Planet Atheism http://planetatheism.com Fri, 19 Sep 2008 18:34:57 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.3.3 A gambler’s epistemology http://uncrediblehallq.net/blog/?p=134 http://uncrediblehallq.net/blog/?p=134#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 18:34:57 +0000 Chris Hallquist http://uncrediblehallq.net/blog/?p=134 >>>This is a post from my second calendar year of blogging (i.e. the January after I started). I like it because it reminds me of what it’s like to be really, deeply perplexed by a philosophical issue. Nowadays, I’m used to thinking that I don’t know what to say about a philosophical issue, but I’m more comfortable accepting it and setting it aside–too comfortable, maybe. Here it is. <<<

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about epistemology, and with the next philosophy carnival fast approaching, I think I’ll take another go at it.

A common response to radically skeptical thesis (we can’t know if the sun will rise tomorrow, we can’t know whether we’re living in a Matrix-type world or not) is, “well, true, but if the sun won’t rise tomorrow, there’s nothing we can do about it.

In toyed with a broader form of that idea in a previous post on proof. The broad form is “reject possibilities that cannot be evaluated on the evidence, because if they’re true, there’s nothing we can do about it.” For example, if there’s some evidence that we do in fact live in a Matrix-world, we could consider the evidence, but we must reject the idea of a Matrix-world that is impossible to identify as such. I still think that strategy is the best one, but I’m not sure the “there’s nothing we can do about it” justification works.

The problem is one that occured to me when reading about William Dembski’s abuse of no free lunch theorems. The skinny: he claimed that the theorems show no algorithm is any better or worse than random seaching for finding the high point in a fitness function, a measure of how well something works. This means natural selection won’t work any better than random generation of organisms, and cannot generate the life forms we see. The flaw in this argument is that the theorems were for the set of all possible fitness functions - a set in which most functions are completely chaotic. The real-world scenarios that evolution deals with look more like rolling hills, however. (See the pictures in the link, they show this better than I could put it into words.) There may be lots of hypothetical random worlds where natural selection wouldn’t work, but ours isn’t one of them.

Now back to epistemology. Why not assume that worlds where “reject possibilities that cannot be evaluated on the evidence” works make up a tiny fraction of all possible worlds? Is there any a priori grounds on which we can decide whether a world of testable hypothesis has a high, 50/50, or infinitesimal chance of existing? I’m not sure.

This derives from a problem in determining a priori probabilities more generally. One person might say, “God either exists or he doesn’t, that’s a 50/50 chance,” and another might say, “The standard God (omnipotent, etc.) is only one possibility of an infinity, so that’s an infinitesimal chance.” How do you decide between them a priori? You can’t. That causes serious trouble for any theory of knowledge that attempts to start with certain probabilities.

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Is Sarah Palin Cthulhu in disguise!? http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397426602/is-sarah-palin-cthulhu-in-disguise.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397426602/is-sarah-palin-cthulhu-in-disguise.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 17:14:00 +0000 PTET tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3444133.post-6909846681113546946 Sarah Palin believes in the rapture?

There are more important questions, surely.

Such as: Is Sarah Palin the great Old One Cthulhu in disguise?

You be the judge:



We have the right to know.

I demand that Sean Hannity asks Governor Palin to answer this vital question in his next interview.

PTET
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Sarah Palin believes in the rapture?

There are more important questions, surely.

Such as: Is Sarah Palin the great Old One Cthulhu in disguise?

You be the judge:



We have the right to know.

I demand that Sean Hannity asks Governor Palin to answer this vital question in his next interview.

PTET
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Needless suffering disproves a loving God http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397386133/needless-suffering-disproves-loving-god.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397386133/needless-suffering-disproves-loving-god.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 17:14:00 +0000 PTET tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3444133.post-4403049336601362240 From ReligionIsACrutch. HT: Midwest Atheist.
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From ReligionIsACrutch. HT: Midwest Atheist.
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Contest to Design a Secular Card and Ornament! http://friendlyatheist.com/4660/contest-to-design-a-secular-card-and-ornament/ http://friendlyatheist.com/4660/contest-to-design-a-secular-card-and-ornament/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 17:00:42 +0000 Hemant Mehta http://friendlyatheist.com/?p=4660 HumanLight is an alternative celebration for Humanists during the winter season. In anticipation of this year’s festivities, the HumanLight Committee is throwing a contest:

The HumanLight Committee is hosting a HumanLight Holiday card and ornament design contest for secularists of all ages. Contestants should design an artistic expression to positively address these questions or some aspect of the HumanLight holiday.

What do we have to celebrate during the winter holiday season?

What do you hope for in the future?

What’s the Humanist view/perspective?

ELIGIBILITY: All are welcome to enter!

Category 1: Ages 11 and under.
Category 2: Ages 12-17.
Category 3: Ages 18 and up.

One entry per artist. All media, (painting, printmaking, collage, digital art, photography, or perhaps something even more creative?) is accepted.

TO APPLY: Email the image as a high resolution (at least 300 dpi) JPEG
to humanlightcontest@gmail.com. In the body of the email, include the artist’s name, age, what country and state (if it applies) he or she is from, and what method he or she used to create the image.

DEADLINE for entries is November 1, 2008.

Judge: Martha Knox is a fine artist, Humanist celebrant, art teacher, and Director of the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia.

Prizes: Three images will be selected, 1 from each age category. Cards and ornaments displaying all three winners will be available for purchase at the HumanLight merchandise webpage. Each prize winner will receive an ornament and set of cards with their image, as well as some HumanLight candy! The winners and their designs will also be featured on the main HumanLight website http://www.humanlight.org.

If you win, you better send me a solstice card!

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Maxwell’s demon and Sarah Palin http://geoffarnold.com/?p=2381 http://geoffarnold.com/?p=2381#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 16:23:45 +0000 geoff http://geoffarnold.com/?p=2381 Today’s snorting-coffee-all-over-my-keyboard moment was provoked by a beautiful fisking of the latest utterance from the woman who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America” by hilzoy. The comment thread is delightful! And aren’t you glad that “they don’t flag, you know, the molecules”? I know I am!

{{Retrieved from geoffarnold.com via RSS/ATOM.}}

Maxwell’s demon and Sarah Palin

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Deadly Iceberg of Romanism http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397331739/deadly-iceberg-of-romanism.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397331739/deadly-iceberg-of-romanism.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 16:01:00 +0000 PTET tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3444133.post-8117678123928656752

HT to SteveF at Tweb for bringing us this gem from Rapture Ready.

PTET
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HT to SteveF at Tweb for bringing us this gem from Rapture Ready.

PTET
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Congress, bailouts, and other economic shit http://quintessentialrambling.blogspot.com/2008/09/congress-bailouts-and-other-economic.html http://quintessentialrambling.blogspot.com/2008/09/congress-bailouts-and-other-economic.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 15:43:00 +0000 Kilgore Trout tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15482583.post-1719814746608483950 Congress rips the Yankees." I couldn't help but laugh.

Although actually we then switched to another channel so I didn't know what they were talking about and now that I do it wasn't such a waste of time as it sounded. Turns out the Yankees were trying to get taxpayers to foot a big part of the bill for their new stadium. Uh, fuck that. Why should my tax money be used to build a stadium for a private business? Particularly outrageous when that private company is as rich as George Steinbrener and the Yankees.

Why is it that when the government tries to help people in need its "creeping socialism" but when the same government gives handouts to huge corporations trying to increase their profits, its economic stimulus, and for the greater good of the community? Hypocrites, they wanted de-regulation, they got it, now that its failed as miserably as we expected it too they should pay the price. Fuck 'em, they were happy to rake in the benefits they can't complain when they lose it all. Except of course there is the legitimate point that allowing them all to fail will cause even bigger problems.

The way I see it is that we shouldn't bail out these companies, we should invest. The stock isn't worth shit cause they are on the verge of collapse. So the government buys a shit load of stock, maybe even for a little more than its current market value. The important part to me is that rather than take our tax money and simply give it to a failing company and hope for the best the government now has some say in the company. (I think this is basically what happened with Fannie and Freddie) More importantly as the company gets back on its feet and starts turning a profit I don't want to see the tax payers simply paid back, I want to see some fucking return on our investment. We gave them 85 billion, I want to see 100 back. I don't see this as greedy, at least not any greedier than any other investor is, and why should we be treated any different?

Oh and this sounds interesting, I don't know business or economics but apparently the Gov allowed five corporations to avoid some of the usual regulations.

Who were the five that received this special exemption? You won't be surprised to learn that they were Goldman, Merrill, Lehman, Bear Stearns, and Morgan Stanley.

As Mr. Pickard points out that "The proof is in the pudding — three of the five broker-dealers have blown up."

Without even really knowing about the SEC, it sounds like someone needs to explain why these companies were excluded, and ensure it doesn't happen again.

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McCain the Maverick http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/mccain-the-maverick/ http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/mccain-the-maverick/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 15:21:11 +0000 themaiden http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=2196 From Crooks and Liars:

Even his own family is coming out and remarking on the 180° turn from the Straight Talkin’ Maverick to the craven, say anything, do anything, pander to all politician desperately taking his last covetous bid at the White House.

Crooks and Liars » McCain’s Family Doesn’t Even Recognize Him

Wow… so McCain isn’t honest? And can’t keep his story straight? And is about as maverickish as a mule tethered to a plow? Really? And his own family has noticed? It isn’t just me?

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A Song for McCain http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/a-song-for-mccain/ http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/a-song-for-mccain/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 15:08:13 +0000 themaiden http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=2195 Its one of my favorites actually. I’ve had the album, Never Mind the Bollocks, since I was about 14. The song starts like this…

lie lie lie lie liar you lie lie lie lie lie
tell me why tell me why why d’you have to lie
should’ve realised that you should’ve
told the truth should’ve realised you know what

Sex Pistols: Liar (Lyrics from Sing365.com)

So now John McCain is lying about what independent watchdogs have said, or haven’t said, about Barack Obama. McCain just put out an ad claiming that FactCheck.org called Obama’s attacks on Palin “completely false”…”misleading.” Only problem? FactCheck.org said that quote about someone else, not Obama, and in fact, FactCheck.org says Obama’s criticisms of Palin have been accurate. So, John McCain lied, again, to the American people. (CBS caught McCain lying in the same ad about Katie Couric, claiming that she as well criticized Obama - she didn’t.)

Newsweek: McCain lied about FactCheck.org

Sigh… the ‘McCain is a liar’ posts justkeepstackingup.

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The endless dilemma http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397254746/the_endless_dilemma.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397254746/the_endless_dilemma.php#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 15:06:45 +0000 Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/the_endless_dilemma.php I mentioned before that Richard Dawkins' site was banned in Turkey, by the legal actions of Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar, the Muslim creationist. Now you can learn a little more: a spokesperson for Turkish creationism called up the editors of the New Humanist to explain their side of the story. As you might guess, they aren't very convincing — it boils down to the fact that they were offended by the mean things said about professional con man, liar, and religious kook Adnan Oktar, so they had to shut down access to the site.

And then they have the gall to sweetly ask the New Humanist if they'd like to come to Istanbul and interview Oktar. They want the rich nectar of publicity, but only if it favors their agenda, of course.

So the New Humanist has a poll: Should we bother talking to creationists? They only offer two choices, though: "Yes - debate is good" and "No - we should just ignore them". I don't care for either alternative.

How about "Yes - we should slam them down hard at every opportunity, but not on their ground and not with any unwarranted deference to their bogus beliefs"?

Read the comments on this post...]]>
I mentioned before that Richard Dawkins' site was banned in Turkey, by the legal actions of Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar, the Muslim creationist. Now you can learn a little more: a spokesperson for Turkish creationism called up the editors of the New Humanist to explain their side of the story. As you might guess, they aren't very convincing — it boils down to the fact that they were offended by the mean things said about professional con man, liar, and religious kook Adnan Oktar, so they had to shut down access to the site.

And then they have the gall to sweetly ask the New Humanist if they'd like to come to Istanbul and interview Oktar. They want the rich nectar of publicity, but only if it favors their agenda, of course.

So the New Humanist has a poll: Should we bother talking to creationists? They only offer two choices, though: "Yes - debate is good" and "No - we should just ignore them". I don't care for either alternative.

How about "Yes - we should slam them down hard at every opportunity, but not on their ground and not with any unwarranted deference to their bogus beliefs"?

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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McCain: He’ll Watch Your Back http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/mccain-hell-watch-your-back/ http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/19/mccain-hell-watch-your-back/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 14:39:02 +0000 themaiden http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=2193 Just like he watched these:

GOP Ignores Copyrights, Raises Ire Of Multiple Recording Artists

And these:

CBS takes down McCain webad, suggests it’s ‘misleading’

And these:


McCain’s New ‘Celebrity’ Ad a Copyright Violation?

And this too:

What’s McCain doing in front of my junior high?

I hope you see the pattern. McCain doesn’t give a fuck about intellectual property. He’s going to take what he wants and to hell everyone. And this is the man we just about half the country wants in the White House? It puzzles me. Think about it. He’s a thief, as well as a liar, and we want him running the country? That makes no sense.

Even if you can swallow the dishonesty, those of you who vote Republican for free market reasons, for business reasons, for economic reasons can you swallow this? McCain is pissing on good old fashion right-wing conservative property rights. So why are you voting for him?

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Evangelicals haven’t been this excited since Reagan http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/evangelicals-havent-been-this-excited.html http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/evangelicals-havent-been-this-excited.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:59:00 +0000 Caspar Melville tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2988701180687792678.post-3956859769167565422
I just got off the phone with Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family (reviewed in the next NH), editor of the excellent Revealer site and a veteran evangelical watcher. I was trying to persuade him to write something about US politics and religion after we know who will be the next Prez, but I also asked about how it feels in the US at the moment in relation to the elections, and what he told me I feel I really should pass on:

As a (albeit Obama-sceptical) Democrat he was worried. Why? Because the evangelicals are excited about Palin and very motivated to deliver a Republican victory – having been completely uninterested before Palin popped on the scene. How motivated? They haven’t been this exited since Reagan, Jeff told me. Then he corrected himself. In fact they haven’t been this excited since William Jennings Bryan ran for president in 1896. (Bryan, you will recall, was the man who attacked Darwinism in the Scopes trial, and was a supporter of Prohibition).

Then Jeff recalled how only six months ago American "experts" were suggesting that the old Moral Majority Religious Right coalition, who provided the ground support for Reagan and Pat Robertson, was dead – about the same time that they were promoting Lehman Brothers as a cast iron investment. They were as accurate on the first as on the second.

With McCain, the presumptive most-powerful-man-in-the-world, as no more than an “avuncular figure”, it's all about Palin, who has unleashed latent evangelical commitment. Dormant networks are coming back to life, and newly fired-up activists are back out in the field.

Put it like this, Jeff said: what Obama activists don’t understand is that youth and enthusiasm isn’t enough. Imagine the scenario: a young Harvard student, an Obama activist, goes down to Ohio to get the vote out. He takes a van down to the local old folks home, tries to persuade them to get aboard and then has to check the whereabouts of the polling station on his iPhone, since he doesn't know the area. Contrast this with the McCain/Palin activist. A local resident, politicised since the days of Robertson and Falwell, from the local area, active in church and welfare, they go every week to the old folks home with doughnuts and comfort. They know the residents and they know where the polling station is. Which one is more likely to win the vote? Multiply this scenario, say, one hundred thousand times and . . . You don’t need to be Robert Peston to figure out the result.

Jeff also had a word of warning for Obama supporters in terms of religion – remember, he cautioned, that rather than overturning Bush’s faith-based social initiatives Obama has pledged to increase them. Either way you look at it these are dark days for American secularism.

No matter who wins, hopefully I can persuade Jeff to write something about the winner, and what they will owe the religious lobby after 4 November. Meanwhile let me refer you to James Crabtree’s (pre-Palin) analysis of the role of religion in the election – he never fell for the line that the Religious Right was a busted flush.]]>
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The Wolf and His Secrets http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com/2008/09/19/the-wolf-and-his-secrets/ http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com/2008/09/19/the-wolf-and-his-secrets/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:55:27 +0000 Felicia Gilljam http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com/2008/09/19/the-wolf-and-his-secrets/ The man just across from me on the subway is wearing a pair of old jeans with what I only hope is wine stains. He has thin, shoulder-length hair combed back from a receding hairline, and obnoxious, bristly sideburns framing an unshaven chin. His mouth seems to be missing a few teeth. From one hand dangles a Systembolaget bag, emitting faint clinking noises. In the other, he holds a flashy mobile phone that would have looked more at home in the hand of a Stureplan brat.

The first time he uses the phone, I’m not paying attention. I carefully raise a hand to block the ear closest to him, because he’s veritably shouting, and I already have a headache. The second time, I simply can’t help but overhear his end of the conversation.

“HI, TOMMY! … TOMMY? YEAH, IT’S ME. IT’S THE WOLF!”

I block my ear again and catch the eye of the woman in front of me - who has just been whispering into her own phone - and we both roll our eyes and smirk slightly.

“CAN WE MEET UP? YEAH I’M AT… LET’S SEE WHERE THE HELL I AM…” He looks out the window. “I’M AT MÄLARHÖJDEN. I NEED TO TALK TO YOU. CAN YOU COME DOWN TO FITTJA? … I CAN’T TALK ABOUT THIS ON THE PHONE… I CAN’T TALK ABOUT WHAT I DID HERE, THERE ARE TOO MANY EARS AROUND.”

Now I’m very nearly laughing. Other passengers have turned around to see who the shouting whackjob is.

“YEAH, COME ALONE, I WANT TO TALK IN PRIVATE… OK I’LL CALL AGAIN IN BREDÄNG.”

I consider pointing out to him that if he wants to discuss secrets on a subway, he might want to do it in a voice less … carrying. I decide against it - for all I know, he’s a violent person who can’t talk about how he beat someone to death with a wine bottle. At the next stop, I stand up and move back through the train. Amusing as he is, I really don’t want to risk tinnitus.

Zeno may have been on to something when he discussed how loud people are these days. Given that I belong to what he calls the iPod generation, I can’t say for sure because I don’t have anything to compare with. However, I’m not convinced it’s only to do with mp3-players and such. Sweden is a very quiet, private place, where being loud in public is generally frowned upon. Hence the people who are the loudest are usually either the kind who spend most of their time drunk, teenagers, or from a different culture altogether.

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A little Jewish lunacy… http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188973/a_little_jewish_lunacy.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188973/a_little_jewish_lunacy.php#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:54:14 +0000 Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/a_little_jewish_lunacy.php Only religion seems to have the power to give deranged nutbags credibility and influence in government. Latest case in point: Israel, where the Kadima Party has to negotiate with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to form a coalition…and the rabbi is one of those insane ultra-orthodox wackaloons who, in a rational world, would be some old coot shaking his fist from his porch, avoided by others in his neighborhood, and with absolutely no influence at all.

But no, because he claims the voices in his head are a god talking to him, he gets to be consulted on affairs of state. A short taste of the wisdom of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef:

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has describ[ed] the Holocaust as God's retribution against the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He said Katrina was punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and U.S. support for the Gaza pullout. And he once said that "walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels."

For this kind of advice, he also gets to wear fancy robes and a special hat. I think that's enough of a reward; let them wear elaborate ceremonial dresses, but keep them out of government.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
Only religion seems to have the power to give deranged nutbags credibility and influence in government. Latest case in point: Israel, where the Kadima Party has to negotiate with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to form a coalition…and the rabbi is one of those insane ultra-orthodox wackaloons who, in a rational world, would be some old coot shaking his fist from his porch, avoided by others in his neighborhood, and with absolutely no influence at all.

But no, because he claims the voices in his head are a god talking to him, he gets to be consulted on affairs of state. A short taste of the wisdom of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef:

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has describ[ed] the Holocaust as God's retribution against the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He said Katrina was punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and U.S. support for the Gaza pullout. And he once said that "walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels."

For this kind of advice, he also gets to wear fancy robes and a special hat. I think that's enough of a reward; let them wear elaborate ceremonial dresses, but keep them out of government.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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A little Jewish lunacy… http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188973/a_little_jewish_lunacy.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188973/a_little_jewish_lunacy.php#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:54:14 +0000 Pharyngula http://planetatheism.com/2008/09/19/a-little-jewish-lunacy/ Only religion seems to have the power to give deranged nutbags credibility and influence in government. Latest case in point: Israel, where the Kadima Party has to negotiate with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to form a coalition…and the rabbi is one of those insane ultra-orthodox wackaloons who, in a rational world, would be some old coot shaking his fist from his porch, avoided by others in his neighborhood, and with absolutely no influence at all.

But no, because he claims the voices in his head are a god talking to him, he gets to be consulted on affairs of state. A short taste of the wisdom of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef:

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has describ[ed] the Holocaust as God's retribution against the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He said Katrina was punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and U.S. support for the Gaza pullout. And he once said that "walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels."

For this kind of advice, he also gets to wear fancy robes and a special hat. I think that's enough of a reward; let them wear elaborate ceremonial dresses, but keep them out of government.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
Only religion seems to have the power to give deranged nutbags credibility and influence in government. Latest case in point: Israel, where the Kadima Party has to negotiate with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to form a coalition…and the rabbi is one of those insane ultra-orthodox wackaloons who, in a rational world, would be some old coot shaking his fist from his porch, avoided by others in his neighborhood, and with absolutely no influence at all.

But no, because he claims the voices in his head are a god talking to him, he gets to be consulted on affairs of state. A short taste of the wisdom of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef:

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has describ[ed] the Holocaust as God's retribution against the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He said Katrina was punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and U.S. support for the Gaza pullout. And he once said that "walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels."

For this kind of advice, he also gets to wear fancy robes and a special hat. I think that's enough of a reward; let them wear elaborate ceremonial dresses, but keep them out of government.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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it’s TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/its-talk-like-pirate-day.html http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/its-talk-like-pirate-day.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:45:00 +0000 The E O tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-21559883.post-6040410913187914282

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

You can still vote and make me some other kind of pirate... just click the links. Or get your own. EVERYONE should be a pirate today!]]>
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Blogrolls http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/blogrolls.html http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/blogrolls.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:45:00 +0000 The Barefoot Bum tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28755195.post-7750598620248162494
What's your opinion? Note: Although I want to hear readers' opinions, I make no promises that I'll actually act on them.]]>
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Vital news for this sacred day! http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188974/vital_news_for_this_sacred_day.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/397188974/vital_news_for_this_sacred_day.php#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:39:19 +0000 Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/vital_news_for_this_sacred_day.php I am not yet in Madison, but I am in the Land of the Cheeseheads and am about to hit the road and expect to be there by early afternoon. And then I discover two coincidences, one happy and one mildly problematic.

By my good luck, Ron Numbers is speaking on the campus today, at 3:30 in Science Hall room 180. Hey, I should be able to make that! I just hope he doesn't dispense some jewel of wisdom that compels me to rewrite my talk on the spot.

One concern: this is September 19th! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! This means, of course, that I have to give my lecture in a hokey dialect, which always makes us People of the Pirate sound silly to those who have no respect for our traditions. This is important to us, and I sure hope others around us, even the non-believers, will honor our deeply held beliefs and join us in the ritual. It will fend off global warming, you know.

I hope someone lets Dr Numbers know. I will feel much better if he engages in a little sabre-rattling before the talk, and perhaps punctuates his major points with a holy "Arrrrr."

Read the comments on this post...]]>
I am not yet in Madison, but I am in the Land of the Cheeseheads and am about to hit the road and expect to be there by early afternoon. And then I discover two coincidences, one happy and one mildly problematic.

By my good luck, Ron Numbers is speaking on the campus today, at 3:30 in Science Hall room 180. Hey, I should be able to make that! I just hope he doesn't dispense some jewel of wisdom that compels me to rewrite my talk on the spot.

One concern: this is September 19th! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! This means, of course, that I have to give my lecture in a hokey dialect, which always makes us People of the Pirate sound silly to those who have no respect for our traditions. This is important to us, and I sure hope others around us, even the non-believers, will honor our deeply held beliefs and join us in the ritual. It will fend off global warming, you know.

I hope someone lets Dr Numbers know. I will feel much better if he engages in a little sabre-rattling before the talk, and perhaps punctuates his major points with a holy "Arrrrr."

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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New template http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-template.html http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-template.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:39:00 +0000 The Barefoot Bum tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28755195.post-6528134587480033398
PhysioProf: I'm not going to switch to Wordpress, either self-hosted or Wordpress.com because I want to blog; I don't what to fuck with blogging comments. Since IntenseDebates comments caused more problems than they solved, I'm stuck with Blogger comments.

If anyone wants to write blogging software that gives me an order of magnitude improvement in my blogging experience, then I'd consider switching. Wordpress, while better than Blogger, is not sufficiently better to justify all the pain of switching.]]>
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NCSE on the Michael Reiss Affair http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/ncse-on-michael-reiss-affair.html http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/ncse-on-michael-reiss-affair.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:36:00 +0000 Larry Moran tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-37148773.post-8105472295097854297 http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/ncse-on-michael-reiss-affair.html/feed/ Random Observations: Crypto-Bubbaism, more trite objections to Obama and the totally unrelated Michael Reiss controversy http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/random-observations-crypto-bubbaism-more-trite-objections-to-obama-and-the-totally-unrelated-michael-reiss-controversy/ http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/random-observations-crypto-bubbaism-more-trite-objections-to-obama-and-the-totally-unrelated-michael-reiss-controversy/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 13:15:24 +0000 Bruce http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/?p=965

Crypto-Bubbaism is what I’m calling it at any rate. Joni Hudson-Reynolds, author of Ebony Mom Politics, writes about the Bubba vote and how race will play out over the current general election in the US.

“The reality is racism exists in the larger society so we know it is a part of the political landscape.  We have to accept some folks will never change and the Obama team would do well to minimize their outreach efforts to groups that have no intention of reaching back.”

(Joni Hudson-Reynolds, 2008)

In the comments of the very same post, “Pinky” goes to work with the oft-used straw-man of alleging misapplication of the term racist in order to shut-up people who criticise a given policy or political camp. Joni is doing no such thing. She isn’t equating a lack of support for Obama with racism, but just pointing out how some people’s objection to voting for a black man will be an obstacle for Obama and that the Obama camp is wasting their time attempting to placate them.

I wish Joni a better future America; where the Bubba vote isn’t significant and where more of her fellow Americans will prove to be more honest interlocutors. If not for her, then for her kids. I think generational change, while too late for Obama, provides some grounds for hope.

I’ve mutated the term “Bubba vote” to Crypto-Bubberism for a reason. Pinky’s obfuscationism is one reason, another is the pretence by certain people that they aren’t going to vote for Obama because of policy positions. Policy positions shared by other Democrats that strangely enough, they were willing to vote for (i.e. Hillary Clinton).

For more on that story, see The Voice of Today’s Apathetic Youth on how the Catholic vote is split over Obama. Nice work, Sarah.

Not that I’m a Michael Moore fan, but it reminds me of his anecdote about his youth when members of his congregation cheered when they found out that Martin Luther King, Jr had been killed. Sick really.

These trite objections to cover up racism aren’t the only objections doing the rounds of course. Take objections to this campaign video.

Not the best campaign ad, but not the worst.

I make an objection about this video. First, McCain not being able to use a computer is itself a trite observation. A trite observation amongst more serious ones. Secondly, the idea that McCain hasn’t changed is wrong. He’s got worse since 9/11.

Crap that he wouldn’t stand for then, he panders to now, as evidenced by his sell-out to religious hegemons in Florida and his inability to distance himself from Pastor Hagee, an exemplar of the kind of religious hate that in the past, McCain has railed against.

Around the Intertubes, I don’t recall where precisely (sorry), I came across a rather sanctimonious post pointing out McCain’s war injuries and how McCain can’t use a keyboard. It boldly stated that McCain can’t use a computer because of his injuries and the Obama camp were taking advantage of the fact and that it would backfire.

Well at least the author seemed to hope it would.

This is trite for three reasons; first, not being able to use a keyboard doesn’t actually prevent people from using a computer. Secondly, it acts as a red-herring to distract from other issues raised in the campaign ad (although you can blame the Obama camp spin-doctors for some of this.) Thirdly, this is by no means anywhere as dirty or irrelevant as the campaign ads being run by the McCain camp.

Because you know Sarah Palin is automatically entitled to respect…

So, because Obama is apparently disrespectful of Sarah Palin, he’s not eligible to be the head of state? Ummm, doesn’t that mean that McCain is ineligible because he’s not respectful of Obama (”But His star is fading..” - what shallow crap is that?)

Of course, the only disrespectful thing you can witness from this ad, is that directed toward Obama and toward the American people (which is of course, far more relevant). It’s full of lies.

Turning obvious compliment into insult, innocuous speculation into unrecognisable assertion and robbing what little is left of context. This isn’t just spinning, this isn’t lying by omission and this isn’t accidental. This is deliberate fabrication.

Get the low-down on how McCain’s camp selectively copied and manipulated Obama and Biden’s words, here.

And McCain approves of the advert. Clearly he approves of blatantly lying to the American public. How does this constitute his much vaunted reform? This level of deception is part of what needs to be changed if America is to have the renewal it supposedly wants.

Now if you are getting tired of the whole US Election, you’ll be happy that I’m going to change topic now.

Michael Reiss has recently stepped down from his position as the Director of Education at the Royal Society after being misrepresented as supporting creationism by some in the media.

Henry Neufeld has more, as does Richard Dawkins. Both writings are a good place to start reading on the topic.

I think I’ll leave it at that and wish you a good weekend.

~ Bruce

       ]]>
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Quote Bank http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397171596/quote-bank.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Ptet-AtheismReligionScienceAndCulture/~3/397171596/quote-bank.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 12:20:00 +0000 PTET tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3444133.post-797707607651489410 people who test parrots for telepathy don't respect him." - Ceiling Cat, AtBC, 2008

"It seems to me that such people care more about labels than reality. Just as slapping the label of atheist onto the entire scientific discipline allows people to discard the views of thousands of scientists in favor of accepting the views of a handful of engineers and computer programmers, so the label of conservative hearkens back to a fantasy caricature of the Reagen era, a past that never was." - Nomad, AtBC, 8 Feb 2008



"It is almost a cliche in this newsgroup that creationism in this day
and age has retreated to epistemological nihilism. Note that even
their scientific expert does not claim that the evidence is better
explained by or better supports their version of events; his point is,
rather, that evidence does not really matter, since different
worldviews and different assumptions can justify any conclusion from
the same evidence." - Stephen J., <a href="http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_thread/thread/f8601af9829069fd/e3b0fc251bd8d0f7?hl=en#e3b0fc251bd8d0f7
">Talk.Origins, 3 Nov 2007

"SETI is based on the simple assumption that nature operates
elsewhere the same way it does here. ID is based on the assumption
that nature doesn't even work here." - Bobby Bryant, Chez Watt, 2002

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves." - Eric Hoffer

PTET
]]>
people who test parrots for telepathy don't respect him." - Ceiling Cat, AtBC, 2008

"It seems to me that such people care more about labels than reality. Just as slapping the label of atheist onto the entire scientific discipline allows people to discard the views of thousands of scientists in favor of accepting the views of a handful of engineers and computer programmers, so the label of conservative hearkens back to a fantasy caricature of the Reagen era, a past that never was." - Nomad, AtBC, 8 Feb 2008



"It is almost a cliche in this newsgroup that creationism in this day
and age has retreated to epistemological nihilism. Note that even
their scientific expert does not claim that the evidence is better
explained by or better supports their version of events; his point is,
rather, that evidence does not really matter, since different
worldviews and different assumptions can justify any conclusion from
the same evidence." - Stephen J., <a href="http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_thread/thread/f8601af9829069fd/e3b0fc251bd8d0f7?hl=en#e3b0fc251bd8d0f7
">Talk.Origins, 3 Nov 2007

"SETI is based on the simple assumption that nature operates
elsewhere the same way it does here. ID is based on the assumption
that nature doesn't even work here." - Bobby Bryant, Chez Watt, 2002

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves." - Eric Hoffer

PTET
]]>
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Whose Wedding Is It? http://friendlyatheist.com/4670/whose-wedding-is-it/ http://friendlyatheist.com/4670/whose-wedding-is-it/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 12:00:05 +0000 Hemant Mehta http://friendlyatheist.com/?p=4670 WordNerd and her fiance (”IP”) are going to have a fabulous atheistical wedding.

But they may have to do it against her mother’s wishes:

… IP and I are atheists and are adamant about using someone who understands and respects our viewpoints — and I’ve always said that ceremony without meaning is useless to me, so I could never stand in front of a priest and vow before friends and family and a god I don’t believe in that I’ll be IP’s partner for life. I’m vowing it to IP and I think that’s enough. Anyway, when speaking to one coordinator today, she inquired as to what type of ceremony we’d be having. When I answered neutrally with non-religious, the coordinator pressed. “Are you Catholic and your fiancé is . . .” she trailed off, sensing a difference in upbringing. “We’re both atheists,” I said with a polite smile, indicating that there was no conflict between the future husband and me.

“No, you’re not,” my mother immediately jumped in, flushing red and looking angry. I gave her a quick look and answered that we wouldn’t talk about the subject at the moment. The coordinator hid a grin as my mother glared at me… It was one of those moments where I fervently wished for the day that my mom would recognize that I was a thinking human being who can make her own decisions, especially about my belief system. I don’t think that’ll happen in regards to the Catholicism bit. However, it doesn’t matter in this situation — IP and I will have our non-religious ceremony come hell (hah!) or high water.

Good for her )

For those of you who have had non-religious wedding ceremonies, did you have to deal with any complaints from friends or family members?

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And Neil thought he had problems . . . http://fivepublicopinions.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/and-neil-thought-he-had-problems/ http://fivepublicopinions.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/and-neil-thought-he-had-problems/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:51:25 +0000 arthurvandelay http://fivepublicopinions.wordpress.com/?p=307

Just have a look at the grief Martin Wagner is experiencing at the hands of a loving Christian. In a nutshell: Wagner, co-host of The Atheist Experience TV show and author of the Atheist Experience blog, critiqued a creationist’s article on the evils of atheism. Well, the creationist didn’t like that, and retaliated by vandalising Wagner’s Wikipedia entry, claiming that Wagner was a drug addict and a pedophile. Wagner called him on it on the Atheist Experience blog, and the creationist didn’t like that, either, so—like a hybrid of David Mabus and John A. Davison—he trawled atheist and Christian discussion boards alike across the Internet, and started a haf-dozen blogs, wailing persecution at the hands of Wagner and a Wikipedia administrator (the creationist’s vandalism led to his banning from Wikipedia). Wagner, now armed with sufficient evidence to mount an online defamation suit, obtained the services of attorney. The creationist went quiet for three months, then issued Wagner with a “Cease and desist” letter. Wagner, deciding that enough is enough, is now pressing ahead with legal action. He observes:

If you write anything online, there’s a good chance it will be read by someone you don’t know, who isn’t already your friend and predisposed to be kind to you no matter how much you insist on doing the writing equivalent of face-planting on the pavement. That’s the crazy thing about the intarweebs: there are people on it. People who have opinions who don’t always march in lockstep with your own. And if they disagree with you, they’ll say so. Sometimes they’ll be polite (which I am), sometimes they’ll be snarky and sarcastic (which I am). But there’s no protective law that says that opinion articles published on blogs and websites get to be shielded from criticism or even pure derision. I understand, every time I post to AE, that what I’m writing is as likely to be critiqued or flamed as it is to be praised. And I don’t mind that fact. If your ego is too fragile to take criticisms of your writing and ideas, you shouldn’t be writing in as public (some might say anarchic) a venue as the frackin’ internet!

Absolutely right. But that’s the thing about these high RWAs, especially when they are permitted access to a keyboard and an internet connection. They don’t like it when people disagree with them. They take disagreement with their ideas as a personal attack, and they deem it justifiable to respond in kind. And given the havoc and mischief they can wreak upon their victims—outing in Jeremy’s case, stalking in Bruce’s case, hacking in Neil’s case, and now legal threats in Wagner’s case—they arguably should be considered a threat to democracy, if not society.

       ]]>
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A Voice in the Crowd http://www.daylightatheism.org/2008/09/a-voice-in-the-crowd.html http://www.daylightatheism.org/2008/09/a-voice-in-the-crowd.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:48:26 +0000 Ebonmuse http://www.daylightatheism.org/?p=834 In "The Bubble", I discussed how religious sects shelter their members from criticism by creating isolated worlds where only orthodox viewpoints are heard from. No doubt, this insularity creates a serious obstacle for atheists and freethinkers who want to promote the message of reason. How can we even begin to persuade people unless we can reach them? How do we pierce that bubble and get our message where it needs to be heard the most?

Obviously, there's no secret key to this. No special choice of wording or tone will unlock the church doors that are barred against us. But we do have one significant advantage that we can use. In a recent comment, Lynet eloquently alluded to this advantage:

I suspect the problem is largely that people are so used to whispering around religion that an everyday voice sounds like a shout.

Lynet's comment was in reference to the tendency of apologists to demonize atheists who speak out as intolerant and prejudiced. Religious believers are so unaccustomed to serious criticism that, when it does arise, it often catches them completely off guard, and they perceive it as a shocking and vicious attack. This is unfortunate, because it means that stereotypes about us and our movement spread easily, and atheists have to spend considerable effort clearing them away just for our real message to be heard.

But, at the same time, this is something that we can benefit from as well. Simply stated, the modern atheist movement has a significant advantage: the advantage of novelty.

New movements and new ideas are inherently newsworthy, especially if - as is true in our case - the idea under discussion is not just a new and different way of doing things, but a challenge to a belief long held sacrosanct. Nothing attracts attention and interest like a controversy, and we have set our sights on the highest target there is. We have stepped up to challenge literally the most sacred idea there is, the one upon which whole cultures are built and countless millions of individuals have based their very identity. The audacity, the sheer outrageousness of this goal guarantees that atheists will not just be one more voice in the crowd. We will be heard far and wide, which means that our arguments have a tremendous opportunity to reach people who would otherwise not have heard them.

Granted, we can't expect that our ideas will make it through the screen of religious polemic intact. They may only reach some people in distorted form, but even that is better than nothing. The masses who simply believe what their pastors tell them and swallow whole the slanderous stereotypes disseminated from the pulpit are not the ones we'd be likely to convince anyway. But there will always be some people, in the pews or wherever else, for whom our words will strike a spark. There will always be some who, once they learn of our existence, will take the initiative to seek us out and see what we say in our own words.

Once we've won this initial hearing, we have the advantage. Our arguments are stronger, and on a level playing field they can win the day. But because our power to be noticed, to get our names out there, stems from the novelty of our message, it is necessarily an advantage we have for only a limited time. Once the New Atheist movement becomes an accepted part of society's discourse, it will not command the same headline-making prominence. We have a short time, so it's vital we make the most of it - make the most noise, be audacious, and spread the message as far and wide as possible. We shouldn't be afraid to be aggressive in getting the word out. Doing this is an investment, and in time, it's one that will pay off.

]]>
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What makes people vote Republican? http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-makes-people-vote-republican.html http://barefootbum.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-makes-people-vote-republican.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:22:00 +0000 The Barefoot Bum tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-28755195.post-873828013553011877 What makes people vote Republican?

The commentary is interesting too.

[h/t to Tim Kreider]]]>
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Platitude of the Day http://www.freethinker.co.uk/2008/09/19/platitude-of-the-day/ http://www.freethinker.co.uk/2008/09/19/platitude-of-the-day/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:00:36 +0000 Dave McKeegan http://www.freethinker.co.uk/?p=1883 It always came on when he was in the shower. As it was too dangerous to leap out of a slippery tub and switch stations for a few minutes, he tried sticking his soapy fingers in his ears and singing “LALA! LALA! LA!’ at the top of his voice. But that didn’t work either.
Platitude of the Day (click the image to visit the site)

Platitude of the Day (click the image to visit the site)


Eventually, Peter Hearty, a university research assistant and life member of the National Secular Society, found himself actually listening to Thought for the Day, and the idea for a satirical website was born.

BBC Radio 4’s daily sanctimony-slot has been the subject of a secularist campaign for years. For 2 minutes and 45 seconds every morning, listeners are subjected to often platitudinous, occasionally downright barking homilies from a pool of over 70 contributors. The fact that every one of those contributors is a religious believer has raised protests from the NSS and the British Humanist Association on the grounds of discrimination. But the BBC has not budged.

Says Hearty,

I thought it might be nice to vocalise what TFTD presenters were saying in a less roundabout way and give anyone who wanted an opportunity to comment on that day’s thought

The result was Platitude for the Day, a sharp, hilarious parody-cum-analysis of that morning’s broadcast, usually published within an hour of its airing. Each “thought” is given a star rating, ranging from 0 (Not platitudinous) to 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous). It is the perfect way to skewer the banality of the majority of the “God-slots”.

The archives stretch back to February 2007, and the site hasn’t gone unnoticed by some TFTD contributors. Not all of them are pleased. Media vicar Giles Fraser, for example, tells us,

This web site is further evidence that the new breed of media atheists are terribly good at saying what they are against, but not terribly good at saying what they are for.

The one Buddhist “thoughter”, Vishvapani, calls Hearty a “corflakes splutterer”.

On the other hand, Abdal Hakim Murad (aka Tim Winter), takes a more sanguine view - perhaps surprisingly so, as his contributions regularly score highly on the platitudometer:

I look at it sometimes. Generally it is humorous and well-intentioned, and I certainly don’t object to it.

Johnathan Bartley of the Christian-secularist think tank Ekklesia supports the opening up of the slot to non-religious contributors, and cites Platitude of the Day in his argument.

Indeed, Bartley and Hearty share the same vision for change - a vision which the BBC has still not been able to see. In the website’s manifesto, Peter writes,

How about we really open up TFTD, not just to the great and the good, but to the people up and down the country who have to make moral choices every day: nurses, teachers, policemen. And I don’t just mean the heads of their respective professions. Let’s have a nurse from a busy A&E ward, or a primary school teacher, or a bobby on an inner city beat. What does the bloke who sweeps the streets think about the war in Iraq? What problems do the family who own the shop on the corner face? The Today programme is full of politicians, bishops and businessmen. They get their say. Let’s hear about a different class of problem, a different set of choices.

Now there’s a thought.

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Sarah Palin Rubber Dodo Award http://religiouscomics.net/?p=75 http://religiouscomics.net/?p=75#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 10:30:15 +0000 GodItself http://religiouscomics.net/?p=75 Sarah Palin

from the director:

“Governor Palin has waged a deceptive, dangerous, and costly battle against the polar bear,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Her position on global warming is so extreme, she makes Dick Cheney look like an Al Gore devotee.”

see biologicaldiversity.org. Also via Friendly Atheist

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Italian comedian won’t be prosecuted for insulting the Pope http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/italian-comedian-wont-be-prosecuted-for.html http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/italian-comedian-wont-be-prosecuted-for.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 09:17:00 +0000 Paul Sims tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2988701180687792678.post-1587144802059189217
The latest news is that the Italian Justice Minister, Angelino Alfano, has decided to block the case saying he has "decided not to authorise it, knowing well the stature and capacity of the pope for forgiveness."

Which gives the impression it's all to do with the Pope's honour, and nothing to do with not using a treaty signed by Mussolini in order to stifle free speech. The Vatican has backed the Minister's decision, as a spokesperson explained to an Italian news agency:
"The justice minister's decision was wise. The Pope's authority is far too superior to be dented and, in his magnanimity, he considers the case closed."
He's willing to accept a legal decision made by the Justice Minister of a sovereign state. Is there no limit to his magnanimity?]]>
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Richard Dawkins’s website banned in Turkey – courtesy of Harun Yahya http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/richard-dawkins-website-banned-in.html http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2008/09/richard-dawkins-website-banned-in.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 09:17:00 +0000 Paul Sims tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-2988701180687792678.post-9201451634341040287 Back in our May/June issue, Peter C Kjaergaard reported on the efforts of Adnan Oktar, AKA Harun Yahya, the shadowy Turkish creationist responsible for sending the lavish and absurd Atlas of Creation to science professors and teachers around the world.

He's also well-known for going through the Turkish courts in order to have websites shut down that are critical of him, and he may have just achieved his greatest victory by having Richard Dawkins's official website blocked there. Earlier this year he tried, and failed, to have The God Delusion banned in Turkey, but no doubt he'll see this as a valuable consolation prize. His office has claimed the courts blocked the site because it "violated" Oktar's personality, as his press officer explained:
"We are not against freedom of speech or expression but you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not."
As the Guardian points out, Turkey's restrictions on free speech are on ongoing obstacle to its attempts to join the EU and banning Dawkins's website is unlikely to do this any favours. As for the Dawkins site, they've responded in the perfect way – by putting a banner at the top of the homepage that reads "Banned in Turkey".

Breaking news, Friday Noon: I just got off the phone with Seda Aral, who works for Adnan Oktar at what they call the Science Research Foundation in Istanbul. She invited me out to Istanbul to interview Mr Oktar (I'm tempted, if only so I can see the Bazaar), and we had a little chat about the age of the earth (she said he is not a Young Eather, he just does not accept that species evolved), Oktar's take on EU membership (he's pro apparently) and why he got Dawkins's site banned. She says that Dawkins.net had numerous offensive comments about Mr Oktar on it. They informed the site of this and asked for the posts to be removed but got no reply. Oktar then felt they had no other option than to use Turkish law, which is very strict about offensiveness to get the site banned. Here's what she says about it:
"Istanbul’s Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of Peace has banned the site in Turkey on the grounds that Adnan Oktar’s personality was violated by this site. The court reached the decision to ban the site on September 3. A lawsuit is filed for the damages of mental anguish against Richard Dawkins in the amount of 8000 YTL (about 4000 Euro)".
Hmmm. Throughout our very pleasant conversation she emphasised that though there is a biggish gulf between what Mr Oktar and New Humanist argue, he is a very open and respectful sort of chap and would welcome debate (he famously invited Dawkins to debate him, something that the good prof has vowed not to do). I suppose the question is should those of us who "believe" in evolution bother to give any time or the "oxygen of publicity" to creationists, or just ignore them? What do you think - let us know in the poll on the right – Caspar Melville, editor.]]>
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Michelle Malkin knows how to hastily induce http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/michelle-malkin-knows-how-to-hastily-induce/ http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/michelle-malkin-knows-how-to-hastily-induce/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 07:25:01 +0000 Bruce http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/?p=963

Hasty induction being a logical fallacy after all.

Wikipedia (correctly) identifies hasty generalisation (aka hasty induction) as, “a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence. It commonly involves basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population.” - (Emphasis added.)

Back in July of 2006, Michelle Malkin prattled on about When the Left invades our privacy

Because neighbors are talking and because the Washington Post blabbed it already, right? And because al Qaeda already must have an inkling that Rumsfeld and Cheney live somewhere in the greater Washington, D.C. area, right? So what’s the harm in handing them all the details, right?”

(Michelle Malkin, 2006)

The Washington Post article Malkin is referring to, is a rather naive and innocuous piece by Dan Morse, which was preceded by an even more innocuous piece by Peter Kilborn. Not exactly the assistance to al Qaeda that Malkin represents it as, but then, that kind of spin is par for the course.

Then Malkin points out that some protesters have visited Rove, Rumsfeld and Negroponte’s private homes over the previous few years. Not the best way to have a protest for sure, and I wouldn’t do it myself but it has to be said (entirely as an aside to my main point) that the likes of Rove and Rumsfeld have made it near impossible to directly protest against them in public (and no, a get-together well away from the action isn’t direct.)

Malkin, in conspiracy-minded and patently paranoid form, concluded that;

There is a concerted, organized effort to dig up and publicize the private home information of prominent conservatives in the media and blogosphere to intimidate them.”

(Michelle Malkin, 2006)

Forget an editor. This is best dealt with by a psychiatrist.

Now my main point is, how Malkin has used hasty induction to bolster her out-group/in-group biases. Magically, some pretty marginal protesters and some journalists who write about real estate, become representatives of the left, while Rove and Rumsfeld somehow constitute representation of “us” (the title of her post was “our privacy” after all.)

It’s dead easy to do if you just suspend your critical faculties. I’ll show you.

Hat-tip to Sean for pointing this one out;

KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host.  Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought.  The women, of course, received many nasty,  harassing and threatening messages.”

(Mudflats, 2008)

You will notice, that neither in the Mudflats post in question, nor in Sean’s commentary, is the capacity for representation of the groups in question exaggerated. The groups are as big as they are, but no assertions are made beyond that.

Now if I were to engage in the same kind of inductive fallacy as Malkin, I’d be saying that the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” rally spoke for “us” (or rather for “you” Americans) while Burke’s thuggery was exemplary of conservatives. I’m not saying that. Sean isn’t saying that. Mudflats isn’t saying that.

It’s because we are sane, honest and intelligent.

This is why I dredged up Malkin’s old canard. With a general election underway in the US, sober analysis is at a premium; good results demand a public that is well informed, while many pundits engage in fits of hysteria, reducing the supply of quality information in circulation.

Malkin’s dross, at the best of times, when not whipped up with election fever, is rubbish. It is from her hasty induction and conspiracy-mindedness, even when in quieter times, that you can tell that she’s not particularly worth paying attention to.

Yet people do. In droves. People will be going to vote with Malkin’s fallacies held as truth. For some because they were only ever looking to re-affirm their prejudice, but more tragically for others, because they were duped.

Duped by hasty induction.

But that’s politics. You just have to keep at it, no matter how well-funded, or cashed-up or popular the hegemons of the culture wars may be.

~ Bruce

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lazy http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396930542/lazy.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396930542/lazy.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 05:34:00 +0000 toomanytribbles tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-29870334.post-2332422019950128105
the thing that stuck in my mind most of all is the colors. after living in beijing, i couldn't get over just how blue the sky could possibly be. i'd honestly forgotten and i was dumbstruck. sometimes the mist made the sea and sky blend into one continuous, sometimes gradient background. sometimes there was a fine line to separate them. the island itself is lusciously green, despite scant rainfall this year.

early morning or evening, a symphony of color filled the sky -- and i don't mean just at sunrises or sunsets, but the half hour-abouts when the sun is just beyond the horizon.

while i was waiting for the ferry to take me to the island, at the little port of killini, i saw the moon, framed by purple and orange and i hastily took this:

the moon over killini at dusk

but, as i said, i just wanted to rest. i took some pictures which i'm sloooowly uploading to my flickr, but you must understand that most of the time the only sightseeing i wanted to do was this:

zakynthos]]>

the thing that stuck in my mind most of all is the colors. after living in beijing, i couldn't get over just how blue the sky could possibly be. i'd honestly forgotten and i was dumbstruck. sometimes the mist made the sea and sky blend into one continuous, sometimes gradient background. sometimes there was a fine line to separate them. the island itself is lusciously green, despite scant rainfall this year.

early morning or evening, a symphony of color filled the sky -- and i don't mean just at sunrises or sunsets, but the half hour-abouts when the sun is just beyond the horizon.

while i was waiting for the ferry to take me to the island, at the little port of killini, i saw the moon, framed by purple and orange and i hastily took this:

the moon over killini at dusk

but, as i said, i just wanted to rest. i took some pictures which i'm sloooowly uploading to my flickr, but you must understand that most of the time the only sightseeing i wanted to do was this:

zakynthos]]>
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Alaskan women not as stupid as Palin http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SeanTheBlogonaut/~3/396910817/alaskan-women-not-as-stupid-as-palin.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SeanTheBlogonaut/~3/396910817/alaskan-women-not-as-stupid-as-palin.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 05:20:00 +0000 Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3996104127249252967.post-6801878648976785510 rally4 Mudflat, an Alaska blogger reports on a recent grass roots Anti-Palin protest that became the biggest political rally ever in the history of the state.

Some 1400 demonstrators turned out to make a statement that Palin does not speak for all Alaskan women and men.

The conservative response?  Endanger the life of the organisers by announcing their names and telephone numbers on radio and call them "socialist baby-killing maggots"

Here's a picture of the conservative meathead radio host being shouted down by hockey mom's.

rally63

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Mudflats blog  for the full story and pictures

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rally4 Mudflat, an Alaska blogger reports on a recent grass roots Anti-Palin protest that became the biggest political rally ever in the history of the state.

Some 1400 demonstrators turned out to make a statement that Palin does not speak for all Alaskan women and men.

The conservative response?  Endanger the life of the organisers by announcing their names and telephone numbers on radio and call them "socialist baby-killing maggots"

Here's a picture of the conservative meathead radio host being shouted down by hockey mom's.

rally63

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Mudflats blog  for the full story and pictures

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Edit… Edit… Edit… http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/edit-edit-edit/ http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/edit-edit-edit/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 05:13:29 +0000 Bruce http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/?p=961

Okay, this is getting silly.

I’m going cross-eyed picking up mangled sentences and the like, that I didn’t pick up at the point of publication. Nothing odd in that in and of itself, but I’m finding a few more than usual and of late, I’m posting less than usual.

Oddly enough, when not crashing my browser, I’m picking up on plenty of typos at The Huffington Post. Why I’m finding mistakes so easily at other sites, but not my own, is a mystery.

Normal wordcrafting will resume when I find the missing part of my brain (which will probably coincide with me having a bit more to eat and drinking a little less coffee.)

~ Bruce

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Our Martian Junkyard http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com/2008/09/our-martian-junkyard.html http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com/2008/09/our-martian-junkyard.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 03:45:00 +0000 Tommy tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-35315805.post-6858012001568536489

From NASA's web site, "The Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager took this image of the spacecraft's crumpled heat shield (the snake-like looking thing center-left in the picture) on Sept. 16, 2008, the 111th Martian day of the mission."

Seeing this picture, it got me thinking, with all of the probes we sent to Mars that have either landed or crashed there, the Red Planet is amassing a growing collection of high tech American made garbage and all of the detritus associated with it. It's a good thing there are no Martians there, otherwise they probably would be really pissed off at us. Then again, maybe some ingenious Martians might like the chance to toy around with all of that free electronic gadgetry we've been sending them, courtesy of the American taxpayers!

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From NASA's web site, "The Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager took this image of the spacecraft's crumpled heat shield (the snake-like looking thing center-left in the picture) on Sept. 16, 2008, the 111th Martian day of the mission."

Seeing this picture, it got me thinking, with all of the probes we sent to Mars that have either landed or crashed there, the Red Planet is amassing a growing collection of high tech American made garbage and all of the detritus associated with it. It's a good thing there are no Martians there, otherwise they probably would be really pissed off at us. Then again, maybe some ingenious Martians might like the chance to toy around with all of that free electronic gadgetry we've been sending them, courtesy of the American taxpayers!

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IP Treaty? What IP Treaty? http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/ip-treaty-what-ip-treaty/ http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/ip-treaty-what-ip-treaty/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 03:24:42 +0000 Bruce http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/?p=947

Why the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) of course! It’s being negotiated between the Canada, EU, US, Japan South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and good old Australia.

What’s it all about? Well, the talks are all hush hush, but as of October last year, they have had a fact sheet to keep us informed. Oddly enough, the fact sheet only talks about empowering those making complaints of intellectual property theft and has no commentary on how due process and the rights of the accused are to be maintained.

I love the rhetoric of the line that says “It is critical to have a strong and modern legal framework so that law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and private citizens have the most up-to-date tools necessary to effectively bring counterfeiters and pirates to justice.” Does that include rendition?

I don’t seriously think that rendition would actually be used to track down alleged pirates (although it’s not that much of a stretch from the status quo - indeed what if the alleged piracy allegedly raised money for terrorism?) However, you can see that not everyone and indeed most people, are being failed if this document is any indicator.

Richard Kohman at ZDNet cites concerns held by various interest groups, two concerns in particular grabbing my eye;

“Require ISPs to monitor all consumers’ Internet communications, terminate their customers’ Internet connections based on rights holders’ repeat allegation of copyright infringement, and divulge the identity of alleged copyright infringers possibly without judicial process…”, and “Criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing.”

(Richard Kohman, 2008)

While not subscribing to the specifics of the either concern, the idea of the executive arm of Government acting against individuals on behalf of a likely more powerful party, is worrying. We used to have employers and employer groups whining about industrial relations tribunals run by the executive, but even before the Howard years (especially since Enterprise Bargaining), these bodies strived to redress a power imbalance without engaging in one-eyed advocacy.

How will the power imbalance between individuals and the likes of the RIAA be addressed?

What happens when an entity like SCO tries to lay claim to the intellectual property you are downloading? SCO never had a legitimate claim to Linux as an IP, but what if they, or someone else similarly powered up with lawyers and cash, someone equally frivolous, can dodge the courts and have their day in a tribunal going up not against open source organisations, but against vulnerable individuals?

Right now, I’m downloading a Linux distribution via BitTorrent. If the SCOs of the world are to be believed, I’m using infringing software and by “seeding” it, I’m a pirate. This is of course rubbish. As said before, SCO have no claim to Linux and there is nothing wrong, or illegal with distribution via BitTorrent per se.

But this kind of conflict is bound to happen as conflict of the same patent mendacity (pun intended - sorry) happens under existing laws.

The second concern, the banning of P2P, isn’t too much of a stretch sadly. At any rate, restriction of P2P is quite plausible. Some ISPs already engage in practices like involuntary port blocking and other means to block P2P traffic so as to lower their expenditure on bandwidth (Internode don’t, if you were curious and thinking of changing ISP).

Government regulation to mandate restrictions upon P2P traffic doesn’t take much more imagination. And sadly, we have a federal government that has demonstrated its willingness to pander to unrepresentative interest groups, to inhibit Internet traffic in a way that won’t deliver benefits (not even the alleged benefits of keeping your kids safe) at the expense of Internet usability.

More workable alternatives such as those afforded by Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) are being overlooked (same fallible level of protection, but no issue of involuntary censorship nor the slowing down of ISPs) as are the obvious values of parental responsibility. Lobby groups with vested interests have in as far as Internet regulation is concerned, become more important than the good of the public.

Last year, the Howard Government pushed through dubious copyright reforms at the behest of the same lobby pushing for the ACTA. Although at that time it was allegedly as a part of keeping up with FTA obligations (which isn’t entirely true - but that’s another matter).

It was done without sufficient debate, and subsequently, little effective transparency. The senators didn’t even have time to get through it all, what hope did the Australian public have of knowing until it was too late?

Unlike the FTA, ACTA isn’t in effect yet, obviously. It is still being drafted and is yet to be signed into agreement. But, this is all happening behind closed doors.

What is the Rudd Government signing us up for? On the ACTA, will they differentiate themselves from the conduct of their Howard predecessors?

All this secrecy is bad for liberal democracy. The implications could be worse.

~ Bruce

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math as art http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812049/math-as-art.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812049/math-as-art.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:51:00 +0000 toomanytribbles tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-29870334.post-8684257470359349683 BBC:


click pic to video and article

via io9]]>
BBC:


click pic to video and article

via io9]]>
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Pastor is arrested in sexual assaults http://mojoey.blogspot.com/2008/09/pastor-is-arrested-in-sexual-assaults.html http://mojoey.blogspot.com/2008/09/pastor-is-arrested-in-sexual-assaults.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:45:00 +0000 Mojoey tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6939571.post-2388590138807438119 Pastor George C. Benbow was arrested for sexual assault. He was lead from his parish in handcuffs after being charged with abusing four young girls.  The abuse started when the girls were as young as eight. Benbow is a longtime pastor and political activist. He started the Christian Fellowship Gospel Church in 1981. Apparently, his entire life has been a lie.

I'll leave you with this cheerful thought, there may be more victims.

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Financial Meltdown: Math & The Myth Of Fiscal Responsibility http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/ThoughtTheater/~3/396917578/financial_meltdown_math_the_myth_of_fiscal_respons.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/ThoughtTheater/~3/396917578/financial_meltdown_math_the_myth_of_fiscal_respons.php#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:37:42 +0000 Daniel DiRito tag:www.thoughttheater.com,2008://1.1685 Meltdown.jpg

While the details haven't been disclosed, it appears that the powers that be are considering a plan to bail out Wall Street...in a big way...on the backs of the American taxpayer. Troubling as this sounds, it may be the only viable solution. Regardless of the eventual solution, one thing is clear, the losses will be large.

I want to focus on an analysis of the aftermath and the philosophy that led us to this point. I want to do so because I lived through the Savings & Loan scandal and I've been convinced for more than two years that the housing bubble, the artificially low interest rates, the lack of proper oversight, and the associated paper "equity" borrowing it fueled would lead to this type of meltdown.

Having established this backdrop, I want to make the case for driving a stake through the heart of trickle down economics, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the meme that the "tax and spend" Democrats are fiscally irresponsible.

Here's the deal. The existence of large sums of money in the U.S. economy is a given...it has always been there and it will likely continue to be there (though eight years of GOP malfeasance will make digging out from under the enormous debt a formidable obstacle). With that said, we must begin to consider politics and the inevitable debate about what we will do with the money.

By and large, the party that succeeds in holding power and driving public sentiment gets to decide where the money goes. Without a doubt, the GOP has won this battle for the better part of the last thirty years. In doing so, they have succeeded in attaching the "tax and spend" label to the Democrats...driven primarily by highlighting the Democrats desire to fund and insure existing safety net programs (Social security, Medicare, Welfare, and Unemployment benefits...as well as expand others (Healthcare).

At the same time, the GOP has chosen to foster an economic structure that is weighted towards large corporations and the wealthy. Part and parcel of this approach has been the undermining of labor unions, the refusal to increase minimum wages, the willingness to ignore the huge number of uninsured, allowing the influx of illegals to provide cheap labor, and a willingness to accept the growing divide between the haves and the have nots.

So let's step back for a moment to the S & L scandal (the late 80's, early 90's)...the last instance when profits were privatized and losses were socialized. Rampant real estate speculation and a lack of regulation of the financial industry made a number of investors very wealthy while saddling taxpayers with approximately 123 billion dollars of debt. As an aside, it should be noted that numerous investors were building commercial properties and apartments with no intention of ever managing them...they were simply milking the unregulated financial system.

Now let's take a look at the GOP's objections to any form of universal healthcare put forth by the Democrats. The argument suggests that it would cost anywhere from 60 to 100 billion dollars annually. At the same time, it must be noted that the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 have been projected to cost 2.5 trillion dollars over ten years...and we're also spending approximately 120 billion dollars annually on the war in Iraq. As to the costs of the current Wall Street bail out, it's difficult to determine the damages. For the sake of this argument, I'm going to estimate that the final tally will approach a trillion dollars.

Now lets calculate the total dollars these items represent. If we assume that only half of the tax cuts were unwarranted (they went to the very wealthy), we have 1.25 trillion. Let's add in 600 billion for five years of the Iraq war (we're being conservative). That leaves the 120 billion lost on the S & L scandal and the trillion dollars we're assuming will be lost on the Wall Street meltdown. Taken together, this totals just under three trillion dollars.

OK, now lets see how many years have passed since the S & L scandal. We'll use 1985 as our start date (again we're being conservative), which equates with 23 years. For this exercise, we'll go ahead and round that to 25 years.

If we take our 25 years and assume it would have cost 100 billion dollars per year to fund universal healthcare, that brings us to a total of 2.5 trillion dollars. Note that the use of 100 billion per year is also an extremely conservative number as it would have been far cheaper to provide in the earlier years.

As you can see by a simple review of the numbers, we had enough money to fund universal healthcare for the last 25 years...with nearly a half trillion dollars to spare. Unfortunately, we didn't have universal healthcare. Instead, those of us that have had healthcare insurance, paid for it for 25 years...and we also received a meager tax cut for the last seven years. If you look at the total dollars the average family received in tax cuts for these seven years, I suspect one would be lucky if it would have paid for three or four years of healthcare insurance (we're completely ignoring the deductibles and copayments).

So if we look at the rhetoric of the GOP for the last 25 years, they want us to believe that any consideration of universal healthcare would have been irresponsible. They've repeatedly told us that the Democrats would raise taxes and spend money we didn't have...on programs we couldn't possibly afford.

However, if we look at the numbers above, the only thing we received for supporting this philosophy for managing our government's finances (our money), was minimal tax cuts...promised nearly every election cycle (surprise, surprise?). At the same time, those in charge squandered three trillion dollars of our money on tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, an unwarranted war, and two episodes of enabling unregulated and painful financial disasters.

In the end, you can slice it any way you like...but you can't disregard the fact that the money was there to provide universal health care...or any number of other programs designed to benefit all Americans. In the interest of being fair, all of the blame can't be placed on the GOP, since the Democrats went along with many of these ill-advised expenditures...or the policies that enabled them.

Regardless, it's also true that the Democrats frequently did so because voter sentiment demanded it. In other words, voters bought into the rhetoric that the GOP would let us keep more of our money and the Democrats would undoubtedly take more of it away from us. Since we know that all politicians cater to the whims of voters in the hopes of winning elections, it's no wonder the Democrats have acquiesced and appeared amazingly weak. They've been on the wrong side of the argument and they've failed to convince voters otherwise.

That brings us to where we now stand. If we voters fail to recognize what has happened in the last 25 years as a result of enabling the rhetoric and the policies of the GOP, we do so at our own peril. It's time for us to demand that our money be spent on programs that serve the greater good; not the ones that line the pockets of the greedy and the wealthy. The money is there...it has always been there...it's time we elect politicians that have the interests of all Americans at heart...politicians who will be honest stewards and spend our money wisely.

If we don't, let me be the first to predict the next financial scandal. Unless we choose a different course, it will invariably happen as soon our memory of the last one fades and we resume our role as gullible voters who settle for false promises and paltry tax cuts. Rest assured, once the coast is clear, the greedy will gladly step in and bust the bank again...while their bullshitting benefactors turn a blind eye.

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thank you… he needed that. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812050/thank-you-he-needed-that.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812050/thank-you-he-needed-that.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:36:00 +0000 toomanytribbles tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-29870334.post-3395898937289137927
via respectful insolence]]>

via respectful insolence]]>
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Sarah Palin Wins Rubber Dodo Award http://friendlyatheist.com/4663/sarah-palin-wins-rubber-dodo-award/ http://friendlyatheist.com/4663/sarah-palin-wins-rubber-dodo-award/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:07:25 +0000 Hemant Mehta http://friendlyatheist.com/?p=4663 I’ll admit it.

I completely misread that headline the first time I saw it.

But the Center for Biological Diversity has awarded Sarah Palin their Second Annual Rubber Dodo Award:

Here’s the money quotation from the director:

“Governor Palin has waged a deceptive, dangerous, and costly battle against the polar bear,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Her position on global warming is so extreme, she makes Dick Cheney look like an Al Gore devotee.”

Congratulations to Palin.

I think.

(Thanks to Pamela for the link!)

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RD banned in turkey http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812051/rd-banned-in-turkey.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396812051/rd-banned-in-turkey.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:02:00 +0000 toomanytribbles tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-29870334.post-7364362705621369943 monsters and critics:

'ankara - turkish internet users have been blocked via a court order from accessing the site of prominent british biologist richard dawkins after complaints from lawyers for islamic creationist author adnan oktar, the website of turkish television station ntv reported on wednesday.

a court in istanbul ordered that turk telekom block access to the site and since the weekend turkish internet users seeking the site have been redirected to a page that says in turkish 'access to this site has been suspended in accordance with a court decision'.

ntv reported that oktar complained he and his creationist book 'atlas of creation' had been defamed by comments made by dawkins on the site.

'i am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content,' dawkins, a distinguished advocate of the theory of evolution, wrote on his website in july referring to the atlas of creation.

the book has caused controversy not just through its advocation of creationism but also through how thousands of copies of book were distributed to schools in a number of european countries.

oktar has used the turkish courts on a number of occasions, the latest being earlier this year when he attempted to have dawkins' book the god delusion banned in turkey on the basis that it was insulting religion but a turkish court threw the case out.

in august 2007, oktar, who writes under the pen name harun yahya, convinced a turkish court to block access to millions of web blogs using the wordpress.com hosting service after finding that a number of blogs carried libellous comments.

in may, oktar was found guilty of creating an illegal organization for personal gain and sentenced to three years imprisonment. he is appealing the decision.'

obviously via RD.

commentator chris davis offered the precious 'ah! website banning - the new book-burning!'.

spot on.





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monsters and critics:

'ankara - turkish internet users have been blocked via a court order from accessing the site of prominent british biologist richard dawkins after complaints from lawyers for islamic creationist author adnan oktar, the website of turkish television station ntv reported on wednesday.

a court in istanbul ordered that turk telekom block access to the site and since the weekend turkish internet users seeking the site have been redirected to a page that says in turkish 'access to this site has been suspended in accordance with a court decision'.

ntv reported that oktar complained he and his creationist book 'atlas of creation' had been defamed by comments made by dawkins on the site.

'i am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content,' dawkins, a distinguished advocate of the theory of evolution, wrote on his website in july referring to the atlas of creation.

the book has caused controversy not just through its advocation of creationism but also through how thousands of copies of book were distributed to schools in a number of european countries.

oktar has used the turkish courts on a number of occasions, the latest being earlier this year when he attempted to have dawkins' book the god delusion banned in turkey on the basis that it was insulting religion but a turkish court threw the case out.

in august 2007, oktar, who writes under the pen name harun yahya, convinced a turkish court to block access to millions of web blogs using the wordpress.com hosting service after finding that a number of blogs carried libellous comments.

in may, oktar was found guilty of creating an illegal organization for personal gain and sentenced to three years imprisonment. he is appealing the decision.'

obviously via RD.

commentator chris davis offered the precious 'ah! website banning - the new book-burning!'.

spot on.





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Types of Regulations http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2008/09/types-of-regulations.html http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2008/09/types-of-regulations.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:46:00 +0000 Alonzo Fyfe tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-16594468.post-4947107936586689559 In the midst of this breakdown of several financial companies, there is a debate going on about the merits of regulation.

Democrats are claiming that the current problem is caused by the Republican philosophy of deregulation, allowing the participants in the financial markets to do whatever they please, where what they pleased. What they pleased was the cause of this crisis. And, in the midst of this crisis, they are not the ones who are suffering for their mistakes. Certainly, if they had benefitted, they would have been able to pocket all the profits. But, in the wake of losses, those losses go to us. We get to bail them out.

Think of all of the regular people who have lost a family business who could not appeal to the government for a bailout, or leave with a $50 million “golden parachute” after mismanaging the company to such a degree.

However, there is a case to be made against a culture of regulation. Whenever regulations get written, you can count on there being a group of people who will follow that bill in minute detail, hire lobbyists, make phone calls, and manipulate public opinion so as to manipulate that regulation. If there is some twist of wording in a regulation that will put millions of dollars in somebody’s pocket, or prevent the loss of a million of dollars out of somebody’s pocket, that person will have reason to invest hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars to manipulate that legislation.

However, you and I are not going to gain or lose millions of dollars as a result of some twist of wording. So, while those with a great deal to gain or lose will hire lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations firms to get their desires written into that legislation, most of us will not even know that the legislation is being debated. As a result, the legislation will serve the purpose of putting millions of dollars into the pockets of the very rich, or prevent them from losing millions of dollars.

In fact, as we watch this situation in the financial industry unfold, what do we see? The people in charge – the people with the money, are making millions of dollars. The current state of regulation is one that protects the wealth of the very rich, and with all of this financial turmoil we do not hear of the very rich being put at risk. This is the effect of regulation, and the reason why many Republicans are opposed to the practice (in theory).

On the issue of regulation, I want to get past the idea that all regulation is bad.

Every criminal law is, in a sense, a regulation. For example, the hit-man industry is heavily regulated; virtually regulated out of existence. We could, of course, have an unregulated hit-man industry – one that is regulated by the market. In this system, anybody who has an objection to the fact that a company employs hit-men by simply boycotting their products or . . . well, by supporting businesses that do not use hit-men and boycotting businesses that do. Giving people the liberty to express their opinions through the market means that we do not need any government regulation of the hit-man industry.

Of course, capitalism does not allow for a hit-man industry. Capitalism imposes certain limits on what one person may do to another. Free trade includes, in part, a prohibition on such things as murder, theft, fraud, and the like.

These are regulations

These "rights to life, liberty, and property" are regulations – a set of rules determining who can do what to whom under what circumstances.

So, the question is not whether to have regulations or not. The question is over what set of regulation works best.

This defeats the line we tend to hear from the Republican camp that all regulation must be prohibited because any set of regulations will become corrupted by special-interests. We are going to have a set of regulations. If sets of regulations are bound to be corrupted by special interest, then corruption by special interest is unavoidable. It is not a reason to select one option and reject another. The option to be rejected does not exist. It is, instead, a background condition that we have to live with and find some way to avoid.

We can perhaps make some progress by distinguishing between two types of regulations.

Regulation to Enforce Rights

One type of regulation is the prohibition on doing harm to others. In just the same way that one is prohibited from hiring a hit man to kill a competitor's leading salesman as a way of improving the bottom line, businesses are prohibited from poisoning others to improve the bottom line. However, this includes prohibitions on poisoning the air that others breathe or poisoning their drinking water.

There are regulations that prohibit a person from simply destroying somebody else's property because one wants something that will allow them prohibitions on simply destroying somebody’s property because one can make a profit by doing so. Similarly, we have reason to impose regulations on those industries that contribute to global warming or ozone depletion or other outcomes that have the effect of destroying somebody else's property. It is not a legitimate defense to say that these regulations cut into their profits, because the regulation against bull-dozing somebody’s house at will also might cut into profits.

There are regulations that prohibit fraud or other acts of deception. It would be considered fraud to sell somebody a car that does not run under any circumstances in which the recipient had reason to expect that it would run. It also counts as fraud to sell somebody a mortgage under conditions that the recipient does not understand – where the recipient reasonably expects one outcome while the mortgage contract says something entirely different.

And it is not enough to say that, as a protection against fraud, it is sufficient to put the terms and conditions in the fine print of some disclaimer that the recipient signs. Most of you who are reading this blog have installed software. You have gotten to the page with all of the legaleze describing the terms of use or some other set of concerns. You have signed that you have read and understood (or at least accepted) those terms and conditions without having any idea what they said.

The call for deregulation is all too often a call to remove these types of restrictions. It is a call to allow a business to kill others by poisoning the air and water. It is a call to allow a business to destroy the property of others through the effects (e.g., global warming) of its practices. It is a call to allow businesses to engage in all sorts of fraud to get money from people by selling them things with fine print that no mortal could possibly understand, and with the knowledge that it is not cost-effective (in the face of ignorance) to go over such agreements in detail.

Many of the bad mortgages sold to people in the last several years would count as fraud. People did not understand what they were getting into and the banks knew it. But the banks did not care that their customers had false beliefs about the product they were selling, as long as the bank got the customer’s money.

Regulation that Violates Rights

These forms of regulation – prohibitions on killing others, destroying their property, or defrauding them – are to be contrasted with regulations whose purpose is to redistribute wealth. These are the regulations where a business says, "Tax every household in the country by one dollar. This will be too little for them to pay any attention to. That will generate $125 million in revenue. Keep $25 million for the government, give us $100 million, and we will make sure that there is something in your campaign bank account the next time you run for office." Those campaign contributions are, in effect, kick-backs for the hundred million dollars in benefits the company gets from the new regulation.

These types of regulations, we have many and good reasons to want to stop.

These are the types of regulations that we have good reason to reject to – and good reason to vote for politicians who will eliminate them.

It does not change the fact that there are good regulations – regulations against killing others (even by poisoning the air they breathe and the water they drink), regulations against destroying their property (through the corrosive or destructive effects of one's actions), and regulations against fraud (or business practices that are so deceptive they count as fraud).

Nor does it change the fact that if somebody has found a way to make millions of dollars by acts that kill others, destroy their property, or that require fraud, that they have a tremendous incentive to convince the legislators to allow them to perform those activities.

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Mercy Ministries and Mick Huckabee http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SeanTheBlogonaut/~3/396720072/mercy-ministries-and-mick-huckabee.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SeanTheBlogonaut/~3/396720072/mercy-ministries-and-mick-huckabee.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:35:00 +0000 Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3996104127249252967.post-898324751644847249 images In an interesting side note it appears that Nancy Alcorn President of Mercy Ministries contributed to the campaign of failed nominee Mike Huckabee.  Now whether this was her own money I am not sure.  As a private citizen I don't have a problem with it. 

If it's on behalf of Mercy ministries it's a bit odd and slightly sinister.  Remember that Mercy in the US at least does not take any government funding.  No government funding means no government oversight( or at  least it used to, with faith initiatives it sounds like a free ride for the religious). 

It seems odd also that a service such as Mercy could afford to donate even a small amount to a political party.

Would anyone think it odd the Salvation army contributing to Liberals in the next election?

Thanks to Anonymous John? for this link

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images In an interesting side note it appears that Nancy Alcorn President of Mercy Ministries contributed to the campaign of failed nominee Mike Huckabee.  Now whether this was her own money I am not sure.  As a private citizen I don't have a problem with it. 

If it's on behalf of Mercy ministries it's a bit odd and slightly sinister.  Remember that Mercy in the US at least does not take any government funding.  No government funding means no government oversight( or at  least it used to, with faith initiatives it sounds like a free ride for the religious). 

It seems odd also that a service such as Mercy could afford to donate even a small amount to a political party.

Would anyone think it odd the Salvation army contributing to Liberals in the next election?

Thanks to Anonymous John? for this link

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Sarah Palin on Dickipedia http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com/2008/09/sarah-palin-on-dickipedia.html http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com/2008/09/sarah-palin-on-dickipedia.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:09:00 +0000 Brian tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3122805359488015007.post-3502761719297894277 I've just discovered the wonderful world of Dickipedia with this hilarious entry on Sarah Palin:

Sarah Louise Heath Palin (born February 11, 1964) is the current governor of Alaska, Republican vice presidential candidate, a compulsive breeder, and a major lady dick.

The only thing Sarah Palin seems to enjoy more than having children is giving those children ridiculous names and inadequate sex education.

.....

In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant, a feat that sounds a lot more impressive than it is unless you’ve ever met a girl from Wasilla, few of whom have either a full set of teeth or a vacant womb. She then finished runner up in the Miss Alaska pageant, a feat that sounds a lot more impressive than it is considering the state is nearly 75% male.

After attending Hawaii Pacific University for a semester—apparently it wasn’t enough of a party school for her—Palin transferred to North Idaho College and then University of Idaho. In 1987, she received a BS in communications, with a minor in political science. That’s right, a poli-sci minor. VP candidate Joe Biden’s 30-plus-year career as U.S. senator pales in comparison, and anyone who says different is sexist.

.....

Also featured is a great Sarah Palin joke I hadn't heard yet: - How can you tell if Sarah Palin is cheating on you with another guy? - Earmarks.]]>
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Sacred Slut Where Are You? http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com/2008/09/sacred-slut-where-are-you.html http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com/2008/09/sacred-slut-where-are-you.html#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:09:00 +0000 Brian tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3122805359488015007.post-6661333005173735765 Anybody heard from Sacred Slut over at Whore In the Temple of Reason? I was thinking it had been a while since I noticed any posts from her show up on my GoogleReader, so I checked her blog directly and found that it is now "open to invited readers only".... and I wasn't one of them. How will I get by without my regular fix of slutty godlessness (or is that godless sluttiness?)?

The last post that shows up in the Planet Atheism archives is from August 26th and she doesn't mention any plans to change her blog. Personally I can't see the point of blogging if people can't read it. After all, isn't that the point?

Just curious about what happened if anybody knows.]]>
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Christian Political Fundraiser — does it reflect Christian values? http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-happened-to-aunt-jemima.html http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-happened-to-aunt-jemima.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:57:00 +0000 The E O tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-21559883.post-6712001011035755426

It started out a fundraising item for some right wingnuts (including Focus on the Family and American Values)... and now it has it's own profit making site. It's Obama waffles, a package of waffle mix with Obama caricatured with thick lips and popping eyes: stereotypes of blacks we haven't seen for years. The top of the box features Obama in a turban.


The Obama camp isn't being baited though, they refuse to comment, once again showing that Obama would rather stick to the issues than play the kind of childish mud-slinging games the right is engaging in.

But that doesn't mean that REAL Christians and REAL Americans can't speak up and speak out against Focus on the Family and American Values for engaging in distinctly un-Christian behaviors, including, but not limited to, bearing false witness in the implication that Obama is Muslim. Unless, of course, slander and prejudice are values Focus on the Family and American Values espouse.]]>
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Bad Science and Elections http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/org/oRwC/~3/396642010/ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/org/oRwC/~3/396642010/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:48:13 +0000 TW http://www.whydontyou.org.uk/blog/?p=1863 Now, I am sure every one knows that New Scientist is “pop science” - scientific news processed for laymen. In general this is great as is gives people an insight into the wonders of science without the tedium of years studying. Peer review is great, but only in its place. New Scientist is not the place.

Sometimes, this causes problems.

In this weeks issue, there is an article titled “Read my lips… and my voice, and my face” (online version titled “Software spots the spin in political speeches“) which is (at best) bad science being used for electioneering purposes. On the surface this is nothing more than the old idea that you can tell when people are lying by their gestures and use of language. This is a subject close to my heart and generally falls foul of the greatest of problems - it is sort of true. Body language, eye access, word selection and the like can give you an indicator of lies (for example) but only in the broader context of the persons behaviour.

Take the often cited example of people rubbing their nose when they lie. Yes, some people do this. But most of the time it means the person has an itchy nose and nothing else. The same with eye-access (as highlighted in The Negotiator), but the problem is people are different - not everyone looks the exact same way. Language choice is possibly the worst indicator as this is dictated by your background, education and the like. Simply put, there is no easy way you can use this information as a reliable indicator of deception or misdirection. You need to study the person in a variety of controlled circumstances and build up a pattern of their behaviour.

With this in mind, we can return to the New Scientist article. It seems someone has come up with an automated way of monitoring the terminology used, the voice and the facial expressions of politicians to measure how much “spin” there is in their speeches. Amazingly this has not resulted in 100% returns each time. This is how it is described:

The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - “I” tends to indicate less spin than “we”, for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as “go” and “going”, and negatively charged words, such as “hate” and “enemy”, also indicate greater levels of spin. Skillicorn had his software tackle a database of 150 speeches from politicians involved in the 2008 US election race (see diagram).

Now, this strikes me as inherently flawed given that politicians have their speeches written for them by teams of “experts” (who are more than capable of concluding which words mean which things), and are nearly always well coached in delivering them in a manner to “stir” the audience. It strikes me that adding an arbitrary judgement as to what is, or is not, spin gives nothing that even resembles science. In an attempt to dismiss this, Skillicorn (the systems creator) says:

Additionally, [Skillicorn] says, little details count: pronouns such as “we” and “I” are often substituted subconsciously, no matter what is written in the script.

But you have no idea which ones are added by the script writers, which ones are subconcious and you certainly still haven’t proven that using “we” means there is a lot of “spin” in the speech. We still don’t really know what “spin” is - is it a good or bad thing?

The “Headline” results of this study are that Obama’s campaign has more spin than any of the other politicians (+6.7, where 0 is average for a politician) while McCain’s campaign had the lowest (-7.58). It states this supports McCain’s claim to being a “straight talker” (*cough*) and on the surface looks like it is a Republican Political Campaign masquerading as Science. In the articles defence, there is some balance:

So the analysis appears to back up McCain’s claim that he is a “straight talker”. However, for the purposes of political speech-making this may not be an entirely good thing for him. “Obama uses spin in his speeches very well,” says Skillicorn. For example, Obama’s spin level skyrockets when facing problems in the press, such as when Jeremiah Wright, the reverend of his former church, made controversial comments to the press.

Great from a science point of view. We would like to think that the readers of New Scientist are able to accept the idea that spin is a positive force for a politican.

However (and this is supported by a quick scan of the printed media that have picked up on this), the general population are not. We have been indoctrinated by decades of thinking politicians spin is an inherently bad thing. This article has generated several headlines in the free media about Obama being full of spin and McCain being straight talking. Both can translate into political capital. Shame on the New Scientist.

One funny bit which never quite made it into the free-papers is this nugget:

“The voice analysis profile for McCain looks very much like someone who is clinically depressed,” says Pollermann, a psychologist who uses voice analysis software in her work with patients. Previous research on mirror neurons has shown that listening to depressed voices can make others feel depressed themselves, she says.

Well, that pretty much summed up the effect his speeches have on me.

It is during the US Presidential elections that I thank Loki I live in the UK….

]]>
Now, I am sure every one knows that New Scientist is “pop science” - scientific news processed for laymen. In general this is great as is gives people an insight into the wonders of science without the tedium of years studying. Peer review is great, but only in its place. New Scientist is not the place.

Sometimes, this causes problems.

In this weeks issue, there is an article titled “Read my lips… and my voice, and my face” (online version titled “Software spots the spin in political speeches“) which is (at best) bad science being used for electioneering purposes. On the surface this is nothing more than the old idea that you can tell when people are lying by their gestures and use of language. This is a subject close to my heart and generally falls foul of the greatest of problems - it is sort of true. Body language, eye access, word selection and the like can give you an indicator of lies (for example) but only in the broader context of the persons behaviour.

Take the often cited example of people rubbing their nose when they lie. Yes, some people do this. But most of the time it means the person has an itchy nose and nothing else. The same with eye-access (as highlighted in The Negotiator), but the problem is people are different - not everyone looks the exact same way. Language choice is possibly the worst indicator as this is dictated by your background, education and the like. Simply put, there is no easy way you can use this information as a reliable indicator of deception or misdirection. You need to study the person in a variety of controlled circumstances and build up a pattern of their behaviour.

With this in mind, we can return to the New Scientist article. It seems someone has come up with an automated way of monitoring the terminology used, the voice and the facial expressions of politicians to measure how much “spin” there is in their speeches. Amazingly this has not resulted in 100% returns each time. This is how it is described:

The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns - “I” tends to indicate less spin than “we”, for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as “go” and “going”, and negatively charged words, such as “hate” and “enemy”, also indicate greater levels of spin. Skillicorn had his software tackle a database of 150 speeches from politicians involved in the 2008 US election race (see diagram).

Now, this strikes me as inherently flawed given that politicians have their speeches written for them by teams of “experts” (who are more than capable of concluding which words mean which things), and are nearly always well coached in delivering them in a manner to “stir” the audience. It strikes me that adding an arbitrary judgement as to what is, or is not, spin gives nothing that even resembles science. In an attempt to dismiss this, Skillicorn (the systems creator) says:

Additionally, [Skillicorn] says, little details count: pronouns such as “we” and “I” are often substituted subconsciously, no matter what is written in the script.

But you have no idea which ones are added by the script writers, which ones are subconcious and you certainly still haven’t proven that using “we” means there is a lot of “spin” in the speech. We still don’t really know what “spin” is - is it a good or bad thing?

The “Headline” results of this study are that Obama’s campaign has more spin than any of the other politicians (+6.7, where 0 is average for a politician) while McCain’s campaign had the lowest (-7.58). It states this supports McCain’s claim to being a “straight talker” (*cough*) and on the surface looks like it is a Republican Political Campaign masquerading as Science. In the articles defence, there is some balance:

So the analysis appears to back up McCain’s claim that he is a “straight talker”. However, for the purposes of political speech-making this may not be an entirely good thing for him. “Obama uses spin in his speeches very well,” says Skillicorn. For example, Obama’s spin level skyrockets when facing problems in the press, such as when Jeremiah Wright, the reverend of his former church, made controversial comments to the press.

Great from a science point of view. We would like to think that the readers of New Scientist are able to accept the idea that spin is a positive force for a politican.

However (and this is supported by a quick scan of the printed media that have picked up on this), the general population are not. We have been indoctrinated by decades of thinking politicians spin is an inherently bad thing. This article has generated several headlines in the free media about Obama being full of spin and McCain being straight talking. Both can translate into political capital. Shame on the New Scientist.

One funny bit which never quite made it into the free-papers is this nugget:

“The voice analysis profile for McCain looks very much like someone who is clinically depressed,” says Pollermann, a psychologist who uses voice analysis software in her work with patients. Previous research on mirror neurons has shown that listening to depressed voices can make others feel depressed themselves, she says.

Well, that pretty much summed up the effect his speeches have on me.

It is during the US Presidential elections that I thank Loki I live in the UK….

]]>
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Smoking Ban http://franksblog.hoferfamily.org/2008/09/18/smoking-ban/ http://franksblog.hoferfamily.org/2008/09/18/smoking-ban/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:32:12 +0000 frank http://franksblog.hoferfamily.org/2008/09/18/smoking-ban/ We’re not even this militantly anti-smoking here in California:

Ugandan killed for smoking in bar

Ugandan officials have expressed shock after a mob killed a man who
refused to stop smoking in a public bar.

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What kind of pirate am I? http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-kind-of-pirate-am-i.html http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-kind-of-pirate-am-i.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:17:00 +0000 The E O tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-21559883.post-6550572863786477996 some kind of pirate before then, but only you can decide!

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

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Unbelievable http://possummomma.blogspot.com/2008/09/unbelievable.html http://possummomma.blogspot.com/2008/09/unbelievable.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:14:00 +0000 The E O tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-33025305.post-6971609592929999895 read this. It's time for evangelical, fundamentalist bullies to stop.

_uacct = "UA-2944228-1";
urchinTracker();


I'll try to summarize what's going on. MW is the administrator of a very popular blog related to the Atheist Community of Austin's public access show (Atheist Experience). A while back, he read a piece written by a FDB (Fundamental Douche' Bag) regarging a claim of having the "Logical Proof for the Existence of God". Of course, the piece didn't accomplish it's claims. Instead, it's one logcial fallacy after another and I'm pretty sure P3 could take this guy in a debate. It's not just that the premise is sort of laughable...it's that his logic sucks. Of course, the problem with people who can't grasp logic in a paper is that they usually can't grasp logic in life. MW took it apart piece-by-piece on the AE blog.

FDB discovered MW's post. To say he was pissed was putting it mildly. (Note: When will fundamentalist christians understand that screaming about a contrary review only proves that they have no grasp of the scientific method or logical discourse?) FDB starts spamming the blogsophere, crying foul! He even stoops to the level of sock puppeting his own opinion piece articles in a newspaper. Then, when MW will not be bullied or badgered...he goes to wikipedia (allegedly) and starts falsely manipulating and editing MW's wiki entry. When he's caught, because of the fact that he doesn't understand what "IP" is, he freaks. Now, forget the fact that, by now, he's completely screwed with someone who did nothing more than review his paper. Forget the fact that he has called MW a pedophile and all matter of horrible claims. This week, FDB has his attorney send a "cease and desist" letter to MW. Oh yeah! Despite the fact that FDB is completely responsible for his internet credibility at this point...he sics his lawyer on MW.
It's bull. If you go to the very first link and scroll down, then you'll see how much bull it is.

Here's the thing- MW has decided he's going to flip the situation. He has contacted an attorney to find out about seeking a judgement against FDB. I fully support this. I may be overly emotional about this, but I'm sick and tired of people shitting all over atheists and then claiming that they were either a) justified or b) "didn't REALLY do anything."

MW could use some help. I won't say how. If you want to go read his post and contribute to his cause, then that's great. If you do not want to or can't, then just give him a little support/feedback here.]]>
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If Margaret Cho Preached at a Church… http://friendlyatheist.com/4648/if-margaret-cho-preached-at-a-church/ http://friendlyatheist.com/4648/if-margaret-cho-preached-at-a-church/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:00:03 +0000 Hemant Mehta http://friendlyatheist.com/?p=4648 … I might actually attend on a weekly basis.

For those unaware, Margaret Cho’s a Christian, gay-friendly comedian. Other Christians have been sending her angry emails lately for not backing Sarah Palin in the election.

So she responds to them.

(Umm… NSFW language below. Lots of NSFW language below.)

First of all — you fucking fake Christians — don’t fucking question my Christianity. I grew up in the church. My grandfather was a minister, who is with God now and talks to me in my dreams from God’s corner office. I am a former Sunday school teacher. I taught the Bible to children and showed them how to love God and invite him into their hearts. I believe in God — but I don’t fear him. God is my best friend. God is my ally. God is my boyfriend. God is my best fag. I am God’s fag hag cuz didn’t you know, God is a big fag. Serious bottom too. Butch in the streets, femme in the sheets. That is my God. God is my biggest fan. God gets me, dude.

Don’t fucking question my Christianity you fucking idiot assholes. If you continue to have a problem, then talk to God about it, not me, you fucking racist homophobic misogynist fake Christian shitheads. God thinks it is funny that I swear so much. He said I could use his name in vain or whatever. He just wants me to use it. He loves me. So fuck you. And I guess he loves you too. Even though you are fake Christian assholes. If you were truly Christians, you would let gays get married, and send them fucking presents from Bed Bath and Beyond!

If you truly believed in Jesus, you would try to be like him and love us, fags and dykes and feminists all. God bless you, even you. You fucking fuckers.

You fucking fuckers.

Also the subtitle to my next book.

(Thanks to Bjorn for the link!)

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Confessions http://www.antichristian-phenomenon.com/jorrizza/confessions http://www.antichristian-phenomenon.com/jorrizza/confessions#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 21:55:03 +0000 jorrizza http://www.antichristian-phenomenon.com/jorrizza/confessions After July’s stream of brave confessions, the time has come to publish those that have been posted on the forums. These confessions have been made by truly antichristian people with great courage. Whether this bravery is sincere is up to you to decide.

Anath faithfully confessed:

After reading Waldheri’s moving confession, I have been inspired to make one myself. I realized that I have not been the most saintly, and I need to make my peace. After all, one may not know when the time shall come! I could die in a car crash tomorrow, I want to be going to the right place.

First of all, I am deeply sorry for not knowing my rightful place in your world, lord. I know that you want me to submit to the will of my Twin, and I am sorry that I fail to see that I am weaker and a lesser being and need them to guide me. I can’t believe that my Twin and I regard each other as equals and come to mutual decisions instead of letting him, as the man, take the lead. The idea of inequality and submission based on nothing but possession or lack of penis really bothers my sense of righteousness and justice, but please help me overcome that hurdle and accept what you decree.

Lord, it follows that I have also committed another travesty in a similar vein — working towards a career instead of a family. I apologize whole-heartedly for not resigning to the fate of a baby-factory, and instead hoping for greatness myself, and as a result being blasphemous and irresponsible in my choice to use multiple birth control methods during intercourse and attend college for a degree. It is not my place to hope for employment instead of attending to my holy duties of the laundry and cooking and cleaning and driving a minivan to soccer practice and being pregnant, and I hope I can be forgiven as I cast aside my dreams and desires to live according to Your teachings.

It is also to my great displeasure that I confess to the heinous sin of cross-dressing, every day. While I have found that man’s pants have amazing pocket room in which I can put not only my cell phone but pencils and erasers and keys and a wallet and even the average-sized paperback so I don’t have to carry a moronic purse, the only all-black athletic sneakers on the market are also men’s, and men’s dress shirts make awesome overshirts in mid-temperature weather, I understand now that choosing my own clothing is abhorrent in your eyes, and I humbly repent.

I am also sorry that I have made friends with such dogs as homosexuals and bisexuals, accepting them as equal human beings and supporting their sexual choices, as well as encourage my other female friends not to follow your Holy Way, relying on a male for support, but to be independent human beings. I have also made great acquaintances with atheists, agnostics, satanists, pagans and the irreligious and see nothing wrong with them or their beliefs (or lack of), and have not wished to turn them to Your light.

Lord, I must also confess that I am a philosopher. Not a theologian-philospher in your employ, but a free-thinking existentialist informed by nihilism and other blasphemous philosophies which are combined into a worldview that does not require any sort of God. Now that I see you for what you are, I must confess the fallacy in my ways. In no way can a man make his own destiny or choose his own person! In no way is subjectivity the base of everything but rather objectivity of YOU is reality! Man can not form his own morality and concepts of ethics! Everything finds its meaning in You! Nietzsche is Dead! God is Alive!

I must also confess that I am a scientist. I believe the dogmas of evolution, quantum mechanics, and genetics, I believe in the scientific method, and require verifiable evidence while rejecting the pseudoscientific conjecture that is Christian Science and Intelligent Design. I realize now that all of my “knowledge” was not really true but rather a mere “belief” and just theories, and I beg of you to please cleanse me of these evils and allow me to learn anew the truth with the instrument of your knowledge that is the Bible!

I also confess that I have not read your Holy Bible properly. I have been reading it as literature and folk lore of an ancient culture, not as Your infallible Word, still fully applicable and relevant today. I have been repulsed by much of what is written there when I should have been singing your praises and glory. I also do not pray to you, Lord. I have discovered prayer to be a self-fulfilling cyclical delusion with the occasional placebo effect and rejected its use, even at the dinner table with family.

I have also disobeyed my parents, and spoken back to my elders, and challenged authority. I have not kept the Sabbath holy and do not attend church. I do not accept the concept of the Trinity, venerate the saints, or believe that you died on the cross for my sins because there is no Original Sin to be saved from. I do not love my neighbor and I do not turn the other cheek when deeply wronged. There is much more for me to confess to you, my Lord… but as the all knowing and wise being you are, you know it all already. Please forgive me… I know not what I do.

Short after jorrizza had this to say:

I am sorry Lord, for I have sinned. I regret my choices and I will do anything in my power, with your blessing, to find my way back onto the blessed path.

It all started in my childhood, Lord. My parents, friends and family all tried to teach me the gospel. But I would not listen. All the biblical miracles were laid down in front of me. The great flood, the cursed people of Egypt, the massacres of the unfaithful. All of this evidence and I still did not want to listen. I am sorry Lord, for I have lost faith at a young age.

I blatantly misinterpreted your holy message, and soon after started campaigning against it. I have kept people who were close to me out of the church, kept them from hearing your divine message. I have been an obstacle in many righteous paths. Keeping them from finding true salvation in your hands, Lord. During this campaign my own path got separated more and more from your intended direction. I have lost sight of the light and headed towards the darkness. But I see now Lord, that you have never lost sight of me, for I can clearly see the light now.

A few years ago my campaign lead me to the end point. I had reached full darkness. My soul belonged to the devil Lucifer. Oh, I long for the opportunity to go back in time to correct that mistake. I have joined a group of sinful people who seek their salvation in your arch rival Satan. I had it all backwards. I called myself god in my position as servant to you, Lord.

I indulged in several lustful activities. I repulse myself thinking of laying with women who were neither my wife nor my servant. Every day I have committed one of the worst sins, oh Lord. I have laid my eyes upon other women with these activities in mind. I was convinced it was natural. But it was just foolish of me to assume so, for your law clearly prohibits this sinful behavior.

Every time I saw a man who had achieved more in his life, drove a nicer car, had more knowledge or had a higher social status, I envied him. It motivated me to achieve at least what that man had achieved. It was selfish and sinful to even think I should achieve anything in my life, Lord. I see that now. Serving you as my Lord and Savior should be the only goal in my life. I wish you could give me some hints about how to survive a life of faith.

I am sorry for allowing all kinds of people in my house. Atheists, Muslims, Satanists, Pantheists, Wiccans, Pagans, whores and even homosexuals. I did not hold any grudge against them. Thanks to your divine blessing of the gospel I will send these false prophets straight to Hell, in your name, before letting them step into my quarters.

Many more sins I have committed, Lord. You have witnessed one of your children stray from his path. I thank you, Lord, for bringing me back to where I belong. Thank you for sending the Christian voice to the ACP through your divine servants.

LeaTelamon couldn’t be left behind in the darkness and repented:

Oh Lord, I have committed a great Sin, one which does not ever make me a Christian, and for that I hope for Your Great Forgiveness. All throughout my life, I have felt that there is something which is amiss with me, something which made me not feel comfortable with the gender I was born with. I understand now my Lord that it was wrong denying what You intended me to be, which is of course, how silly of me, a woman. I refused to understand why I should be weaker than anyone else, I admit my Lord, I wanted to be a man and I envied men for being men. Not only does it make me break one of the Ten Commandments, but it also made me question my own gender, although I now realize, that I was never supposed to be a man. Lord, I ask You for Forgiveness, because in my mind, I still would prefer to be a man, please understand this great human fallacy in me. I am struggling every day to accept the one You intended me to be, which is a woman, one who should stay home, one who cooks, one who cleans, give birth to children and marry another man. I find it very hard Lord, that you put me through this arduous task, because I am not interested in any of those things my Lord. I have always thought that I was free to choose who I wanted to be, because that is how my parents raised me. I now understand the errors of my ways my Lord, but does my Sinful thoughts make me a homosexual? Do I even have the Right to still Pray for Forgiveness? Please answer me my Lord, because I have now found the right path but now I am not sure whether it is too late. If it is, then I will accept the Damnation awaiting before me at Judgement Day. Please help me cast out the Sin in me and accept me as a human being. I promise to never commit any Sins ever again.

More Antichristianity: Confession | My confession | The real Trinity: Fear, Blind following and Ignorance
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Alex Palazzo Is in Toronto http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/alex-palazzo-is-in-toronto.html http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/alex-palazzo-is-in-toronto.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 21:15:00 +0000 Larry Moran tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-37148773.post-956482937635134487 http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/alex-palazzo-is-in-toronto.html/feed/ Imaginary Friend - An Atheist Thriller http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheAtheistBlogger/~3/396568727/ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheAtheistBlogger/~3/396568727/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 21:04:45 +0000 Adrian Hayter http://atheistblogger.com/?p=616 Law professor Douglas Whaley has written a book which he describes as an “atheist thriller”. He was kind enough to send me the following synopsis and information.

Franklin Whitestone, a lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, is trapped in the rubble of the Ohio State football stadium when a Muslim terrorist sets off a bomb. During the rescue Franklin becomes a hero by holding onto a girder while allowing over 50 people to escape. This is  captured on television, and is the one bright spot in the what becomes known as  “9/11 Two.”  Franklin is flown to New York City for an appearance on the Jimmy Ball Show (the equivalent to the Larry King program). Accompanying him to NYC is his significant other, Kelly Keyfold, and since the two of them are the guests of the tv show, they dine at a fancy restaurant where Kelly insists on a bottle of wine, telling Franklin it would be good for his nerves to have one glass himself. He does this, but at some point during the meal a  waiter refills his goblet, and so he drinks two glasses of wine. At the studio, Franklin is shown into the green room, where the first guest on the Jimmy Ball Show, a rummy comedian, offers him a drink from a flask. Franklin at first refuses, but, unused to national tv and shaken to his very core, he finally takes another sip. Of course, this proves unwise.

When Franklin goes on the air, the video clip of his heroics is shown and applauded, and then he and the host answer call-in questions from the live audience. One of the callers is a woman from Salt Lake City, and she asks him whether he was praying to God to give him strength during his heroics, and—his judgment clouded by alcohol—Franklin blithely says no. “God,” he tells her, “was not the solution, but the problem—belief in him is what caused the bombs to go off.” This sparks outraged calls from other viewers, and Franklin
makes some other ill-considered statements along this same unfortunate line. When asked by the host if he is an atheist, Franklin replies:

“Let me put it like this, Jimmy. When I was a child I had an imaginary friend who was with me everywhere I went, helping me out, very real to me. I loved him with all my heart. But as I got older I didn’t need that crutch anymore, and one day he just wasn’t there, nor did I miss him. As an adult I’d be embarrassed if I still needed an imaginary friend to help me run my life.”

Of course, saying this is a mistake of major magnitude, as is made clear to Franklin when his life blows up on many fronts, starting minutes after he’s off the air.

The book has much to say about theism versus atheism, and the role of each in today’s society (I am a lifelong professional teacher and this is a subject about which I am passionate). But the novel is much more than that. There is quite a bit of humor in it, as well as a number of action sequences (and some violent encounters). I would hope that anyone picking up the book would find it an entertaining read.

The book can be ordered from Amazon.com ($15.00).

Finally, let me add that I know this is a delicate and controversial subject, and I have tried to handle it in a way that is fair to all viewpoints. The reader can judge for him/herself whether I have succeeded or whether to join the crowd gathering tar and feathers. I would love to hear any and all comments readers have about the  book, and my email address for making them is in the “Author’s Note” at the end of the novel.

Douglas Whaley


The book is currently only out in America, so we can’t add it to the book club list, but if anyone reads it please write a review. Many thanks to Douglas for passing this information on, and best of luck with the book!

Possibly Related Posts:

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Challenge: Write a better Bible http://www.chickengirl.net/2008/09/18/challenge-write-a-better-bible/ http://www.chickengirl.net/2008/09/18/challenge-write-a-better-bible/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:56:44 +0000 Chicken Girl http://www.chickengirl.net/?p=468 Via De-Conversion:

So, I offer my Write A Better Bible! challenge. The task is to write a (short!) scripture, only this time, do it better – by which I mean, clearer. We want to demonstrate that any God worth his cherubim could effortlessly have authored a text that clearly and unmistakably tells us the facts about him and about salvation, in such a way that even the most godless monkey-loving Wiccan liberal heathen relativist can read it and get it straight. And with none of this dithering about in Aramaic wondering whether that squiggle at the end of dikaiosune makes it mean “righteousness” or “goat stew.”

Very well.

The Bible According to Chicken Girl

Dear Humanity:

I don’t give a rat’s ass about your prayers or your worship and admiration. My one and only commandment to you is DON’T BE A DICK.

Love, “God”.

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Life Photo Meme: Green http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/life-photo-meme-green.html http://theradula.blogspot.com/2008/09/life-photo-meme-green.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:27:00 +0000 The E O tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-21559883.post-6867390671337126991

Today I'm posting a pair of photos, the first on the topic, and the second is the signage for this plant at Huntington Gardens. BTW, if you haven't seen the gardens, I highly recommend it... and if that isn't possible, just go see all the information on their website!





I'm guessing from what I've read that this is Dillenia indica, the 'elephant apple'.

These fruits are edible to humans (or at least the pulp is) and I was surprised to find several recipes for them online, including this one for Elephant Apple Chutney:
Ingredients:

Wood apple-1
Green chillies-5
Grated jaggery-1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds-1 teaspoon
Salt-1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Curry leaves-few
Oil for seasoning-1 teaspoon
Seasoning ingredients-1 teaspoon (urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, channa dal, fenugreek seeds and dry red chilli pieces).

Method:

1. Wash and break the wood apple using a hammer and takeout the pulp.

2. Grind the pulp along with jaggery, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, salt and green chillies into thick paste.

3. Keep a pan on the stove and heat the oil and add the curry leaves and seasoning ingredients.

4. Add the paste to the seasoning and let it cook for two minutes on low flame.

5. Serve with hot rice and ghee.

Note: Wood apple has its own unique taste (e.g. bitter guard) and not everyone might like it.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Dilleniales
Family: Dilleniaceae
Genus: Dillenia
Species: Dillenia indica

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Join the Center for Inquiry http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/join-center-for-inquiry.html http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/join-center-for-inquiry.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:23:00 +0000 Larry Moran tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-37148773.post-6361543910446574453 http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/join-center-for-inquiry.html/feed/ The Gerin Oil Anagram http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com/2008/09/gerin-oil-anagram.html http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com/2008/09/gerin-oil-anagram.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:10:00 +0000 Aaron Kinney tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-11975474.post-1613284654950553251 scathing attack on Gerin Oil (aka religion). It promted some disturbed Gerin Oil/religion addict to write Dawkins a very angry letter in response. Interestingly, the ornery theist's letter only seems to confirm Dawkin's criticisms, similar to Muslims who call for the beheading of anyone who accuses Islam of being violent.

Richard's article text:

Gerin Oil
by Richard Dawkins
Gerin Oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of symptoms, often of an anti-social or self-damaging nature. It can permanently modify the child brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which are hard to treat. The four doomed flights of September 11th 2001 were Gerin Oil trips: all nineteen of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniolism was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem Witch Hunts and the massacres of Native South Americans by Conquistadores. Gerin Oil fuelled most of the wars of the European Middle Ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and of Ireland.

Gerin Oil intoxication can drive previously sane individuals to run away from a normally fulfilled human life and retreat to closed communities of confirmed addicts. These communities are usually limited to one sex only, and they vigorously, often obsessively, forbid sexual activity. Indeed, a tendency towards agonized sexual prohibition emerges as a drably recurring theme amid all the colourful variations of Gerin Oil symptomatology. Gerin Oil does not seem to reduce the libido per se, but it frequently leads to a preoccupation with reducing the sexual pleasure of others. A current example is the prurience with which many habitual 'Oilers' condemn homosexuality.

As with other drugs, refined Gerin Oil in low doses is largely harmless, and can serve as a lubricant on social occasions such as marriages, funerals, and state ceremonies. Experts differ over whether such social tripping, though harmless in itself, is a risk factor for upgrading to harder and more addictive forms of the drug.

Medium doses of Gerin Oil, though not in themselves dangerous, can distort perceptions of reality. Beliefs that have no basis in fact are immunized, by the drug's direct effects on the nervous system, against evidence from the real world. Oil-heads can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of other people's welfare and mild violation of the laws of physics. This autolocutory disorder is often accompanied by weird tics and hand gestures, manic stereotypies such as rhythmic head-nodding toward a wall, or Obsessive Compulsive Orientation Syndrome' (OCOS: facing towards the east five times a day).

Gerin Oil in strong doses is hallucinogenic. Hardcore mainliners may hear voices in the head, or experience visual illusions which seem to the sufferers so real that they often succeed in persuading others of their reality. An individual who convincingly reports high-grade hallucinations may be venerated, and even followed as some kind of leader, by others who regard themselves as less fortunate. Such follower-pathology can long post-date the original leader's death, and may expand into bizarre psychedelia such as the cannibalistic fantasy of 'drinking the blood and eating the flesh' of the leader.

Chronic abuse of Geriniol can lead to 'bad trips', in which the user suffers terrifying delusions, including fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a morbid punishment-lore which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment-culture fostered by Gerin Oil ranges from 'smack' through 'lash' to getting 'stoned' (especially adulteresses and rape victims), and 'demanifestation' (amputation of one hand), up to the sinister fantasy of allo-punishment or 'cross-topping', the execution of one individual for the sins of others.

You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would head the list of proscribed intoxicants, with exemplary sentences handed out for pushing it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don't even need a prescription. Professional traffickers are numerous, and organized in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at fleecing poor people desperate to feed their habit. 'Godfathers' occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of Royalty, of Presidents and Prime Ministers. Governments don't just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidize schools founded with the specific intention of getting children hooked.


I was prompted to write this article by the smiling face of a happy man in Bali. He was ecstatically greeting his death sentence for the brutal murder of large numbers of innocent holidaymakers whom he had never met, and against whom he bore no personal grudge. Some people in the court were shocked at his lack of remorse. Far from remorse, his response was one of obvious exhilaration. He punched the air, delirious with joy that he was to be 'martyred', to use the jargon of his group of abusers. Make no mistake about it, that beatific smile, looking forward with unalloyed pleasure to the firing squad, is the smile of a junkie. Here we have the archetypal mainliner, doped up with hard, unrefined, unadulterated, high-octane Gerin Oil.

Whatever your view of the vengeance and deterrence theories of capital punishment, it should be obvious that this case is special. Martyrdom is a strange revenge against those who crave it, and, far from deterring, it always recruits more martyrs than it kills. The important point is that the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from getting hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds.


Now click here to see an image of the afterlife-addict's response (via Pharyngula).]]>
scathing attack on Gerin Oil (aka religion). It promted some disturbed Gerin Oil/religion addict to write Dawkins a very angry letter in response. Interestingly, the ornery theist's letter only seems to confirm Dawkin's criticisms, similar to Muslims who call for the beheading of anyone who accuses Islam of being violent.

Richard's article text:

Gerin Oil
by Richard Dawkins
Gerin Oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of symptoms, often of an anti-social or self-damaging nature. It can permanently modify the child brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which are hard to treat. The four doomed flights of September 11th 2001 were Gerin Oil trips: all nineteen of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniolism was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem Witch Hunts and the massacres of Native South Americans by Conquistadores. Gerin Oil fuelled most of the wars of the European Middle Ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and of Ireland.

Gerin Oil intoxication can drive previously sane individuals to run away from a normally fulfilled human life and retreat to closed communities of confirmed addicts. These communities are usually limited to one sex only, and they vigorously, often obsessively, forbid sexual activity. Indeed, a tendency towards agonized sexual prohibition emerges as a drably recurring theme amid all the colourful variations of Gerin Oil symptomatology. Gerin Oil does not seem to reduce the libido per se, but it frequently leads to a preoccupation with reducing the sexual pleasure of others. A current example is the prurience with which many habitual 'Oilers' condemn homosexuality.

As with other drugs, refined Gerin Oil in low doses is largely harmless, and can serve as a lubricant on social occasions such as marriages, funerals, and state ceremonies. Experts differ over whether such social tripping, though harmless in itself, is a risk factor for upgrading to harder and more addictive forms of the drug.

Medium doses of Gerin Oil, though not in themselves dangerous, can distort perceptions of reality. Beliefs that have no basis in fact are immunized, by the drug's direct effects on the nervous system, against evidence from the real world. Oil-heads can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of other people's welfare and mild violation of the laws of physics. This autolocutory disorder is often accompanied by weird tics and hand gestures, manic stereotypies such as rhythmic head-nodding toward a wall, or Obsessive Compulsive Orientation Syndrome' (OCOS: facing towards the east five times a day).

Gerin Oil in strong doses is hallucinogenic. Hardcore mainliners may hear voices in the head, or experience visual illusions which seem to the sufferers so real that they often succeed in persuading others of their reality. An individual who convincingly reports high-grade hallucinations may be venerated, and even followed as some kind of leader, by others who regard themselves as less fortunate. Such follower-pathology can long post-date the original leader's death, and may expand into bizarre psychedelia such as the cannibalistic fantasy of 'drinking the blood and eating the flesh' of the leader.

Chronic abuse of Geriniol can lead to 'bad trips', in which the user suffers terrifying delusions, including fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a morbid punishment-lore which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment-culture fostered by Gerin Oil ranges from 'smack' through 'lash' to getting 'stoned' (especially adulteresses and rape victims), and 'demanifestation' (amputation of one hand), up to the sinister fantasy of allo-punishment or 'cross-topping', the execution of one individual for the sins of others.

You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would head the list of proscribed intoxicants, with exemplary sentences handed out for pushing it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don't even need a prescription. Professional traffickers are numerous, and organized in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at fleecing poor people desperate to feed their habit. 'Godfathers' occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of Royalty, of Presidents and Prime Ministers. Governments don't just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidize schools founded with the specific intention of getting children hooked.


I was prompted to write this article by the smiling face of a happy man in Bali. He was ecstatically greeting his death sentence for the brutal murder of large numbers of innocent holidaymakers whom he had never met, and against whom he bore no personal grudge. Some people in the court were shocked at his lack of remorse. Far from remorse, his response was one of obvious exhilaration. He punched the air, delirious with joy that he was to be 'martyred', to use the jargon of his group of abusers. Make no mistake about it, that beatific smile, looking forward with unalloyed pleasure to the firing squad, is the smile of a junkie. Here we have the archetypal mainliner, doped up with hard, unrefined, unadulterated, high-octane Gerin Oil.

Whatever your view of the vengeance and deterrence theories of capital punishment, it should be obvious that this case is special. Martyrdom is a strange revenge against those who crave it, and, far from deterring, it always recruits more martyrs than it kills. The important point is that the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from getting hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds.


Now click here to see an image of the afterlife-addict's response (via Pharyngula).]]>
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Richard Dawkins on the Michael Reiss Affair http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/richard-dawkins-on-michael-reiss-affair.html http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/richard-dawkins-on-michael-reiss-affair.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:30:00 +0000 Larry Moran tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-37148773.post-5782125897148327482 http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/09/richard-dawkins-on-michael-reiss-affair.html/feed/ CFI: it’s time for science and reason http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396511347/cfi-its-time-for-science-and-reason.html http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Toomanytribbles/~3/396511347/cfi-its-time-for-science-and-reason.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:25:00 +0000 toomanytribbles tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-29870334.post-6435763032758034223
via pz]]>

via pz]]>
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For the cause! http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396444824/for_the_cause.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396444824/for_the_cause.php#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:24:16 +0000 Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/for_the_cause.php

(via Edger)

Read the comments on this post...]]>

(via Edger)

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Sam Harris and The View From The End Of The World http://humanistdad.blogspot.com/2008/09/sam-harris-and-view-from-end-of-world.html http://humanistdad.blogspot.com/2008/09/sam-harris-and-view-from-end-of-world.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:18:00 +0000 HumanistDad tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1598104576805632662.post-9136212103568148605
Sam Harris on Fora.TV



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Now is the TIME for Science and Reason! http://joebrummer.com/WordPress/?p=1058 http://joebrummer.com/WordPress/?p=1058#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:10:52 +0000 Joe Brummer http://joebrummer.com/WordPress/?p=1058
WPvideo 1.10

Video link

H/T PZ

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An Astrologer Pwns Me http://friendlyatheist.com/4638/the-astrologers-pwn-me/ http://friendlyatheist.com/4638/the-astrologers-pwn-me/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:00:46 +0000 Hemant Mehta http://friendlyatheist.com/?p=4638 I wrote yesterday about an astrologer’s tribute to David Foster Wallace.

It looks like the writer is responding back:

On Skepchick my post recieved a mild lampooning, but at the Friendly Athethist I was given what for in the piece, “Please Don’t Let People Do This Me When I Die.” (Hemnant, don’t think you have to worry. Astrologers generally only write about famous people.)

For the my colleagues who understand and for the skeptics who don’t the piece was up for one whole day before the hits to my site and the less than complimentary comments started. This is as the Moon swung into the zodiac sign of energetic Aries opposite our transiting friends Mercury, Venus and Mars in Libra. I expect this to continue as the Moon swings over my Mars at 3 degrees Taurus and for at least 10 degrees after, where the Moon will square my Aquarian Sun…

Obviously.

There’s an excuse I’ve never tried before: “The Moon made me do it!”

I’m not offended at the references to Wallace at all.

I’m just amazed anyone would fall for this crap because it sounds like there are charts and “science” behind it when, in fact, the astrologer’s map of the planets is essentially a dartboard waiting to be used.

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UPDATED: BAD hackers on steroids! http://www.evolvedrational.com/2008/09/bad-hackers-on-steroids.html http://www.evolvedrational.com/2008/09/bad-hackers-on-steroids.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:50:00 +0000 Evolved Rationalist tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7249837629386789627.post-8812286276076574500
UPDATE #2: WIKILEAKS IS BACK UP!

The partyvan apparently shut Wikileaks down DISREGARD THAT after the Palin 'hack' (according to Wikipedia), but they cannot stop the collective whole of the internet.

Go grab some delicious cake. If that link gets V&, there is always the good old TPB for your dox cravings. Information should be free and it will be free.

Also, Bill O' Reilly does not like hackers on steroids or their despicable, slimy, and scummy website.



The aftermath was that delicious cake dox was dropped on O' Reilly.

OH SHI--

This is bad, kids! BAD hackers on steroids! BAD!! The partyvan is serious business.

UPDATE #3: O' FAILLEY RANTS ABOUT HACKERS AGAIN, GETS ASS KICKED!

O'Reilly rants again about how he wants all website owners who reposted the delicious dox arrested (OH SHIT is that the partyvan at my door?!), but soon gets his ass kicked by commentator Megyn Kelly. Epic lulz were had.



Disclaimer: I do not support/condone/encourage illegal activity. Posts on this blog should be taken with a grain of salt and a generous serving of lulz.]]>
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McCain/Palin: Real Change http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/18/mccainpalin-real-change/ http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/18/mccainpalin-real-change/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:30:25 +0000 themaiden http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=2191 Like this, for example, when under investigation for misdeeds call the investigation ‘unlawful, biased, partial and partisan‘ and refuse to comply with a court order.

Hmmm… wait… something sound familiar about that tactic? I guess I’m just too stupid to remember the last eight years and the several times that the Bush administration refused to comply with legal investigations.

Oh well, never mind! Hurray for Change! Go McCain/Palin! Rah! Rah! Rah!

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What kind of pirate am I? http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Gaytheist/~3/396476123/ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Gaytheist/~3/396476123/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:22:43 +0000 Rev. Reed Braden http://gaytheist.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/what-kind-of-pirate-am-i/

Arrr!  Tomorrow be Talk Like Ye Be A Pirate Day!  Vote what kind of pirate ye think I may be or ye’ll walk the plank!

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

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Why Trust McCain? http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/18/why-trust-mccain/ http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/2008/09/18/why-trust-mccain/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:08:02 +0000 themaiden http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=2188 Just after posting my own version of this same point I ran across the following in the Washington Post:

In the 2008 race, and especially in the past few weeks, the imbalance has become unnervingly stark. Ideological differences aside, John McCains campaign has been more dishonest, more unfair, more — to use a word that resonates with McCain — dishonorable than Barack Obamas.

Both candidates are guilty of playing trivial pursuit in a serious season, campaigning from gotcha to gotcha. Obama also has eagerly taken every cheap shot — McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years, doesnt get the economy, cant count his own houses. Neither candidate is running the honest, confront-the-hard-questions campaign he promised.

McCains transgressions, though, are of a different magnitude. His whoppers are bigger; there are more of them. He — the easy out would be to say “his campaign” — has been misleading, and at times has outright lied, about his opponent. He has misrepresented — thats the charitable verb — his vice presidential nominees record. Called on these fouls, he has denied and repeated them.

The most outrageous of McCains distortions involve Obama on taxes. He asserts that Obamas new taxes could “break your family budget,” and that an Obama presidency would inflict “painful tax increases on working American families.” Hardly. Obama would lower taxes for most households, and lower them more than McCain would. The only “painful tax increases on working American families” would be on working families making more than $250,000.

Likewise, the McCain campaign has its story about Sarah Palin, and its sticking with it — facts be damned. She said “thanks but no thanks” to that “Bridge to Nowhere,” except that she didnt: She backed the bridge until it was unpopular, then scooped up the money and used it for other projects. More than a year after McCain began railing against the bridge, Palin, then a gubernatorial candidate, said the state should build it “now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

Palin sold the gubernatorial jet, on eBay and for a profit — except that she didnt. She didnt take earmarks as governor — except for the $256 million she sought last year, and the $197 million wish list for 2008.

You had to wonder: Are there any corners left for McCain? Is there any reason to trust that a man running this campaign would go on to be an honest president?

Ruth Marcus - True Whoppers - washingtonpost.com

Michael A. Cohen writing for the New York Times echoes similar sentiments.

Sure politicians occasionally stretch the truth or exaggerate, but willful and conscious lying is something else, which makes the stream of fabrications from the McCain campaign over the last week that much more shocking.

As Farhad Manjoo in Slate.com succinctly put it: “Since July, John McCain and his campaign have made 11 political claims that are barely true, eight that are categorically false, and three that you’d have to call pants-on-fire lies — a total of 22 clearly deceptive statements (many of them made repeatedly in ads and stump speeches).” The Obama campaign has also occasionally strayed from the truth. But the actions of the McCain campaign are venturing into territory rarely before seen on the campaign trail.

For better or for worse, being seen as dishonest or lying is the one line that no politician ever wants to cross. Until now, it seems.

During the last week, the McCain campaign has unabashedly engaged in the active spreading of mistruths and falsehoods. It said that Barack Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for children in kindergarten (“dishonest” and “deceptive” said The Washington Post); that Mr. Obama used the colloquial expression “lipstick on a pig” to describe Sarah Palin (G.O.P. Senator Orrin Hatch labeled the charge “ridiculous”); that Ms. Palin never accepted earmarks as governor of Alaska; (this is patently false, she actually requested $450 million in earmarks as governor); that Mr. Obama will raise taxes on middle-class families (his plan would actually give a tax cut to 80 percent of Americans); that his health care plan will force families into a government-run health care plan; (a public health expert quoted in this paper called that “inaccurate and false”); that Ms. Palin told Congress “thanks, but no thanks” on the Bridge to Nowhere (she initially supported the bridge and kept the Congressional funds earmarked for the project); that Ms. Palin visited Ireland and Iraq (her airplane refueled in the former and never crossed the border into the latter). Now there are even reports that the McCain campaign fabricated crowd estimates for a recent rally in Virginia.

Even after the press debunked each of these lies, the McCain campaign has refused to concede the truth. Though news outlets have consistently shown that Ms. Palin’s claim about the Bridge to Nowhere is not true, she continues to repeat it to the point where MSNBC’s Hardball began to keep a running tally of how often Ms. Palin made the same false assertion on the campaign trail.

The Politics of Lying

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The Large Hadron Collider: A Big Broom in the Sweep-up of Reglion http://atheisttidbits.blogspot.com/2008/09/large-hadron-collider-big-broom-in.html http://atheisttidbits.blogspot.com/2008/09/large-hadron-collider-big-broom-in.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:07:00 +0000 Devout Atheist tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1471213167188054202.post-2721498905197984791 It has been about a week since the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was switched on at CERN, and managed to circulate its first beam of protons in a complete circle. When the very powerful LHC is in full operation, accelerating opposite beams of protons to shattering collisions, it should yield tremendously exciting findings. These are expected to include answers to a number of outstanding questions in physics, including: 1. why matter has mass (if the LHC proves sufficiently powerful to detect the Higgs boson, believed to be responsible for providing sub-atomic particles like protons, neutrons, and electrons with their observed masses); 2. the nature of dark matter (the majority of the matter in the universe, which mysteriously interacts only via gravity with the universe we detect via both light and gravity); 3. why our universe contains so much more matter than anti-matter. It also seems quite likely that investigations with the LHC will yield completely unexpected results, which will further increase our understanding of the nature of the universe.

During most of human history, much about the world and its workings were virtually incomprehensible, and religion provided answers and thus held sway. Even long after the development of the modern scientific method, hypotheses perforce incorporated the concept of God, and asked how and why God created the universe in its specific form. But recently, science has managed to operate independently of religion. In this atmosphere of free inquiry, scientific findings have forced religion to change its beliefs to accord with what science has discovered. One can easily think of numerous examples, including Christianity’s abandonment of the belief that the universe revolved around the Earth, and more recently the acceptance by John Paul II in 1996 that all life on earth, including humans, are a product of evolution.

I envisage supernatural belief as akin to a thick layer of dust in a room, composed of the dictates of organized religion, covering the truth about the nature of the universe. And in that metaphor, science consists of brooms, that over many years have swept the dust of these supernatural beliefs into an ever-constricted corner of the room, thence to be discarded in the dustbin of history. Removal of the dust through scientific inquiry is gradually yielding the bright, hard, polished floor of knowledge about the world and its creatures. It is to be hoped that the confounding dust of organized religion will eventually all be swept up and discarded. The LHC may prove a powerful broom indeed in this eventual conquest of scientific knowledge over out-moded supernatural beliefs.

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Random Data http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheAtheistBlogger/~3/396426491/ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheAtheistBlogger/~3/396426491/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:03:37 +0000 Adrian Hayter http://atheistblogger.com/?p=606 I have recently been messing around with a few “Bible Code” generators, purely to see what I could find. For those who don’t know, the Bible Code is the idea that you can find a series of words in the bible by picking a letter and “skipping” letters by 5 each time, possibly more. The idea is flawed, and several statisticians have come forward and revealed that given a large enough volume of text, you can find all sorts of “hidden” messages.

I’ll save my results for another blog post, since I have only just started doing some tests. This blog post details how I set up my comparison text. In order to perform the tests, I decided to use a text version of the King James Bible, and also a randomly generated text of the exact same file-size.

Getting the KJB text was easy enough, as Project Gutenberg has it for free download. All I had to do was remove the long introduction from the beginning, stopping when I got to Genesis 1:1. I then needed to strip everything other than the 26 letters of the alphabet, because the Bible Code algorithms only accept these. So numbers, spaces, carriage returns, apostrophes, colons all had to go. On Linux systems, this is easily done:

dd if=kjv10.txt | grep -ao “[A-Za-z]” | tr -d “\n” > bible-text.txt

dd is a command that copies / converts files, and I gave it the input file (if=kjv10.txt) of the full King James text. I then piped this into grep, telling it to only output characters that matched either A-Z (uppercase) or a-z (lowercase). grep outputs every match on a new line, so I fed that result through tr, which when given the “-d” argument, deletes the following character from the input. The character “\n” is the standard way of showing a new line as a character. The result of all these commands is a long string of characters, and is saved to the file “bible-text.txt“.

A simple command for listing directory contents told me the size of the file.

ls -l

Now I had a file that was 3,224,520 bytes (3.2 megabytes) in file-size, and I needed to procure random data of the exact same size. This was done by a couple of slight modifications to the original command:

dd if=/dev/urandom | grep -ao “[A-Za-z]” | tr -d “\n” | dd bs=1 count=3224520 > random-text.txt

As you can see, the input for the first dd command is now the built-in Linux random generator, which is piped into the same commands to remove illegal characters. This output is then piped back into a dd command, but is set up so that it creates a file with a specific amount of data. The bs value is the blocksize, which for ease of calculation I set to 1 byte, meaning I can then set the output file-size (count) as 3224520. The output of these commands is a string of random characters, equal in size to the string in bible-text.txt, and I saved this to the file random-text.txt.

A further use of the ls -l command confirms that both files are indeed the same size.

This method of generating a set size of random data is fast and easily scripted, which is why I thought it should be shared. Now I need ideas for experiments to run on the random data…

Possibly Related Posts:

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An Incidental Thought http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/JyunriKankei/~3/396418085/ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/JyunriKankei/~3/396418085/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:42:40 +0000 Greg http://jyunri.wordpress.com/?p=222

24 hours sitting at the fire house with no calls is significantly less boring than my regular job.

This situation is being rectified.

      

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Woe, woe is me http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396372748/woe_woe_is_me.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396372748/woe_woe_is_me.php#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:42:39 +0000 Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/woe_woe_is_me.php If things get quiet around here for a while, it's not because I've received a letter bomb…it's just not a good week. Lots of teaching piling up; lots of committee meetings; I'm trying to apply for a sabbatical, which in a small department means lots of work to make accommodations on workload; the family is a bit disrupted, with my father-in-law suffering a severe illness (the whole family, except for me, is about to fly back to Washington state for a while); writing deadlines are flying by and I'm scrabbling frantically for time to finish up; and I'm doing all this traveling and speechifying that's eating up lots of time. So I'm a little bit stressed right now.

What to do? Well, of course: we're having Greg & PZ's Excellent Party tonight! Party on, dudes! Join us at the Black Forest Inn tonight, around 7, and help me forget my worries for a little while. I expect you all to show up and make me very happy — I'm going to be looking for you, personally, and if I don't see your face I'm going to die a little inside. Do you feel the guilt yet?

Aferwards, I'm going to crawl into a cheap motel somewhere and put in a few hours of writing. Then, Friday, I drive to lovely Madison, Wisconsin.

Here are details of my talk there, but we haven't worked out any post-babbling events yet. I suggest that if you want to get together with me, show up at the talk or after the talk, and we'll figure out some nearby place where you Wisconsinites can drag me to cheer me up some more. The party tonight will not be sufficient, you know: it's going to take a lot of work to haul me up out of this slough of despond.

Now…off to meetings and another quiet writing session before departure.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
If things get quiet around here for a while, it's not because I've received a letter bomb…it's just not a good week. Lots of teaching piling up; lots of committee meetings; I'm trying to apply for a sabbatical, which in a small department means lots of work to make accommodations on workload; the family is a bit disrupted, with my father-in-law suffering a severe illness (the whole family, except for me, is about to fly back to Washington state for a while); writing deadlines are flying by and I'm scrabbling frantically for time to finish up; and I'm doing all this traveling and speechifying that's eating up lots of time. So I'm a little bit stressed right now.

What to do? Well, of course: we're having Greg & PZ's Excellent Party tonight! Party on, dudes! Join us at the Black Forest Inn tonight, around 7, and help me forget my worries for a little while. I expect you all to show up and make me very happy — I'm going to be looking for you, personally, and if I don't see your face I'm going to die a little inside. Do you feel the guilt yet?

Aferwards, I'm going to crawl into a cheap motel somewhere and put in a few hours of writing. Then, Friday, I drive to lovely Madison, Wisconsin.

Here are details of my talk there, but we haven't worked out any post-babbling events yet. I suggest that if you want to get together with me, show up at the talk or after the talk, and we'll figure out some nearby place where you Wisconsinites can drag me to cheer me up some more. The party tonight will not be sufficient, you know: it's going to take a lot of work to haul me up out of this slough of despond.

Now…off to meetings and another quiet writing session before departure.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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Woe, woe is me http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396372748/woe_woe_is_me.php http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/396372748/woe_woe_is_me.php#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:42:39 +0000 Pharyngula http://planetatheism.com/2008/09/18/woe-woe-is-me/ If things get quiet around here for a while, it's not because I've received a letter bomb…it's just not a good week. Lots of teaching piling up; lots of committee meetings; I'm trying to apply for a sabbatical, which in a small department means lots of work to make accommodations on workload; the family is a bit disrupted, with my father-in-law suffering a severe illness (the whole family, except for me, is about to fly back to Washington state for a while); writing deadlines are flying by and I'm scrabbling frantically for time to finish up; and I'm doing all this traveling and speechifying that's eating up lots of time. So I'm a little bit stressed right now.

What to do? Well, of course: we're having Greg & PZ's Excellent Party tonight! Party on, dudes! Join us at the Black Forest Inn tonight, around 7, and help me forget my worries for a little while. I expect you all to show up and make me very happy — I'm going to be looking for you, personally, and if I don't see your face I'm going to die a little inside. Do you feel the guilt yet?

Aferwards, I'm going to crawl into a cheap motel somewhere and put in a few hours of writing. Then, Friday, I drive to lovely Madison, Wisconsin.

Here are details of my talk there, but we haven't worked out any post-babbling events yet. I suggest that if you want to get together with me, show up at the talk or after the talk, and we'll figure out some nearby place where you Wisconsinites can drag me to cheer me up some more. The party tonight will not be sufficient, you know: it's going to take a lot of work to haul me up out of this slough of despond.

Now…off to meetings and another quiet writing session before departure.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
If things get quiet around here for a while, it's not because I've received a letter bomb…it's just not a good week. Lots of teaching piling up; lots of committee meetings; I'm trying to apply for a sabbatical, which in a small department means lots of work to make accommodations on workload; the family is a bit disrupted, with my father-in-law suffering a severe illness (the whole family, except for me, is about to fly back to Washington state for a while); writing deadlines are flying by and I'm scrabbling frantically for time to finish up; and I'm doing all this traveling and speechifying that's eating up lots of time. So I'm a little bit stressed right now.

What to do? Well, of course: we're having Greg & PZ's Excellent Party tonight! Party on, dudes! Join us at the Black Forest Inn tonight, around 7, and help me forget my worries for a little while. I expect you all to show up and make me very happy — I'm going to be looking for you, personally, and if I don't see your face I'm going to die a little inside. Do you feel the guilt yet?

Aferwards, I'm going to crawl into a cheap motel somewhere and put in a few hours of writing. Then, Friday, I drive to lovely Madison, Wisconsin.

Here are details of my talk there, but we haven't worked out any post-babbling events yet. I suggest that if you want to get together with me, show up at the talk or after the talk, and we'll figure out some nearby place where you Wisconsinites can drag me to cheer me up some more. The party tonight will not be sufficient, you know: it's going to take a lot of work to haul me up out of this slough of despond.

Now…off to meetings and another quiet writing session before departure.

Read the comments on this post...]]>
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Of Mice and Muslims http://defendreason.blogspot.com/2008/09/of-mice-and-muslims.html http://defendreason.blogspot.com/2008/09/of-mice-and-muslims.html#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:35:00 +0000 Edward Baker tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-114412733769420228.post-2694133068727036631
I have no idea why some religions seem to have obsessions with avoiding certain kinds of animals. Perhaps it originates with a basic knowledge of the fact that some may damage food and spread disease.

Steve Wells from Dwindling in Unbelief did some digging, and found that although not mentioned in the Koran, mice are permitted to be killed in the Hadith. The Old Testament god also seems to have had some issues with them, despite (as it happens) the fact that he surely created them?]]>
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