Posts Tagged Orlando
Christopher Hitchens vs. Dinesh D’Souza. Mano y mano. Two men wielding nothing but intellect on the battlefield of reason. Unfortunately, one of them left their intellect at home, probably sitting on the dining room table where they forgot to pick it up before heading out the door. I do that with my wallet sometimes.
I really went into this expecting to hear a good debate. I hadn’t read or seen D’Souza before, but I’d heard the name and assumed that if someone of Hitchens’ stature was debating him, he must be a good christian apologist. They’d both have arguments and counter-arguments and it would be intellectually stimulating. I was hoping that it would make me think; make me consider things from a different view point. I didn’t think that D’Souza would have anything earthshattering that would totally turn me around 180 degrees, but I figured there would be points made that I would have to think about. Even if he were only good rhetorically it would be interesting.
What I wasn’t expecting was a complete lack of depth from D’Souza or so many examples of rather painfully wrong logic that my 6 year old could have countered. I honestly think that I could have done a better job for christian apologetics, and I’m an atheist. I’m not as well-versed in the formal logical fallacies or technical debate terms as I’d like to be, but there were copious examples of severely flawed logic; false analogies, arguments from ignorance, even some flat out factual inaccuracies. Several times I (and the people around me) couldn’t contain the expressions of stunned disbelief at something D’Souza said.
I was live Tweeting the event and was having some technical difficulties at the beginning, so I probably missed some of the details. Hitchens opened with 5 minutes on the question/topic What about God? The one thing that struck me was his comment that, of all the supposed virtues, faith is the most worthless. It doesn’t get us anything, doesn’t further our understanding of anything, it’s basically useless and can be downright dangerous. D’Souza’s rebuttal was based on false premises from the start. He tried to assert that he was debating on the same level as Hitchens, that he would rely on reason rather than scripture. And in order to prove that they were at the same level, he starts in with some nonsense about how religion is just as valid as science because neither know everything. Then he launched into some lame thing about how the jews 2000 years ago had determined that the universe had been created, had a definite beginning, and since science has now validated that, somehow that proves the existence of god. Or something like that. I honestly had a hard time making out exactly how what he was saying logically connected.
Due to my extensive Twitter coverage, I sort of lost track of which topic they were on. Supposedly there was a structure; 5 minutes to speak, two minute rebuttal and a two minute counter rebuttal. I think. It seemed that they went back and forth a few more times than that. I do recall that the moderator (who was really just an MC rather than a moderator) was pretty flexible with letting them have counter-counter-counter rebuttals.
I think the second question/topic was What about Science? D’Souza started this one off by claiming that the universe was so complex, that the signs of intelligence were embedded all throughout it, therefore it had to be created by someone/something. He basically trotted out the standard Intelligent Design stuff. There were many misrepresentations about what science is and does. Basically just a garbled mess.
Apparently D’Souza is from some parallel universe because he started talking about how “New Atheism” had gotten started as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Somehow all this loud atheism stuff was in response to islam. He then proceeded to say that, even though those attacks were motivated by islam, there were no other examples of religious violence in the world. Where are the buddhist suicide bombers? he asked. There are no hindu extremists or christians out there killing people, he maintained. Furthermore, he went on to claim that there are no historical examples of such religious violence. At this point, there were a lot of vocal exclamations of disbelief amongst the audience. I, among others, called out, “The Crusades!” when he rhetorically asked what examples of christian violence were there. The damn fool was actually trying to make the claim that only the muslims engage in religious violence. This wasn’t the only slam on muslims during the night.
Hitchens responded that it’s a pretty sad reason to be glad about christianity, because, hey, it’s not al qaeda. He then pointed out concrete examples of buddhist suicide bombers: the kamikaze, in WWII. Not to mention all the other explicit examples of religions hatred and violence. He said that you could replace the word “fascist” with “Roman catholic church” in a history of eastern Europe with out changing any other words and it wouldn’t make a difference. Hitchens continues by saying that love was essentially meaningless when it is demanded of you by religion.
During his rebuttal to the rebuttal (I’d kinda lost track as to who’s turn it really was), D’Souza said that any suicide bombings, any war, they weren’t because of religion. No, the leaders and the people involved just happened to be religious. He actually said that religion had nothing to do with the Israelis and the Palestinians, it was just about land.
The level of stupid just kept rising with every sentence D’Souza spoke. As they got into the third topic, about science and religion, he drug out the old trope that because science has been wrong about things in the past, there’s no reason to assume that they’re right about anything they’re telling us now about the nature of the universe. Some more crap about Ptolemy and Newton and orbits and therefore god. I guess. I couldn’t follow his point. Intelligent design made a comeback, something about Shakespeare writing Hamlet, therefore god. Because the universe is just like a book, but bigger. Since someone made a book, god made the universe. QED, bitches! (Not quite)
There was some other stuff in there, none of it was sticking to the wall. The next section of the debate was for each of them to ask the other a question. Hitchens went first by asking D’Souza, since your god is so good and you’re so confident in your particular god, which would you rather I (Hitchens) be: an atheist or a muslim. After a couple of hems and haws, D’Souza came out with, “I feel much safer debating you as an atheist.” Anyone else pick up on the muslim bashing going on here?
Now it was D’Souza’s turn. He asked Hitchens, have you ever had any doubts in your atheism and, if so, what caused those doubts. Hitchens went off on a tangent about Pascal’s Wager and how pathetic it really is. It’s basically saying that your god is too stupid to know the difference between real and fake belief. Getting back to the question (sort of) Hitchens says that if, when he dies, he finds out he’s wrong and he’s standing there before god, and god wants to know why he didn’t believe, he’ll tell him, you didn’t give me enough information to form that belief. And that anyone can make an honest mistake and that he was damn proud of this particular one.
This is getting long, so I’ll try to sum up. D’Souza claimed that the crusades weren’t really done in the name of christianity, because the leaders weren’t true christians. Yes, he actually used the No True Scottsman fallacy. He then tried to equate Marxism with atheism by quoting that line from Marx about religion being the opiate of the masses. Hitchens responded beautifully with the actual full quote from that book, and the context totally doesn’t bear out the interpretation that D’Souza was trying to claim. I’ll have to dig up the actual quote because I don’t remember the details. But it was a fantastic smackdown.
Here comes the part where my brain asploded. They were each asked some questions submitted via the internets. D’Souza was asked why, if god could heal as so many christians claim, he has never healed an amputee. The amazingly insensitive and completely assholic response? Well, they’re alive, aren’t they? Isn’t it better for them to be alive than dead? Besides, it’s all really about the spiritual healing. If there is any physical healing happening, it is as a tool of the spiritual healing.
This spew of offensive shit is what finally did me in. I found myself sitting there with my mouth open, totally snarkless. The good news was that was the end of the debate.
All-in-all, I was extremely disappointed with D’Souza’s performance. Hitchens was brilliant, and wickedly funny, but he didn’t even have to try. D’Souza made it way too easy.
Whew! Big post. Sorry for my long-windedness. Check out my stream on Twitter for the play by play action: @CyberLizard. Now that I’ve gotten the overview out of the way while it was still fresh in my mind, I can concentrate on my post about the experience itself. I got to meet the Orlando Atheists & Freethinkers group for the first time (which was cool) and there were many conversations to be had. And I even drank a beer! Well, Strongbow Cider, actually, but close enough. I’ll fill y’all in tomorrow.
Posted by CyberLizard in Uncategorized on March 31, 2009
Got this notice in the mail. If you’re in the Orlando area, I strongly encourage you to go check them out. Very worth it.
The Forefathers will be performing 3 45-minutes sets of their original World Music Fusion.
From 6 – 9 pm on the first Thursday of each month, OMA showcases a new theme with works by local artists, live music, cash bars serving wine, beer and soft drinks, and café offerings from area restaurants.
Orlando Museum of Art
2416 North Mills Avenue
407 896 4231
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna go! This can be my birthday present!
via The Brothers Brick:
We have received word, from Steve Witt, that there will be a Master Builder Event at the Downtown Disney LEGO Store in Orlando, Florida. The dates are November 7 – 9. What can you do? Help build a LEGO Pirate, 8 feet tall! Dan Steininger, a Lego Master Builder, will be building this new model with the help of the whatever LEGO fans are present! All participants will receive a free Certificate of Achievement (while supplies last), $5 off coupons, and special offers in the store. They will also be holding a raffle for a $50 Gift Card. Hours are 11-7 on Friday, 10-6 on Saturday, and 11-6 on Sunday. Be there or be square!
From the Orlando Sentinel:
An Orlando man faces two counts of exposure of sexual organs, accused of twice driving through the Lake Jesup toll plaza on State Road 417 with his pants pulled down and his genitals exposed.
Michael John McDonnell, 39, was arrested this morning at his residence. According to an arrest affidavit, he is a delivery driver for beer distributor Wayne Densch Inc. in Sanford.
Seminole County deputy sheriffs were called to the toll plaza in the early morning hours of last Wednesday after a toll collector went to hand a motorist change and saw that he was exposing himself. The toll collector told deputies the same thing happened Oct. 9 and at the time she warned him never to come through her lane like that again, Deputy Nelson Pitre wrote in the arrest report.
Maybe he was just trying to get a discount. After all, this particular toll is $2. Can’t blame a guy for tryin’, can ya’?
Posted by CyberLizard in Uncategorized on October 15, 2008
Props to Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel for bringing this to my attention.
Fishnets and flu shots? Seniors don’t bat an eye at strip club
Norma Smith was a little apprehensive about stepping inside Rachel’s for the first time Tuesday afternoon.
Smith, after all, is 77. And while she has often passed by this adult club, she never had the slightest desire to go inside.
But on this day, in addition to dancing women, Rachel’s was offering free flu shots to seniors.
So Smith cautiously stepped inside this dimly lit Casselberry club, allowing her eyes to adjust from the midday’s beaming sun. When they did, Smith paused.
Standing before her was a woman in fishnet stockings whose smile was winning and whose bustier was losing — the battle with her cleavage, that is.
Smith returned the smile but later confided she was thinking: “Oh, dear. Is she the one giving me the shot?”
She was not. In fact, if naughty nurses were anywhere in the joint, they were pretty much ignored.
Today, the women in the spotlight were medical professionals. And the only thing they flashed were needles.
Still, the offering was enough to entice dozens of elderly residents: Retired couples. Daughters with their octogenarian mothers. Even a shuttle-load from a nearby Catholic church.
Forget the stock pages. Anyone wondering how deep our economic woes are running needed look no further than the Rachel’s dance area, where a lonely negligee-clad performer shimmied for a nearly nonexistent audience — while dozens of seniors lined up in side rooms for free flu shots. And a pot-roast lunch.
The club ran out of vaccinations after giving 300 last week — twice as many as years past — and decided to do so again Tuesday.
“People need the help,” said club owner Jim Veigle. “That’s why we do it.”
Smith, who lives alone on a fixed income, confirmed as much. “If I’d had to come up with fifteen dollars,” she said, “I would’ve missed my shot this year.”
Likewise, Bonnie Grillakis jumped at the chance to bring her 87-year-old mother.
“Has my mother ever been here before?” Grillakis replied with a laugh. “Oh, no. I mean, I know people who have. But not my mother. No. No. Really. No.”
Still, Grillakis’ mom, Edith Kantor, a great-grandmother and former opera singer, became a fast fan of the club that’s better known for scantily clad women, MBI raids and political headaches. Besides the shot being painless — “Honey, if you can stand arthritis, a flu shot’s easy.” — Kantor said the stages reminded her of her performing days in the ’40s.
“What time can we come back for the show?” she asked her wide-eyed daughter.
The Volovskis weren’t quite as excited about the possibility of catching a late-night show. But this retired couple didn’t have any qualms about coming to Rachel’s, either.
Sixty-seven-year-old Robert Volovski, a retired armored-truck driver, took a practical approach: A free shot at Rachel’s was less hassle than dealing with his insurance company or doctor’s office.
And his wife, Rita, a recently retired nursery-care worker, said that anyone who dislikes dirty dancing is free to stay out, whether they were offering flu shots or not.
“It’s really pretty simple,” said Rita, 63. “If you don’t like it, don’t come in.”
Plus, the dancing hasn’t really been all that dirty since Seminole County residents voted to ban nudity at the clubs in 1998.
Still, some of the elderly folks who came to Rachel’s for flu shots admitted they were a little curious about the club’s other offerings. Recalled Veigle: “One woman brought in her 93-year-old mother and told me her mom had always wanted to see a pole dance.”
Finally, some decent news from America’s wang:
Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer announced Thursday the city plans to extend domestic-partner benefits to gay city employees when the City Council approves changes to its employee health-care policy this coming Monday.
Orlando is the first local government in central Florida to offer same-sex partner benefits to it’s employees, but joins about two dozen other Florida cities which provide such benefits.
Dyer commented; “We’ve been looking at doing it for quite a while. I think it’s the right thing to do.” Same-sex partners will have to sign an affidavit declaring they are in a committed relationship.
But the domestic-partner benefits will apply only to same-sex couples, as unmarried straight couples “have the option of marriage,” Dyer said.