “destiny.” It’s just a fancy way of saying that someone else has an idea for your future that is somehow mandated by a higher power. Don’t confuse destinies with plans. A plan can end in various ways. A plan adapts. A plan can lead to better things and gives you control. A destiny is a dead end because, once you get to it, where do you go? Who do you listen to?

Look to the past for guidance, but look to the future for inspiration. You have the final say on any path you choose.


Destiny by *chavez666 on deviantART

I know most of your speakers have already quoted the Bible, but if I may quote another book, The Little Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Reality is there. To neglect it is to live in folly. It’s one thing to hope for a better world, to dream, but it’s another to live in that dream and ignore the things that are right in front of you. Dreams are pauses in the day. They are not the things we do in our waking hours. However, do not neglect your emotions, your feelings, and the feelings of others. They matter. We can be irrational, but we must always remember that those little chemical reactions in our brain can do real harm or create true joy.

You will always hurt the one you love. There is no avoiding this ugly fact of life. You will say the wrong thing. You will make a mistake somewhere, forget some vital detail, give into temptation, or otherwise do something you never meant to do. And you will hurt someone you never wanted to hurt. This does not mean it’s over. The true test of any relationship is how you treat someone when he or she has nothing to offer but an apology.


Love Card by ~zer0p01nt on deviantART

Two things govern the universe: choice and chance. You have no control over chance. No one can foresee every event and plan ahead for every contingency. In the end, you are responsible for your actions… or inactions. What you don’t do says as much about you as the things you do. No matter how much you want to change the world, no matter how much you want to tell someone that you love them, and no matter how dearly you hold on to your beliefs… your actions will speak for you.

Act as you wish others to see you.

Live the life you want. Work with what you have, then look for more to work with.

Never start a fight, but always finish it… and make sure the idiot who started it remembers everything.

Be analytic, but don’t be heartless. Listen to your heart, but don’t give in to blind passion.

Now go out and do something. Class dismissed.

If you want to discuss your entry into the real world, there’s a forum topic for that.

Divine by Zero: Breasts for Egypt, Shark Tea, and Gaga goes to College

It’s the first Saturday posting for Divine by Zero, and what a week it’s been. I want to thank everyone for stopping by the renovated site and sharing these stories. It really does mean a lot to me, and I hope that if you enjoy this site and what passes for humor around these parts, you’ll share these stories and links with friends and family.

I’d like to pass the Huffington Post in monthly views… but then I’d also like to gain superpowers. I’ll settle for increased readership.

In the meantime, take note of the Project Wonderful ad box on the right. Randomology.org is now selling real estate. If you’d like to see an ad for your own site, just click on the link at the bottom of the ad and place a bid.

Anyway, onward! To the links!

  • A professor at Egypt’s al-Azhar University recently proposed a way to end segregation in the workplace. In order to establish a familial bond and negate any chance for sexual encounters, thus allowing men and women to work alone together, Dr. Izzat Atiya suggests that women should breastfeed their male colleagues at least five times. You read that right, folks. The cure for the sexual oppression of women and the separation of the sexes in the Middle East? Boobs.
  • Further proof you do not mess with Ozzy Osbourne. And why you should always be on the lookout for him:

  • Nice Guy Eddy’s Political Blog recently published “Four Levels of Conservative Reasoning,” although the title is a bit misleading. Not all conservatives are crazy (we have our own on the left), but it’s really the kind of logic that any zealot or radical would use to justify his/her stances. I will say, though, it’s an incredible summary of the kinds of lies Beck, Limbaugh, and everyone of Fox routinely spit into the public airwaves.
  • Someone needs to tell big corporations to hire people that check names. Otherwise, you end up with humiliating names like the Wii, the iPad, and now THIS. Be warned… you will never see Shrek the same way again.
  • In the last DbZ, I mentioned a website called America Speaking Out and how, by asking the internet, the GOP awoke the sleeping giant of insanity that is the Web. Now, the Huffington Post has compiled a few of the funnier suggestions from good ol’ red-blooded Americans. I have to say that the suggestion to invade Canada for their oil might be the most sane one in the bunch.
  • If you’re like me, you love you some tea, but have you ever had the urge to make tea LIKE A MAN!? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant designer from Argentina!
  • And in today’s installment of Irony of the Day, San Luis Obispo County recently bought over $20,000 worth of pot for a woman after investigating her for possession. Why? Because the woman in question had a license for up to six pounds of medical marijuana and the sheriff’s department still seized the buds, destroyed them, then lied about having known the woman in question had a license and “forgetting” medical marijuana is legal in California and has been for more than a decade. Oops.
  • The American Family Association recently said in one of its broadcasts that Hitler and his stormtroopers were gay. Not as a condemnation of Nazis, but to show that homosexuals are brutal and cold-blooded killers. You know, I think I’m a pretty good writer, and I know I haven’t done a lot of fiction in a while, but given a week and a bag full of hallucinogens, I couldn’t come up with something dumber than that statement.
  • A good friend of mine turned me to FreakAngels, a wonderfully draw and written online comic about… well, there are psychics, a post-apocalyptic world, and tons of violence. I’m still in the early chapters, so no one ruin it for me!
  • Lady Gaga is already everywhere, but now it seems a few intrepid academics want to study her. While there are no college courses or Gaga Studies yet, a doctoral student named Meghan Vicks and a performer named Kate Durbin have started a website called Gaga Stigmata where they hope to analyze Ms. Gaga’s videos, music, and art in an academic fashion. In an interview, the Doctors of Gaga explained why they feel Lady gaga needs to be taken seriously.
  • If you want to waste a lot of time, try Exit Path, a neat little flash game where you have to run, avoid the swinging axes, spikes, lasers, and other nasty things, and escape the massive city where you’ve been kept prisoner.

That’s all for now. See you on Monday, and keep sharing links to the site!

Mister Mo’s “Elite”: When Radicals Think They’re Smart

May 28, 2010

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” was an act of protest and an exercise in speech and religious freedom. Threats of violence, calls for the deaths of entire countries, are the political and religious tantrums of zealots who cannot stand to have their beliefs scrutinized, and in that respect, we won.

Which is why, of course, our opponents will now have a counter-protest by exposing Jewish lies regarding the Holocaust.

…Did I miss something or did I participate in the wrong protest?

In case you missed the post a few days ago, here’s the short version.

I and others drew the prophet Mohammed, in violation of a particular interpretation of Islamic law, because we believe that we have no obligation to have someone else’s faith dictate our actions. Your right to religion ends outside yourself. You have no right to coerce or intimidate others to believe what you believe. Others will do things that offend you, but that’s what dialogue and debate is for. If someone does something you don’t like, point it out, explain your position, but that is as far as you are allowed to go.

And now a regular think-tank on Facebook is striking back by exposing the “lies” of the Holocaust in “Everybody Draw Holocaust Day.”

A few things, if I may, for the people involved in this, and I use the term loosely, “protest.”

Obama pictures McCain pictures
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1) Jews did not start Draw Mohammed Day.

It was a cartoonist from Seattle. And as far as I know, she’s not Jewish. A newspaper in Pakistan even asked her to draw a cartoon condemning the banning of face veils in France, which she did. Right off the bat, this is the equivalent of a “Yo mama” joke. You have no ammunition to throw at your target, so you’re going after something or someone you feel is easy to hit.

It’s a bit like wanting to speak out against BP for the oil spill by fire-bombing a McDonalds. Your logic is not like our Earth logic.

Of course, it does provide evidence, though not concrete proof, that you believe in the mighty Zionist Conspiracy. Good luck with that.

2) The Holocaust happened.

Unless, somehow, the entire world lost six million Jews and we just can’t find them.

I lost my keys once, and that was embarrassing enough, but six million Jews? That’s downright humiliating.


Crematoria of Majdanek III by ~KasperArts on deviantART

3) No one says you can’t show the Holocaust.

Art, film, books, even comic book movies have shown the Holocaust. There’s nothing taboo about this! In fact, Jews have led the fight to educate people about the Holocaust and helped found a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. I’ve been there. It’s utterly heart-wrenching to see the bodies piled up like that, but no one is trying to hide it. Showing these images is not going to offend anyone unless you take joy in the slaughter of millions of Jews.

Unless…

4) …You missed the point.

One of the big critiques of Draw Mohammed Day was that images of the Prophet were insulting to Islam. Ergo, you believe, perpetuating Holocaust denial claims, which are insulting to Jews, historians, and anyone with an ounce of decency and common sense, is a productive counter-protest.

You are, after all, exercising your right to free speech. You want to draw pictures that demonize Jews, Israel, and one of the most vicious crimes in world history? You want to spread images that show Jews are the secret force behind the New World Order? You want to go out of your way to offend people ONLY to offend them?

Guess what? I want you to do this.


Voltaire Poster by ~triplex1121 on deviantART

5) Please, go ahead with this. It only helps my side.

That’s right. As much as I despise Holocaust deniers and as much as I think you’re missing your frontal lobes for not understanding the rationale behind the drawings, I want you to go ahead and do this. Not only will you show yourselves for the bigoted, irrational, fanatics that you are, not only will you show the world that you are willing to lie and distort history for your own benefit, but you will simply give my side more to work with. We already know that people who condemn free speech have no place in free society, but now we’ll also learn about your anti-Semitism and paranoia.

I won’t make threats against you. I will not say you cannot draw these images, but I will, and you can bet there will be others, come to the defense of truth and history and will destroy whatever warped logic you use to make your point.

And that’s the beauty of this system. By having a political tantrum aimed at the wrong group and with the wrong tactics, you’ve given up any legitimacy to your argument that Islam is a religion of peace.

At least, YOUR Islam isn’t.


ThickHeads, This One’s For You by ~RomanceSoldier on deviantART

Out of the billion and a half Muslims in the world, there is a percentage that believes in peace, in co-existence, in living by the commands of the Qur’an that state that violence is a sin. A religion of peace? Maybe, but trust me when I say that acts like “Draw Holocaust Day” do more harm to your cause than ANY cartoon ever could.

I did what I did to show I can. You’re doing what you’re doing to spread misinformation and hate to show that you stand with truth and peace.

Congratulations. You’ve managed to dick yourself.

Divine by Zero: Birthday Bras, High School Werewolves, and Army Brownies

Welcome once again to Divine by Zero, the only place where you can hear an anarchic liberal with a weird accent ramble about the crazy things in life. A few things came my way these past few days, and I have to give full blame for one of them to Stephenie Meyer.

  • First and foremost, happy birthday to the bra. Yesterday, the bra celebrated 100 years. Ladies, raise a toast for this wonderful piece of underwear. And gentlemen, also raise a toast to this wonderful piece of underwear.

  • The army released the recipe for brownies it uses to make these tasty treats for the troops… and it’s 26 pages long. Apparently, if you follow the directions exactly, you can make brownies that last for years. Anyone want to try this and comment below to tell us how they taste?
  • Science Daily released a report that states that exposure to certain bacteria can actually make you smarter. Specifically, exposure to something called mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in soil, can boost learning ability. I don’t buy this report at all. How can you explain nerds’ increased brain-power? We RARELY go outside! Sunlight burns.
  • And once again my state proves it’s on a crazy race with Arizona. In San Antonio, police arrested a man who had decals on his car that marked him part of the sheriff’s department in Baxar County but in the nation of the Republic of Texas. Police are charging the man with false identification, not impersonating a police officer. Why not charge him with the latter? Because doing so would mean that Texas officially recognizes the existence of the Republic of Texas, a make-believe country some die-hard conservatives here believe is the rightful nation in these parts. They don’t believe the “official” state laws apply to them and so just pretend they’re citizens of this Republic. It’d be like investigating Fox News for improper journalism. That would imply they actually do journalism.
  • We don’t hear a lot of good stories about the oil spill in the Gulf, but an 11-year-old in New York named Olivia Bouler has raised thousands of dollars by selling her drawings. There’s even a Facebook page about it. This is great because it shows the impact a single person can make on something as massive as this, but it also upsets me that a little girl’s drawings of birds have more fans on Facebook than I do… I somehow feel my manhood has been threatened… She must be stopped.
  • Speaking of funny/ horrifying things having to do with the spill, did you know the government employees in charge of inspecting the drilling were watching porn, drinking, and doing meth? Oh, and they were taking bribes, were childhood friends of the people who owned the rigs, and very likely have to kill puppies to reach climax.
  • Speaking of children, two brain trusts decided to give their baby Pop Rocks. How did it go? Well… just watch. This kid looks like he just walked in on his parents making him a little brother when the candy pops or something.

  • Republicans, meet the internet. We’re crazy. House Republicans set up a website a few days ago called America Speaking Out. The goal was to have everyday Americans suggest the course for policy so they wouldn’t feel like the Republicans were ignoring reality. Unfortunately, when you ask the internet for advice, you get advice like this.

“End Child Labor Laws […] We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories.”

“How about if Congress actually do thier job and VET or Usurper in Chief, Obama is NOT a Natural Born Citizen in any way […] That fake so called birth certificate is useless.”

“A ‘teacher’ told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish! And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story.”

“English is are official langauge. Anybody who ain’t speak it the RIGHT way should kicked out.”

  • And finally… I know Stephanie Meyers is behind this. Somehow. A new trend in San Antonio schools is for kids to identify themselves as “werewolves.” I’m not making this up. They wear collars and identify with wolves. You HAVE to see this video to believe I am not just making things up.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned tomorrow, because some idiots on Facebook are launching “Everybody Draw the Holocaust Day” in response to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” I wish I could say I didn’t have to explain why this is wrong… but I do.

Link and share, please.

Texas Will Make Your Kids Stupid: An Epilogue

*facepalmfacepalmfacepalmfacepalm*

May 26, 2010

Well, the Texas Board of Education voted, and here are some of the more egregious results. I warn you, though. Take some Dramamine before you read this. While a few controversial changes I wrote about are now gone, a few others passed with little to no resistance.

Before I get to these, I’d just like to say that I am genuinely scared for children right now. These people have done a disservice to both the state and the concept of education. It was a conscious effort to make history… nice. Make history show something specific, not what happened, but what they wanted to show. It’s all done in the name of the greater good, but it’s hardly doing anyone any benefit. They are the people that make parents think, “Hey, home-schooling or un-schooling sound good right about now.” And while both have their merits, we shouldn’t have to really get to that point because schools fail so miserably. My boss mentioned private school for her kids’ future and, if I were in her shoes, I’d seriously consider it at this point.

When I become the god-emperor of Earth, I will make these kinds of crimes punishable by being forced to memorize pi to the hundredth digit. In three languages. While a real teacher beats you with a wiffle bat.

Wait, here’s the list of just SOME of the changes.

America is a “constitutional republic,” not a democracy.

This statement is 100% true, but here’s the problem. Board member Cynthia Dunbar stated that this was done to minimize confusion. She said she didn’t want students thinking they lived in a “pure” democracy. Oooookay… why not just have one sentence explaining the difference?

To give a little background, David Barton, an expert with a revisionist streak consulted by the board and one of the few experts they listened to, said students should learn “republican” values, not “democratic” values. He may have been speaking about the difference between a republic and a democracy, but the wording makes it clear that they want to push a political agenda.

And if you still think it’s a coincidence, they’ve even renamed “democratic societies” to “societies with a representative government.” Wow, talk about adding verbosity to an otherwise innocuous political phrase.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
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Thomas Jefferson is out like a light.

Board Member Cynthia Dunbar pushed Jefferson and the Enlightenment out. The new amendment reads (section not in bold in the original): “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.”

We’re going to ignore that Jefferson is globally recognized as the author of the Constitution and the inspiration for revolutions in other parts of the world. Oh joy. The rationale, says Dunbar, is that Jefferson’s ideas were based on the writings of others, so it’s helpful to just learn that instead.

Wonderful. When discussing cooking, do we ignore the chef and talk about how the farmers grew the plants or what we fed the cow from which we took the beef? I’m getting sick here…

mt. rushmore, george washington, thomas jefferson, theodore roosevelt, abraham, lincoln
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Students will study the decline of the U.S. dollar and how it relates to the abandonment of the Gold Standard.

There are a lot of reasons why money changes value. Anyone else thinks this sounds like the kind of crap Beck keeps shilling on his shows? Paranoid elements in this country blame the Fed, the abandonment of the Gold Standard, and taxes for every ill, and this sounds, at least to me, like a smoke screen to talk about those paranoid theories.

America is the greatest nation on Earth and the UN are working for the Illuminati. Sort of…

Don McLeroy, dentist, added an amendment that will require students learn American exceptionalism. In other words, we are a great nation no matter what anyone says and no matter what you may learn. It’s indoctrination, because while we may be a great nation, schools are not a place to force beliefs on anyone.

Together with this, students will now learn about international efforts, like those of the UN, to subvert American sovereignty. That’s right, we get to learn about the international conspiracy to rob the US of its rights as a free nation… except that the Board didn’t actually cite examples. This is like saying that we have to learn how the government is controlling the population… but without citing specific examples.


Captain United Nations by ~Frijoleluna on deviantART

Hey! It turns out we DID have slaves.

I wrote a few days ago how the Board tried to replace the phrase “slave trade” with “Atlantic triangular trade.” Well, the new term is the “trans-Atlantic slave trade.” That one caused WAY too much controversy even for these guys and gals.

Christians can stay. Everyone else OUT!

Board member Ken Mercer brought up the existence of Congressional chaplains, prayer in Congress, and the phrase “In God We Trust” as proof that we are a Christian nation.

Later in the debate, an amendment by Mavis Knight was defeated. The amendment would have required that students learn about the separation of church and state and why the Founders felt such a measure was necessary. Instead, Dunbar went on and on about how the Founders actually wanted to promote religion and the so-called separation actually meant that government had to stay out of religion, but religion could enter government.

Essentially, the Board now mandates that children not learn the government cannot establish or promote a particular religion.

Dunbar also pushed an amendment that required students learn “the laws of nature and nature’s God” in relation to our country’s political foundations.

If you’ve ever eaten shell-fish, I guess you’re going to get stoned to death. And Red Lobsters across the state will burn to appease God.


Conservative Christianity by ~Eshto on deviantART

‘Tis the Year of our Lord, not some heathen date.

This one’s a very small change, but dates will be specified as “Anno Domini,” or “Year of Our Lord,” instead of the more religiously neutral “Common Era,” or “CE.” Dates before the first year would have been noted as “BCE,” or “Before Common Era.”

But then again, this is a Jeezus-lovin’ nation, right?

Socialism bad. Free Market good.

The board will keep the amendment that mandates capitalism be referred to as “free enterprise.” It seems they still feel, despite various academics telling them the contrary, that capitalism is a negative term.

Grab yer guns, boys!

Board Member Barbara Cargill helped pass an amendment that discussed the right to bear arms and how it relates to the First Amendment. The original version talked about the freedoms in the First Amendment as extremely important to personal freedom, but Cargill and Dunbar said this unfairly made the First Amendment look more important than the others and pushed to include the Second Amendment in that discussion.

Before I get a lot of email telling me the right to bear arms is important… I know it’s important. I’m for it.

The problem is that the original discussion focused on the importance of free expression, and the right to own guns has NO bearing on that. That’s a separate amendment.

Oddly enough, the change in the wording leaves out RELIGIOUS freedom. That’s not part of free speech, it seems.

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Regulation is a noose. Taxes kill babies.

Board Member Ken Mercer pushed an amendment that would require students to discuss how taxation and regulation hurt business. There will be no talk of how taxation and regulation can be a good thing, though.

So go play with those lead-lined toys, work in your sweat-shop, and make sure you drive down that unpaved road. Because if we have standards, the terrorists win. And they’ll rape you.

Gays? What gays?

The Board passed a motion that strikes a standard that states students must “differentiate between sex and gender as social constructs and determine how gender and socialization interact.” Mavis Knight of Dallas insisted the original standard was a way for students to learn about the changing roles of men and women.

However, Cargill argued, and I’m not exaggerating here, that she did a Google search and found the amendment would expose children to “transexuals, transvestites and who knows what else.”

Excuse me? She GOOGLED it? That’s the basis for not talking about gender roles and sexuality in an academic context?

If we’re basing school curriculum based on the internet, should we also learn about the hazard Pedobear poses to underage girls?


Pedobear – be afraid by ~Gwan-chan on deviantART

Chicana artist Santa Barraza is out and Tex Avery is in.

You remember Tex Avery, right? He created Bugs Bunny and several classic Warner Brothers characters. Well, in a state with a massive Hispanic population, apparently Santa Barraza has a painting that shows nudity, making her inappropriate for middle schoolers. Which painting? The Board didn’t specify. She’s out. Tex Avery is in.

Not that Tex Avery didn’t contribute to the development of animation in this country, but are we now saying that a cartoonist is more relevant to Texas than a local artist who explores ethnicity, race, and integration through art and who, in fact, had several paintings hanging in the Texas governor’s mansion?

Oh, and most of Barraza’s work depicts women. Avery? Well…

Let’s just say it’s not what you’d call an enlightened perspective. Moving on…

Amendment claiming the Civil Rights Movement created “unrealistic expectations for equal outcomes” is struck down.

However, it happened only after an intense backlash. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of people rewriting the history of minorities and civil rights, here is Don McLeroy, dentist, to explain who are the real heroes in the Civil Rights Movement:

Hip hop is still out.

McLeroy pushed to take hip hop out of talks on culture, but he was overturned. When half the board was gone for the night, however, he proposed his amendment again and it passed with the remaining Board members.

And that’s it. That’s just a taste of what kids will have to learn, the standards for teaching, for the next ten years. Despite McLeroy’s claims in the last few days, they didn’t listen to any expert who didn’t have a highly conservative agenda. They let people talk, but the Board listened to none of them. You could virtually cut the vote in half along right and left-wing politics.

I’m done with this. Unless one of the Board members turns into a werewolf and eats the others, I’m just about done with this.

Divine by Zero: No Mexicans, Kick-Ass Darwin, and Drinking Through Your Eye

I had, at one point, another blog called Divine by Zero. Sadly, it never really went anywhere, but I like the name so much that I’m going to keep it for these alternating posts. So, what’s going on in the world? What can we gleam from these insights of madness?!

Or these links…

  • Did you know that a trend is sweeping the UK that jumped the pond from the US? Soon, it will be socially acceptable to drink vodka through your eye-ball! Or so the Daily Mail will have you believe. Needless to say, some people doubt this is happening, Gawker among them. Personally, I think that if you want to get drunk that fast, just buy a bottle of Everclear and go for it.
  • Someone give this man a medal or something for finally letting me hear Ian McKellen recite the poetry that is the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And yes, he does the themes to Duck Tales and Saved by the Bell, too. Now if we could only find someone who will do lines from Jay and Silent Bob as Christopher Lee.

  • This has to be one of the greatest sermons I’ve ever heard. It’s from David Garcia, one of the pastors at the Crossroads Church in Laredo, Texas, giving a sermon with a twist, like always.

So when I was younger and I was living with my uncle, who was a preacher, I went out one day and said, “I’m going to the movies.”

“The movies?” he asked.

“Yes, the movies.” Of course, I went to this party and came home drunk. When my uncle caught me coming home drunk, he asked me where I’d been. I told him I was at the movies. He said I was lying, and he knew it. I asked him how he knew and he said that God had told him I was going to lie. And that really changed the way I saw God.

That night, I prayed and I said, “God… I only have one thing to ask you… stop telling my uncle when I lie.”

  • You know Farmville? Oh, those annoying little status updates you have to block and the hours my students wasted away on planting digital crops. Now, some modern-day Christ has designed FarmVillain, a Facebook application that lets you post status updates on your feed such as “You can now grow hemp on your farm, you know, for making rope,” and “Gift received! Claim your ten illegal farm workers to work on your farm.” That’s it. You click on the story you want and it gets put on your feed. You choose which updates to put up. I’m fond of the “You can now breed wookies on your farm” story, if only for the hilarious shocked wookie graphic.
  • Remember that little thing with Arizona and its law that will encourage racial profiling and cast suspicion on anyone who looks like a foreigner? Well, Rush Limbaugh, champion of the people, is here to quell those concerns. We can’t racially profile, he says, because “Mexican” isn’t a race. Therefore, no racial profiling of Mexicans can take place… It’s one thing when talk radio deadens the political debate. It’s another when it says something so utterly stupid that you have to wonder if the speaker didn’t shove his toothbrush in his ear that morning, scrub around for a minute, then remove it and a substantial amount of brain matter.

And with that, I’ll see you all tomorrow. The Texas Board of Education voted on the final curriculum changes. To put it mildly, they took a piss on the history books before pleasuring themselves with an American flag. It’s… not pretty.

Ah, crap! Now I can’t get that image out of my head!

Why I Drew Mohammed

An Islamic terrorist is a Muslim much like a Klansman is a Christian. Everyone onboard with this?

May 24, 2010

Everyone Draw Mohammed Day drew international attention this week. The event’s author has received death threats and Pakistan actually blocked Facebook, YouTube, and other sites over the incident. In South Africa, the Mail & Guardian received death threats after Zapiro, one of their cartoonists, drew this image. As for me? I drew this:

xkcd has better art quality than this.

I’ve been called out on it by several people now, all with the preconception that I did so as an attack on Islam. I’ve been called an academic snob. An elitist intellectual who thinks he has all the answers. I’ve been accused of being insensitive to what it feels like to be marginalized. If it was an exercise on free speech that drew anti-Semitic images, I would never have participated, but I went after Islamic radicals because they are easy targets, easy to hate.

I’m calling “crap” on all counts.

First of all, this is not an attack on Islam. The people who make death threats against anyone violating the tenets of a faith happen to be Muslims and they base this particular grievance on hadith, supplemental traditions, not the Qu’ran itself.

If Christians said I could not take the Lord’s name in vain or I would be shot, would I be correct in calling them out for their religious fanaticism, or would you say I was being insensitive and attacking Christianity? If you want to be part of a free society in which anyone is free to satire, comment, critique, and otherwise express him or herself, you have to accept that, at some point, someone will say something you don’t like.


Freedom of Religion v. 2 by ~Klasterr on deviantART

Guess what? You have the right to disagree and tell others to get intimate with a well-endowed horse. You do not, however, have the right to use threats of violence against something you find offensive. We lost people a few years ago because of this, and now that we’ve started self-censoring, even if it was over something as stupid as a South Park episode, I’m not going to stay silent.

I’ve been told that this takes us away from rational debate, and while I’m all for sitting down and exchanging pleasantries with someone over any topic, drawing Mohammed as part of this movement was not, at least for me, part of any debate. It was a protest, a flare fired into the air. It was designed to show that I will not be intimidated by radicals and I stand alongside artists who wish to exercise their freedom.

Now that it’s over, I’d like to talk.


free speech is hate speech by ~Satansgoalie on deviantART

You see, we all have the right to believe and say what we want. The free exchange of ideas and information is the foundation for modern science, academia, and one of the driving forces behind the evolution of art. I have the right to my opinion, but coercion is not part of that deal. You don’t get to say whatever you want, espouse a belief, then demand that others remain silent because their beliefs offend you.

You want free speech? Everyone else gets it. Otherwise, it’s not free speech.

While moderate Muslims may cringe at a depiction of the Prophet, they must admit that it is a freedom. If we censor ourselves based on what religions we offend, we would not be able to do anything. Freedom of expression and freedom of speech do not mean we are free from insults and blasphemy. It means we can go after those insults and falsehoods and whatever else comes our way with words. And it means I do not have to fear a reprisal for saying what I believe.

One of the more convincing arguments regarding Everyone Draw Mohammed Day is that depicting the Prophet is as insulting to Muslims as the n-word is to blacks or Holocaust denial is to Jews. Drawing Mohammed in protest, then, is insensitive.

Can I have pork if it offends a rabbi? Should I support my gay friends if a pastor tells me homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God? Can I eat hot dogs on Friday and piss off three major faiths at once? Should I judge all my actions on faiths that are not my own just on the off-chance they will offend someone? As I understand it, the commandment that states images of the Prophet should not be made states that BELIEVERS should not make said images. I am not a believer and, therefore, not subject to these rules.

And that’s the key behind this protest. I am not bound by the rules of Islam any more than they are bound by the rules and tenets of Texas A&M International University, my employer. A hasidic Jew has no obligation to pay respect to Christmas celebrations. An atheist has no obligation to not touch the flesh of a dead pig. A Christian has no obligation to not draw an image of Mohammed.

There is, I know, such a thing as respect. When I enter a synagogue, I wear a yarmulke. If we’re going to have company over and I know one of them is Hindu, I won’t cook beef. These are actions done out of respect.


Calm Islam by =issam-zerr on deviantART

I do not respect someone who prays for the death of free speech. The Mohammed these radicals look to is not the Mohammed of peaceful Muslims any more than the Jesus of the Westborough Baptist Church is the Jesus of Mother Theresa.

And may I add that, despite all these death threats, not a single person was harmed because of Draw Mohammed Day. Threatened, yes, but not harmed. Could it be that these threats are just piss and bile and nothing substantial will come of them? Do these radicals tarnish their faith and their god by going after the weak and powerless and have finally shown themselves for the cowards that they are? I hope so.

Actions speak louder than words. The radicals can chant for death all they want and some of the moderates may remain silent, but I’ve shown you what I think of religion infringing on the rights of people, let alone the rights of people who have no obligation whatsoever to follow that particular religious law.

If you want to play in the arena of free thought and expression, grow a pair and accept the good with the bad.

If you want to discuss the topic in general, there’s a category in the forum right here. Feel free to start any topics you’d like.

Texas Will Make Your Kids Stupid: The Final Chapter

Weird... I always thought slavery was fairly important to American history. Then again, I thought the same thing about Jefferson, MLK, science, and freedom.

May 19, 2010

The Texas School Board will meet this week to make the final votes on a list of changes to the history curriculum that will destroy our concept of American history. I know I often mock, mercilessly in some cases, those who want to do something “for the sake of the children,” but this is actual harm. Now, they’re going to get to learn about Moses and our lack of slavery in history class. Oh joy.

As if the re-labeling of the Civil Rights Movement, taking out Thomas Jefferson, and otherwise indoctrinating children into a highly conservative way of thinking weren’t enough, there are a few other changes that are troubling, not just for the racial insult one presents, but for the distortion of science in another.

Moses Is In, Jefferson Is Out

That’s right, kids. The guy who wrote the Constitution had less impact than a guy who wouldn’t ask for directions for 40 years. Moses, it seems, was behind the Constitution more than Jefferson, so since Jefferson is now out because, let’s face it, the slave-banging Nazi doesn’t deserve to be in our books, we can now learn about Moses, a man who poured molten gold down the throats of his people when they disobeyed God.

It’s understandable… to a point. The story of Moses, a leader willing to give up a life of riches to free his enslaved people, has inspired Americans since the pilgrims. That much I understand. I just would like to know where people get off saying that the man who brought the Ten Commandments had an influence on one of the most influential calls to freedom, including RELIGIOUS freedom, in all history.

Maybe Half-Governor Palin can shed some light on this.

…If this had been a history test, they’d both be in summer school in two weeks.

We’re not based on Judeo-Christian beliefs because, and I’m sure you’ll both back me up on this, the Constitution does not mention Jesus in any way, shape, or form. It only mentions an amorphous creator, a very DEIST concept. Secondly, the freedom of religion is not there to protect Christianity religion from being oppressed. It’s there for everyone. And thirdly, even if points one and two were false, creating a government based on a single religion creates second-class citizens of those who do not follow that religion.

Can someone please buy a book on the Enlightenment for these two?

Oh, and if you think our rights come from God, I’d like you to look at this list of the Ten Commandments.

1) You shall have no gods before me
2) You shall not make for yourself an idol
3) You shall not blaspheme
4) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5) Honor thy father and mother
6) You shall not kill
7) You shall not commit adultery
8) You shall not steal
9) You shall not bear false witness
10) You shall not covet thy neighbor’s possessions.

Well, look at that… Only ONE of them, number 8, is actually a crime. Some of the others are only crimes under specific circumstances. To be fair, the translation for the sixth commandment is often translated as “kill” or “murder” depending on the Bible you use. If it really us “kill,” then out goes capital punishment and wars. If it’s murder, then yes, two out of ten are against the law.

But wait! There’s more!

Newton? What did HE Know?

Ah, Newton, old-school nerd extraordinaire. He gave us the three laws of motion, mathematics, and helped move the scientific revolution along, which is why you can read this text on a computer screen instead of a leaflet I would hand out like a crazy person.

Yeah… he’s gone from the books.

Now, Texas students can learn all about the great advancement of science… through military technology!

demotivational posters
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Granted, times of war spur technological development. World War II, for example, gave us nuclear weapons and, later, nuclear energy. And nuclear energy, of course, gave us the X-Men, Spiderman, and half of Stan Lee’s creations.

This one’s sneaky. It’s a lie by omission. The more dangerous part of it, though, is that it promotes the idea that war is good for scientific developments. Conflict breeds creativity, makes us stronger. Hey… I think I’ve heard this one before…

Oh, right. Great. Now Texas is taking notes from 1990’s video games.

And that was a GOOD game!

The idea that war is a legitimate means of improving a nation means that we must be in perpetual conflict if we wish to be better. What incentive does this give us to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq? It makes us stronger, right? Maybe we’ll start a war with New Zealand next. It’s been a while since we saw some action in the Pacific.

Slavery? What’s That?

Hispanics already got the shaft when it comes to a lot of these textbook changes, but even ignoring that hip hop is a legitimate culture and putting Dr. King in the same category as the Black Panthers and blaming the Civil Rights Movement for, “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” for minorities in America, this one is just going TOO far.

America didn’t have a slave trade.

Oh, that’s right. There was no slave trade. We did, however, have something called the “Atlantic triangular trade.”

Can you just smell the propaganda?

It’s like saying that the Enola Gay didn’t nuke Hiroshima. It simply delivered pre-detonated fissionable device to an enemy nation in a time of war. Nice, clean, and easy!

Do I even have to say why this one is just plain insulting?


Racism by ~mastadeath on deviantART

The whole thing is a disaster. The Board votes this week, and there’s no sign that anything has changed since the other articles I posted. Not that I thought the articles were going to create a revolution, but it’s nice to imagine.

And, Arizona, if you’re trying to beat my humble state in the Crazy Olympics, I’d say we’re tied now. Your move, Grand Canyon State…

How to Fight the Lizard People

Get your tin foil cap. This one's going to hurt.

May 17, 2010

I have a love-hate relationship with conspiracy theories.

When I worked as a legislative correspondent in Congress, it seemed like 10% of the mail we received was for legitimate concerns and questions, 30% was rehashed party lines and mass mailings, and the rest were paranoia and craziness from South Texas. You wouldn’t believe some of the theories I read, everything from a secret president ordering mass executions, the end of world brought on by the economic crisis knocking Venus out of orbit, to the Jewish cabals seeking to control us.

And that’s just dumb.

We all know it’s Dick Cheney, in the patented Cheney-Cave, who’s controlling the world.

barack obama and dick cheney
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While theories like this are dangerous because they rely either on illogic or false information, they are also quite fun. What can I say? I get a thrill from watching people jump like Chicken Little at the slightest things.

Lately, though, from Obama’s birth certificate to the allegations that global warming are a scientific hoax, it seems that conspiracy theories are more rampant today than they were even when the X-Files was still airing new episodes. Just for laughs, here are two of the funnier theories I’ve heard.

Eco-Terrorists

Oh you know me… I can’t start my day until I listen to good ol’ Rush Limbaugh. Man’s like a shot of caffeine right to the eye, and in the last few days, he’s been accusing Obama of blowing up the oil rig that has now created one of the worst ecological disasters in history.

Why?

It’s very simple. See, Obama and his radical left-wing progressive sociocommunazi friends want to force environmental protection regulations that will save us from that fakey global warming hoax. Control carbon emissions today… world government tomorrow! Blowing up the rig, says Limbaugh, gave Obama and the eco-terrorists the ammunition they need to pass bans on off-shore oil drilling.

This disaster serves as an example of just how bad things can get if we don’t act now.

So… environmentalists polluted hundreds of square miles of ocean, killed several workers, killed untold amounts of plant and wildlife, and have created a gaping wound in the ocean floor that still floods the water with toxins… all in an effort to save the environment?

By conservative estimates, the oil spill is worse than the Exxon-Valdez accident. There will be repercussions for decades. Entire ecosystems are destroyed. This is a bit like saying that Saddam Hussein secretly instigated the Gulf Wars in order to boost tourism to Iraq. Also, did you notice how Rush ended his segment? He’s just “asking questions.” Yeah, but you have no answers. Asking the question is not the same as addressing it. Hey Rush, did you take so much OxyContin that your ability to use higher brain functions has been destroyed?

I’m just asking.

Okay, that one was fairly easy and could be attributed to political paranoia, so let’s look at another theory that’s… special.


save the world by ~TenshiMoon on deviantART

Two Suns

Did you know Earth actually has two suns, just like in Star Wars, and NASA is spraying chemicals to hide the fact from us? Oh yes. Our sun actually has a twin star and, if conditions are right, you can see this elusive second star.

Nibiru, which the cameraman mentions, is an object that is supposed to collide with Earth and cause mass devastation.

The theory for this video and others like it is actually very simple. See, the government is trying to hide this from us because… wait, no, it’s the GLOBAL government! It has to be since this has been viewed as far as Russia. Yeah, they’re spraying chemicals in the sky to hide the second sun from us because…

Uhm…

Yeah, this one is stupid to the extreme. While there are videos and photos of these two suns, it’s actually a very simple effect called a sundog. And if you honestly believe that NASA is hiding evidence of a second sun… where was this second sun, oh, say, the last five billion years? Even if there was a star with one percent the output of our parent star, we would see it and FEEL it! For it to be that far in the sky, it would have to be on a large orbit!

Dear gods, people… a second sun and the government is hiding it?!

fail owned pwned pictures
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Why do people buy into this stuff? Part of me wants to just say that people are stupid and will believe anything. I want to blame a lack of education. I want to blame it all on the laziness to investigate, to really use the scientific method as it was intended instead of coming to a conclusion first, then finding evidence to support it. If you follow that route, you can justify almost anything. Combine it with a public that is frighteningly ignorant of basic science, history, and critical thinking and you get little nuggets of laughter like this woman:

It’s fraking refraction and reflection through water, lady! It’s not a government conspiracy to sterilize you, although, seeing this video, I would endorse such a measure for you!

Conspiracy theories do have one thing in common. All of them have some small basis in truth. They also rely on information that is either wildly contested or on the fringe of data sets. For any scientific experiment of report, there will be lots of numbers, and geniuses like Beck and his “research” team and others looking for the “truth,” any slight inconsistency in the data means that it’s not reliable in the least.

Let me put it this way. Say you want to measure the height of a building and you have a ruler, a yardstick, and a tape measurer. You use all three and come up with 350 inches, 310 inches, and 333 inches. Most people would see these numbers and simply assume, rightly, that there are imperfections in the method used to gather information, but all methods point to a rough height between 310 and 350 inches or about 30 ft.

It takes a special kind of nut to say that the building must be 500 inches high because someone told you that was the height of the building and no one can prove you wrong, so you must be right.

Personally, I love deflating these little conspiracy bubbles. There are few things I hate more than misinformation or the bastardization of science for these kinds of things. I’m all for keeping an open mind about the world, but people, please, learn to think critically. I know the best conspiracy theories have the big bad villain(s) lying to you, forcing you into blind obedience, and making you the victim… but come on!

Next thing you’ll be telling me is that Kennedy and Michael Jackson are hiding in Puerto Rico with Tupac.

If you have any conspiracy theories you’re fond of, share them in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for more crazies.

Sympathy for the Devil(s)

Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name.

May 14, 2010

I rail against Beck… a lot… but it’s usually something to do with politics, religion, or basic common sense. Now, though, he’s infringing on literature. He’s gone against characterization and one of the oldest archetypes in Western writing. He’s gone after Lucifer himself.

You’re in my world now, Becky Boy.

Apparently, it’s not enough for him to twist quotes, reference debunked stories, or just make up stuff to discredit liberals and progressives. Now, it seems, we’re Satanists.

Time for literature class, boys and girls. Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, and even the words “demon” and “devil” all have wildly different meanings from what people usually think and all have a sordid history that could only be compared to a bad soap opera.

Not that there are “good” soap operas.

While the Devil has been portrayed as everything from the cunning trickster to the beautiful woman, these images have basis in both mythology and literature. Let’s go down the list.


Paradise Lost by ~SilentBeforeTheStorm on deviantART

Lucifer

“If the devil does not exist, and man has therefore created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Literately meaning “Light Bearer,” it was a title used both for Jesus and the planet Venus as it was one of the last stars visible in the morning and heralded the coming dawn, also giving rise to its alternate name “The Morning Star.”

The word itself is never used to refer to the being known as Satan in the New Testament, however.

In Isaiah 14:12, the Bible makes reference to the Babylonian king who oppressed the Israelites, saying, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!” The metaphor to the king is that Venus also appears to try and rise above the other stars in the horizon, but never triumphed. And we all know how uppity Venus can get. Likewise, the Babylonian king would never be more powerful than God.

So… where’s Satan in all this?

The Bible was written over thousands of years by dozens of people. Eventually, you’re going to get some disconnect between the writers and the editors. Early Christian writers saw the reference to the Morning Star and applied the title to a fallen angel based on ancient pagan writings. Early Jewish lore was also filled with the concept of fallen angels, and one story in particular stuck out, one which some claim had an influence in passages in Revelation 12:7-10 where Satan is named as a fallen angel.

Basically, this boils down to the fact that Lucifer is never once mentioned in the Bible. He becomes, as you’ll see later, a literary character that fills a role for storytelling purposes.

In short, Lucifer is to Christianity as Star Wars/ Star Trek crossovers are to science fiction. Got it?


The Morning Star by ~RevolverWinds on deviantART

Satan

“The shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.”
-Charles Dickens

Heaven has a hierarchy. Or at least, that’s one popular conception based on the Medieval Christian concept of the Angelic Choirs. It makes sense to put one of God’s helpers in such a system.

In the Bible, there are dozens of names for him, everything from the serpent, the deceiver, and the Book of Mark even names him as the one who tempted Christ in the desert. Satan (whose name means “Adversary”) is perhaps most prominent in the Bible in the book of Job where he points out Job, a devout man, to God and basically makes a wager with the Almighty Himself to see just how far a human’s devotion can go. We all know the story. God comes down and strikes down family, cattle, and curses Job with plagues and boils and every disease you’d get from a bad Spring Break.

However, Satan is not a devil in the story, never mind THE Devil. He is an angel, one of the Heavenly Host. He doesn’t even do anything to Job. That’s God’s doing.

Satan didn’t really become prominent until the Middle Ages and the New Testament. By this time, Satan had goat-like features as an attempt to turn pagan religions into something evil. Many depictions during this time are combinations of descriptions of Dionysus, Pan, Selene, and other horned creatures.

Slowly, Satan was merged with the idea of Lucifer, of the fallen angel, until we get some of the archetypal Satan stories: Paradise Lost and Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, specifically Inferno.

We also learn through this literature and later writings that Hell has a system of keeping track of its assets: Circles. It’s not just Heaven that has a hierarchy, you know. Hell has to have one too, and all you little sinners and pagans are going to your own reserved Circle for eternal punishment. It’s like a reservation at Motel 6. Except you’re going to boil in urine and blood.

Okay, so it IS like staying at Motel 6.

In Paradise Lost, Satan is cast as a tragic villain, an angel who must pay for eternity for a single act of hubris. It is perhaps one of the most sympathetic depictions of the character in Western literature. While depressed over his expulsion from Heaven, Satan is nonetheless a cunning former angel who can manipulate humanity to sin and force the armies of Heaven to organize against God. He’s kind of like a superpowered Karl Rove.

Dante’s Satan, on the other hand, is almost the opposite. Despite the recent video game’s depiction of the Great Adversary, Dante’s Satan is almost a blubbering monster forever encased in ice and nearly powerless. He’s like a kicked and abused dog… except a dog that’s the size of a skyscraper and must be half-entombed in ice frozen from his own tears to keep him from breaking free.


Angel by ~H4ch3 on deviantART

The War in Heaven

“I charge thee, fling away ambition: by that sin fell the angels.”
-William Shakespear, Henry VIII

Not much to say here except that the War in Heaven is alluded to in Revelations and apparently takes place at the End Times, not shortly after creation like most people think. Adding Satan and his fallen angels to the story of creation was a bit of a retcon on the part of theologians.

That’s pretty much it.


The War in Heaven by ~Abi909 on deviantART

Devils and Demons

“We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents.”
-Mark Twain

The word “devil” comes form the Greek diabolas, which means “to throw across, slander,” while “demon” comes from the Greek word “daemon,” which means “spirit.” Demons only became the Devil’s helpers and minions in later Christian mythology.

However, “devil” has a complex history. The root for “devil” is the same as the Hindu-Buddhist term deve, which is roughly approximate to “angel.” Like angels, devils had many types. In early Greek mythology, devils were spirits that could be good or bad, but didn’t need to be either one by default. They were like fey. Christianity changed it later. According to one version of the War on Heaven, those angels who refused to fight for God were banished to punish the souls of sinners in Hell, though they remained angels.

In other words, Hell is staffed with angels, not demons. It’s just another department in the great office that is reality.

Think they get coffee breaks?


Commission – Laurence Strider by =RinAvenue on deviantART

Satanism

“One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in.”
-J. M. Barrie

Let’s get a few quick things out of the way. The pentagram and the pentacle are two separate symbols. If the star points up, it is a pagan symbol that stands for many things, among them four elements and the soul or even the wounds Christ suffered on the cross. Point down, it’s usually a representation of Baphomet, a supposed goat deity that is, like Lucifer and Satan, a pastiche of various bits of lore and mythology and is associated with dark magic.

Baphomet has as much to do with the Christian Devil as nuclear weapons have to do with the American Civil War.

On a side-note, dark magic and magic in general are typically associated with Satanism because anything not associated with God is viewed as being of the devil.

Satanists are a lot like Christians. You’ve got the ones that are members and live their lives like normal people, and then you have the people who are REALLY into it. For most people who describe themselves as Satanists, it usually involves the rebellion against God and traditional Christian values.

Then you have LaVeyan Satanism, which is an atheistic Satanism. Created by Anton LeVey, this belief system teaches that Satan is a figure, an aspiration, not a real being. Humans are their own gods and must live accordingly, not suppressing carnal desires, but embracing them. They also hold on to the belief that, if the gods are created by humans, then to worship a god is to worship the human that created it, and this to them is subjugation.


Baphomet Jr by ~leviathan218 on deviantART

So there you go. A quick primer on Lucifer, Satan, and assorted horned things. It’s actually a LOT more convoluted than this. Satan was renamed Lucifer after a metaphor involving a Babylonian king, then mixed with an Abrahamic legend regarding fallen angels and pagan goat deities… but that just barely scratches the surface. There are dozens of contradicting stories regarding all these creatures and it would take years to untangle them.

Personally, I think the Stones gave the Devil too much credit.

Short version? Glenn, you’re an idiot. And yes, if it will scare you, the devil made me do it.