It’s Official. You’re Not Going To Heaven

So we were checking out Jonathan Coulton’s new album, Solid State, which might need a post of its own. Anyway, we listened to it on Spotify. A few months ago, Spotify rolled out a new feature called Album Radio. When the album’s done, it makes you a mix of other stuff you might enjoy. I wish there was a way to turn it on and off, because sometimes I just want to listen to an album as a complete unit and then stop and think about it.

But it’s not a totally bad feature, because it introduced me to Bo Burnham. Steve had heard his stuff, and I had heard his name when people called him “the new Tom Lehrer” but I’d never heard any of his music. That is going to change and fast, because I think he’s awesome.

Here’s a song that won’t stop playing in my head, and it sums up so much of what I’ve said about religion before. I almost think it should be the soundtrack to this old post.

Here are the lyrics if you need them.

If you think he’s funny, go listen to all the things. I obviously have missed out for years…always late to the party.

Welcome To Our Place Of Worship, Distructicon 6152. May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You

So here’s a question with no good answer. When Superintelligent AI Arrives, Will Religions Try to Convert It?

My immediate, emotional reaction is oh god, please don’t. Considering how many of the world’s problems religion is at best indirectly responsible for, the last thing we need is a civilization possibly more advanced than our own warring with and discriminating against itself and us. Besides, if one of the goals of these superinteligences is to have them help us scientifically, do we need to fill them full of doctrine that can often tend to run counter to science and logic? What good would that do? It would only confuse things.

But on the other hand, humans crave information. We thrive on it (ok, most of us thrive on it). So it would only stand to reason that a being capable of processing more information than any of us could even begin to imagine should be fed as much of the stuff as possible and allowed to draw its own conclusions as it was designed to do. Maybe that would go fine. Maybe it could teach us mere humans some sort of great, universal truth we’ve all been missing for centuries. But what if it doesn’t? What if it becomes a living embodiment of those emails people used to forward about taking the bible literally? And remember, it’s smarter than we are. What do we do if that happens? Can we do anything?

People much more qualified than I to sort these things out have no real answers, so I’m not going to pretend I do. But this much I know. There’s a reason I’ve never been in a hurry for us to create a sentient being that will be able to out think us. If you give anyone power he’s eventually going to figure out that he can use it, and that never ends well. Yes these things are going to theoretically be smarter than us, but remember, we’re filling them with human knowledge and perspective. In some ways that hasn’t done us any good, so why should we think this would be any different?

Hail Mary, Full Of…Uh, Guys? Is She Supposed To Be Full Of Those Things?

These songs, as you may have noticed, are just a tiny bit different. But while this observation did not get bye you, the same cannot be said for the person responsible for printing up the lyric sheets for this year’s Catholic Joy to the World Festival.

A Christmas carol service in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo has accidentally printed out the lyrics to late rapper Tupac Shakur’s ‘Hail Mary’ in its programme instead of the 15th century Catholic prayer. 
The mix-up occurred at the 2016 Catholic Joy to the World Festival at the city’s Nelum Pokuna Theatre during one of Sri Lanka’s largest Christmas celebrations earlier this month.
Instead of finding the words “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee/blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, the carol singers were invited to reflect on the 1997 song’s themes of mortality, violence and sex and whether they wanted to “ride or die.”

If it hasn’t happened already, somebody please find a way to mash these up. It would make things so much easier next year.

Your Vehicle, Which Art In Our Living Room. Damaged Be Thy Frame

Whether she was praying too hard or not hard enough is a debate for another day, but it’s pretty clear that this woman’s deity of choice might be trying to tell her to change up her methods a little.

A 28-year-old woman was taken to the hospital for evaluation after driving into a Mary Esther house Thursday morning.
The woman told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies she was praying at the time and had her eyes closed, according to the OCSO.

The Fort Walton Beach woman was traveling eastbound on Marcia Drive when she failed to stop at a stop sign, went through an intersection and into the yard of a home on Miramar Drive.

The woman, who’s name has not been released, was cited for reckless driving with property damage.

Nobody in the house was injured, thank someone you might pray to but hopefully with your eyes open and focused where they’re supposed to be.

Please Stop Sending Money To Televangelists. They’re Ripping You Off And Killing You

I don’t know anyone who’s been conned to a dangerous degree, but I have known people who watch, believe and may have even sent them money a time or two though I can’t prove that last one, only suspect it. Even so, I hope that if hell is a real place, that there’s an extra special, extra warm section set aside there just for televangelists.

That video is 20 minutes long, but it’s worth it. It’s funny, it’s informative (especially if you’re starting to see the light), and unlike most of these scammy prick outfits it actually ended up doing some good in the form of thousands of dollars in donations to the Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption church being sent to Doctors Without Borders, as opposed to Preachers Without Morals, where all that cash traditionally ends up.

Smartphones, Religion And Other Things That Suck

Seeing as I’m currently getting sucked down a bit of a YouTube hole over here, have a couple of Lewis Black videos.

Even though they pay less money for it than we do, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that Americans have to deal with the same sorts of shitty corporations if they want phone service.

And then there’s this.

I’m not sure how knew the idea is, but I’m guessing it goes back at least a couple years since he’d already been doing it for a while when Carin and I saw him. He has a gimmick where during each show, he’ll read questions and topics submitted to a special website by the audience and give his thoughts on them. Well, somebody recently decided to do his work for him, writing a hole damn rant about quitting the Mormon church. It’s something else.

If you ever get a chance to go to a Lewis Black show, you should. If there’s a better way to spend a couple hours being yelled at, I haven’t found it.

Why Are Niqabs An Election Issue?

I have to ask, because I’d like a Conservative who honestly feels that this issue is one upon which our election should hinge and upon which the future of our entire country and indeed our very way of life hinges now to explain it to me in a way that makes sense. It seems important to them, so I want to understand. I want to understand because as it is, I just don’t get it. I don’t get how somebody’s choice of dress impacts whether or not I have money in my pocket, or a comfortable place to live, or food on my table, or clean water in my taps, or breathable air in my front yard, or safe roads for our cars and public transit or literally anything else that I need to be concerned about day to day. I don’t get how I am harmed by a religious custom that, while I don’t personally agree with it, doesn’t harm another living soul.

Somebody on the National the other night summed it up perfectly. I’ll paraphrase as best I can since I don’t remember exactly what he said.

To me, the niqab is regressive and creepy, but this is Canada. We have the right to dress regressive and creepy.

And rights are really what this is all about, when you get down to the meat of it. Specifically the removal of them from a certain set of people, which is something that, if Canada really is what I’ve always been told it is and have generally known it to be, none of us should stand for. Canadians are, as a rule, a kind people. A helpful people. A welcoming people. A respectful people. A people that usually understand a concept as simple as I don’t have to like everything about you to like you. This niqab garbage undermines all of that. It seeks to turn us into a racist, fearful lot that will sacrifice freedoms at the drop of a hat because our government says it should be so, especially if those freedoms belong to someone else and we don’t quite understand them. That’s not what Canada is or should be all about. Never has been, never will be.

Listen. I understand that some of you are going to vote for Stephen Harper no matter what because in your heart of hearts, you truly believe he’s doing a good job. I think you’re wrong, but that’s ok. Despite what he’s been telling you, differences are not things to be feared. But if you’re an undecided voter like me who isn’t loyal to any single party, I’m begging you, don’t let this be the issue that swings you Conservative. At best it’s a non-issue, but at worst it really might be one that our way of life does hinge upon, just not in the way Stephen Harper and his party would like you to think.

A Good Pope Can Still Be A Wrong Pope

It figures. Just when I start warming up to the Pope a little, he has to go and remind me that he still belongs to an institution that just doesn’t get it and that he’s more than happy to keep going along with some of its ass backward crap.

Pope Francis denounced the right to die movement Saturday, saying it’s a “false sense of compassion” to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity when in fact it’s a sin against God and creation.

While denouncing euthanasia in general, he also condemned abortion, in vitro fertilization (or “the scientific production of a child”) and embryonic stem cell research (or “using human beings as laboratory experiments to presumably save others.”)

I’m with him on IVF, but not for the same reason. If I had my way about it, everyone spending a fortune on that gamble would adopt a child that needs a family and help do some good in the world instead, the same thing I’d like to see as a requirement before you’re allowed to protest abortions. But until it’s time for me to be part of a very personal decision like that, I don’t have my way about it. It’s as much my place to tell someone she can’t have a baby she wants as it is to tell that person she has to keep one she doesn’t.

And this stem cell stuff, that’s just ridiculous. If we’re not supposed to use that sort of life to save the lives of others, should we outlaw clinical trials while we’re at it? The definition there sounds an awful lot like we’re “using human beings as laboratory experiments to presumably save others” to me.

Francis has spoken out frequently about euthanasia. He considers the assisted suicide movement as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” that views the sick and elderly as useless drains on society.

A perfectly reasonable opinion, other than the part where that’s totally not how it works at all.

We’re not running around murdering sick old people because they’re old and sick and we don’t want them anymore. It’s another one of those very personal decisions that can only be made by the people most effected under the worst of circumstances. It’s not “get in the car Grandpa, we’re going to the vet!” It’s “I’m being wasted by this awful disease that nobody can fix, every inch of me hurts and it’s only going to get worse. I want to leave this world now while I can still hold my head up, rather than continue to suffer until my inevitable, horrible end.”

As sad as it is when someone dies, watching that person slowly suffer to death is even sadder. And as hard as it is on us, it’s harder on him than any of us will ever understand until the day we find ourselves in his shoes. When the best medical science can offer these people is to drug them up until they can’t take it anymore, why should they be forced to stick around and slowly degenerate before our eyes and their own? I may think differently should the time ever come for me, but for now I fall squarely on the side of if you can’t fix my pain, please end it. Anything else is inhumane, and not what we should expect a loving god or Pope to want.