Saturday, April 30, 2005

Randall Terry Asks Governor to Protect Pregnant 13-Year-Old Florida Girl

Randall Terry Asks Governor to Protect Pregnant 13-Year-Old Florida Girl

Here we go again.

I don't know if the girl, LG, is the victim of multiple sexual crimes against her, as Mr. Terry suggests, but I do know she is definitely the victim of one: statutory rape. Where is the call to find and prosecute the other party in this pregnancy?

Randall Terry is concerned for LG's emotional well-being. He writes, "If she is permitted or pressured into having this abortion, it will be one more mountain of guilt that she will have to carry on her young back. This will be a horrifying, defining moment for her, which will bring no long term relief or solutions to her turbulent life, and will only compound her grief and the emotional crises she will face in the future."

This "mountain of guilt" Randall Terry is so worried that LG will have to carry for the rest of her life has roots in the dogma Terry spouts about the nature of human life. If Terry is really concerned about LG's future mental health he should stay the hell out of the way of this early abortion so that LG can get on with, and better benefit from, the counselling she needs from competent mental health professionals. Religious nuts are the source of the sort of guilt Terry fears will harm LG.

Equating a 12-week fetus with a baby is dogma. The harm Mr. Terry fears will happen to LG will stem mostly from the efforts of people like him to spread this dogma.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Three Missing in Whaling Boat Accident - Yahoo! News

Three Missing in Whaling Boat Accident - Yahoo! News
I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for these people.

A few years ago some jerk in Arizona was crushed to death when the saguaro cactus he was shooting at fell on him. This isn't quite the same, but close enough.

Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells - Yahoo! News

Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells - Yahoo! News: "Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior."

What, such as breeding like rats?

What a line!

Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered

Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered

Grist: "There Is a Lord God
Woodpecker thought extinct rediscovered; birders weep like babies

It was spotted several times -- once even filmed -- over the past year and a half. Now, ornithologists writing in the journal Science have officially confirmed the existence of at least one ivory-billed woodpecker, a miraculously tangible token of a species long thought extinct. The discovery -- referred to variously as "a spiritual experience," "thrilling beyond words," and "kind of like finding Elvis" -- was enough to bring at least one grown man to tears. With a wingspan of three feet, the ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest in North America. It was once sought for its feathers, used in women's hats, and for its bill, believed by Native Americans to have magical powers. It became known as the Lord God bird, says ornithologist John Fitzpatrick, because when people saw it, they'd exclaim "Lord God, look at that bird." Conservationists are working in concert with state and federal officials to secure the swampy area of eastern Arkansas where the bird was sighted, and plans to acquire more land in the area are in the works. "

Years ago when I lived in Guatemala, a land where if it was wild you shot it, my brother-in-law told me of an oligarch-class acquaintance of his, who, upon being informed by a serf that deer tracks had (at long last) been spotted on his land, turned to my brother-in-law and exclaimed, "Lets go hunting!"

Good luck to this bird. Probably doesn't stand a chance, what with the hunter species slated to increase by half again in the next two or three decades from its already bloated numbers.

The New Republic Online: College Coarse

The New Republic Online: College Coarse

I can't stand religionists of any stripe, and Israel has plenty of those. Somehow, though, the State that supports them still earns my admiration.

"In practice, aside from being the only country in the Middle East where academics enjoy complete and unrestricted freedom of expression, Israel has done far more to promote education in the Palestinian territories than has any other country. The West Bank and Gaza universities were established by Israel in the first place--neither the Jordanians nor the Egyptians, who conquered these territories during the 1948 war, had allowed universities prior to 1967. During the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980s, the number of schoolchildren in the territories grew by 102 percent, and the number of classes by 99 percent, though the population itself had grown by only 28 percent. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the onset of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in June 1967, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students, as compared with 6 in Israel and 7 in the Irish Republic. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria."

That's taken out of context. Click the link above to read the whole piece, in which Efraim Karsh, head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme at King's College, University of London, complains about some ignorant partisanship.

Last night some TV channel showed the old Charles Bronson movie about the Raid on Entebbe. I was around way back when the actual events occurred, and these were among the events that still causes me to wish the Israelis well, despite stupid biblical claims to land, extremist settlers and so on.

I wonder if the Israelis really do have 120-odd neutron bombs. I hope so, because they'll probably need them.

The Volokh Conspiracy - Top 10 Songs by Relatively Obscure Artists:

The Volokh Conspiracy - Top 10 Songs by Relatively Obscure Artists:
Seems some of the smart lawyers at The Volokh Conspiracy share part of my taste in music.

Yeah, yeah. Two posts in a row prompted by Volokh. Well, I keep going back there whereas I don't go back elsewhere. What can I say? They're a rare breed.

Hmmm... I wonder how many of them like Rage's "Bulls on Parade"?

Illogical punctuation rules

" This is an example of what the Court has called "the chilling effect."

rather than

This is an example of what the Court has called "the chilling effect".

The latter style isn't wrong, and some prefer it because it seems more logical; my Oxford English Grammar says that it's the norm in British English. But most American publishers always put the period and the comma inside the quotation mark."

I think the latter style is correct, though I've usually tried to conform to American convention. Lately I've been deliberately doing it the logical way despite the American rule. I'm glad to see Prof. Volokh post on the issue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Surrogate Mom Gives Birth to Quintuplets - Yahoo! News

These people are not paying attention to the state of the world.

When things cannot go on, they usually don't. The greatest expression of love for the child you dream of may be to not conceive.

Monday, April 25, 2005

AlterNet: War on Iraq: The Value of Human Life

So-called "smart bombs" used in a misguided policy of deliberate cruelty result in nothing short of indiscriminate massacre.

What a bunch of bullshit. Dresden was indiscriminate. London was indiscriminate. Whatever the merit of the Iraq war, the use of smart bombs had nothing to do with any policy of deliberate cruelty and indiscriminate massacre.

This author turned me off completely with this ridiculous statement. Sounds hysterical not progressive.

I hope the rest of Alternet isn't like this. I'm trying to broaden my sources of information so I'm checking it out, but so far I'm not impressed.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Alternative Energy Blog - Energy Efficiency: LED Lights to Replace Lightbulbs?

Alternative Energy Blog - Energy Efficiency: LED Lights to Replace Lightbulbs?

I felt compelled to contribute a couple of comments here about the net energy question.

The Alternative Energy Blog is a regular stop for me. Good blog by a committed blogger.

The New Republic Online: Morning-After Sickness

"[A] professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, has estimated that, if emergency contraceptives were widely available in this country, they could reduce the approximately 1.3 million abortions that take place yearly in this country by half. If a culture of life is so sacrosanct, shouldn't that trump the issue of premarital sex?

When conservatives talk about Plan B, they conjure up images of lust-crazed college girls engaging in one-night stands, then reaching over empty beer bottles to grab their supersized Plan B jars. But the one group to whom emergency contraception would make the greatest difference is rape victims. According to Trussell, who studied statistics from 1998, about 22,000 of the 25,000 women who became pregnant from rape could have prevented pregnancy with emergency contraception. Unfortunately, the new federal hospital guidelines for rape treatment released in January mysteriously omitted Plan B, even though a previous draft had included it. In Colorado, conservatives have fought efforts to impose a guideline that includes emergency contraceptives. Apparently, elements of the right are so committed to their stark definition of life and so concerned about hypothetical cultural signals that they would prefer rape victims become pregnant than inform them about emergency contraception. Who are the extremists now? "

Well put Jonathan Cohn.

Detractors will quickly point to the Princeton estimate and dismiss the whole argument, but even if the estimate is 100 times too high, that's still six or seven thousand prevented abortions per year.

That won't matter, of course, because it's not about morality or abortion.

It's about power.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Nukees - Monday, December 27, 2004

Nukees - Monday, December 27, 2004

Gav is a nuclear engineering student. Follow his adventure by clicking the "Next Strip" button in the "Comics Navigation" frame right under the strip.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Abortion and Civility in the Senate (6 Letters)

"To the Editor:

David Brooks puts his finger on the crux of the issue when he asserts, 'Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists.'

A religious conservative who doesn't want an abortion is not denied any rights under Roe v. Wade. There lies the problem: religious conservatives think that it's their democratic right to deny other people their right to get an abortion.

Joel Peskoff
Baldwin, N.Y., April 21, 2005"

Very well stated.

Mr. Peskoff was reacting to this, in which David Brooks makes the case that Roe v. Wade will have to be overturned in order for things to get better.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Small Nuclear: Galena preps for potential nuclear power

Humanity is set to expand its numbers by 50% or more (from 6 to 9 billion souls) in the next 30 years.

At the same time, a good 80% of those alive today need to increase their and their children's use of energy hugely in order to advance their lifestyles. Perhaps a quarter of those need the energy simply to emerge from horrid squallor.

I hope Toshiba and Galena emerge as the pioneers of a powerful trend, one that might pave the way to an eventual enlightened human-Gaian sustainability. Otherwise, we'll never reach 9 billion because without incredible amounts of carbon-free energy we're in deep, very possibly insurmountable, trouble.

Greenhouse Gas

"Michael Crichton has written that rarest of books, an intellectually dishonest novel."

"Because the evidence for–and scientific consensus on–the human causes of climate change is now so strong, Crichton cannot make his case simply on the evidence. Instead, he must distort the facts and accuse the scientific community of bad faith in order to make his case. And he does so, repeatedly."

Bo kroito na ti, klomptico nast.


"'The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.'"
" What dismays is the utter lack of class in such businesses and businessmen here parading their skills in distortion."

I'll buy that. Thanks Bill.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pathetic fallacy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some of what I think about I deal with by reifying, because I don't know of another way of dealing with it.

Is memetics an exercise in reification, and would that necessarily be a bad thing?

As I understand the term, to reify is simply to treat an abstract as real. I'm not convinced that in so doing I'm necessarily committing a logical fallacy.

Am I?

If so, I always stand for correction.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tormenting dizziness? Naaa... It's simple.

"This brings us to death. The psychologist Jesse Bering believes we will never get our heads around the idea. He calls it 'Unamuno's paradox,' after the Spanish existentialist Miguel de Unamuno, who was troubled not so much by the prospect of his own death as by his inability in life to get any kind of imaginative purchase on what the state of being dead would be 'like.' 'The effort to comprehend it causes the most tormenting dizziness,' he lamented. And you can't get out of this by saying that 'it is like nothing at all' to be dead, because the point is precisely that we are incapable of imagining absolute nothingness. Our mental apparatus is tuned to states of being in the world. Non-being is simply beyond our ken. All of this is of no concern to those who believe in an afterlife. The conscious personality just floats on elsewhere. That most people hold to this bizarre belief is not simply due to religious indoctrination. The separateness of body and mind is a primordial intuition. It has sprung from our evolution as social beings and coalesced into the hardware of the central nervous system. Human beings are natural born soul makers, adept at extracting unobservable minds from the behaviour of observable bodies, including their own. Taking the next, false step, if mind and body are conceived as separate entities, it is easy to see the possibility of a mental life after physical death."

I don't understand the difficulty described here. It's really very simple.

Your life is punctuated by birth and death. What lay before birth, and what lies after death, are the same damned thing: non-existence.

You were "dead" before you were born. You remember that, don't you? and their annual questions are wonderful.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Environmental Heresies

Stewart Brand got his biology degree from Stanford in 1960. He founded The Whole Earth Catalogue and cofounded The Well, the first electronic community. His books include the The Media Lab, How Buildings Learn, and The Clock of the Long Now. Today, he works primarily with Global Business Network and The Long Now Foundation.

Hear! Hear!

Thanks for the tip Ken.

Update: A little back and forth between the author and a friendly critic.

Prisoners 'aware' in executions - A training issue

"American Medical Association ethical guidelines bar physicians from taking part in executions. But a survey has shown that 19% were willing to inject lethal drugs."

Good. So would I be willing, if only to eliminate the possibility of torturous suffering during the instants before oblivion.

...the Lancet said: "Capital punishment is not only an atrocity, but also a stain on the record of the world's most powerful democracy.

"Doctors should not be in the job of killing."

Nonsense. Capital punishment is not an atrocity, and the stain is that of ineffectuality, painted by people such as these authors. Doctors should be in the job of killing precisely because they know very well how to do it in a civilized fashion.

Civilized killing - that's right.

Whether or not the condemned risk inadvertent but horrific torture in the process of execution is immaterial to the legitimacy of the death penalty. There is sin, though, in not addressing the possibility of needless suffering, and in failing to seek elimination of the possiblility of such suffering. Needless suffering is always to be avoided, no matter by whom or what.

Executioners should be well trained to eliminate the possibility of torturous execution. An execution should be equivalent to surgical anaesthesia from which you don't return. That's because infliction of suffering is, or should be, more costly to the perpetrator than to the subject in all cases.

From a purely practical perspective, elimination of suffering during execution would remove this ridiculous argument from the mouths of anti-death-pentalty activists.


The Schiavo case has come and not quite gone, because there is a feeling out there, largely unexamined, that we were engaged in putting somebody to death...

Then Buckley goes on to cite someone who wrote that a bishop once told him that that the pope ["who ... classified suffering as a gift"], "used to refuse medication precisely because it interfered with his suffering. He has a mystical relationship with his suffering, offering it up for us and the whole world."

I like Mr. Buckley and usually agree with him, but when he writes that the above is "a sophisticated, as sharply distinguished from sophistical, reading of pain," it grates on me. Maybe Buckley's meaning is hidden in his sophisticated use of words, but if he's using popular meanings for these words, then bullshit.

While looking up the words (which Buckley frequently makes me do and which is part of the reason I like to read his stuff), I thought it was interesting that the verb "sophisticate" means to alter deceptively. "Sophistical" means such as plausible but intended to deceive.

If anything, the reading of pain that Buckley seems to consider worldly and refined is actually the one apparently sound but fallacious.

Of the sophisticated reading of pain Buckley writes, "Its sacred origin is the pain of Christ: Why did he linger three hours on the cross?" I've always wondered, if suffering is so great, why did Christ linger for only three hours when most victims of crucifixion took a day or days to die? Why did God command that soldier to perform his mercy killing?


I had to look up "afflatus" because of its resonance with "flatus." At least in this case, they seem like the same damned thing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

United Nuclear - Scientific Supplies

United Nuclear - Scientific Supplies

Looking for some uranium? Check the bottom of the page. Cool stuff here.

The Volokh Conspiracy - - Constrained vs. Unconstrained

The Volokh Conspiracy - -

How in the world these law profs find the time to do their professional stuff, then read and respond to blogs in such a high quality way while carrying on personal lives amazes me. Maybe they don't sleep. In any event, Yes!

Phishing twist relies on bogus blogs | CNET

Phishing twist relies on bogus blogs | CNET "Malicious virus writers are attempting to lure people to malicious blogs using enticing e-mails and instant messages, according to a new report from Websense. Once a person arrives at the blog, which can be posted on a legitimate host site, the victim's computer becomes infected with software designed to steal sensitive information, such as passwords and bank account information."

If attuned to social engineering and paranoid by natue, one probably doesn't use the most popular browser anyway, but recent sadistics indicate that most people still don't even know what phishing is. They think that a link is a link, and so they remain highly susceptible to this sort of thing.

People will probably always be this way because most of them have better things to do than to entertain security issues all the time.

The only solution to this sort of thing is the elimination of online anonymity.

Online anonymity can't really be counted on by the ones who actually need it, but it's good enough for the sort of scumbag who goes phishing.

Online anonymity has nothing to do with online privacy, and it should be done away with.

Maybe in another decade...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"radical secularist relativist judiciary" - as it should be

Phyllis Schlafly has always annoyed me. Just another religious nut. I hope Orin Kerr had her specifically in mind when he posted his short satire. In any event, spot on.

Leave people the hell alone Phyllis!

Saturday, April 09, 2005



No, we can't or won't. Seems that way to me, too.

About 20 years ago I thought I'd arrive in Phoenix and have lots of opportunities to speak Spanish. It turned out, though, that most Hispanics I approached in Spanish didn't speak Spanish.

Now parts of Phoenix are transformed, with many, many native Spanish speakers, Spanish language businesses and so on.

Many Spanish speakers I encounter still have the desire for large families. That's the problem right there: too many people.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Nicholas Kristof: Nukes Are Green

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Nukes Are Green: "But it's time for the rest of us to drop that hostility to nuclear power. It's increasingly clear that the biggest environmental threat we face is actually global warming, and that leads to a corollary: nuclear energy is green."

While I agree with Mr. Kristof, it seems to me that a more pressing reason to promote nuclear energy than global climate change is the effect of insufficient energy for modern civilization. Insufficient energy will lead to increased use of carbon sources and accelerated trashing of the atmosphere, but it will also increase the probability of war, which could be catastrophic to the point of rendering global climate change a non-issue.

I responded to an author with an anti-nuke bent a couple of years ago in this little piece on my now stagnant personal web page. In that piece I included a chart of population growth and a chart of projected energy consumption. The shapes of the two curves are the same, and they illustrate that the problem is more and more people, almost all aspiring to more energy intensive lifestyles.

The ones needing the most energy to lift them out of poverty are also the most numerous by far. Since we're not likely to try to get rid of the people, or even seriously try to control their numbers, we'll have to have the energy.

Mr. Kristof is right. Let it be nuclear not fossil.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dreamer vs. Realist?

TCS: Tech Central Station - Is the World Using Up Its Resources?

"As an example, they often cite Easter Island, whose civilization supposedly failed due to running out of [resources].

... [big gap]

What I do say is that we have some attributes (foresight being one of them) that (for example) the Easter Islanders didn't have, and that they've stood us in good stead for the past couple hundred years."

Stood us in good stead for the past couple hundred years? This author has a much different view of things than I have.

What makes him think the Easter Islanders had no forsight? They were people, just like us, with good brains and evolutionarily derived predispositions. What makes him think that a similar proportion of Easter Islanders didn't foresee their fate as foresee the fate seemingly awaiting humanity now?

I think this author won't agree with me that his economics of individual self-interest indulges the pecking order impulse and leads to the sort of Hummer mentality that is trashing the planet.

I think the Easter Islanders suffered from the same limitations we "modern" humans bear - we're built for earlier times. We're little different from bacteria in a culture dish, oblivious to impending dieoff as a function of the replacement of nutrients with waste in their petri dish.

The difference is that our petri dish is the globe.

Some small fraction of us think we see the eventual consequence of exponentiation against limits. The same must have been true for Easter Islanders. The worriers of Easter Island didn't stand a chance, and neither do worriers today. Human events will unfold subject to now outdated evolutionary impulses.

This author is apparently an economist who thinks I'm with the little red hen. I think we're in the deep shit he's full of.

I hope he's right.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Like Mount St. Helens?

Wired News: What a Little Moon Dust Can Do

We were in panhandle Idaho when Mount St. Helens blew in 1980. We'd bought a simple house in Potlatch and were in the process of refurbishing it. There was not a window nor a door in on the house, and the whole thing was up on cribbing pending the pouring of a basement.

One afternoon, May 18, while we were working on further gutting the place and prepping a space to camp (we had to move in the next day because our rental in nearby Moscow expired), Sue (my wife of almost 31 years now) called to me to look out the window at what was on the horizon, which was black and wide. After a few seconds we knew what it was on accounta having had ash fall our our car a couple of times and being aware of the impending erruption from the media.

So we hustled into the car and headed back to Moscow, 20 miles away. Before we'd gotten halfway there the dust was settling. Worse. Before we'd gotten there we'd had to lag half a mile behind the nearest car due to decreased visibility from the dust kicked up in its wake.

Oh my God.

The stuff was awful. It hung in the air like talcum. It got into everything. Your hair would not pass a comb. Your zipper would not zip. The Honda needed an engine overhaul long before it would have otherwise been due. An image burned into my mind is of a horse in a colorless, moonlike field, shaking itself free of dust. Poor beast didn't have a clue what was going on, and I hate to think what happened to its lungs as it tried to graze.

We moved the next day, but it was an ordeal. We went around the gate closing the road from Moscow to Potlatch because we had to. We lived in the wide open house for two weeks, trying to bathe from a tub of water warmed in an electric kettle (we'd ripped all the plumbing and installed a toilet and a hose bib). It was one of those adventures to remember somewhat fondly, but wondering why. Plastic sheeting on window and door spaces was useless. The stuff went everywhere.

That dust was amazing. I can't imagine what lunar dust must be like.

Tethered Sky Generators

Sky WindPower Corporation

I like the "hat tip" credit I first saw on Eugene Volokh's blog. So, hat tip to Wired News.

"An array of 600 Flying Electric Generators rated at 20MW each, a total of twelve thousand megawatts in capacity, operating over a ground space of a ten by twenty mile rectangle, would produce approximately three times as many megawatt hours per year as the 28,572,902 MWh produced by [Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station] in the year 2003, the most electricity produced by a single generating plant in the U.S. that year."

Sounds good to me.

I have a couple of questions about wind energy. One is the net energy question. The other is the energetic and financial cost of overcoming intermittence. There are other question, too, of course.

By vastly reducing the need for storage and redundance to overcome intermittence, the tethered wind generator addresses both of my major concerns. Whether or not it's enough is still an open question, but intuition says it just might be enough for this scheme to yield substantial positive net energy, a key requirement for sustainability.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Amnesty International is wrong on the death penalty

BBC NEWS | Americas | Death penalty 'at record levels'

According to this report, Amnesty International is against the death penalty because it "it violates fundamental rights and is applied unfairly."

The questions, then, are whether there is a fundamental right not to be executed, and whether it matters if the death penalty is applied "fairly".

There is no fundamental right not to be executed. There IS, however, a fundamental right not to be murdered (and no, lawful execution by the state is not murder). What's more, there is a fundamental right not to be preyed upon, period.

I believe in "three strikes you're dead". Habitual predators ought not be tolerated. They should be executed. The deterrent effect of capital punishment, contrary to what anti-death-penalty activits claim, is real and significant.

As for the death penalty being applied unfairly, sure, it's a human endeavor and therefore imperfect. The correct approach, though, is to improve the process not toss the tool. Where is the fairness in tolerating disproportionately increased murders among blacks (most murder of black people is by black people) simply because of a distaste for capital punishment?

Jack Kevorkian lingers in prison until at least 2007 for helping people out of hopeless situations, yet predatory thugs are released from prison every day to commit more crime, many times murder. That's sick.

In this case, Amnesty International is flat wrong.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Paul Sanche Passed Away

Paul Sanche passed away March 31, 2005.

I liked Paul. He was a smart guy, and pretty cool, too. What other octogenarian has a meaningful web site? Paul's SelfMakeover site is still available. With any luck it'll remain so. (Update 20050415: Probably it was just a DNS problem, but this morning it looked as if Paul's site had died, too. It's back now. In any event, Paul's site is archived in the Wayback Machine at*/

So long Paul.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Tony Auth: "Terri Schiavo 1963 - 1990" Hear! Hear!

Tony Auth's cartoon for 4-1-05 is of a gravestone with the caption:

Terri Schiavo's Body
1963 - 2005

Terri Schiavo
1963 - 1990

Outstanding! I was thinking of having my son draw a similar cartoon, with the "1963 - 1990" part on the gravestone, but with bystanders bearing perplexed looks reflecting the overwhelming mindset in the USA.

The soul is a product of the mind and the brain; when the brain dies, the soul dies and the person is dead. Terri died 15 years ago.

No, it doesn't hit home; it's just stupid. <-- The Volokh Conspiracy - -

The Volokh Conspiracy - -: "[Todd Zywicki, April 1, 2005 at 8:21am] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks
Tom Smith on Schiavo Case:

I haven't followed the Schiavo case that closely, but I gotta say that Tom Smith's brillian satire on the Right Coast, Michael Schiavo in Hell (A Play in One Paragraph) hits home."

No, it doesn't hit home. It's just stupid. But these people are brilliant (no sarcasm), so where does that leave us?

Closer to Atheism

Koran scholar: US will cease to exist in 2007: "A thorough analysis of the Koran reveals that the US will cease to exist in the year 2007, according to research published by Palestinian scholar Ziad Silwadi."

I have always considered myself a respectful agnostic. I acknowledge the real power of human spirituality and its evolutionary roots. The reason I am not an atheist is because you cannot prove a negative, which means, to me in the spiritual realm, that you have to live with a certain amount of uncertainty.

How much uncertainty? That's varied over time. I've always been 100 percent certain that God, if God exists, bears little resemblance to the images held by particular religions throughout human experience. But how certain am I that there is, or is not, a God? What kind of God?

Focusing on the popular God that carries out personal relationships with people and intervenes in their lives, I've usually concluded that the odds of His existence are pretty small, probably less than 5% or so. As time has gone on and I've tried to pay attention to what goes on in the world, this probability has gotten smaller. Nowadays I assign an even smaller probability to this type of God's existence.

Recent crap like stem cell research prohibition, the Schiavo controversy, Pentecostals teaching that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time (even placing a saddle on the back of one at their new $25 million museum), and now this garbage about the Koran predicting the destruction of the US via tsunami, drive me closer to atheism.

That's really just an emotional reaction, though, and I'll forgive myself for it, expecially since it is a tiny sin compared to the unfettered emotionalism displayed by those holding to controversy in areas such as those above, and demagogues driving controversies such as those.

Terri has been dead for 15 years; she died when her brain died. Inherent human dignity is readily falsifiable dogma. The unfettered emotionalism of pentecostals and other religious nuts is the tool of demagogues. If Pat Robertson wants to stand up in front of thousands of people and declare that his God just healed several people in the crowd of hemorrhoids, so be it, but I think he's an asshole.