Thursday, 25 September 2008

What Are We Going To Do About VenomFangX?

Before I start, there will be many Youtube videos on this post, some of which you may have to watch. I will be sure to keep it at a reasonable amount though. The videos are provided for those that don't have a clue as to what I am going on about.

It all starts a week ago with this video:

VenomFangX (or Posterboy for Creationist Stupidity, PCS for short), decided to file DMCA claims against Thunderf00t because, as far as I can tell, Thunderf00t had the gall to use portions of VFX's videos for the purposes of education.

That falls under "Fair Use" of US copyright law, since we all know that the internet is under the jurisdiction of the United States. Actually I don't have a clue on legal matters and jurisdiction, I think it has more to do with where the webiste itself is and not the individual Youtube user.

At the time, Thunderf00t responded with the following video:

And then when more information came up this one:

The second video here is actually an important one. We learn that another Youtube user who filed a bunch of DMCA claims on VFX behalf actually said that Thunderf00t most likely wasn't breaking the law.

A couple of days ago Thunderf00t posted the following video:

Which outlines a case involving a guy called Crook, who had to read an apology for his actions online. It sounded like there wasn't going to be too much VFX and Thunderf00t facing each other in court, and more of VFX having to read an apology.

As a side note, he mentions a user called LiberalViewer, part 1 of his videos on him and Viacom can be found here.

This has divided people. There are people who want to see VFX fry and there are people who agree with Thunderf00t.

kurtilein3 is one of the VFX should fry group:

Now I do agree with much of what he has to say. He has a good point, VFX broke the law and he should be punished.

It also raises the good question of what is a foreigner supposed to do if their videos are DMCA'd. What exactly are we supposed to do? Do we have to hire a lawyer in the US or is there some provision in the DMCA for such a problem?

There are quite a few flaws with the DMCA, but I'm not going to get into that.

Essentially VFX deserves to face a punishment for willingly breaking the law.

themaskedanalyst, however makes a very, very good point:

At present I am swayed by his argument. (a response specifically to kurtilein3 can be found here.

In kurtilien3's case, he has been rather annoyed at the censorship that goes on at Youtube and their lax policy of actually determining whether a video is breaking copyright or not. Especially since ExtantDodo has been suspended again.

I don't know about the other VFX should fry people, but kurtilein3 seems to be of the opinion that DE was affected by the VFX DMCA spree (the linked video thinks Creation Sceince Evangelism, Kent Hovind's people who would be more likely be the culprits here).

However I am confused at the moment because of the lack of information regarding the Thunderf00t/VFX situation. Since we haven't actually heard anything from Thunderf00t, we don't know the details of the settlement at all.

I'm confused as to my course of action. I can't choose a side here.

There is one thing that I am certain of. I don't support the "flag the VFX apology video" idea from kurtilein3 without knowing all the details first. At present that is a stupid idea because we don't know enough about the settlement.

I agree that the video would be humbling, but I do want to see VFX answer to a court because of his actions.

The one thing that I do want to know about this apology is whether he will have to allow free commenting on that video instead of the moderation that he currently uses to censor dissent from his videos.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Catholic Church Hates Creationism

You have got to love the Roman Catholic Church in a way. Ok, so their views on contraception is really dangerous and wrong in this day and age, but at least they do have something when it comes to science.

The Panda's Thumb has an article on the RCC having an 'Evolution Congress'. And they don't want any stinking Creationists and IDiots there.

Ok, I guess that is a bit mean, Fr. Marc Leclerc said it rather nicer then that.

PZ Myers also writes on this issue, however I'm following the vein of PvM in saying that PZ is a bit wrong with what he has said.

I suspect that part of this involves what certain Catholics said of him when he wrote about a cracker. (As a side note, the head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, was in a South Park episode.)

To be honest I prefer that the Catholic Church has decided to exclude Creationists and ID supporters from this congress. So they might have also said that the non-religious are allowed as well, but it might be for the best at the moment.

There would have to be Catholic creationists out there, even though the official stance on Genesis is that it is allegorical, especially when it comes to creation. This would help to encourage Catholics to support evolution, to look into the matter and see that there is nothing wrong.

I'm being rather optimistic here, but I think that if the largest denomination of Christians follows evolution, other denominations will follow. The Roman Catholic Church has between around 0.75 billion to 1.05 billion followers. If other denominations follow suit, then the creationist movement might start to shrink as more and more denominations will see that they can reconcile their beliefs with the facts.

However what will most likely happen is that regardless of how many denominations accept evolution, many of the US denominations will just brand evolution as "Atheistic Catholic Devil Worship" or something like that, which might push more people away.

Anyway, back on track.

Basically my point of view on this is similar to my view of religion in general. You have to have a middle ground at least, where they can relate to the desire for religion, yet still accept scientific advances. Just going about saying "you're wrong, you're wrong" is probably a far worse way of trying to convince someone that evolution is real, and works. They've built up this belief in their book and their specific version of God and then you yank it out from under them. What are they going to do? Immediately accept evolution as real? Or are they going to retreat further into their shell?

I want to comment on what the DI has to say about this, but at the moment Friday has only started in the US (It's just become Saturday here) so I guess they haven't had anything to say. I'll check on this later on today and if they say something will add it here.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Evolution of the Drop Bear

Most animals in Australia are deadly, and it is well know at home and abroad of this case1. While animals vary in their deadliness (from a scale of somewhat deadly to "you aren't getting out of this alive" deadly), the drop bear, Phascolarctos ursus dropii is one of Australia's most deadly animals.

The drop bear is typically described as "a large, vicious, carnivorous koala"2. It feeds on prey that tarry too long underneath eucalyptus trees. Just so people don't get it wrong, the regular koala (below) has been known to be violent, however it is usually docile.

The drop bear on the other hand is not. Drop bears will attack for no reason and will eat until there is nothing left of its prey.

Depending on where you may look, there are many ways of "preventing" drop bear attacks. It should be noted that none of them actually work, and are only designed by local Australians to watch as foreigners make fools of themselves. It is actually believed that these "prevention methods" actually make a person more succeptible to drop bear attacks as it is thought that the drop bear can tell whether a person is local or foreign as these methods usually result in a distinct scent from the person.

The drop bear is named specifically for how it attacks prey, by dropping down upon the prey and killing it. Throughout history the types of food has swung from everything and anything to more human oriented, with human orientation occurring in about 3 stages, 40 000 years ago, coinciding with the arrival of Aborigines to the continent; 1788 when Europeans first settled the continent, and from around 1970 to the present, with the increase in tourists. At present the most common tourist eaten by the drop bear is shared with the saltwater crocodile, the German3. The reason for this is due to the German being more likely to venture out of the drop bear free zones and into areas where drop bears are more plentiful.

Every year many Germans are killed by drop bears.

The picture to your right is a stylised version of a drop bear eating. It is about half way through its meal.

Note the similarities between the regular, docile koala, and the rarer, aggressive drop bear.

From the evidence it is thought that the drop bear follows a form of aggressive mimicry4, specifically Batsean-Wallacian as the koala, the less aggressive species, is the model. However, it is completely possible that the drop bear is just a sub-species of koala undergoing a speciation event.

It is quite possible that the drop bear may have evolved directly from Phascolarctos stirtoni5, also known as the Giant Koala. Remains of P. stirtoni have been found in the Naracoorte Caves6, and there possibility remains that the drop bear, is actually a descendent of the giant koala.

Due to the rarity of drop bears, coupled with the fact that they are pretty much exactly the same as a regular koala the DNA sequence of the drop bear has not been sequenced, so none of these hypotheses have been tested. It should be noted that the koala population of Kangaroo Island attests to this rarity, from the initial population of koalas that were brought to the island about 90 years ago, there has not been a single record of a drop bear attack.

Undoubtedly there is still plenty of research required to determine the origins of this remarkable species, however it must be stressed that the dangers of the drop bear is quite real.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Royal Society Backs Creationism?

I must admit that this is probably the closest to home that the creation-evolution "debate" has been in quite a while.

Except that this is occurring in the UK.

For those that can't really be bothered reading the BBC, The Times, or The Australian then the bare minimum that you need to know is that Michael Reiss, a Church of England clergyman, biologist and Director of Education for the Royal Society decided to say that creationism should be taught in schools.

Now, according to The Times, a spokesperson for the Royal Society said the following:

A spokesman for the organisation, which counts 21 Nobel Prize winners among its Fellows, confirmed yesterday that Professor Reiss’s views did represent that of its president, Lord Rees of Ludlow, and the society.

Note that it says that Reiss' veiws did represent those of the society.

However this release from the Royal Society says that Reiss was misquoted. The BBC has already picked up on this pointing out that Reiss does not believe that creationism is scientific in any way.

I am however of two minds when it comes to this specific statement:

"I have referred to science teachers discussing creationism as a worldview'; this is not the same as lending it any scientific credibility."

I don't know if that is the best thing to do. As far as I can tell in the UK creationism isn't really a "worldview" and definitely isn't one in the scientific realm.

On top of that it still allows creationism to get that all important foot in the door. If you start teaching it in science classrooms as a "worldview" then you are still exposing children to a viewpoint that is unscientific. They might actually choose that viewpoint because it is the easier one to understand, since creationism is purely a "Goddidit" concept.

The Royal Society might not believe that creationism is science, but to consider that it should be taught as a "worldview" in science classes is pretty much saying "Lookee here at this other science-y thing. 'Tis so much easier to undestand."

And they will learn about it, and might actually adopt it.

Now, apparently the creationist viewpoint is held by about 10% of UK students. Unless the student brings up the topic we can see that even going about teaching it as a "worldview" means that 90% of the student population will be exposed to an idea that is completely harmful to our society in this day and age.

I said at the start that this was hitting rather close to home.

As I pointed out at the start The Australian has gotten their hands on it. I'm checking online as I write this, but if the local Adelaide paper (The Advertiser, like The Australian is a NewsCorp publication so there might be some story crossover), gets their hands on it the Letters to the Editor will be filled with another round of "creation-evolution".

This time though, and depending on which version they publish, the creationists will be able to claim "The Royal Society agrees with us".

It will hurt a little more in the side of Australian education and for a bit longer but probably won't get anywhere further. It never does, but any time given to the issue gives loud cries from the anti-evolution and ignorant crowd.

As a side note, this argument will undoubtedly be appearing sooner or later on creationist forums or places with a decent amount of creationists because of the appeal to authority it would bring. Darwin came from England, he was awarded a Royal Medal from the society, and now they say that "creationism should be taught in the classroom".

It won't matter what the Royal Society says, since we all know how honest creationists are.

Personally I don't think we've heard the last of this.

Oh look, it appears that the ID people have picked up on the issue as well.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

An Open Message To 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists

Dear "Truthers",

As you know today is September 11, or as you guys would know it 9/11. Today is the day when we remember 2998 people who died as a direct result of the attacks, 6000+ people who were injured, and the first responders who are currently ill, or dying, from lung diseases due to the poor air quality after the towers fell.

Nationals from over 90 countries totalling 327 people died on that day as well.

Project 2996 has made a list of all the people who died including where they are from.

All this because a fundamentalist Islamic organisation called Al Qaeda decided that the best way for people to follow what they believe is the "right" religion, and that their variant of that religion is the "correct" one.

Unfortunately for the last seven years there have been a bunch of people who call themselves the "9/11 Truth Movement" who have spent their time going about claiming that "9/11 was an inside job".

You go about claiming "thermite" or "thermate" or "silent explosives".
You go about claiming "space beams", "C4 coated rebar" or "holographic planes"
You go about claiming "missiles hit everything", "north of CITGO" and other ridiculous things.

There are even members of your group who claim that the people on the planes are still alive.

You willingly spout lies about the US Government, and you don't seem to care.

When you spout these "theories" you aren't a "patriot". You aren't a "hero". You are pathetic. All the evidence is there that shows who did it. There is even the admission by the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, that it was his organisation that pulled off the attacks.

But instead of that you just sit in your towers built of ignorance and lies, going "there's no way that Arabs in caves with boxcutters could have done it".

You go on and on about "the laws of physics being violated" while showing an utter ignorance of what the laws of physics are.

Do you honestly think that going about shouting "9/11 was an inside job" is going to make masses of people rally to your "cause"?

Do you honestly think that buying 10 copies of "Loose Change" or any of that crap they sell on "Prisonplanet" is going to help?

The obvious answer is no. You have had seven years to prove your case, and each time you have failed utterly.

You now go around spending your time pissing on the graves of the passengers of the planes, the members of the NYPD, and the Port Authority Police, the members of the FDNY, and children. And for what, because you don't seem to like your government.
You have had seven years to make your case and yet you have no evidence of it at all.

So I leave you with this:

Just shut the fuck up. Seriously. Just shut the fuck up.



Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Voices In Unison

While researching stuff for my last post, I found myself at Ex Scientology Kids (which I found through Operation Clambake).

Anyway, they have started their second submission period of Voices in Unison. But they also have put up the stories from the first one.

If you are someone who doesn't really know too much about Scientology, but wants to hear some stories about it then you should really go here.

These people are not celebrities, so they don't get the "baby-Scientology" that Tom Cruise goes on and on about. They are the regular people in proper Scientology, the one that critics and Anonymous don't like.

The one that needs to change.

Scientology. Will You Ever Learn?

The first is that they tried to censor Youtube again.

The people whose videos were taken down sent a DMCA counter notice.

Long story short they failed, the Australian (WARNING: Anna Coren Alert, expect stupid segues) and German reports are back up. However the video entitled To Anonymous/Scientology isn't.

The interesting thing is this "American Rights Counsel, LLC". A google search (A search without "LLC") only gives links to people talking about it.

I, like many others, believe that this "American Rights Counsel" is akin to the "Citizens Commission on Human Rights". It's just another "Church" of Scientology front group that allows the "Church" to influence people without getting its hands dirty.

Before I get on to the next bit, an open message to Google:

Grow some bloody balls.

A lack of balls however is not Germany's problem (ha, segue!). Germany recently held a meeting called "This is Scientology! Reports from the USA".

Basically all I can say on this is that the OSA really has failed here. Considering all that they are supposed to know about their SPs and critics they didn't seem to know that the Americans there couldn't actually speak German.

Take that propaganda!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Microblog 10

One thing I don't like about the possible end of the world is that it means that I might not get to see that new Mummy movie.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Did You Know?

That for the price that the government paid to harass Dr Haneef for giving his cousin a sim card in the UK, which was about $8 million.

For that price the government could pay for the Long Tan citations of about 6667 people..

Yep. Until that article I linked to the Australian government was too stingy to pay the $12 for the citations for the 100 Long Tan veterans.

These guys weren't permitted to receive the citations from the South Vietnamese Government because some regulation forbade them from that, and they weren't given Australian citations at the time because of some "quota" system.

Yet they were willing to piss away $8 million on a guy who didn't actually do anything wrong under any law, except that he was a Muslim. That's as much as I understand of that case.

Haneef gave a sim card to his second cousin when he was in England because he didn't need it anymore. Because it turned up in a terrorist attack he was investigated for "aiding terrorism". I guess that means that if I gave a guy who would later commit an act of terrorism I could be investigated.

But I digress in a way.

Basically, all you have to know is that for the amount of money that the government spent ruining a guys life, they could have paid for the citations of the Long Tan veterans, and had more then $7.5 million to spend on something else.

Got that?