Monday, July 28, 2008

D∧(OM)⊕¬IN⇔O⊃E¬S

Someone made logic gates with dominoes. So friggin' cool!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PZ has gone too far!

I'm sure anyone reading this is at least somewhat familiar with crackergate.

  1. Kid takes communion wafer out of church.
  2. Catholics freak out.
  3. PZ tells them its a frackin' cracker.
  4. Shit hits the god damn fan.

PZ had asked for people to collect these crackers and send them to him, so he could desecrate them to show they're nothing but a silly symbol. I'm with him so far.

He gets tons of hate mail and whatnot, some of which telling him that instead, he should desecrate the koran. I'm fine with that too.

So today he posts the results. He went over some of the horrifying history of Catholic bigotry and mass murder, then talked about his own protest. He drove a rusty nail through a communion wafer - good - then tore out some pages from the koran and put the nail through those as well - fine - but then...

He did the same to a copy of the God Delusion!

What the fuck PZ? Desecrating Catholic and Muslim symbols is fine, but this is going too far. Have you even read the God Delusion? Don't you understand how important it is? How great a text you have, well, desecrated? I demand an apology for this inexcusable and highly offensive act.

Moreover, you are a hypocrite! Just one month ago you yourself signed my copy of the God Delusion! I have the proof right here:

So how's it going to be, PZ? Are you going to issue a formal apology for this heinous insult to my lack of faith, or do I have to drive down to Morris and kick your ass?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Anyone know a good non-religious memorial poem?

I go running at a lake near my house. The other day I noticed a laminated sheet of paper attached to a bench along the trail. There was a poem written on it called the Broken Chain (see below). It was obviously posted by someone who had lost their father recently, and it's a nice, inspirational, but very religious poem. I would like to post a reply next to it, consisting of another poem, similar in spirit, but representing a humanist and naturalistic philosophy.

Can anyone help me find such a poem? I certainly don't want to be argumentative or snarky about it, my goal is to show you don't need some silly delusion of being reunited in heaven to show compassion for a dead family member.

Here's the text of the poem:

We little knew that morning that
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly, dad.
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you.
You did not go alone,
for part of us went with you
the day God called you home.

You left us peaceful memories.
Your love is still our guide.
And though we cannot see you,
you are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken
and nothing seems the same,
but as God calls us one by one,
the Chain will link again.

Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Amanda Peet somehow gets hotter

Here's another video.

I didn't think Amanda Peet could get any more appealing, but here she is coming down on the correct side of the vaccine/autism thing. So hot. I think the debate should be conclusively decided by a mud wrestling match between Amanda Peet and Jenny McCarthy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"China is running a military-style sports machine"


Classic China.

They just don't seem to get it. It's like they're aliens, or perhaps children, who observe normal civilized human behaviour and try to emulate it. Somehow they completely miss the point.

[The] system starts as early as six years old for some promising athletes, who are put in specialised sports schools for full-time training.

...

The system has faced criticism for taking children too young, and putting them through a too-rigorous training regime.

I read an article the other day in Psychology Today about the completely fucked up mental health of the youth in China. It's difficult to blame individuals - the parents were fucked up by Mao and the kids are being fucked by the one child policy, and a number of factors make it next to impossible to get any help when mental problems inevitably arise. It's pretty disgusting, and it's going to get worse before it gets any better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No tolerance for intolerance

(via Atheist Media Blog)

This video rules, check out the guy in the second half who takes the head of the school to task. More of this Britain!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Waterboarding

I'm watching an interview with Christopher Hitchens about his water boarding experience. He's saying it's definitely torture, because it was a really really unpleasant experience.

I have a bit of a problem with that... after all, he DID it. There's no threat of death, its safe, its just scary. The fact that he was willing to do it at all says a lot about the practice.

I'm guessing there are lots of interrogation methods or criminal punishments that Hitchens doesn't at all consider torture, but that he would never in a million years willingly submit to.

I'm not saying its NOT torture, just that I have problems with his logic.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"...Then they came for my spoon, and no one was left to speak up."

Ack! My go-to reducto ad absurdum has prophetically come to pass.

Anyone caught carrying a knife without a good excuse should expect to go to prison, Tory leader David Cameron says.
A gun ban, I think, is wrong. But I can understand the logic. A gun is in class by itself. It is very dangerous, allows attacks from a distance, and its very difficult to improvise a gun.

A knife, on the other hand, is just a sharp thing. You cannot ban any and all sharp things, its ridiculous, look at airport security. They get so caught up in where to draw the line that they don't allow fingernail clippers. There's no solid line that separates knives from ordinary objects, so a ban is a slippery slope all the way down. A dull rock can inflict as much damage as a knife can, and ironically, long fingernails are more dangerous than fingernail clippers!

The scariest part, to me, is this:
"So we're proposing that anyone convicted of knife crime should expect to go to jail. I don't believe the government's presumption to prosecute is enough. It doesn't send a strong enough signal. We need a presumption to prison."

He urged police to exercise "common sense" by not prosecuting people carrying penknives for angling, or for bringing home kitchen or garden equipment from the shops.

"This is about kitchen knives stuffed down the front of tracksuits," he told The Sun.
When you give police the authority to arrest essentially anyone (because everyone at all times is carrying something as potentially dangerous as a knife) and only ask them to exercise it at their discretion, you have created a police state. The police have absolute power. There's a passive threat hanging over everybody's head: you don't HAVE to commit a crime to be hauled off, all you have to do is get on a cop's bad side.

So if a little old lady is coming home from the shop with a kitchen knife, she will not be arrested. Why not? Only because she is a little old lady.

In England, you are now presumed guilty until proven innocent, and it is only through the benevolence of the police that you remain on the streets. This is the concept of original sin, backed up with the threat of government.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stephen Hawking Eulogizes Jesse Helms

Yes, that Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist. Didn't you know he had a hardcore ghetto gangsta' side?


mp3

And here's Andrew Sullivan's take. Boy, no one liked that guy.

Spoon Bending



This is a video taken at The Amazing Meeting a few weeks ago; supposedly it was the largest number of spoons bent at the same time, using only the power of the human mind. The guy at the beginning is Richard Wiseman, who is awesome. He has a bunch of videos on his YouTube channel demonstrating concepts from his great book, Quirkology.

Also, this is the first time I have posted a picture of myself!

Also note James Randi, Phil Plait, Banacheck, and Adam Savage in the front row.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feynman


A recently released interview from ABC Australia

Yahoo Pipes: SkepTube

(via SkepTools)

I recently learned about Yahoo Pipes, basically a web tool that lets you customize RSS content.

I've been playing around a bit, and I created a Pipe that combines a bunch of science/skeptical/atheist YouTube channels into one feed.

You can subscribe to it and get the videos from 16 or so sources under one heading in your feed reader. Any sources I missed?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did I fucking stutter?

Can I help you?

Yeah, can I get a chicken salad
sandwich and a medium-

White or brown?

Uh, brown. And can I get a medium-

Toasted?

No, but I want a medium-

Donut?

...What?

[points to donuts]
Would you like to get a donut with that?

No, but can I-

Is that all?

[bursts into flames and devours cashier]



That's an actual exchange I had at the Tim Hortons in the food court of Metrotown mall today.

She didn't look deaf, so I guess I must look stupid. Do most people just accept being treated like a moron by any and all sales staff? Have they given up resisting, or does no one even notice it at this point?

It's when we become desensitized to this kind of treatment that we begin accepting the government making our decisions for us. First nanny staff, then nanny state.

The next time I'm interrupted in the middle of my order for an idiotic question about whether I want something that I have not asked for, I'm walking away from the counter. All it will accomplish is prolonging my hunger, but it will be a moral victory.

A hollow, empty, moral victory.