2010: FTSOS in review, April to June

Here is the second installment of the 2010 FTSOS review. See the first installment here.

April:
Easily the top post of the month (in fact, it is number 5 all time) was the one about the topless march in Farmington. It resulted in a lot of people clicking the Photography tab on FTSOS in search of all the topless women who were marching through the small town of Farmington up here in Maine. Because I guess topless women are rare.

When I set up this blog, I never had the intention of giving a good focus to quacks and charlatans. But I just had to write about the scumbag Lawrence Stowe. The guy was caught on a CBS special stealing from the sick and desperate. He was ought ruining lives and families, laughing all the way to the bank. The guy is easily one of the biggest pieces of shit about whom I have ever read.

There was also the issue of FTSOS commenter Jack Hudson chiding a family member of mine through texts. I made mention of the issue on his blog, but he very quickly edited my comment so as not to reflect his misdeed. As a result – and being someone who hates dishonesty – I had to make a post on FTSOS explaining what had happened. This caused Jack to first deny his actions and then vow never to return to this blog. I later granted the small possibility that he was not guilty, but that did nothing to dampen the hissy-fit. Of course, since the texts came from Minnesota (which is where Jack lives) and since they all referenced a specific Facebook interaction he had with my family member, I had to remain unwilling to retract anything. I stand by that.

May:
The big science news of the month was that Craig Venter created synthetic DNA that worked when put in a cell. It is a phenomenal technical achievement that opens up the door to a whole world of synthetic creations. We can now, at least in theory, go into a computer program, change a few amino acids and come up with new genes and gene products. I suspect this will prove invaluable to cancer research.

About midway through the month I decided to tackle, for the nth time, the idea of objective morality. The truth is, even if theists are right that there is an objective morality, they do not arrive at their conclusions objectively. People are always picking and choosing what they want to believe, how to interpret the things they use for their beliefs, and how those things fit into what they already believe. As I said back in May, even a claim of objective morality is a subjective position.

I also talked about the fact that atheism has never been responsible for an act of evil. Two things arise from this. First, people often go back to that old chestnut, “Ideas don’t hurt people! People hurt people!” Of course, this just ignores the fact that people are composed of ideas. If we are not willing to say that ideas lead to actions, then it is no longer clear that we can even say ideas are good or bad. And what does it even mean to say people – explicitly not ideas – are responsible for actions? If people are not just packages of ideas, then what are they? What does it mean to say “Joe punched Suzy” if we deny that underlying that statement is that Joe had the idea to move his fist towards Suzy? Second, people will point to Stalin, Hitler, etc and say “What about those atheists?” This is silly first because Hitler was an evolution-denying, Christian creationist. The silliness then continues when we look at Stalin (and any other leader who was an atheist) because atheism is not a normative position. Since it is purely descriptive, it does not result in any “ought” or “ought not”; it says nothing of what we should or should not do. Stalin and co never acted out of atheism. It is not logically possible.

June:
The most popular post of the month had to be the one where I told people not to talk to the cops. If the police suspect a person of something, it serves the interests of the police, not the suspect, to get a discussion going. The job of the police is to find out information they can use against people. And even innocent people are at risk. The best way to avoid the whole mess? Don’t talk to the cops. Seriously.

In the race for governor of Maine, we learned that the eventual winner of the election, Republican Paul LePage, is a creationist. He later danced, obfuscated, and dodged the issue. The fact is, the guy is not going to object one bit when some Maine school board thinks it will be a good idea to teach creationism to students.

In skin cancer news, researchers found a certain drug, ipilimumab, which allows the immune system to run free and more effectively fight cancer. Responses to the drug were impressive for those with late stage skin cancers and it is hoped that the treatments can be improved. It was thought the FDA might approve the drug for use this year, but it looks like the decision date is going to be March 26, 2011.

Expect July to September tomorrow.

200,000

FTSOS just hit an arbitrary but very round number in hits: 200,000. Thanks. A couple of big posts are really images that show up on Google Image, so here are my top three real posts:

Andreas Moritz is a stupid, dangerous man (I still love that title.)

Topless march in Farmington (This also gave my Photographs tab a lot of views. A lot of very disappointed views.)

Why Natural Selection is Not Random (This was originally written for a local publication; I’ve never been a huge fan of it, but people keep searching for it because creationists keep lying. It includes interviews with Kenneth Miller and a Creationist ‘Museum’ hack.)

Topless march in Farmington

After protesters marched topless in Portland for equal rights, Andrea Simoneau, a 22 year old student at the University of Maine at Farmington, decided to organize a similar march in her school’s town.

Hundreds of spectators poured into the street and lined the sidewalks to watch, while clusters of protesters held up signs in opposition to the march.

That’s roughly the desired outcome. Make something that shouldn’t be a big deal into a big deal. It’s too bad that there were so many non-news cameras all over the place, but it can’t be said that that wasn’t expected. Nor could it be said that it was unexpected that some people on the other end of the spectrum would go too far.

Resident Elaine Graham took on the most active role of protest, following topless women with a blue blanket and holding it up to cover them during and after the march.

That’s really not okay. Graham was being disruptive of what was a legal protest in Maine. She really needed to stay at an appropriate distance with a sign or some other form of non-interfering expression. Of course, this isn’t the first time Elaine Graham has gone too far.

Meet Elaine Graham of Farmington, Maine. This is Elaine Graham being expelled from a Judiciary Committee work session on the same sex marriage bill last April. I have no idea at all what she is screaming. However, Ms. Graham is holding three crudely crafted signs. The top one reads: “Mission Homosexual Movement CHANGE WORLD MORAL ORDER.”

(I added the link to the image.)

No stranger to silliness, Graham has again and again publicly expressed her sexual immaturity in ways more inappropriate than what’s par for the course. It’s sad and pathetic, really. Burdened with hatred based in Christianity, she cannot accept that other people have a more adult view than she when it comes to sex, the human body, and even love.

Finally, here’s one of the pictures from the march. Obviously I’m not going to upload bare breasts on WordPress (nor am I going to link to anything besides news images, should images be floating around out there), but I think it’s worthwhile to upload this particular picture because it captures the whole event so well. Graham is there, misbehaving out of sexual immaturity, while who knows how many men take video and pictures of the event.

This contrasts so much with a show I saw in Portland last night. The bulk of the show had three bands/musicians (one of which was Theodore Treehouse), but in between sets there was a belly dancer. Any person would have fallen over him- or herself if this woman merely made eye contact, but notably, everyone refrained from recording. There were a couple of photographers for the show itself, but no one in the audience pulled out a camera or cell phone and started snapping away. It wouldn’t have been appropriate by and large, but it also would have really distracted from what was actually a very skilled and talented performance. Of course, the reason for this difference in reaction is the certainly higher sexual maturity present in the audience at that show versus the sexual maturity of those who showed up to gawk in Farmington. People were able to recognize that the belly dancing was not a sexual act; many (though certainly not all!) in Farmington saw the topless march as a sexual display. It wasn’t.