Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cataract

The Secular Web published Cataract, my second parable on the problem of evil, a short time ago. The target of the article, while similar in some respects to the 'Brainiac' defense in the Tale of the Twelve Officers, is actually in an altogether different class of wrong than any of the targets of the first parable.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Study shows cats are stupid

Britta Osthaus, the researcher responsible for the study, tries to soft-pedal the results, insisting that cats are "different" rather than "stupid," but we can read between the lines. It's nothing we didn't all know already, anyway. There is no indication yet as to whether Osthaus is planning further experiments to confirm that cats are little Satans.

See Cats outsmarted in psychologist's test.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hulk throw Constitution into Sun, insha'allah

The Good Kentuckian goes into my RSS reader. Scroll down to the Hulk part of the 10 June entry for the most brilliant satire I have ever seen. It had me laughing to the point of asphyxiation.

14 June: My mistake: just noticed the Hulk part was reprinted (with attribution) from Something Awful. The Good Kentuckian still stays in my reader.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why Jackie Kennedy crawled across the back of the Lincoln convertible

Karen Beckman's 60-second lecture at Penn explains:
She was not going for help, nor was she trying to retrieve her husband’s head. Rather she believed, I contend, that if she crawled quickly enough, she could move backwards through filmic frames of time against the forward drive of both the automobile and Abraham Zapruder’s newly invented portable camera.
Now you know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Two quotes from Dawkins

A Devil's Chaplain (Boston: Mariner, 2003), like everything from the pen of Richard Dawkins, is an excellent read. It is a little bit different from his other books, in that it is an anthology mostly of previously published popular articles, and covers much more varying ground, but the characteristic Dawkins voice is there, throughout. Here are two little selections (of many) I liked in particular:

Here, Dawkins comments on the view that the Cambrian explosion was profound merely because it generated new phyla, while today we see only species-level variation:
It is as though a gardener looked at an old oak tree and remarked, wonderingly: 'Isn't it strange that no major new boughs have appeared on this tree recently. These days, all the new growth appears to be at the twig level!' (215 - 216)
And here, Dawkins writes to his little daughter about the old canard that we can know we are loved only through faith:
People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise you'd never be confident of things like 'My wife loves me'. But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn't a purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favours and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.

Sometimes people have a strong inside feeling that somebody loves them when it is not based upon any evidence, and then they are likely to be completely wrong. There are people with a strong inside feeling that a famous film star loves them, when really the film star hasn't even met them. People like that are ill in their minds. Inside feelings must be backed up by evidence, otherwise you just can't trust them. (246)
Read it all.