Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doubts About Atheist Intelligence (or, Tube Boobs 6)

Over the last 24 hours or so I composed a new vid for TektonTV (link below) in which I addressed a gross misrepresentation by an atheist who had attended my debate with Richard Carrier and recorded at least some part of it (including the Q and A session) on their iPhone. (Yes, this is another story of incompetents carrying around toys they use to the detriment of others – say hi to the Information Age again.)

I’ll let readers see the vid to get the full story, but here is what it boils down to.
In the Q and A, it was noted that many Christians have doubts about the existence of God. I was asked if I had had that feeling before myself (note the critical word). I said no, because such things are not part of my personality makeup.

The atheist, however, made a very simple confusion between the feeling of doubt (an emotion) and intellectual doubting – subjective vs objective (and, a noun versus a verb) and reached the idiotic conclusion that I was saying that I never doubted anything intellectually. They followed this up with a couple of dumb questions like, “Shouldn’t you follow the evidence where it leads you?”

There’s more than one aspect to this display of monumental comprehension incompetence. For one, it seems hardly possible that any such person as this atheist was thinking I was saying I was could even exist, at least beyond the age of infancy (or, due to some mental illness). Who in the world never doubts anything (in intellectual terms)? That kind of doubt is so fundamental to daily life that such a person could never reach a basic level of functioning. They’d be just like an infant.

Second, all that night before the Q and A I had presenting a case for the textual reliability of the NT based on evidence. While one might expect that atheist to disagree with my handling of it, it should have been obvious that I was following a principle of “following the evidence where it leads you” and not engaging an “intellectually doubtless” paradigm at all.

The most gruesome aspect of this charade, however, is that by all appearances, this atheist started his YouTube channel for no other purpose than to publicize his misunderstanding. The debate over textual issues and all other questions were de-contexted from this one question and answer in order to publicize a single, unwarranted character smear which, even if accurate, would in no way have affected any argument made by me on any point. One can envision this pitifully shallow mind having gone away from the debate rejoicing over having captured what they perceived to be a “golden gotcha” quote (oblivious in their bliss of ignorance, of course) which held more value than any details over such matters as manuscripts, interpolations, or textual criticism.

It’s an insult not just to me, but also to Carrier, as well as the church staff, who worked as hard as they did in preparing for and presenting a debate on such a serious topic. We did all that just so you could engage this intellectual masturbatory fantasy, pal? Perish the thought.

One good thing did come of this, though. It gave me an idea for a new TektonTV concept package (the “Dumb Question of the Month”). Long after the Shallow One has passed on to his next fantasy – maybe he has in mind capturing William Lane Craig on tape picking his nose – I’ll still be producing that series.

In fact, maybe someday he can provide me with more material for it.

The Forge will be on hiatus until next Tuesday or Thursday while I attend the ISCA conference.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ILL Advised to Pucker Up

Today’s post will serve as an official announcement that from here on, Tekton Building Blocks books will be done differently. Instead of large, single books, we’ll be issuing smaller e-books on specific topics that were planned for the larger books. These will, in the end, be compiled into a larger book, but it will take much longer – 2-3 years at least – to get these done.

Why the change? You can thank my local public library, which decided to save a little chump change by getting rid of interlibrary loan (ILL) service.

Readers may not be aware that ILL was an essential part of every Tekton Building Blocks project – and even some others as well. The metro Orlando area has some good libraries – two major seminary libraries and one major college library – and a few other good ones within driving distance for a day trip of reading and research. But many of the books I need are obscure and are only available by being borrowed from libraries far away from here. Hence, ILL was a necessary component of doing research. I had hoped that a local college library might provide it, but they do not. So here we are – for want of a nail.

This made for an interesting post in more ways than one. The demolition of ILL services reflects a trend that began well before the mid-80s when I worked for my local library as a clerk, and continued to be debated as I attended library school in the early 90s. Public libraries were caught between two poles, as it were – the philosophy that public libraries (not academic libraries) were intended mainly to be a resource for a community, and the philosophy that a library was intended to be more or less a center for entertaining the public – called at the time (and maybe even today) “give ‘em what they want.”

My philosophy has always tended towards the first pole. But I also recognized that the second had its uses. Where things go wrong is when libraries gravitate heavily towards one or the other – and actually, I should just say “one,” because public libraries always end up gravitating heavily towards “give ‘em what they want” if they weigh heavily at all.

In the 80s, the head of the Orlando library system – whose name, oddly enough, was Glenn Miller! – began slanting the library heavily towards “give ‘em what they want.” The system would buy literally hundreds of copies of what were expected to be bestselling fiction books (e.g., Danielle Steel) to ensure that no one would be waiting any longer than a week or two to read it. That meant we ended up with hundreds of copies of Steel’s books lying unused on the shelf later (or maybe sold in the library’s used book store), but the public was happy and that was all Miller cared about.

Just before I left that library, “give ‘em what they want” started to descend into profound idiocy. Formerly, returned books were sorted behind the returns desk; a new policy was instituted in which they were brought immediately to the floor on which they would be shelved and placed on as set of shelves as “just returned” so that the public would not have to wait even a couple of hours to get their hot little hands on a returned book. This made it harder for clerks to do their job, but – the public was happy, and that’s all that was cared about.

Since that time, Orlando’s library has been through at least two directors, but “give ‘em what they want” has plumbed depths of idiocy I could never have dreamed of. Upon entering the Orlando library today, a glance into the first floor reveals no sign of bookshelves – rather, you’d think you were in a movie theater. Librarians can’t be found at a reference desk – instead, library users find themselves assaulted by wandering, obsequious drones who aren’t even credentialed librarians (they stopped hiring those years ago, also to save money) who will ask if they want help (even if they haven’t asked for it). It’s a manifestation of what I call kissyface customer service (though I obviously have a lower anatomical target in mind), designed by extroverts who assume that everyone is just like them and everyone wants to turn every outing into a social one. It also assumes that the average library user is an idiot who can’t tie their own shoes – not an unreasonable expectation, though, given that they started treating them like idiots 30 or more years ago. Now the kids they treated like idiots and plied with videocassettes and entertainment in the 80s have grown up – and they still expect to be catered to, fawned over, and spoiled like kings. Surprise.

By now the reader will have realized that there’s a parallel here. Yep. In the church. It’s that same dichotomy between offering sound education programs and lively entertainment. And as there, the serious people lose, and it snowballs. Thanks to “give ‘em what they want” in the 80s, here in the “10s” I can’t get interlibrary loan any more. After all, all those entertainment programs and first-run movies on DVD and Blu-ray are expensive. So is the library director’s 6-figure salary. Glorified babysitters don’t come cheap, you know.

It doesn’t seem we can ever get away from the sickness that is top-heavy self-gratification.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Interim Health Report

Figured I'd report here that my cardiology appointment went fine -- no problems found. More tests next month to be sure.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pagan Chocolates

Today I released a new TektonTV vid responding to ProfMTH’s vid making a big issue of Easter as a “pagan” holiday.

Whoop dee doo.

To his credit, at least he’s not pushing “pagan copycat” crap…yet. But he is trying to inspire guilt in Christians by hollering that Easter eggs, bunnies, etc. are derived from pagan symbols.

My reply: Yes – and so what?

As I explain in the vid, ancient deities like Semiramis aren’t getting any favors or service out of any of this egg rolling or chocolate bunny eating. If anything, they’d be tremendously insulted that we trivialized their sacred symbols and practices by turning them into children’s toys and games. It’s the honor-equivalent of writing a Bible verse on a sheet on Charmin – then using it.

The only real question is why a fundy atheist like ProfMTH sees fit to even make this an issue. Unfortunately, the most likely answer by far is that he just wants to disturb gullible and ignorant Christians. Which means…he’s going to stay in my gunsights along with a few others on YT. Huh huh huh huh huh. (Check the vid for the joke.)

I have appointments tomorrow, so the Forge will return Tuesday.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tube Boobs 5

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that a certain YT user who had the username “GodAimighty” had had their account closed down. I had never seen this person’s work for more than a few seconds, but I knew they were an Acharya S brand lunatic – and as it turns out, they were pretty free in cribbing copyrighted material from other people. What really got them in trouble, though, was that they frequently used an image from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a speaking character (see side picture).

I mean frequently – as I found out, from someone who reposted their material, up to 4/5 of their vids were nothing but this character pictured and their own voice (apparently) speaking.
That’s not only dull and uncreative, it’s plain disrespectful and stupid.

Here’s their own posting on the matter from one of Acharya’s forum threads:

Well... it appears I procrastinated for too long about getting someone to design an original image for the god face in my videos(Johnson1010 of has been working on a design for me, though it is still unfinished last I heard from him).

Somehow, the Python Office was made aware of my usage of their image in several of my videos. I don't know if this was the real deal or one of those false flagging type of things, either way, apparently Youtube has found it to be just cause for termination.(I had already gotten one strike some months back for trying to upload Religulous when testing out the new no-timelimit privilege) ...

And it's weird, you'd think my channel was small enough to still fly under the radar, which is what leads me to suspect it was definitely a butthurt troll who either tipped off TPTB or false flagged or something. ..

But in the end, I guess I only have myself to blame for being careless enough to use the image in the first place and then waiting so long to get someone to make a replacement. So now I gotta go back and re-edit and re-upload and rebuild up my subscriber base, on top of everything else I had wanted to do. This really sucks. I'm going to take a break and rethink the direction I want to take with video making and such.

Aw. Poor baby.

Copyright is one of my specialties as a researcher, and because of it, I’m very careful about how much of other people’s material I use in my vids. Fair use allows a very limited amount of such usage – a few seconds of a popular song, a few seconds of an image – a good measure is what you find on Amazon Books when they give you samples of a song to listen to. Just now I picked one at random and Amazon featured only about 28 seconds of a song that lasted in total 3 minutes and 41 seconds. More than that, and you’re probably in trouble.

Here’s an example of how cautious I am with this. In one of my vids, I needed for characters to spend about 7 minutes in front of the same background, which would have been somewhere in Galatia. (Paul was one of the characters.) I had found a picture of a nice hillside in the region and figured I could use that – but wait, no. That might be a violation for that long. So instead, I drew the hillside myself, based on the picture. No copyright issues. End of story.

The sorrowful thing is that even someone as dumb as this “GodAimighty” should have known better, especially after being called down for it before. He could also have drawn the stinkin’ thing himself – it just required two drawings of a figure, one with its mouth open, one with its mouth closed. (Or one more with the mouth open even wider, if he really wanted to work hard.) With that sort of lack of creativity and that sort of laziness, what makes you think they do research any better?

One of Acharya’s other groupies sympathized in their rather stupid way:

Sounds fishy to me. I seriously doubt that the Python Office would care that much so many years later.

WHAT! You’re darned RIGHT they would care; Monty Python spent millions of dollars producing that movie, and continues to make money off of it even today. The animator– Terry Gilliam – worked very hard on his material, and established a reputation for himself in the field. A two-bit hack is making such extended use of HIS work, for free, and you think he and MP wouldn’t care? (This is aside from the fact that such extended use might be misconstrued as MP itself endorsing the findings of the film, which is another issue – I doubt MP would want either side of the debate doing that.)

Then, it got funnier as one of Acharya’s hacks whined about “censorship”.

WHAT! It’s “censorship” to stop someone from using YOUR intellectual property – or for YouTube to stop you doing it? Are these idiots serious?

“GodAimighty” didn’t stop there with the intellectual theft. I watched several of his vids, and there was also sufficient theft of karaoke versions of several popular songs (such as Walk Like and Egyptian and Like A Virgin) that the creators of those products could have called him down as well. The one credit is that the idiot tried to cite “educational” fair use at the beginning of his vid. Well, aside from the questionable categorization of Acharya’s garbage as “educational,” even THAT has its limits. Using the same pic for nearly 4/5 of your video is way over that limit.

I do my best to respect the work of others. When I use music in my vids for any period of more than a few seconds, I give credit to the author. Kevin MacLeod of, for example, has a host of musical scores he lets people freely use, asking only for credit – which I duly give at the end of each vid. I have already found one atheist using one of the same scores from MacLeod I do – and he did NOT give any credit. And really – how hard is that to do?

The only explanation here, really, is a combination of gross laziness and uncreativity, coupled with substantial arrogance. There is no excuse for assuming to just steal from the hard work of others in such a blatant way. Fair use is not a hard concept to understand – and I advocate it as both an information professional AND as an artist.

Not unrelatedly, it’s much like I said in the last entry in this series: These people have almost no creativity, and little ability to come up with anything on their own. Apart from the use of that Python picture, “GodAimighty” mostly offered cribbed screenshots of Wikipedia pages, book pages, and online articles.
Of course, I’m not saying some Christians aren’t producing equally dull material. I wish everyone could do better, and admittedly, some people have good ideas that deserve a hearing while not having the time, ability, or means to express those ideas in a creative way. However, if you DO lack that means, then extended theft of the work of others isn’t the answer.

What makes it even more pathetic is what this creep admitted elsewhere on that forum:

As you have seen, it takes me a week of my free time to complete just 15 minutes of video, to make one several hours long, takes several weeks to months.

A week of free time? For 15 minutes of cribbed screenshots?

That’s pathetic.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Part 3: Travel Travails

My first live debate was this past weekend, and for more reasons than one, it will be my last. I’ve noted that I accepted it only so that my beloved Mrs H could visit an elderly uncle nearby (who, as it happens, was doing better than we expected).

But there’s more to it than that: I’m just plain fed up with travelling. And that says a lot since I haven’t done that much of it.

What’s getting to me? In part, it’s being cramped into an airplane seat (or car) for hours on end. I’m a restless person who hates sitting in one place for hours at a time and doesn’t like having my movements restricted. A plane is the ultimate “sit down and shut up” experience, so it's completely contrary to what I like to do. Two hours at most and I’m done, ready to open the emergency exit for some fresh air.
Then there’s the rudeness of other travelers. Our flight out to Reno had a stop in Dallas, and at that point two young parents got on across the aisle from us with two screaming brats who screeched and screamed from nearly takeoff to landing. And of course, the parents did nothing about it (unless you count giving in to what the kids wanted, and going "shh," as “doing something”). All through takeoff, the father kept one of the kids occupied by reading – loudly – to one of the brats from a kids’ book on potty training. It was one of those multimedia books, too, so the reading was accompanied by sound effects such as a toilet flushing. Just the thing for a quiet flight (where I was already hampered by less than 4 hours’ sleep in the last 48 hours).

During the flight, these nimnuls also had the nerve to ask an elderly gentleman to move up to the next row so they could spread out – one parent, one brat in each row. Not that it helped: First one brat, then the other, would start screaming or whining over something or other, or try to climb over the seats so they could be spoiled by each parent in turn. This happened for about 70% of the flight. The other 30% of the time, one or both were mercifully asleep.

At one point, one of the brats started slamming the window cover up and down repeatedly. The father’s response? Applauding. “Yay, you made a loud noise and disturbed people”? Is that the message?

At the engagement, the pastor made a joke asking if I had ridden Southwest. I told him that I’d have rather had a plane with a crack in the ceiling than the pair of bellowing hellions I ended up with across the aisle. At least then I’d be getting some fresh air.

I think we should have it so that any time someone has screaming kids, the parents should have to pay everyone sitting nearby a fee that amounts to a quarter of their fare. Maybe that would enforce some discipline.

More? I’m also getting tired of wackiness at destinations. Yes, there’s plenty here at home, but that’s exactly why I don’t need more. Nevada was beautiful in many portions: Mrs H and I took the time to take a drive out into the desert, and we don’t mind that kind of travel outside the cities where there’s also very little wackiness. But when it comes to Nevada cities? Insanity prevails with the casinos there. You find slot machines every place you go – in the airport, at convenience stores, in restaurants – I half expected to find them in the john.

While there, Mrs H’s cousin asked if we’d like to watch him gamble at one of the machines; I told him to just take a $20 bill out and burn it – it’d take less time and have the same effect.

Gambling admittedly is one of my great irritants wherever it happens. Even here in Florida, it’s dismaying to have to wait in line behind idiots in threadbare clothes purchasing $100 worth of lottery tickets. But in Nevada it’s an extreme thing, and it’s a vicious cycle perpetuated by the best advertising using the latest technology. Some casinos feature flashing signs outside depicting the latest winner and the amounts they won (“Congratulations, Ann: Won $5,000”) – what a disgusting lure THAT is. Hey, guys: How about instead, you feature pictures of the biggest losers, along with their deprived families? “Congratulations, Jack: Lost $18,000. Congratulations, Martha, Jack’s wife: 32 stitches after Jack took it out on her.” Why not some truth in advertising?

There are other factors too. For long trips, it’s just too hard for me to cope with the rapid time zone change. I don’t perform as well, and that’s not fair to those I serve.

It’s expensive to put Cocoa in boarding. That by itself can eat up and exceed any speaking fees. Besides – I miss the little guy when he's not around.

The schedule for a working trip is too hectic, and frequently involves getting to the airport at the wee hours in the morning and getting back far too late at night. It's either that or spend more on lodging because we used more timely flights.

Airlines have a lot of nerve charging for baggage now.

Mrs H works in a critical position and has a hard time getting off work.
And now – as if the camel’s back were not broken enough already! – yesterday’s attempt to arrange the trip to the ISCA conference in Raleigh took several hours because all the right flight times out of Orlando were hundreds of dollars more than the wrong ones, leaving us to have to fly out of Tampa (!) instead – and then it was also nearly impossible to get a car rental because spring breakers had hogged them all up.

It’s just not worth the hassle any more.
So after ISCA, I’ll need to decide how much I plan to restrict myself on travel. I’m thinking I’m best off focusing on serving in FL and the near Southeast, especially since my local ministry partner and I want to work harder on our boot camps for youth.

I want to thank the folks who have invited me to speak over the years – you’ve all been wonderful, and this is all no reflection on you. But chances are good I won’t be seeing you again. Or anyone else more than 400 miles away either.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Part 2: Debate Post-Mortem

I finished (as far as I can) my summary of the debate here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Part 1: The Debate That Almost Wasn't

As it happens, the debate organizer is now posting his thoughts and a summary of the debate, so I'll wait until he gets done and use his comments as a template for my own. I also have a little spare time this morning, so I'll do pre-post...on why I almost didn't get to do this debate.

Regular readers know I've had some past troubles with kidney stones caused by oxalic acid -- an element found in my favorite healthy foods like spinach, nuts and berries. My nephrologist has been giving me meds to combat the problem, including (ominous reverb) diuretics.

I don't play well with diuretics. Every time I take them the cure is worse than the disease.

He assured me this latest one he gave me wouldn't be as bad.

He was right -- for about 40 days. Then this past Thursday night I found myself wide awake the whole night as my heart beat away like a triphammer. Not one minute of sleep -- just what I needed.

According to another doctor in my consult, the diuretic probably drained me of electrolytes, which in turn interfered with those internal currents that keep the heart going. So the next day, I got off the diuretic and quaffed Gatorade to the tune of nearly a whole gallon. It worked. No more triphammer. (I kept it up too -- they'll tell you I had two bottles of the lime green stuff at the debate.)

Bottom line though is...I've been recommended to see a cardiologist next week to figure out why I'm experiencing what is usually an unusual effect of that diuretic. I slept a total of 4 hours between Thursday and the time of the debate. I weighed going to the ER and cancelling out on the debate, and probably would have if the Gatorade hadn't done the job.

Considering we had to drive from Reno to this area through the twisted turns of Carson Pass (where snow is still thick on the ground even now), it's a good thing I didn't FEEL like I only slept 4 hours. In fact I felt fine. (And no, I didn't hop up on any energy drinks either.) There were a lot of ways this debate could have failed to come to pass, and none of them happened.

Until next time -- perhaps Wednesday....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

NT Textual Reliability Debate: Call it a Win-Win

Yep, that's what we'll call it. Richard Carrier and I each presented our views, didn't intersect that much in doing so -- and actually got along fairly well in person. I'm content, and think we both did a good job presenting our cases. But I'm also on Eastern time, so I'll write more on what happened when I get home.

Friday, April 8, 2011


No official post today; I'll be trying to get on here within 24 hours of the debate to report on it. Then the Forge will be off until Thursday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Barbarians of Pathological Democracy

Nick Peters and his wife called us last night to talk to us about something that happened on a forum she participates in, which I think illustrates a lot about the problems apologists face with the current generation that has been stupefied by a form of pathological democracy.

It’s Autism Awareness Month. Since both Nick and his wife are citizens with a related syndrome (Asperger’s – which my little brother also has), she started a thread on a general interest forum on the subject. There were a few people who said nice things there, but then there were a few – what shall we say? Trolls? Here’s some of their commentary:

all those poor kids playing minecraft

inb4 flood of "lol a** burgers" Seriously though, you might wanna take this somewhere else.

Q. why is this forum so obsessed with autism/aspergers?
A. Because it's the cool thing to pretend you have.

Hers was not the only thread on this, as it turned out. Someone else started one and some of the same type of comments popped up:

I'd rather support world hunger or something...

Autism is unnatural and all Autistic people should be executed.

Everybody has autism/a**burgers these days. I swear it's become a fad.
I was at an autism speaks benefit at my school a couple years ago and suddenly this autistic guy start making these insanely weird loud shouting noises right behind me and it scared the s**t out of me. Autism speaks, and it's ******** terrifying.

Autism is a myth.

The oddest of all was a comment by a member with autism who objected to people who, of their own free will, posted the first names of people they knew with autism:

Do you want your name posted on the internet to complete strangers because of something you were born with? Do you realize how extreme an invation [sic] of privacy this is?

Um, yeah. After all, it’s pretty clear that readers can tell right away who that “John” is that you’re talking about. They see him every day.

I bring this all to attention because it’s pretty much a parallel to what I’ve encountered on YouTube these days – pathological democracy and a generation of kids being told how special they are even when they screw up has led to the production of a class of idiots like these, who not only spew nonsense for which they can accept no correction, but has also given them the free and public venue to spread it – which in turn encourages them to think that their nonsense is worthy of attention. A perpetual cycle of endless idiocy. How nice.

On the one hand, it’s nice to see this isn’t limited to discussions of religious issues. On the other hand, it’s sad to see that it isn’t, too. But really, it’s the not-unexpected result of a perfect storm of social and technological factors that have led us here, and we shouldn’t be surprised.

It’s not hard to see how we can get from “autism is a myth” to “the Zeitgeist movie says….”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Intimidation vs Apologetics?

Fellow apologist David Wood passed on this rather distressing item to me (link below) which seems to be a case of a judge being too scared of repercussions to stand up for the 4th Amendment. Frankly, given the poor quality of Islamic apologetics I have seen (especially against Christianity, where they mostly crib material from atheists), I can see why intimidation might be a preferred route for some.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Hub Page for Debate on NT Textual Reliability

I've put a page here giving information and background on my April 9 debate with Richard Carrier. After the debate, it'll also be an informational hub with thoughts on the debate and resources for further study. I'll be trying to get to a computer afterwards to post some thoughts here on the Forge, but I may end up not being able to reach one for a while, so it may be the following Wednesday before I can offer comments.