Picking Passages

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5 Answers to 5 Questions #2

5 Answers to Veritas48’s 2nd batch of 5 questions for Atheists.

This is about the 245345th take. I kept going well over the 10m59s mark until I wrote out what I wanted to say and tried hard to stick to it. So, yeah, I was reading from my Mini’s screen for portions of my answers. But rest assured, all of those answers are mine and mine alone. Here’s the blog post to go with this video, my written answers are below

Also I mentioned a video by QualiaSoup about why mechanisms by which to filter false beliefs from true beliefs is paramount in an accurate understanding of the world:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOu…

1: If you could choose anything to say to God upon death, what would it be
and why?

At least I’m not Fred Phelps, or Ted Haggard, or any multitude of charlatans who has made it a business of fleecing the flock.  I’m not preaching intolerance, bigotry and hate to millions of people.  Nor am I one of those millions who are blindly accepting their disgusting message.  I am neither one of those because i did not subscribe to an ideology that demands I reject, logic, reason, compassion and ignore my own conscious.

2: What sort of evidence would you find sufficient in order to abandon
Atheism and become a believer in God?

In your explanation of this question you mentioned physical evidence.  I think it is safe to say no amount of logic or reason will close the gap.  For physical evidence there isn’t much that would do.  It would have to simultaneously be something well outside our current theoretical understanding of the universe and be independently verifiable within that theoretical understanding of the universe.  Without independent verification we’re left with the nagging question of whether it was real or just a mass hallucination.

3: Do you think the New Atheist movement is ultimately a good thing or a
bad thing for freethinkers and skeptics?

First, there is no “New” Atheist movement.  That term is a red herring designed to draw attention to the supposed “anti-theist” sentiments you described.  The underlying message is “Be a nice, polite atheist and go stand in the corner.  Oh, and, shhhh, don’t speak.”  What you describe as anti-theism is nothing of the sort.  It is simply treating religion by the same rules as every other area of human endeavor.  You mentioned the anti-theism of Dawkins and Hitchens.  Show me a statement that they have made against religion which would not also be levied against any other field of study or practice which has been proven to be false or harmful.  Furthermore, show such a field of study or practice which demands respect to the point of being above reproach simply by declaring it by fiat.  So, yes, it is a good thing.  We need to be vocal in opposition to religion’s constant disrespect and abuse; sometimes to the point of murder.

4: What sorts of decisions are affected by your atheism?

I know some other atheist respondents have said none but I disagree.  All our decisions are based in the totality of our life experience.  So there are choices I have made in my life where being without the experience of religious indoctrination has no doubt had an impact.  Consciously?  Some.  I’ve dropped correspondence with people because I was tired of them proselytizing to me instead of talking with me.  Had I been in the same cult as they we probably would still be on speaking terms.

5: What is port important: gaining true beliefs about the world or
not gaining false beliefs about the world?

When you stated this question you said the two parts are different.  I disagree.  Let me put it this way, how does one know they are gaining truths about the world if they have no mechanism by which to filter out the falsehoods of the world?  Qualiasoup has a wonderful video on this which explains this point far more elegantly than I can in the time I have left.

I do what to address something you said in explaining this question.  You said you prefer gaining more true beliefs because that makes life more interesting.  However, just because something is interesting doesn’t make it true.  I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy books.  They are interesting.  Being fiction does not make them less so.  But as to reality being interesting I have to ask the following question.  Given all that science in just one field of study, astronomy, has told us about the universe around us and the sheer amount of possibilities contained therein how, exactly, will the scribblings of men ignorant of that reality, those possibilities, be interesting?

Fallen Earth – Do You Feel All Alone?

In response to my Fallen Earth – First Impressions write-up fellow OTGer Zoyd asked the excellent question, “Is the game well populated at this point, or do you feel like you’re all alone most of the time?”  In a normal bout of verbosity I probably answered his question in far more detail than he expected.  Here’s that answer which was originally posted on the OTG site.

Continue reading

3 Factions = Holy Grail?

Originally posted as a response to an MMORPG.com column

3 faction sometimes works, sometimes does not.  Let’s take your example and merge it with two MMO examples.

Planetside – 3 factions.  I absolutely hated three factions in that game.  Seriously.  There was nothing worse than spending an evening hammering it out with the TR (I was NC) only to have the VS come waltzing in to back-hack us with minimal interference.  I know this is supposed to be “two sides teaming up against a larger third” but when the VS had most of the continents locked and we were having a hell of a battle without them it was just a sour note that screwed over an entire evening’s gaming.

Battlefield: Europe (WWIIOL) – 3 factions, 2 sides.  Brits/French on one side, Germans on the other.  Far better of the two games precisely because there was no third faction to come strolling into the backfield taking towns without opposition.  In fact they put a nix to that happening early on through the use of links, offense and defensive links.  Something Planetside also did as well.

3 factions is a holy grail to some people.  I, however, remain unconvinced that it is the holy grail for all people.  It certainly isn’t for me.  I only see it as a mechanic by which two sides are in for an unfulfilling night.

1: The faction that loses territory to another unopposed.
2: The faction that gains territory by sitting around, unopposed.

Spring Hath Sprung?

March is half gone and many of my friends have written how spring has arrived for them.  Normally it is about sunny days, mild temperatures, parks, picnics and such.  To me spring does not arrive with any of those things.  I live life in reverse.

I work the graveyard shift.  Sunny days just mean the curtains drawn tighter.  Mild daytime temperatures mean an uncomfortable time when a blanket is too much but just a sheet is too little.  It’s not warm enough to run the AC or cool enough to run the heater.  Either would settle the matter nicely.

I live in Las Vegas.  I dread the approaching summer much like most people experience dread in fall at the thought of the approaching winter.  Winters here are quite pleasant.  Summers, however, are horrible.  Just because it is a dry heat doesn’t mean it isn’t fucking hot!  It’s far easier to throw on a jacket and some gloves than it is to strip out of my skin.

No, spring to me is not temperate days and picnics in the park.  It is moderate nights.  The sounds of the city drifting in through my window as read a book, a fan providing all the breeze I need.  Spring is identical to fall in that regard.  A time to open up the house at night and be comfortable.  Certainly not what others look forward to this season.  I live life in reverse.

One Droid (and iPhone) Oddity.

My Droid has two built-in calendars.  One personal and one to sync with an Exchange server.  It has two built-in email clients.  One for GMail and one for standard protocols.  It has a calculator and a clock.  It has all the functions of my old PDAs, both Palm and PocketPC, except for a To-do list.  Of course I can download over a dozen applications to fill that niche but you’d think it would be built in.

The iPhone fared no better.  A coworker owns an iPhone.  I asked if he had a To-do list built in.  He did not.  He had to get an app for it, too.

Odd.

Droid – First Day

Old W755 and the new Droid

What is in the blurry picture to the left is my old Motorola W755 cell phone and my new Motorola Droid.  In the past several months I had pretty much ignored my W755.  As a phone it was decent enough.  However when I wasn’t in a location where I could be reached via a land line I was often conversing with people via IM or Facebook more than phone.  So when our contract with Verizon was up and they bribed us with new free phones I look more towards the smart phones than a replacement simple phone.  I decided to get a Droid partly because of the geek factor but largely because it had the latest Android OS and a hardware keyboard.  My wife also got one because it was Buy-One-Get-One free even though she was eying the Blackberry Curve (because it was lavender!).

It arrived yesterday.  I was expecting for it to be a fun little gadget but in the first 24 hours it has completely blown away any expectations I had for it.  Here’s a short list of things I’ve done since getting it activated (which was a chore, but not because of the phone).

  1. Configured it so that it uses my WiFi for data when in the house.  Even though we have unlimited data on the phone this provides a nice speed boost.
  2. Downloaded an App for playing Pandora.  Within 10 minutes of activation I had Within Temptation streaming to my phone.  Nice!
  3. Set up my Facebook account with the built in app.  Found it to be quite nice and let my Facebook friends know the Droid was live.
  4. Played around with Google Maps and cackled with glee as the on-board GPS was identifying where I was inside my house.
  5. Found an app to measure the strengths of local WiFi signals.  Found out they are all on channel 6, including mine.  Which means pretty soon I’ll be bumping mine to 11.
  6. Configured built-in email app to use my personal email that I run.  Finally found a reason to allow SMTP time authentication.
  7. Imported all my contacts… from Facebook.  I only had to add a few numbers from my W755.
  8. Plugged my Droid into my Dell Mini.  Got it to be recognized as a USB drive by the Mini.  Copied Within Temptation’s “The Silent Force” onto my Droid.  Started playing it shortly thereafter.  Not too bad considering I ripped the CD to OGG and not MP3.  Take that, iPod Nano!
  9. Installed Seesmic, test tweeted, worked perfectly.
  10. VNCed into my Linux server and manipulated the torrents running there.
  11. Found an application, Layar, which tales GPS and tilt coordinates and overlays a layer on top of the picture from the camera.  This layer superimposes data from different sources.  The first one I checked?  Tweets with geoloc.  What I found?  My neighbor across the street and 3 houses down was looking for someone to split the cost of Carrie Underwood tickets.  She tweeted right about the time I had installed the app.

I am simply agog at all I have been able to do with this little machine.  It’s more a mini-computer that happens to be a phone.  The interface is quite intuitive and dead sexy.  The best part is that it replaces several pieces of gear.

  • While my wife’s Cannon PC1355 has better picture quality the camera in the Droid easily beats what my W755 had for on-the-spot quick pics where spontaneity is more important than quality.
  • Aside from DRM enabled tracks the Droid can replace my Nano.  Heck, it does Ogg which means I can dump all my duplicate MP3s.  While I am not happy that I can’t strip the DRM from the iTunes tracks I legally purchased I’d rather have to repurchase those tracks than have to forgo ripping to Ogg.
  • On-the-go Youtube & Pandora platform.  Be even better if Hulu and Netflix worked, too, but I ain’t complaining.
  • Facebook, Twitter, IM and email on-the-go.
  • Oh, and it’s a phone…

When we were going to order the phones my wife was worried that this would be as used as the W755.  I think it is safe to say with all it can do that the chances of that are quite low.  😉