Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The God Delusion and Brights

I am currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and am thoroughly engrossed.

It is a relief of sorts to see ideas in my mind that had been clear as mud being articulated by a brilliant mind in a clear and captivating style. I find myself exclaiming, 'EXACTLY!" every second sentence or so :D

The book is also surprisingly funny. I've laughed out loud in several places.

I've learned of many nifty things from this book, one of which is the Brights. I am now a registered Bright.

Another nifty thing for Americans and Canadians who send their kids to summer cap is Camp Quest. Entry in Wikipedia.

And for a good laff, there is this site: Hundreds of proofs of God's existence

Excerpted by Dawkins:

36. ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPLETE DEVASTATION

(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

37. ARGUMENT FROM POSSIBLE WORLDS

(1) If things had been different, then things would be different.
(2) That would be bad.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

38. ARGUMENT FROM SHEER WILL

(1) I DO believe in God! I DO believe in God! I do I do I do I DO believe in God!
(2) Therefore, God exists.

39. ARGUMENT FROM NONBELIEF

(1) The majority of the world's population are nonbelievers in Christianity.
(2) This is just what Satan intended.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

40. ARGUMENT FROM POST-DEATH EXPERIENCE

(1) Person X died an Atheist.
(2) He now realizes his mistake.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

41. ARGUMENT FROM EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL

(1) God loves you.
(2) How could you be so heartless to not believe in him?
(3) Therefore, God exists.

I was not familiar with the difference between a theist, deist, and pantheist before. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Page 18: "Let's remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think of doing them). A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist's metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism."

I highly recommend this book for both religious and non-religious folk.

Panda Sneeze

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Nifty Mac Widget: Free SMS all around the world

Works a treat between Scooterboy in Shanghai and me in Melb.

Sahweet!

Callwave

Friday, 19 January 2007

Great Wired article on Joost

"Zennström and Friis have day jobs as Skype's CEO and executive vice president of innovation, respectively. But in the cute way that Internet billionaires can do whatever the hell they want, they're teeing up the mother of all side projects."

:D

Why Joost is Good for TV

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Felipe Fernandez Armesto jailed for jaywalking in Atlanta, U.S.

Idiot cops.

"Police say a British historian was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and jailed because he refused to obey a uniformed officer's order to use a crosswalk and wouldn't show identification.

The historian says he had no idea the upset young man was a police officer.

``Where I'm from, you don't associate young gentlemen in bomber jackets with the police. But he was extremely upset I had questioned his bona fides,'' said the historian, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts and expert on colonial history."

Article in the Sydney Morning Herald

Article in the Guardian

Monday, 8 January 2007

New China, New Crisis

An interesting article on China which points out certain worrisome issues. But there is always hope:

"Over stir-fried curried chicken and crispy fried flying sea bass, the Chinese guests repeated politely and persuasively that China was making up new economic and political rules. Afterwards, I chanced to have a few words alone with one of the local rising government stars as we walked out of the complex. He kept his eyes on the ground. 'Don't allow yourself to be dissuaded, despite what you have heard. You are right that China is not different. I want my children to see a China with human rights and democratic institutions. And I am not alone.' He jumped into a taxi and was gone."

New China, New Crisis

I wonder if the article will be blocked in China. While living in China, i found that the BBC was always blocked and the Guardian often shared the same fate.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Morons of the world

Brief accounts of ridiculous lawsuits from the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.

"ARSONISTS SUE FOR INSURANCE BENEFITS AFTER BEING DENIED COVERAGE FOR DAMAGES THEY CAUSED TO NEIGHBORING BUILDING

Two Alpena, Michigan men set an arson fire in their store with the hope of collecting insurance money. They admitted that they intended to simply have a small, smokey fire that would damage their inventory, which apparently wasn't selling very well, so they could collect on their insurance policy. However, when the fire spilled over into the adjoining store, the men sued the insurance company. They argued that they set the fire in their own store, but that the fire next door was accidental and therefore they should receive coverage for the damage to the other building. A panel of the state Court of Appeals amazingly reversed the trial court's decision to dismiss this ridiculous case, but the Michigan Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, eventually reversed the Court of Appeals and ruled that the fire "cannot be characterized as an accident.

INMATE BLAMES STATE FOR HIS FLATULENCE, THEN SUES

According to a Michigan Assistant Attorney General testifying before the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, frivolous prisoner lawsuits are overburdening state and federal courts. In Case No. 9650302, a prisoner sued the state blaming the food in prison for his flatulence problem. The Attorney General's Office estimates the annual cost of defending the state against frivolous prisoner lawsuits to be several million dollars, all paid for by the state taxpayer."

More here.



See also M-Law's collection of hand-holding labels for idiot consumers.

Courtesy of BoingBoing.

Friday, 5 January 2007

The Loot

This morning, a buddy and I decided to investigate a book sale that had been advertised on TV. We figured, pop in, have a look-see for around 10 minutes among what would certainly be Mills&Boon type fare then get some brekkie.

We popped in. 2 hours later, arms sore from lugging half our weight in books, we staggered out of the warehouse with bags upon bags of loot.

Anyone in the vicinity of Collingwood, on the corner of Johnston and Hoddle Streets, should drop in to check out the sale at Dirt Cheap Books. All books are AUD4.99 (a handful, including I have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes by Jaclyn Moriarty, are only AUD1.99).

I found some gems including Jared Diamond's Collapse, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, Himalaya by Michael Palin and lots more (loot pictured).

There are rows upon rows of books on two levels of a massive warehouse and you could lose yourself for hours, as we did!

I highly recommend this adventure.

UPDATE: In response to Christina's comment - Hi there, apologies for not responding within the comment section. I'm currently living in Shanghai and have very limited access to my blog - can do certain things but not others. In answer to your query, yes, they are open all the time and have a number of branches (though I can't recall where the others are located off the top of my head). If you head over, join the mailing list - very handy to know when new stock has arrived and when they hold specials (yep... even cheaper than the already super cheap prices on a normal day). Have fun and happy reading! 8)