Monday, October 29, 2018

Maybe some people DIDN'T evolve: The Vintage News discusses evolution

Nothing is more entertaining than an evening of perusing the Facebook page for The Vintage News. The Vintage News has nothing whatsoever to do with ANY kind of news, vintage or not. It's a chopped-up mixture of Weekly World News/Believe It or Not-type article, with some random quasi-historical/scientific stuff culled from other Facebook pages and just sort of glommed in.

Usually the articles are boring and kind of pointless, except for the fact that most of them are written with atrocious grammar and spelling and seem to be bad translations from some other language (which I love dearly). But the comments! The comments are something else again, and are often highly entertaining because of the mentality of the readers - or lack of same.

I didn't even include the article, which was about Charles Darwin marrying his cousin, but oh MY - what a "discussion" it sparked about how the theory of evolution is "just a theory", there is no evidence for it, it has never been proven, so therefore IT CAN'T BE TRUE. There's also lots of indignation about how we don't "come from monkeys", which reminds me of Spencer Tracy thumping the Bible in that old 1950s movie Inherit the Wind. Things haven't come  so very far since then - I don't mean the 1950s, but 1925 when the Scopes Monkey Trial took place:

The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was an American legal case in July 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant.

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1395 in 2017), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion,[4] against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether "modern science" should be taught in schools. (Wikipedia)

I've taken a few university-level anthropology courses, though I'm aware the field has exploded since then. The fossil record, which becomes more rich and complex with each new find, is slowly but surely illuminating the mystery of human origins, tracing them back to a COMMON ANCESTOR (not a monkey, you dummies!) which split into two groups before they even looked like monkeys. We looked sort of like lemurs back then, and before that, we were tree shrews. 

We had to start somewhere.

But the point is, connection led to connection in a multi-branched, incredibly complex pattern with many dead ends. The fact that people still blather on about "the missing link" just infuriates me, because that idea was completely invalidated in about 1918. It's just a "thing people say" because they know nothing whatsoever about anthropology or the evolutionary process. To rant against Darwin by thundering that "we didn't come from monkeys" is so simple-minded and the idea still so apparently prevalent that I honestly wonder if Trump will ever run out of supporters.

Ron Waid Lizzie Campbell - It's still just a theory, not proven fact. If natural selection were true, Eskimos would have fur to keep warm, but they don't. They are just as hairless as everyone else. Also, if natural selection were true, humans in the tropics would have silvery, reflective skin to help them keep cool, but they don't. They have black skin, just the opposite of what the theory of natural selection would predict.

Keith Blackwell Lizzie Campbell so if you have a baby with a deformed hand or no legs... is that evolution?age

Ronald Redman Maybe you did fall out of a tree and landed on your head,their is no factual evidence man derived from a flipping monkey you twit

Rastko S. Ilić  His empty heretical theory had only one purpose: to separate humanity from Holy Christianity. As always

Nancy McIlrath Ok Vintage here you go again. How many times are you going to post this? I have seen 4 so far. I am a fan of Darwin but I suspect something else is going on here.

Ronald Redman Imagine you're a monkey playing in a tree, now you're a homosapian, can believe what ever floats your boat but sorry mam didn't come from a have no proof whatsoever, to observe the truth look at his sponsors and channels of funds for his work and all will be clear.

Ronald Redman But still no evidence of evolution

Robinson Yost No, because science is not about proving things with absolute certainty, that’s not what science is about. So saying the theory of evolution means it’s unproven shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the word theory and the scientific process itself.

Nancy McIlrath troll

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Three speeds of Elizabeth Holmes

An experimental gif featuring my favorite Silicon Valley sociopath, Elizabeth Holmes. A little small, due to the varying frame size/speed.

Monday, October 22, 2018

"Shrink! Shrink!" Instant weight loss miracles

I want to subtitle this, "When I came, my brain was loose. . . "

There are some truly strange phenomena in religion. This is right up there with Mormon magic underwear: the belief that a simple prayer will instantly peel 20 or 30 pounds off your body, so that suddenly your skirt is literally falling off. Even the needle on the scale is shown edging down and down, right on camera. It seems ludicrous, and it IS ludicrous, and I can't help but be sad, because people who believe this will believe anything. They will believe anything because they make the evidence fit. Either it's a downright hoax and they're sucking in their gut or have a hidden tuck in their waistband, or they're trying so hard to believe in the miracle that they delude themselves into actually SEEING results on their own body.

Part of it is just - may I say laziness? Losing weight is hard work, it takes effort, commitment, and an endless dedication to keeping the weight off even when your body insists on putting it back on. But what if God was willing to do all this for you - no effort - no energy - and in only seconds?

It scares me because this guy, this evangelist, is very slick. He's one of these charismatics, and he's there to fill the holes in people's lives. Most of this audience (and I believe the church is in Zimbabwe) are poor and black, and most are middle-aged or older women. No doubt this instant weight loss has another kind of cost, a more literal cost, in having to pony up big bucks to line the preacher's pockets.

It's what used to be called cheap grace. Jesus will do it all for you. Just believe in him, surrender to him! It seems like another lifetime that I not only belonged to the United Church, but was a lay minister for years and years. It wasn't so much waking up one morning realizing it had all been a sham. It was a slow crumbling, an eroding, a gradual realization that this just couldn't be true. What was I having "faith" in? Was there a God, a separable force from brute nature, that cared about us? After a while, it just didn't make sense any more. In the eyes of the church, it had to be something benevolent that was kind of hanging above us, watching over us, counting the hairs on our head, etc. If I doubted, people would try to hook me back by saying, "Oh, but it's just something that lives in your heart." But that's not it. An atheist could (and many do) embrace this idea. I could believe in human goodness without believing in a separable, personal, unconditionally loving God. 

That time I thought I caught a dazzling glimpse of the power of the universe, that dizzying force was completely indifferent. Quite simply, it didn't care about us. This was the raw force of nature, and of all that is. If there's something more personal going on, then we must provide it for each other.

So where is God in all this?

Videos like this one, in which trusting people are duped and bled dry of money they can't spare, only erodes my sense of the Big Guy in the Sky even more. How many crusades were fought in the name of God, how many people tortured and executed - and on a more intimate level, how many people were shamed and blamed, how many innocent, trusting children sexually abused and emotionally destroyed by priests who were God's representatives on earth?

It's a grim scene. I had to learn to do without God, and it was a loss, and still is, now that I am grieving the loss of my best friend. He was a believer for years, but I am not sure what happened at the end, because it looks like his former church is not going to do a memorial for him. So much for the graciousness of God and his followers! When it comes right down to it, Christian forgiveness is practically never followed, though an awful lot of people play at it. So I am left pretty much alone with my grief, and it's bloody painful. Sometimes I feel him on the other side, sometimes I even hear his voice, but if  I made the mistake of telling a psychiatrist, I'd be given medication for it and have a note written on my chart: delusional. And it would be on my record forever. Don't start that God business, whatever you do, or it will follow you around forever.

POST-BLOG GLOB! Predictably, I just found a news article from a Zimbabwe paper about  this Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, claiming that his church will soon be shut down (though I am sure that, like a poison mushroom, it will pop up somewhere else in short order. As P. T. Barnum famously said, there's one born every minute.) 

The fortunes and survival of UFIC leader, prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, is hanging by a thread, with the prospect of an ultimate shutdown of his tricky church, after the already talked about Ghanaian pastors have sent an explosive letter to President Robert Mugabe, to be hand delivered by a local delegation of clerics representing them in Harare next week, the Telescope News reported.

Makandiwa had appeared to take the gospel in Zimbabwe by storm five years ago, with sugarcoated teachings bordering on a heap of what his critics say are "lying miracles", such as penis enlargements, miracle money, miracle babies, weight loss on live television, and dubious financial summits to empower men right in the House of The Lord, they charge. However, the letter sent last night to Zimbabwe, calls on Mugabe to immediately arrest Makandiwa without hesitation when Grace passes away, as evidence that he is a fake prophet, thus God has hidden this sad prophecy just to expose his wickedness, and alleged ties with the occult and voodoo magic, the pastors lead by Lawrence Ajoba, said.

The Telescope News claims that it has a copy of the letter, which is embargoed until 6 April 2014, thus we shall be publishing the full text of the letter on Monday, the 7th of April, as part 2 to this interesting saga fast approaching "Judgement Day".

Ironically, Makandiwa is preparing for a much hyped "Judgement Night" on April 19, at the National Sports Stadium in the capital. Some 150 000 people are expected to attend his meeting, including foreigners, which could be his very last shot at fame and crowd pulling. The Ghanaian pastors, as will be read next week also want Mugabe "to set bulldozers" on the UFIC Chitungwiza church.

(I'm afraid they lost me at the penis enlargements.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Which way did he go?

In the land of Dairy Queen

I consider this to be a thing of great beauty. We seldom see such beauty in the world anywhere, let alone in a commercial for Dairy Queen. We had treats then, and not many people were fat. We were impressed with less. But was it less?

This is a piece of art. Art and commerce meet and blend with such incredible grace. No seams show. This came right out of the brain of an animator and on to our TV set. The black and white gives it an unearthly, even otherworldly quality. And the Dairy Queen fairy descends from space to bring her curly-topped treats to sleeping children.

We still have the Land of Dairy Queen, but it isn't the same. It's no longer an astral destination, but just a place to go to for blizzards and chocolate-dipped cones and frozen birthday cakes. We're no longer transported. The imagination is becoming blunted. We don't even know the ways in which things are slipping away, because they have already slipped away.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

This man is having a bad day


Joe is playing a sort of modified orchestrion, which is an organ played with paper rolls like a player piano. This rendition has something of the 1812 Overture about it. For some reason the instrument is called an American fotoplayer, an odd name for something acoustic rather than visual. In this case, his highly physical enhancement of the piece is downright maniacal. These keyboard instruments were popular in the parlour in the early 20th century. They provide such a workout that it's a wonder Joe isn't more slender.

I have a fascination with mechanical musical instruments - I could go on and on, but I have to be somewhere - their hokey artificiality, out-of-tune-ness, and outlandish methods of propulsion, such as the steam-driven calliope popular with travelling circuses and Mississippi steamboats. Like bagpipes, which also utilize hot air, they're outdoor instruments, too deafening to be played in the parlour. These were instruments on the move, in circus wagons or on steamboats (or marching bands in kilts). 

It was technology of a sort, though analogue/manual. Obsolescence interests me, for reasons which kind of frighten me, sometimes. Like so many of my generation, I am slouching not-so-slowly in the same direction.

Joe has an entire YouTube channel of fotoplayer performances (link below). They are extremely intense, even noisy, so listen to them at your own risk.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Keith Morrison: "And then. . . well. . . you know what they say. . . "

Oldest sex symbol on network television. Face like the Gobi Desert, but that's why we love him. This speaks volumes about Dateline's age demographic. He also speaks in a certain language I call Keith-ese, with lots of low-pitched "well"s, and slightly archaic Canadianisms like "anna-thing" for "anything", and "rec-coards" for records. His pauses are more than pregnant, they have already given birth and are running around.

Click on bottom right corner, you can't watch this without the sound!