Grand Theft Auto V: on morality and digital people.

Grand Theft Auto V is a great game. It’s taken a franchise that was focused on generic organized crime drama and turned it into a story about a group of individuals with widely varied backgrounds who come together for various reasons. The last few games were all about mobsters; this game is about planning and pulling off heists, which is a lot more interesting and is an area that hasn’t been explored much in video games.

(If you’re playing the game and don’t want any spoilers, stop reading now.)

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Let’s keep piling on, shall we?

The Texas Freedom Network had a post about our dear creationist friend today as well. In the comments, someone who has spoken with Dr. Shormann previously had this to say:

I got into a comment exchange with Shormann when his fellow creationist and preacher pal, Marty, was running for [State Board of Education] (and won, dagnabbit!) and without a doubt Shormann is among the most dishonest creationists I’ve run across in decades of following these creeps.

I even pulled up a paper he wrote studying the Brazos river for his PhD because it conflicted with his childish false dichotomy of “historical versus experimental” science. I pointed out that a plot he published, pretty much a straight line, indicated that the river would have had a certain temperature even thought they didn’t have a measurement for that year and he replied, “We can never know because we can’t go back in time” or some such BS.

And Dr. Shormann continues to play innocent on his blog, pretending to be puzzled that I say he’s deceptive. Actually… you know what? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he just isn’t rational enough to realize that he’s being deceptive.

The nitwit has responded…

So Dr. Shormann responded to my comment:


Why did you delete the comment which pointed out that you were lying about being a published researcher, when in fact all you did was fund a study?

Evidence – this website, about 2 hours ago:

Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Mike,
I would encourage you to read the paper yourself, rather than base your conclusions on what somebody else said. The paper was received by Aquatic Geochemistry 8/23/11, accepted on 12/29/11, and published in 2012. It says this right at the top of the paper, read it here:

As far as funding, I payed for some of the gas and food for my boat, TAMU paid for the rest. About half of the data from the August 2007 trip to the Brazos River plume was collected off my boat. My crew consisted of a TAMU oceanographer and several homeschool students, who went on to present their research at the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston.

Here’s more info on the funding sources, copied directly from the acknowledgements: “This research was supported by a Rapid Response Award by Texas Sea Grant College Program (No. 404538). Partial funding was through a grant to S. DiMarco (NOAA-CSCOR NA06NOS4780198), contribution number NGOMEX-132, and the TAMU Department of Oceanography.Support for the stable isotope analyses was provided by a grant from Texas’ Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program (No. 010366-0053-2007).”

Mike, please explain where I was lying. Also, do you have a science degree?

Oh, how cute.

Mike, please explain where I was lying.

That’s easy: right about where he said “my most recent work was in 2012 (Texas Coastal Hypoxia Linked to Brazos River Discharge as Revealed by Oxygen Isotopes).” The paper does not represent any research he did, but rather the work of a team. “The data was collected off my boat” and “my crew collected the data” does not equal “I did the research outlined in this paper.”

Note to Dr. Shormann: if you don’t want to be seen as dishonest, the proper way to respond to someone’s incorrect claims is to actually respond to them, not delete their post and make it look like it never existed.

And what do my scientific qualifications have anything to do with him being deceptive? Talk about a red herring. I don’t need to be a scientist to know that his only contribution to that paper was facilitation, not research.

Creationists lie. In other news, water is wet.

So there’s a creationist twit in Texas whining about how the Houston Atheists will be demonstrating at a creationist home schooling convention and at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Continue reading

The Vatican has lost any possible claim of a right to secrecy.

In a recent article from USA Today, we learn that:

Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City state on [July 11], criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.

… Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state’s legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. [This was signed into international law nearly 23 years ago, and two sets of further optional protocols have since been added, one of which explicitly deals with the sexual exploitation of children.]

… Anyone who reveals or receives confidential information or documentation risks six months to two years in prison and a €2,000 euro ($2,500) fine; the penalty goes up to eight years in prison if the material concerns the “fundamental interests” of the Holy See or its diplomatic relations with other countries.

…[The ]crime of leaking Vatican information never existed before in the Vatican legal system.

I know they say they’re criminalizing child sex abuse, child pornography, and so on. But here’s the deal: these laws only cover the Vatican, which is a miniscule nation. It’d be nothing more than a tin-pot dictatorship, if people didn’t think that this cloister of geriatric celibates had a direct psychic hotline to the omnipotent creator of the universe. And while their legislation has laughably small power, their attempt to ban the leaking of information of interest to the Vatican has a much more wide-reaching impact.

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Intelligent Design

If you aren’t familiar with The Thinking Atheist (either his YouTube channel, his podcast, his website, or his forums), you need to be. Seth Andrews, former Christian broadcaster and true believer, lends some great perspective to issues atheists deal with frequently.

This is his latest video, ‘Intelligent Design’, which is (like his others) beautifully produced and thought-provoking.