February 15th, 2006

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My Snootiness Is Snootier Than Your Snootiness.

My baby sister is mentally retarded.

I say "baby sister," but she's 18. She'll never develop past the mental abilities of a four-year-old, so she'll always be my baby sister. This is different from people who always treat their younger siblings as babies simply because they're younger, you see. My snootiness is snootier than your snootiness.

She suffers . . . not suffer. It doesn't pain her. She has Down's Syndrome. She's pretty high level among those with Down Syndrome. She's not a genius Down's Syndrome kid or anything, but she walks, she talks, she competes in the local Special Olympics every year and manages to do okay. She can hold conversations--not brilliant conversations, long and rambling dissertations on the culture of beauty and the truth of irrelevancies. She's got speech impediments, but with some patience, she can be understood.

She's wonderful. Yeah, it can be aggravating that I'll never really be able to converse with her adult to adult. I have another sister, an older sister, I can talk you, y'know? I've also got two brothers, them I can speak at my own level with, too. But so what? It's like having a four-year-old around all the time. You ever see a four-year-old happy? Really happy? They practically glow. She's unendingly amusing, and since she was raised in a loving family, she loves as well. Unconditionally. It's a wonderful thing, being loved unconditionally.

However, her taste in entertainments leaves much to be desired. She likes pure drek. Sure, for every universally good movie, say, or TV show, there are three or four more that only a mentally retarded little girl could love.

She may like The Lord of The Rings, but she also loves It's Pat. She may love Spider-Man 2 but she also loves The Musketeer. The recent one, with martial artist D'Artagnan kicking French ass and taking French names. With martial arts.

Sure, she loves me and her other brothers and her sister and her mommy and daddy unconditionally, but she also loves utter crap unconditionally.

And her memory sucks, so like a four-year-old, she thinks it's perfectly all right to watch a movie again immediately after viewing it. And then, watching it again. She enjoyed it, after all. Why shouldn't she enjoy it again? Immediately?

Even a good movie can be tiring that way.

Years ago, she'd watch Barney the Purple Dinosaur: Live! And! Even! More! Annoying! over and over and over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER again. All day. Every day after school. Every weekend.

All.

The.

Tiiiiiiime.

. . .

. . .

But!

I do have a handy put-down for those who like films I don't like but she does: my mentally retarded younger sister likes this. Do you really want to be on the same level as that?

My snootiness is snootier than your snootiness.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque
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The Great Divide

Reason versus Intuition.

Science versus Religion.

Evolution versus The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

People always think they're soooooo clever. If a bunch of bespectacled losers claim something is, all bespectacled losers must immediately believe so also as well. Partly, it's Revenge of The Nerds solidarity. Partly it's that bespectacled losers are smart, so if a bunch of them say "Left," you better not be turning no Right, no how. But mainly, it's laziness.

Public schools think that teaching people to think for themselves is wrong, at a basic fundamental way.

There is only one way to view history. There is only one way to approach science. There is only one way to look at math: 1 + 1 = 2.

Never mind the "new math" of the fifties, where every student had to analyze why 1 + 1 = 2 and not, say 3 or 1 again. Math is immutable. Calculus? Immutable!. Hardly an exception at all. To think otherwise is hidebound thinking.

Yes. Going against the flow is hidebound. Thinking for yourself and making your own decision about things? hidebound.

One almost supposes that there is some . . . vast . . . movement on the part of those who think Religion = Baaaaad to rewrite the human experience so that doublespeak Big Brother isn't doublespeak Watching You, but rather, there is no doublespeak Big Brother, so why should he be doublespeak Watching Anyone?

Live for today! There are no consequences, that way! John Lennon's Imagine paints a beautiful picture for the way the world ought to be, rather than shows John Lennon to be as ignorant as anyone. Just Imagine!

"The Flying Spaghetti Monster is an attack on Intelligent Design!" fooled fools say. "It's not an attack on the Intelligent Designer!" they claim. "We're just being clever and hipster and laughing out of the sides of our mouths at Jesusland!"

Here's a clue, though. Intelligent Design isn't about Getting God Into Schools. There already exist schools where God is. Intelligent Design just proposes "What if there's a plan? A reason? What if it's not all random?" But no. It's just backwards "hidebound logic" to those who can't handle it. Because if it's not all random, then they were meant to be mocked in high school. We are meant to be virgins to decades and decades. It's all part of the plan that America has a strange anti-intellectualism while at the same time celebrating genius and gathering smart people together in an attempt to see what's possible.

But smart people are still nerds. Still socially inept. Still have a hard time getting women (or men) to notice that they have a hole in their heart, neatly in the shape . . . of you..

Well, here are some facts about Evolution. Make up your own minds.

(What are my credentials? I read some books. Make up your own minds.)

There is no direct proof that Evolution is the way new species come about. Genetics proves that species cannot give birth to other species. Where do they come from, then? Flying Spaghetti Monsters, of course.

The Earth is both too old and too young for Evolution to provide the answers to where life came from. Ignoring the new species rule for now, Evolution tends to produce more specialized results. Now, either billions of years of evolution should have produced humans who are like sharks--swimming eating machines, but can't do much of anything else--or bacteria--also, oddly enough, swimming eating machines, not much use for anything else--or we've been Evolving for less time than the rest of the life forms on Earth. That's . . . not logical, and also breaks the rules of Evolution. All life started around the same time, in the muck of the Earth, the primordial ooze. But humanity itself breaks that: we're both highly Evolved, but much too generalized. Arguably, this could be because Intelligence--our eating swimming machine analogue: We can't eat and swim as well as sharks or bacteria, but we sure can think!--is a new Evolutionary paradigm, and we still haven't worked out all of the kinks in the 16,000 or so years since homo sapiens first crawled out of whatever we came from before us.

If we were really thinking machines, there'd be no need for this debate: everyone, and I mean everyone could evaluate the evidence and reason their way through it. No resorting to biting commentary like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And finally, even "random Evolution" isn't entirely random. Evolution stacks the deck in its favor. That favor? Survival. If you last long enough to breed, you've won. You didn't beat Evolution, though, that's what Evolution wants. But even if you last long enough to breed doesn't mean you're spreading your own genes, they're just the genes of your parents. They're the real winners. Them and their parents and their parents and so on. They're the real winners!

There's supposed evidence that our DNA is linked to apes and chimpanzees. But that forgets that DNA is a medium of sharing information. Danielle Steel writes in english using the medium of the novel. But just because there are superficial similarities between her work and [insert favorite artsy-cultural book here], doesn't mean much. I write in english and nobodies connecting me to [same artsy-cultural book].

So, what do I believe? Were you even paying attention?

I do believe in God. I don't think he's living in a cloud up above our heads or any such thing. I imagine he's got one of those TV rooms, with the Ultimate Remote, and can catch all of us at any time. And his TVs each also include a running commentary on what we're thinking. If God can't split his attention infinitely, why am I holding Him in such esteem?

I don't think religion is all it's cracked up to be, even in this day and age where it's marginalized by every person who is just too cool for religious belief. But I don't consider myself spiritual, either. I'm not tapped in enough, I guess. I've got my little circle of what I hold To Be True, and it probably doesn't overlap with what you hold To Be True. Even if you completely agree with everything I've written before this paragraph. Like, when I imagine God, I don't think of some heavily muscled, bearded guy with a cool smile who's three steps away from righteous fury. I image and man and a woman ("created in His image" and all) ordering their household: even if they're on top of all the little things about their place, there's still dust-bunnies and things, and it doesn't help that us, their stupid children, keep messing things up.

I think Evolution is much more limited than the non-hidebound thought would have us believe. Breeds? Sure. Species? Not convinced.

I believe that Heaven is a lot like the Internet, but it's Holy rather than Assholy. And probably? Less porn.

And I believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually is an attack on the Intelligent Designer.

But that's just me. Make up your own mind. Think for yourself. Even if what you think is hidebound.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque
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Just Don't Get Me Started Defending Miko

http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/GiantITP/ootscript?SK=282

If ever you have an argument about alignment in a D&D game, read this (double-sized) comic.

The Order Of The Stick is in my top five favorite online comics. It's consistently funny, and when it's not funny, it's dramatic, and when it's neither, it's still really good, compelling story-telling.

There. That's my recommendation: The Order Of The Stick.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque
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