Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Grand Illusion, and The Doctor

Free Will - Fact or Fiction?

Once again, Scott Adams writes, and I agree partially. Although from a different worldview, I see elements of his thinking that remind me of my own. In this case, it is his idea of "moist robots" and how free will is a sham, albeit a very deep and complex one.

Rather than argue the point here, I'm just going to say that he's the first person I've found who has a sort of thinking similar to my own on the subject. One key difference is that I allow for a supernatural being, and he does not.

The sad thing is this could almost be me.

Doctor Who has won the award for longest running sci-fi series, having been on for 43 years and havgin 723 episodes. Woot.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thus does the tired reveal his infirmity

My weekly schedule allows me free time for many hours on many days of the week. Tuesday night, while partly filled with things such as being out in town or at the Bible study, is empty after 10 or so.

As I read earlier tonight from Paul, all things are allowed, but not all things are all that beneficial.

Rather than sleeping like the good little boy that I am, I chose instead to stay awake, work on projects, and play some games. This is not a crime.

It does, however, have the unfortunate side-effect of diminished alertness and awareness. One becomes more likely to make absent-minded mistakes when heavily tired and sleepy, and even though my mental constitution tends to hold up well at night, it seem that tonight was just not my night.

My desk is located underneath of my bed. The chair at my desk is in the same place, and has been for over a year. Why I thought I could stand straight up while under my bed is beyond me.

My head hurts.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Yay for Adams

WWTD - Scott Adams.

Another RSS feed among those I receive via Bloglines is the Dilbert Blog. The Dilbert Blog is written by Scott Adams, author of Dilbert and numerous books.

In this article, self-declared atheist Scott Adams criticizes members of Christianity in a way of which I approve, yet again. He says, "How do you justify buying a third television set when people in New Orleans are living in rolled-up carpets? That’s not a rhetorical question."

He goes on to guess a number of possible options, and while some of them are somewhat reasonable, none of them are completely reasonable. Really, what is the answer to his question?

I don't speak, and I don't understand.

Once again, Adams says that which I can relate to in a personal way. In this case, he simply states that he has trouble communicating and making things clear to people.

I have this problem, too. Adams postulates that the self is the cause of the problem, because he himself is the common denominator with all of the situations with other people. This may be true in my case, as well, although I would suggest another common denominator: human beings. These creatures are notoriously poor speakers and listeners, making them the poorest communicators in the known universe.

Quote of the day

"Cold is just a fancy marketing word for a particularly unpleasant form of pain. We should just call it what it is: pain." - Scott Adams

Evil Genius at work.

It's not a normal day when an evil plan hatches in my mind that could easily come to fruition.

When that happens, it either means that I'm particularly fortunate or clever. In this case, it is simply fortune that was on my side.

The plan was simple. I was alone upstairs in the radio station. I had my computer with me, which contained aforementioned yet-unreleased Evanescence music. It would not have been a difficult matter to air a cut or two before getting stopped. Now, ponder this for a minute. A positive hit music station (i.e., "christian") playing Evanescence music that has not yet been released to the public. Were I to carry out such a plan, I'd get in trouble with the station, and the station would get in trouble with who knows what organizations, probably causing crazy fines and numerous other problems.

So, you see the value of being the evil mastermind. The mirth of hatching plots without any obligation of carrying them out. This eliminates all potential for negative consequence, but still leaves the anecdote to be told or blogged.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Tripe

Using Bloglines, I keep track of numerous RSS feeds. One of them is Snopes. Snopes is a website that essentially catalogues urban legends and internet rumors. Their researchers research these items, and the majority of the myths and rumors have a True or Not True marker on them. It's a great tool for looking up those email forwards, ideas your overconfident friends tell you, or simply to read for laughs.

Over the last week or two, many of the recent entries on Snopes brought to me by Bloglines have struck my as being particularly rife with bigotry or attempts at forwarding a particular ideology via misinformation. In this blog entry, I shall show a few cases of this, and attempt to identify the source of the bigotry and misinformation among these items.

1. Steve Irwin.

Yes. He has passed away. That fact is not in dispute except perhaps among some anti-media conspiracy theorists. What is in dispute is whether or not he "made a decision for Christ."

The initial email uses many christianese cliches to put forth the idea that Steve Irwin, a figure who is currently in media focus due to his passing, has accepted Christianity as his new worldview and belief.

There are two possibilities. The first is that Mr. Irwin did that, and the second is that he didn't. Snopes's research gives reason to believe that the various forms of the email are technically incorrect in details. If Irwin did choose Christ as the new focus of his life just weeks before his death, then the emails do not tell the story correctly.

The only positive reason to spread such a story that I can think of would be to spread consolation about his death, saying that he will live forever. A possible negative reason for spreading such stories would be to associate a much-loved TV figure with Christianty, thus using the fallacy of Ipse Dixit to make Christianity more appealing. Unreasonable as this sounds, it's not beyond many people to forward a dubious email, hoping both that it is true and also that it will convince someone that their way of thinking is right.

2. English.

English, or American English, is the language spoken by many citizens of the United States of America. The email of this one is not particularly wordy. It merely says "38 SENATORS VOTED TODAY AGAINST MAKING ENGLISH THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF AMERICA. HERE THEY ARE. REMEMBER THIS THE DAY YOU VOTE. PLEASE PASS THIS ON." It also included a list of Senators.

The problem with the email that Snopes talks about is the fact that the issue these Senators voted on was that of immigration, which did involve language. Thus, the emali is given the rating of "Partly True."

My problem with this email is that it makes it sound like it would be antiAmerican to vote against having English as the national language. To me, this looks like American bigots wanting to feel justified in their bigotry. It is understandable that immigrants should have a knowledge of English, rather than forcing the rest of us to learn their languages, just as it is understandable for an American traveling to Germany must learn some German, rather than requiring Germans to all know English.

If the main purpose of the law were to simply make English the national language, then I would call that a waste of legislative time, and veiled bigotry as well.

3. Wal-Mart and the rainbow.

The email states that Wal-Mart has partnered with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Essentially, this means that Wal-Mart will financially support this group which advocates gay rights. These facts are true and are not in dispute.

This email is not unreasonable. It asks people to tell Wal-Mart what they think of it's involvement with the Gay Rights movement. The author of the email seems to be under the impression that citizens telling a company not to be donating to an organization that promotes allowing individuals to make their own choices is the right thing to do. I partially agree. Sure, a company can choose to whom to donate money and be involved with, and customers can choose to boycott or not. It's also not unreasonable for one to choose to be against the NGLCC.

Let's look at the motives of this email. What are they? The author wants those who care to contact Wal-Mart and tell the company that being involved with the NGLCC is something they dislike. Okay. Why would someone dislike involvement with the NGLCC? Well, part of Wal-Mart's decision will have the company place homosexual-owned business above other businesses. Is this unfair? It is about as fair as favoring a Christian-owned company over another. Why else might one dislike this arrangement? I suppose if someone hated homosexuals, this would be a horrible thing, this preferential treatment. Additionally, if one didn't necessarily hate homosexuals, but just didn't want homosexuality encouraged, then that would be a reason to dislike Wal-Marts choice. Whether the authors and perpetuators of this email are anti-homosexual bigots or simply would prefer that sexual preference not be something a business spends resources on, I don't know.

4. Americna Theism.

This email states that 86% of Americans believe in God, and that "the world" caters to "the 14%."

I'm going to ignore the "the world" comment, even though it's an example of exageration and unreasonable assertion. Snopes points out that the numbers stated in the main point of the email are incorrect, and that the real statistics (the numbers of which were slightly different than those in the email) refer to a somewhat different topic.

The email is a classic example of poor logic and misinformation being forwarded around in an attempt to feel better about what one believes if one is of the Conservative Christian Crowd. The email is incorrect in content, and ineffective in accomplishing anything than sucking the bandwidth of gullible WASPs and those in their address book who may be unfortunate enough to have to read through yet another unconvincing piece of pro-God propaganda.

If Christianity is indeed the Truth, then why must some of it's constituents blather meaningless things like this to each other, tooting their own horns? I am a Christian, and I believe that my understanding of things, while highly incomplete, is at least a little bit correct in regards to the Truth. It irritates me when misinformed or poorly constructed arguements circle around, because it makes all Christians look stupid.

5. Democrats.

This facetious email would have the reader infer that numerous well-known democrats are, in fact, of extra-terrestrial origin.

Snopes points out that the birthdates are wrong for nearly all of those listed. It's hard to criticize this email forward in any other way, given that it is not meant to be taken seriously. My only criticism would be that it's another example of conservatives wasting decent bandwidth in order to toot their own horns.

6. Conclusion.

I have seen precious few pro-Democrat, pro-homosexual, pro-Wal-Mart, or pro-atheism email forwards.

This could be due to any of the following reasons:
A. Many of my friends are conservatives.
B. Snopes doesn't choose to publish many of the stupid emails of Democrats et al.
C. "Liberals" have better sense than "conservatives" and don't need to toot their own horns with ineffective tripe and whole folders of folderol.
D. Other reasons.

Beyond seeing few emails from such sources, I've also seen a huge number of poorly written, illogical, and useless emails that have been forwarded along by people too lazy to write anything on their own or add any meaningful content to what is otherwise a waste of bandwidth.

While a few emails do actually have things in them which resemble logic or correct information, they do not comprise the majority. I'm not sure if it is due to my skeptical nature or something else, but the majority of these forwarded emails have an effect on my that is opposite of that which was desired. Rather than being more inclined towards their cause, I instead see unintelligence, bigotry, and pride. PSA to the world (especially conservatives): don't forward those emails unless they expresses verified information in a reasonable way that doesn't devalue fellow humans. Otherwise, you'll be ignored by any intelligent person you were hoping to convince.

Please pardon me if this post has been particularly illogical, misinformed, bigoted, or arrogant.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Two Novelties and a Factoid

Three items for today.

1. Igor Falecki.
2. Zack Kim.
3. Vinyl.

1. Igor Falecki: 4 Year old drummer

I'm not sure if the cute factor outweighs the cool factor on this one, but it's worth seeing a few times, just for the fun of it.

2. Zack Kim: dual guitarist

While the videos aren't concerts, they're still amusing for a short time. One of them that is particularly worth noting is the Mario Theme.

3. Vinyl albums popular again

Reports are in: Vinyl albums are resurging in popularity. They outlived cassettes and 8-tracks, and will probably outlive CDs. Why? CDs are being mooted by downloadable music. Many people wanting to own a physical object with good cover art will try to find 7" LPs rather than CDs.

Interesting Note: Big Fans pay money for physical things even if music can be accessed for free. Why?

A. Covert art.
B. A value best described as sentimental
C. A 7" LP can only hold a few songs. An artist wishing to publish a 7" LP will put only the best songs on it.
D. 7" LPs are cheaper than CDs, anyway.

(Paraposted on Xanga)

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Door Opened a little early for me

The latest Evanescence album, The Open Door, has fallen through a crack in time. It has installed itself onto my hard drive and started playing itself all on it's own. Because I am compelled to stay in my room and leave the speakers turned on, I've had the terrible misfortune of hearing this yet unreleased album. To make the most of this calamity, I'm going to give a brief review of it in general terms.

The general fan reaction to "Call Me When You're Sober", the first single from the album, was tinged with disappointment. The song appealed to lame pop radio nonsensibilities and didn't sound much like classic Evanescence style which can be heard on the early album Origin.

I am happy to say that the general quality of The Open Door is both somewhat decent and also not completely radio friendly. It has some of the peculiarities of Origin, much of the polish of Fallen, and all the vocal power one would expect. While levels of creativity and unpolishedness are not nearly as high as those from the demo CDs and EPs, there's still a quality to the album which can only be described as Evanescence-like.

One thing that could be complained about would be the similarity of the songs to each other. There's not an overabundance of variety. Another item is that it's not terribly easy to tell what she's saying on most of the songs. Of course, seeing as it's not a broadway musical, maybe it's not a crime that not every word is over-pronounced. Additionally, there is a general lack of poetry in several of the songs. Ben Moody's absence is noticed.

Highlights of the album include: Sweet Sacrifice, for it's vocal clarity so reminiscent of Origin. Lithium, for it's less-heavy-but-still-great goodness. Cloud Nine, for it's pure Evanescence power. Lacrymosa is a song highly reminiscent of Anything For You, one of my favorites from early Evanescence history. Your Star has a groovy organ, groovy beats, groovy guitar rockness, and groovy choirs. All That I'm Living For will probably see some airtime on the radio. Good Enough has an instrumental introduction which captures the attention, then continues on to become the lightest song on the album. Some of the multiple notes per syllable are a little awkward, but the song is good enough to make it onto my highlights list.

All in all, the album doesn't push the envelope so far that it sets new standards in music. It does okay. It may succeed well enough to satisfy Evanescence fans, but a failure to attract many new fans would not be unexpected.

The album is due out in late September of this year. Pre-ordering can be done via Amazon or iTunes.

(Paraposted on Xanga.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Here's to you

Mrs Robinson is a song of relaxation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

See also: