Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ten Things I Hate About Commandments

I just had to share this video from YouTube. It's a more modern promo for the Ten Commandments.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mormons Part Two

The Mormons stopped by again, this time with a Book of Mormon. Jeannette has been heading up the reading so far, and giving me summaries. So far Nephi killed a guy with a rod because he had some brass plates which had a genealogy and prophecies on them. God let him kill the guy, by getting the guy drunk before Nephi killed him. We still don't know where these plates came from, or why this other guy had the plates. It seems like the Jews were mad at Nephi, and his family have to live in the woods, so his family is mad at Nephi and try to kill him. They've bound him up, but God loosened the rope. That's how far we've gotten so far.

Saturday afternoon, I spent cleaning a speck of highway with some other members of Minnesota Atheists. The time went by fast, but it was still hard work.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, while I was filling up my car with gas, a Mormon asked me if I believed in Jesus. I asked him, "Historical or metaphysical?" He said, "Both." I replied that I wasn't sure if there was a historical Jesus, or if Jesus was a creation of a sect of Judaism shortly after the fall of the temple to give people hope that the messiah did come, and the end of the world is soon. There were a bunch of messianic preachers around that time, maybe the Jesus story is a mish-mash of those people, with some choice heroic mythology thrown in for divinity sake. Anyway, the Mormon said that he believed Jesus was born of a virgin, was killed, and came back to life three days later. Then he explained that when Jesus died, and all the apostles died, Jesus' church died too. In Galatians, which can be said to be a pretty pivotal book, not just for Mormons, but Martin Luther interpreted the text to justify grace through faith, not works. Although it could be said that "works" really means Jewish rituals required by Jews. Galatians does provide for a separation from the Torah, and the rituals which make up Jewish culture, and distinctiveness, which may have been seen a burdensome to gentiles seeking a conversion to Jewish Christianity. As you can see, Galatians is pretty important, it's why Christian's don't follow mitzvot today. Galatians can also be seen as a rebuttal to Acts, at least the first two chapters, which may be been written by Marcionites, and tacked on to his work (probably chapters 3 through 6.)

Anyway, the Mormon's like to quote Galatians 1:6-9 often, to convince Christians that Mormonism is the true way to Christ, not these other religions, or versions of Christianity. If you really real Galatians, it's easy to get the theme. Christians shouldn't be like Jews. The Mormon I met quoted that passage to me, explained that in Amos, God predicted an apostasy would happen, that everyone turned their back to God, and that God appeared to Joseph Smith in the 1800's to start his own church. He read gold plates in a hat, and translated the Book of Mormon.

I had never talked with a Mormon before, at least not about what Mormon's believed, so I was glad when he offered to stop by later, in about a week, to talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.

Ok, right now, Mormonism sounds like it sprung from a totally nuts idea, but I wanted to see if the origins didn't matter as much, if there was a good message, a good philosophy behind the origin story. When the Mormon's came, there were three of them, two Elders, and one Priest. They told me more origin stories. Jesus came to America, showed himself to the natives there. Also, there was Lehi, who in 600 BC, came to America, and started a civilization. Mormon, a prophet living in American in the 4th Century, wrote the Book of Mormon.

I asked them if there was anything really that different from Christianity that they believed in, besides the Book of Mormon, they answered, "No." The belief in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is so strong with Mormons, that I was told that I must pray, and ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. If it was true, I'd get a burning feeling inside of me. The key, however, was that before you prayed, you have to really want to believe that the Book of Mormon is true. The feeling you get validates the authenticity. I wish that worked for answers on a test, or scientific research, or on Jeopardy.

I like to learn about the philosophical backgrounds of different religions, to look at things from their way. I wasn't able to take much away from my meeting with the Mormons. They didn't give me a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, so I couldn't decide for myself whether it was true or not. They emphacised that family is most important for Mormons, and that polygamy isn't practiced by members of the LDS any longer. I asked about the role of women, having attended a panel discussion on religion's suppression of women's rights. Their response was that women could never be priests or elders, but they will give talks during the service which are like sermons, but aren't. There is a Relief Society for women, which gives them something to do, because they can't be involved in the leadership of the church. I think they got this question a lot. I helped them in their description of it a bit, by explaining the way the Muslim women explained how they aren't suppressed. It's just their role as women. God has roles for certain people, and for women, it's to be obedient to their husbands, and to cover their bodies. That's not suppression, that's obedience to God, which is different. They liked that answer.

The priest said he's come by tomorrow with a Book of Mormon for me, I have yet to see him, and that was Wednesday. I've been reading parts of the Book of Mormon online, as I can. I've noticed that the Book of Mormon from 1830, has been changed since then. Here is one passage, as it exists today, from Second Nephi:
30:6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and delightsome people.

The 1830 version, with the included racism:
30:6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people.

Of course, selected quotes taken out of context from scripture don't provide a whole picture of a faith, but key beliefs are often formed from picking a single sentence from a book, and determining that women can't lead a church, homosexuality is an abomination, or all the non Mormon churches will be destroyed soon.

I hope the Mormons come back, I doubt they would give up on me this easily. They want to save me, after all, and all non-Mormons from earthquakes, fire, storms, war, disease, and starvation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Minnesota Stadium Epidemic

Minnesota is planning to put in three new stadiums. Two of these affect me, the third, a new football vikings is neither affirmative nor important considering I don't like football or the Vikings. However the Gophers ARE getting a new stadium and it does affect me. It affects my tuition bill. I find it an incredible waste of money, money that can be used for the students, and I am 100% against Gophers football, the players and the Stadium.
I love the Twins. Like many fans I grew up watching the Twins at the current stadium. I like the indoor seating. I like not having to worry about cold or heat, snow or rain. I like that games will not be postponed. Who gives a shit if the stadium is being shared. It serves a purpose.
Besides being outdoors, I have other qualms about the Twins stadium. It will be smaller, therefore less seats. This means ticket prices may go up, allowing poor people to miss out on Twins fever. It will be in a bad neighborhood. For all those college students that complain about University Ave, the crime and begging will more than likely be worse going to and from the new Twins destination. There is no room for new businesses. The only new business that prospered with the metro dome is the museum across the street. I find it ridiculous that it is being paid for with public money, and that sales tax went up for something that not everyone will be utilizing. Finally Humbert Humphrey is one of the last fields in the MLB that is not corporately sponsored. I don't know if if the new one will be sponsored, but it wouldn't surprise me ( I'm looking at you TCF).
I'm not saying the outdoors will never be enjoyable, but be reasonable. It is Minnesota, and the bad weather is unpredictable. Money for a new stadium can be better spent elsewhere.

For more information for the Twins fan, check out my buddy Nick's blog. He is the real expert.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Odd Search

Someone searched for "bodacious blacks" and went to my website. I feel sorry for them. In other news, I went to an interesting seminar on network security. I talked with someone from Children's Hospitals. They have a ton of computer staff and equipment. Now I see the benefit of being a non profit. You take your profit, and buy new computers with it. I also talked with someone from the U of MN, who complained about CS students screwing around on the network, and causing general mayhem. All in all, it was a good seminar, considering it was free. At least I don't have to deal with bored college students messing up my network.

How Do Tragic Events Shape Your Religious Views?

What do you think? Please post your comments.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Friendly Atheist

Today, Jeannette and I saw Hemant Mehta, author of "I Sold My Soul On eBay," at the latest Minnesota Atheists event. He gave a really good talk on positive atheism, how it can be used to dispel myths of atheism. He gave some good examples of how to utilize media to establish a dialog between believers and non believers. The key is respect. It's important for atheists to see from the point of view of believers, and to resist getting angry. Part of that anger can come from not being able to clearly describe your point of view. To do so, you often have to cite historical examples, and know a bit about science. You really have to do some homework if you want to counter the believer's argument, "How did we get here?" Their answer, "God did it." Your answer isn't as simple, and takes more work.

The meeting went really well, and Jeannette and I talked with members over dinner for almost three hours. It's amazing how much stuff people have to talk about. It's also amazing how many atheist are sci-fi geeks.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Digg Users Don't Click Ads

In response to this article, which claims digg and stumbleupon are run by kids, this article refers to digg users as sophisticated.

I don't believe kids are sophisticated, or unsophisticated, they just have different patterns of behavior. Adults may be more apt to click on a link to buy some expensive electronics, because they have the money, where the youTube crowd is looking for entertainment. I use AdBlock, so I don't notice ads. Maybe more "kids" on digg use similar means of blocking ads. The content is what people want, pictures, videos, lastly text, about things they care about.

If kids don't click on ads, will there be more embedded advertising? Will every web video come complete with an ad? Will each flash game now have product placement?

Evil Twins Spread Zombie Plague

Sdbot and Gaobot strains are responsible for 80 percent of detections related to bots in the first quarter of 2007.

read more | digg story

Candy Scam

"Would you like to buy some candy to support the Washburn High Recreational Fund? It help keeps kids off of the street, and off of drugs." This quote was rapid fired from the mouth of a woman actively scamming students at Coffman Memorial Union at the U of MN campus. The organization she was raising money for doesn't exist. This was a scam, a very successful scam. After everything was done, she took her pile of money, called her partner to pick her up, that she sold all the candy faster then usual. All it takes for this scam to end, is for people to just say, "No thanks." If you are unsure whether the person is for real, ask for ID form the organization, ask for address information for the organization. Beware of people who have only a heavily used laminated page, without brochures to hand out.

If a woman wasn't to ask students for money, what's the harm in that? Isn't that free speech? What about the legitimate charities out there? Couldn't some of these people who solicit through resturants, and in university buildings be for real?

There is harm in allowing this kind of scam to go on. Students will become less trusting each time they are scammed, hardened to giving, always having to second guess each charitable contribution. Students shouldn't have to feel guilty by saying, "No." While this woman was taking students for a ride at Coffman, many used the excuse, "I don't have any cash." But, some still looked guilty. Others gave out of guilt, and a lot did. She had collected nearly 20 dollars in five minutes from a late dinner crowd. People are convinced they are helping out. Some will doubt whether it's a real charity, but think that she wouldn't ask if she didn't need it herself anyway, so it goes to help someone in need.

I ask all students, and people in general, to give generously to charity when you can. Support student organizations when they ask for donations. You'll find supporting organizations a better cause then supporting a ring of swindlers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Do Organized Religions Suppress Women's Rights?

Jeannette and I attended a wonderful panel discussion on Women, Faith, and Society at the U of MN on Thursday night. The event was hosted by Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists, and co-sponsored by the Baha'i Association, Women of Virtue, Hindu Student Society, and the Muslim Student Association.

It was so interesting to hear perspectives from different people who come from different cultures and different belief systems. For the most part, there was agreement among the panelists regarding the suppression of women, and how religion may play a part in that.

The atheist speakers were Cynthia Egli and Nuzi Haneef. Cynthia appeared to hold a grudge against "Conservative Christians," calling them harmful, and that they were invading our schools and government. She didn't cite specific examples of this harm, or examples of suppression by this group, which was unfortunate, because her argument took on an angry, unjustified tone. She believed that religion should be phased out in the world, and that the suppression of women has continued throughout history as a result of religions which have been established by men, for men. Nuzi was more rational. She believed that religion has suppressed women, but it is not a function of religion to suppress women. This was the point the other panelists agreed upon for the most part. She does not believe in a god, but did not advocate for the removal of all religions.

Suhag A, Shukla, a Hindu, described Hindu as a way of life, rather then a religion. Duty is most important, that women and men have different roles. In Hindu, God is half man, and half woman. Through the talk, she stressed how important it is to not judge suppression of women from outside of the culture. A Western woman may see an Indian woman doing certain things, or dressing a certain way, it is important to try to imagine existing in that culture, before determining that legitimate suppression is taking place.

The Women of Virtue, Julianne Moch and Suzi Sunderman, were the most disappointing panelists. It's not because they are Christian, but because they were the least prepared. Every other panelist had notes in front of them, explaining their group's perspective on the suppression on women. These women had no notes, but instead openly admitted to not being academics, but could speak form personal experience. Rather then answering the forum's question, Suzi told a personal story about how she found Jesus. He appeared in her bedroom one night, and saved her from her addiction to sin. Her vice was women, and Jesus cured her from the disease of homosexuality. Julianne mentioned she was in a death spiral before she became born again. that was their response to the question, "Do Organized Religions Suppress Women's Rights?" Suzi was asked why churches are lead by men, why Catholics don't have women popes, or priests. She said she read the Bible front to back, and didn't read any passages which treated women any differently then men. At the end of the discussion, in her closing statements, Suzi, rather then emphasizing her points, which she didn't have any, she took the opportunity to preach. Not only was this unprofessional considering the academic setting of the discussion, but it was disrespectful of all of the different groups in attendance. It was also rude of Cynthia to mention that there should be less religion in the world, but Suzi was seeking converts to be "drenched in the blood of Jesus." Most unprofessional was her closing statement, "God doesn't believe in atheists."

The Muslim representatives, Faiza Hashim, and Jamila Kosobayashi, brought an interesting persepctive. Islam, Faiza mentioned, is the most disorganized religion. While everyone has core beliefs, there are many different was to practice Islam. Islam is so diverse, if you give a monster Islam, they will use it to their advantage. If you are peaceful, you can use it to your advantage. I think that is similar with most religions. You can interpret passages of scripture a certain way, or give emphasis to sections as you wish. A question was raised about Muslim women wearing certain clothes, or overing their faces. Jamila told a story about going on Haig and seeing millions of different women, all dressed differently. The Koran instructs women to dress modestly, and men as well. In different cultures, that means different things. The Bible also instructs women to live modestly in 2 Timothy.

Baha'i is a religion I hadn't heard of before. Ben Milston, and Mona Majid explained a little more about their faith, and how it treats a woman's rights. It fosters understanding and unity. They believe that all religions are noble, and have the same goals for the soul. Equality between men and women is central to Baha'i. Inequality impedes social progress. Scriptures are sexist, but modern society removes male dominance. Without feminism, the world will not know peace. This group appeared the be the most welcoming, and supportive group, right from it's inception. A central theme of the religion is equality, so I don't understand how anyone can criticize this religion for suppressing women.

i hope to attend more panels like this. It was great to hear so many different voices, even if some of them were angry or disrespectful.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Should Penn Gillette call Christians 'Christards' in an essay about atheist parenting?

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

People actually believe this works

This is absolutely ridiculous but there are many people in the Speech Language Pathology field that believes this works. I will burn my certification before I ever apply this to a child. Can you tell me what's wrong with this?

Don Imus - Like Shooting Fish in a Biggot Barrel

Dom Imus got caught with his decency pants down. It's another example of people saying things they don't really understand, some old guy saying a catch phrase he thinks is funny. Should one of the other people on his show stopped him, said, hey, that's not cool, of course. That probably would have ended it right there. But this isn't a decency game. It's a game for profit, and MSNBC is reaping the benefits. Sure, his show is axed, sure sponsors are dropping, but when Imus is gone, the next show will have gained so much publicity from this event, it'll all be offset.

I read a publicity interview with Al Sharpton, which is a boost for his show as well. Imus and Sharpton are entertainment, not news. This is where America is now, we get our news from entertainment. Entertainment is fun. Lie to me, go ahead and lie to me. It's what we want. In the transcript for the Imus Sharpton Showdown, Don Imus criticizes black journalists and entertainers for not doing more for sickle cell anemia research. He even says, I bet I could raise more money then you (referring to Sharpton.) He tells a heart warming story about how he has a ranch and takes in kids who have cancer for a week, and cowboys it up with them, real Bonanza style, as he says. Oh, and half are minorities. Anyway, one kid has sickle cell anemia, and flew him to the hospital 120 miles away, real heart warming stuff. So, that's what makes him aware of the disease, his personal trauma over it, yet he hasn't done anything either. All he spouts off is, how much money does the government spend on sickle cell anemia research? 90 million, that's not much, and Sharpton, as a black man, should know that fact. One little gem spoken to Byron Monroe of Ebony magazine, "Let me tell you, I'll bet you I've slept in a house with more black children who were not related to me than you have." This started off a spark in the interview, which lead to lots of crosstalk.

At one point, in addressing Congresswoman Kilpatrick from Michigan, Imus says, "Oh, I do understand it. How do you assume that I don't understand it? Of course I understand that. But, I mean, you know, it's like the old country song, 'God may forgive you, but I won't. Jesus may love you, but I don't.'" Congresswoman Kilpatrick then makes a statement, almost generalizing blacks as a forgiving people. Imus responds with, "So I can't get anyplace with you people, but I can get someplace with Jesus." Now, Sharpton takes offense to this reference to "you people," however, Kilpatrick set the tone here, she was going to generalize black people as forgiving, but when Imus wants to refer to black people generally, it's racist. I'm not defending Imus, but there is an scent of differing standards at play.

I thought of a section from Richard Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion," when Imus asserted that he's just a good person who says bad things. He cited the example of taking kids suffering from cancer to his ranch as proof he's good. I think this may be a way to assert domaniance, that he is so wealthy, that he can afford to support, not only himself, and his family, but also have ten kids around at the same time. From time to time, I view the US in the same regard. They assert dominance by giving money to foreign countries. The quote from Dawkins' book follows:

"Zahavi studies Arabian babblers, little brown birds who live
in social groups and breed co-operatively. Like many small birds,
babblers give warning cries, and they also donate food to each
other. A standard Darwinian investigation of such altruistic acts
would look, first, for reciprocation and kinship relationships
among the birds. When a babbler feeds a companion, is it in
the expectation of being fed at a later date? Or is the recipient of the
favour a close genetic relative? Zahavi's interpretation is radically
unexpected. Dominant babblers assert their dominance by feeding
subordinates. To use the sort of anthropomorphic language Zahavi
delights in, the dominant bird is saying the equivalent of, 'Look
how superior I am to you, I can afford to give you food.' Or
'Look how superior I am, I can afford to make myself vulnerable to
hawks by sitting on a high branch, acting as a sentinel to warn the
rest of the flock feeding on the ground.' The observations of Zahavi
and his colleagues suggest that babblers actively compete for the
dangerous role of sentinel. And when a subordinate babbler
attempts to offer food to a dominant individual, the apparent
generosity is violently rebuffed. The essence of Zahavi's idea is that
advertisements of superiority are authenticated by their cost. Only
a genuinely superior individual can afford to advertise the fact by
means of a costly gift."

UPDATE: CBS fired Don Imus. I hope he takes his big severance check, and starts up his own show, starts marketing it, and generates more buzz then a bees nest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Secularism is evil

Are atheists and secularists as dangerous as the Taliban? Is questioning unreason placing you on the same plane as a religious fundamentalist? Fundamentalism implies dogmatism. Atheists reject dogma. While there may be a new breed of atheist coming out of high schools who are ecstatic about their new way of thinking, thanks to books by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, they shouldn't hold them up like bibles for atheism. Sure, Richard Dawkins' explanation of how morality developed over time, and that's why we are generally nice to one another, sounds convincing, but you should go study it for yourself. Prove him wrong, test his theory. Find exceptions to his rule, and learn from that.

You can't have fascinating conversations with everyone nodding their head in agreement. I think the vocal atheists, the Angry Atheists, as I'll call them, do have a feeling of religious extremism. The only unifying element of atheists, is the lack of belief in a supernatural god. There is nothing else that goes with it. There are no rituals, no chanting of words, or strapping boxes on foreheads, no rules about who is clean and unclean, who to marry, rights of women, who to have sex with, when, and why, and no threat of punishment if you get any of it wrong. Atheism stands to change with the presentation of new evidence. By studying science, it's easy to see how wrong people were in the past about elemental things, things we take for granted. Part of atheism is always being ready to accept what you believe now, may be proven wrong in the future based on new evidence.

This article, regarding one author's view of secularists, paints a bleak picture. One where secularists shut down conservative talk radio, "under the guise of hate speech." It also groups animal rights, and environmental groups with secularists. Just because a group does not advertise itself as religious, does not mean its an atheist group, or that its members are not religious. These groups do not act to end religion by any means. Citing examples of violence, like the destruction of a virus-resistant sweet potato crop, the bombing of a plant genetics lab, and attempts to harm staff who perform experiments on primates, the author attempts to counter the humanist argument that religion has spurred many wars, and caused many deaths. This argument is weak. That's all the author could come up with, damage to a few labs, by groups who aren't humanist, secular, or atheist, but labeling these groups under one umbrella, and creating a religion out of these very separate groups is misleading. While animal right extremists who commit violent crimes and threaten scientists is not something most people would condone, it isn't one of the priorities of the FBI, as the author claims.

My view on swearing

The first class I entered in college was Communication Disorders. The first thing I learned was that the main goal of communication was for a communicator to effectively transmit an idea to a listener. That being said, let me explain the problems I have with people that don't swear.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not an advocate of swearing. Excessive swearing makes a person seem unintelligent. However, in some cases substitution for a swear word just make you seem like a wiener. Let me explain. Example: I was drinking coffee at a certain place, and on the cup it said "darn good coffee". What do I have wrong with that besides it sounding silly? The point being is that the communicator is trying to give out a message that the coffee is darn good. However, they don't want to "damn" anything. Darn is just a substitution for Damn which most people know, so the same idea is still being communicated. Why not just say excellent coffee. I can go on a long rant about why people that say heck, darn, fudge, butt etc bother the hell out of me, or heck, but hell is the exact same thing. God doesn't like it when you say hell, so saying heck will trick him. This silly substitutions aren't tricking anyone. They just make you sound like a fucking five year old. But we still know you are frustrated, confused or angry with something. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but I'm tired of being chastised for sometimes swearing, and people that say a childish word for the same exact same message I said thinking they are better than me. I've read up on the anti swearing arguments. I'm ready for anything someone has to say to me. Not only will I defend my position, but I'll still respect you. People that use the word fudge even when quoting probably won't say anything anyway. They are to afraid too offend.

I Sold My Soul On eBay

Author Hemant Mehta will be speaking about his book, I Sold My Soul On eBay, at the Roseville Public Library on Sunday April 15th from 1:00 to 3:30 PM, with dinner following if you'd like. Copies of his books will be made available, and of course, he will be signing them. The book is being made available 2 days ahead of schedule for this event. So, what is, I Sold My Soul On eBay about? Read the following blurb from the meetup event:

In January 2006, Hemant Mehta, an atheist and chair of the board of directors of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), decided to auction his time on eBay to attend the church or place of worship of the winner's choosing, at the rate of $10 per hour (to be donated to SSA). The winning bid of $504 came from Jim Henderson, an ex-minister from Seattle, Washington.

Henderson specializes in visiting churches and giving them advice on how they can improve. He thought, What better critic is there than an atheist? Henderson asked Mehta to visit nine churches in Illinois (totaling less than the 50 hours due) and give an honest impression of his experiences.

In the meantime, Mehta became an instant celebrity. His story appeared on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Seattle Times. He was also featured in many Christian magazines.

Hemant Mehta's website is

I encourage everyone to attend, believers and non believers alike. Anyone can ask questions, and they will. Atheists are terrific skeptics after all, and I'd like to see some good opinion from the other side.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Do NOT walk cats

Unless you like dragging your fur ball through the city, do not walk your cat. Well, maybe you can walk your cat, but my cats become giant fuzzy lumps when put into a harness, with the promise of a nice walk outside. I guess it's for the best. Of course, they could get some good exercise, but they aren't exposed to bugs and such, and won't eat wierd things on the ground when I'm not paying attention. Maybe I'll try again one day, but until then, the only way to take your cats for a walk, is to put them in a kitty stroller.

Blades of Glory

If you haven't seen Blades of Glory yet, stop what you are doing, leave work, or school, and see this movie. Talladega Nights was awful, this movie is not. As simple as that, just see the movie.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Manticore proves it's not too early to have a movie about the war in Iraq. Somehow the turmoil in Iraq takes a lighter tone when the greatest threat is a 2000 year old monster.

Good news

I've worked hard, and now good things will come of it. I can't say more until later, but good things are coming. Also, Zoe is the cutest cat ever, cuter then any kitten!

Shivering Isles, an expansion for Oblivion, is awesome, you play in the realm of a god of madness, play in cities of mania and dementia.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Opera rules

I need to get used to Opera. I've been at it all day, and it's speedier then Firefox, even after optimizing the browser. I'm a fan of widgets, and like that Opera has that built in. It makes a little easier to shut down all of those busy apps by closing one program, and have them appear again when I open the browser. Also, you can widgetize blogs pretty easily. I have added a new element to the page, which Opera will auto detect as a widget.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Why are geeks often atheist?

An interesting trend on sites such as Digg, Slashdot and Shuzak suggests that atheism is the "religion" of choice among geeks. Why is atheism more popular among geeks when clearly the average person is religious? Well this article might have an explanation.

This article isn't very scientific, and makes many guesses. It's sure sparked a debate, if you can call it a debate on Digg, where over 800 comments have been left regarding the issue. Part of the article seems to be too pro geek, making atheism something that only elite smarty-pants geeks can grasp, and that only stupid people are theists. By reading the huge volume of comments, you can get a good sense that this is a powerful topic, with some people feeling strongly that there is no god, and others making the case that you'd better believe in god, just in case. Still others want to make the further leap, and say that well, if there is no harm in believing in a god, then you may as well believe in the Abrahamic god, oh, and follow the bible, and believe that jesus was the son of god, oh, and you best do as he says in the bible, or else you're going to hell. I do think that there are a number of geeks who are atheists, when they actually mean non religious. They just don't care for one reason or another. I did hear the term igtheist, they just ignore theism, or aptheism, where there is an apathy toward theism. There are a number who believe there may be a god, but follow a watch maker philosophy. God snapped its cosmically magic fingers, and poof, there was the beginning of the universe. Then, god doesn't intervene. But, who or what created god then? If things become more complex over time, with an omnipotent being capable of creation of the universe being the most complex, how can god be pre-creation? Could we be one of many iterations of the universe? Is there a cycle of expansion and contraction? Even if that were the case, is there any way currently to tell one way or the other? We can make guesses that the universe is expanding, but that is as far as we can go now. Even in the fiction if Star Trek, they don't even go past our own galaxy, much less venture other galaxies. It's too fast, even for fiction. And even our own galaxy is so fast, you can make a seven year series about getting chucked into one quadrant, and needing to hoof it all the way back home.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


The webcam was boring, and was only really useful for spying on the cats when I was at work once. I've replaced it with a link to Pandora channels.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Positive Atheism

Enough harping on the bad part of atheism. I like the diversity I see around me. I like helping people I don't know, and even helping people I do know who may not deserve it. I don't want everyone to think the way that I do. I don't think erasing religion from the world would end all war. War come form a lack of resources. Unless we can make an abundance of everything we need without cost, there will be war. The reasons for war just change. I am grateful for the religious groups who speak out against war and injustice where they notice it. It seems like one vocal minority excited to go to war against infidels, is overshadowing the respectful, peaceful, majority. Recently, we can see what happens when those voices get a little louder. That little voice spreads throughout Christian sects, and only the most intolerant ignore it.

When I read atheist forums, even Minnesota Atheists, people are afraid to join because of the name. Atheism is misunderstood, and has a negative feel to it. I'd say they are missing out on a great group of people, who are interesting, creative, nice, understanding, most of all, tolerant. The meaning won't change for them if the group is called Secular Humanists, or Agnostics, but that's a matter of semantics. The only way the opinion of atheism will change in people's minds, is if people take the time to dispel the myths. My previous post explains what people are doing to alienate atheists from believers. I'd like to see atheists do more volunteering, as they have been, under a banner of atheists, just how a church will when they help build a Habitat House. Show people that atheists care about other people, enjoy doing good just as much as anyone else, and maybe people's opinions will change.

Why I hate atheists

Ok, hate may be a strong word, but I do have serious problems with some atheists who think they are clever, or funny, by being so anti-religious. The following was posted to an atheist message board, with my responses following:

10. You hear any body say god you can't help but snicker.
9. The nearest bible is at that thing called church.
8. You think Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell should be put in an insane asylum and force fed prozac until they quit predicting doom and gloom all the time.
7. All churches should be taxed like any other business.
6. You know global warming is real like evolution.
5. Half your shirts have atheist or evolution sayings on them along with bumper stickers on your car.
4. Your library is mostly science, atheism and history.
3. You won't date a man or woman that if they believe in any of that holy shit.
2. You belong to an atheist organization.
1. You think the current president is some kind of devolved mutant variation gone horribly wrong.

10. Someone's belief, or disbelief in god shouldn't impact you one way or another. It's just another way to be smug and disrespectful.
9. Most people in the US have some kind of Christian upbringing, or at least exposure. It's childish to be so ignorant, so anti-religious that you wouldn't read a bible, koran, or torah. Being atheist should give you greater freedom to expose yourself to different religions. What are you afraid of, that the bible will bite you? Christians will tell atheists to read the bible, to look for the truth. I say, read the bible, and know it better then the person asking you to read the bible.
8. Robertson and Fallwell are crazy in their own right, but do you honestly think that someone else won't reach for the microphone when they are gone? There is a group of people who have this itch in the back of their mind, either through upbringing, social experience, or other times ignorance, which tells them gay sex is icky, or, Muslims sure are scary. Pat and Jerry do a good job of scratching that itch, it's a power trip that lots of people wouldn't pass up if given the chance.
7. Taxing churches is a tricky question. The idea is that churches don't provide any benefit to a community, and are actually profitable enterprises. The author may be thinking of mega churches with book stores and coffee shops inside. I do feel that a large enterprise like that should be heavily evaluated for tax exempt status. But what about the small churches in rural America who have enough trouble keeping members as it is. Not every pastor is driving a luxury car. It's difficult to separate the two, how do you determine who to tax? The thing I love most about churches is the ability to provide for a community, regardless of belief. I loved hearing stories about churches helping out during Katrina when no one else could. They didn't help to gain membership, or to be disciples, but to help people because they needed it. I'd like to see more of that. I think the homelessness problem could be helped over night if church doors were open all day and night. The hurdle is liability, and safety. I tell you if I had a church, I'd have it open as much as I could. I think there is a focus of large churches that resembles a business, complete with business plans, and marketing executives. But, how do you change that? Just like people aren't forced to give people on the street money, no one is forcing membership to mega churches.
6. I have no idea how the global warming issue became a religious matter, but again, I think there is a vocal minority who doubt global warming, and somehow think that by believing that the earth is getting warmer is a sign that god doesn't exist. That's a silly proposition. I think a lot of people are ignorant of global climate change, and maybe they were told something in church, so that's what they believe, but believers in global warming could also be guilty of the same fault, by taking an article or movie at face value. Here is my blip about global warming: We don't yet understand the human mind, or human physiology as well as we should. We have difficulty predicting weather past 30 days. We need to do much more serious work regarding global climate change. We just don't know enough yet. We don't know enough to determine which changes to make. Where should trees be planted, for example, to lower the temperature? We need a Manhattan Project for global warming. All of it may be for naught anyway, it may be a pattern in the cycle that the earth goes through. I do think that people are capable of coming up with solutions, we just need a lot of people, lots of solutions, and the ability to test them in simulation.
5. Evolution is not an atheist issue. I know so so so many Christians who firmly believe in evolution. There are Christian Apologists who will explain to themselves that to god, a day may be a million years. This is how I heard a Jew explain it at his bar mitzvah. Believers will paint atheists with a wide brush, but that does not mean the reverse should be true.
4. Science is a good field, and history. I do think that atheism books function the same as books like Dude Where's My Country to liberals. They make you happy to read them, because you'll tend to agree with what is written. At that point, they become as useful as fiction in spurring internal debate. And, where is the fiction? Let yourself be open to possibilities, life doesn't have to be all nonfiction.
3. This line expresses the same intolerance shown in many other groups through out history. Jews are pressured to marry only other Jews, and it happens at a high rate, about 75 percent. Base your opinion on a person by their character. Just because someone believes in all that, "holy shit," does not mean they are a bad person. The reverse is true, just because someone is an atheist, that doesn't mean they are bad either. But, if someone is an intolerant, smug, self convinced genius, you're better off not dating them anyway.
2. This line is just silly, and obvious. I would imagine that most people who attend a church would consider themselves Christian. The mark of an atheist should be, do you attend an atheist organization's meetings, or did you just sign up online? If you are a member, and go to meetings, do you ask questions, do you question? You shouldn't agree with everything people say, give your own twist to the situation. Of course, don't question for the sake of questioning, and don't be difficult over things like newsletter format.
1. This line is childish, and offers no solutions to the problem. Get on the phone and call the white house, explain the problems you have, how you'd like things to be done differently. Think you can't do it? Call them: 202-456-1111.

I do think there is an explosive growth of new atheists. However, the new atheists are being brought on by Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, who advocate the elimination of religion everywhere. That isn't realistic. Also, it ignores the good religions do. I don't like to blame the small church for priests abusing children, just as I don't blame the Somalians who live by me for terrorism. I do think that the koran and bible can advocate violence against other groups, but also offer tolerance, and peace. Sometimes I wish the bible could be edited to cut out violent parts, just focus on turning the other cheek. By leaving the rest in, it gives intolerant groups an excuse to do what they do. But, most other people just know better.

On a brighter note, the Pre-Nicene New Testament is really good. The footnotes are interesting, and add a lot of depth to the writings. You can really get a good picture for what early Christianity may have been like.