February 28, 2008

England-land

Posted in Writing tagged , , , , , at 10:11 am by lifelessonsfromwriting

So, yesterday I missed a word count target for the first time so far. As you can see by looking at that annoying bolded section I put on the bottom of every post, I was off by a whopping 1,200 words (or there about). There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I realised that I had to be up early this morning to go to England, and that I still hadn’t packed. This was at 2am, and I had no intention of getting out of bed to go and stuff a small suitcase. Then Eircom, in one of their characteristic blunders, made it impossible for anyone in my area to connect to the internet. This was especially annoying since I was in the middle of an interesting discussion on another blog (more on that later today).

Since my drug of choice is sleep (I wish I was doing it right now), I just turned off my laptop and decided to get a hit. That’s when I had a dream about giant, striped spiders and people shooting themselves in my bedroom. It kind of took the ‘buzz’ off (I believe ‘buzz’ is the word used by hip Irish junkie teenagers these days).

Current word count for [untilted]: 20,852

Target word count by the end of the day: 22,000

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February 25, 2008

Debate Topics

Posted in Skepticism, Writing tagged , , , , , , , at 12:39 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

It’s a bit late, but here’s a run down of some of the debates/arguments I’ve been having on WordPress:

Evolution

Of course. This one seems to crop up everywhere, despite the fact that, in the scientific community, one side has completely destroyed the other evidence-wise (guess which one!). The main thing I’ve noticed is that, overwhelmingly, those who argue against evolution know almost nothing about it. A discussion with a Creationist might run something like this:

Creationist: Show me evidence that life formed spontaneously out of non-life!

Evolutionist: That’s…not evolution. It’s abiogenesis. And actually, that’s not even what abiogenesis says happened, so you’re off the mark even if-

Creationist: You can’t do it, can you?! I knew it! Until someone proves to me that life can come from non-life without Divine intervention, I’ll smugly wallow in my own overbearing ignorance!

I may have editorialized slightly there, but you get the idea.

Of course, Creationists demand the impossible. There is nowhere where the geological column is complete, and there will always be gaps in the fossil record (if only because any fossil found to fill a gap simply creates two more; for a truly ‘complete’ picture, we’d nee d a fossil of every organism that ever lived, which obviously isn’t going to happen). What’s funny is that Creationists like to demand evidence of a far higher caliber than they themselves are able to provide. I have yet to see any physical evidence that life was divinely begun. What’s that? If you disprove evolution, don’t you then ‘prove’ that God must have created the Universe?

Well, no. Evidence against one theory is not evidence for another. You will note that, when pressed for evidence for evolution, scientists do not immediately attack the evidence for Creationism (mostly because there isn’t any). Creationism, meanwhile, is built entirely on disproving evolution.

So, here’s a challenge for Creationists: show me physical, scientific evidence (in other words, not the Bible) for the idea that God created life on Earth that could not also be used as evidence for the idea that a giant, omnipotent space-shrimp created life on Earth. You may draw on any branch of science you wish, but the evidence must be physical (for example, a fossil or genetic comparison between two species), testable, and must adequately explain the process by which life was created and developed.

And before someone says ‘oh, we don’t make any claims about which omnipotent, divine creator started life, two points: firstly, nobody believes your bullshit. You’re talking about the Christian God. Secondly, if that was your stance it would fail utterly as a scientific theory unless it described the nature and mechanics of how a Divine creator worked; claiming to not want to describe the Creator would be like evolutionary scientists saying ‘Oh, we believe in evolution, but we can’t and won’t even hazard a guess as to what mechanism it works by. Natural selection? Nope, we’re not going to research that’.

The challenge will be open indefinitely, so if you come across this six months from now, feel free to leave a comment.

Homosexuality

I’m gay, but I don’t usually get into many debates about it with people. A lot of people who dislike homosexuality are religious, and there’s little point in arguing with them; they’ve got the Bible or the Qu’ran, they believe what it says, and there’s little anyone can do to change that. The other reason is that it’s just not that big a deal. We’re coming very close to the days when anti-homosexuality sentiment will be viewed in the same light as sexism or racism, but only in some Western countries. I’ve always felt that the area people need to be making a difference in is in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia; let’s not forget that homosexuals in those places can be imprisoned or even killed for who they are. How many of us in ‘the West’ have that problem?

However, I’ve noticed that a few people have some odd ideas about homosexuality. I’ll summarize them here:

It’s all about the sex. Actually, it’s not. This one crops up most often among religious people, who seem to fixate solely on the actual act of having homosexual sex. That’s taking too simplistic a view of it; even if a gay man stops having sex with other men, he’s not going to spontaneously stop being attracted to them. He’s just going to be very frustrated at never being able to act on those feelings.

It’s a choice. The old chestnut. I don’t know how many times religious people have to be told that it isn’t before they’ll believe it. I’m willing to bet that some people actually do choose to be gay for reasons of their own, but the vast majority of gay people don’t. I mean, ask yourself how many people would have willingly chosen persecution and distrust in sixties or seventies? If it’s a choice, why do religious people then talk about people ‘struggling’ with it? Why can’t they just ‘choose’ heterosexuality?

The inevitable comparison to paedophilia. You’d think this one would have died off by now, but apparently the Boys Beware mentality is alive and kicking. This comes in two flavours: those who think that gay men are more likely to molest children (based on the reasoning that any man who molests a boy is gay), and those who, to discredit homosexuality, put it on the same leve as paedophilia (‘Paedophilia isn’t a choice either; why don’t we let them have sex with whoever they want?).

The first has been debunked by many people who actually work with sex offenders. The second can be debunked by anyone with more than a dozen pair of brain cells to rub together; I leave it as an excersize for the reader to complete in his or her own time.

(Incidentally, is that video actually real? Several people seem to think it is, but I really have my doubts.)

February 24, 2008

Sunday Tradition

Posted in Skepticism, Writing tagged , , , , , , at 12:11 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

Even though the Catholic Church’s hook-like claws are slowly being pried away from Ireland’s collective psyche (to surprisingly little fanfare), people still treat Sunday as the day where you don’t do all that much. I’ve decided to make full use of that noble tradition, so I won’t be writing anything at all today (except perhaps in argumentative comments on here – more on that later).

On days when I don’t write, I usually spent a lot of time thinking through storylines in my head and making sure that everything flows well (and that there aren’t any glaring contradictions or holes; sadly, there often are). I also plan out the next few scenes I’m going to write in detail, during which I usually end up either changing them fairly drastically or adding subplots that I hadn’t intended on using at all. Just yesterday I had one of my characters become something of a renegade because I realized it would get her involved with everything else that’s going on in a much more satisfying way.

Strangely enough, doing everything ‘on the fly’ like this is quite satisfying, especially when it all meshes together into a coherent whole. When it doesn’t…well, that’s slightly less satisfying.

I’ve been having a few mini-debates here on WordPress over the last few days. I like a good debate more than most people, and they’ve been quite interesting. I’ll post some thoughts on that later today, but for now, here’s an interesting blog I found in the course of my browsing:

BuelahMan’s Redstate Revolt

A blog with the catchy tagline ‘A Redneck’s Guide to Reversing the Rightwing Brainwashing’. That pretty much sums it up, and the author discusses a wide variety of topics in a witty (and often scathing) way that’s quite refreshing when compares to some more heavy-handed political blogs.