“Palestinian group to sue British gov't over Israel” (This is an interesting tactic. But why don’t we try putting the blame on the people really responsible for the tragedy of the so-called “Palestinians” for a change and lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of 1) the Muslim countries who attacked the newly formed state of Israel and 2) the so-called “Palestinians” themselves, who frequently act in ways that make their own lives worse?)
“Sacred Science: Using Faith to Explain Anomalies in Physics”: The notion of God conjured in this article is “the ceaseless creativity in the natural universe, biosphere and human cultures”, an emergent property of the laws of nature. This is actually an illegitimate redefinition, as it does not respect the traditional notion of deity as a real entity and not an abstraction. Note Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning ’Elohim [God] created the heaven and the earth”, i.e., the Deity is the creator of our universe, not a property of it. Such a deity is to be expected to be independent of our universe and not subject to its laws. The alternatives given by some traditional religions to this idea of deity are really just variants, such as the Hindu notion that the deity being worshipped is an aspect of the creator deity Brahman. Trying to redefine the Deity of any traditional religion as a mere emergent property therefore makes no sense whatsoever, and this new vision of deity as a nonentity is completely unworthy of worship.
“Can a Robot, an Insect or God Be Aware?” I am unclear on where this notion of YHWH having no emotions comes from. It certainly does not come from the Hebrew Bible. (I suspect that philosophers are behind it.) The claim also makes no sense objectively: since we cannot observe YHWH’s internal states, such as emotions, we cannot make any legitimate objective claims as to what these states are or are not. However, since YHWH is depicted in the Hebrew Bible as acting emotionally (with other deities receiving similar treatment in other scriptures), we can, at least, speak of YHWH’s emotions in the same way one usually speaks about other humans’ emotions: in a behavioral sense. Paranormal empathic powers may be nonexistent, making it impossible to actually know what other humans are feeling, but that does not stop us from assuming that other humans have the same sorts of emotional states that we do; we do not know that an angry human actually feels angry, only that he/she behaves in an angry manner. Same thing with YHWH.
“Snow Leopard to slim apps, add touch framework” (1) I am pleasantly surprised that Apple is planning to make programs consume less disk space for a change. This may be unprecedented in the history of computing. 2) Multi-touch! Multi-touch! Multi-touch!)
Relevant to Divine Misconceptions: “A missing ethic”. Rav Shafran is right. Being accused of wrongdoing is not the same as wrongdoing. All sorts of claims have been made against people throughout history, down to the present day, which have been baseless (e.g., conspiracy theories, blood libels, accusations of devil worship, accusations of witchcraft, accusations based on allegedly recovered memories, alleged Satanic ritual abuse, and “Palestinian” claims of being victims of genocide), and such claims have sometimes resulted in disaster for the wrongfully accused. It is therefore only sensible to give people benefit of the doubt when doubt exists and not to rush to judgement.
“Court suspends French virgin case” (Oh, great. Not only are people sticking their nose in other people’s business where it does not belong, but now the court has invalidated the annulment of a marriage that both the husband and wife want to be over. Are people trying to make a bad situation worse?)
“souls. i eets them.” (I know full well this is completely unserious. However, it is not unprecedented. Soul-eating appears in some form in at least two Star Trek episodes, and intuition insists it happens elsewhere. Maybe I need to read more H. P. Lovecraft... In any case, there is the serious question of why and how anyone could eat a soul which merits investigation.)
Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:
“Teen from faith healing family dies at Ore. home” (How many times do I have to say this? Belief and prayer alone do not cure illness or save lives! The truly pious way to submit to YHWH’s will is to recognize that in His mercy He has given us brains so that we may use them and allowed a veritable explosion of medical knowledge and technology to extend our lives and improve their quality. How dare anyone insult the Deity by refusing to avail him/herself of Divine mercy? Who are we to demand that YHWH show us mercy in a different manner than His choice? The next time you are sick, thank YHWH and visit His messenger: a doctor.)
I am still unemployed, and the process of applying for jobs really sucks. Many sites allow one to apply for jobs on-line. This may be convenient, but often the people who set up these sites have no clue what they are doing.
The last application I entered went through an especially bad site. This site allows the applicant to upload their résumé, promising to extract all the desired information from it. This, of course, failed for me. The site did not even have a clue that my curriculum vitae actually contained all the information it wanted. This is also despite my curriculum vitae being in the extremely common Microsoft Word format.
Furthermore, many values have to selected from pop-up lists which need to be “confirmed”. This operation invariably reloads the entire page when a selection was made—or even opens a whole new window asking for one, single value. Good grief! Who designed such an annoying system? The whole point of such a system is to ensure that all values entered are valid. Why not just let the applicant enter the values in simple, unencumbered text fields and annoy him/her only if some value is invalid? That cannot be any harder to program!
“Hacking Coffee Makers” (Yes, people, that’s right: someone figured out how to hack an Internet-connected coffee maker.)
Today’s weird thing is WE ♥ SHEDS, with a recommendation that you search for sheds with the word “TARDIS” in the description. Bonus points for anyone who figures out how to make a shed bigger on the inside than on the outside. Enjoy and share the weirdness.
Divine misconceptions of the day: 1) “End of the World? House of Yahweh says so”, in which false prophecy is noted, e.g., we did not have a predicted nuclear war. 2) “'Witch' family killed in India”, which shows what sort of disasters can occur when people act on irrational and unproven accusations. I cannot reiterate enough that irrationality does not make for good religion.
Today’s news and commentary, some of which Barry is responsible for:
I am still unemployed, and I am going to take out my frustration with the process on my blog. Yesterday, I tried applying for one job, but the site had two problems: 1) they insist one use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or greater and 2) every time I tried submitting, the code handing the process would suffer a catastrophic error and give a detailed listing of what happened that is utterly meaningless to anyone other than the person who wrote the job application submission code.
Problem 1 was relatively easy to overcome, despite my ideological refusal to use Microsoft software whenever I do not need to (and the whole point of Web standards is so that one can use any standards-compliant software and not be chained to a particular vendor) and the simple fact that Internet Explorer ≥6.0 does not exist for Mac OS X. I currently use Safari 3.1.1 (latest version as of this writing), and in the Preferences window under the “Advanced” tab there is the option “Show Develop menu in menu bar”. When enabled, one can choose a specific “User Agent” and lie to Web sites about which browser one is using. Aaron 1, Microsoft chauvinists 0.
Problem 2 took a bit longer to crack (figured it out a few minutes ago), but it all came out to a matter of passwords. My standard method of choosing passwords is to use text which I see or hear at the point I need it. E.g., I have a copy of Vanity Fair by W. M. Thackeray near me right now, so if I needed a new password, I might take some text off the front cover, such as “MODERN LIBRARY COLLEGE EDITIONS”. This system has the advantage of being highly unpredictable. The obvious disadvantage is that I have to keep records of my passwords, but good security is not always convenient. The not-so-obvious disadvantage is that many Web sites on the Internet have arbitrary rules for passwords, e.g., demanding that there be a number or symbol in them or refusing passwords with spaces in them. It turns out the problem with the site I was trying to submit to is one of the most idiotic limitations on passwords since it reduces the work anyone has to do to crack the system: the site crashed in response to a password that was too long. I wanted to use a four-word phrase, but the site only was happy when I fed it an eight-character password.
“The FDA drops the ball on patient rights” (No one likes internal review boards, but they are there for a good reason: humans have a nasty tendency to do cruel things to each other if there are no consequences. The last thing we need are horror stories in research.)
“Outcry after French court rules on virginity” (The only people involved for whom I have any sympathy are the court, who had the unenviable problem of not being able to render a verdict without someone getting mad at them. The husband is hard to sympathize with because the condition he made is hard to prove, therefore liable to result in a false accusation; furthermore, he comes off sounding shallow since he comes off sounding as if he is rejecting his wife based on just one attribute which arguably is not the most important one in choosing a mate. The wife is hard to sympathize with because she lied, contracting marriage under a false pretense; yes, what she did is understandable, based on the culture, but lying to one’s spouse is a great way to cause marital problems, especially when the lie is found out. The people raising the ruckus about the whole case are hard to sympathize with, too, since 1) they are trying to force their values on other people, 2) they are making things worse for both the husband and wife, 3) if the court were to rule so as to try to make them happy, they would be promoting lying and marrying under false pretenses, and 4) they come off making it sound like premarital sex is a virtue.)