citrakayah: (Default)
Because Rosh Hashana was immensely boring, and I didn’t even get to go raise money for cancer research, when I was in the synagogue library trying to keep from being bored out of my mind, I picked up The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, which billed itself as ‘the intelligent skeptic’s guide to Judaism’. I read the first chapter, then resisted a strong urge to send it flying across the room, and instead wrote this, which you see below. This is just in relation to the first chapter. In a later chapter they go on to say that atheism shouldn’t be passed on to the next generation but is instead morally worthless, and only religion can produce morality and that any secular philosophy that is ethical is simply using three thousand years of Judeo-Christian philosophy. Somehow they overlooked Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions, and neopaganism.

In any event. That is what bigotry against atheists looks like, and I see it all the time. We are prohibited from holding public office in six states, we are the least trusted group in the United States, our websites are blocked, people imagine us as diametrically opposed to them, the fewest number of people would approve of their children marrying us, we are told we are without morals, we are one of the favorite bogeymen of social conservatives. When we stand up for our basic rights, we get threats of murder, assault, and rape, or get disowned, or called atrocities, . We are blamed for social ills, and for shootings. We are, rather unfairly, stereotyped as ‘religion haters’ because the people who don’t play into that stereotype don’t write books that make the bestseller list and aren’t spread all over the media.

Yes, some atheists are assholes, and the interesting thing is that a great deal of atheists seem to believe that they can simultaneously embrace religious people who share their goals and cast all religion in a negative light. But that doesn’t excuse, or explain, the sheer level of hate I see directed as atheists. Not to mention that that hate was already present before New Atheism. Look, you don’t threaten someone who’s just a self-righteous jerk but still a member of your community with rape, you don’t get called an abomination in the local newspaper, and you don’t prohibit people from being in public office on the grounds of being a self-righteous jerk.
citrakayah: (Default)
You're supposed to be 'pro-life'.

So don't stick inflammatory signs right next to an extremely busy intersection when people need their full concentration and a momentary lapse can get you killed.
citrakayah: (Default)
The Noble Wild is an excellent sourcebook for statistics. However, it is an awful universe sourcebook for anyone wanting to play a sentient animal without having them either having their lives revolve around serving humanoids or making their lives miserable. The book opens by stating that the gods gave the noble animals (a term which I hate) a question, would they serve humanoids or challenge them?

Beyond the blatant speciesism apparent in such a statement (the noble animal’s world revolves around humanoids), such a question ends up being meaningless. An individual that chooses to attempt to check the humanoids will end up helping them—either by preventing them from overexploiting their environment or by forcing them to develop technologically. The other main option is genocide or war. In otherwords, the only real option a good or neutral individual has is to serve humanoids, if indirectly. The book gives credence to this view when it states that the gods intended for the noble gazelles to provide art subjects for humanoids by deciding to ‘challenge’ them by resisting being eaten. Deer, on the other hand, chose to be eaten.

Which is one of the more mind-numbingly stupid decisions in the book. It is apparently the noble deer’s greatest ambition to be eaten. It is not that they don’t hate humans for eating them, it is not that they don’t even overly mind being eaten, they see it as their duty to be eaten. Imagine, for a second, a sourcebook having a bunch of elves decide that it is their duty to be eaten by a species such as orcs. They would be skewered. People would be outraged. Having a bunch of sentient deer decide that it is their duty to be eaten by humans is, apparently, acceptable. This is mind-bendingly stupid.

Then there’s how noble animal magic is invisible to humanoid magic. Again, this is mind-bendingly stupid. Detect spells cast by humanoids will not detect noble animals, and vice versa. Firstly, detect evil doesn’t care if you’re magical or not. It detects evil. It doesn’t matter if that evil is practicing some bizarre form of magic, it’s still evil. Secondly, some of the spells listed are ‘invisible’ for noble animals if cast by humanoids and vice versa, but still function normally, which makes no sense. If your flame blade is capable of burning a human, why the hell can’t that human see the light from it, which is not magically produced by instead caused by the excitation of electrons in the surrounding gas due to the heat? Thirdly, arcane magic and divine magic are radically different, given that one is the direct interference of transcendent agents in mortal affairs and the other is manipulating reality through understanding or inspiration. Given that those aren’t invisible to each other, the idea that humanoid magic and noble animal magic shouldn’t be able to see each other, especially given that noble animals can use divine spells granted to them by humanoid deities (the creators of the book thoughtfully did not provide any noble animal deities, which I suppose isn’t terribly surprising).

Just as bad is magic item creation itself. They have things called ‘spellthralls’. Basically they are living creatures made into mind-drained servants that exist only to carry the properties of a rod or staff. Oh, and to make a magic item? You have to give up ability points. This is a hell of a lot weaker than humanoids, who simply have to pay large amounts of money, because they can only be recovered one moon later by using restoration, greater restoration, or wish (Why not miracle? Presumably because the gods hate noble animals, that’s why.). This is because ‘noble animals do not place much value on material things’. Well, maybe they don’t, but neither do elves. Let’s be honest, it’s because they can’t carry around vast amounts of gold, a situation that could be easily rectified by hiring some guy to help carry stuff around, or having some sort of permanent unseen servant spell or something.

There are also such wonderful animal stereotypes, which are encouraged instead of the player actually doing some basic research into animal behavior and doing quality roleplay. The writers didn't even do basic research.

The only upside? The stats are decent enough.
citrakayah: (Default)
The e-zine Expanded Horizons looks interesting. They explicitly stated that they wanted therian and otherkin speculative fiction works, and I can provide that quite easily. And I could even possibly get paid.

Now, on to the rant.

Rant )
citrakayah: (Default)
I am rather irritated. Those who know me know that when I say ‘rather irritated’ I mean ‘pissed off’. And the latest thing that has me rather irritated is the truly astounding speciesm of someone I’ve been debating with online recently, and when I say truly astounding I am not exaggerating. He capitalizes the word ‘man’ and any pronouns taking its place. Because evidently humans are gods, despite being so bloody incompotent that we can’t even fix the problems we make for ourselves (global warming, anyone?). He also is using arguments that can and have been used for .

I’ll deal with each of his arguments in turn.

Argument #1: Humans are superior in an evolutinary and ecological because we can exploit other species. Somehow [don’t ask me, he hasn’t said] this leads to innate superiority.
Response: Firstly, this confuses moral superiority with physical superiority. If I can shoot more people and take their stuff than you, while I might have superiority in shooting people and taking their stuff, it’s completely irrational to say I’m better. Second, humans have a need to exploit other species, without them we couldn’t survive and could never have evolved. Namely, we need plants, bacteria, and fungi (or other decomposers, quite a few bacteria should work just as well). Any organism higher on the food chain relies on more species to support itself, therefore being higher up on the food chain would, if anything, be a mark of an inability to take care of oneself.

But that’s all beside the point, because there is no such thing as superior in an evolutionary or ecological sense. Evolutionarily, the organism that survives is the one (usually, chance also plays a role) best adapted for the environment. Humans would not survive during the period before animals evolved, there wasn’t enough oxygen. Giant insects worked really well at one period of time but suffocate today. So obviously success is a lousy way of determining so-called ‘superiority’, because any given species could be dominant given the correct circumstances. Humans are arguably proving themselves incapable of sustaining themselves as the dominant life form for very long, in the past few decades we’ve nearly nuked ourselves to death, had pandemics, nearly poisoned ourselves, and now we’re baking ourselves, and I hear we taste like croissants, and I have no bloody idea where that came from.

Ecology precludes superiority. In an ecosystem, every single organism depends on every single other organism to support itself. Wolves aren’t superior to rabbits just because rabbits eat grass and wolves eat rabbits. Without the rabbits, the wolves would starve (well, unless they ate something else, but I’m using a simplified example). Without the wolves, the rabbits would overpopulate and their population curves would look like the US economy but with higher body counts.

Other species also use humanity for their own ends. Cats, for example, have taken humanity and turned them into servants (and a good thing, too). Endoparasites and ectoparasites feed off us, and we can’t get rid of them completely. Bacteria and viruses use our widespread distribution and advances in transportation as a way to get around the globe easily.

Argument #2: Humans use technology more than other animals. Therefore humans are superior. That, or humans use technology, therefore humans are superior.
Response: Well, the first one is a non sequiter, while it’s true that we use technology more than other species saying that we’re better because of it and have leave to do whatever we want is as absurd as saying that because I’m typing and some guy in the Amazon doesn’t I’m better than him. In all likelihood I’m not, while I might be better at using technology he probably knows more about the Amazon than I do.

The second one blatantly isn’t true; corvids modify wire to get food and don’t have to be taught. And it would be a non sequiter even if true.

Argument #3: Animals don’t produce art.
Response: Art is subjective. Animals have different experiences than we do. Ergo the probability of animals producing something universally accepted as art is low. That said, I find the sounds of dolphins far superior to Mozart. Other people feel the same way.

Argument #4: Animals aren’t sapient. Sapient means the ability to apply knowledge, experience, common sense, or insight.
Response: Anything with externally observable memory is sapient by that definition, because the only means to test memory is to have a subject apply it to a situation, and their memory counts as experience.


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